Saturday, November 18, 2017


The beginning, a new route at Lalung valley, September 2017 

During September 2017, we joined our friends Tad McCrea & Jon Griffin both from the United States, for an expedition to the remote Lalung valley at the head waters of Suru River, in Jammu & Kashmir. 
We started early in the morning on the 8th from Manali and reached the village of Zoildok on the evening of the10th, via Leh & Kargil, en route crossing some famous high altitude passes.

Zoildok is a small village situated at an altitude of 3650 meters near Ringdom monastery, which falls on the way to Padam from Kargil.  We stayed here for couple of days at Tundup’s home to organise our porters for the hike to base camp. 

Mt Nun (7135mt) & Kun (7077mt) seen from Zoildok
On the morning of the 12th, we drove up for an hour towards Pensi La (4400 meters) and started our hike. On our way to base camp we had to cross the Lalung nala a few times. After 3 hours of hiking we reached a rather pleasant camping area with flat grassy ground and a flowing creek. We decided to set up our base camp (4150 meters) here, which would be our home for following three weeks.

Base camp @4150 meters

For the first few days at the base camp our goal was to explore the upper Lalung glacier towards the Mummer Col (5400mt) and gain some acclimatization in the process. To do that we hiked up to 5000 meters with Tad & Jon, as they establish their High camp for an alpine style attempt on the east ridge of chiling 1 (6320mt)  

                                    Chiling 1(6320mt) & Chiling 2 (6180mt)                                                   
On our way to High Camp 
After returning to our base camp from the high camp we took a day of rest to feel fresh and regain our strength. We then turned our attention towards a granite buttress rising 600 meters above our base camp. The steep north-west face of the buttress looked promising for providing a line with good quality rock that will lead to the north-west ridge of peak 5200mt, which was definitely the highest point we could see on the  south-east direction from the base camp 
 On 20th September, at around 8’o clock in the morning, we left our base camp to try our intended route. An hour of hike through the steep and loose talus field got us to the base of our route. The line we chose was a groove system through the middle of the face and connected a series of slabs & dihedrals to the top of the buttress.

MAHALAYA,  IV 5.10b R 550 MT
The climb started with a smooth and blank slab for about 15 meters and then eased out. Jibbi led the first part cautiously as the climbing was little delicate around 5.7 and completely run out. As soon as he was on the easy ground we decided to move faster. He put a micro traxion before he ran out of the rope and we started simul climbing. With the heavy pack the start was little challenging but otherwise the terrain was easy and offered spaced but good protection. We simul climbed the first 200 meters before it became steeper and a series of dihedrals blocked our way. 

The starting slab

Simul-climbing on the initial slabs 
After a little rest I decided to lead this block. The climbing was through steep corners. The first pitch of the block offered classic dihedral climbing with excellent stemming and bridging moves. The crack on the left side offered me the opportunity to place good protection, mostly blue & yellow camelots. The pitch was about 60 meters long and was probably 5.10 in difficulty. 

The dream dihedral  5.10
The next pitch was also a hard one, with a strenuous laybacking section and a few moves on thin hands, but was well protected with purple to blue camelots. This was also a 60 meters pitch of around 5.10.
At the end of this steep dihedral section we decided to take some rest. It took us around three hours to reach up to this point; here we used our GU energy gels and Cliff Bars to refuel ourselves 

The thin hand section on the second pitch of the block 
The strenuous laybacking on the second pitch (5.10) of my block
Jibbi took over the lead for the next section, another smooth dihedral followed, which offered some really thin, delicate and run-out climbing. He did a great job of leading this demanding pitch; it was a time consuming and tenuous effort from his part. This pitch was also around 60 meters; we rated it at around 5.10b R. After this pitch we were again on comparatively easier terrain and here we felt the need to move faster. 
The climbing ahead did not look that hard, so we decided to shortened the rope and jibbi started leading with tied off coils. There were couple of 25- 30 meter long 5.7& 5.8 pitches in this part and soon we reached easier terrain and started moving together. We reached the top of the buttress at around 3 pm, climbing 550 meters on the north-west face. We named our route MAHALAYA  (IV, 5.10b R 550 meters).The name refers to the fact that it was Mahalaya back home on that day, which marks the beginning of the famous Durga Puja festival.

