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Posts posted by bedellympian

  1. Trip: Indian Himalayas (Thailand too) - multiple

    Trip Date: 07/15/2019

    Trip Report:


    My wife and I spent 2 months in Asia (1 mo India, 1 mo Thailand and Cambodia) this summer. Most of the trip was non-climbing, but we did get to do some cragging and got into the Zanskar region of the Hiumalaya for what I termed a "mini-exped." We learned quite a lot about logistics and have some insights for how to do this sort of thing on the cheap (not the rep of the Himalaya I know) which I thought I'd share here for others interested in getting out/up.


    Transport is the biggest logistical difficulty I'll mention here. Getting you and your gear to a "trailhead" or basecamp is the most difficult. If you want this part of the trip organized for you, figure out where you want to go and then contact Rimo Expeditions, these guys are by far the most experienced and dialed exped support company for Indian side of the Karakorum, Ladakh, and just about anything in the Indian Himalayas (Zanskar, Kishtwar, etc.). This will be expensive but still relatively cheap compared to the US for what actually needs to happen in terms of vehicles and people doing what you want on really f**ked up roads. If you want to avoid this, you can still go full dirt bag but it will require some discomfort on your part, a minimal kit, and lots of patience. There are several forms of transport in this area, all work, some are way better than others for your given objective.

    If you are truly light-weight you can rent/buy a Royal Enfield motorcycle and load up (you could even go KD-in-Kyrgyzstan style and ride a bicycle). This requires that you are very comfortable driving in some seriously narrow, rough roads with traffic.  If you think that crappy dirt roads in the western US conditioned you for this... think again (its truly next level in terms of rugged, poo-yer-pants driving).

    The next level is to rent a "taxi" (jeep). This will be expensive but very convenient as you can have the guy drop you where you want. Expect about $100 per day which will get you sometimes as little as 100 miles of road travel.

    You can also get a shared jeep where you pay for your seat but this will only get you to near the area you are trying to go and your bags have to fit in the roof rack and share space with other travelers. We did this on the way out to our objective, got dropped at a tent-stay place by a village, then organized a private jeep (very beat up) with a local to get us and our two porters to the actual start of hiking. The problem with this and having a flexible itinerary was arranging pickup (sat phones are banned by India in this region due to fear of terrorist organization.

    Buses are quite cheap, bags are an issue if you are going heavy. They are also slower than taxis and can be rare to non-existent in remote areas.

    Hitch-hiking is possible, but most people will expect you to pay them something. My wife and I were able to hitch-hike on Tata trucks (India's semi-trucks) driven by some friendly Kashmiris to get back to the town of Kargil. This was a an extremely LONG but enjoyable and interesting way to travel (no issues with the amount of bags if you don't mind them getting very dusty/muddy/wet.

    The next issue is food. There are grocery stores (not what you're used to) in major towns (Leh, Kargil, Manali). Finding dry goods is hard. We went with quite a bit of canned goods knowing that our approach from road to basecamp was short (3-4 miles) and we would have a porter or two to help us carry stuff. You can easily buy lots of ramen packets and also poha (rolled potato flakes that can be cooked like instant rice). You can get some bars, instant oat meal. Peanut butter can be found but is expensive and will taste more like thai peanut sauce than PB we have here. Dried fruit, nuts and candy bars are easy to get.

    Bringing gear from the US is tough with the standard array of airport "security" (read bureaucracy) BS you will encounter. Groups like Rimo can provide you with high quality camping stuff (pads, tents, cook stoves, etc.). If you are renting it can be good in both price and quality, just make sure to reserve early in the year for a company like Rimo and check the items carefully before taking them out in the field. I would plan to bring your own climbing gear, sleeping bag, and light tent or bivy sacks if you are planning to sleep on route. All other camping equipment you can get in Leh, probably Manali, Kargil you'll probably be out.

    Here's our itinerary, then I'll tell you what I would change if I went back with a climbing focus...

    Flew to Delhi, train to Chandigarh, private taxi to Manali (6500')

    5 days in Manali with day hikes to 8000' and 11k'

    Two day Himachal Tourism bus to Leh (day 1 go over 13500' pass, sleep at 10k', go over multiple passes 3x 15k' 1x 17k', arrive in Leh 12.5k')

    Spend 6 days in Leh with easy walks, buy food, get rental gear, research and finalize objectives.

    Bus to Kargil (11k'), spend night, shared taxi to Rangdum (14k'), spend the night, private jeep and hike to foot of glacier at 15k'.

