Menthosa Peak – Expedition Blog 6 – Final Blog
After spending one day in Vashist – a small mountain village nearby Manali – having Indian Thali, filling up our food supply and spending some time in the local hotsprings, we were thinking about the next steps. There is an upcoming 3 days weather window in 2 days which might give us the chance to go for our main goal – Menthosa Peak! So there is no time to lose, pack our stuff and go back high into the mountains.
Weather for today looks everything but good. It is still super unstable. Showers are passing by every 30 minutes, but to be on the right spot at the right time we start hiking up towards Paptalsu Peak close to Rothang Pass. With more than 35k g on our bags the hike takes us almost the rest of the day. Between the showers we pitch up the tent at 3500 m in hope that the weather change might already affect the next day.
But it doesn’t! It’s even worse than the day before. There are just a few minutes between the showers were we can leave the tent to move around a little. We are worrying a bit about the the snow situation with all the fresh snow which increases risk of avalanches remarkably. But we go to bed early to be well prepared for tomorrow. Although it is hard to believe that there will be complete weather change ahead.
The next morning awakes us with blue sky and sunshine surrounded by massive mountains all around. At least the weather is on our side. We enjoy the mountainous view while having breakfast. We notice that there was quite a bit of snowfall the last days even our camp spot looks all white. But the strong sun already starts melting it. We dry our stuff, pack all things together and after a short trip to refill our water bottles we start hiking another 300 m to our takeoff to get this thing started.
When reaching the takeoff it is 10 in the morning. Conditions are already quite strong and there s a present 20-25 km/h southerly wind, which makes Nico worry a bit. But shortly after discussing the flight route we get airborn. There s one area where we have to take care not to fly to low as there is a big military area and flying there might end up getting arrested. The rest is more or less clear once we made it over Rothang pass – just follow the ridge lines to the northwest fly get to Menthosa Peak.
Strong thermals let us climb quickly. In less than 30 minutes we reach the 6000 m mark – Nico even hit 6300 m – which is a suitable high to jump over Rothang pass. At cloudbase the condensing air immediately starts to freeze on our gliders as we have -25° C without windchill. But the view about all the 6000 m peaks around helps us to ignore the bitter cold.
It looks like the perfect day. Even the southerly wind is not present in higher altitude. But not in the lower levels…
It seems that the wind we faced on the takeoff channels through the narrow valley and gets more easterly. This is weird as the valley wind should be the other way round. I was worrying about the wind situation a bit so we were discussing about another possibility to topland and climb on the way with our radios. But Nico took another route a little bit lower where he faced wind gusting with 45-50 km/h. Combined with the rough thermals he decides to land for safety reasons. Unfortunately he lands super close to the military field. I am kind of scared that he will not see light for a few days when he gets arrested. So I immediately topland to get a proper radio connection to see what happens…
And somehow I get a call few minutes later that Nico is just walking away without anyone even notice him landing there. We were lucky! But once we get rid of this problem we straight jump into the next one. Nico is not really motivated to go one as flying was harsh today and he now finds himself on the valley ground where hiking up another time costs way too much time and energy. I tell him that I will fly back to Rothang and we will meet there to discuss about further planning. He meanwhile takes a ride to get there still in hope no one noticed him landing in this area.
…2 hours later we meet at Rothang. As it is already getting late we pitch up the tent right away and discuss about the next 2 days while having a soup with couscous. I can convince Nico to at least take a look on the next day. If everything is fine we might can topland on another nice mountain maybe just 1 hour of flying away – which is Deo Tibba. It looks like there s a nice plateau to land to the north and the climb and descent in case we are not able to take off again are looking fine.
And it works like planned after the daily bivouac routine we get airborn and just a 1 hour flight later we find ourselves soaring up on the steep south face of Deo Tibba. You just feel small when flying to the huge seracs hanging next to you. I feel confident to land on the plateau and give Nico a call assuming that we might have to descent by foot as there s a lot of fresh snow on the glacier.
But after a few calls we decide not to land as the avalanche risk on the ascent route through a 45° steep couloirs is to unpredictable with the amount of fresh snow. We decide to end our mission and start our flight back to Bir where we arrive late in the evening.
Few thoughts about the project:
I personally see the project a success. It shows a new way to mountaineering as you can just use your paraglider for transportation – it carries you and all your gear you need for the climb like a Sherpa. But you can just do it on your own in good company without the need of a big expedition. We couldn’t climb Menthosa Peak this way but the limiting factor was just unusual bad weather. In principle this kind of approach works just fine as we climbed 2 5000 m peaks like this. So what to say – I am already up for a new project like this. Spotted so many mountains which you can approach like this.