Monday, November 14, 2011

Hadbi Chi Shendi (thumb's up pinnacle)

Five of us started our trip from Secunderabad to Manmad on 11.11.11. Our aim: To climb Hadbi Chi Shendi (thumb up pinnacle). We figured that we could also climb the navara and navari pinnacles which were a part of the Pahine Village Hills. and Boy! were we wrong :).
Pahine Navara / Navari Pinnacle
We reached Manmad Jn. at 7 Am on the morning of the 12th and from there, caught a train to Nasik to get started on our climb at the Pahine Navara, Navari pinnacles which also happens to be on the way to Triambakeshwar. Unfortunately, the twin pinnacles were not a very popular spot and not many people knew them, One Hotel that we stopped at for tea assured us that it was in his village which happened to be 16 km away from where we actually needed to be. and we ended up wasting a ton of time trying to find the place. Finally, after various discussions on torturing the hotel guy for leading us astray and an hour later :), we reached to the Pahine villege from where its an hour’s uphill trek to the foot of the Pinnacle. But, by the time we reached the village itself, it was around 12:30 PM and too late to get started on the climb and if we did, we would have had to camp the night there and miss the Thumbs up pinnacle which was the main goal on this trip, so after much drama and cribbing, we decided to shove our egos aside head back to the Thumbs up pinnacle and save the twin pinnacles for a later time, which by the way, has had to have been one of the best decisions we ever made on any trip!!!

With an entire afternoon to burn and transport at hand (And a lot of coaxing from our “Holy” boy”, Sukumar, we decided to stop by at the Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple which is one of the 12 Jyothrilingas of India. (Mel also has this dream to visit all 12 before he is 30 and has covered 4 so far. Lol!)

Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple
After wondering why there was a poultry farm being run at the entrance gate to the temple  and standing up in line for almost an hour and going dizzy with the number of turns in said line, we reached the actual shrine inside the temple from where we were given exactly 2 seconds to catch a glimpse of the shrine before being unceremoniously shoved out of the way to make room for the next people in line. Damn! That was positively light speed! :)

More info on the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple can be found here –

After all our Gallivanting, we finally reached Nasik at 5 pm and caught a train back to Manmad. From there, we took an Auto to the foothills of the peak which is about 5 km away (For those of you thinking of doing this, Take an auto or some other form of transport, Don’t walk there, especially in the night). Each one of us was carrying about 15 kg of luggage which was mainly food and the equipment and we were sloshed from the whole day of traveling. We hired an Auto-Rickshaw and the 5 of us stuffed ourselves in with luggage and all. Lol!. Now I know what a can of sardines feels like :)!! .

Set Up Camp above 200ft Height below the Pinnacle
With a gorgeous full moon just about to rise, we reached the foothill at around 8PM from where we had to decide whether to camp at the base and find our way up in the morning or start of on a night trek to save some time, energy and for some excitement!. I guess you can understand which decision won out :). So after an hour’s walk uphill, we set up camp about 200 feet below the pinnacle on a flat outcrop of the hill and had a scrumptious dinner of Dried fruits, sweet chapathi, Bread and jam and tomato pickle. The moonlight was so bright that we only used our torches during the setup of our tents.

