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A trek to breathe… at 4600 meters

Hanuman Tibba Trekking

My climbing friend David from Sweden has finally arrived in Manali! After we were able to climb two peaks in the Kullu valley together last year (Deo Tibba 6001 m, Friendship 5328 m), we have planned for this year the exedition to beautiful Hanuman Tibba (5932 m)

We will approach the mountain in alpine style, i.e. we will continuously move from camp to camp and carry our entire load ourselves.

At least 7 days are scheduled, due to bad weather or additional days for acclimatization it can also become 10 days.

In order to climb the 5932-metre-high peak of the Dhauladhar mountain range, it is important to prepare properly for it. In addition to equipment, food and a good climbing team, the most important part is  a good fitness and a good adjustment to the altitude.

Especially the latter is important, because we will be quite quickly quite high up and if we are not properly acclimatized, it can become dangerous!

While I am already relatively well prepared by my life-style in Manali, David comes directly from Sweden with an altitude of 200 meters.

So we’re both planning a four-day acclimatization trek.

The Trek is supposed to adapt David to the height, strengthen me and in addition we want to test equipment and food for the big expedition.

Day 1 Lamadug 3000 meters

On the first day we started only in the afternoon, because our destination Lamadug is almost a thousand meters above our starting point Old Manali, but the distance itself is short. So in the morning we had time to pack, plan the actual Hanuman-Tibba expedition and to wait for the heaviest rain showers to stop.

While we are on the rather steep and very slippery path, I carry about 12 kg. A good starting weight, But during the expedition it would be much more!

Durch tiefen WAld nach Lama Dug

Through the deep forest to Lama Dug

Some downpours surprise us, but after about three hours we reach the small forest clearing Lamadug. Already from a distance we see intoxication wades rising, so we will not spend the night alone. And in fact, four young Indians welcome us at the campground. At first I don’t know if I should worry, so alone in the poaching with a group of Indians in good mood. But the youngsters remained harmless and, apart from a very enthusiastic concert with their cookware, they were almost even pleasant.

We managed to set up the tent just in time for darkness. David’s blueberry soup from Sweden was deemed good and then we enjoyed the luxury of watching the wonderful film MERU on David’s Ipad in the tiny two-man tent to get us in mood for our own little adventure. By the way, the mountaineering film is highly recommended!

Day 2 Khanpari Tibba 4100 meters and camp 2 at about 4900 meters

The night was rather less good. Something was constantly cracking in the bushes and I feared a bear attack, but then the next morning I noticed that the wind was cracking the wood.

It also started to rain and I had to quickly collect my sweaty and wet clothes from the trek. I made a small note in my head, that I had to take at least two tops with me for the Hanuman Tibba expedition, just as I was sweating so much , I always needed one in reserve!

But the next morning the sun was shining and we had a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The laundry dried on the rocks, we enjoyed oat-peat porridge and fresh mangoes and started around 9 o’clock. Unfortunately, by then it had already started to rain. We were literally in the clouds and soon it became more extreme!

Wandern im Regen

Hiking in the rain

Even in the monsoon season, I rarely experience such heavy rainfall here. We waited for the heavy shower to pass, sheltered under Rodhrodendron trees. In fact, the rain stopped after some time and we continued our march upwards. Today I also wore the tent so I had more load to train and David could focus on his breathing again. Because up here, over 3000 meters, only beathing was already very difficult. We crawled higher and higher, came across shepherds with their herds, lost the path in the fog and then found it again and had a delicious lunch of bread, melted cheese, tomatoes and cucumber: a true luxury!

Finally we reached the mountain ridge. I quickly made a detour to the Khanpari Tibba summit at 4100 meters and then we left the ridge to find a good storage place for the next two nights.

Der Bergkamm bei schoenem Wetter

The ridge in fine weather

For the purpose of acclimatisation we needed to sleep as high as possible.

But the rain set in again and with it came heavy fog, it was almost impossible to find a camping place. For a camp you need two things above all: a water source and a reasonably flat place to build the tent. But all the creek veins seemed to have dried up, only when the rain became really strong, we found a small stream.

We quickly set up the tent and hid in our sleeping bags until the heaviest rain was over. Further down in the valley, the lightenings shrugged and we heard the thunder.

Puh, but we didn’t want to be exposed to such rain for days!

But we were lucky, it cleared up and we even saw on the other side of the Kullu valley the white peaks of the famous 6000 + meter high Indrasan and Deo Tibba peaks.

With a magnificent view, we enjoyed our supper: pasta in instant tomato soup, cheese and fresh tomatoes. Very simple, but relatively tasty.

Day 3 Acclimatization Day 4600 meters

David said the day before, that he was not doing so well at this height and his night must not have been the best, because on the morning of the third day, he said he would stay on 3900 metersto spend the day breathing. He had a slight headache.

Unser Lager auf 3900 Meter

Our tent at 3900 meters

But today’s weather looked unanticipatedly good, so I decided to go for a short day’s walk along the mountain ridge.

Bereit fuer einen Trek

Ready for a trek

It was a wonderful day! I met grazing cows, horses and sheep, but otherwise I didn’t see a human soul and had the most beautiful view ever: white mountain peaks, rugged rocks, hanging glaciers and a seemingly never-ending ridge on which I walked.

Der Bergkamm

The ridge

The colorful flowers delighted me, I enjoyed the silence and solitude around me.. Eventually I reached a maximum height of 4600 meters. Then it became too rocky and steep for me and I turned back.

Blumen waehrend der Wanderung

Flowers during the hike

Back in the camp, I spent the afternoon with reading, yoga and a nap. David felt much better. We ate popcorn, got a visit from a cow and watched another movie.

Wir haben einen Gast

We have a guest

For dinner we tried our dehydrated Indian food: rice and lentils and Indian vegetable rice. Well, you can eat!

Day 4 Return 2000 meters

Last night was rather uncomfortable. Something was constantly tweaking me and it crawled in my sleeping bag.

Wanderung hinab- dieses Mal mit klarer Sicht

Hike down – this time with a clear view

It was all the more beautiful to be awakened early by the first rays of the sun. I quickly woke up, washed the dishes from the night before in the freezing water and made us a tea. Already around 7:30 o’clock we set off and ran down the mountain again in a hurry. For the nearly 2000 meters of altitude we did not need more than 3 1/2 hours. But now my thighs hurt and I don’t want to move a milimeter anymore!

Conclusion:

  1. For acclimatization, another night would make sense and spending the second night at 3900 meters was probably to early: better would be another overnight stay!
  2. I feel good, trained and ready for an adventure
  3. Persistent rain is no fun and could prevent the Hanuman Tibba expedition
  4. Pasta and popcorn is delicious, Indian dehidrated Dal is managable and every day oatmeal is also ok
  5. The first time I solo trekked (without guide, cook, carrier or horses) and it was really great!!