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India 2011

Trip to Indian Himalayan, Chandra Bhaga Range (CB Group), Tara Pahar 6227m attempt

A trip to Indian Himalayan, Delhi, Manali, Batal and CB Group
2/7/2011 - 25/7/2011

Tara Pahar 6227m
Chandra Bhaga Mountain Range


Photographs

Expedition Report

Map of Central Chandra Bhaga

The diary

Saturday, 2nd July 2011
At 11:00 we left from Manos house, where we had gathered the equipment and by truck we transferred to the airport. We had no control on luggage weight so everything went smoothly. At 15:00 we flew to Bahrain and arrived there 4 hours later. We had to wait 3 hours in Bahrain and then we continued by a second flight to Delhi where we arrived at 4:00 the following morning.

Sunday, 3rd July 2011
After some time waiting at the airport, Sudipto appeared with the minibus. Sudipto is a climber from Calcutta with whom I had contact years ago and helped us in organizing the trip and the climbing. Eventually after loading the bus, we departed at 6 am to Manali. In the lowlands was very hot and humid and the stench was unbearable. After several hours we approached the mountains where it was less hot. In the afternoon suddenly the vehicle stopped and could not start again. Probably the machine had stacked due to lost water from the refrigerator. After 5 hours waiting, another minibus arrived and took us up to Manali, where we arrived tiered at 2:30 in the morning. We stayed in Hotel Sofitel which is located 15 minutes away from downtown on the way to the hill near the park.

Monday, 4th July 2011
In the morning we went down to the market to procure some vegetables and other foodstuff for the expedition. At 12:00 we left from Manali towards Rohtang pass at an altitude of 3900 meters. Before reaching the pass we had to wait 2 hours until the reopening of the road, which was closed by a landslide. The journey was 140 km but we finally arrived at 20:30 in Batal a point on the road leading to the town Kaza passing over Kunzu La. At Batal 3860m there are two shops (dry stone huts) which have room for the night. The place where we slept is probably the most dirty i have ever sleep. I'm sure that the blankets had never been washed.

Tuesday, 5th July 2011
After having breakfast we carried by hand our equipments about 100 meter far, behind a small hill, where we made our camp at Batal. Chronis, Giannis and me went for acclimatization up to 4280 meters altitude to see the route. The others walked along the main road to the lake Chandra Tal. We had lunch in the tent and made preparations for tomorrow's trekking. We had to remain in Batal this day because mules had not appeared yet.

Wednesday, 6th July 2011
At 5:00 we left from Batal for the long hike to the base camp. After 800 meters we met the first stream, which we crossed without shoes. Following the path and after 3 hours we reached a place called Dakka, where there are large meadows with helipad. At the end of the plateau passes an impetuous stream which descends from the glaciers Dakka North & South. Here the shepherds have placed an iron rope about 20 meters long to cross the stream. Sudipto was the first who crossed the stream by the iron rope and put a second rope for safety. We followed and passed the stream. Dimitris, Chronis, John (Giannis) and me continued walking parallel to the main river Chandra but finally got off the bed of the river. The other friends remained where the iron rope is in order to move the equipment to the other side of the river. The horses would cross the stream, but some of them got angry so the horse guides could not manage them to cross the stream. One horse was drifted by the water flow but finally survived. On our way we crossed many parts of the river (branches) until we meet a shepherd who advised us to climb over the side. We could not continue in the river bed because it would be necessary to cross one of the largest branches of the river which was impossible. I climbed with the shepherd about 100 meters higher where he had a small stone house and there he gave me sour milk and tea. I went back down after 2 hours, where all the team had arrived together with the mules. The time had passed and we decided to go up together on the plateau (4250m) to make the camp because there was no time to go farther. Since the morning, me and Chronis did not fell well and had trends for vomiting and dizziness. I felt better after the region Dakka but Chronis continued feeling unwell and as time passing he felt even worse. Finally, Chronis arrived with much trouble and exhaustion in camp.

Thursday, 7th July 2011
Chronis was feeling very bad all night, he had headache, sore stomach and cough. He could not get up and eat, he had diarrhoea and vomiting. We decided to remain one more day here. We called a doctor in Greece and he proposed that Chronis should return back in Greece. We managed to change the date of the ticket, for the Monday 11/7. Our cooker (Ranjeet) would guide Chronis back to the airport of Delhi. It was a difficult day because we did not know how to reach the glacier Samudar Tapu. Shepherds told us that it is impossible to continue towards the glacier. Yograj (cook assistant) together with John tried after lunch to explore the east side of the mountain and look for a possible access to higher mountain's peaks. Finally, they reached the altitude of 4800 meters and they returned back 5 hours later. They found out an easy route to approach the high peaks. So we decided to change radically all the expedition's plan and approach the mountain from the east side.

