Monday, October 26, 2009

Nag Tibba

Nag Tibba - Sunday 25 October 2009
[Sections #1 The climb, #2 Inserts, #3 Toes and Feet, #4 Poles]

To Go? Van to Srikot base. Climb up to false Nag Tibba saddle. Climb to the real Nag Tibba peak. Descent from the top.

[More later -

To Go? Got up at 5, getting ready to leave at 5:30, discussing with Lindsay and Deej about my stomach illness and whether we should risk climbing Nag Tibba.  Decided to ask the driver if he could go tomorrow.  He said No, he could not, so we went on in the small van. Leaving Himalaya Castle (elevation 6695 feet) around 5:30

Van to Srikot base. Our main driver left us at Picture Palace and we went on with a driver and guide, in the dark, passed Kempty Falls, and down to the Aglar (we spied a pair of phasants just before reaching the river), where it was light.  (Aglar bridge is at 2313 feet elevantion) Then up the right side of the Jamuna gorge to Nainbagh, where we took the side road right or eastward, and up to Pantwari (4565 feet elevation) on much narrower and sometimes rough road.  Tea at Pantwari, with both Lindsay and I separately climbing the stairs to go into a house to their bathroom.  Picked up a second guide as we went on to Srikoti.

Climb up from Srikoti (5382 feet elevation) to false Nag Tibba saddle.  around 8:40 am, first past fields, then following a stream (Bantwari?) for another third of the way crossing it 5 times, and then a switch back path straight up another third, seeing a wood cutter bird (wood pecker) near the top.  Got the the saddle (8630 feet elevation) with two Forest Department gazebos, where we ate our lunch around 12:15.

Climb up to the real Nag Tibba. But we wanted to get to the very top, which took us another tortuous climb through trees and up a ride to the top, where there was a sacred platform (take your shoes off), a pile of rocks holding a while flag.  Four flags flew at the four platform corners.

We made it! Around 2:15 pm Pictures --

Nag Tibba's height is usually listed as 10,000 feet, but our GPS said 9925 feet elevation.

Descent from the top. Then the start down, with thighs (just above the knee) hurting badly.  Stop at the saddle for some pain pills and drinking more water, having an orange, around 3 pm. The path down was fine for the first 1/3rd through rhodadenra tree forest, broad path and not steep. But the next 2/3rds we real torture my upper front thigh hurting so bad I thought it would colapse and me with it with every step along a very rocky path all the way.  One had to walk carefully with each step to try to not slip and fall. At one point we stopped to see 5 women or girls picking peas, and I took some and ate the fresh peas. We then kept passing resting groups of villagers (all woemen except one man) carrying grass, sticks of wood, peas, etc who would run ahead, then rest, then run ahead again.

[See three inserts below, which are 3 email comments about the Nag Tibba climb.
Insert #1. Guides - Rest! Go!  And Girls - Come sit with me, honey!
Insert #2.  The bhut or Ghost, watch out!
Insert #3 Still treking.]

Around 6:00 we had to start using our flashlights the last 45 minutes.  Then tea and bathrooms at Pantwari, before the dark ride home, getting to our Hotel around 9:15 pm.

Deej and Dana had gone off to Stephen Alter's party at Oak Hill and thought they had left keys with Mr Vaish.  But he was away.  The rooms were all lit up, the electricity having gone off before the Ds had left, everything was still on.  Mr Vaish came in about 20 minutes and we got into our rooms and I fell in bed.  Deej arriving about 20 minutes later and we talked some and both fell asleep soon.]


[Insert #1. Guides - Rest! Go! 
Girls - Come sit with me, honey! From an email from me, 28 October 2010
.Joanne, The elevation of Nag Tiba is almost always stated as being 10,000 feet, but with the GPS device I took, it seems Nag Tiba is about 925 feet (maybe higher if you hold the GPS above your head and stand on the rock mound!)

More details are below, also Witch's hills height (the alumni office is at 6800, Sisters Bazaar at the top is around 7000).

