bandarpunch: beginnings

This is being published perhaps after the window of relevance has ended so it may just be for posterity’s sake, but here’s a few posts about our alpine adventure earlier this summer.

How the trip came to be:

Woodstock School has the Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education, which is headed up by Krishnan Kutty, a veteran of Indian mountaineering.  Some months back, Kutty had the idea for a team from Woodstock to attempt a climb of Bandarpunch, the preeminent snow peak visible from Mussoorie.  Our 21-person team ranged from mid 20s to mid 50s.  There are 2 Brits, 1 Korean, 4 Indians, 2 Canadians, 2 married couples, 15 men, 6 women, one author, and exactly one experienced mountaineer. The expedition was made possible by a grant from the Hanifls, so most of the costs were covered for returning WS staff.

To lead the expedition, Kutty contracted the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), a government institution located in Uttarkashi.  They provided the instructors and mountaineering equipment (snow boots, ice axes, crampons) and hired the cooks and porters.  We had four cook staff who went with us up to 14,000′.  We were told an expedition our size would normally use 100 porters, but we ended up with about 30 due to some labor shortage.  There were several NIM staff with impressive mountaineering resumes on the team, including lead instructor Jagmohan, a retiring and somewhat pudgy veteran mountaineer.  To help with translation, they brought along a part-time professor named Sujay, who was a fountain of mountaineering knowledge.

None of the NIM personnel had ever climbed Bandarpunch, so they hired a Sherpa guide who knew the route.  Our Sherpa was Gyalbo, a compact, taciturn, Nepali with a wide smile and a weathered face who had summited this peak before.  He looked the part of a Sherpa guide and was an absolute climbing machine.  (Historical note: the great Tenzing Norgay—the first man to summit Everest—apparently failed to reach the top of Bandarpunch twice before finally succeeding in 1950.)

the Woodstock team before departing NIM

our cook staff

Sujay and Gyalbo

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About bethraham

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One Response to bandarpunch: beginnings

  1. This is a wonderful account! I am thrilled to have found it this morning as I wander around the internet. Blessings on you for writing it.

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