Jibbi leading the  demanding , run-out pitch, 5.10b R

Leading with tied off coils  5.8
 As we did not carry any bivy gear or food/fuel we decided to turn back at this point. The ridge in front of us was long and alpine in nature and would have taken a long time. We started our descent following the northwest ridge. For the most part we down scrambled and moved together on a shortened rope using terrain features as belay and protection. A couple of short rappels at the end got us down to the valley floor. The descent took around three hours and another couple of hours of hiking which included treacherous terminal moraine of Lalung glacier, got us back to our base camp.   

Moving together on a shortened rope to gain the ridge

Peak 5200mt seen from the top of the buttress
After 12 hours of effort throughout the day we felt really tired. On reaching base camp our cook, Kishu, greeted us with hot tea & delicious pakodas. We settled in our kitchen tent and soon Kishu served us a delicious dinner of hot rice, dal and mixed veg. We went to bed with a very satisfying feeling that night, after our wonderful adventurous experience 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bananagrams, 5.10, 200 meters , First ascent, Kishtwar Himalayas, September 2016

In September of 2016 we joined Crystal Davis Robbins & Whitney Clark for an expedition in the Kishtwar region of Kashmir in the Indian Himalayas. Our aim was to explore unclimbed rock features and climb them. Crystal & Whitney had their own objective and we were looking forward to attempting something suitable for us. During the expedition we spent around 20 days at the base camp including our forays to high camp and above.While staying at base camp we got attracted towards the rock buttresses that were just above the steep slopes near the base camp. So while returning to base camp from the high camp on 28th of September we decided to take a close look at those buttresses and check for possible lines to climb.The northeast face of the lower buttress looked promising, a steep face offering a series of flakes and cracks followed by some steep slabs,leading to the top of the buttress. We decided to go for this line in the coming days and hiked down to the base camp.
 Northeast face of the buttress, red line route of ascent , violet  line descent route 
The rock buttresses near base camp

  On 30th September after breakfast we left the base camp around 9.00 hrs in the morning.We carried a single 70 mt 9.7 mm rope, a set of nuts, cams ranging from 0.5 to 5, some with double and triple sizes, a cordallete and lots of slings.After  couple of hours of steep hiking we reached the base of the buttress around 11.00 hrs.The weather was absolutely gorgeous without a single cloud in the sky, a stellar day for climbing.
I started up the first pitch, a steep system of flakes offered a route through the vertical rock face. I was cautious as the flakes were solid which provided a lot of confidence; the climbing was steep and strenuous though.I found good protection placements throughout the pitch. It was a long pitch of around 30 mt and I almost used the full size of the rack before reaching the belay. Jibbi followed cleaning the pitch. The next pitch was a nice contrast, easy slab climbing around 5.7 but mostly runout, after about 40 mt  of climbing I set up the next belay. Jibbi took lead for the next pitch,an easy slab (5.7) around 30 mt long with spaced gear, that brought us to the crux pitch of the route, a steep corner system that jibbi led. It was a technical and long pitch,the cracks at sections were filled with grass which took a lot of effort to clean.After a long and demanding lead he set up the belay. I followed cleaning the pitch and joined him at the belay around 13.00 hrs. It was a long 40 mt pitch that tired me out after following with a pack.After the fourth pitch we rested for awhile and had our lunch of almonds and chocolates.
The first pitch 5.10 
Jibbi leading the fourth pitch 5.10
the fourth pitch
Belay at the top of the fourth pitch
After lunch we felt fresh and continued on the route. Jibbi led the final pitch, a slab about 60 mt long. Though the pitch was not hard technically it offered tricky protection and some runout sections. Jibbi did an excellent job of leading the pitch which I followed and cleaned. Around 14.30 hrs we reached the top of the buttress and after spending around 20 mints there we started our descent by the east flank.The descent was little tricky at sections which involved some short pitched down climbing on exposed terrain,after that couple of short rappels leads us to the base of the buttress
the final pitch 5.8
  We started our hike back around 15.30 hrs and after an hour and a half we came back to base camp around 17.00 hrs.Our cook Tensing greeted us with hot tea and biscuits. It was a very long and tiring but equally rewarding day.We were full of satisfaction and happiness after our wonderful adventurous experience. Our route Bananagrams can be graded as 5.10 or 6a+, II