Lindsay and my speed walking and exercising every day for about 2 months before going, helped.  But being in the lowlands we could not prepare our lungs or hemoglobin, nor reduce our age.  Still our preparedness helped a lot. My grandson, Mark, three years ago, did find and kept up with the local guides when we climbed NT then - he was 16 then. I did better this time than when I went with him 3 years ago.

The guides had three English words for Lindsay and me - Rest? Go. Move. They became less Rest? asking near the end, and much more Go! Move! - as darkness approached and we were still not down the hill all the way, and we needed to use flashlights for almost the last hour.  During that hour, 6 or 7 girls / women would run past us on the very rocky and difficult paths, carrying loads of hay or grass on their heads, and then rest after going 300 yards or so.  We kept passing each other. At one point, a resting, older woman (mother?) called out to me "buddh, aram lay jao" (Hey, old man, take a rest), while the younger girl, sweetly called out to me "ao, meri saat baito" (Why don't you come sit with me?).  Unfortunately, I had already stumbled past the seated, resting pair before I clearly heard and understood them - and I could not think of a retort soon enough either in my painful descent and delirium.  --Philip Mc

Heights --

* Nag Tibba climb on Sunday 25 October 2009
* Himalaya Castle at 6695 ft Leave at 5:30 am
* Aglar River at 2313 ft There at 6:44 am
* Pantwari at 4565 ft Tea at around 8 am
* Srikoti at 5382 ft Base to start trekking 8:32 am
* Nag Tibba “saddle” with two Forest gazebos at 8630 Lunch at 12:17 pm
* Nag Tibba peak at 9905 or 9925 ft Pictures at 2:29 pm Odometer 270
* Nag Tibba saddle at 8630 ft Rest 3:25 pm Od 271.8
* Pantwari at 4565 ft Around 6:40 tea again and depart
* HC at 6695 ft Odometer 324.66 on 25 Oct 2009 Arrive 9:45 pm

End of Insert #1 of 28Oct2010, or back to the blog]

[Insert #2.  The bhut or Ghost, watch out! From an email the 30th Oct 2010.
Edith, The main reason we had an ambition to conquer Nag Tibba was that Lindsay had a chance to do it with some girls her senior year, and she didn't accept the invitation.  I also wanted to go all the way to the top, because I had been up to the saddle which the local people call Nag Tibba, but which is about 2,000 feet below the summit, and where I and my grandson Mark had made it back in July 2007 and we also thought was the top or almost the top.  So both Lindsay and I wanted to go to the summit this year.

The younger woman did not mean it sisterly, but very, very seductively - but you must understand that the hill people around Mussoorie and back toward the snows have a fantastic sense of humor, which they greatly enjoy and practice, use all the time.  She said it partly to tease me, and partly meant it.  Our hill guides were also teasing Lindsay and me all the time - with their English words - Rest? Rest? Rest? or Move? Move? Go? Go?  They always did it with a teasing smile or smirk.  Another example? Early on Lindsay asked the guides to find her a stick or staff she could use on the climb up and the way down.  They also gave me one, but I left it at one of the Rests.  Later on the way down, I heard them in Hindi discussing, what are we going to do with that old man, he's lagging behind and we've got him to speed up to get down before dark.  I asked them for a second (actually third) stick on the way down, which they found a very good one for me about half way down in a village.  They then were laughing with each other - you know how or where we should use that stick to get that old man to hurry up?

At another point on the way down, one guide climbed up into a field by the road to join some 5-6 girls/women and one man, who were picking peas.  The second guide, climbed up on a ledge and peaked over into the field, to see what was happening and to get a handful of peas to give to Lindsay and me to eat fresh.  I decided I'd climb up on the ledge to peak at the activity.  As I appeared to the women, the same young girl (who later teased me to sit with her), warned her friends - watch out, the bhut (ghost) has appeared! - again a humorous jest.

