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Mountaineering

Mountaineering

 

The Sport of walking, hiking, trekking and climbing up mountains is known as Mountaineering. Also known as Alpinism it has branched out into specializations like rock craft, snow craft and skiing. Fitness of body and mind along with good athletic and technical ability is required to conquer this sport.

Ötzi the Iceman was the first person to land at 3000ft, about 5,300years ago. Also known as Frozen Fritz, his well-preserved Mummy was found in 1991 in the Schnalstal glacier in the Ötztal Alps, between Austria and Italy. It is considered to be the beginning of the Sport called the Mountaineering.

The world's highest mountain (above mean sea level), Mount Everest (8,848 m) was first climbed on May 29, 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay from the south side in Nepal.

 

Locations

Zanskar Valley – Jammu & Kashmir

About 20 kms. South of Rangdum stands the Pazila watershed across which lies Zanskar, the most isolated of all the trans Himalayan Valleys. The Panzila Top (4401 m) is the picturesque tableland adorned with two small alpine lakes and surrounded by snow covered peaks. As the Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of the watershed to the head of the Stod Valley, one of Zanskar's main tributary valleys, the majestic "Drang-Drung" glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, the Drang-Drung" is perhaps the largest glacier in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation.

Zanskar comprises a tri-armed valley system lying between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountain; The three arms radiate star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse where the region's two principal drainage's meet to form the main Zanskar River. Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq. kms. High rise, mountains and deep gorges surround Zanskar. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall resulting in closure of all the access passes, including the Penzi-la. To-day, Zanskar has the distinction of being the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh, and one of the last few surviving cultural satellites of Tibet.

The 240 km long Kargil-Padum road, of which the first 90 km stretch is paved, remains opened from around mid-July to early November. In June, the summer is at its height in the region and the climate is ideal for trekking along the route free from vehicular traffic of any kind and when the countryside is freshly rejuvenated into life after months of frigid dormancy.

 

Markha Valley - Jammu & Kashmir

The secluded Markha Valley is wedged between the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, behind the Himalaya, to which it runs parallel. The wild and barren, yet hauntingly beautiful landscapes of this hidden land are often likened to Tibet - Ladakh used to be known as 'Little Tibet' - and are every bit as dramatic and enticing.

Most of the tour trips start in the fascinating capital of Leh, which developed as a trading centre, drawing merchants from Yarkand, Kashmir, Tibet and North India

The circular rek starts from Stok, climbing steadily to cross the first of the passes, the 4848m Stok La. Following a rocky ridge, keep the views for a while, and then descend to the hidden Rumbak Valley. From the next pass, 4878m Ganda La, the views are equally rewarding - a sea of snowy peaks merging into the distant Karakoram ranges. Reaching the lower Markha Valley, we follow the wooded banks of its river upstream as the trail meanders from village to village. You can visit the monastery at Markha and ruins of a fort strategically positioned atop a crag between the twin settlements of Lower and Upper Hankar. Climbing out of the valley through alpine meadows, we are in view of the highest peak in the area, 6400m ice-clad Kang Yatze, which rises from the Nimaling plains. Yaks, dzos, sheep, goats and horses from the lower villages graze the high pastures, while marmots and white-tailed hares can often be spotted, along with Himalayan griffon vultures and lammergeirs, which soar overhead. A free day in these magnificent surrounds allows time to walk to the base of Kang Yatze or take a well-earned rest in preparation for the long climb to the 5274m pass of Kangmaru La. The highest pass of the trek offers predictably fabulous views and on the descent, we may be lucky and see blue sheep. The trek ends at Martselang, from where it is a short drive back to Leh.

 

Sikkim

Sikkim a tiny state of India with an area of 7096sq.km. situated in the eastern Himalaya boast of its rich bio-diversity and high mountain ranges. Kanchendzonga the third highest peak in the world is also the guardian deity of Sikkimese people.

