Nanda Devi, 7817m.    

     © Photo: Santosh Kunwar

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has been officially promoted already for years in this area,for pilgrimages to the Badrinath temple or Hemkund Sahib,for trekkings and any other outdoor activities…Pollution is now a main concern in many other parts of Himalaya,

around the Mt. Everest in the first line.

What do we do concrete about this?

With Adventure Trekking one porter goes on the treks to look after the dirt,

to clean and bring it down, and this works… You can see it!

Adventure Trekking has also begun a cleaning program in & around the local villages of the Nanda Devi National Park, with the agreement of the Uttaranchal Forest Department.

In the past, one of the great initiative to promote eco-tourism has been the creation of the


The main objective of the Nanda Devi Biosphere concept is to ensure

the conservation of landscape, ecosystem, species and genetic variations.

Encouragement to the traditional resource systems and understanding

the pattern and functioning of ecosystems are also the main conserving objects of this concept.

The NDBR was the first one to be created in Himalaya’s in 1988 by the UNESCO.



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. 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.