Mount Thelu falls in the Garhwal range of the Himalayas. The region is called a mountaineer's paradise, as one has ample opportunities to climb here. Mountaineers from all around the world can be seen here, with dreams of climbing one of the mountains in the region. The range consists of some of the main peaks of the Garhwal region, like, Mt. Shivling, Mt. Meru 1,2,3, Mt. Thalaysagar, Mt. Saifi 1,2, Mt. Sudarshan, Mt. Bhrigupanth, Mt. Kedar Dome, Mt. Chaukhamba, Mt. Bhagirathi 1,2,3, Mt. Satopanth and countless unnamed peaks. A little bit of information about some peaks, as I know, is given below.
Amongst these various peaks, Mt. Satopanth and Mt. Thalaysagar are considered two toughest ones to climb. People say that even the approach march to the base camp of these peaks constitutes a long trek within itself. Mt. Shivling is known for its East Pillar, which was first climbed by Doug Scott in a truely alpine style.
One of our mentors, Mr. Surendra Chavan, fondly called S A, is a summiteer of Mt. Satopanth as well as Mt. Everest. We were fortunate enough to get some tips from him, during our practise sessions in the Sahyadris.
Mt. Chaukhamba is another remote peak, for which, one has to place 6 to 7 camps on the Bhagirathi glacier, known for its treacherous morrain, the snout of which is nothing else but the sacred "Gaumukh", the birth of river Ganga.
To plan an expedition to Mt. Thelu, one has to take the following route
New Delhi (Capital of India) - Rishikesh - Uttarkashi - Gangotri - Gaumukh - Raktavarna Glacier - Mt. Thelu.
Uttarkashi is considered the happening place, when it comes to this place being the haven for mountaineers. It is also a very religious place, as it is from here that two important pilgrimages start - one to Gangotri (the birth of river Ganges (Ganga)), and one to Yamunotri (the birth of river Yamuna). These two rivers meet at Devprayag. Also of interest to the outdoors communiy is that Uttarkashi is home to the premier mountaineering institute of India, The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. It is located on top of a hill approximately 5 kms from Uttarkashi. One can drive up there, as well as climb up there. The institute is a wonderful place, which has a Army officer serving as its director, and has endless displays of successful mountaineering expeditions carried out in the Himalayas, both in and out of Garhwal region. I got a chance to visit this institute for the second time in 2001, the first time being in 1996, when I had gone for a trek to Dodital, in the same region.
Gangotri is approximately 100 kms from Uttarkashi, and can be accessed by small buses, which ply on these routes.
There is no red tape as such, except for the fact that ANY expedition in this region has to take a permission/permit from Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) located in the capital of India, New Delhi. Because of the number of applications they recieve, one should submit their application, along with the application fee, well in advance, so that things get taken care of, at appropriate times.
When To Climb
Usually, climbing in the himalayas is done in the summer months, i.e. in May June and July. It becomes really difficult to access Gaumukh in the winter season. So, basically, one can hardly go further than Gangotri, in the winter season. Nevertheless, I am sure, experienced mountaineers must be attempting peaks in this region, in winter as well.
From Gangotri, one treks to Gaumukh. Along the route, there are two places where you can camp, if you want to, or trek straight to Gaumukh. These two places are "Chitbaas" and "Bhojwaas".
From Gaumukh, you climb up from besides the snout of the glacier, from the left hand side, and start your climb towards Raktavarna glacier, where the base camp location is staked. This base camp location is at an approximate height of 15,000 ft above sea level. From here, a further 2200 or 2500 ft above, Camp 1 is pitched. Load ferry from Base camp to camp 1 helps in acclamatizing to the thin air. Camp 1 is the place from where the summit attempt is done.
As with all mountains at high altitudes, Himalayas is no different. The weather conditions can never be predicted. One moment there is bright sunshine, with awe-inspiring vistas around you, and the other, clouds overshadow everything, all the beauty around you. But, the geneeral rule still applies, climb early enough to be able to start your return back before noon, as the weather starts getting worse after noon. When we attempted the summit, we started at around 4 am, and returned back around 5 30 pm or 6 pm.