Friday, 8th July 2011
We woke up very early in the morning. Chronis and Rajeet left to Batal, trying to reach Delhi's airport as soon as possible, in order Chronis to catch the plane to Greece. Initially, we climbed the steep slopes above the camp and we reached the first plateau at 4500 meters altitude, which was green and a small stream crosses the plateau. After crossing the big green plateau we climbed higher and we reached another plateau, which has less vegetation and starts from 4600 meters up to 4800 meters altitude. We named the plateaus Hora Prada, which means Green Plateau in local language (Himachal Pradesh). On the way, John felt weakness, perhaps because of fatigue from the previous day. At 11:30 we arrived at the end of the plateau where we did the Base Camp (BC) at an altitude of 4865 meters. The weather was getting worst and it began blowing and raining all afternoon and evening.

Saturday, 9th July 2011
Dense fog covered whole area and we could not see all the peaks. The temperature was high but had penetrating moisture. We all stayed in BC for rest and acclimatization.

Sunday, 10th July 2011
In the morning fog disappeared and the weather was improved. Me, John and Sudipto left at 9:00 to the glacier. The trekking was difficult because of traversing the gravel and rocky slopes which were partly covered with soft snow. After 3 hours we reached the highest point of stones on the glacier at 5150 meters. There we left some food and equipment and me with John continued to climb to the ridge on the south side of the glacier. This ridge starts from BC and continues until much further to west. Sudipto was tired and his shoes were wet, such he couldn't follow us, he stayed there and started to descend alone to BC. We continued climbing higher on the left side of the glacier. The snow was in very bad condition and the slope was over 45 degrees steep. Near the ridge was dangerous for avalanche due to the large accumulation of snow. In the end, after much effort we reached the ridge at an altitude of 5395 meters. We followed the ridge (snow-rock) and we reached a rocky peak with an altitude of 5565 meters at 15:00. We named this peak Daunt which means Tooth in local language. The temperature was increased and the snow was unstable. We decided to follow the ridge more to east in order to lose altitude and reach the point where the altitude over the glacier is minimal. I belayed John, and he descended a slope of rock and snow with about 70 degrees steep to the glacier. Then after making a not stable belay, I started to descent but the snow was very unstable. Finally I descent the difficult part and we continued together until the glacier. After an hour we reached the point of the glacier where we left our equipment after several hours of continuous climbing we returned back to the BC at 17:30.

Monday, 11th July 2011
The team with Christopher, Dimitris and Manos left from BC at 6:30 am towards the right side of the glacier. I stayed with John in BC for resting from yesterday's climbing. The route followed by the team was the same until the glacier, and from there they moved north (right) and they cross the main stream of the glacier which has a lot of water due to melting glacier. After crossing the stream they climbed to glacier's morena and after some gentle slopes mainly without snow (due south orientation) and reached the ridge which is an extension to the east of Summit Minar - CB34 - Pagoda. Finally they approached a peak located east from Pagoda, and the second one east of Pagoda. Such we named the approached peak as Pagoda East East (Pagoda EE). Based of the altitude of Pagoda ~5791 meters we estimated that the altitude of Pagoda EE is about 5750 meters. They did not continue to the peak because it was a narrow part on the ridge and they should be roped to continue which would take much time. They didn't have more time to spend, so they decided to return back to BC where they arrived late in the afternoon (18:00).

Tuesday, 12th July 2011
We wake up in the morning and we started preparing our backpacks for the ascent in one of the highest peaks. We received the weather forecast by satellite phone. The weather would be good for today and tomorrow and the day after would change with snowfalls. Nevertheless we decided to try a three-day effort to top Tara Pahar or CB10, 6227 meters which is the highest in the region. We had backpacks with about 20 Kg each and we left from BC at 9:00. After 1:30 we got to the point where we had left the equipment form our previous ascent. We continued to move towards the left side of the glacier slowly sank into the snow because temperature was very high. The climbing went well on the endless white glacier plateau which we named Sheta Prada (White Plateau). We approached the base of the peak Tara Pahar. At about 2.5 km straight distance from the summit we reached the altitude of 5350 meters. There, I saw a small hole in the glacier where a huge crevasse was hidden with an opening about one meter, and with huge depth. We decided to be more cautious and moved directly right (to the north side of the glacier) because probably we would meet many other hidden crevasses higher. Moving a few steps we met another crevasse and we decided that the only solution was to return back by the same path that we got up there. As we descend further we did two attempts to pass on the right side of the glacier, but without success. Eventually we descend much lower and reached a small island of rocks on the glacier where we decided to camp at an altitude of 5250 meters far below and far away from the summit. The temperature had increased as the time was passing and we had no strength to continue ascending to do the camp higher. The mistake we made was that we supposed that the glacier was stable and without crevasses and that we could cross the glacier by going straight to the base of the summit. If we were climbing on the right side of the glacier we would certainly have approached much closer to the top. Our camp was located 3 km from the summit of Tara Pahar and it was much lower. Having little chance for the summit we sat frustrated in the camp without finally deciding whether it is worth trying or not the next day to climb Tara Pahar. Late in the afternoon, I told John that nothing is lost and that if we have a chance for the summit we should start climbing too early, such suggested to be awaken at 11:00 before midnight.