Friday, April 8, 2016


When I first got interested in climbing mountains, one of the pictures that impressed/overwhelmed me was that of the NeverseenTower at Miyar valley that I came across in Himalayan journal vol. 58, taken by Italian alpinist Massimo Marchigianni. Around the year 2000, the valley become popular among climbers all over the world as an excellent destination for alpine rock climbing and big wall climbing at a relatively lower elevation. Chris Bonington famously said it is India’s answer to the Yosemite, so when the opportunity arrived for us to join Crystal and Whitney to go on a climbing adventure in this famous valley, we were not going to let it pass.
After returning from Chatru (3300mt) where Crystal and Whitney made a first ascent of a route on a rocky pinnacle, above Chatru Nala, called CB6A (5450mt), which they named nibbijibbi ridge (5.10, 600mt) they were keen on finding new lines at Miyar also. On the other hand, at Chatru we were focusing on bouldering and even sent a project of mine Smiling Goddess (font 7C). Once done, I was eager for some alpine climbing experience.
The village of Sukhto after the snow fall

After spending three rest days at Vashisht, we started in the early hours of morning on 22nd September; a long drive through demanding road conditions led us to the village of Sukhto (3400mt). By the time we reached evening had dawned and it had started to rain. We put up at Tashi guest house, a home stay run by a local man called Norbu, who arranged for mules and was our guide for the trek to the Base camp of Miyar valley. During night the weather got worse; on waking up in the morning the whole village was cover under a meter of snow. We had to wait out for the day at the guest house since Crystal had developed a stomach infection; she recovered through the day and we packed and organized our stuff for the next day.
On 23rd we left around 8.30 am, the weather being excellent; the terrain was gentle and rolling with only 500mt of altitude gain, but was covered in snow which made some sections tricky. Nearing the base camp, we had to cross the Miyar nala. We hiked throughout the day, covering a distance of around 35 km in 8 hours and reached the base camp around 4.30 pm, at an altitude of 4000mt and set up our two tents. We said goodbye to each other and retired to bed for the night, everyone being amply tired after the day’s action.
Our Base camp at Miyar 

The next day our goal was to hike around the base camp to get some acclimatization; we went towards Tamadong – a very prominent and rocky peak near the base camp, forming the end of the southern rim of the Takdung valley, overlooking the Miyar. Falling north from the main summit was a prominent spur, a feature that prompted the 2002 Slovak expedition to refer to this peak as the 'Walker Spur’. To the west was a subsidiary summit or shoulder, with a series of steep pillars on the north face overlooking the lower Takdung. These had been dubbed 'The Brouillard Pillars' by the Slovaks. 
Tamadong covered under a blanket of snow 
 The weather remained unpredictable with occasional snowfall for the next two days, forcing us to stay at base camp. We spent our time by bouldering in between tent seating. On 28th the weather cleared and we geared up, with full excitement to try our objective. Whitney and Crystal entered the Takdung Glacier to explore and find a line of their own, as we went ahead to attempt Tamadong. The conditions on the pillar turned out to be really complex because of the accumulation of the snow; the slabs were wet and the adversities proved too much for us. Under such conditions, we were forced to retreat. Back at the base camp, we figured out our next goal, and on 29th hiked towards the base of Toro Peak (4950mt): the leftward slabs of the south face looked promising. We hiked down late afternoon to base camp and packed our gear for our attempt next day.
On our way toward Tamadong

Toro Peak (@4950mt)                 