Variation in altitude range in 200 to 8598meters (height of Kanchendzonga) which provides an opportunity to any visitors to have an experience of crossing over sub-tropical to temperate zones followed by alpine and high altitude areas in a short span of time. 4000 species of flowering plants, 600 species of birds, 560 species of Orchids, 40 species of Rhodendrons and large number of other animals are sheltered in this tiny state. Numerous snow-clad peaks, alpine lakes and swirling clouds beautify the area for any adventure lovers.

Trekking in Sikkim has its own charm. Trail runs through rich biodiversity and rich cultural life of Sikkimese people. There are numerous trails, which leads to high mountain areas as close as Kanchendzonga. Goechala Trek, Singalila Trek, Rhodendron Trek, Monastic Trek, Village Trek and Green Lake trek can be opted by any individual for the pleasure of seeing the mountain. Yuksom situated in the remote and far flung area of Sikkim is the gateway to Kanchendzonga Trekking, the trail widely used by trekkers from all over the world. In the 1640 AD, three monks who came from different parts of Tibet consecrated first King of Sikkim on throne.

Unlike in Nepal, trekking areas in Sikkim are mostly barren and are located in the Kanchendzonga National Park.  Preparation of trekking programme mostly begins at Gangtok with lots of planning and logistics support. Proper equipments, such as good high altitude tents and sleeping bags, which can withstand the high wind velocity and freezing temperature, are a must. Beside these most important equipments trekkers need to have good trekking shoes, down feather jacket, caps, and gloves and in some cases gaiters to get away from heavy snow on the way.

 

Mount Everest

With a peak elevation of 29,035 feet (8850 meters), the top of Mount Everest is the world's highest point above sea level. As the world's highest mountain, climbing to the top of Mount Everest has been a goal of many mountain climbers for many decades.

Mount Everest is located on the border of Nepal and Tibet, China. Mount Everest is located in the Himalaya, the 1500 mile (2414 kilometer) long mountain system that was formed when the Indo-Australian plate crashed into the Eurasian plate. The Himalaya rose in response to the subduction of the Indo-Australian plate under the Eurasian plate. The Himalaya continue to rise a few centimeters each year as the Indo-Australian plate continues moving northward into and under the Eurasian plate.

Despite the extreme cold, hurricane-force winds, and low oxygen levels (about one-third of the oxygen in the atmosphere as at sea level), climbers seek to successfully climb Mount Everest every year. Since the first historic climb of New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay in 1953, more than 2000 people have successfully climbed Mount Everest.

Unfortunately, due to the hazards and rigors of climbing such a dangerous mountain, over 200 have died attempting to climb - making the death rate for Mount Everest climbers about 1 in 10. Nonetheless, in the late spring or summer months, the climbing season, there can be tens of climbers attempting to reach the peak of Mount Everest each day.

 

Kanchenjunga or K2

Kanchenjunga (Kanchenjunga) has remained virgin and unconquered, inspite of the several attempts furnished with the most modern equipments till 1975. Within 7,000-sq-kms area is contained the world’s third highest 8,586m, but the most romantic mountain.

Kanchenjunga (Kanchenjunga) is located on the Sikkim (India) - Nepal border as part of the Himalayan mountain range. Kanchenjunga has 5 peaks, of which the true Summit is 28,169 feet or 8,586 meters. The name Kanchenjunga (Kanchenjunga) means "The Five Treasures of the Snow" in the local dialect, referring to its five summits all over 8,000 meters.

Kanchenjunga has an enormous mass with numerous satellite peaks along its ridges. Kanchenjunga is located at Latitude 27° 42' 9'' Longitude 88° 9' 1 '. It is (Kanchenjunga) is also known by some as named “Kangchen Dzö-nga”, “Kachendzonga”, “Kangchanfanga”.