    5 nights sleeping at foot of glacier (15k')

    day 1 navigate toe of glacier and dial in approach route, day 2 go up ridge next to glacier to 17k' (shut down by knife edge of stacked blocks), day 3 rest (boulder around camp), day 4 go up different ridge to 19k' (shut down by overhanging rock band), day 5 hike out

    If my goal was to climb in the same area, or other areas North of the Himalaya crest in summer I would change it up and do the following...

    Acclimatize before hand on mountains in the US and fly straight to Leh at 12k' plus (book Delhi to Leh separately with a discount airline as it will be way cheaper). Gear up and buy food in Leh.

    If it were me, I'd go pretty light and ideally have 4+ people who I was going climbing with. This way you can hire a taxi/jeep at a reasonable cost per person to get you and your stuff to your area (jeeps can fit 7 passengers with limited room for bags in the back and a roof rack).

    If you need a couple porters you can probably just find them the week of if in Zanskar and most other areas of Ladakh, but be specific about what you want (lots of people speak just enough English that you think they understand) and use lots of pictures (most villages will hav no electricity or internet so be prepared). If in the Karakorum the proximity of the border means that the army will over pay porters and it will be difficult to find people, pack animals may be the way to go for getting to the glacial travel part. If in doubt I'd hire Rimo for logistics.

    Other thoughts...

    -snow can be really soft and slushy, look for hard freezes and plan to travel during those times

    -sunny aspects can actually be more consolidated on steep slopes

    -everything is bigger and takes more time than you think, especially figuring out approaches through glaciers, rivers, scree, etc.

    Feel free to message me with Qs.


    Here are some sweet pictures for your viewing pleasure (apologies for the crap iphone pics)...

    "trail head"


    approach to BC


    bouldering at BC


    views from a ridge



    less ideal views from another ridge



    bailure time


    make-shift gaiters


    hitch hiking w/ our homies #freekashmir #modiisafascist


    luxury hotels


    (slobber slobber) and NO, I won't tell you where this is


    Summary: It's cheap, the peeps are nice, place is easier to deal w/ than you probably think... go get it!

    P.S. Thailand is fun too...



    Gear Notes:
    rented tent/pads/sleeping bags/stove bought with: light axe and pons

    Approach Notes:
    fly, train, bus, taxi, jeep, walk




    • Rawk on! 1

  2. What kind of routes are you trying to climb (at the crag and in the mountains)? Keep in mind you'll replace a rope after a couple years of hard use, so forget those dream goals and only consider what you'll do in the immediate future.

    Second, is age/fitness or budget more of a constraint? When I started doing alpine routes I was working a shit job part time, but I was 24 and an ex-collegiate distance runner. I got one fat rope and took it on everything and it worked fine.

    Simplicity will force you to adapt and think creatively. My advice, spend the extra money on gas, go climb more with a cheap rope and the mountains will let you know when the extra skinny line is worth it.

    • Like 4

  3. Thanks for the responses. I'm not going to be paying that much for forecasting, just an exploratory trip and low budget. Would be nice if there was a good international weather stats page I could just check at an internet cafe in Leh or Padum before heading into the backcountry for a week to see what the general trend is in terms of pressure and what not. If anyone has ideas for that let me know.

    Thanks, Sam

  4. Wondering if anyone with recent firsthand experience can comment on what they used to predict weather in Northern India in both the Himalaya or Karakoram. Heading over there this summer and would especially like something I can use for elevations outside of towns in the 4-6000m range.


  5. I hear Steve House dry-tooled Picnic Lunch Wall before he moved to Colorado (it hadn't yet been free climbed, but now goes at 5.12+ R). Also, a certain mountain guide claims to have dry tooled Churning in the Wake (13a). Personally, I think as long as you stay off of popular climbs no one would care, but we have a couple other crags in the region that offer dry-tooling in a colder and less-popular location.

  6. Go ski touring or go rock climbing. Based on what you are looking for the nearest reasonable objective would be to climb something on the south side of hood (timberline is only a 2 hr drive). All other objectives are going to be prohibitively longer approaches for minimal "climbing".

  7. Last Feb I took a 40 foot fall when a block came off while I was 3rd-classing back to the car at Smith. Most of the damage was on my knees. My R knee had a torn ACL, partially torn MCL, tibial plateau fracture to name the worst of it. My L knee had torn PCL, fibula head fracture, 3"x8" laceration into the interior knee joint cavity that also chipped my patella bone and shredded part of the patellar tendon.

    I was in a wheel chair for 6 weeks, on crutches for another 9 weeks (non-weight bearing on R leg), then had ACL surgery on R knee two week before the crutches came off.

