Mt. Thelu Expedition

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5th October 2004 ( Bhojwasa - Raktavan 12 kms )

It was a beautiful sunny day as we woke up at 6.00 a.m. The lovely and spectacular view of the Himalayas right in front of us left us breathless not only because of the view but also it was very cold and our bodies had not acclimatized as yet . After breakfast and ensuring that all our goods were taken by the porters ,
We started towards Gaumukh at around 8.00AM and were on the Gaumukh glacier by 11.00AM. From here on began the real adventure. We had to cross over one part of the glacier to get to the meadows, higher up. Scrambling up the scree slope (loose rocks and gravel mixed with the glacier water) that is at a gradient of nearly 70 degrees  , forcing us to crawl up on all four. It took us an hour and a half to tackle this and get across to the meadows. Once in the meadows it was another 5kms trek to our base camp, which would be our home away from home, for the next 7 days. Finally on the 5th at 3.30 p.m, we reached the base camp, pitching our tents at an altitude of 14800feet.  

     The LAPS turned back to Uttarkashi from here after dumping our luggage at Base Camp. Now we were just a team of 12  members, 8 from Delhi and the 2 HAPs, Girish & Harish , The guide Lakshaman Singh and Manoj   (HAP cum cook).

6th October 2004  to 9th October 2004

Last  evening  we unpacked all our equipment and the provisions, and repacked them as per our mountain itinerary. Next  morning would be one of those days I would term as a perfect morning. The sun rose from the horizon casting its rays all over the snow capped mountains all around us. But the best of the lot was the golden rays falling on Mt. Shivling (6543mts) that stood tall and magnificent right behind our tent. Mt. Shivling is on the Gaumukh glacier. Magic, absolutely magic! The sun was up and shinning on the clear blue sky. After breakfast, as per our itinerary for that day we would be ferrying some provisions and equipment to the the next highest point some 4 kms away and then get back . And that would be our routine for the next three days . Me Subrat and Jeetram would be doing some load ferrying with the HAPs Which basically meant that we would trek up to the next highest campsite, boulder hopping and crossing some glacier streams, to get up there and dump the provisions and equipment and return back to the lower camp by evening the same day. Which, as they say, is the best way to get acclimatized. It's very important for anyone going to high altitudes, to get acclimatized if he/she is planning to have a good time. The main reason being lack of sufficient oxygen, as you get higher, which gives a splitting headache and makes one feel very nauseate. He or she doesn't feel as hungry as usual, which means insufficient intake of food. Tiredness and fatigue sets in very fast. And, of course, the worst case would be to suffer from HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) or HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). Let me not get into the technical details of these two dangerous effects, especially encountered by mountaineers, if not properly acclimatized, which have caused so many deaths to mountaineers. Our Advance Base camp  was at an altitude of 18,500feet. We saw for the first time the ridge of Mt.Thelu, from up here.


10th October  to 14th October 2004 

Two of our team members got high altitude sickness and returned to the lower base camp after scalling upto the Advance Base Camp at 18500 feet . Indu & Vijayant stayed at the Base Camp while Hari, Subrat & Raid  made another attempt and occupied the sumit camp at 4.00 p.m. on the 10th . 

The team  decided to start early next day i.e. on the 11th  , so that they could make use of a clear weather window available early in the morning. They  were out and on their way to the base of Mt.Thelu the next day (11/10/04) by around 5.00AM finding their way through the moraine and snow with the help of torch and headlamps that we had carried. By around 6.00AM, as the first light peeped through the clouds, they got a glimpse of the route ahead as well as the path they had taken. The route ahead would be through a huge snowfield. Here was the real problem. The snow, which was initially hard and relatively easy to walk on, got softer and softer as the day progressed. The heat from the sun started melting the layer of soft, fresh snow making it tiresome and dangerous to trek through.

   Tiresome because each step that they took, their feet would go knee deep into the snow and dangerous because they didn't know where there were crevasses and where there were loose boulders. Some how they managed to get through all these and after about two and a half hours of trekking we were finally at the base of  Mt.Thelu .

All around them stood some of the most famous peaks of the Indian Himalayas, Sudarshan Parbat (6507mts), Saife (6161mts) and lots of unnamed peaks. They took a bit of a breather after the long trek and some time to photograph all around. After about half an hour, they started their climb towards the summit of Thelu. Jeez, it was one tough climb. They were literally crawling all the way up, through absolutely loose sliding slabs of stones and gravel with no support and nothing to hold on to. Every four to five steps They took, they  slided down 2 steps. And with the air getting thinner and thinner high up, they were gasping for breath every 2 steps that they took. Finally an hour and a half of climbing (I mean crawling and scrambling), they reached the summit shoulder. From here it would take them another 40 minutes to reach the summit. They  were already standing tall, at an altitude of 19700ft. The summit is at an altitude of 19800ft. On 11/10/2004 at 11.30AM, Hari , Subrat & Raid  alongwith the 2 HAP's & Guide  had summitted Mt.Thelu (19800ft) . For a few minutes  no one had  realized what they had achieved that day, that moment. They all were very tired and just wanted to rest for sometime. Slow and steadily reality set into them. They had scaled a peak that stood 6002mts (19800ft) above sea level.  And the jubilation started. They were hugging each other in joy and ecstasy and congratulating one another on a fabulous team effort that had rewarded them with such a success. Staring at the horizon and into the blue sky, with the clouds below their feet, They almost felt at the top of the world. There was the Sudarshan Parvat on to the left, Saife along its ridge, Chirbas Parbat behind them, and the majestic and magnificent Shivling, Meru Parbat, Thalay Sagar, the Jogin Group of mountains (Jogin I, II and III) and many more unnamed peaks to our right all sticking out of the clouds.

Well it is another long story how when they returned back to the base camp the weather changed  and it snowed upto 3 feet . It was a nightmare to spend the rest of the days and how they managed to come to Bhojwasa and then to Gangotri leaving their stuff behind .  But in the end as one says " All's well that Ends well ". The group returned safely to Delhi on the 17th Morning from Uttarkashi .

Cheers to the group who successfully scalled Mt. Thelu . Special Cheers and applauds to the lady of the Group Indu Anand  who showed tremendous courage , Endurance , stamina and determination to be with the group throughout the expedition period , giving the team the moral support and  strength . Hats off to you Indu .......  Namnam's wife and Daddy's girl . 

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