  On 30th of September we started early in the morning around 7.00 am, our goal being trying to get back before nightfall. We did not carry any stove or fuel, no sleeping bags or bivi sheets either, only water bottles and snickers. After hiking through sustained steep hillside and some boulder hopping, we reached the bottom of the south face around 10 am and started climbing. Once we started climbing, we did not consciously concentrate. Instead, because we had stripped away everything that could possibly distract us only the climbing remained. And with one single thing to occupy our attention we could take events as they came. We were hyper-aware of every detail around us: hand and foot holds, gear placements, how well both of us were moving, and we gave ourselves over to that awareness. The climbing went well; in the lower half we climbed some full pitch belayed section, mostly slabs. The first pitch was mostly easy balanced by a little runout; this was followed by another interesting pitch which Jibbi led. The pitch started with an easy slab that led to a short overhang of about a body-length long, the crux section of the climb. The next two pitches were mostly steep slabs, which also involved crossing some overlapping sections. The route became much easier on the upper section and we opted to simul- climb. Around 3 pm we topped out and reached the summit. From the summit we could see point James and Dome peak very close and the famous Neverseen Tower on the horizon, on the east side we could see the  famous northwest face of the Castle peak. After spending around 20 minutes on the summit we started our dissent via the west flank. The descent comprised of a combination of hiking and scrambling and around 5 pm we reached the base of the west flank; another couple of hours hiking took us back to base camp – after almost 12 hours of leaving it. On reaching base camp, we cooked a quick meal and crept inside our sleeping bags as tiredness rolled over us like a sea wave.
On south face of Toro Peak

jibbi leading the crux pitch
The following day Whitney and Crystal came back, after successfully climbing a new line on a prominent formation (@5150mt) opposite of Tamadong; they named their line " Poornima" (5.10, 700mt) which translated to “full moon” making their summit successful on a full moon night. There was a general feeling of happiness after our successful and safe climbing experiences. Norbu appeared with his horses around evening and greeted us with a nice meal that night. The next day we packed up and made the hike back to Sukhto. The weather was gorgeous for the last four days but as we left we saw clouds gathering. We were the last team to leave the valley for the season and got really lucky with the weather. Our whole experience was quite outstanding, leaving us thirsty and motivated for future adventures in this amazing play ground.
South face of Toro peak, leading one of the easier upper pitches
nearing the top of the route    

Trip summary                                                   
22 Sep- Arrived at sukhto
23 Sep-Rest day/Snow fall
24 Sep- Hike 35 km to base camp
25 Sep-Acclimatization hikes around base camp
26 Sep-Bad weather/ rest day
27 Sep-Bad weather/rest day
28 Sep-Hike to base of Tamadong, attempt, retreat due to too much snow on the face to free climb
29 Sep- Rest day, hike towards Toro Peak to reconnaissance
30 Sep- Ascent of Toro Peak(@4950mt) via south face/ridge, probably following the 2009 Polish route “Get up in the Morning”( 5.9, 300 mt vertical, 450 mt long), descent via West flank , 5 hours climbing, from base camp to base camp 12 hours.
1 Oct-Rest  day
2 Oct-hike 35 km back to sukhto

1 West flank (20004), 2 Get up in the morning (Polish 2009), 3 Lopez-pfaff (2008), 4 Indian (2012), 5 American (2008), 6 Russian (2008), 7 Indian (2012), 8 East Ridge (Slovenian 2007) 
Source – American alpine Journal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chatru 2015

Smiling goddess Fb 7C 

After a gap of four years we came back to this little paradise for bouldering, nestled in a remote corner of the Himalayas.We could see the place has become popular, visited by climbers, trekkers, bikers, tourists  alike.. This time we wanted to try harder lines, that we could not try last time, the most obvious one was the classic  Smiling goddess Fb 7C, this line is located on the well known Smiling goddess boulder just behind Lalu"s dhaba. The problem is a classic one, requiring a series of  hard powerful moves up to the top, then a desperate top out . we stared working the line, after a few session on it over a few days we were able to link the moves up to the top. but the top out remained a doubt, none the less we were happy with our effort 

Jibbi  working the moves on Smiling goddess Fb 7C
After a couple of rest days we felt strong and was eager to try and finish this line ,  On 17th September condition became much cooler offering really good friction on the top out. we wanted to take this chance , on my fifth go on the redpoint attempt  i managed  to match the sloper , and then with the use of my right heel execute the mantle to top out, i felt great joy & relief at the same time after completing the problem.
The start of Smiling goddess Fb 7C 

executing the lower moves
 Nearing the top

The crux top out
Topping out on Smiling goddess Fb 7C
Apart from Smiling goddess Fb 7C  we also climbed some other nice lines , notably the Red House wall Fb 7B  ,another classic close to the bridge, with this send this trip became very memorable and successful for us , We returned to Manali  with a lot of happy memories .

