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Mountaineering - Lahaul Expedition 2017


Lahaul Expedition 2017 Report:

Peaks planned to climb : 5980m, 6080m, 5920m, 5800m, 5794m
Area
: Lahaul (Killingsarai), Manali-Leh Highway
Grid
references recorded using GPS and Gaia GPS Smartphone Application:
5980m – E 32.87172 E 077.39739,

5794m – N 32.81872 E 077.40461


Route Followed
:
Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Summit camp of 5980m -> 5980m Summit East ridge.
Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Summit camp of 5920m -> 5794m Summit South route.

Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Summit camp of 5980m -> 5980m Summit.

Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Summit camp of 5920m -> 5794m Summit North face

Team Bhramamti :

Team Giri Vihang :

Rajan Rikame (Leader)
Komal Gupta (Deputy Leader)
Kaivalya Varma (Equipment in charge)
Muzammil Shaikh (Treasurer)
Prakash Walvekar (Basecamp in charge)
Anamika Walvekar
Rajendra Nehte
Deepa Bhat
Milind Gyani
Shashinath Mishra

Nilesh Kamtekar (Leader)
Laxman Patil (Deputy Leader)
Ashish Palande (Equipment in charge)
Abhishek Kulkarni (Photographer)
Ajinkya Kanetkar (First Aider)
Vasant Khandagle (Treasurer)
Sameer Bhatkar


Guides:
Mahendra Thakur, Bhagat Thakur, Pyareram Thakur, Cook: Diles Kapoor
1 HAP (Shambhu) and 3 LAP's (Rajesh, Raju, Ramdayal)

Expedition Date: 23 July 2017 to 19 August 2017







Overview: budget and time for 2017 expedition. The team composition was little different than last time. We had a joint expedition this time with ‘Giri Vihang Trekkers’. Since we had visited Dandu Nalla, Lahual ,Himachal Pradesh in 2014, we thought of going into same valley and attempt remaining unclimbed peaks in the valley. The location was Killingsarai 260km from Manali on Manali-Leh highway. We climbed 5980m peak 2 times with two team and first successful attempt (5920m) from two routes(south & north-east). We were not able to find any traces of previous attempt on these peak by any other expeditions earlier on our campsites or routes to our camps. We also confirmed with the local Sheppard that no expedition has attempted any of the peaks in Dandu Nallah expect Bhramanti Mountaineers in 2014. Out of 17 members 3 members has to return back to Manali due to altitude sickness. Remaining 14 members climbed 4 routes (2 attempts on Haathi & 2 on virgin peak via south face and north east face) in 4 separate attempts.

After successful attempt on Mt. Haathi and Peak 5920 mtrs we decided to attempt north face of Peak 5794 mtrs and help new members to open route and fix ropes on the ice wall which will enhance their climbing skills.

Naming Virgin peak:
We suggest the name of the virgin peak as “Garja Goh” (5792m) which was climbed by our team on 5 th Aug & 9 th Aug 2017 from South and North-East ridge respectively. The Pyramid (Or Garja Goh) peak looks like triangular in shape with 5 ft standing rock feature on top. The name Garja mean Lahaul and Goh means mountains in the local language.


Daily Report:

Sunday 23-Jul Mumbai to Chandigarh
One month prior to the expedition, team members procured altitude food, first aid, equipment and tents and collected at Kaivalya’s home in Borivali, Mumbai. On 23 th July members and well wishers of Bhramanti and Girivihang Trekkers gathered at Kaivalya’s residence and voluntarily shifted the kits bags weighing almost 600 kgs at Borivali railway station. Team was scheduled to travel by Pashchim Express to Chandigarh at 12pm. The 2 Expedition members were expected to join directly in Manali.

Monday 24-Jul Arrival at Chandigarh & Departure to Burwa, Manali

The team reached Chandhigarh at 4pm and moved to Manali by tempo traveler(minibus) & 6 seater car (Innova) by road and reached at Burwa (Manali) late night. The team stayed in Burwa/Manali for few more days for purchasing fresh food and complete remaining formalities.

Tuesday 25-Jul Stay at Burwa & purchasing
Fresh vegetables and other essential equipment were purchased. Expedition leader and couple of members visited Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering & Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) for necessary compliance and submitted the expedition map and schedule to Sr. Instructor Mr. Nanak Soni and briefed him regarding the expedition plan.

