Monday, October 17, 2016

Kang Yatse - Ski descent from the shoulder!

June 2016. Apologies for the delayed post.

The toughest part of this adventure was hauling all the gear to the high camp and back.

I was hoping to explore Nubra with a friend this year. We had planned to climb a few unknown or less known peaks. Winter was dismal this year; Kashmir and Solang Nala were both a washout as far as skiing was concerned. So I was looking forward to climbing in Nubra. Unfortunately my partner had to pull out at the last moment. Since the travel arrangements were already made, I had to quickly modify my plans. I decided to go solo, so the objectives had to be less challenging technically and around 6500m high. I decided to take my ski's along just in case. Based on my experience in the Himalayas, especially in  Ladakh, I've noticed that there is always snow or ice above 5500m. Of course, I  would be proved wrong during the course of my trip. What I didn't take into account was that this winter the snow fall was inadequate. Of course, more on that later. The account here will be very brief because both the peaks that I ski'd down from have been climbed and covered well on this blog in the not so distant past. 

I left Chennai at around 9 on a sunny Sunday morning and reached Delhi by noon. I had to pick a couple of Butane canisters from a friend. From there I drove to Majnu Ka Tila to take the Volvo to Manali. 

I had planned to travel from Manali to Leh by road. So I met a bunch of people along the way. Some intriguing, some forgettable. On the Volvo, the guy sitting next to me, Sumit, was headed to Manali to do a Royal Enfield motorbike ride to Leh. We became good friends over the next few days. 

I spent a couple of days in Manali before driving to Leh. I met Sridharan, who was also planning to be in Ladakh in a week's time. So we decided to climb at least one peak together. He was hike in the Beas Kund area for a few days. So we decided to meet up in Leh and climb Chumser. In the mean time I had aimed to ski down from Kang Yatse.

The drive from Manali to Leh was miserable. But I had to go by road because of the paucity of gas canisters at Manali or Leh. I spent a couple of days at Leh acclimatising and buying rations. 

The drive from Leh to the road head, the hike to the base camp (I camped about 600m higher than the commercial base camp) via Chuskarmo and Nimaling, the attempt at the summit and ski descent, the hike back to the road head and finally the drive back to leh took me five days. Pretty impressive considering I was loaded like a mule, carrying my ski stuff, climbing stuff, ration and other apparel. 

Following are a few pics taken during the climb. Unfortunately no Go Pro moments of my first 6000+ ski descent. :p

Is that Risotto? Is that Khichdi? It doesn't matter. Dinner @ Chyuskarmo.

@Kong MaruLa enroute Nimaling. Day 2.

The route as seen from the high camp@ 5600+ meters. Day 3

My most faithful and most useless companion. My shadow. Lol

A customary snap at the end of the ski run, just before returning to the high camp. Day 4.

The route always seems easier during the retreat as opposed to during the approach.

The mountain as seen from a distance on the way back. 

After the summit attempt and the ski descent from 6000+ m, I decided to head down to Nimaling, which was a pretty long descent. It had already been a long arduous day by the time I reached Nimaling. But once at Nimaling, and after an Omelette, I decided to further climb over Kong Maru La and hike down to Chyuskarmo, so that, the following day I could hike to Shan Sumdo and drive to Leh by noon.

By the time I reached Chyuskarmo, it had been 16 hours since I woke up for the summit attempt at 2 earlier that morning. Pretty good effort. :)

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