Red house wall Fb 7B

Jibbi sending Red house wall Fb 7B

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hampi- Badami climbing trip 2013/14

The winter season of 2013 arrived with lots of possibilities and ignited the desire in us to climb in India's two of the most well known and world class destinations, Hampi & Badami . We packed our stuff and headed to the Southern Indian state of Karnataka for two months to climb and explore the amazing granite of Hampi & Sandstone of Badami . Though  we have climbed in Hampi before, it was only for a very short duration of two to three days in 2011 & 2012, this is the first time for us to actually spend a lot of time in Hampi and explore the amazing wealth of bouldering it has to offer.We arrived in hampi at 25th of November with our friend Ananta Desai, he had extensively climbed in Hampi for the last two season and knows a lot about the areas. It took a week for us to get used to the sharp and small crimps that is so usual of Hampi .The first hard problem we tried is Surface Traverse Fb 7C , at the Relax boulder area, the lack of hard training back home reveals its ugly face as we didn't do well on this crimpy sustained powerfull line. After an hour of Working on it we left defeated and tired. The another classic line we tried is the Aeroplane Fb 7B+,  this problem is inside a cave so can be climbed throughout the day, which is generally unusual of Hampi because of day time high temperatures. Ananta made a fine ascent of this line ,we came close but the ascent eluded us.We also visited the famous Baba cafe boulder, i tried the famous Baba's in space Fb 7A+,  the sloppy top out proved to be a real crux and the first two seasons on it i couldn't send the line.We also worked on Indian summer Fb 7C+  one of the most wanted problem in hampi ,Ananta was projecting it, we could feel he is getting close on this, another beautiful line i worked on for a session is Why like This? Fb 7A+ a sloper problem on smooth holds, very rare for hampi . After spending around ten days in Hampi we headed to Badami. We were about to meet Paige Classen a famous  sport climber from US, she was there to try and climb the hardest sport route in the country Ganesha 8b+.
After almost three years we had the chance to climb on the amazing red sandstone cliffs of Badami. .I made the repeat ascent of a route i previously climbed Honeymoon 7b,  a classic line bolted by Arnaud Petit. For the next three days we put our focus on a route called Samsara 7c+, this route is located at the temple area, is one of the most beautiful line in Badami. The route starts with a hard boulder problem for the first three bolts then to a good rest, and after that has some nice sustained climbing with occasional rests to the top. On the first day we did the moves and worked the route thoroughly. and after a rest day we were able to redpoint it.  In the mean time there was some good action going on Ganesha 8b+, Paige, Jon & two young Indian climber Tuhin &  Sandeep were working on it. The only good condition to climb the route was early in the morning and it offered only an hour and half to climb on it before it gets too hot. Paige was the first climber to send the line, the crux move was hard for her as was the lower boulder section, but as soon as she linked it she was able to send the whole line , making the first female ascent of the route. Later Tuhin made the first Indian ascent of the route ,followed by Jon Glassberg, which was his first 5.14 ascent .

Honeymoon 7b 

Paige on lower boulder section of Ganesha

before the redpoint crux

sending Ganesha 8b+
After spending some time in Badami we came back to Hampi for a few days, the very day we returned to Hampi we met Sean Villanueva and Nicolas Favresse , it was a great experience to meet these guys ,Sean wanted to go to Badami and climb Puss man 5.12/7b+, an amazing roof crack . We got the information about this line from Harry Verioth  at Shiva cafe, this line was first ascended by Kurt Albert and probably never had a repeat. We were psyched to join Sean for Badami and try out some hard crack climbing,
Before we left for Badami ,we spend a few days of bouldering in Hampi with Sean , in this time i manged to send Why like This? Fb 7A+ , the same morning Ananta was able to send Indian summer Fb 7C+ his long standing project . Another day we visited The Black power  area, here  Sean made a impressive ascent of the Psychologically demanding Silent hunter Fb 6C, the hole below that boulder is really intimidating. I also managed to send Black power 2 Fb 7B, a steep powerfull line which suited my strengths perfectly. with some good sends under me  i felt confident and psyched to go trad climbing in Badami
 Why like this?Fb 7A+

