Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Backcountry Skiing in Afghanistan

The Baba range offers some awesome soft dry snow during winters (even early spring). Skinups are pretty swift and straightforward. There are a number of villages that act as sort of a trailhead. I used to usually gain about 500m in about 90 to 120 min. A lot of fun to be had. More vids to follow. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sh*t Scant Snow in Jan

This vid should demonstrate the crappy conditions in Kashmir earlier this year. We were down to the last few inches of snow and it had been thawing and freezing for so long that it was starting to feel like we were  skiing on glass. Couldn't even keep the ski's parallel. Lol. 

Track courtesy : Blue Shift (Lemaitre)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kashmir - The worst year ever for me!!

I have been visiting Kashmir for a very long time. In good times, in bad times, after injuries or in good health, in times of duress, curfews, tensions and so on. But this was by far my worst year. There was so little snow even on Afarwat, let alone the village. It was appalling. I think it was commendable we lasted 10 days in these conditions. 

Worst part was that it snowed the day we flew out of Kashmir. LOL. 
(PS: The video shows how little snow there actually is on Afarwat)

The three Amegos?

When you can't ski; You eat.

Awesome views from my room!

My Best Friend; as long as he's not licking me!

Views from G4. Depressing in the vicinity but awesome in the distance. 

In a good year, none of these rocks can be seen. 

Gondola station lit up in the foreground. Afarwat in the background. 

My Best Friend!!

Scant Crusty Snow!!

Fine Tuning!! :P
I just hope that next year is somewhat better. Heck who knows, I might make another trip later this year in early spring. But this trip leaves a lot to be desired. :(

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Chukila (Chakula)

A delayed post about a solo trip earlier this year. A 6400m peak called Chukila (also christened as Chakula on some maps). The peak is not technical but the approach was horrendous. The maps are unreliable; since the glaciers (as depicted on the maps were gone). There are only moraines and loose rocks in place of the glacier. I couldn't quite summit since water was very scarce. But I did climb quite high to a spot close to the summit ridge. Since this was supposed to be a fast (3 day) ascent, it didn't feel that bad.

3 hours from the Road Head. 

First camp. Striking views

Any hint of civilization is about 4 hours behind me

A nice spot adjacent to the moraine (no water)

Steep moraine. No water. Summit ridge in the distance

Views during the weak summit attempt.

An hour before turning back

Wild Rose in the middle of a river bed

Last Camp (on the way back)

Not the worst trip. But I have had more indulging climbs. Hopefully next time will be better.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spangnak (6150m)

Took a few friends through the rarely explored Spangnak trail and along the way also climbed the Spangnak mountain. It's a straightforward ascent; the only challenge being the long approach to the top. A few pics to reminisce the trip. 

Kyagar Tso - Spangnak Base is about a four hour hike from here. 

Kyagar Tso - As seen from the summit of Spangnak (6150m)

The Summit Party - Pradeep and Maneesha to my right.

The Higher Spangnak - Main summit (6300m) - Seen in the distant background. 

A mutt at our base camp. Total nuisance but very photogenic.

A rocky peak along the trail.

A glacial pool just short of the Spangnak Glacier

Spangnak Glacier in the background. 


The penultimate campsite

First glimpse of Tso Moriri - As seen from a high pass.

Maneesha with her "Rock-y" acquaintances.

Tso Moriri (Chumser-Lungser in the background)

Here are some more snaps from the trail. Also check out the pics from Pradeep & Maneesha.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gulmarg '17

A few old friends. A few new. A lot of crazy skiing in near zero visibility over a period of a fortnight and a sore sore sore me at the end of it all. A few words to describe Gulmarg earlier this year. :D

A walk in the evenings after a hectic day on Afarwat; almost therapeutic.

Afarwat; almost imperious.

A few friends; new and not so new.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Round 2 - After Kang Yatse

Tso Moriri, as seen from the Guest House

Sridharan caught up with me in Leh after his hike in the Beas Kund area. He had been in Leh a couple of days while I was away attempting Kang Yatse. I was exhausted after skiing down Kang Yatse in five days. So I decided to stay at Leh for two or three days. Sridharan was OK with it. We agreed to climb a 6600+ mountain in the Tso Moriri area. I thought, since the mountain was not technical and I had my ski's with me, what the heck, why not use 'em. :p

Initially we had a lot of time to climb the mountain (almost two weeks) but had to make do with just 5 days from Leh to the mountain and back to Leh; one of those days was used up in reaching the Lake and one to drive back.

Since I have resolved to keep this post brief, I'll spare the details. In a nutshell, on a side excursion I managed to fracture my little finger (there were three stitches too to spice things up ;)). So I needed about eight days to kind of recover. Sridharan and I still decided to go through with the adventure but at a much swifter pace because we needed atleast a day or two in Leh before returning to our respective homes. Ill try to depict the rest of the trip in pictures ..... :p 

We rode with this cute couple to Tso Moriri. We halted at the army guest house; courtesy special permit managed by Sridharan. We hosted the couple for a few hours. They spent the night on the Korzok side of the Lake. 

My Pack - Super heavy, as was the trend for me this year. Day 1 on the trail.

After a long steep hike. The campsite is about half an hour behind me.

The Lake as seen from the camp. I reached the site around 1330, looked around for water points and then pitched the tent. Sridharan was there soon enough. 

Day 2 @ High camp. Since the weather was bad, we didn't have much time or opportunity to snap pictures enroute. Coffee at 6000+ m is Oh So .... Coffee like. :p

Day 3 - Since the weather was bad again, we decided to hike back to the lake. But not before I ski'd down from about 6400m. Shreedharan stayed behind due to the foul weather. After the ski run, we packed up and began the descent in a jiffy.

It was such an anticlimactic end to such an anticlimactic trip. With some more time, we could have made so much of this outing, but for the little accident I had. Perhaps another time.