Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 30.32000°N / 79.58000°E
Additional Information Elevation: 25643 ft / 7816 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Nanda Devi in the highest peak in the Indian Garhwal Himalaya. The mountain has two summits, the main summit at 7816m (25,643ft) and Nanda Devi East at 7434m (24,389ft). The mountain itself in surrounded by a number of peaks over 21,000ft, making it an extremely difficult mountain to access. This circle of peaks forms what is known as the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.

The first successful ascent of the main summit was by Tilman and Odell in 1936 via the south ridge. With the successful ascent, Nanda Devi became the highest mountain climbed by man until 1950 when Annapurna was climbed. In 1976, Americans James States, Lou Reichardt and John Roskelley climbed the main summit by a new route, the North Ridge. This expedition ended in tragedy when Nanda Devi Unsoeld (Willie Unsoeld's daughter who was named after the mountain) died near the main summit. A fantastic account of this expedition can be read in the book by John Roskelley, "Nanda Devi, the Tragic Expedition".

In the mid 1960's, it is reported that the CIA during an expedition put a monitoring device on the main summit to monitor nuclear activity in Tibet/China. It was supposedly lost in an avalance. Article on this The mountain was closed by the government shortly after and then re-opened in 1974. In 1983 the area was closed for environmental reasons. The mountain remains closed to this day.

There are very few ascents of this beautiful mountain, and in time we may see the Sanctuary reopen and new attemps being made.



Ascent History of Nanda Devi

Year Team Nationality Ascent/Route/Summiteers Notes
1936 US/UK 1st Ascent
South Ridge
8-member joint British-American team led by T. Graham Brown (UK) and Charles Houston (USA) loses Kitar, a porter, early on at base camp. Tilman and N.E. Odell succeed at reaching summit.
1951 France 2nd Ascent
South Ridge
Duplat, Vignes
8-member French expedition.  Roger Duplat, team leader, and Gilbert Vignes are lost on attempt on summit. Nanda Devi East summited by Louis Dubost and Tenzig Norgay while searching for Duplat and Vignes.
1964 India 3rd Ascent
South Ridge
Gombu, Norbu
8-member Indian expedition led by Major N Kumar.
1965-1968 US/India

 (Covert Operation)

4th Ascent
South Ridge
Unknown - Classified
American and Indian veterans of Everests involved in secret CIA-backed attempts to place a nuclear (plutonium)-powered listening device on summit of Nanda Devi to monitor Chinese missile tests. Device was lost in avalanche. Further expeditions to locate it prove unsuccessful, including 1966 solitary ascent of summit. Composition of teams remain secret and some may have succumbed to radiation poisoning. Leads to short-term closure of Nanda Devi.
1968-1974 N/A Sanctuary Closed Sanctuary Closed  (See Above)
1975 France/India 5th Ascent 
South Ridge
Coudray, Renault, Sandhu, Chand
13-member Indo-French expedition includes simultaneous climbs of Nanda Devi East.
1976 Japan 6th Ascent
1st Traverse
Kato, Teramoto, Hasegawa, Takami
21-member Indo-Japanese team approaches south ridges of main peak and Nanda Devi East simultaneously. Yoshinori Hasegawa and Kazushige Takami traverse westwards to join Yazuo Kato and Masafume Teramoto at main peak.
1976 US/India 7th Ascent
1st Northwest Face-North Buttress
Roskelley, States, Reichardt
12-member Indo-American team – John Roskelley, Jim States, and Louis Reichardt succeed at forging a difficult new route. Ad Carter, member of the original 1936 team is joined as co-leader by legendary mountaineer Willi Unsoeld and his daughter Nanda Devi Unsoeld. Devi died of illness at camp IV.
1977 US/UK 8th Ascent
South Face
Roberts, Harder, Smith, Jones
12-member British-American team led by Eric Roberts.
1978 US 9th Ascent
South Ridge
Hambly, McClung, Fryberger, Byers, Casebold, Brindiero
8-member American team lose their liaison officer Capt. S.S. Dhilon from a fall.
1981 Czechoslovakia 10th Ascent
North Face-Northeast Pillar
Srovnal, Kadlcik, Horka, Palecek, Karafa, Rakoncaj, Sulovsky
13-member Czechoslovak team led by Vlastimil Smida opens up difficult new route (originally attempted in 1978 by members of British expedition, King and Lloyd).
1981 India 11th Ascent
South Ridge
Sharma, Aitwal, Bisht, Singha, Lhatoo, Paljor, Purohit
11-member Indian team puts first women on summit
1981 India 12th Ascent
South Ridge-Southwest Ridge
Ram, Tsering, Kami
Indian Army expedition attempts both main and Nanda Devi East peaks simultaneously. Southwest Ridge of East peak climbed for first time, but both Premjit Lal and Phu Dorjee are killed in the descent. Three others – Daya Chand, Ram Singh, and Lakha Singh – also fall to their deaths, leading to the highest ever number of casualties.
1982 Closed Closed Upon the recommendation of scientists and wildlife experts, the Nanda Devi Sanctuary is upgraded to a National Park. All further treks, expeditions, and grazing are banned in the core area, including mountaineering on the Nanda Devi main peak. Nanda Devi East remains open from the south side.
1993 India 13th Ascent
South Ridge
Naik, Swaroop, Sharma, Singh, Bhatt
An army-led Indian ecological expedition checks inner sanctuary recovery and removes over a ton of rubbish from the reserve left behind by previous mountaineering expeditions.