An early rise at 6AM ensured that we reached to the foot of the pinnacle by around 7 am and now that we are so close, we can actually see the shape of thumb that gave it is name. The height of the pinnacle is roughly 150 ft and this is sitting on top of a hill that is about 350 feet high. Hadbi Chi Shendi has been climbed by a few professional climbers from Mumbai and Pune and they have rated the route as ‘easy++’ in the year 2009. The five of us from GHAC however, would  like to change the route rating to ‘Medium’ after careful consideration of a few points:
    Hadbi Chi Shendi (150ft)
  • The rock being ‘Pillow Basalt’ is quite unstable and quite a few large pieces have just broken away in our grip. The rope was a big confidence booster here.
  • There are no solid grips after the first half of the climb
  • The fixed bolts (Previous climbers) were loose due to the rock erosion and rusted after exposure to the elements
  • The whole pinnacle sits on the tip of the hill. A fall on either the left or right side would lead straight to the bottom of the hill rather that the pinnacle and was a partially negate on climber confidence, especially with the rock not holding any of the chock nuts properly due to the erosion rate.
Mel and Santosh were the lead climbers with Srikanth was belayer, Mel climbed about 30ft before finding the first Bolt, to supplement that, he placed a chock nut in a crack beside the old bolt.. After reaching the first ledge, he found the second bolt and attached himself using a quick draw, Santosh followed Mel’s path and once there were both on the ledge and locked in using a daisy chain and sling, tried to find another route. They managed to climb another 60 feet to the second ledge before their last bolt sheared away because of the rock breaking apart. Luckily, both were already secure above it. They finally got stuck 120 feet up the pinnacle and weren’t able to find the grips or foot hold for the next stage. With just 40 feet to go and climbing down not an option, Santosh being the better technical boulder, Mel asked him to take an alternate route to the top along the right side of the pinnacle which also happened to be a lot riskier because there was a straight drop right to the bottom of the hill, not just the pinnacle. SCARY STUFF!!! :(..

Santosh Rappelling down
Santosh followed the new route which was with full of loose rocks,, sand and gravel and pulled  himself to the top without a single proper leg or hand grip.(Kudos to Santosh for being such an awesome boulderer. Without him, we would never have reached the top). Mel was finally able to follow Santosh with the help of a top belay and they both summit after a hair raising climb which wouldn’t have been so trying if it wasn’t for the fact that we were on an unstable rock that was totally around 450 feet above terra firma!!

Another feather in GHAC’s cap. The successful summiting of thumb up pinnacle by the first club from Andhra Pradesh. Sukumar and Goutham came next with a top belay system that mel set up and both pushed themselves to get to the top.

Mel set up a secondary 2 point rope anchor to supplement the anchor that was already there, because the bolt peg looked rusted and loose. Using a 2 line rappel system for easy rope retrieval, Santosh and Goutham rappelled down from other side of the pinnacle. Srikanth was the last person to summit the pinnacle with Sukumar and Mel still on top.  It was a ‘seat of the pants’ climb for srikanth, because a couple of times on his climb, big rock pieces came loose in his hand and were it not for the top belay, he might have fallen. Especially on the summit, where this huge rock that he was holding to finally be able to stand up came loose. Luckily Sukumar was able to help a wobbly Srikanth up to the top.

Mel made sure that Sukumar had rapped and reached the bottom before tying himself into the line and going over the edge. Srikanth was the last to rappel down and proudly tied the GHAC banner on his shoulder like a cape. He looked like some sort of caped crusader with the banner flying the wind :)

Everyone was safe and sound at the base of the summit at 4 pm after a climb that started at 8 am :) but was a testament of our success in summiting the pinnacle with team work and proper coordination.

       Adventure Club

 A special thanks goes out to the followings supporters without which, we wouldn’t have made it to the top.

  • Our cab driver at Nasik who had to bear with 5 unruly guys from GHAC on a wild rock hunt for almost an entire day without cribbing (not much at least :) ).
  • Our Auto wala from Manmad who was kind enough to stuff us into his auto at an ungodly hour (for that place) and take us to the middle of nowhere so we could get our kicks. And also for willing to come back and pick us up the next day with 5 cool bottle of water.
  • To our village friend who helped out by leading santosh on a 2 hour trip to the bottom of the hill to get some water for us tired, dehydrated souls on top of the hill.
  • Santosh for being crazy enough to walk down the hill and back up again for some water and also for being such an awesome climber (YOU ROCK DUDE!!.. Literally :) )
  • And Finally, GHAC for supporting us with Equipment, Morale and a means to get our dreams fulfilled.