Why Barashigri

Why Barashigri ?
Climbing on some of the best rock in the valley. That's why I'm there.

  KILLERWIND 7b starts with a long dynamic reach from the back of the roof to the first sloper and body tension time.

   Then to cross match to an even more slopey hold. In this position I can't move my body at all without falling off. Just my hand.

  So without shifting body at all left hand goes to this sloping finger hold. It's useless to pull on but works as an intermediate to stabilize and go for the lip where you will probably swing but nicely without touching the ground to get a heel on quick. Super problem.

 It won't be gained from books, television, the worldwide interweb or from other people. No god or goddess or demon can provide it. The knowledge is gained from believing in your own mind. Original knowledge is gained from within yourself only. Otherwise it wouldn't be original. 

 ORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE 7b+ has a great sitstart to grab this bomber sloper and yard through to the big side hold.

Great moves see you through the middle section to the crux on the steep wall.

 The 2nd of 3 hard moves to get through to the holdless slab above where I was glad to be above a flat soft sandy beach. Fantastic bouldering !

The problem to the right of ORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE is also ultimate planet quality. The first moves slap along the slopey ramp on 'just enough.'

 Then you get the slopey lip and press on through. Its a super boulder at 7b

 The right problem is the easiest of the three at 7a+ but still of the quality I expected

A hard move goes to this righthand sloper then again a fun tricky rockover onto the slab.

 KILLERWIND TRAVERSE 7b It took a while to work out which hand to reach the hold in the roof with!

It's the traverse of the roof rightwards of the killer wind  boulder and an absolute cracker ! 

There are just the two finger holds to cross the roof on this beast.
 It seemed like a huge reach and needed some body tension to get through to the other hold also.

Flying through to the lip was the crux though but It worked out in the end for the central line on the KILLER WIND ROOF 7C+
The roofside of the boulder showing the lines *** Only windy in the afternoons ! it's a KILLER cold boulder
2 KILLER ROOF SS 7c+ Stand slightly easier
3 KILLER WIND TRAVERSE SS 7b stand maybe 7a
4 Warm up SS 6a
5 Tricky moves over the steep bit SS 7a
The other face (Eastish facing) has also quite a few good problems and a great project. 

 This boulder grabbed me on the walk back so I sat and smoked just staring at it for about 20 minutes. Afterwards I was all psyched to flash it for a classic 7a

The story of Barashigri bouldering is one of quality problems and beautiful days in this special place.

DREAMY DAYS 7c "Come what may."
 The only way to get a sitstart to this problem was to add 5 or 6 extra moves from down on the right. That made it a bit harder! The fun and lots of laughter bit came in the form of 5 feet of snow two days after I'd done it.
 "We in some zone, holy, outa body mind blown." 

 8 days in the snow waiting for the thaw freeze effect and ice  hard crust. Well at least I had music. 


 I was treating myself like a child who wasn’t allowed the yummy cake before he had eaten his proper dinner. The ‘yummy cake’ was Bara Shigari, a huge uninhabited plateau next to the second biggest glacier in the Himalayas. I was fairly sure there was ultimate quality bouldering there as it's visible from the road. The big river between the boulderfields and the road means I would have to walk in 10 km from Batal to find out. My ‘proper dinner’ was two projects in the roadside area of ChotaDara just down the road where I’d been for the last few weeks and I just wasn’t allowed to go before I’d finished them. No way. This was a very clever mental trick I thought to get myself so heavily motivated that I would do literally anything to get them done. 

  One of them was an outrageous stamina event and I was untrained for such a thing so getting too pumped. Not only pumped but also seriously out of breath. This is not usually so much of a problem while bouldering as you can sometimes even be on the top before it happens. But being at nearly 4000 meters above sea level makes a difference and doing a sloping stamina traverse which then finishes up a powerful boulder problem is also a ‘not normal’  thing to do at such an altitude. Sometimes when I fell off at the last crux my lungs felt like they would burst so I was going to make some serious sacrifices. I was going to take the huge step and stop smoking tobbaco. After a couple of days with my cleansed bloodstream and lungs the lactic acid and oxygen deficiency wouldn’t even have a look in. 

  The first day I was very angry but just kept thinking that I could channel it into the bouldering. My other project wouldn’t come into condition until 4 o clock so I had to wait. I walked around outside the goofa kicking things and throwing stones then I forced myself to do yoga and calm down. Eventually it was starting up time and I danced with glee to the goofacity warm up area. I was still irritated by nicotine and THC withdrawals but glad to have something to do and was soon enough sitting beneath my project.

  This problem was not stamina at all but a huge throw from finger holds around a bulge to catch a small flat hold. Every time I would get SO near to it but my hand had to catch the hold exactly right. There was even a little crystal which I knew had to make exact contact with my middle finger only then everything would hold.  Millimetres out and it wasn’t on. Then a nice 6c/7a type finish which I’d done already.  I tried 2 or 3 times but although my hand was hitting the hold it was just not sticking. 

