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A fast-track Himalayan adventure for all levels of technical experience
12th September - 4th October 2018

Our Autumn trip for 2018 returns to the beautiful ranges of Eastern Kumaon in Uttarakhand and offers a combination of a superb trekking peak - Shalang Dhura (5678m), a glacial ascent to peak Dangthal (6050m) and, for experienced rock climbers, the challenge of Bankatia (5630m) - a splendid virgin rock tower. Special features:-

* Exploration of peaks up to 6050m altitude

* 22 day itinerary - with 16 days in the mountains

* Snow, Glacier and Rock climbing in Alpine style – suiting all levels of technical ability

* Learn the skills and tactics of Himalayan climbing – ideal for your first Himalayan venture

* Magnificent trekking route to base camp - close under the eastern face of 7816m Nanda Devi

* Qualified British leader - the trip leader is IFMGA British Mountain Guide Mark Chadwick

Left: Shalang Dhura (5678m) - one of India's finest trekking peaks

Above: Bankatia (5630m) with Panchchuli peaks behind - any attempt would be made by the left-hand ridge

Objectives:  Climbing:

  1. The trekking peak of 5678m Shalang Dhura - directly above base camp; simple snow ascent at 40-50 deg max angle;
  2. 6050m Dangthal - by the glaciated north-west slope - scenic glacier climb with route-finding challenge in crevasse fields
  3. Bankatia (5630m) - a gem of a rock peak; unclimbed with a challenging West Ridge of likely Alpine Difficile grade

Trekking and Exploration: The expedition also provides a chance to enjoy some superb trekking.
Trek to Base Camp: The route to base camp from the road-head at Lilam in the Gori Ganga valley takes four days - fantastic gorge scenery, and a final camp at Martoli village

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.

Trip Grade: A/B (C for Bankatia); Maximum number of members: 8 with 2 British guides

Price: £4,150: Deposit: £600 booking deposit required. Balance payable on or before 14th June 2018; Single room supplement for hotel nights: £240

Discounts: 2½% on bookings made before 28th February 2018; 2.5% to past-Scottish/Alpine clients; 5% to past Himalayan-clients, 5% to groups of 3 or more; deduct £550 for land-only price; maximum allowable discount 7.5%

Price includes Flights UK-Delhi, Travel in India, any permit fees and charges in India, British Guides, Indian staff, bed & breakfast in Delhi Hotels, and in hotels/resthouses on journey to roadhead, use of Equipment/Tents. 15% discount on equipment purchases from Cotswold Outdoor Not included: Personal Insurance, Visas, Tips, Drinks, Lunches on the road.

Shalang Route Map

Himalayan paradise - Shalang valley and peaks

The final slopes of Dangthal

Outline Itinerary: Wed-Thurs 12th-13th Sept: Flights to Delhi (daytime or overnight); packing of equipment; sleeper train to Kathgodam on Thurs night
Fri-Sat 14th-15th Sept: Bus journey through Kumaon foothills with overnight stay at Chakori hill station
Sun-Wed 16th-19th Sept: Trek to Shalang base camp - Day 1 Lilam-Minsing Top (a tough 900m climb over a ridge to a forest camp at 2600m); Day 2: gentle 12km walk up Gori Ganga valley to gorge camp at 2550m; Day 3: longer 18km trek up widening valley to the scenic village of Martoli (3400m) at junction of Milam and Lwan valleys; Day 4: Final 10km stage up Shalang valley to base camp on the vast Shalang meadows at 4300m
Thurs-Fri 20th-21st Sept: Rest and acclimatisation walks; load-carries to high camp for Dangthal and Bankatia
Sat-Sun 22nd-23rd Sept: Ascent of Shalang Dhura (5678m) - a single day climb from base camp
Mon 24th-Sat 29th Sept: Attempts on Dangthal and/or Bankatia; or trek options to Nanda Devi East base camp, across the Danu Dhura pass to Pindari, or over the Bankatia col to Laspa valley
Sun-Mon 30th Sept-1st Oct: Trek out to Lilam-Munsiari by Gori Ganga valley
Tues 2nd – Wed 3rd Oct: Drive back to Delhi with overnight stay in lake-side hill resort of Naini Tal
Thurs 4th Oct: Daytime return flights from Delhi

Scenic view up the Shalang valley (Nanda Kot on right)

On the glacier slopes under the summit 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.

