OverviewBandarpoonch is an exquisite peak in the Western Himalayas of North India. It stands at the western edge of the High Himalayan Range where it turns northwest at an altitude of 20,720’ (6316 m.) and is easily accessible with a scenic three-day hike.
The Southwest ridge offers a route of moderate difficulty with little technical climbing. There is of course significant exposure. It has been attempted twice from the southwest. (The view in the signature photo)
The expedition can be successfully concluded in 14 days in good conditions with a strong team from the staging and acclimatization area. The most common route is from the northeast and is easily climbed in good weather and snow conditions. It is usually climbed several times a year from the north.
Getting ThereThe best staging and acclimatization area is the hill resort of Mussoorie (7,000') 6 hours by taxi from Delhi. From Mussoorie it is about a 5 hour taxi ride to the trailhead at Sangam Chatti (4500'). It takes you through the town of Uttarkashi (3800') 15 km from there , the last "civilization", where you can cash foreign exchange, buy fruits and vegetables and find clean sheets.
The trail begins after crossing a wide footbridge and climbs to the village of Agora 2 hours away where 'furnished' rooms are available, and Bevara (7500') almost an hour further away where in addition to bare rooms good campsites are available. Most people stop here for the night. The next day is a 7 hour hike to Dodital Lake (10,000) where good campsites and a few rooms in a forest rest house are available with prior arrangements. Well acclimatized groups may move over the 13,000' Darwa Pass the next day (though the beauty of the spot recomends a break) and camp in the Hanuman Ganga River valley at 11,500'. Firewood is available at this stage and can still be used at current rates of traffic, but should be used frugally. The next day will put climbers near the base of the mountain and base camp.
Red TapeA trail fee of about $1.00 is to be paid at the Bevara checkpoint for upkeep of the trail and the state park. Camping fees are about 2 dollars per night in the park and should be paid to the caretaker at Dodital. Summit fees have recently been raised heavily to $2,400 for foriegners for a group of up to 12 (2004).
This area is a state park and no hunting or harvesting of plants is permitted though the indigenous population has free access to use what they need. In July and August some poaching of medicinal plants takes place.
When To ClimbThe mountain is usually climbed in May or June when most of the snow storms have passed. However April has the advantage of snow covering approach difficutles, and fewer crowds at Dodital Lake which has become popular of late. Spring flowers are also blooming in abundance and animals are more visible. The plains of India are also less hot.
There is a risk of a spring snowstorm in April when a foot or two is not unusual. The post monsoon season in Sept., Oct. has the least snow but early season storms are a danger in late Oct.. A winter climb should only be attempted with snowshoes and extreme caution of avalanche.
Route InformationThe southwest route that I have taken is up the left bank of the Hanuman Ganga River Valley through the bugyal (alpine meadow) to the head of the valley called Beaan. Climb the hills at the head of the valley through a gully to the right at the end of the bugyal and climb to a plateau known as Deodamni. Next descend one of the less steep gullies which meets the fork in the Hanuman Ganga and follow the main channel ( to the right ) which leads to the source of the Hanuman Ganga at the bottom of the face. This is filled with large boulders. Progress is aided by snowcover (like in mid to late April).
As you approach the face you will see a prominent gully in the massif flanked on the left by a large buttress. Follow the gully and gain the top of the butress to the left where a good campsite is available. Beware this gully is an avalanche chute!
Follow the ridgeline to near the base of the ridge glacier and traverse left. Gain the ridge between the glacier and a spur on your left. Good campsites are available on top of the ridge.
Follow the ridge NW towards the summit. A few snow and rock steps can be expected. Camp as high as possible and convenient. Head to the summit snowfield's east side and traverse to the west to avoid a glacier on the southwest exposure of the massive. From there you may gain the summit snowfield staying towards the northside to avoid the large glacier spilling down toward the South. The last obstacle is the summit icecap which has a steeper pitch on the eastern side.
Mountain ConditionsThere are some general websites for weather informatiion, but nothing specific. Check out India Weather . Some informatiion on winter snow fall can be gathered from locals, some can be inferred from rainfall charts on the afore mentioned site. Weather satelite photos can be had at India Satellite . For weather closer to the mountain -- two days walk from the prevailing weather direction (altitude 7,500') look at Mountain Area Weather . Also see Mussoorie Weather
From my study of this area's weather, 2004's winter precitpitation is significantly deficient and in all likelyhood snowfall is also less in 2004. There is a significant corresponding rise in average temperatures over the months of February and March. It may mean less snow in spring storms and probably fewer of them in 2004.
However, according to the Chowkidar, there was one of the latest snows in his living memory. This provided a good surface for travel in early May unless you went through the larger bolders where holes were evident.
The 2007 season, guided by el nino conditions, should be a little stormy early, with lower precip and less snow. Temps should be above average. April storms are likely up to 8", more likely early than late. Lessened chances of avalances but with fewer cravase bridges and fewer unsure crossings.
AccomodationIn Mussoorie (7,000), the staging and acclimatization area, being a resort, there is the widest variety of accomodation available. It ranges from $8 a night for a clean simple bed and breakfast to $75 or more for a luxury suite. The best all round website for Mussoorie accomodation is : Mussoorie (though the prices are a little dated.)
Uttarkashi, some 20 km from the trailhead, also has a plethora of hotels though the luxury accomodation is not as readily available. Moderate or inexpensive hotels predominate. Ashrams and dharamshalas (pilgrim retreats) are common and are even cheaper though you are more restricted by rules. The best website for this town is : Uttarkashi.
In the fall of 2003 a gigantic mountain slippage disrupted the business district and still poses a severe threat to the heart of the town.
Beyond this in Agora village and Bevara settlement, as mentioned in the section on getting there, you will find only 'trekking lodges' which are bare rooms which may be rented for $2 or so. Toilet is outside.
At Dodital lake there is a forest rest house where 2 large rooms with 4 beds each are available for about $20 for foreigners and $8 for nationals. This has indoor 'plumbing'!
Sometimes you may get invited to homes which is a real treat. The hospitality of the mountain people is wonderful.
- CLIMBING THE HIMALAYAS
Personal page with details of trip arrangements to climb Bandarpoonch