Wednesday 26-Jul Stay at Burwa & packing - Acclimatization
Entire team went for acclimatization walk in the nearby mountain. The support team joined the team in the afternoon (Guides, Cook, HAP and LAPs) while Mahendra, took charge of packing.

Thursday 27-Jul Departure to Jispa and stay – Acclimatization
The team left Burwa at 8am in 4 hired vehicles. Weather was clear and experienced no road damage. The team visited District Magistrate at Keylong on the way to submit the expedition documents and provide necessary information to facilitate flawless rescue during emergencies and headed to Jispa for stay. The entire team reached Jispa(180km) by 1pm. It was a planned stay at Jispa in the Institute dormitory for acclimatization while the Utility vehicle carrying ration and equipment moved to Kilingsarai road head camp with support staff.


Friday 28-Jul Departure to Kilingsarai,
Establishment of Base Camp & Acclimatization
All Expedition members left Jispa at 7:30am for Kilingsarai road head (80km) crossing Barlacha la on the Manali-Leh high way. The team established the Base Camp at 4600m 30 minutes away from the road head close to Dandu Nalla. In the evening entire team went for an acclimatization walk on a hillock 1000ft above the camp.


Saturday 29-Jul Rest Day and Equipment Sorting
Being first day at altitude we decided to do a short acclimatization walk followed by sorting of equipment and ration. Shashinath and Sameer were not able to cope up with altitude and decided to move at lower altitude if they were not able to get a good sleep following night.

Sunday 30-Jul Load ferry to ABC and back at Base camp
Two sick members Shaninath and Sameer left BC to Killingsarai road head to descend down to lower altitude accompanied by guide Bhagat. Rest of the team members carried ration and equipment to a dumping point next to a stream coming from peak 5800 mtrs 200m below Advance Base Camp and returned to Base Camp. It took 3 hrs to reach the dumping point from Base Camp. Nakul had to stay at Base Camp since he had shown signs of altitude sickness.

BASE CAMP (4640 m).

 

 



BASE CAMP (4640 m).

Monday 31-Jul Rest Day
Nakul was not able to sleep previous night and started to show symptoms of altitude sickness. Considering the condition it was decided to send him back to Keylong immediately. Since he was not able to walk due to weakness and altitude sickness he had to be carried in a rudimentary stretcher for 2 kms till Killingsarai road head where we managed to hire a car and send him to the hospital at Keylong. After back breaking evacuation task team decided to take rest since all members were tired and it was already 12pm. 2 trekking team members and 1 guide were sent as an escort with Nakul. By evening the guide returned with good news of Nakul’s recovery. Doctor had advised to send him further down to Manali next day which was accepted without any resistance.

Tuesday 1-Aug Load Ferry to ABC
The Load Ferry to ABC started at 8am via new route. Instead of crossing Dandu Nallah in the beginning (towards Saarchu side), we walked on the left bank of the nallah for an hour and then crossed multiple streams to move to the right side of nallah. We walked another two hour through morain to reach another small nallah flowing from peak 5800 mtrs peak. After crossing the nallah a steep climb towards west, headed us to ABC site. This was the same site where we had established our ABC in 2014.

Wednesday 2-Aug Move to ABC(4800m) and stay
At 8am we wind up BC and moved to ABC. We had to move entire Base Camp to ABC as all peaks were approachable from ABC and cannot leave anything back at Base Camp since it was close to road and on the trek route to popular Pritse La.

Thursday 3-Aug Move to ABC(4800m) and stay
After breakfast we made two teams one for Haathi peak and another for Tikona reconnaissance. Tikona 5920m and adjacent virgin peak 5794m. We planned to attempt the virgin peak first and Tikona the next day which was already climbed by ‘Bhramanti Mountaineers’ in 2014. Haathi team comprises Prakash, Anamika, Vasant & Rajendra. Tikona team comprises Nilesh, Aashish, Abhishek, Ajinkya, Laxman, Muzammil & Komal. Since most of the team members were on their first expedition and there were two simultaneous attempts on both peaks, lot of coordination had to be done. Being leader, myself and Kaivalya decided to stay at ABC and coordinate with both teams in case of any emergency and ensure all team members get their first taste of summit.

 
At around 3pm the entire team except Milind went for an acclimatization walk towards Camp1 route of Haati. We climbed 150m gulley above ABC towards Haathi summit camp. Immediately after the gulley we went towards west of Haathi. After spending some time we returned back to ABC at around 6:30pm via south west. Musa, Ajinkya, Ashish and Kaivalya headed further for recci of 6080 mtrs.


