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The Peaks of Good and Evil

After obsessing over a remote mountain in India for over a decade, my dream became a reality. But be careful what you wish for- the Peak of Evil lived up to it's name and then some.

Flying over the same towering mountains of the Punjab Himalaya, deep in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, that I had visited a decade before, one peak held my attention. It was the same mountain that on my previous trip a friend had identified as White Sail, a huge mysterious monolith, gutted by an impressive couloir spilling directly from the summit. My friend pointed out that, to the best of his knowledge, it had never been skied. For more than a decade, I dreamt of mounting an expedition to climb and ski this magnificent line on this remote mountain. It wasn’t until I started planning the expedition in earnest, in 2012, that I learned the 21,186ft White Sail was known locally as Dharamsura, or the Peak of Good. But Dharamsura, I also discovered, had a taller, more insidious twin-the 21,252-foot Papsura, or “Peak of Evil.

When I compared my single 12-year-old photograph to the images on Google Earth I realized what I thought was White Sail was in fact Papsura. The twin peaks also come with a dose of local superstition. The two are said to vary in height according to how good and evil are balanced in the universe. Evil, I found, has apparently been doing well-Papsura is nearly 70 feet taller than Dharamsura.

As the beating rotors of Himachal Heli Skiing’s Bell 407 brought us closer to our high camp and the mountain’s immense bulk, however, Papsura looked more intriguing than sinister. Despite weather obscuring parts of the west face, I was stunned by the view-it was beautiful and terrifying, far more impressive than my old photograph indicated.

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