Kanchenjunga (Kanchenjunga) is situated on the eastern border of Nepal. Its main peak is the third highest in the world (8,586 m). several other peaks in the Kanchenjunga range are over 8,000m. This trek to this area is probably the best that trekking has to offer in terms of lush natural beauty. Travelling into the Yalung glacier and over the Lapsang la and down the difficult route back to Taplejung is an unforgettable experience. However, as the trip crosses the 4,000m mark several times, one must take care of high altitude sickness.

 

Garhwal – Uttarakhand

Mountaineering is the sport of climbing and hiking the mountains. Uttarakhand offers some of the best opportunities for mountaineering in India. Uttarakhand has become the hub of Mountaineering and people from across the country as well as from across the world are choosing Uttarakhand as the place for adventure. Tourism mixed with adventure is what Mountaineering offers to those who have a desire to live life to the hilt. Different levels of mountaineering options are offered, from the most challenging to the least challenging. The Garhwal and the Kumaon regions are most popular for undertaking the adventure of mountaineering. The path leading to Kedarnath and Pithoragarh in Kumaon are two other most important mountaineering sites in Uttarakhand. Once you have landed in Uttarakhand be sure you do not miss the thrill of mountaineering because it is one of those sports which offer pleasure with thrill and danger.

The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, rafting, hiking and rock climbing in India. Uttarakhand 93% of the geographic area is mountainous and 64% is covered by forest. Most parts of the state are part of Greater Himalaya ranges, covered by the high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills are dense forests. Unique Himalayan ecosystem plays host to a large number of animals (including bharal, snow leopards, leopards and tigers), plants and rare herbs. Two of India's mightiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna take birth in the glaciers of Uttarakhand, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams in the region.

 

Nanda Devi – Uttaranchal

Nanda Devi, whose name means Bliss Giving Goddess, is the highest peak in the Indian Garhwal Himalaya. It is a great white double pyramid overlooking the sacred Garhwal region. The mountain has two summits, the main summit with a height of 7816m and Nanda Devi East with a height of 7434m. The peaks are beautiful from any angle, particularly when the first and last rays of the sun are reflected on the summits. Nanda Devi rises from a vast ring of mountains with peaks over 21000ft that form the Nanda Devi Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is an amphitheater seventy miles in circumference and 600m high, surrounding the Rishiganga valley. The mountain is an extremely difficult mountain to access. The first successful ascent was made by Bill Tilman and No’l Odell in 1936 via the south ridge. It was then the highest mountain climbed by man until the 1950 ascent of Annapurna. In 1983, the area was closed for environmental reasons but it reopens from time to time and new attempts to climb it are being made.

The Nanda Devi sanctuary and the high peaks of the Nanda Devi also served as the major barriers between the cold Tibetan winds and the plains of the River Ganges. Without the sanctuary to absorb the main thrust of the icy winds, the plains of the River Ganges, the granary of India, would be stripped barren. It is hardly surprising, then, that the peaks are worshipped as a goddess with some impressive folk- lore built around them.

Being an inner Himalayan valley, Nanda Devi National Park has a distinct climate. For six months of the year, the region remains under a snow cover. For the rest of the year, the region has a dry climate with heavy rainfall from June to August. April to June are the months when the temperature increases a bit and they are the months when one can visit this place.

The best time to climb Nanda Devi is during the months of May to June or September to October. Climbing it is a full expedition style climb. Gear appropriate to this type of climbing is necessary.

 

Lahaul – Himachal Pradesh

The tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti covers an extensive part of Himachal Pradesh. Situated in the rain shadow, the terrain here assumes a more rugged and barren form with towering craggy mountains snow laden most of the year round.

Virtually receiving no rainfall the vegetation is sparse, save for the few and far between villages that appear as oasis in this high altitude desert region. It is also a trekker and photographer's paradise. Spiti is home to a host of ancient monasteries; their locations seemingly unapproachable present some of the most spectacular views of this breathtaking valley. Spiti is also a geologists delight having once millions of years ago been the bed of the Tethys Sea which separated the continent of Gondwana from mainland Asia. Here at this high altitude wind, water and snow find an ideal playground unleashing their erosive powers, constantly sculpting the exposed rock and loose soils.

