Three Elite Alpinists Ready to Start Up Remote, Difficult Nanda Devi East

Manu Pellisier of France, Marko Prezelj of Slovenia, and Archil Badriashvili of Georgia have reached Nanda Devi East. They have completed their acclimatization and are ready to attempt a new route up the East Face.

A nameless (and unclimbed?) peak for starters

The team left Delhi on May 15 and needed eight days to reach the foot of the mountain.

“We set up base camp at 4,300m on May 22,” Badriashvili said. “It is a very beautiful place with springs, a river, grass, many kinds of birds, and this beautiful peak.”

Once there, the team climbed a lesser peak to acclimatize. Their chosen goal was far from a straightforward route just to get the body used to altitude.

“On May 31, we climbed a nameless mountain (6,344m) up a logical and ultimately difficult route we graded as ED [Extremely Difficult in European alpine scale],” Badriashvili added. “As far as we know, no one has been to this peak before.”

They spent one day approaching the peak and two days to climb it.

“We reached the top amid deteriorating weather, with Nanda Devi appearing in all her majesty now and then,” Badriashvili said. “We spent the night on the summit, and the following day, we descended to the base camp by a different route.”

Badriashvili in a tent with a Georgia flag behind

Archil Badriashvili at Base Camp. Photo: Archil Badriashvili


The climbers are all Piolet d’Or winners specializing in exploratory, high-difficulty alpinism. Badriashvili is the youngest of the three. He bagged a golden ice axe in 2021 after the first ascent of Saraghrar NW with Baqar Gelashvili and Giorgi Tepnadze.

Pellisier and Prezelj won a Piolet d’Or in 2016 for their climb of India’s 6,173m Cerro Kishtwar. Prezelj — Mr. Piolet D’Or — has earned three other golden ice axes over the years.

While their preparatory climb was a special experience, their main goal should prove even more special.

Ideal team for a hard challenge

Solitary, wild, and difficult, Nanda Devi is rarely climbed. It is the second-highest peak in India after Kangchenjunga, but much more remote. The mountain massif creates a cirque known as the Sanctuary, which is forbidden to climbers. Only the part of the mountain leading to the eastern summit, located on the opposite side of the Sanctuary, is allowed.

Nanda Devi gets the morning light at the end of a valley still in the shade

Nanda Devi in the morning sun during the approaching trek. Photo: Archil Badriashvili


The 7,434m Eastern summit, also known as Sunanda Devi, is 382m below the main point. Nanda Devi East has been climbed several times, but always by the same classic southeast ridge route, opened by a Polish team in 1939. All attempts at a new line have failed. This expedition hopes to find a way up a pillar on the East Face.

Their attempt comprises one of the most exciting expeditions of the season.

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.