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About Kamet

Kamet is the second highest mountain in the Garhwal region of India, after Nanda Devi. It lies in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, close to the border with Tibet. It is the third highest mountain in Indian-controlled territory, although it ranks lower if counting mountains inside Indian-claimed territory in Pakistan, and it is the 29th highest in the world. Kamet is most properly considered part of (and the highest summit in) the Zanskar Range which lies north of the main chain of the Himalayas, between the upper Karnali River and the Suru River. In appearance it look likes a huge pyramid topped by a flat summit area with two peaks.

Classification of Kamet

There are varying explanations of the name “Kamet.” C. F. Meade claims that it is known to Tibetans as Kangmen, signifying “huge grandmother of a sacred snow chain”. However, Frank Smythe writes in his book Kamet defeated that the origin of the name is from the Tibetan word Kangmed ("the lower snows", from kang, “snow”, and med, “little”), as distinct from the “higher snows” of the Kailash range which is 110 miles east of Kamet. (This range is slightly lower than Kamet, its highest peak being Gurla Mandhata which is 7,728 m/25,355 ft in height; however it stands more fully on the high Tibetan Plateau). At dawn and dusk, “the copper colored rock of Mount Kamet reflects the oblique rays of the sun on its hanging glaciers appears to set these glaciers glowing with crackling flames and cleans the mountain in a red burning glow”. Hence the term “glacier fire” is also used as a reference to the name Kamet.

Neighboring and Subsidiary Peaks

Kamet is surrounded by three principal neighboring or subsidiary peaks:

Abi Gamin
Abi Gamin is 7,355m (24,130 ft), its prominence is 217 m, it lies at 30°55′57″N 79°36′09″E, north-northeast of Kamet; it is connected to Kamet by Meade’s Col. Its first ascent was done in 1950.

Mana is 272m (23,858 ft), it ranked 92nd, its prominence is 720 m, it lies at 30°52′52″N 79°36′57″E, south-southeast of Kamet. Its first ascent was done in 1937.

Mukut Parbat
Mukut Parbat is 7,242 m (23,760 ft) in height, it is ranked 97th, its prominence is 840 m, it lies at 30°57′08″N 79°34′13″E, northwest of Kamet. Its first ascent was done in 1951 . The lower of Mukut Parbat's twin summit has an elevation of 7,130 m (23,392 ft).

Several adjoining peaks, such as Bidhan Parbat, 6,519 m Mana NW, 7,092 m, Point 6,977 m, and Deoban, 6,855 m, also lie close to Kamet.


Due to its position near the Tibetan Plateau, Kamet is remote and not as accessible as some Himalayan peaks. It also receives a huge deal of wind from the Plateau. However, by modern standards, it is a comparatively straightforward ascent for such a high mountain. Early explorers of the region faced long approach marches of about 200 miles from Ranikhet through dense mountain forest; access is easier today.

While attempts to climb Kamet began in 1855, the first ascent was not made until 1931 by Eric Shipton, R.L. Holdsworth, Frank Smythe, and Lewa Sherpa, members of a British expedition. Kamet was the first summit over 25,000 ft (7,620 m) to be climbed, and was the highest summit reached until the first ascent of Nanda Devi five years later. However, far higher non-summit altitudes had been reached on the north side of Mount Everest in the 1920s.

The standard route begins from the East Kamet (or Purbi Kamet) Glacier, ascending via Meade's Col which is 7,100m high, the saddle between Kamet and its northern outlier Abi Gamin. From Meade's Col the route ascends the northeast edge of the north face. The climb to Meade's col involves steep gullies, a rock wall, and some glacier climbs. Five camps are generally placed en route. The final ascent to the summit involves steep snow, possibly icy.

Glaciers and Rivers

The East (Purbi or Purva) Kamet Glacier, the West (Pachmi or Paschimi) Kamet Glacier and the Raikana Glacier systems surround Kamet. The branches of the West Kamet Glacier start on the western slopes of Kamet, Mukut Parbat, and Abi Gamin. The East Kamet Glacier flows from the eastern side of Mana and Kamet. The Raikhana glacier originates on the east side of Meade’s Col saddle, flows east of Abi Gamin, and unites with the East Kamet Glacier. The West Kamet Glacier drains into the Saraswati River while the East Kamet Glacier feeds the Dhauliganga River; both rivers are tributaries of the Alaknanda River, the major river of the Chamoli district.

High Altitude Research

A. M. Kellas and his companion H. T. Morshead conducted scientific studies during their 1920 Kamet expedition focusing on the physiology of high altitude travel and acclimatization, and on the possibility of using supplemental oxygen. These studies ultimately proved useful on expeditions to Mount Everest.



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