    Since ACL surgery and my slow return to activity I have been really fortunate to recover faster and better than anyone expected. Obviously all injuries are different and not all factors are in our control but I wanted to point out some things that I think helped to accelerate the healing and reconditioning process so that others can benefit.

    Obvious things that are probably out of your control but worth pointing out for perspective...

    1. Being really well conditioned pre-accident (middle of Max Strength Base training from TftNA).

    2. Having been through long-term injuries before allowed me to mentally deal with the process better.

    3. Having a shit-ton of family, friends, and most importantly a wife who took me to appointments, cooked me good food, and kept me psyched.

    4. Happening to have a really good surgeon available when I came to the ER who did my ACL repair later on too.

    5. Having time-off from work to focus on rehab and fitness.


    Things that were within my control...

    1. Getting a really good PT who has worked with lots athletes and has tons of experience with knees, Ellie Meyerowitz at Rebound PT in Bend. Compared to other friends who had also had ACL surgery in the last few years I was on a much more intense and proactive program.

    2. Working with a strength coach to plan an upper body strength training program that I was able to implement in my wheel chair at home so that I could continue to progress in some way (set huge hangboard PRs and got way stronger in the shoulders). However, this was most beneficial because I was able to super-set these exercises with my early PT. Doing pull-ups, dips, etc. are big muscle exercises that have been shown to release Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This is why climbers will super-set dead-lifts with hangboard sessions to release HGH that then helps their smaller finger muscles respond better. I was flipping it and doing big upper-body muscles to benefit doing small exercises in my legs.

    3. Finding a LMT. I was lucky enough to befriend our neighbor Mary as she was starting massage school. She used me for practice and multiple school case studies. I had weekly deep tissue massages for several months.

    4. Diet was super high quality and I took a light protein supplement too. I ate more than I ever had as an adult and only put on 5 lbs.

    5. Pool workouts rehabbed my movement. I was cleared to move in the pool as long as my feet hit on the bottom (not swim or aqua jog). I practiced A/B/C skips and other running specific drills. This was really helpful to retrain my muscle movement in a non-impact environment while also controlling inflammation with water pressure. When I was starting to do plyometric movement at PT again I was way ahead of the curve because of this.

    6. Maxing out my workout time with aerobic activity rebuilt my aerobic system and increased circulation which is a limiting factor with any healing process. I was cleared to start with 10 min of biking on the stationary bike and add 5 min every 48 hrs if not painful. Within 2 months I was doing 2+ hrs on the stationary bike (thank god for entertaining podcasts), plus 30-45 min of pool drills, plus over 2 hrs of PT exercises every day.


    1. Able to start running 4.5 months post-ACL-op (faster than normal ACL repair despite massive leg atrophy from 15 weeks non-weightbearing). Six months post-op able to run 10 miles comfortably.

    2. Climbed numerous 5.10 cracks, started taking lead falls again, climbed Royal Arches in Yosemite last week in under 5 hrs (not super impressive but also not too bad given that we pitched everything out).

    3. Climbed Broken Top with the wife and friend in September 4 months post-op, was the fittest uphill walker of the three (YESSS!).

    After-note: was told by my surgeon after my ACL surgery that there was a good chance I could never run more than a couple miles or do long hikes again, so this is definitely a success.


  8. 2 hours ago, TrogdortheBurninator said:

    Life is unpredictable for a single individual, but quite predictable for a sub-pupulation (e.g. excessive risk takers). Reardon lived a very high risk life, and passed away unfortunately early. Leclerc even more so.


    I saw this discussion, and thought of the exact same paper (and just the general 3x3 risk reduction concept). It is striking how absent (or at least unknown) these concepts and data are in climbing compared to backcountry skiing. Perhaps because in skiing, so much emphasis is placed on a single hazard (avalanches), it makes it easier to distill the root cause and look at objective statistics. The equivalent in alpine climbing would be to control for things like team size, roped/unroped, weather conditions, avalanche forecast, terrain type (ice, mixed, rock, glaciated), elevation.

    It would be a worthy objective to investigate risk in climbing, but I dont think a google survey is the correct approach. Rather, vigorous mining of international climbing accident and participation data is probably the only way to come up with something objectively equivalent.

    Can you summarize the 3x3 concept for us Trogdor? I was Googled it and got lost pretty quick.

    Also, while I agree mining accident data on a large scale is useful, I think that its important to compare against the number of successful ascents and the caliber of climber that is attempting. For instance I don't think that the South SIde of Mt. Hood is nearly as dangerous as a meta study of accidents would make out. On the other hand, despite having zero accidents and several successful repeats I would argue that the Slovak Direct on Denali is pretty darn serious and has some major risks involved.

