Meru South Team Succeeds on New Route

Mathieu Maynadier, Roger Schaeli, and Simon Gietl completed their new alpine-style route up Meru South (6,660m), in India’s Garhwal Himalaya. Photographer Daniel Hug was also there documenting the climb.

“Second try was the good one,” said Maynadier, who had attempted the peak in 2019 with Schaeli and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll. This time, the third man on the team was Simon Gietl, a big wall climber from the Italian Dolomites.

The clibmers seen from a drone, up a vertical, mixed terrain pitch on a mainly rocky, granite face.

On Meru South. Photo: @terragraphy (Daniel Hug)


The mountain was more loaded than snow than usual. That was partly a positive since the heavy snow allowed the climbers to ski into base camp. On the other hand, it increased the avalanche risk significantly, especially in the lower sections. They also said that the route was a “labyrinth of crevasses.”

The team set off from base camp on May 11 and climbed all the way to Camp 2. This tested Maynadier, who was suffering from diarrhea. For that reason, Schaeli and Gietl led across rock sections and a snowfield, while Mathieu recovered.

Big wall climbing technics on a diedhral, with ice on one side and the sun above.

A difficult pitch. Photo: @terragraphy


Later, the three of them set off at 3 am and climbed all day to the summit ridge. It was almost midnight when they found a suitable bivouac on the corniced ridge.

A climber at the top of an ice field, neat a sharp ridge and a backdrop of glaciers and peaks.

Climbers approach the summit ridge. Photo: @terragraphy


“We were able to set up our two-man tent on a spectacular mushroom just before midnight, [at the] base of the last crux: a steep rock band with big snow mushrooms,” the team reported.

The following morning, they were uncertain that they would find a route to the summit. But after the first pitch, an ice tunnel appeared before them, providing what they describe as “one of the most original pitches we could imagine.”

Three pitches later, they reached the ridge again. They climbed the last 200 vertical meters on steep ice and in icy winds and reached the top at 9:00 am on May 13.

On the summit. Maynadier, center, flanked by Schaeli, left, and Gietl. Photo: Mathieu Maynardier


The climbers descended all day nonstop, in order to reach the base of the face in the afternoon. The team has named their new 800m-long route “Goldfish” and proposed M6+, A1 for it.

Route topo on a photo of Meru South.

The new route. Photo: @terragraphy

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.