Wednesday, 13th July 2011
We woke up at 23:00 before midnight. It was very cold. We got ready for our ascent and left the camp under the moonlight at about 00:20.We walked roped together slowly. We moved below the slopes of the peaks to avoid crevasses. At 2:00 we were at the base of the pyramid of the summit Tara Pahar an altitude of almost 5500 meters. From here, a couloir covered with snow and ice led to the eastern ridge of the peak. We began to climb the couloir. At the beginning couloir was about 35-40 degrees steep but gradually the steepness increased. The sky was clear, but deep in the horizon was cloudy and had continuous flashing lightning. The storm was approaching but it was too far away perhaps from the Himalayas. Arriving at 5700 feet the snow was harder and the slope exceeded 45 degrees and climbing was fun. The altitude began to affect us and we had to stop for breath every forty steps. The snow was in bad condition near the ridge for the last 100 meters. The couloir was much steeper with a slope over 50 degrees. In the last 50 meters before the summit the snow was not consistent so it was very difficult for us to approach the East ridge. Finally we reached the east ridge at the altitude nearby 6000 meters. We stopped on the ridge to have some rest and get warmer from the sun's rays which had just come out. I continued climbing on the ridge from the front side for a few meters, reaching close to the serac and then I passed from the other side of the ridge. The snow was not stable and sank up to the knee while the slope was much inclined. I felt that I am on a large piece of snow that could fall on one or the other side of the mountain at any time. We had come close to the summit (6:00) at an altitude of 6088m, but I felt fear so I suggested John not to continue and he agreed. From here we had amazing views of the peaks Minar, CB33a and the group of Mulkila, and also the glacier Chandi Ki Shigri where was the original plan of the ascent. We returned back to the col on the east ridge and we rested for about 20 minutes and after we began the descent. First John started to rappel 120 meters having the backpack and the two 60 meters knotted ropes together. John after rappelling the 120 meters made a belay there. I was descending like climbing down until reach John's belay. We did this technique because we didn't have enough equipment to do all the necessary belays. Overall John made 3 rappel of 120 meters using as a belay one snow picket and my two ice-axes. When the inclination of the couloir was not high we started descending simultaneously roped together until we reached the glacier. The descent started at 6:30 in the morning from the col of the east ridge and we reached the glacier at 8:40. The sun had risen and it was extremely hot, ultimately the decision to return back was very good, because time has been passed and the mountain begun to be dangerous. We got very exhausted in order to cross the glacier until our camp due to radiation and heat. Shortly before 10:00 am we arrived at the camp to rest and cook. We contacted by radio to the base camp group we spent the night at the camp and return the next day to BC.

Thursday, 14th July 2011
We woke up at 5:30 in the camp and into the cold, quickly packed our equipment and we descent the glacier on the way to morena, at the point where we had temporarily left part of the equipment. Here, we left a few more climbing equipment to use them for a next ascent to another peak in the region. We stopped here for a quarter of an hour and continued to BC. The snow on the road had softened enough and the descent was much harder than we were expecting. At 8:30 we arrive in the BC where Christopher, Dimitris and Manos was waiting for us. They had decided to go back to Batal and do another trek through the area with first goal to lake Chandra Tal. So at 10:00, they departed from BC, a few hours latter a storm came in the area. At 11:00 it started raining and we did not know if they were caught by the storm or not. At that time in BC Rajeet appeared, our cooker, coming from the airport of Delhi where he had left Chronis.

Friday, 15th July 2011
After a full night of sleeping, 12 hours total, we had a leisurely breakfast with coffee and relaxing. At 10:00 it began to rain hard and without interruption. All day the weather was bad with rain and we stayed inside the tent.

Saturday, 16th July 2011
The weather today seemed better, than the previous day. At the morning we saw the rays of the sun and by noon it was good. A storm begins in the afternoon with string wind. So that day we could not do anything.

Sunday, 17th July 2011
Another day in our BC with no activity. The weather this morning was foggy, so we could not try our last climb. At noon we went for a walk to the south to see the glacier Dakka North. Our only thinking was to wait for the horses in order to return back to Batal, since there was no time for another climb.

