Trekking and Exploration: The expedition also provides a chance to enjoy some superb trekking.
Nanda Devi East Base Camp: From Martoli a one-day diversion can be made up the Lwan valley to watch dawn over 7434m Nanda Devi East
Adventure Trekking: At the end of the trip there may be time and energy for some in the group to make the crossing of the 5600m Danu Dhura pass and trek out down the Pindari valley. This is a high glacial pass, only rarely crossed in the modern era. Alternatively, the crossing Laspa pass could short-cut the return trek.
Tactics and Choice of Objectives: We will have support from two Indian high-altitude porters/guides and with a team of 6 or more members we will have a second British guide, allowing flexibility in choice of objectives. We expect that all members will try Shalang Dhura as a training climb. Thereafter, the team may split according to experiences and preferences; one group going for Dangthal, the rock climbers trying Bankatia's 1st ascent, and those inclined to trekking exploring the Danu Dhura or Laspa col crossings.
Who will enjoy this expedition: We recommend the trip equally to general mountaineering enthusiasts and to technical rock and alpine climbers; and the itinerary is especially suitable as a first Himalayan expedition. You need past experience of Scottish grade I/II snow climbing and/or Alpine mountaineering at PD grade for Shalang Dhura and Dangthal. For an attempt on Bankatia you need rock climbing experience at Severe/grade IV and Alpine ridge climbing at AD as the minimum. Previous experience of climbing/trekking/ski-ing and sleeping above 3000m is required. Some of this experience can be gained and consolidated in Spring-Summer 2018 before the trip.
Himalayan paradise - Shalang valley and peaks
The final slopes of Dangthal
History and Exploration of the Gori Ganga and Shalang valleys: The Gori Ganga valley is also known as the Johar or Milam valley. The Gori Ganga feeds into the Kali Ganga on the Nepal border, then joins the man River Ganges on the plains of The valley was a major trade route between India and Tibet before closure of the border following the 1962 conflict with China. The Bhotia people of the valley became famous in the British colonial era providing able recruits for spying missions into central Asia. The recruits became known as pundits and their clandestine travels often lasted several years.
The first mountaineering explorers of the area were Tom Longstaff, Henri and Alexis Brocherel. In 1905 they attempted Nanda Devi East and Nanda Kot, then went up the Shalang valley and made a crossing of the col between Shalang Dhura and Dangthal, known as the Poting Col. The first recorded crossing of the Danu Dhura pass was made by a party of Bhotias led by Diwan Singh of Martoli village. A Mumbai team led by Divyesh and Vineeta Muni made an ascent to the pass from the Shalang valley in 1992.
Records on Dangthal are limited. The assumption is that such an obvious peak has been climbed, but no records of ascents can currently be traced. Dangthal was attempted by an Indian team led by Vinay Hegde in 1991. They reached 5900m before being stopped by an impassable crevasse, and reprted their climb in the Himalayan Journal.
In 2015 Mark Thomas and I repeated the crossing of the Poting Col from the Shalang side, passing close to Dangthal's summit ridge. We confirmed its feasibility and given more time would have been tempted to climb the final 450 metres. The descent of the Poting Glacier proved something of an epic as described in my blog account , and was probably the first crossing of the pass since the Longstaff party in 1905. We also noticed a possible crossing to the Laspa valley whch drops direct to the Gori Ganga. Bankatia was the most impressive peak in the vicinity. The west ridge from the Poting Col looked to be a kilometre in length, becoming rocky and technical in its second part. The rock is banded gneiss with some crack-lines, so we considered that an ascent would be feasible, if challenging.
BOOKING DEADLINE: Bookings must be received before 30th June 2018 in order to secure flight bookings and to make staff and accommodation arrangements. Later bookings will be considered with a 10% surcharge to cover the extra costs of these services when booked at short notice.
TRAVEL: Flight schedules: We recommend daytime flights to minimise jet-lag but will book according to your preference and current fare pricing with the main carriers. In past years we have regularly used BA from Heathrow to Delhi and Emirates from Glasgow to Delhi via Dubai. Lufthansa, KLM and Ethihad are alternatives.
PRE-TRIP MEET AND TRAINING: If there is sufficient interest we will hold a pre-expedition training meet in Scotland in early Spring 2018 when all members can meet together for training and a full briefing in the skills and physical preparation required for this expedition.
INSURANCE: All team members must have Rescue, Medical and Repatriation Insurance cover. In addition, cover for Cancellation/Curtailment, Personal Baggage, 3rd party Liability and Personal Accident is strongly recommended.
INOCULATIONS: Tetanus, TB (BCG inoculation), Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diptheria – essential.
MONEY IN INDIA: You should take c$300 in cash to cover Evening Meals, Drinks, Tips, Lunches and Personal Sundries plus a credit card for possible use in Delhi.
PERMITS: Peaks under 6000m are not listed as official expedition peaks by the Indian Government; so do not require any special permit. If Dangthal is attempted we may incur peak royalties but we will settle any relevant peak charges.
INDIAN VISA: A Tourist Visa is required for entry to India and application can be made on-line with collection by appointment at your local Visa Application Centre or by post. The eTourist Visa offers a cheap option for this short-duration trip. Details are on Refer to http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk for full information and on-line application. Full advice on the application process will be given after booking.
EQUIPMENT: Boots must be warm enough to sustain several days of living above the snowline. Boots with rating to 6000 metres altitude (eg: Scarpa Phantom 6000 fabric boots) are recommended. Alpine/Winter boots such as Sportiva Batura can be used on Shalang Dhura and Bankatia, with addition of overboot gaiters (eg K2 40 below) for the colder climbing on Dangthal. Light trekking shoes or trainers can be worn for all trekking below 4500m altitude. Axe, Crampons, Helmet and lightweight Harness are required for the climbs. A 4 season sleeping bag, and a down jacket, are essential for warmth. Clothing must withstand a big temperature range from -10degC at night to +25degC by day. Take a 60-80 litre Rucksack to carry.
MAPS: Google Earth software provides the best current topographic information on the area.
ACCLIMATISATION AND ALTITUDE PROFILE: The schedule allows 4 days to make the trek from the roadhead at 2000m to base camp at 4350m. Day one involves a big climb of 900m over Minsing Top. The trek camp levels are 2500-2500-3400-4350m. For any members needing extra time to acclimatise two nights can be spent around Martoli.
WEATHER AND CLIMBING CONDITIONS: The Kumaon massif offers generally fine weather in the post-monsoon season from mid-Sept to mid-Oct, but with possibility of some disturbances in the early days of the trip. Night temperatures on the mountain can be very cold - down to minus 20degC at 6000m. The snow-line is usually around 5200m after the monsoon. Beween 5200-5800m the snow is subject to daily melt-freeze cycles giving a solid crust at night and early in the day for safer movement through crevasse fields.
LIFE DURING THE EXPEDITION: Accommodation: We book a hotel or hostel/resthouse with twin en-suite rooms in Delhi, hotels in Munsiari, Chakori and Naini Tal. Members wishing to have single room lodgings should a supplement of £240 to cover the cost.
Nanda Devi East (7434m) from the Lwan valley - one of the trek options for the group
Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like more information about the trip.