Kumaon consists of three different valleys. They lie to the west of Nepal. Kumaon is generally confused with Garhwal. In fact Garhwal was once a part of Kumaon till the British separated it and gave it a different name.
The first valley, in the east, is the Darma Ganga valley. At its head are several peaks above 6000 m, technically difficult to climb. Peaks like Sangthang and Lalla We can be approached from here.
The Central valley in the Kumaon is the valley of the Milam glacier. Beside its eastern branch is an excellent climbing area of Kalabaland glacier. The peak Chiring We (6559 m) rises from the Kalabaland glacier and was climbed only once in 1979 by the Indian team led by Harish Kapadia. To its south, is Suitilla (6373 m) a most formidable and difficult goal. At the head of the Milam glacier are the enciting peaks Hardeol (7151 m) and Tirsuli (7074 m). Nanda Devi East has been climbed from this valley. Panch Chuli is the south eastern valley of this section in the Kumaon. It has five different peaks which were conquered with great difficulty, both from the East and the West.
The western valley of Kumaon is the Pindari valley, flanked by peaks like Panwali Dwar (6663 m) and Nanda Khat. This area is very popular with climbers. The Sunderdhunga valley branches off from the Pindari and leads to the southern foot of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.
The Garhwal is a tract in the center of the Indian Himalaya. For many years mountaineers have visited and climbed in this area.
North Garhwal consists of peaks like Kamet (7756 m) and Mukut Parbat (7242 m). Many high peaks here have not been climbed. The famous Hindu temple of Badrinath attracts many Hindu pilgrims.
The valleys to the extreme west of the Garhwal region house some very easy, gentle peaks. Many students and early mountaineers have trained in these areas. The Swargarohini group can prove a bit troublesome though. Bandarpuch West and Bandarpuch (6316 m) have been climbed a couple of times. For a quick trip from Delhi this area is the most convenient.
Nanda Devi Sanctuary
The area from where the Rishi Ganga starts is the famous Nanda Devi Sanctuary, the centre piece of the Garhwal region. Until 1934 the gorge of the Rishi Ganga was the least known part of the Himalaya. The Nanda Devi range is a long one, about 75 miles in circumference, about 6000 m high, sheltering approximately 380 sq. km. of ice and snow. The Nanda Devi peak (7816 m) is the most beautiful peak in the Indian Himalaya. It was climbed in 1936 by Tilman and Odell and the shoulders of both its peaks were traversed by Japanese mountaineers in 1976.
The other noteworthy peaks on the rim of the Sanctuary, are Changabang (6864 m), Rishi Pahar (6992 m), and Bethartoli Himal (6352 m) etc. The Northern Sanctuary of the Nanda Devi was visited by an expedition from Japan and they climbed several peaks being first in the area after 40 years. The northernmost peak of the inner Sanctuary, Changabang, was climbed in 1974 by the Indo-British team led by Chris Bonington. Four days later, Harish Kapadias team climbed Devtoli (6788m), the inner sanctuarys southernmost tip. In spite of many successful conquests, there are still several unclimbed peaks here, particularly the Northern part of the sanctuary.
For preserving the fragile environment, this area is now closed to mountaineers. Only one army expedition was allowed to enter in the last 15 years. It is not known when and whether anyone will be permitted to climb here again.