The Eastern Karakoram is the formidable and unknown area north of Ladakh and Leh. It contains several large glaciers and formidable passes. From 1980 till 2000, Harish Kapadia has visited these areas 7 times, exploring different valleys.
The Siachen Glacier which is scene of conflict between India and Pakistan was visited three times. He was instrumental in exploring the Terong Glacier systems and climbed peaks on the North and South Terong glaciers. One of the few civilian parties to be allowed on this glacier under control of the army. He traversed the entire length of the glacier and reached Indira Col (Workman, 1912) and Turkestan La (Younghusband, 1888).
The Chong Kumdan Glacier was known due to a glacial blockage caused at its mouth which generated devastating floods. His was the first and only expedition that have explored the dam and the glacier. The team climbed several peaks on the glacier, including the highest of the group, Chong Kumadn I. Many side glaciers and valleys were explored. Other areas and peaks in the surrounding valleys like Aq Tash peak, Thangman Glacier and North Kumdan glaciers were thoroughly explored.
The Rimo Glaciers are huge and longest in the East Karakoram. Harish trekked to the historic Karakoram Pass, only the third civilian party to stand there in last 40 years. He also explored the Central Rimo Glacier, which was not visited since expedition of Filippi de Filippi in 1913-14. They discovered lakes (Lake Filippi and Lake Dainelli) and recorded large number of unclimbed peaks. He stood on “Col Italia”, only the second party to reach there.( Prof. G. Dainelli, was the only other person to have reached the Col, way back in 1929).
The Arganglas valley was explored in 2001 while in 2002 with japans mountaineers traversed the Shyok valley to reach, Karakoram Pass, crossed Col Italia (first time since 1930) and descended the Siachen Glacier. During the expedition the high Teram Shehr Plateau was explored by him- first ever team to reach there.
The unknown Lingti Valley in eastern Spiti was explored by Harish in 1983 and 1987. By three different routes they entered and covered the entire length of the valley. The highest peak of Spiti, Gya (6794 m) was discovered by him and photographed for the first time.
In the western valleys of Spiti, his was the only party (two members) to explore Khamengar valleys. They descended the Ratang Gorge which had only one visitor before them, Sir Peter Holmes in 1955.
The Rangrik Rang Range, in the Charang Province of Kinnaur, bordering Tibet was explored by him in 1994. The highest peak of the range was climbed. At different times, areas of Hansbeshan and Shaone Gad were explored.
Nanda Devi Sanctuary was visited by
Harish first in 1970. One of the few early parties to visit and climb Bethartoli
Himal. He returned to enter the inner Sanctuary in 1974 and climbed
Devtoli. Finally in 2001, as leader of the official IMF sponsored expedition he
explored unknown corners in the Sanctuary to prepare a detailed Management Plan.
new areas visited for explorations were Bhagirtah Kharak Glacier and crossing of Shrak La (first and only
one to do so till now
after Shipton-Tilman in 1934). Exploring of Arwa Valleys and
photographing of Arwa Tower and Arwa Spire peaks, exploring of Trimukhi Parvat
in the Jadh Ganga valleys (only visitor till present
after J. B. Auden in 1931), and attempt on the
Panpatia Glacier to discover the Col crossed by Shipton-Tilman in
In 1982 Harish explored the upper Lasser Yankti and Darma Valley. Passes like Gangchal Dhura and Shin La were crossed in a pioneering effort.
two expeditions then unknown valleys of the Kalabaland Glacier were
explored and peak Chiring We at its head was climb (not repeated as yet).
the eastern Kumaun valleys, the Balati Glacier and the Pyunshani
valleys were explored and peaks of Panch Chuli Groups were climbed.
His was one of the first Indian teams to explore the northern areas of Sikkim, north of Zemu Glacier like Lhonak Valley no sooner Sikkim was part of India. With one other member the entire North Sikkim area was covered and all the peaks photographed for record.
Many of the above explorations have not been repeated as yet. They were difficult and pioneering and trekkers an climbers have found it difficult to repeat the same. However in some cases his explorations have led to opening of the area for climbers. Based on his writings climbers and trekkers have followed his footsteps to these unknown valleys.