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Mountaineering - Lahaul Expedition 2014

Expedition date: 20 July 2014 to 18 August 2014

Peak name:
5980m, 6080m, 5920m, Yunam (6130m)

Lahaul (Killingsarai), Manali-Leh Highway of the Himachal Pradesh state.
Grids recorded using GPS and Gaia GPS smartphone apps :
5980m – E 32.87172 E 077.39739,
5920m – E32.81138 E 077.38146,
Yunam (6130m) – N 32.81872 E 077.40461

Route Followed:
Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Sumit camp of 5980m -> 5980m Summit.
Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Sumit camp of 5920m -> 5920m Summit.
Kilingsarai road head -> Base Camp -> Advance Base Camp -> Sumit camp of 6130m -> 6130m Summit.

Rajan Rikame (Leader)
Bholaram Thakur (Deputy Leader)
Kaivalya Varma (Equipment in charge)
Ravi Bangera (Expedition Finance)
Prashant Thakur (Transportation in charge)
Rohan Rao (First Aider)

Guides: Pyareram, Gyani Cook: Diler, Porters: Bheem, Ishwar, Tikendar

After Losar expedition in 2012 the mountaineering team of Bhramanti extensively researched the probable area/peak for 2014 expedition. The team composition was almost the same as the last time. The peak options we had proposed among us were “Losar”, “Tharang” and multiple peaks in Lahaul out of which Lahaul was chosen. It took nearly 6 months for us to plan the peaks/location. The base camp location was Killingsarai 260km from Manali (In Himachal Pradesh state of India) on Manali-Leh highway. All these peaks are close to the border of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh state of India. We used Google Earth to research the probable campsites and routes for the targeted peaks. We hired services from the local agency “Shikhar Par” to assits us for some of the support activities (Guide/Kitchen/Porter/Transportation). The expedition flagged off from Mumbai on 20-Jul 2014 and ended on 18-Aug 2014. Except Peak 6080m we climbed three peaks out of which two are first successful attempt (5980m, 5920m). The Yunam (6130m) was third peak we successfully climbed. The peak 6080m couldn’t able to find the approach route due to the location of the peak was at intersection 3 bowl shaped terrain. The peak 5980m summated was on 31-Jul-2014. The peak 5920m was summated on 3-Aug-2014. The Yunam peak (6130m) was summated on 8-Aug-2014. Since we were the first one to climb as per authority we are allowed to name the peak and we are proposing the name Haathi (for peak 5980m) and Tikona (for peak 5920m). The unclimbed peak 6080m will look forward to climb in future expedition.

Detail report:

Sunday 20-Jul - One month before the expedition start, all common items like altitude food, first aid, equipment and tentage were purchased\collected at Kaivalya’s home in Borivali(Mumbai). On 20th July most of the support members and well wishers of Bhramanti gathered at his house in the morning for the team see off before departure by Paschim express to Chandhigarh at 12 noon Sunday. There were 6 kitbags and 3 personal bags weighing 200kg of luggage. The Expedition leader and 2 members were expected to join directly in Manali. The team reached Chandhigarh at 4pm of Monday 21-Jul and moved to Manali using tempo traveler(minibus) as our transport and reached at Burwa (Manali) late night where Bholaram Thakur joined the team. As per the schedule the team is supposed stay here and to wait for other members to join the team. Next day entire team went for shopping for groceries and personal items in the Manali market. The team also submitted the Expedition documents to Manali Institute and had brief chat with Sr.Instructor "I. D. Sharma" of the Institute. He remarked after viewing the Team resume that the team is experienced and wished us good luck.

Wednesday 23-Jul - entire team went for acclimatization walk in the nearby mountain. The support staff  joined the team in the afternoon (Guides, Cooks and LAPs) while Bhola, took charge of buying fresh groceries in the Manali market. Rajan the Expedition leader reached Burwa (Manali) and joined the team in the night. Thursday 24-Jul all new items had been packed and also the entire team did some acclimatization walk in the Burwa village. The last member of the team Rohan Rao informed that he will join on 26-Jul at Kilingsarai camp after completion of his Basic Course at Manali Institute.

