Mt. Kshitidhar Expedition
After summit of Mt. Yunam, last year, this year we planned for Mt. Hanumantibba expedition, our planning starts with very similar to corporate culture, with a ‘GOL basuya’ a Marathi word synonyms to Round table conference which is supplemented by food and beverages from Mohaprabha Continental (Phadke sir’s house), wherein everyone puts his contribution for Planning, logistics and execution, which was almost done six months in advance and the trend till today shows that there is no failure in execution and achievement….!!!. The root cause of our success has defined by one of our member (Gopal aka Sheik) that ‘Once a mountaineering kida bites you, you always remain bitten’.
Mt Hanumantibba is in Beas kund area of Himachal Pradesh in Manali area with a Himalayan panoramic view of Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar Range. You always get view of Mt. Patalsu, Indrasun, Hanuman Tibba, Kshitidhar, Friendship and many more intermittently, hidden in the clouds or exposed in the Sun.
Mumbai – Chandigarh – Solang Nalah:
We started on 15th JUNE for Chandigarh and caught AC bus for Manali. Reached Solang Nala, our expedition base, on 16th Morning. Our expedition planning has always high priority for acclimatization, which we forcefully executed by going to Anjani Mahadev Mandir and Mt Patalsu trek in next two days.
After being acclimatized, we started for our actual expedition to Mt. Hanuman Tibba. Our route was Solang Nala -> Dhundi -> Beas Kund -> Advance Base Camp -> Camp1 -> Camp2 -> Summit Camp -> Summit and back.
Solang Nalah – Dhundi:
Trek of Solang Nala to Dhundi was all tar road of 8-10 km with mighty Beas River roaring all the time towards our right side with a Majestic view of Mt. Patalsu to our east and Mt. Indrasun to south. The adjacent area was all full of Deodar and Pine Trees. It took three to four hours to reach Dhundi. The construction of Rohtang Tunnel was in full swing. We could hear the Dumpers working till 10-10.3PM. After lunch we went to the adjacent hill where a Snow and Avalanche study base is there. Again this was more of an acclimatization walk.
Dhundi – Beas Kund:
Trek of Dhundi to Beas kund is very beautiful, route almost till Bakhar Taj was full of MarshMarigold and Himalayan Thimbleweed (Red and White Flower also locally known as Ratanjyot), and few wild rhododendrons, rest of the path was almost a grassland. Last patch of almost one hour was boulder route and had to do a balancing act by jumping from one boulder to another.
Beas Kund, the main base camp for Mt Hanuman Tibba, Friendship, Kshitidhar and Laddakhi. It’s beautiful location which has 360 degree view of Himalayan peaks and water making its own path from the melting snow. After having a rest day, team went for height gain to advance base camp of Hanuman tibba, and came back to Beas kund. I got exhausted and decided not to move further and stayed just below the advance base camp. I was viewing the continuous rock falls happening at the far left side of the ABC (Advance Base Camp). Once the team started climbing down, I joined them for Beas Kund.
Next day, except me and Phadke sir, team marched for Advance base camp. After an overnight stay and looking at gradient of Tentu Pass, five out of the seven members decided to return to the base camp.
At mountain, your physical and mental strength is tested at each and every level. One has to always look for safety and should not overestimate, mountains are going to remain there only, and there is always a second try, however for safety, there is no second chance. With due respect to the decision of coming back to base camp, I really admire the spirit of Gopal and Aarthi, who decided to move ahead to Camp1. We the team of seven team member who were at base camp, were evaluating the attempt of Kshitidhar, however we need to have one guide to take us to Kshitidhar. Immediately we started communication with Zuzer and as usual we got an answer saying ‘I have arranged for a guide and he will be reaching tomorrow ’, our joy knew no bounds as we got second chance to attempt the summit.
Once Luther (Our Guide) reached Beaskund, he took stock of our experience, capability and available resource. He was convinced that we can go Kshitidhar, and explained our ternary for the same.
Beas Kund to Kshitidhar Advance Base Camp:
Next day we, the seven members, started for advance base camp of Kshitidhar. Our journey of advance base camp of Mt. Kshitidhar was really very tiring of almost six hours; the ridge was almost of 30 to 40 degree gradient, making us exhausted. I think that is why the ridge is named as Rape Ridge.
Kshitidhar Advance Base Camp – Summit – Beaskund:
And now the final day has come, we were attempting the summit, initially I heard that this would be trekking peak, but it came to be really opposite. We had to fix rope to negotiate rock patch and snow patch at multiple occasions. It started snow fall in between and weather started becoming bad and making us difficult to march ahead. Luther was pushing us with his typical call of ‘chalo chalo chalo…Shabbas Shabbas Shabbas….’, andfinally after a trek of almost seven hours, we reached summit amidst bad weather, we quickly did our prayer, thanking Mother Nature to allow us to stand at the summit and prayed for our safe return. Immediately after 10minutes of our summit stay, we returned back to advance base camp, had lunch there and decided to go back to base camp as it was becoming difficult to stay in snow.
After a quick lunch and unpacking of our tents and equipment, we had a celebration and photo session and moved back to base camp of Beas kund.
Meanwhile we were waiting to hear of Gopal and Aarthi, however we did not had any information nor we could contact them, as there was no way to reach them via phone or our neighbors walky talky, due to range problems. Akshay decided to stay back for the updates of Gopal and Aarthi and rest of the people moved back to Solang.
Beaskund – Solagnala:
Beaskund to solangnala route is almost climbing down so had not much complaints of exhaustion. On reaching Solangnala, Zuzer had arranged celebration and dinner party. I got a chance to meet Loveraj (Five time Everest summiteers) his wife Rena (South Pole and Antarctica visitor) Dicky Dolpa (One of the women Everest Summiteers) Mr. Garewal, Indian Hockey coach at Olympics…
Solagnala – Chandigarh – Mumbai:
And the sad day had come….we had to move to Mumbai leaving the Himalayas. Solang is surrounded by mighty peaks, to name a few, IndraSan, Kullu Pumori, Hanuman Tibba, Deo Tibba, DharamSura, KshitiDhar, Ladakhi, Friendship, Seven Sisters, Makerbeh, Shikarbeh etc. I had to say goodbye to all of them with a hope in mind that I will come again to meet them.