SPRING 2017: HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION
Pioneering climbs and magnificent trek in wildest India
28th April – 21st May 2017
Our Spring pioneering trip in 2017 returns to the peaks of Vishnu’s Fortress to explore a superb glacier, the Kalapani, and surrounding peaks – all of them unclimbed. The range lies on the southern edge of the Garhwal Himalaya, easily accessible from Delhi. Special features:-
* Exploration of a virgin glacier and unclimbed peaks up to 5900m (19,400ft) in altitude
* Three-week itinerary – fast approach from Delhi - 16 days in the mountains
* Snow, Rock and mixed alpine-style climbing – Spring conditions with good snow cover
* Learn the skills and tactics of Himalayan climbing – ideal for your first Himalayan venture
* Magnificent trekking route to base camp - options to cross the range at the end of the trip
* Led by qualified British guides - IFMGA British Mountain Guides and MIC Mountain Instructors with long Himalayan experience
Left: Beautiful alpine climbing at 5100m on the Kalapani skyline (2016 expedition)
Above: Peak 5880m - the finest of the Kalapani peaks
Objectives: Climbing: There are many climbing objectives around the Kalapani Glacier :–
- the shapely training summit of Pk 4788m directly above base camp;
- Pk 5532m – the easiest looking summit on the west edge of the glacier (alpine PD/PD+);
- Pk 5840m the main summit at the head of the glacier which has a short but fine rock pyramid (alpine AD)
- Pk 5880m on the eastern edge of the glacier rim – a beautiful and slender summit which offers more experienced members the chance to climb a route of alpine D in difficulty.
The peaks offer ascent opportunities of all standards from alpine PD to D in standard (Scottish grade I to IV). The rock of the peaks is hard corrugated gneiss of good quality so there should be some great rock scrambling and steeper pitches from Diff to VS rock climbing standard.
Trekking and Exploration: The expedition also provides a chance to enjoy some superb trekking.
Trek to Base Camp: The route from the road-head at Urgam to Bansi Narayan and over the 3950m Mainwa Khal to the Kalapani Glacier takes 3 days and offers beautiful forest, high ridges and swathes of rhododendron in full flower.
At the end of the trip there are two options to make a crossing of the whole Vishnu range to the Kedarnath valley:
- High-level route over a 5500m glacial col at the head of the Kalapani Glacier across an untouched glacier and across a second col to Pandosera
- The Nandi Kund trek – a recognised route over a 4750m pass past the sacred lake of Nandi Kund to Pandosera and the Madhyamaneshwar temple – this promises four days of delightful wandering with some snowfields and a profusion of flowers.
Who will enjoy this expedition: We recommend the trip equally to adventurous technical climbers and hardy trekkers and explorers. The itinerary is designed as a training camp for Himalayan climbing where mountaineers going to the Himalaya for the first time can learn their trade under the coaching of our guides and Sherpas.
This will be a major step in progression from Scottish Winter and Alpine mountaineering to high-altitude Himalayan ascents. We recommend past experience to Scottish grade II/III and/or Alpine PD/AD levels as the minimum requirements for tackling the main objectives.
Trekkers, Botanists and Mountain lovers of all ages can equally enjoy our itinerary without necessarily wanting to climb the more technical objectives. There are lower peaks plus high cols to explore. The minimum requirements for trekking members are experience in ice axe and crampons skills, competence in exposed scrambling and fitness for strenuous trekking at 3000-5000m altitude.
Exploratory Mountaineering: All members must be aware that pioneering involves greater uncertainty than conventional climbing on regular peaks. Objectives cannot be finalised until a full reconnoitre is made. Sometimes we meet major logistical obstacles with terrain, porters or local customs. The guides have to make careful decisions on risk and feasibility at every stage. There may be switches of plan as well as sudden bursts of excitement with decisive action. Commitment and faith is required.
This style doesn’t suit everyone. Some climbers prefer to follow a fixed itinerary with “known knowns!”, and climb peaks which are known to friends and public back home. Please consider your own motivations and pleasures in the mountains before booking the trip. If you like to get away from the honeypots, seek out the new and look round hidden corners, then you’ll like this itinerary.
Trip Grade: B/C; Maximum number of members: 8 with 2 British guides
Price: £3,950: Deposit: £600 booking deposit required. Balance payable on or before 28th Jan 2017
Discounts: 2½% to past-Scottish/Alpine clients; 5% to past Himalayan-clients, 5% to groups of 3 or more; deduct £550 for land-only price
|Price includes Flights UK-Delhi, Travel in India, British Guides, Indian staff, bed & breakfast in Delhi Hotels, half-board in hotels/resthouses on journey to roadhead, use of Equipment/Tents. 15% discount on equipment purchases from Cotswold Outdoor Not included: Personal Insurance, Visas, Tips, Drinks, Lunches on the road.