Nanda Devi from the west,...

Peaks of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary

The Nanda Devi Sanctuary has a "rim" of mountains around it and is known as the Sanctuary Wall. Inside this Sanctuary Wall is the Inner Sanctuary Ridge. The North Sanctuary Wall includes the peaks Latu Dhura (21,000ft), Rishi Pahar (22,900ft) Deo Damla (21,700ft), and Mangroan (21,500ft). On the west flank of the Sanctuary wall, you will find Kalanka (22,900ft) Changabang (22,500ft), and Dunagiri (23,000ft).

On the south side of the Sanctuary Wall rises Bethartoli Himal & South (20,800 & 20,700ft), Trisul (23,400ft). On the eastern edge of the Sanctuary stands the impressive Mrigthuni (22,500ft), Devtoli (22,300ft) and Maiktoli (22,300ft). Many of these peaks on the outer rim of the Sanctuary are still open to climbing.

Southwest Wall of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary

Getting There

The Sanctuary is closed to all visitors, but the peaks on the outer rim of the Sanctuary can be climbed from outside the Sanctuary. This would allow for an attempt on the Nanda Devi East from the east or any of the other mountains forming the ring from the outside. The main summit is off limits currently because it falls inside the ring.

Nanda Devi main summit,...

Red Tape

The mountain (Main Summit) is currently closed to all visitors. To climb any peaks in the Sanctuary, you must get permission from the Mountaineering Foundation in India. There are fees based on the height of the mountain you wish to climb, and a government liasion must be on your team. Additional fees will be assessed for environmental protection.

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation can be contacted at Benito Juarez Road, New Deli.

When To Climb

May - June or September - October.

The Climb ...

Nanda Devi is a full expedition style climb. Gear appropriate to this type of climbing is necessary.

Useful Links

US State Department Information on Travel to India

The Garhwal Himalaya East Page

Nanda Devi Sanctuary Page

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-3 of 3

dmiki - Dec 31, 2010 7:14 am - Voted 10/10

Shouldn't Lat/Lon rather be

30.5425, 79.970833 ? Or even better: 30.36814 / 79.99008


dmiki - Dec 31, 2010 7:25 am - Voted 10/10

'Nanda Devi' means

Bliss-Giving Goddess


dmiki - Dec 31, 2010 7:27 am - Voted 10/10

Tenzing quote

"The first attempt to traverse the ridge between the main summit and Nanda Devi East resulted in the death of two members of a French expedition in 1951. Team leader Roger Duplat and Gilbert Vignes disappeared on the ridge somewhere below the main summit. Tenzing Norgay was in a support team on this expedition; he and Louis Dubost climbed Nanda Devi East to look for the missing pair. Some years later Tenzing was asked what was the most difficult climb he ever did, expecting him to say Mount Everest; he surprised his interlocutors by saying Nanda Devi East."

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



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Garhwal HimalayaMountains & Rocks