Supplementary Information:

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.
Members wishing to book their own flights should deduct £550 for a land-only price.

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.
Training: All members must endeavour to be in the best possible state of physical training before the trip. Plenty of mountain walking with a pack weight of 12-16kg and daily distances of 16-20km is recommended together with local training running, cycling, gym training or whatever you prefer. Those who have had a lay-off from the mountains must make special efforts to get back to good fitness. Short trips to the Alps will be highly useful if time/finances allow. There is no substitute for getting out on the hills and mountains in UK and Europe in preceding months. There is only limited time to acclimatise and get fit on the expedition. At high altitude any lack in physical preparation is quickly exposed.

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.
UK-resident members can take out comprehensive insurance with the BMC www.thebmc.co.uk. For Shalang Dhura and Dangthal - as standard peaks under 6500m - the Alpine & Ski level of cover will suffice; for the technical pioneering attempt on Bankatia Expedition-level cover would be required (2017 premium for up to 31 days c£180 for Alpine-Ski cover level and c.£420 for expedition-level cover plus BMC membership fee). There are other options if you shop around - eg Snowcard
Rescue-only insurance is available from www.globalrescue.com on an annual premium of c.$320

INOCULATIONS: Tetanus, TB (BCG inoculation), Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diptheria – essential.
Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis B – recommended but optional.
Anti-malarials – not recommended.
We will detail these fully after you book. Can all be obtained in 3 mths before departure.

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.
Topographic map: 1:150000 Garhwal East sheet (published 1951 in Switzerland from Survey of India information) is not openly available – we will send you an extract from this map on application.
Trekking Map: Leomann Trekking Series 1:200000 sheet No 8 Kumaon-Garhwal – basic line map with indication of main trek routes – now out of date but available from specialist map shops.

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.
Load-carrying: During the trek to base camp members should carry personal effects and clothing, enough to get fit and acclimatized (12-14kg.). On the climbs above base camp members must carry personal kit and some communal kit. Loads of up to 16kg may be required to establish a high camps, but our high-altitude porters, will carry the bulk of communal equipment, food and fuel. Above 5500m all climbing will be done in lightweight style with minimum bivouac equipment.
Provisions for medical treatment: We carry a full field medical kit and advertise for a doctor or paramedic to join the team. All Guides have mountain first aid certificates, and long experience of expedition ailments.
Food: The food on the trip will be largely vegetarian. Our cook will provide a wholesome diet:-
Breakfast: Porage, Muesli, Omelettes, Pancakes, Paranthas, Chapattis
Dinners: Vegetable or Egg Curry, Puris, Pakora, Rice/Dahl/Soya Stew, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chow Mein, Apples/Custard, Jelly and Fruit Cake
Lunch Food: Dried fruit, nuts, oatcakes/biscuits/paranthas, cheese, pate, salamis, jam, honey, peanut butter, chocolate, protein bars, boiled sweets
Drinks: Soup, Fruit Drinks, Drinking Chocolate/Ovaltine, Tea, Coffee, Herbal Tea.
Indian staff: We will have a Cook/Field Executive from our agent, Himalayan Run & Trek Pvt. Ltd and two or three high altitude porters. All the staff are regulars on our trips and have achieved a very high reputation for service, support and team spirit.
Tents: We will provide tents for the mountain camps and can provide tents for trek and base camp on basis of two or three persons sharing. However, we recommend that you take your own lightweight personal tent for use at base camp and on trek, giving you privacy and space for rest and recovery when not climbing.

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.

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Moran Mountain Ltd - Park Cottage - Achintee - Strathcarron - Ross-shire - IV54 8YX
Tel/Fax 01520 722361    
E-mail moranmountain@icloud.com
Director: Martin Moran
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