Nilgiri, Annapurna Region, Nepal (23,166'/7061meters)
Nilgiri forms the cornerstone of "The Great Barrier" to Annapurna I, but it is more than just a barrier to 8000 meter glory. It is in fact a beautiful, massive, tri-summited peak, whose scope and relief dominate the Kali Gandaki Valley floor from as far south as Tatopani to as far north as Kagbeni.
The three summits are Nilgiri North (7061), Nilgiri Center (6940), and Nilgiri South (6839). Each rise more than 4000 vertical meters from the valley. Nilgiri sits astride the line of the Himalayan rainshadow phenomenon, separating rhododendron filled jungle from arid, desert-like hills within the span of a few hours walk. As one proceeds, or rather, is pushed by the steady wind along the valley floor, the impression is that Nilgiri could separate two planets.
French Guide Lionel Terray, along with Sherpa Wongdi, led three Dutch clients, the Van Lookeren Campagne brothers, to the summit of Nilgiri North on October 26, 1962. Terray, a veteran of the 1950 Annapurna I expedition among many other ridiculously difficult climbs, put a line up the north face to the west ridge, following the ridge the last 1800 ft. to the summit. Three camps were used as well as fixed ropes. Nilgiri South was climbed via the Southwest Ridge in 1978, Nilgiri Central via the East Ridge in 1979.
Nilgiri is visible almost continually along the Jomsom Road, which comprises about 1/3 of the Annapurna Circuit. There are Roadheads at Beni and Nayapul, both accessible by taxi or bus from Pokhara. From Beni you can walk, bus or jeep it all the way to Muktinath. There are also daily flights from Pokhara to Jomsom. If you are heading north, Nilgiri is that big mountain on your right. There are many fine Teahouses along the Kali Gandaki. My favorites were the Chez Nisa Lodge in Marpha, the Trekkers Lodge in Tatopani, the Everest Guest House in Kalopani, and the Krishu Guest House in Jomsom.