Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Satopanth Expedition - Overland Journey to Uttarkashi

19 April 2016 | 1945 | 1183m | Uttarkashi, India (Hindi: उत्तरकाशी )
We left Mussoorie mid-morning and descended through mixed conifer forests to the Bhagirathi river. 
We stopped several times along the way to take in the views as the entire range was out, from the Trans-Satluj peaks to Nanda Devi (albeit with a thin haze above the foothills). I'll edit some more post trip so you can see the range.  Reaching the Bhagirathi river, we drove through villages as Spring wedding parties commenced, drums and horns shouting in celebration.  It is harvest time here as well, with this region having two harvests each year.

Looking out on the Himalayas on the drive down (I'll process these images later so you can see the mountains).

A cricket session ensuing on the road.

Roadside coffee and tea stop.

Locals having a break from the drive.
Arriving mid-day to Uttarkashi, we went and obtained the Gangotri National Park permit, and picked up final food stocks for on the mountain.  The team is all healthy, and we are now ready to move further to Gangotri, where the approach to base camp begins.  This will be the last post as we are leaving the wired world for the next 23 days. Remember, no news is good news. See you in awhile!  -Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides

Gomba Sherpa, a professional climber from Kathmandu that works with Himalaya Alpine Guides year round.

Locals doing errands in the market.

Locals doing errands in the market.

Locals doing errands in the market.

Locals doing errands in the market.

Locals doing errands in the market.

A shopkeeper selling spices.

A fruit and vegetable salesman.

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Satopanth Expedition - Team has arrived, Journey to Mussoorie Hill Station

18 April 2016 | 2034 | 2005m | Mussoorie ((Garhwali/Hindi: Masūrī)), India

The Himalayas from Mussoorie

Mussoorie at night


Greetings from Mussoorie, the final members of the team arrived yesterday via international flight
The view from our guest house, the Ivy Bank, here in Mussoorie this evening.
from the United States and Poland, and checked into the 5 star Metropolitan Hotel in Delhi. In the afternoon I did gear checks with two members, and will do the final one this evening with the third climber.  
on the boarding platform this morning in Delhi.
     This morning we rose early, boarded the first class car of the Shatabdi Express, and rolled to Dehra Dun.  Reaching Dehra Dun mid-day, we jumped into a Toyota Innova and drove up to the hill station of Mussoorie, where we are resting now at the Ivy Bank guest house, and making preparations for our overland journey to Uttarkashi tomorrow.  Temperatures are much cooler up here, Ted and Chris spotted the Himalayas on a stroll this evening, and a local told them it was "the Holy range."

-Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides

A Hindu holy man (sadhu) making his way to board the train.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016 Kamet Expedition (Satopanth Alternate)

Satopanth - the way of Truth
Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah. I've just completed the season managing Gulmarg Ski Area in Kashmir, India for the second season. Last week, Tsewang Namgyal and I met with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Delhi and learned that the Indian Army

will not allow expeditions into Mt. Kamet this Spring season for undisclosed reasons. The peak is right on the Indo-China border, so we respect their wishes.
Whenever you apply for a peak in a sensitive border region in India, you also have to provide an alternative "open" peak in case your permit is denied by the authorities. Our alternative is Mount Satopanth, a 7075 meter peak in the Gangotri region of the Garwhal.
     Satopanth in Sanskrit roughly translates as "the path of truth". We like the name, we love the route, and the guests along with us are getting excited to return to the Garwhal for our second expedition to the region.  We will approach up the Bhagirathi river, shown below.
 Next, we'll trek for a few days on the Bhagirathi (shown below) glacier, and finally to the base of our objective, massive and aesthetic Satopanth.
Shivling and Meru (the Shark's Fin) from the Bhagirathi glacier

Pulling into Nandanvan after climbing up from the Bhagirathi glacier.
Boulder hopping up to Nandanvan.

 Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks. I will fly back with expedition supplies from here in the United States early next week.
Tsewang Namgyal

Gomba Sherpa
Tsewang Namgyal is currently in Dehra Dun finalizing matters with the Wildlife office. Kunsang Thakchod and Phuntsok Dorje are in Manali preparing the logistics there, and Gomba Sherpa is in Kathmandu doing the same. We will all come together, assimilate the massive amount of equipment required to mount a Himalayan expedition, and then begin the journey through the north Indian plains, into the foothills, and finally back into our office, the Himalayas. Three climbers are joining us for this expedition you will meet them soon as well. Here's to a great Himalayan season. -Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides

Luke Smithwick

Phuntsok Dorje
Kunsang Thakchod