Lahaul the adjacent valley seems more developed with its well-irrigated fields of barley and potato. Lahaul also offer great mountaineering opportunities with some well-known peaks. Lahaul is also one of the access points to trek into the Zanskar region of Ladakh in the neighbouring state of Jammu & Kashmir. For us at Dragon Tours & Camp this is familiar territory. For years we have traversed these beautiful mountains and each time relived the magical moments they have to offer.

This region offers numerous treks leading into the neighbouring districts of Kinnaur and the high altitude Ladakh deserts. Write to us for detailed itineraries.

 

Darjeeling – West Bengal

Darjeeling is the popular adventurous location for mountaineering. As there are many peaks and mountains to climb, it is a paradise destination for mountaineers. There are some reputed mountaineering institutes in Darjeeling. Climbing the higher peaks of Darjeeling needs tremendous strength, energy, vigor and zeal. One has to undergo tremendous training programs in order to qualify. These courses would cost approximately $100.

The ideal period for climbing the mountains in Darjeeling is from June to September, since at this period Darjeeling remains unaffected by the climate changes. However, it is necessary to get used to the weather conditions before trying to climb the peaks.

In Darjeeling, the Karakoram Range provides some of the most stunning and difficult climbing points. The institute, which is the hub of all mountaineering activities, is located at an altitude of 6800 ft. and they give a fantastic view of the Kanchenjunga. Mountaineers are immensely fascinated by Kanchenjunga.

People visiting Darjeeling can not only enjoy mountaineering but can also view the beautiful hills. Tourists can spend hours of pleasure and delight while they take a trip to Darjeeling.  Besides the Kanchenjunga, the Singalila Ridge also allures the mountaineers. Before you set off for mountaineering, one should consider few essential things such as extra clothing for changing, a map, sunglasses, extra food, first aid kit, lights with extra batteries etc.

Mountaineering in Darjeeling will enable you to explore and view the place from a totally different angle. The higher the altitude, the more spectacular the view gets. Yaks and snow leopards and the cuddly pandas on the high altitudes enliven the high snowy mountains.

 

Karakoram Ranges

Karakoram Range of mountains starting in the extreme north of Hindu Kush Range mountain and extending eastward in the north of Baltistan District ends in the northeast corner of the state of the former Northern Areas. The range is spread over a length of 482 km, and it covers a tract 46 to 48 km broad. Karakoram separates the State of Kashmir from China, and South-central Asian States. It also protects Kashmir from the extreme cold winds of Siberia. There are over 300 peaks with an elevation between 5200 and 28000 feet from the sea level. Out of these peaks, 150 are in Baltistan. The world's second highest peak K2 (8611 M/ 28251 feet) is within this range. World famous glaciers, the Siachen Glacier, Masherbroom and Gaisherbroom are also in Karakoram range. Many hilly lakes and hot-water springs are also here The different valleys of Karakoram are sources to many rivers, rivulets, streams which at last drain in the great Indus River. 18300 feet high Karakoram Pass, connects Kashmir with Central Asian states and is considered to be a historical route. Shaksgam Pass, Aghil Pass, and Khunjerab Pass are also in this range of mountains.

Karakoram Range is situated in the regions of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh. It crosses the borders between Pakistan, India and China. The Karakoram has more than sixty peaks, which are more than 7,000m (22,960 ft.), including the second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, or 28,244 ft.) called as K2.

The Karakoram Range is nearly 500 km (300 mi) in length. This range is one of those parts of the world that carries heavy glaciers apart from polar region. In Turkic the word Karakoram means "black gravel" since a number of its glaciers are enveloped in rubble. The Karakoram Range of Jammu and Kashmir has a number of high peaks.


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