Going for a stroll on 5200m Shittadar Peak.
TR: Shittadar Peak, Kullu Valley, India.
For what turned out to be our final ski objective in India, Amit, Allen, and I decided to go for a peak that would get us over 5000 meters. Amit was a little fixated on the number, and the peak he wanted to hit seemed like it had good skiing as well, so we all got on board.
Shittadar Peak, more boringly known as Friendship Peak, is near the head of the Solang Valley. By Himalayan standards, even Kullu valley standards, the Solang valley is quite accessible and small. Within the upper Solang valley, Shittadar Peak is the smallest and most accessible of the prominent summits ringing the valley, so what we went through to get up it should give you a good idea of the enormity of the peaks in the local area, and the Himalayas at large.
A late, 9am start, got us out the door and up the road past the Solang ski area by 10am. With our poorly maintained bikes beginning to loose power and overheat, we rolled to a stop at the mud pit that was the end of the road, and began hiking up the Solang valley towards Beas Kund.
It was getting extremely hot out, hot to the point that I was sweating profusely in light, rolled up, soft-shell ski pants, and a sleeveless shirt. As we skinned in, we observed some large snow rollers, and a massive rock fall across the valley, both signs of dangerous warming of the snowpack.
Allen and Amit breaking trail up towards Beas Kund
Allen in his really cool hat.
Slaving away under a hot sun.
I wasn’t kidding, there were some really huge snow rollers. This one was up to my elbow.
Allen, clearly forgetting how much work skinning is.
On the home stretch. This location definitely had the views!
After several hours, and a few thousand feet of pleasant skinning, we arrived at a flat, protected spot near the base of friendship peak and began building our campsite. Due to several weeks of warm temperatures and bright sun, there was not enough snow to build a snow-cave, so we resorted to a snow trench and a tarp. As we planned to wake up at 1am to start hiking the next morning, and weren’t going to get much sleep anyway, our accommodations weren’t much of a priority to us. As we’d gotten into camp early that day, we spent the afternoon eating, melting water, and enjoying the view up and down the valley. After several, lunches, snacks, and dinners we were finally in bed by 9pm, dozing off to sleep to the sounds of increasing winds and the tarp snapping in the breeze.
Yurt, Chalet, Condo; call it what you like, but it wasn’t that bad.
We tried to burn this image into our brains in preparation for a pre-dawn start in the morning. Shittadar peak is the tall snowy thing in the middle.
Due to the steepness of the valley, we lost direct sun at 4pm, even though the sun doesn’t set until almost 730.
Another good view from our Yurt.
Amit, shown here sporting a wonderful goggle tan, really liked our kitchen. We even had granite counters!
Sunset across the valley.
One last pot of water to melt before bed. (photo: Amit Paul)
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