Friday 4-Aug Occupy Summit Camp of Tikona(5920m), Haathi(5980m). Two teams started to respective peak (Haathi and Tikona) around 7am after breakfast. Both the team reached around 12pm and 1pm at respective summit camp. One of the expedition member Milind decided to return back due to knee pain with the help of Shambhu. Deepa Bhat another expedition member was supposed to join us at ABC today. She reached the ABC site at 4pm along with Shambhu and LAP. Walkie Talkie was used to coordinate between ABC and 2 summit camps. The Tikona summit camp was established at height 5100m while Haathi summit camp was at 5200m.


7.1 Below photo is team leaving ABC for Haathi

7.2 Below photo is team leaving ABC for virgin peak

7.1.1 1 st Haathi Team

7.2.1 1 st Tikona Team

7.1.2 Moving to Haathi Summit camp towards North of ABC

7.2.2 Moving to Tikona Summit camp towards West of ABC

7.1.3 Haathi Summit camp with Yunam’s north face on the left and Tikona on right in background.

7.2.3 Peak Tikona from summit camp. Summit camp is on the morain at the beginning of glacier.

Saturday 5-Aug Summit Attempt of 5980m, 5794m & recce of 6080m
Haathi team left summit camp at 5am for summit attempt and another team started summit attempt at 4am from Tikona summit camp for Peak 5794 mtrs. Around 7am we could see the team above the col between Tikona and Peak 5794 mtrs. 250ft rope was fixed to reach the col and team had to ascend fixed ropes using Ascenders. After col team had to negotiate steep scree and moraine to reach the summit at 9:45am.

Around 10am the Base Camp team (Kaivalya, Deepa, HAP-Shambhu and myself) went to see progress of Haathi team and do some scouting for other possibilities for climbing in valley. At 12:50pm Haathi team reached summit of the peak which is second ever successful attempt on Haathi. We reached 5182m south of Haathi from where we saw a beautiful crack which can be a very good challenge for some aspiring rock climbers. There is a possibility to pitch 2 to 3 four men tent on flat surface and has a small water stream. Meanwhile we saw team descending the col between Tikona and Peak 5794 mtrs. We further trekked towards the south-west of Haathi and found another glacier with a small tarn. We started our return journey from this point at around 2:45pm since moving further was dangerous due to gaping crevasses. Team attempting 5794 mtrs winded summit camp and reached ABC at 6:30pm. Support team was sent to summit camp of Haathi for assisting the team to wind up summit camp and carry load, the team reached ABC at 8:00pm.

1 st attempt on Haathi peak 5980 mtrs

1 st attempt on peak 5794 mtrs on south face

7.1.4.Team moving toards east ridge of Haathi

7.2.4. Team progressing towards col between Tikona and virgin peak using fixed ropes

7.1.5. Haathi Peak (5980m) during summit attempt

7.2.5. Tikona peak on left & Virgin peak(5794m) on right

Climbing the col between Tikona & Virgin peak

7.1.6. Traversing south to north towards summit

7.2.6. Climbing the col between Tikona & Virgin peak

At Summit – Laxman, Ajinkya, Abhishek, Muzammil, Ashish, Nilesh, Dilawar, Komal, Bhagat

7.1.7 . At Summit – Prakash, Mahendra, Vasant, Anamika & Rajendra

7.2.7. At Summit – Laxman, Ajinkya, Abhishek, Muzammil, Ashish, Nilesh, Dilawar, Komal, Bhagat

7.1.8 .From Summit of Haathi towards south.

7.2.8 .From Summit of Virgin peak towards West


7.1.9 . From the summit of Haathi towards west, the Lingti valley and further Zanskar range.

7.2.9 . From Summit of Virgin peak towords South-east, the Tikona peak with a apple or heart shape lake.


Sunday 6-Aug Rest day at ABC
Team rested and shared their experiences with each other. Post lunch both teams sorted their camping and climbing gear. Now we had 3 days in our hand before we start our return journey. The weather conditions were in our favour and the team member’s energy level was high, we decided to attempt new route of Haathi and north face of Peak 5794 mtrs.