  I could feel myself getting angry again so forced myself to have a rest. That was the exact point at which I would have had a smoke to relax.  Damn it, I thought and became more angry. I was just staring at the holds like a goldfish when suddenly I heard the sound.  A kind of tormented howling it was almost how I felt! Then again. I laughed to myself it was just the shepherd dog, but hopefully not the rabid one that attacked me the week before with its red eyes and foaming angry mouth. That’s when I thought I should become like that. I wanted to be twisted and angry enough to be howling and do this bloody thing. But I needed to be more like a bird for this problem with the energy and will of the mad dog also! I tried to concentrate.  Howl like a dog, fly like a bird I thought.  

  Thinking about that red eyed dog had got me even more mad. I was sure It had wanted to kill me and I had wished the same for the demented beast! All I wanted was to walk past with my luggage but it was so wrong. The most wrong dog I’ve ever seen in my life and it was a big strong mountain type. The road wasn't yet open for the season and luckily I had been on the section which was just stones everywhere. As it came to bite me I threw coconut sized rocks aiming for its head. Every time the rock would bounce off its hard skull or nose hurting it a lot but the beast would retreat howling for a few meters only and just a few seconds, only giving me just enough time to pick up another two missiles before coming back again even more angry.  Its head even started to bleed but it didn’t care. I was crapping myself! The red eyes, its face red from the spilling blood also and its white drooling mouth with sharp teeth were burned into my mind after that day.  I knew it had rabies and I also knew that with all that saliva everywhere just one bite that drew blood would give me the virus. After 4 accurate shots to the head I had changed my attack plan and lobbed with such force and accuracy at its legs this time and one leg had smashed well enough making a crunching sound also. Only then did it hobble away crying in pain it’s leg and will had been broken so it had to let me pass.

   My heart nearly thumped it’s way out of its normal place that day such was the overdose of adrenalin but anybody would have done the same I thought. Whenever I see a ‘mad as hell’ so possibly rabid dog it’s always in my mind that terrible statistic about rabies. It says 21,000 people every year die in India from the disease, and that’s just the official account. It seems a lot and not the best way to go with so much suffering and no cure.

  Now I was holding the start crimps mad as hell but totally psyched and focused. Half bird half dog I flew and my left hand hit the hold perfectly for once and stayed. What an amazing moment it was to get this finally and I raged through to the top completely elated. 

THE HOWLING SHEPHERD BIRD 7c+ was born and I was half way to Bara Shigari.

 That night I couldn’t get off to sleep very well. I don’t know if it was the tobacco withdrawals or the elation and happiness of doing the problem or the sound of an angry dog barking from down the valley where I had the fight with the beast. It’s probably still alive I thought and now wants revenge. I wondered how long rabies lasted before the inevitable death. Maybe I would wake up to see its scarred angry face! Eventually I started to fantasize about Bara Shigri. The perfect rolling grass meadow, crystal clear water running past and white grey immaculate clean boulders each one with packed with quality virgin problems.  Which to do first would be the only concern and like always I would just go with instinct. Fast and quality problems first only 7a’s and 7b’s maximum. Now this one, now that one. Now this way, now that way and off to the happy land of nod.

  It was time to concentrate on the ‘smile boulder link up’ as I had come to know it. The stamina problem. This boulder faced the other way and was the other style so I had to do it in the morning. After porridge I was straight there and trying to get semi pumped to warm up.

  I loved Chotadara so much but sometimes it felt like I’d spent half my life there.  Not that it was a bad thing but I could do with that holiday also. I really wanted to do this problem and was trying to work out what would help. Doing the moves really fast I decided and set off somehow faster than usual because I was concentrating on just doing that.  I am just like Steve Mclure I was thinking to myself and flying along the slopey pumpy ledges. He had amazed me with the speed and purpose with which he climbed and it was obviously key to success on this thing. No dithering. I got to the only shake and chalk place that I allowed myself feeling better than normal and took huge breaths. 

 The 7b SMILING BUDDHA starts here and now I have to do it pumped.  I was so close on that first try falling on the last hard move totally knackered and starved of oxygen as usual. This is so good for me I thought, really getting my endurance going like those runners who train high up so when they come down they are fitter than everybody else. I was enjoying climbing so much that day that I convinced myself that I didn’t really care if I failed. It wasn’t true of course! This is also a good mindtrick sometimes making you relax enough to just simply do it. Without tabs and booze my body felt like a health project and actually getting fit. The next try didn’t go quite as well, maybe not enough rest so I said half an hour to completely de pump then the maximum effort try and probably the last. 

  The Barashigari mind trick was working though and I was dreaming for the whole half an hour about perfect 7a classics instead of these bloody hard multi day siege projects. But at the same time I still fooled myself that it didn’t matter if I failed. Something in my forearms was opened up now and I was fresh and racing along the start. At the rest I chalked up and felt okay. Not fresh but okay.  Even though knackered  I was loving it and scraped through to the top panting like a dog. Smoking is for mugs I said to myself but was desperate for a celebratory smoke. It felt brilliant and a big relief also. I was really happy and wore the ‘BIG SMILE’ 7c+ on my face when I went back to the dabba. I had done my two projects and could now enter a new chapter of my life in this valley. It was cake time and Bara Shigari. I’m pretty sure no boulderer had ever been there before but I was now really excited to be the first.

