Northern India's Himachal Pradesh - Part Two
Part 2 - if you missed part 1 check it out.
Base camp was quiet without Dave and Fred around, Ramm and Pream spoke little English so we mostly played cards. One afternoon a group of 18 or so local Porters and Police came through camp with a dystopian reminder to the severity of our location; the body of a fallen trekker. They had it bent in half stuffed into a backpack and it appeared to be a man. The skin around his head and torso was mostly gone and the lower part of his body was swollen and fleshy where the ice had preserved it, the rank stench was slightly camouflaged by sticks of incense.
4:00 am came quick and as I stumbled from the tent with my BD headlamp and the pack I had loaded the day before my mind drifted to my family and the family of the fallen man - was this a bad idea?
My objective sprung upward from our base camp to a height of 5300m. Goya was the name of this peak its south west ridge had been climbed the year before (IV 5.9 600m) and looked like fun. My plan was to climb alone, rope soloing on the harder terrain. I had a 70m Sterling Nano, some stoppers, cordage, my trusty Misty Mountain harness and a serious case of “gotta climb somthin”.
It took me an hour to reach the ridge from base camp. The climbing was mostly moderate with short pitches of 5.9. I choose to ascend the ridge right of the line that had been climbed the year before, it provided good rock and some exciting moments. The rope never came out of my pack; I love the free feeling of soloing! Goya’s summit was big and offered great views of the surrounding valleys and mountains; I named my new route in honor of my illness - “P.K.D.” IV 5.9- (550m). The climb took 8 hrs round trip.
When Dave and Fred returned to base camp we traded stories of our recent adventures and spent the remaining three days bouldering and watched the season change from summer to winter.
Our trip back to Delhi and the US was trying!
We had huge problems getting our gear back to the road in Tingrat – our prearranged deal with a local horseman fell through and required lots of hiking and yelling to remedy. Our bus from Manali to Delhi broke down three times, turning a 12 hr ride into 23 hrs. But, we managed to get a few large bottles of wine onto the plane; the flight to India was hindered by the absurd expense of booze.
The wine went quick, as did the flight and soon we were back in the US scrambling to catch our connecting flights home and say our goodbyes. The drive from Charlotte back to Boone, North Carolina was the longest leg of the return trip – it was hard to shake the fact that everybody was obeying traffic laws and driving down what seemed to me the wrong side of the road…
This trip was made possible by the gracious support from our sponsors; Mountain Hardwear, Backcounrty.com, Sterling Ropes, Black Diamond, Montrail, Misty Mountain Threadworks and PROBAR.
A special thanks goes to our families, Chris Strasser, Kurt Smith, Tommy Chandler and Kendall Card for going over and beyond in their efforts.