Monday 7-Aug Prepare for next summit attempt.
We divided ourselves in two teams for Haathi and Peak 5794 mtrs respectively. Haathi team comprises Laxman , Rajan , Nilesh , Komal with two Guides ( Bhagat & Diler). Tikona team comprises Ashish , Ajinkya , Abhishek , Muzammil , Deepa , Kaivalya , Rajendre with 2 Guides ( Mahendra & Pyaru). Prakash, Anamika and Vasant decided to rest at ABC along with Shambhu. We made a final check of our sorted camping and climbing equipment after final briefing.

Tuesday 8-Aug Move to summit camp
After breakfast both the teams moved to their respective camps. This time Haathi team established Summit camp at 2pm in the bowl before the final climb at 5500 mtrs. Peak 5794 mtrs team established summit camp at the previous site.

Wednesday 9-Aug Summit attempt
Haathi team started the summit attempt at 5:30am on east face. Within half an hour clouds covered the valley and it started snowing. We continued climbing towards the East face. Due to low visibility and continuous snowfall it was becoming difficult and dangerous to attempt new route. Since the snowfall continued we decided to abandon the plan to climb Haathi via east face and follow the traditional route by climbing the steep scree slope of 300ft connecting South East Ridge route. After climbing 1000ft loose rocks on the ridge, we had to fix crampons on our boots and rope up since the gradient was steep and the continuous snowfall was making it more difficult and prone for slipping on fresh snow. We traversed on the 60 degree gradient starting from west ridge to east face towards summit. While traversing we had to negotiate 3 pitches of hard ice. After reaching a hump we had to descend 50ft in the bowl below the final summit ridge. Team reached summit at 10:15am along with two guides.

Meanwhile other team on Peak 5974 mtrs peak started at 4am whereas Rajendra decided to stay back at summit camp. After leaving summit camp the team traversed a scree slope of 45 degrees and entered glacier toward north. After traversing for around 90 mins the team reach at the base of an ice wall. Around 6:30am it started to snow however team decided to continue climbing. Team had to fix total 1300ft of rope. After assessment it was decided that new members will lead and fix the ropes. The detail description of technical difficulties are as below:
Phase 1 – 150 ft Team roped up and used crampons.
Phase 2 – 850 ft Team fixed ropes in pitches. Total 5 belay stations were made to negotiate 850ft.
Phase 3 – 200 ft The gradient was gradual (55 to 60 degrees). Fixed rope and used crampons
Phase 4 – 200 ft Last pitch was scree on a gradual slope. Team roped up and negotiated last scree slope since the ridge was narrow and snowfall continued. Deepa had difficulty in climbing and could not climb on her own. Ajinkya and Musa extended their assistance by hauling her on belay rope however could not make it. Meanwhile Kaivalya was retrieving equipment placed on the lower sections of the wall ensuring none of the team member is anchored on the system. By now it was 1:00pm and snowfall didn’t stop and clouds started covering the valley. Looking at the weather conditions it was not a wise decision to continue climbing in these conditions. It would have taken around 2 hours more to take Deepa on summit. Kaivalya took decision of going down with Ajinkya, Musa and Deepa. Ashish, Abhishek along with Mahendra and Pyareram climbed to the summit. Till then Kaivalya and Ajinkya made preparations for rappelling by making V Thread in ice on the lip of the ice wall whereas Musa assisted Deepa to climb down to the anchor. By 2:15pm Ashish, Abhishek and guides joined the team and rappelled to the base of the wall. It was a time consuming job since all the ropes and anchors had to be fixed again on the wall for rappelling. By the time the team reached summit camp it was around 5:00pm. Kaivalya along with Pyareram moved to ABC same evening from summit camp and reached at 8:30pm.

8.1 Below Pics are of Haathi 2 nd attempt

8.2 Below Pics are of peak 5794 mtrs north face attempt



8.1.1 New Summit Camp (5484m) below East face of Haathi peak

8.2.1 Tikona Summit Camp near the glacier



8.1.2. Loose scree 300ft scrambling on 45-50 degree slope to reach east ridge of Haathi Peak.

8.2.2 The 150ft gradual climb (Phase 1) on the west face of the Wall of Virgin Peak.





8.1.3. Traversing from south to north to reach summit ridge

8.2.3. The 850ft steep climb (Phase 2) on the west face of the Wall of Virgin Peak.





8.1.4 On final rocky South West Ridge, 50 ft below the summit 8.2.4 The 850ft steep climb (End of Phase 2) on the west face of the Wall of Virgin Peak.


