(Some of the text below was scribbled during the climb and some later..so the tense in which it is now apparent can be a little shaky at times..i have again referred to people by their initials..S sir is Sachin Gaikwad,s sir is Sagar sir,Mr.P is Pawar sir and Mr.R is Saste sir.. )Click on the pictures to enlarge them..
22nd jan 2010,Day 1:So after almost 5 years after the rock climbing bug bit me and i started ogling at the pictures of the gear clad climber hanging onto those impossible overhangs,I am all set for my first ever technical climb.
I’ll be climbing a pinnacle called ‘Lingana’ which stands beside Raigad.
Its quite a popular climb among hard core sahyadri trekkers.The climb doesnt involve many rock pathces.Its mostly scree and loose rock.You can get the idea about its gradient from the photo(in the end).
There are 5 of us(including the cook) from Pune who are going a day ahead as the ‘technical team’.Day after tomorrow,a group of 9 other hikers will join us.So our task is to set the fixed ropes for them in order to ensure a safe climb up.
At the moment we are waiting for our ration,stoves and suchlike to reach the departure point..tying the loose ends kind of..
9 p.m:The wagonR has arrived and the luggage space is loaded with ropes,rucksacks and ration boxes.In the front seat,i have made myself comfortable between a stove kit and 2 more bags..I have no idea how the 3 people in the back are faring..mostly because i cant see their faces hidden behind even more luggage stuffed in the car..this is definitely not going to be an Alpine style climb!
12.30 in the night:After getting lost for a while,finally reached the road head(base village) Varoti.Our other two members from Baramati had already made the village school their home.In no time,all of us were inside our sleeping bags and snoring away(the men that is..not me for sure! )..had a sound sleep for 5 hrs..
23rd jan:8.00a.m. :7 of us have left Varoti and are on our way to another village called Mohri..Mohri is enroute to the Lingana pinnacle..
The 3hour long trek to Mohri felt a bit tiring because of the load on the back and the scorching heat..but the terrain was good..wasnt steep..had to climb only 2 ridges..After a while,route opens onto a plateau and on the backside(east),u start seeing Torna(Budhla Machi & Balekilla) and Rajgad..
You go ahead and then
the vista opens onto both ur sides..on the left(north),eyes are treated to the sight of Raigad and just beside it,you stare away at the upper part of the Lingana pinnacle.
We took a short break at Mohri at around 11.30a.m. and then headed towards the narrow gulley(naal) that would lead us to the base of the pinnacle..
The gulley was kinda trachearous..it wasnt a difficult scramble downhill..but the loads on our backs seriously slowed us down..Sagar sir and Ravi sir were holding rope coil and
some hardware in their hands..so that was a headache for them..we went down for around 150 feet..the scramble down and the following traverse was completed by 2
p.m..the sun was HOT…for the first time,i felt the heat ..i was shivering for a good 10minutes(wasnt wearing a cap) during the traverse…
Deposited the luggage at the base of the pinnacle(which,in geographical terms,can be called a pass..i.e.khind) and rested for half an hour…we hadnt had
anything to eat after the early morning shira breakfast..Mr.R was supposed to bring packed lunches for us from Mohri by around 3 pm..but seeing the terrain
that we had just crossed,it looked a distant prospect..we were quite sure the person bringing the food would give up in between…
The 2 litres of water that everyone was carrying was about to finish up..we had planned to be able to climb the pinnacle till around halfway where we would
find the water cistern and get our bottles filled..but we had wrongly estimated the time it’d take to reach the base itself..so 2pm was a pretty late start
for the climb..especially because S sir’s rules dictated that we would climb down from whatever point we had reached sharp at 4pm..to avoid getting caught
in the dark..
s sir and I put on the harness..he was going to lead and i was going as the 2nd man,as the belayer..agile climber that he is,s sir climbed first two pitches in no time..i too followed without any trouble..the ground wasnt difficult to scramble..rope was needed only for the safety(as a matter of fact,2 climbers
from belapur climbed 3/4th pinnacle without a rope 3-4 days after us..risky businees,but im all admiration for them..)…there was rock patch at the end of
the 1st pitch..i kept on passing the rope through runners…
Trouble started after the 2nd pitch..and i was wholly responsible for it..an A grader from the Advance mountaineering course that i am,I didnt pay much
attention to an important factor in climbing-ROpe Management,,.so i reached a runner and all i had to do was to pass a clove hitch knot through the carabiner..
But i went blank there..the static rope behind me,the rope on which s sir was belaying me from above,my self anchor and a loose strap from my harness had all got
entangled and i couldnt figure out quickly what had happened..i just stood there idle..i tried to clear the mesh..i wasnt panicking or anything..but i just
couldnt see which rope was coming from where and where it was going..by the time i started making some sense out of the ropes,i had almost forgotten what i
had to do with them,,S sir was shouting instructions at me..i irritated him a lot through my inaction…
Finally,finally,the problem got fixed and i moved ahead..s sir is the most patient of all the people i have ever met..nor once did he lose his temper..he
just explained what had happened slowly and clearly..i was all apologies for wasting team’s time..and he kept reassuring me that such mistakes happen at the
first time…same was S sir’s attitude after the climb was over..
we climbed a few more pitched..but thanks to my time wasting performance,we hadnt reached the planned destination(cave and the water cistern) by the time the hour
hand had started pointing at 4 o’ clock..we were one pitch below it..but rules are rules and so we abseiled down from wherever we were..at 4.50,we were back at
Thus we had the rope fixed till around 3/4 th of the way up..or maybe something between half and 3/4th…we hadnt managed to reach the water point..so now,we
just had 2 litres of water among 7 of us and an evening & next day’s morning to go..food had reached the base thankfully..Mr.R had got on the wrong traverse
path.Mr.P had rightly guessed that Mr.R would have difficulty reaching the deestination..so while the 2 of us were climbing up,mr.P had gone back the the way
toward the gulley,had found Mr.R somewher offroute had brought him back to the base..
