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India Opens 100+ Peaks

More than a hundred previously restricted peaks in India’s Jammu and Kashmir regions will open to climbing this upcoming season. As reported in the December 29, 2009 NewsWire, the India Mountaineering Federation and India’s Ministry of Tourism had proposed the measure last year; now with approval from India’s Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Home Affairs, the measure will go into effect this summer, opening at least 104 mountains.

Affected summits range from 3000 to 7800 meters, or 9,842 to 25,590 feet, in altitude. They are located in the eastern Karakoram, primarily in the Leh and Ladakh regions of northern India, near the border with Pakistan and China. Some notable peaks include Lingsarmo (6955m), Rungofarka (6395m), Techafarka (6495m), Pt 6148, Shafat-I (6800m), Photoksar (6080m), Shafat-II (6302m), Shafat-III (6155m), Chiling-I (6349m), Chiling-II (6253m), Hagshu-I (6515m), Kangyarrag (6210m), Kangyassay I (6401m), Lalung-I (6243), Lalung-II (6157) and Lalung-III (6126m).

The Saser Kangri group–which includes one of the world’s highest unclimbed peaks, Saser Kangri II Main (aka East, 7513m)–will be accessible, as will sought-after summits in the Rimo, Apsaras and Ghaint groups.

While classified as “restricted,” in large part due to the India-Pakistan conflicts in Kashmir, these peaks were nearly forbidden.

“Due to their ‘restricted’ status and close proximity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or the Line of Control (LoC), only 10 joint expeditions or purely Indian expeditions were permitted on these peaks,” India Today reported. “And for that, one had to take permission from the defence and home ministries, and the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF). But now, mountaineers simply have to apply to the IMF and book a peak for expedition.”

However, the Ministry of Defense has stipulated that the army must authorize approach routes and filming in the newly opened area.

Foreign teams must be accompanied by a liaison officer and have appropriate state government and agency clearances, an official from the defense ministry said.