Monday, 18th July 2011
We were arranging to go and climb the nearby peak Hora West, early in the morning. The weather was bad, so we postponed our ascent but even later the weather remained the same. Ranjeet went up to the glacier to bring to BC the equipment that we had left there. We had lunch and after we started packing almost all the stuff to be ready for our trek back to Batal. This day we felt disappointed, just waiting for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19th July 2011
The weather was foggy in the morning, but latter was better. Me, John and Sudipto started our way back to Padar, the place where the shepherds have the sheep. The route was easy and pleasant to the lower plateau where we found the horses, that had just arrived in the location called Padar. The first plan was the horses with their guides to spend the night here and to go to BC the next day. We told them to continue today until up to BC and pick up the equipment today. In Padar (the lower plateau) there is a festival every year, a specific day of the summer, when all the shepherds near by are meeting in Padar. Today was that day for this year to celebrate, shepherds had slaughter and cooked two lambs. They offered us food and dessert. At 15:00 the horses arrived in Padar from BC. We continued to Dakka location (iron rope), the route was very beautiful and we crossed pastureland with many sheep and goats. To pass the equipment to the other side of the river by the iron rope took us 1:30. When all of us pass to the other side it was almost dark. All together we set up a temporary tent to spend the night beside the stream.

Wednesday, 20th July 2011
We had some milk and biscuits for breakfast and we left from Dakka to Batal. After 2:45 leisurely walking and crossing two streams, we arrived at Batal. The weather was fine and we set up a large kitchen tent in the meadow behind the hills. In the afternoon we had rest in Batal.

Thursday, 21st July 2011
Our bus was suppose to arrive at Batal last night but ultimately did not arrive until the morning. We had no idea what could have happened. The time was passing and we sent Yougi by a passing vehicle to Chetrou to see if our bus was there. Finally at 11:00 the car arrived and we left to Manali. The trip was nice except only the two-hour delay over Rohtang because the road was closed. At 19:00 we arrived in Manali and found our friends, they had arrived a few days ago. Manos was ill with gastroenteritis and diarrhoea, he had already gone to the hospital.

Friday, 22nd July 2011
In the morning we walked in the market for shopping and dining. In the afternoon with John and Sudipto we went by bus in Rajeet's village, 30 Km lower in Kullu valley. Arien Rajeet's son had his birthday. We had a pleasant walk through the farms in the village. In the evening we returned back to hotel in Manali.

Saturday, 23rd July 2011
In the morning together with John went to the Temple located on the top of the hill behind the hotel. The temple was inside the forest with trees over 50 meters high. Then we got on the market for the last shopping and got back to the hotel for the preparations of returning to Delhi. After several "discussions" we paid the hotel. We departed by minibus at 20:15 to Delhi. We left Rajeet and Sudipto in Rajeet's village and also all the kitchen equipment. Sudipto was going to stay some days with Rajeet and then he would go to another expedition to peaks KR5 & KR6. We spend all night travelling on the way to Delhi.

Sunday, 24th July 2011
After many hours on the road, we arrived at 13:45 noon at the airport several hours before the return flight. We had to wait18 hours there. Manos was sick because of gastroenteritis. When we finally did the check-in they complained us about the cabin luggage, that was overweight. Finally we managed to pass all of them without problems.

Monday, 25th July 2011
Our flight from Delhi departed without delay and after 4 hours waiting in Bahrain, we continued our trip to Athens, where we arrived in the afternoon. By metro we arrived at the bus station where I caught the 18:00 bus to Trikala. Late after midnight I arrived back to my village.



Altitude Graph



Members
Dr. Nikolas Kroupis
Electrical & Computer Eng.
Elati, Trikala, Greece
Giannis Kovanidis
Physical Studies Student
Aristotele University of Thessalonikis
Serres, Greece
Member of E.O.S. Thessalonikis
Christophoros Kouniakis
Mathematician Professor, Larisa, Greece
Climbing instructor
Member E.O.S. Athinon
Dimitris Titopoulos
Nurse, Athens, Greece
Climbing instructor
Member E.O.S. Athinon
Manolis Loudaros
Technician, Athens, Greece
Member E.O.S. Athinon
Chronis Sioulas
Climbing & Biking Athlete
Member E.O.S. Serron
Sudipto Pal
3D animation designer
Calcutta, India
Ranjeet Negi
Cooker
Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
Yograj Thekur
Helper
Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India

 



Expedition Cost
Cost of the trip
Euro
Visa to India
68
Flight from Athens-Bahrain-Delhi and back
555
Minisus Delhi-Manali-Batal and back
820
Hotel in Manali
20
Horses from Batal to BC and back (2 guides with 10 horses)
550
Tents rented for BC
50
Foods
450
Cooker and Helper
340
Total trip cost per person
1300

I want to thanks my friend Sudipto, for his help organizing this expedition


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