--Philip Mc (just back in Delhi after our 2-day trip in Orcha) End of Insert #2, or go back to the blog]

[Insert #3 Still treking. 31 October 2010.
Gil, They still trek from Woodstock to Nag Tibba, going along Seokoli on Tehri road, then down to Magru and the Aglar, and then up either though Deosari or take a left fork going straight up a route to the summit.  I talked with a Casey Woodstock Office young (30 years old?) guy, who had done a lot of local trekking, first to ask about the route up Witch's hill as we looked out on it from the WS Office balcony, but then talked about Lindsay and my plan to assault Nag Tibba.  He said he took a group for 5 or 6 students on one of the holidays.  He says present day WS students are not at all interested in trekking, but these students reluctantly anyway.  They camped at the ponds below the summit which is about equal to the Saddle and Mandir (or temple).  He could not get any of the boys to go with him up to the summit, so he went up with another staff member. 

So, yes, they still do it the old way, from Woodstock, and climbing up the south face.

There's a blog at the WS alumni site you can look up which describes a 30 something attempting to do the old route walking in a day - which he did, but decided, since it was dark by the time he reached back to the Aglar, to 'cheat' and take a taxi back to the School.

Yes, its nice to know some Hindi and listen in to conversations, since most assume no USA persons knows the language.  I wish I knew it as well as Dick and other Woodstock alums.  --Philip Mc. End of Insert #3 or go back to the blog]

Modified much later after the October 2009 climb - on 17 March 2010, about 4.5 months later
Toes and feet.

Others have remarked about their experience also in climbing around Landour and Mussoorie, and especially coming down from Nag Tibba, the jarring of the toes in the shoes with each step downward.  I give photos of my feet -
the first of backened and discolored toe nails, taken about 10 days after the trek, on the 5th of November 2009 in Charlottesville.
The left foot's big toe and tall toes' nails fell off around mid-January. Other toes continue to be discolored.  The new toe nails which grew under the discolored ones on the left foot are are pretty ugly in themselves, even though whitish or yellowish.
The second photo is taken today, 17th March 2010 (4.5 months after the trek).
Enjoy, or turn away, or puke up.
Or as Iris H says "EEEeeeewwwwwww!!!!"

[Others = Steve W.  (Class of 1968) Nails falling off. from Facebook 16 March 2010. 
"I remember [? in the mid-1960s?] taking a good portion of a day getting to the Top of Nag Tiba from the Uglar. Mark B and I came down from there following the stream, what a mistake. I got blisters under my toe nails from jumping from rock to rock going down the mountain. We made it down in just a couple hours. We stayed down at the Uglar for a couple of days with the rest of our crew and then I had to hike back in sandals. Within a few weeks most of my toe nails fell off" End of Others insert]

Our Walking Poles. 
Early on the guides found walking poles for both of us.  Lindsay stuck with and kept her pole.  I lost or left the pole given to me twice.  But the third pole was really a great one.
How to take it home to the States, pack it? Dana decided to saw Lindsay's in half and pack it.  I thought I could carry it through with me on the plane like a ski pole.  Wrong.  The New Delhi airport or Continental people as we departed, examined the pole, took it back and seemed to have discussed it for about 45 minutes, and then went back to discuss it after they first told me no.  They came back - definitely no.  So, I lost that round.  I should have done like Dana, sawed it and packed it.  I don't know if Dana has put Lindsay's pole back together, or if they had any problem about it.


vyg said...

where there is will there is a way
you were brave and amazing
the challenge was there and you solved it in your own way. bravo

Elizabeth said...

Bravo and Buck Up. But I just have to say that from Sirkoti to the top is only like 1/4 of the hike. Just sayin'. I know. How small=minded of me. You are 68. And I wouldn't attempt to do even that.


Philip said...

Thanks vyg.

You are right Liz. But you might also realize we were exhausted by our 3/4ths climb to the Saddle, and the last 1/4th was straight, straight up along a steep ridge to the summit. We took it one slow plodding step at a time.

Rachna GL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna GL said...

Hello Philip, thanks for the blog, really useful. We are looking to take the route from Devalsari to Nag Tibba, in just over a week! We'll camp overnight (at an as yet unknown place). Wondering how to find a guide, particularly one who is willing to camp or find station at a mountain village, what would you suggest is the best place to look, in Devalsari or in Mussoorie itself, and whereabouts? Any advice greatly appreciated.