Vishnu Fortress 2016 expedition Video by Steve Fletcher This slide/video compilation gives an excellent account of our first trip to this range in 2016
The Kalapani Glacier with Peaks 5532 and 5840m on the skyline - the right side of the glacier offers a route
Sun 21st May:
Fri-Sat 28th -29th Apr: Flights to Delhi; sightseeing in Delhi; packing of equipment; stay in hotel in Delhi
Sun 30th Apr: Morning train from Delhi to Haridwar; 5hr bus journey up the Ganges and Alaknanda valleys to the town of Srinagar; hotel
Mon 1st May: Bus journey to roadhead at Urgam village (2000m); resthouse accommodation
Tues 2nd May: Trek Urgam to Bansi Narayan (3500m) - camp
Wed 3rd May: Cross Mainwa Khal pass (3950m) and descend to Kalapani valley (3400m); camp
Thurs 4th May: Follow Kalapani valley to base camp below Kalapani Glacier at c.3850m
Fri 5th May: Acclimatisation and orientation around base camp
Sat 6th May: Explore route to Kalapani Glacier and recce route to Pk 4788m
Sun -Mon 7th – 8th May: Ascent of Pk 4788 in day-climb from base camp with return
Tues – Thurs 9th – 11th May: Make route up Kalapani glacier and occupy high camp at 5100m
Fri 12th – Mon 15th May: Attempts on Peaks 5880, 5840 and 5532m from high camp.
Tues 16th – Fri 19th May: Trek options: either a new high-level glacier route to Pandosera and Kedarnath valley or the Nandi Kund trek route; members can also opt to return to Urgam by approach route with staff; met buses and drive to Srinagar in Alaknanda valley; hotel accommodation
Sat 20th May: Bus journey back to Delhi – 10 hours; arrive Delhi 6-7pm; meal out; hotel accommodation
Daytime flights back to UK; or overnight Sun-Mon
Bansi Narayan temple at 3500m - first overnight stop on trek |
Trekking on the slopes below Mainwa Khal - day two of the trek
Our expedition in 2016: In May 2016 we made our first expedition into the Vishnu Fortress range. With some difficulty and in face of severe afternoon storms found a way into the Gimme Glacier in the valley immediately east of the Kalapani. Three of us made a training climb to a 5100m rock peak on the Kalapani watershed and viewed the magnificent glacier and peaks of this valley. We failed by 20 metres to surmount the rock peak due to an unfortunate route choice which took us to a deep notch. Lack of time and technical difficulties forced us to retreat.
The main objective of the expedition was Pk 5960m – the highest in the range. We established a route up the icefall of the Gimme Glacier, crossed a col at 5360m and found a beautiful glacier route to the summit. Seven out of 10 members plus 5 guides and high-altitude porters made the top. We named the peak Vishnu Killa (Vishnu’s citadel). On these climbs we noticed the potential for exploration on the Kalapani peaks.
History and Mythology of Vishnu’s Fortress (Vishnu Ghar): The places and peaks of this area have considerable significance in Hindu mythology. Vishnu (the preserver) is the second of the triumvirate of Hindu Gods along with Brahma (the creator) and Shiva (the destroyer). Just to the north is Badrinath, which is Vishnu’s shrine. The journey to Badrinath temple is one of the four great pilgrimages of Hindus.
Pandosera (Pandav Sera) is reputed to have been habited and cultivated by the Pandava brothers, heroes of the great Hindu epic the Mahabharata. Madhyamaneshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the five locations where parts of Shiva re-emerged during his flight from the Pandavas – in this case the navel. Pilgrims include the temple as part of a tour of the five shrines.
BOOKING DEADLINE: Bookings must be received before 1st March 2017 in order to secure flight bookings and to make staff and accommodation arrangements. Later bookings will be considered with a 10% surcharge to cover the extra costs of these services when booked at short notice.
TRAVEL: Flight schedules: We recommend daytime flights to minimise jet-lag but will book according to your preference and current fare pricing with the main carriers. In past years we have regularly used BA from Heathrow to Delhi and Emirates from Glasgow to Delhi via Dubai. Lufthansa, KLM and Ethihad are alternatives.
Members wishing to book their own flights should deduct £550 for a land-only price.
PRE-TRIP MEET AND TRAINING: If there is sufficient interest we will hold a pre-expedition training meet in Scotland 21-23 Jan 2017 when all members can meet together for training and a full briefing in the skills and physical preparation required for this expedition.
Training: All members must endeavour to be in the best possible state of physical training before the trip. Plenty of mountain walking with a pack weight of 12-16kg and daily distances of 16-20km is recommended together with local training running, cycling, gym training or whatever you prefer. Those who have had a lay-off from the mountains must make special efforts to get back to good fitness. Short trips to the Alps will be highly useful if time/finances allow. There is no substitute for getting out on the hills and mountains in UK and Europe in preceding months. There is only limited time to acclimatise and get fit on the expedition. At high altitude any lack in physical preparation is quickly exposed.
INSURANCE: All team members must have Rescue, Medical and Repatriation Insurance cover. In addition, cover for Cancellation/Curtailment, Personal Baggage, 3rd party Liability and Personal Accident is strongly recommended.
UK-resident members can take out comprehensive Expedition-level insurance with the BMC www.thebmc.co.uk (2015 premium for up to 31 days c.£400 plus BMC membership). As this is a pioneering trip the Alpine and Ski level of cover is not sufficient.