  9. Hey guys, thanks for the good discussion. I've posted on and off here for a few years though I wouldn't call myself a regular the way some people are. I avoided reading this thread until after I knew the outcome of Marc and Ryan... burying my head in the sand I fully admit. I recently had an accident myself; I was returning to the car at Smith Rock and in my haste I chose to solo/scramble a short chimney through the basalt rimrock. Long story short I did not notice that it had one or more detached blocks at the top which caught my pack and then came down on top of me. I took a 30+ footer and managed to self-arrest on a small ledge. Luckily I had friends in the vicinity who were able to get to me quickly and keep me stable while we waited for 3.5 hrs for SAR to extract me. I'm super lucky to be alive and with intact head/spine. My knees took most of it and I will be several months repairing and rehabbing the various broken bones and torn ligaments but should be fully functional again.

    While I will never be close to what MA Leclerc did, I have engaged in my fair share of solo outings and dicey alpine shenanigans. I'm sure some of you have read my TRs on here about a few of those. For a long time I justified this bullshit by thinking that the variables in the mountains are rational and predictable things that I could assess logically and therefore avoid danger. I used to quip that driving my car to a climbing location was more dangerous than anything I did climbing. The loss of Marc and Ryan on top of my recent accident has really made me reassess what I can (and what I'm willing to) get away with. I realize that while mountain variables are predictable to a degree they are not always predictable. Also, as much as I would like to consider myself rational and focused, I am a fallible human and if I put myself in these positions enough I will screw up.

    One of my climbing partners and I discussed risk a lot over this years ice trip to MT/WY and he gave me this article which while focused on avalanche avoidance is also applicable to most of the hazards we face while alpine climbing: http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2012-501-505.pdf

    With that article we've discussed a lot about how low probability but high risk outcomes are still bad, and asked how often do you have to take that risk before you actually have a high risk of that bad outcome happening one time and really screwing you. There is also some research to suggest that when we put ourselves in a risky situation and get away unscathed that can incorrectly reinforce the idea that such a risk is actually safe. This lets people get too comfortable and drop their guard as well as allowing them to make similar risks in the future without really understanding the probability of f#$%ing up. I would say my accident was in this last category.

    Anyway, this all got me thinking that maybe it would be good to try get some actual numbers. It would be good for people to be able to say, well I got away with this 3 times, but statistically if I do it ten times I'll die on one of those occasions so I probably should stop doing that. Or, I know someone who f%^ked up and got hurt doing that once, but statistically that's a 1 in 100,000 accident and so I should be cautious but can do that carefully on several climbs in my life and feel good about my risk tolerance. I have started making a Google Form survey that I'm thinking of sharing here and on other forums and want to know...

    What QUESTIONS should I include?



    • Like 2

  10. Like most responses I'm a selective filterer. However, unlike most responders I filter LEAST in still water. The idea that flowing water is clean is actually total bull. Unless its coming directly from snow or a spring it's more likely to contain a high microbial load. Clear surface water of a lake in direct sun at altitude is one of the safest sources as the sun's UV rays is doing the same thing as those steri-pens all day and scrambling small critter DNA. The USFS has a webpage for the Sierra (of all places) that recommends this practice. But then again the Cascades do have some pretty low elevation and swampy lakes.

  11. Don't pay for an air taxi at all. You can climb White Princess and other peaks in the Delta Range (eastern Alaska Range) with a 10 mile hike up the glacier from the road. Park on the side of the Richardson highway, lots of pullouts. You can also climb a ton in the Chugach, approachable at the W end from ANC or the E end from the Richardson near Valdez. Then there is also driving into McCarthy and climbing stuff in the Wrangells and St. Elias. Finally, you can take the bus to Wonder Lake in Denali and hike overland to the N side of the AK range (a full day, probably two if carrying lots of gear). You can get on Denali itself or other peaks. Check the N ridge of Mt. Mather, Jed Brown had an article on it in the AAJ.

    • Like 1

  12. Done already...

    -tick a bunch of multi-pitch wi3+/4s

    -plane tickets to india

    To do...

    -tick a bunch of mixed gullies on the local crag

    -climb a bunch of mixed routes in oregon cascades

    -go to mountains somewhere in march and climb some mixed alpine routes

    -ski off the remainder of the cascade volcanoes on my list

    -spend a month in the ladakh region doing some "sight seeing" with the wife, aka scrambling up and scoping some stuff, doubt there will be any real climbing on the trip

    -tick more lines at trout creek

    -el cap route if the weather holds through november