High above the pious spot of Gaumukh, beyond Nandanvan and Tapovan lies a mountain which has always caught the fancy of dare-doers around the world. Mount Meru is situated in the Garhwal Himalayas, lying between Thalay Sagar and Shivling. It has three peaks, Southern(21850 ft), Central(20700 ft) and Northern(21160 ft).
The central peak, the lowest of the three, has a lot of highly challenging routes. Shark's fin, a 1500-feet vertical rock wall at the top, is considered as one of the toughest climbs in the world and has always attracted a lot of Alpine climbers. There have been dozens of attempts on this line and for a long time, this stood as the pinnacle of alpine & big wall climbing for the whole breed of alpinists and rock/ice climbers around the world.
The credit for the first successful ascent of Shark's fin goes to the trio of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk in 2011. This was the second attempt for the team together with Conrad having attempted once more earlier with a different team.
The ascent to the top took the trio a 12-day push from the base camp. The team learnt from its experiences on the mountain in 2008 and meticulously planned the ascent. Conrad's deep knowledge, basis his earlier two attempts on this line helped the team prepare well for the attempt and they were able to push through the first phase in 48 hours, what had taken them 6 days in the last attempt. In their own words, they got incredibly lucky by a clear weather window, a cold-and-dry high pressure system which afforded them clear days to climb. Continuing forward, it took them 4 more days of climbing to reach the overhanging section, the most dangerous part of the climb and the one which had thwarted most of the attempts before this. They pushed through for the summit bid thereafter and reached the top on 2nd October 2011. It took three days thereafter to climb down and safely complete the expedition.
The climb up Shark's fin requires a high level of competency in different styles of climbing - Ice climbing, Snow climbing, Rock climbing, Aid climbing, Mixed climbing. It's basically more of high-altitude, big-wall climbing and less of mountaineering. The most difficult part are the overhangs, which challenge every climber and is the biggest obstacle on the line.
The mountain is still awaiting a second ascent on Shark's fin.
Source - Read up on Jimmy Chin's account of the climb here
The climb was captured and has been converted into a documentary MERU by Jimmy Chin. It released this year at Sundance Film Festival to a great reception, focusing more on the softer aspects of an expedition like this - mentorship on a big climb, loyality and obsession.