Friday 25-Jul - The team left Burwa at 9am with hired vehicles (Camper & 2 Tavera) to carry entire expedition load and members. The Utility vehicle-camper was loaded with equipment/tentage/kitchen baggage. On the way there was a 30 minute break due to road being damaged by heavy water stream flowing on the way and then the team reached Jispa(180km) by 1:30pm. Also the team visited Keylong District Magistrate to submit the expedition documents on the way to Jispa. There was a plan to stay at Jispa (approx. height 10000ft) in the Institute Dormitory while the Utility vehicle was supposed to move further to the Kilingsarai road head. After settling down in the dormitory the team had a plan for height gain for acclimatization in the nearby mountain. The team gained 1000 ft and descended down to dormitory. All team members were fit and fine at this time. The utility vehicle (Camper) driver reported the team that they have reached Killingsarai road head campsite.

Saturday 26-Jul  - All Expedition members left Jispa by 7:30am to Kilingsarai road head (80km) crossing Barlacha la on the Manali-Leh high way. The team had encountered another road blockade due to heavy water stream on the way before Barlacha la. Last expedition member Rohan joined the team at 2pm at Kilingsarai. The team established the Base Camp at 4640m 30 minutes away from the road head close to Kilingsarai nallah. In the evening the entire team went on 1000ft above the camp to observe the load ferry route and acclimatization.

Sunday 27-Jul - Everyone carried personal gears required in the high altitude along with common equipment for the Advance Base Camp Load ferry. It took 4 hours to reach the ABC using the new goat path partially and new route keeping the Kilingsarai nallah on right side. The team encounter 100ft scree slope of 60 degree after crossing the snow bridge. The team realized the better route can be on the other side of the nallah after overlooking the route from the ABC. Few of the load ferry team went on to rekei the outer route while descending down to BC and it was successful and short route. The only difficulty the team had is to cross the Kilingsarai nallah near the BC especially while return when the water flow is more. One of the member Ravi had some altitude symptom during the load ferry. So the team planned to make him rest as much as we can.

Monday 28-Jul - The team decided to rest since not much was left to shift to ABC after yesterday's load ferry. Few items had been carried by the support staff using the new route.

Tuesday 29-Jul - Team had to wait for some time since morning rain disturbed our early morning move to ABC. The team started at 10am to move to ABC. Everyone reached the ABC with comfortable pace with our personal backpack in 3 hrs 30 minutes. The team established the ABC on the outskirt of the grassy top as per local shepherd’s request to since its grazing ground for his goats. The shepherd also confirmed that no one visited this valley for any attempt as per his knowledge and the nallah he referred as dandi nallah. The Camp height was at 4940m. In the evening the support staff went above the dry gorge to explore the possible summit camp site for the 5980m peak. The team also confirmed our location using Garmin e-trex GPS and Gaia GPS which works on the Smartphone based app using the geocaching tool of the smart phone which does not required phone network.

Wednesday 30-Jul - At 8am some members of the team (Rohan, Prashant along with guide Gyani, Pyare and cook Diler) went on to summit camp of 5980m. They reached the camp in 3 hours. During this time Rajan and Kaivalya explored the location of the peak 6030m next to 5980m peak using the printed topographic Google map and Gaia GPS. Just to make sure and inform the correct mountain location they followed the route to catch-up the team. Using handheld one-way radio the guide was informed and at one point (5430m) everyone discussed and clarified self doubts and confirmed the proposed peak (5980m) location. Rajan and Kaivalya returned back to ABC where Ravi was managing the ABC mainly co-ordination on radio. Rest of the 5980m summit climbing team explored the surrounding above summit camp (5480m) in the evening. 

In the evening the Summit camp team couldn’t able to communicate on walki-talki hence guide and cook came down all the way to pick up the ready to eat food because the MSR stove stopped working after one round of cooking. We also sent another MSR stove just as backup if required for the next day.

Rohan and Prashant on the Summit of 5980m with Diler and Pyareram

Thursday 31-Jul - At 5:00am the 5980m team started the summit attempt. All of them decided to reach at a time on the summit. Rohan was the first one to reach early below (25ft) the summit at 11:30am. The entire team reached the summit at 12:00 noon. They hoisted the tricolor with enthusiasm on this peak for the first time in the history. The official recorded height of the peak was 5975m as per Casio altimeter watch. They took 365 degree photographs of the surrounding peaks. In 3 hr the climbing team descended back to summit camp. They took 2 hr. break for lunch and winded off the summit camp and descended back to ABC. Though they looked tired but the joy of accomplishment was beaming radiantly from their faces.

