Zanskar Sumdo - Rain shadow area - Info

Zanskar Sumdo circuit

A hidden valley near Zanskar sumdo with those clean slopey high altitude boulders like in Chandra valley. Great for an in between trip in monsoon time as I noticed much less rain than Chandra valley, Kulu Manali or Sangla. I never lost a day because of rain or snow. It's high and a steep sided valley which gives a different feeling from other Himalayan areas I've been to. 

  Zanskar Sumdo was the last place on the Shingo la trekking route coming from Darcha before crossing the river and starting the steep climb up to the pass. Or the first place if doing the trek the other way Lamayuru to Padum to Darcha. When I say place I mean it was one teashop/dhabba and a campsite where all the trekkers stopped.


   Now the trekking route marked should be a kind of motorable road so you can drive all the way to Zanskar sumdo even to Shingo la pass. There are no boulders on that route so follow the map and instructions below to the boulders.

Darcha to Zanskar sumdo to Dali to the bouldering valley
 You can get to Zanskar Sumdo by road now then you head up the valley on foot instead of crossing the river on the bridge as if you were going to the Shingo la pass. After 2 or 3 km is a couple of lakes and a steepening. There are few yellow and back boulders and shepherd camps but it's not a proper area. After walking up the steep hill a gully with a river is on the left. This the valley with the bouldering. 

 They decided to build a road the whole way from Darcha to Padum mainly as a route for miltary vehicles to get up to the army bases in the border regions of Kashmir and Ladakh. It's a huge project but maybe ready in 2018 so will run all the way to the pass from the Darcha (Lahaul) side.. It will be dangerous way even in a jeep but they will keep improving it for trucks and buses.

 What are friends for?

 An old friend in Manali who knows what bouldering actually is and does a lot of guided treks gave me a tip off about boulders in the region so I decided to check it out. After 2 or 3 hours you will get to a sharp steepening then a side valley with a river on the left. The only people who go are shepherds and some looking for some precious stones or silagit. That hidden valley is full of boulders he said, just like Chattru/Chota dara but without a road he told me so off I went to check. I was well psyched and thought if there are no good boulders I will just collect precious stones and silagit which I so love much anyway. 
 Silagit is great stuff it gives vital energy for climbing, high trekking and other things also.

Like that shilagit?

 It had changed a bit since I'd trekked that way 15 years earlier because of the road project. A few km before Zanskar Sumdo was the labour camp at Palmo and there was a lot of workers there for the project. It wasn't that great except for the super friendly Nepali family running the dhabba so I stayed with them for one night then carried on to find Zanskar Sumdo just a tea shop with another nice family also from Nepal running the show.

The final reward

 Fully rested I pressed on up the steepening and located the side gully I'd been told about and I was so glad to finally see some proper boulders and more and more going on up towards the glacier. The valley has some great rocks in an excellent location and I stayed for the remainder of the season finding loads of good stuff. 
 If any body is passing nearby with bouldering intentions they would like it as it's good quality clean stone and such an atmospheric place.


The American film team with Pete Takeda, Jason Khel and Abby Smith had headed up there but never made it getting tired and disheartened so going back just before the turn off left to the valley. I think they had walked all the way from Darcha 30 km or so it's no wonder they were really tired. But then they turned back only 1 km before finding the bouldering valley. Shame as they would have liked it and could have done the things which were too hard for me. Having said that they found a really nice looking area over in Mya valley later so all was well in the end and they even got a banf prize for the film which was well made with good editing. To open a totally new area is obviously better movie material as well and it's great to watch thier experiences and what they did. High V12's at 4000 metres or above is hardcore. If you want to repeat those problems I'm sure they would give info and positive motivation if contacted. 


 If you head up there you will easily see these problems on boulders as they are all in the centre of the narrow valley. Some absolute classics and more to do. The friction is good as the high altitude nature changes things. Such wrongness people could do all these problems and whole bunch of harder things in a 2 week long trip but I was there the till the end of the season. I liked it and could easily pop back down to the dhabba on rest days. 

 Suprised that it felt only 6b or 6c thought it would be harder, so good.

  Z RAMP 6a So good rock near to the goofa at the start of the valley

Spring board 7b

The right hand hold is a very poor open handed thing, the left foot hold is a hardly to notice little smear.. The top felt hard to catch and stick. Excellent.

  SKI SLOPE boulder 6c

Catch the clean arete and rock on through on superb rock.6c (above)

Otherwise the arete direct and pull through 7a (left) excellent.