Rescue-only insurance is available from www.globalrescue.com
Trekking members who do not intend to participate in the exploratory climbs on the trip can take a cheaper Trekking or Alpine and Ski level of insurance from the BMC or other insurers. As a guideline Alpine and Ski cover for 24 days is £135 in 2015
INOCULATIONS: Tetanus, TB (BCG inoculation), Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diptheria – essential.
Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis B – recommended but optional.
Anti-malarials – not recommended.
We will detail these fully after you book. Can all be obtained in 3 mths before departure.
MONEY IN INDIA: You should take $300 in cash to cover Drinks, Tips, Lunches and Personal Sundries plus a credit card for use in Delhi.
PERMITS: The peaks of this range are under 6000m and thus are not listed as official expedition peaks by the Indian Government; so do not require any special permit.
INDIAN VISA: A Tourist Visa is required for entry to India and application can be made on-line with collection by appointment at your local Visa Application Centre or by post. The eTourist Viusa offers a cheap option for this short-duration trip. Details are on Refer to http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk for full information and on-line application. Full advice on the application process will be given after booking.
EQUIPMENT: Boots must be warm enough to sustain a week of living above the snowline. Scarpa Phantom 6000 fabric boots or La Sportiva Spantik plastic boots are recommended. Light trekking shoes or trainers can be worn for all sections of the trek below 4000m altitude. Axe, Crampons, Helmet and lightweight Harness are required for the climbs. A 4 season sleeping bag, and a down jacket, are essential for warmth. Clothing must withstand a big temperature range from -10degC at night to +25degC by day. Take a 60-80 litre Rucksack to carry.
MAPS: Google Earth software provides the best current topographic information on the area.
Pandosera 30°37’40”N 79°17’39”E
Madhyamaneshwar 30°38’03”N 79°13’11”E
Topographic map: 1:150000 Garhwal West sheet (published 1951 in Switzerland from Survey of India information) is not openly available – we will send you an extract from this map on application.
Trekking Map: Leomann Trekking Series 1:200000 sheet No 8 Kumaon-Garhwal – basic line map with indication of main trek routes – now out of date but available from specialist map shops.
ACCLIMATISATION AND ALTITUDE PROFILE: The schedule allows 3 days to make the trek from the roadhead at 2000m to base camp at 3850m. Day one involves a big climb of 1500m to Bansi Narayan. There are no intermediate camping places with reliable water supply. The trek camp levels are 2000-3500-3450-3850m. For any members needing extra time to acclimatise two nights can be spent around Bansi Narayan.
WEATHER AND CLIMBING CONDITIONS: The Garhwal massif offers generally fine weather in the pre-monsoon season of May-June, but with likelihood of afternoon storms on some days. In the early days of the trek cold air from central Asia may predominate but temperatures will gradually warm up. Night temperatures on the mountain can be very cold - down to minus 20degC at 6000m. There are likely to be snowfields on north-facing slopes on the higher trail sections. Snow cover on glaciers will be substantial allowing safer movement through crevasse fields.
LIFE DURING THE EXPEDITION: Accommodation: We book a hotel or luxury hostel/resthouse with twin en-suite rooms in Delhi, hotels in Srinagar and simple bungalow resthouses or camping on trek.
Load-carrying: During the trek to base camp members should carry personal effects and clothing, enough to get fit and acclimatized (12-14kg.). On the climbs above base camp members must carry personal kit and some communal kit. Loads of up to 16kg may be required to establish a high camps, but our high-altitude porters, will carry the bulk of communal equipment, food and fuel. Above 5200m all climbing will be done in lightweight style with minimum bivouac equipment.
Provisions for medical treatment: We carry a full field medical kit and advertise for a doctor or paramedic to join the team. All Guides have mountain first aid certificates, and long experience of expedition ailments.
Food: The food on the trip will be largely vegetarian. Our cook will provide a wholesome diet:-
Breakfast: Porage, Muesli, Omelettes, Pancakes, Paranthas, Chapattis
Dinners: Vegetable or Egg Curry, Puris, Pakora, Rice/Dahl/Soya Stew, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chow Mein, Apples/Custard, Jelly and Fruit Cake
Lunch Food: Dried fruit, nuts, oatcakes/biscuits/paranthas, cheese, pate, salamis, jam, honey, peanut butter, chocolate, protein bars, boiled sweets
Drinks: Soup, Fruit Drinks, Drinking Chocolate/Ovaltine, Tea, Coffee, Herbal Tea.
Indian staff: We will have a Cook/Field Executive from our agent, Himalayan Run & Trek Pvt. Ltd and two or three high altitude porters. All the staff are regulars on our trips and have achieved a very high reputation for service, support and team spirit.
Tents: We will provide tents for the mountain camps and can provide tents for trek and base camp on basis of two or three persons sharing. However, we recommend that you take your own lightweight personal tent for use at base camp and on trek, giving you privacy and space for rest and recovery when not climbing.
Last night on trek on our 2016 Vishnu expedition - sunset over 7061m Dunagiri, 7816m Nanda Devi and 7120m Trisul from Bansi Narayan
Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like more information about the trip.