Hogged the meal,had my mistakes explained by s and S sir and very soon,we were again inside our sleeping bags..it was 6 p.m!!the pass was going to be our
place for the night stay..we were sitting there,almost among the grass and bushes,, cliffs on both sides..silence,wee hours,talks involving maratha
history and mysteries..i loved the atmosphere..was having a really good time sitting there..we kept on chatting till 9.30..then it was time to sleep
off..water scarcity was making its presence felt…but we tried to sleep..it was awesome,,there was a bright moon but i cud make out the usual
constellations..my face was very near a bush i wud slip off in that bush everytime i dozed off..i kept goin on n off continuously thru the night..P sir
scared us a little by waking up at midnight and torching off around our camp because he though he heard ‘something’..we heard a feline call..somebody said it
was a leopard call..all these events made up for a spooky night stay..i simply loved it all…
24th jan:woke up,stuffed the sleeping bag inside its case and immidiately put on the harness..there was nothing else to do..coz we didnt have water to brush
our teeth or wash our faces..plus we had to have the rope fixed till the top before other 9 hikers reached the base..today,s sir was again the lead climber but S sir became the 2nd man..me,Mr.p and Mr.R were to climb after these two..the 2 climbers ahead of us were fast and efficient..i had a jumar with me..but jumaring
is a pain..we 3 just got clipped onto the rope and went scrambling up..rope was always there as a support and for safety..reached the water point..the water
was cool and clear(i.e.below the upermost dusty layer..)…got freshened up and from that point on,we were told to jumar up by the climbers above..i jumared
till the last rock patch,,where i realised that climbing would be easier and more fun than jumaring..plus,someway below this patch,i had seen a piton geting
dislodged due to the jumaring jerk(not that i was unsafe,..s sir had ensured the safety by hammering in one more piton above the dislodged one..still,i had
my moment..)..so i left the jumar and just climbed the last rock with hands and feet and there i was,on the summit…well,not exactly on the summit..there
still remained a few feet of a plain walk up the topmost hump..but we didnt have sufficient rope..morevover,we had,by this time,started seeing the rest of the
team traversing to the base..so we didnt have the time to bring up the extra rope and use it to go to the real summit..in any case,the real climbing part was
dealt with so we called it a day..and i settled on the rock with s sir..we had ourselves self anchored…
It was just WOW!..a family of long billed vultures was flying at our level..s sir pointed out their nest inside a small cave on the exactly oppposite cliff..
i was up there,on top..the sun was frying us..but i was having my own good time..very soon,Mr.P and Mr.R also made it to the top ..i and s sir sat like this
for next 1.5 hours..just taking in the scene..i was listening to tales of his earlier climbs..full of adventures,accidents..of what climbing is..how theres
no chance for a mistake..by this time,the 9 hikers had started their climb up..some of them were jumared..othrs were just clipped on the rope..
I thoroughly enjoyed my longish stay at the top..after that,the sun became unbearable and i started my descend..kept on meeting familiar faces o nthe way
down..met up our dear little Avani..at 8 years of age,she was again the youngest among us.this time also, she was strapped on to Suresh sir’s back while descending..
I was dwon at the base with all other 9 hikers by 5pm..when it was decided that we 10 ppl would leave for Mohri and remaing team would take care of taking
the rope off the route and that they would come later ..we were told to be as fast as possible so as tto avoid a night trek..we left by 6..took a wrong traverse,..we were treading our path carefully coz it had started getting dark,,and we had to be careful while hauling up and down ,our little Avani…by the time we were done with the traverse and had reached the gulley,it was dark,,we had switched on our torches sometime earlier..climbing up the
gulley consumed a lot of time..because of the darkness,load,ensuring everyone was alright and stuff like that..plus,we had to haul up the load separately whenever there was a boulder to climb..but it was fun..i liked the responsible role assigned to me..Shri and D sir,were a big support..even though
newbies,they were toughies..Shri took a lot of care when it came to laod transfering and Avani..
Came out in the open,on to the plateau at 9pm..we were exhausted and hungry..rested for some time in the cool air,.the remaining team had caught us halfway
up the gulley…so we started on our way back to Mohri..it was now a simple walk on the flatland..reacehd Mohri by 10 pm..rest of the night was spent in
dinner,sorting of equipment and finally,a long awaited sleep..it was my 2 nd night in the open..under the stars..i could see the moon behind a hut,,
SOme of us had a cozy stay inside a villager’s house..my north face sleeping bag was even more cozy!
Next day,all that has=d remained was trekking back to Varoti,,,which we did in 1.5 hours..back in the car,towards civilization..
How was my Lingana climb?well,to beging with,i hadnt known what to expect in a trek/climb like this one..in the end,i had enjoyed myself thoroughly..got a
feel of what technical climbing is..so many things are clear to me now..things which were never clear during my mountaineering courses..
got a stamina check..on my own scale,i think i satisfied myself..though i need to work on being able to climb boulders with the rucksack on..trekking back
through the night was immense fun…rope handling definitely needs more practice but i think i’ll be better the next time around..yeah,the next time..this is
just the beginning..(*hopefully*)..!!