  My ‘perfect rest days’ had quite often become walking for hours with half my bodyweight on my back. I’m not the type of boulderer who says ‘I hate hiking.’ For me it’s great to see the best new areas and getting away from the rest of the human race is a huge bonus also. I didn’t know how good the boulders would be but had a feeling about it. You can see the meadows, boulders and the glacier from the road but of course the river is uncrossable at that point so unless its -25 at night and the water level goes down you must walk in from Batal. This is the last boulder area in the valley so at least there would be no distractions on the way. It was time to leave the bus at Batal and check out what I could about the walk in. 

 Very friendly people run the only dabba in Batel and they were curious about why I wanted to go alone to such a wild place. After I told them about bouldering and climbing they seemed to only half get it. “You must have done so many peaks” Dorje said so I showed them some pictures and then they understood. No peaks.

 They warned me about the Karchanala river on the way. Mornings only they suggested and after seeing memorial stones for people who died trying to cross it I decided to take the advice. I would just get supplies, sleep the night and try to start early in the morning. 

 I was psyched for 10 days so got all the usual things. Dal, rice, potatoes onions, oil, masala and I had porridge for breakfast. In all the 5 seasons previously living in these high valleys I had never had a tent just a 6 by 6 ft plastic sheet to sometimes back up dodgy caves. Same story this time.

 Batal is 4,000 metres high and Bara Shigri also and 10 km away, so it’s a flat walk all the way. Wildly barren, it feels like you’re committing yourself to something by walking all that way. I was so hopeful almost desperate that the boulders would be good. That’s all I wanted. In half an hour I was next to the Karchanala river and as always undecided about which is the best place to cross. It was fast water and I said to myself, remember never to do this on a real midsummer afternoon! I relaxed after that and just enjoyed the excitement and the stunning views of mountains ahead of me. For some reason this felt like a really special trip, like I was going to a different reality or something. It even felt like I was in a different valley than Chota Dara and Chattru. I remembered about what the shepherds had said to me that after Chotadara you were in Spiti not Lahaul. I’d wanted to do this for ages and now was actually doing it. Non of the other boulderers wanted to go but for me it was a dream that really was being forced to finally come into existence.

 When 4 hours later I arrived at the meadow it was stunning. A huge plateau leading up to the monster glacier with groups of boulders, grassy some parts sandy in another. It was so beautiful and very different from the other areas in the valley.

 I found a shepherd goofa (half a cave built up with stones) and arranged my plastic tarp sheet to make a mostly half water proof sleeping place. With the rest of the afternoon to walk around nearby I realized, some of the best rocks for bouldering are here. I was not disappointed as my expectations had been accurate.

 Being alone all the time is greatly refreshing sometimes. Doing exactly what I want, when I want with no questions or disagreements. Without any egos to deal with and to be completely uninfluenced is a big relief even. Every decision is unaffected and so the original one and therefore almost always the right one. I’m anyway so busy most of the time with climbing, exploring, cooking, getting water, collecting horse shit and yoga. It’s a big realization sometimes that I don’t need to be with people all the time to be happy and maybe sometimes better off without anyone. Especially in this huge empty place which makes me feel light and insignificant. 

 Every 9 or 10 days I would go back to Batel for 1 or 2 nights with the shanti buddhists at Chandra dabbha and any other people who were passing or stuck there , get supplies, have a few drinks then go back for the next 10 day bouldering session.

 The family that runs the dabba are tough from living in such basic and hard conditions all the time but I could tell that they really liked the fact that I was living up here on this ‘bouldering mission’. It felt almost as if I was ‘with them’ or even ‘one of them’ somehow by being here all the time, not like all the people passing by on the way to somewhere else. They knew that for me this was not a trip more of a way of life and they had already heard stories about me from Laloo in Chattru. But my 'whatever happens it’s okay' positive attitude somehow fits in with their buddhist philosophy so possibly a bit of respect for that also.

 They were supporting me in this wild place and I really appreciated that and loved them for it already. Soon enough when the storm came my attitude would be tested to the limit and they would tell the story about me to everybody passing if I was there. 

  It was the perfect set up. I stayed and kept going back with so many projects to climb. So many.  Surrounded by fantastic  6,000 metre peaks and with no real urge to climb them. Well maybe I got a little bit tempted on rest days but really this type of meditation is all about the beauty of the movement, not summits. 

 It’s windy, cold and harsh in this place so you have to really want to be there. I really wanted to be there so pushed it out to the very end of the season Then I came back the next year also. And the next.

BARA STORM in BARA SHIGRI (blog) would come and shock the whole valley but not yet only perfect sunny and fresh days. 

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