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  • Writer's pictureSukrit Gupta

Friendship Peak Speed Record: How Was It Done So Fast, Explained.

Friendship Peak Speed Record

How Was It Done So Fast, Explained. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Location: Manali, HP

Start Date: 16th June, 2020

End Date: 16th June, 2020

Time Taken: 11 hours 45 minutes 50 seconds[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Mountaineering And The Concept Of Style [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6706″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The history of mountaineering is filled with great achievements— achievements that mark the triumph of the human spirit, stories of overcoming adversities only few are capable of meeting. It won’t be wrong if I say that mountaineering gives expression to deep human values and it is this reason which makes it relatable. Think about it, how does someone climbing a mountain make a difference in your life? It makes a difference because the person climbing is a human like you, the conditions he/she encounters will be the same if you replace them. But some mountaineering achievements are more valuable—more impressive and admirable—than others. I have always asked the question ‘Why?’.

In an abstract sense we value mountaineering achievement on two yardsticks. The first concerns the nature of the route – technical difficulties, boldness, length, remoteness, altitude, and similar parameters. In other words, the greater the ‘objective danger’, the more we value the climb. The second yardstick doesn’t concern so much with what is climbed but the style in which it was climbed. Style again is an outlook, born out of experiences and preferences.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Mixing Ultra-Running & Mountaineering [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6707″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]As an Ultra Trail Runner I am used to spending long hours in the mountains on my two legs, while covering ground fairly quickly. During the Friendship Peak speed ascent I tried applying this skill to a high altitude Himalayan peak. The only condition I posed on myself was that the whole project had to be human powered.

The ideas of attempting all the peaks that dominate the Manali skyline from my home have made me curious for some time now. I chose the Mall Road, Manali as my start and finish, because I wanted a central location which worked as a reference in case anyone fancies trying the route for themselves.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6708″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I had to obtain permits from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the SDM’s office (Manali, HP), to access the stretch between Solang and Dhundi. Official permissions were also necessary because of the film crew who would document my attempt, and due to the current ‘Covid 19’ pandemic. The details of my attempt are as follows.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Friendship Peak Speed Ascent [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6709″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I did a reconnaissance on the 14th of June till just below the col, on the route I was going to climb. I was carrying my gear bag which contained my boots, crampons, waterproof jacket, pants and a pair of gloves. I stashed it carefully at Lady Leg ridge knowing that I would need it on the day of the attempt. The 4Play team was divided into two, one would document and support me on the road and the other on the mountain. After the recce, the mountain team camped on the mountain while I headed back to Manali.

On 16th June, at 01:02 AM, I started from the Mall road (Rambagh chowk) in Manali. I ran via Old Manali, Goshal, through the village trail to Shanag, continuing via Bhurva to Solang. I reached Solang in about 1 hour 11 minutes. From here I again ran till Dhundi – the road head for friendship peak, where I arrived in 1 hour 55 minutes (from the start time). I continued following the regular trail till the main river crossing for Bakarthach campsite. However, instead of crossing over to the right bank, I continued on the left bank. This trail opens up just before the climb to Lady Leg. I began the climb up to Lady Leg ridge right away, with no rest. I reached the top of the ridge in a total of 3 hours 45 minutes from the mall road; this is where the snow began. Here I stopped and had a sip of water, and collected my pack that I had left on the 14th.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6710″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]My next stop was at the col at about 5 hours 4 minutes. I changed into my boots and crampons, waterproof jacket/pants and continued to move up. I probably could not have asked for better snow conditions. It helped me move up fairly smoothly and at about 7 hours 16 minutes (from the start time) I was at the summit. I stayed at the summit for a 15 minutes break, did an Instagram live, took a couple of videos and then started climbing down with Aditya Bikram Pande (part of the high altitude filming crew) who had climbed with me from the col to the summit. I was back at the col after a slow descent, at about 8 hours 36 minutes (from the start time). I had left my original pack here, which I had carried since the start at 01:02 AM, on the way up. So I stopped, changed back into my running shoes and started to run down.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6711″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I left my climbing boots and crampons for the filming team to carry back. I was back at the lady leg ridge at about 8 hours 56 minutes (from the start time). I stopped, had 2 glasses of soup provided by the 4Play team. Changed into my running shorts, left my waterproof jacket and pants here with the team, said bye and ran down the lady leg ridge. I was back in Dhundi in about 9 hours 58 minutes. I continued on to Manali. I was at Solang in about 10 hours 35 minutes, and took the same way back to Manali. After crossing the Old Manali bridge, I ran through Nature Park and not the road, as I had done when I started, for the sake of capturing better footage for the film. I finished at the same place I had started at, on the Mall road, in 11 hours 45 minutes 50 seconds.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

The Idea Of Self-Sufficiency [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Self–sufficiency is something that is exhibited in our everyday lives which makes it an opaque concept. In mountaineering, the terrain and conditions force us to be self-sufficient but we can always employ tactics through which we can overcome these challenges in artificial ways.

Three of the most dominant and contrasting styles of climbing are:

  1. Alpine style vs. Siege tactics

  2. Climbing solo vs. Climbing with a team

  3. Free climbing vs. aid climbing

There are various ways in which these styles can be combined, which makes the definition of ‘self-sufficiency’ even more confusing. My definition of self-sufficiency primarily relies on one’s own ability to move over the climbing medium (be it rock, snow or ice). The clothing and equipment should be the bare minimum that anyone would need in order to make progress and to survive in the conditions he/she finds himself in. I want to cite my own run as an example so others who love the outdoors or who relate to a minimalistic ethic can improve on the idea.

I covered a distance of 53.38 kilometres on foot in a total time span of 11 hours 45 minutes and 50 seconds. Alongside, I gained a total 3,657 metres of elevation during the project, and lost 3,623 meters mostly during the descent. My final run on the 16th produced 7 plastic wrappers (5 gels and 2 bars) that I carried all the way back home. The team on the mountain was provided packed food by the chef at the 4Play Hoffice, Ram Singh. All garbage generated by the team, including packets of instant noodles were brought back to the roadhead; along with the pieces of plastic that were found while hiking.

Kieren DSouza has established many trail running speed records. Here are 4 Fastest Known Records By Kieren Dsouza that he made on his home ground in Manali, Himachal Pradesh.

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EDITOR: Aditya Bikram Pande[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row]


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