Man must burn 7a+
The rock is great but just 2 or 3 moves and topout. Longer with low start might be for the super strong.

Confusion corner 7b+
What looks like a straightforward but powerful sitstart turns out to be much more awkward and then a hard mantle onto the sloping ledge up right. The arete straight above will go as well (not done)

Left arete of confusion corner boulder with a nice warm up. 6a


Great boulder from standing it's a classic 6 but the sitstart I'd give 7c which took some struggles over a few days. It was worth it in the end. It's on the same boulder as 'suprised 6c' to the left. 

   Good boulder with a classic 6b (above) and another on the left wall and again the arete to the right giving a 7a (below) 


So clean boulder and every single hold on this sitstart was an almost impossible sloper. Close to the goofa up the hill. probably fell quite recently hence the name. 


SANITY REIGNS 7b  It's also nearby the basecamp goofa and traverses the ramp right to left before finishing up the left arete (below) with the help of that sloper. Like this boulder. Straight up on the right also.


 From standing 

6c. The altitude means you get pumped more quickly but have good friction.  

This is one of the highest rocks up the valley I got to. Puffing and panting after just 2 or 3 moves with such less oxygen. Well you certainly get fit up in this valley if Zanskar Sumdo is at 4000 m  then this place is a few hundred metres in excess of that.


Superb sit start on that perfect white rock leads to grapple out on the slopey arete.

I met nobody except some shepherds and silagit hunters who were staying about 2km further up the main valley. There would be no real treats and perks except the gratification and pleasure while climbing and the extreme connection with nature that climbing boulders at high altitude can give you. 

  SECRETS are EVERYWHERE 7c Snatching across the crimpy rail then up the overhanging arete made for a classic problem. Standing start is also great.

GOOGLY the perfect rock on this 7a 
another good problem on the left also.

  Just over the river from the goofa was this boulder with a satisfying problem but the groove to the right may be even better (not done yet)

 Sistart laybacking up the groove to spaced out good holds rightwards to the top.
 classic bumble be 7a
 The big white wall to the right with a perfect slopey groove is still to go ! ***

 The end of Zanskar Sumdo and Shingo la as a trekking route.

  It was a strange and slightly sad feeling when I did my last shopping run walking down to Palmo as usual when I saw they were breaking through the last rocks to get the road to reach Zanskar Sumdo. I realized it was the last year people would ever walk that way any more. I felt sorry for the Nepali family making a cafe at that place but tried to look on the bright side, not as far to walk to the bouldering area. (selfish?, anti-progress?, nature liker? anti-coke?) Not sure if that many people are using that road yet but it could be a crucial military supply line  which is why they are building it. To have an alternative route to get to Kashmir Pakistan border more quickly.
  It made me pause and think though, for so many years people have been going that way and now it stops. 
 Vehicles will now take the place of the footpath.
 If the Rohtang pass is the 'pile of a thousand dead bodies' this new Shingo la road (1000 metres higher) could be the 'pass of a million lost souls' if a war with Pakistan ever starts.

The 2 year old who also stayed the whole season at what was the roadless Zanskar sumdo. 

The super friendly Nepali 'girls only' family who live for the season at Palmo, they are 'nails'! and will supply you with everything for your next 10 days bouldering.

Left - 3 stright up problems on mostly smooth slopers and the classic traverse 7b. Good boulder. Very clean and friction dependant.

 Right - I found a boulder with 6 classic problems and projects. I refer to it as the 'super nugget' 

looking from up like in the pic.
Secrets are everywhere 7c L side
Confusion corner 7b+ R side
Classic jump 7a to see
numerous classic 5 and 6's 

All on this rock

 Secrets are everywhere 7c is on the left wall of the super nugget

 If somebody has interest for bouldering and 'in the area'  they will love this valley and there is loads still to do as I pointed to, and more which I didn't.

 If you finish THIS problem (below) she'll be happy and They will get you a drink.

 I tried it once then named it the 'Days of destruction project' because of 'you know what' but what a great line. I didn't get around to trying it again but I don't think it's that hard.(watch your fingertips)

 Chai it is then.

 Love to explore!

Base camp

Hampi - Demolitions Continue - June 2017

June 2017
The JCB's with government officers and police came to Sanapur and destroyed every single guest house - Woodstock (14 rooms) Gowri (18 rooms) Waterfalls (12 rooms) and Rock and Chill the restaurant.
In Hanumanalli they destroyed every guest house including the great place for climbers Baba cafe and Hanuman guest house run by our old friend Wenket. Even his family home in the middle of the compound where his father Ramswami lived peacefully all the years.
 In Jungli village all of the places in the middle of the village including the popular White Elephant and the ten rooms are gone.