Sending Why like this?Fb 7A+
We arrived in badami after a long bus journey from Hampi and put up at Sanman lodge.The weather was pretty cold , we had early dinner and went to bed quickly. Next morning we woke up early and went to the Ganesh plateau to look for potential lines. We spotted an Overhanging Dihedral left of a sport route called Indo-Japanese project /Made in Japan 7c+, we had no idea about the difficulty of the route, Sean went for an onsight of the route ,he did it super smooth ,like a piece of cake, the crux of the route was a section of overhanging squeeze Chimney ,which needed some slippery hand jam  moves to overcome, this section gave us a lot of trouble while seconding , we could barely managed to climb it and was exhausted after that. According to Sean it was around 5.11, a different game for us though as it was a type of climbing we are quite new at.That afternoon Sean onsighted Millennium Crack 5.11+/7a, a steep hand and finger crack also located in Ganesh plateau. we followed and cleaned the line. The next day Sean was going to try Puss man 5.12/7b+, with lot of anticipation we went to bed early.

Sean at the crux

Overhanging Dihedral 5.11

Puss man 5.12/7b+
Next morning we woke up early with lot of  anticipation , Puss man 5.12/7b+ is located at the painted wall area behind the lake , We reached below the wall around 6, the weather was cool and everything was calm around the wall ,the first section of the route is an off width and can only be  protected with size 4 and 5 cams, which unfortunately we didn't have. But that didn't stop Sean , he placed only a few smaller sizes on some horizontal cracks at the start and run it out up to the bolt just below the roof , he has to be very careful as the climb was dirty and slippery and he was starring at a ground fall until the bolt, with the scary shit out of the way Sean flawlessly climbed the 6 meter long roof crack consisting of powerful hand jams, fists and cup moves, he placed one yellow and one red Camalot to protect the roof. It was an amazing onsight, the best climbing i have ever seen. I was more awestruck with this effort when i tried to climb the route on a top rope, the off width itself proved a nemesis let alone the top roof crack , it was a humbling experience trying to climb this beast, but also made me determined to come back and finish it in future. That evening we went to the temple area and enjoyed some nice sport climbing.

lower offwidth section

approaching the roof crack 

at the roof crack 

The next morning we went to check out Ganesha 8b+, Sean gave it a good try, and was able to do all the moves quickly, but he didn't have enough time to go for the redpoint . After that we went to the deluxe area as it stays in shade during the daytime, here the first route we did is Horn please 5.11a traditional route, after Sean's onsight of the route we tried it on lead , the climbing was powerfull, involving  finger locks and hand jams, after much effort i was able to redpoint it ,then we did the sport routes of the area , Sean onsighted Honeymoon 7b, Surga & swali 7b, Last day in Badami 7a, i also managed to redpoint Surga & swali 7b, Last day in Badami 7a . Sean was about to leave for Mumbai today so we packed up and headed down in the afternoon.This was our last day of climbing in badami this trip, it was a great learning experience for us and a great pleasure to climb with Sean .

                               Sean on Ganesha 8b+

Horn please 5.11a 
We came back to Hampi the next morning and put up at Hindustani restaurant, this place is located  opposite of  Baba cafe boulder, which gave us the opportunity to try the problems early in the morning as the friction was important in some of the top outs.Here we met Peitro Vangi a climber from Italy. he was here two years ago and previously climbed in Hampi & badami, we became very good friends and climbed a lot together. this time we focused on the Double arete and Baba cafe boulder as they were close and had lot of quality lines. The double arete boulder stays in shade for most of the day and we spend lot of time here .We stared working on the line Quality Control Fb 7B+, which proved really challenging but possible. This crimpy line took me four sessions to send and made me happy afterwards. Also in the meantime i send Baba's in space Fb 7A+, and In the shadow Fb 7A, and came close on Double arete Fb 7B,

In the shadow Fb 7A

Quality Control Fb 7B+

Baba's in Space Fb 7A+ 
Apart from climbing in the double arete and Baba cafe boulder we also visited other areas like Junglee plateau , white balls , and relax area , jibbi made an impressive Quick ascent of  the classic line Alien Fb7B in the relax area, we also did a nice overhanging powerfull line in the white balls area, it took us two days to link and was around Fb 7B+/C , a very aesthetic line. Our trip for the season was coming towards its end, and with lots of future projects remaining we felt its time to head back and start training, Hampi and Badami are two of the most amazing climbing areas not only in India but also in the world , it was a great experience for us and a privilege to climb at these amazing places

Alien Fb 7B

Unnamed Fb 7B+