Name of the Peak: Losar, Height: 6040m,
Area: Spiti valley Dist: Kullu & Manali, State : HP, Country: India
Team: Rajan Rikame (Leader), Bholaram Thakur (Deputy), Kaivalya Varma,
Ravi Bangera, Prashant Sawant, Suhas Shirke, Amit Patil
Agency: Shikhar Par,
Guide : Mahendra, Pyarelal, Cook: Tejram
Duration: 20 th July 2012 to 9th August 2012
Sponser : Bhramanti Mountaineers , Mumbai
expedition was witnessed with a mountaineering gap of 4 years from
my last expedition Nya Kangri in July 2008 but for Bhramanti it was
after 2 years of gap. Preparation started around six months prior the actual date.
The expedition proposal & team selection (total 8 members) was
initiated by Kaivalya and finally officially supported by me and the
club based on their regular trekking/climbing practice since past one
year. Two members backed off due to personal reasons. Hence the number
reduced to six. The expedition meeting location was our usual
destination (Milind's garage office).The expedition gear packing
location was decided as Kaivalya's home where major equipment was
already stored. Though I missed all home made dinner while late hour
packing at his place, but thanks to his mom for the food during that
Ravi & Mukesh took the major initial task of registering the club
with IMF while Milind (Bhramanti Treasurer & founder member) took
charge of official audit formalities for the IMF registration. This was
must do task since the team had decided to go as IMF approved
expedition 1st time ever under 10-year history of Bhramanti. Prashant
& Suhas took charge of coordinating with agency for all support
work to help us out in the expedition. Amit helped Kaivalya & Ravi
for preparing/collecting list of necessary common technical gear
requirement and food planning. Suhas was given additional
responsibility of photography since he was trained in it. And I was
helping everyone to purchase their personal gears from all online
sources in US. Thanks to my office (The Northern Trust,
Chicago) for granting me to one month vacation. We ordered three
custom-made tents for this expedition purchased by
Milind/Kishore/myself. Thanks to Kishore and Milind for this
generosity. Thanks to Bhushan (Allied-Petzl) for lending some of the
technical gear and high altitude clothing on time.
We traveled on 20th July from Borivali(Mumbai) to
Chandhigadh by train and further by road to Manali by private vehicle.
It was one of the exciting journey for me in terms of knowing all the
members on the go and was delighted to see the enthusiasm of the team.
We spent 2 days in Manali for acclimatization and the grocery purchase.
Also completed the so called official formalities reporting the
institute and police head quarter about our expedition plan. Little sad
since unable to get a single apple from the apple farm where our stay
was since it was little early. It was nice weather and we walked in the
surrounding areas within lush green Solang valley in an attempt to get
acclimatized all 2 days during our stay.
We left Manali on 24th July via Rohatang/Chhatru/Kunzum
route to Losar (4000m), a 6 hrs drive through rough road holding the
sidebar of the 4 wheel drive vehicle and breath while eyes were
witnessing the Nature with those commanding mountains, river (Spiti),
water falls and the CB (Chandra Bhaga) range of mountains. After
looking at every snow cladded mountains, as a natural instinct most of
us must had some thought of probable climbing route or atleast tried to
find a probable climbing route. Kunzum la or the Kunzum Pass (altitude 4,551 m;
14,931 ft) is the entrance pass to the Spiti Valley from Lahaul. It is
21 km from Chandra Tal. This district is connected to Manali through
the Rohtang Pass. To the south, Spiti ends 24 km from Tabo
We had route information of Losar
Valley from earlier 1994 expedition of Climber’s Club, but over the
period of time, the road ahead from Losar to Camp-1 was wiped off due
to rain, snow and landslide. So we had to make route using Ice Axe and
other available equipments.
We spent days 2 in Losar camp for acclimatization at this height while
our support staff tried to open the washed out route. They did a half
way load ferry the 2nd day. Day 3 (26-Jul) we trekked for 6 hrs to
reach Base Camp at 4500m height with our personal gear while the
porters ferried the additional luggage. In mountaineering term these
ports are called Low Altitude Porters (LAP). We hired them for 3 days
and 10 in numbers. Now we had 6 members support team with us till we
Spent 2 days in BC. Same way the
support team spent 2 days to open the entire route to Advance Base Camp
(ABC). This was more difficult than Losar to BC. Day 6 (29-Jul) we
ferried our personal gear to ABC which is at 5000m height. We found lot
of fossile marks hardcoded on the rocks between BC to ABC approach. We
had our tent pitched on the slope. We tried flattening the ground by
arranging rocks to provide a flat base for the tent. It took 2 hrs and
finally the surface was little better and comfortable, worth the
effort. Our expedition treasurer Ravi was showing some altitude signals
all the time while ascent and it was not getting better as we moved
higher. Hence next day Ravi had to be sent back to BC due to altitude
sickness while Prashant agreed to accompany and take care of him at BC
along with 2 support staff (Aakash, Viru). As per natural habitat is
concern we saw once Ibex (mountain goat) on the scree and many times
brown coloured rats (without tail) near our kitchen area.