 

8.1.5 Haathi Summitter – Nilesh, Komal, Laxman, Rajan & Bhagat photographed by Diler. (5980 mtrs)

8.2.5 On Virign route summiter-Ashish, Abhishek, Pyareram. Of 5774 mtrs.

   

8.1.7 Descending from summit. Leaving Summit at right side.

8.2.7 Descending from north face of the Virgin peak summit. Summit on left side.



8.1.8 Descending by traversing north to south towards east ridge.

8.2.8 Descending towards summit camp.



Thursday 10-Aug Return to ABC and packing of gear in the kitbag.

The team attempting 5974mtrs returned to ABC from summit camp at 10am. After rest and lunch counting of equipment and packing was started for return journey towards base camp. Team collected garbage and packed in two jute bags after sorting into biodegradable and non biodegradable and carried all the way to Manali to be disposed. We did not burn anything in the mountains to avoid pollution. Hazardous waste like batteries was packed separately and brought to Manali. This time we found glass bottles and tins at Killing Sarai road head camp, base camp and ABC which was surprising. After discussion with the shepherd we learnt many groups come to ABC for camping and party. The base camp being on the route of popular Pritse la trek people celebrate on completion of their trek. The drivers are asked to bring alcohol bottles while they come to receive the groups. Extensive broken glass bottles were found around base camp and killing sarai road head camp.

We did not find any facility in Manali to dispose or handover hazardous waste. We ensured no human waste is left in open and water sources are not polluted. Leave No Trace all seven principles were strictly followed during entire expedition and during travel as well.

Friday 11-Aug Return load ferry to BC
We ferried load to the nallah near base camp and returned back to ABC. The following night it rained for some time.

Saturday 12-Aug Return to BC
After early breakfast we did a final check for any garbage left over at ABC and shifted to base camp.

 

 

9 Plastics & biodegradable waste collected in these bags at ABC

10 Members separating Plastics & biodegradable waste in separate bags at ABC

Sunday 13-Aug Return to Killingsarai road head camp
We had to shift entire load including tents, ration, utensils and equipment at Killing Sarai road head camp. After breakfast all team members did load ferry to Killing Sarai road head camp and some of the members stayed back to supervise the loads and pitch tents. Since the camp was next to the road the BRO labours and tourist were frequent visitors and we needed some members to supervise the camp. Rest of the members shifted entire load in second load ferry. Due to heavy rains and road block vehicles reached late evening. Mother Nature cooperated during entire expedition and blessed us on last evening with heavy rains and greeted adieu.

Monday 14-Aug Entire team returning to Burwa/Manali
The team winded up the camp and boarded the pickup vehicle happily. It took 7hr to reach Manali without any road blocking issue. The team reported the Keylong District Magistrate office about safe return on the way. Everyone took rest until 16th Aug with miscellaneous work like cleaning of tents and some of the equipments.

Tuesday 15-Aug Rest day Burwa/Manali

Wednesday 16-Aug Rest day Burwa/Manali
Today some of the team members visited Manali Mountaineering Institute to report our safe arrival from mountain.

Thursday 17-Aug

Departure from Manali to Chandhigadh by road at night around 11:45pm

Friday 18-Aug Departure to Mumbai from Chandhigadh by train (Paschim Express)
We reached Chandhigadh train station at 10:30am. The Chandhigadh-Mumbai train (Paschim express) arrived at 12:05pm and we boarded with entire luggage for further journey to Mumbai.

Saturday 19-Aug Reach Mumbai
The train reached Borivali(Mumbai) at 2:00pm. Our excitements level increased when we were welcomed by friends and senior members of the club at Borivali train station. We transported all our baggage to common location from where we did our pre expedition packing.

We considered this is a successful joint expedition of “Bhramanti” & “Giri Vihang”. Special Thanks to “Dhanashri” a food company who provided us some of its dehydrated product which was really helpful at high altitude in terms of time, fuel & cooking effort. We would like to thank all friends and members who voluntarily supported this expedition. We thank Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi for supporting such adventure sport which is helping youth to get motivated and became courageous.

 

 

11 Visit to one of local guide old home

12 Visit to Burva village – one of the old home





13 Visit to local festival in Burwa Village

14 Visit to local festival dance in Burwa Village



Written by: Rajan Rikame


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