Glacier of peak 5920mSummit camp of peak 5920m

Friday 1-Aug - The next team (Rajan, Bholaram & Kaivalya) with 2 LAPs (Bheem, Ishwar) moved to summit camp of 5920m peak in the glacier. The height of the camp was 5275m. The guide Pyareram and cook Diler were expected to join us the next day. It was colder than the ABC at this height in general. The basin was exactly north of the Yunam peak. In the night everyone heard few rocks fall and large chunks of ice fall to make note of the glacial movement. Another adjoining peak of almost same height was on the south-west ridge of the 5920m peak. We stuck to the existing plan of scaling the peak and spent extra time to explore 6030m in the next basin (north-west).

Saturday 2-Aug - At 8am the guide and the cook joined us to explore the summit route. The climbing team also followed the path for 1 hr and returned back to Summit camp. We had to wear the snow shoes since the basin was covered with black ice. Based on the route, we had planned to move 3am next day for the summit attempt. We had our dinner early at 6:30pm that day.

Sunday 3-Aug - At 3am the peak was covered with clouds so we waited for 2 hr more. After tea, we left the summit camp with some food at 5:15am. We were comfortable with our pace until sunrise (6:00am). By the time we reached the col between Yunam and our peak the snow had softened. On the south-west of the col which is actually the east face of the peak, was our planned summit route. We had to struggle to climb the 70 degree slope of 200ft of loose boulders on the east face of the peak using snow shoes. After reaching the shoulder of the east face of the peak which is of ht 5500m we encountered a wall of 100 ft to reach below the neck of the summit. We had to use the crampon to climb the wall. The summit looks heavily cladded with cornice. Hence we all decided to summit from south side which was crux of the entire attempt. We had to struggle to make a way from the hard ice covered with mud with 1000 mt drop on south. The traverse to the loose rock end on south side from east face took 20 minutes. The final 10 minutes climb from the back (south) of the peak was scrambling the loose rock. At 11:45am we all reached on the summit. It was a joyous moment. The team had pooja and took 365 degree pictures of the surrounding. The team descended back from west face in the saddle of the 2 peaks. Further from less cornice edge fixed the rope of 150ft to rappel down to the basin. Everyone reached the Summit camp at 2pm and decided to rest for the day.

Pyarera, KAivalya, Bhola, Rajan on Summit of 5920m

Monday 4-Aug - At 7:30am we winded up the summit camp and moved to ABC to join the rest of the team. We took 3 hr to reach the ABC. After lunch break the team winded up the ABC and entire team descended down to BC.

Tuesday 5-Aug Load ferry remaining load from ABC to Base camp and rest

Wednesday 6-Aug - Ravi the expedition treasurer had been well acclimatized by now and we couldn’t see any further altitude symptoms. Everyone decided to climb Yunam as per the plan along with Ravi and Rajan while Prashant and Kaivalya had taken the responsibility to shift the BC to Kilingsarai road head. At 8:30am the team accompanied by guide Gyani, Pyareram and cook Diler with the 3 LAP's went on to little higher camp above Bharatpur at 4940m on the right side of the nallah. While establishing the camp another team of 3 climbers accompanied with their guides were descending to Bharatpur where they had their BC. The group was known to us and they were from Mumbai. The team learned from them that no snow shoes or crampons are required for the Yunam summit. Everyone offloaded our shoes and some unwanted gear at Bharatpur Dhaba with the help of support staff.

Thursday 7-Aug - At 8:00am the team winded up the ABC and moved to summit camp of Yunam 300mts above the ABC. We reached in 2 hr. and established the summit camp. In the evening we reached some height and returned back for early dinner.

Ravi and Rajan on Yunam summit with Pyareram

Friday 8-Aug - At 2:15am the team started Yunam summit attempt with the help of head torch. By the time we reached 5800m the sun’s heat was warming up the cold air. Everyone realized that last 300mt were slowest pace for till now. The team reached the summit at 8:30am. Had pooja and took 365 degree pictures of surrounding area. At 9:10am started descending back to summit camp. Everyone reached by 12:30pm and had lunch break. After break the team winded up the camp in the rain and descended back to Kilingsarai road head camp. Entire team reached the camp site by 5:30pm.

Saturday 9-Aug - The team rested this day. Also Bholaram took charge of arranging the vehicles to take everyone back to Manali.

Sunday 10-Aug - The team did equipment and gear sorting and later packed these items. At 6pm the pickup vehicle arrived for next day return journey.

Entire Team including Expedition Team and Trekking Team and Support TeamSuraj Taal

Monday 11-Aug - 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 during like cleaning of tents and reporting the authorities (Manali institute) and accounting. On 16th evening the team travelled by road to Delhi and on 17th by train to Mumbai. The Team arrived on 18th August 2014 in Mumbai safely.

Written by: Rajan Rikame

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