further to Camp 1 (5000m) with just 2 tents, one for 4 members
(Amit, Suhas, Kaivalya and Myself) and other one for 4 support members
(Bholaram, Pyarelal, Tejram, Mahendra) on 30th Jul by climbing 4 hrs
above ABC towards east. The further route was opened by support team
(Pyarelal and Mahendra) untill 5600m. The last 440m height gain was
supposed to be from left ridge of east face. The slope ridge was
supposed to be mixed route of rock and snow/ice as per our information
. In reality the ridge was entirely covered with hard ice with gradient
65 to 70 degree. 31st July we were supposed to attempt the east face as
much as we can starting at 1am. But till 2am the entire valley was
covered with clouds hence cancelled the attempt that day. Mahendra had
been asked to return with additional high altitude food from BC, hence
he left at 6am. Morning 9am Pyarelal and Tejram went further to rekie
the summit route ahead of last point they reached. During that time
Myself, Amit, Suhas followed untill 5200m height towards east face
while Bholaram and Kaivalya rested at Camp-1. This time Pyarelal and
Tejram came up with broken heart mentioning not worth attempting since
no route exists except lot of artificial climb. Mahendra returned back
in the afternoon with bag of extra food. Evening Bholaram decided to
return back next day to BC since he got hit by altitude sickness from
past few days.
We were mentally unprepared of
the east face ice climbing challenge which has 3 crevises due to mainly
time and equipment. Hence we( Pyarelal and Mahendra) explored the east
face route which is from rocky steep terrain and after considerable
thought based our their views decided to attempt the west face route.
While Support team went on rekie the west face route on 3rd day (1st
Aug) of camp 1, we practiced height gain of 200m on the new route
following the glacier and lateral morraine from Camp1. That day was
worst for Amit and he was showing rapid altitude sickness syndromes. We
decided to sent him back with Suhas leaving only two of us to move
further. But later Kaivalya suggested to accompany them in case Amit
had to be evacuated to BC the same night. At 6:30pm of they left Camp1
along with 1 support team. They were supposed to continue with me for
summit attempt. That evening I got SOS signal from someone (it was
Kaivalya, later identified on Walkie Talkie) from lower height while I
was watching them descending. Immediately I told the 2 support members
to go down to help them or check what was going on. Amit's condition
was worsening hence it was signaled. Our support members returned after
confirming everything was ok. Still we were alert in case required the
2 were ready to go down to ABC in the night to help Amit descend
further down to BC immediately. Later after Kaivalya's confirmation
that everything was fine. Hence we (Pyarelal, Mahindra and myself)
rested same night. We had planned to attempt the summit next day 2nd
August at 2am from west face.
2nd August we (Mahendra, Pyarelal, Rajan) started the approach at 3am.
It was dark and covered with low clouds with not much movement. Still
we moved 1 hr from C1 towards summit attempt gained 200m but no
improvement in weather hence returned back to C1. Had a thought of
going down to other proposed peak Lagbhor Che and Tarimo base but that
too was all together new venture starting from scratch. Hence along
with HAP and Guide and BC team (Kaivalya, Bhola on walki talki) we
decided to attempt one more time the same route of Losar. As I was
alone at Camp 1 tent, the breaking of glacier sound was bit scary since
we camped on glacier and it was more during the day time.
3rd August 2012 started at 3am with only climbing member ‘Rajan Rikame’
and 2 Support Team members (Mahendra and Pyarelal).
Weather was clear till 8am. We climbed 3 rock patches one with water
ways. After 8am weather started controling our movments, it was
worsened with rain and later snow fall. We reached 5735m on the left
shoulder of the peak at 9:00am. We waited for 20 minute hoping for
clear weather. Meanwhile took all sourrounding pictures as much as I
can saving my lens from snow. Also took the photos including my company
(The northern Trust) banner. Finally we decided to
return back due to bad weather. At 1:00pm we reached Camp1.
day we returned to BC. While the BC support team
did one load ferry the same afternoon. Next day they return back to BC
remaining load from BC to the road ahead (Losar bridge) on 5th of Aug.
We celebrated our attempt at Manali (Bhola's house) on 6th Aug. On the
7th we cleared all formalities with the agency, sorted all luggage and
got ready for transportation. On 8th evening we travelled from Manali
to Delhi. I parted the team at Delhi since had a scheduled flight to
Mumbai while rest of the them travelled by train on 10th afternoon.
We recollected all our effort and best moments during the expedition in
brief to mark an end as “we do mountaineering to enjoy the adventure in
the mountains & if one summits then it is a bonus". This will
provide a hope for our future new team for a good summit achievement.
to all members for safe and sound return, and reaching
ABC-5000m (Ravi, Prashant), Camp1-5200m (Amit, Suhas, Kaivalya) and
maximum height gain(5740m) by Rajan.
Special Thanks to Kaivalya for the tremendous work before expedition.
Thanks to Milind/Kishore/Ravi/Mukesh help for the club registration
with IMF. Thanks to Prashant/Suhas for coordination with Bholaram.
Thanks to Bholaram and specially Mahendra and Pyarelal for major route
opening. Thanks to Bhushan (Allied Petzl) for providing the technical
gear and clothing support. Thanks to Gita Samant and team providing
useful information about 1994 expedition by way of slide show. And
finally thanks to Bhramanti Mountaineers and core team without whom we
could not have done anything.
Written by: Rajan Rikame