Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013 Bhagirathi 2 Expedition - Trip Summary

6512 meter (21,365 feet) Bhagirathi 2 and our route line.

Greetings from Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India.  We're resting here and getting ready for the upper Zanskar Traverse.  Excited!  We had a true adventure on this year's expedition to the Garhwal Himalaya.  Atrocious weather kept us from a summit, and we saw the full brunt of the power of a Himalayan storm that persisted for more than 60 hours with consistent heavy, wet snowfall.  Widespread avalanching in the region kept us from even returning for a climb on the upper slopes of the mountain.  We will return again in June of next year, the best month of the year for climbing in the Garhwal.  Below are images of the region to give you an idea of the experience.

Pilgrims at Gangotri, bathing away the sins of a lifetime with a single dunk (pretty sweet deal, but cold!).

The start of the approach trek to Nandanvan (Bhagirathi BC) in mixed conifer / birch forest.  Note the hard working porter team on the trail to the left.  These guys carry massive loads (up to 35 kilograms) and choose to run on two meals a day. Amazing people!

A detour around enroute to Bhagirathi 2 base camp.

Moving to ABC from base camp with afternoon clouds.

A puja in base camp to the Hindu god Ganesha for protection while on our climb.

 Less than ordinary alpine scenery.
Shivling, Meru (Shark's Fin), and the Gangotri glacier in mid afternoon.

More glacier bashing!

Moving on the Gangotri glacier.

Travelling away from base camp on the Gangotri glacier (Bhagirathi 3 on the left, Shivling on the right).
A day for drying out after the snowstorm.
Sunset in the region.

A landslide covering the road from Uttarkashi to Gangotri.
Kedar Dome and an umclimbed peak.

Extraordinary light.

Landslide debris covering cars in the village of Harsil.


Looking towards the Kumaon Himalaya.

A lot of destruction came to the Uttarakhand while we were on this expedition, unbeknownst to us.  We noticed lots of lightning flashing through the skies as we rested in the evenings, but had no idea about the seriousness of the situation down below. Thousands of people are currently displaced from their homes and facing a lot of hard work to rebuild their lives.  We plan to return to the region in September of this year to offer our hand in the effort.  It will be huge, and they will need all the help they can get.  Contact us if you'd like to assist.

The end.

Monday, June 3, 2013

2013 Bhagirathi 2 Expedition - Enroute

2 June, Munsoorie

We all arrived yesterday, 1 June to New Delhi, India, had a quick meal and a sleep, jumped on a train this morning, and are now resting and enjoying the foothills of the Indian Himalaya. Much cooler temperature wise than Delhi (21C Munssoorie, 37C Delhi), we're looking forward to journeying onward tomorrow deeper into the Garwhal Himalaya and the roadhead at Gangotri where our approach to Bhagirathi 2 begins.  Onward into some very remote country.  Stay tuned, we'll update you when we can.  We have big plans.

The team in front of the jeep.

4 June - Uttarkashi

Here in Uttarkashi today, will be in Gangotri tonight at 3000 meters.  The Bhagirathi river is snortin' high down below, and the sound of its flow fills the valley.  It's hot, looking forward to climbing higher and feeling the wind off the glacier.  Team is well, and everyone's really excited to get into the mountains.  Alright, final post for a couple weeks.  Wish us fair weather and we'll see you on the other side. -Luke Smithwick, Himalaya Alpine Guides

Friday, May 17, 2013

2013 Garwhal Expedition : Bhagirathi 2

In a weeks time, we'll gather here in Delhi to meet with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and begin our journey into India's Garwhal Himalaya.  The Garwhal Himalaya aren't a popular destination compared to other locales in the Himalaya, perhaps due to how remote and wild they are.  So, for a few weeks, we'll be away from the wired world.      

     Our peak objective, Bhagirathi 2 (Google rendered image below), is named after King Bhagirathi, believed by locals to be the one responsible for bringing the Ganges river to earth from the heavens.  The peak is 6512 meters (21364 feet) in height, and boasts some mighty fine climbing lines.  Marko Prezelj and his team of Slovenian alpinists found some excellent climbing in the cirque next door (images and story here).  Our climb will be with crampons, mountaineering axes, and running belays with pickets and maybe a screw or two depending on conditions. We'll be climbing on a ridge line.  We'll be posting updates when the team arrives here, if possible at the expedition start, and then our results after our time.  Currently, Rahul Thapa (local guide) is in Munsoorie and preparing local arrangements, Kunsang and Chandan are preparing equipment and tents in Manali, and I'm (Luke Smithwick) here in Delhi preparing to move to Kathmandu to bring expedition supplies down to meet Rahul in Munsoorie next week.  Stay tuned! A few more visuals below.. -Luke Smithwick, Himalaya Alpine Guides

Where is the Garwhal?
The Garwhal Himalaya is located in the Indian Himalaya, on China's Tibetan border. See the map below to orient yourself.  This expedition is the first of a series in the region, exploring alpine peaks and climbing aesthetic routes.