 This is devastating for the people who slowly built these places up investing most of the profits from the high season into developing and improving for the coming year. It's also a sad shock for all the people who enjoyed staying in those places in the last ten or fifteen years and became friends with the owners and staff. It means that outside of Hampi island there are no small guest houses left. The big places on Hampi island itself are still standing but are existing on temporary 'stay orders' until a decision is made by the high court in Delhi.

  Wenkets beautiful family house is in ruins
The restaurant on the river side
This sent a shiver of sadness and memories through me and is all that remains of the wonderful and famous Baba cafe. Ouch.

The superb restaurant of Woodstock69 in Sanapur looks like this just now. The work of criminals.

Rock and Chill on the way to the lake.

Rock and Chill, such a waste.

Rambo (Jambavan) guest house and restaurant

Gowri guest house and restaurant.

The places you see lying in rubble and ruin were almost all of the best smaller scale guest houses and restaurants in the whole area. Especially for the people who wanted to stay away from the big commercial area of Hampi Island itself. The place is changed forever now with these terrible and unforgivable actions.
 If you were planning a trip and intending to stay in any of these places you will have to think again.

Hollow rock area - Info

Why go there?
When you look out from Paraport, the Catcave or the Eagle rock ridge you can't help your eyes stopping and staring at this hill. It looks full of potential so begs to be checked. After traversing all the plateaus on the ridge a few times on walks back and forth from Paraport I noticed a huge amount of boulders on multi tiered plateaus, some with quality problems, some with too much vegetation around the base and some with loose flakes...just like always. Like almost all the areas I choose to concentrate my efforts on it was one super special problem which got me psyched enough to go and stay there. Then the ball was rolling. It didn't stop for 2 or 3 years.
 People who make the effort (30 minutes walk from the canal) will find an excellent area. It's full of crimpy classics and the high aspect on the plateau make it feel special. You can walk around a lot in these hills looking for these special areas but to find such a strong concentration of quality problems in one place is always a challenge.
 If you stay for a while you may notice grunting growling sounds just behind the hollow rock cave.    That's the sloth bears which are almost always living in the big hill right next to you. If one actually comes to the cave it must like your lovely smell and energy vibrations but don't panic even if it's pushing you with it's nose in your back as you try and sleep. They don't steal human food preferring to eat natural berries, termites and ants.
 If you stay a while try not to leave without doing some new problems. Add some more quality climbing to the area, give names and make topos/maps. Then send on the info,

LINK - Hollow rock approach and topo

Lefthand CAVE ROUTE  - long steep problem.

Falling awake - After pleasant crimp pulling on the steep bit the most nails crimpy mantle onto the slab is the crux. 7b

Paraport pinnacles on the hill behind

For the buzz 7a+ R-L Long traverse leaves fingertips buzzing and brain also!

 The first two moves of  'The growler' 7c are the most powerful and crux of the problem

The second 'easy crux' of  The Growler

The Hollow rock groove (above) has the Free Kishkinda powerful 7c traverse from the right along the break into this 7a groove

Super little alcove problem 6c  Above and L of Captain crimp.

Seemed to be checking I was still alive in the morning at hollow rock cave, cheers bro.
This is like heaven just going to get some water.

Sick man is nasty from sitting 7b standing 6b

The excellent crimpy classic on the backside of the cave boulder. Feel's so good.

'Slave of sensation' 7b+

Yes Karnataka rocks can be crimpy. 

left, Waterways - superb boulder and sleeping place with 5 good problems possible.(3 done 2 projects) 6c - 7c Not hollow rock itself but just across the valley towards Tamba.

You'll watch this boulder every time on the way with a classic traverse.
 The perfect wave 7a

Not too far to the top, one move but classic.        Slow motion 7a+ superb

So many types of fantastic looking owls  around the rocks.

The S groove is at the start of the next higher plateau from hollow rock, well worth seeking out. 

The 7a+ left version of the S groove*** R on
 the groove itself is6c

 Paint a Rainbow 7b+ 

Superb rainbow crossover move from the thin crimpy flake.

 One of the great 7b+ problems around here. 
It's The Turning point 

Waterway Superboulder linkup

6c+ from standing or this link from sitting on right at 7c both ***

Contorting across the Yoga Traverse 7a+