Nanda Devi is the highest peak within the Indian Garhwal Himalaya, located in Chamoli, Uttarakhand. The mountain has two summits, the summit at 7816m (25,643ft) and Nanda Devi East at 7434m (24,389ft). The mountain itself is surrounded by a variety of peaks over 21,000ft, making it a particularly difficult mountain to access. This circle of peaks forms what’s referred to as the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.
The first successful ascent of the most summit was by Tilman and Odell in 1936 via the south ridge. With the successful ascent, Nanda Devi became the very best mountain climbed by man until 1950 when Annapurna was climbed. In 1976, Americans James States, Lou Reichardt, and John Roskelley climbed the most summit by a replacement route, the North Ridge. This expedition led to tragedy when Nanda Devi Unsoeld (Willie Unsoeld’s daughter who was named after the mountain) died near the summit. A fantastic account of this expedition is often read within the book by John Roskelley, “Nanda Devi, The Tragic Expedition”.
In the mid-1960s, a CIA expedition put a monitor on the summit to watch the nuclear activity in Tibet/China. It was supposedly lost in an avalanche. The mountain was closed by the government shortly after 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 attempts being made.