Thursday, 19 February 2015

[Climbing] The 350 ft. Duke's Nose Pinnacle

Dukes Nose ((नागफणी) Upper 350 ft. Rock wall climbing
Pune (India)
Date: 14th and 15th February, 2015

Fakta Ladh Mhana from Deovrat Phal on Vimeo.

Dukes Nose pinnacle was my first rock-climbing in the Sahyadri range and thanks to Arun Sawant sir, I got a chance to be a part of the team who climbed the 350 ft. tall upper part of the pinnacle. I had been practicing on artificial wall at Goregaon, Shivaji Park and sometimes on boulders at Mumbra. But nothing could be compared with the huge 800 ft. cliff of Dukes nose aka (नागफणी) and upper 350 ft. climbing. The climb at Dukes has taught a lot of things. Its like, you have learnt so much, yet a lots need to be learnt. I know the theory of rock-climbing, I know how to tie knots, I know how to use a rope. But what Dukes nose taught me was more practical and cannot be learnt in  a classroom (artificial wall). The Dukes climb has given me an "experience" to savor.

Not to mention the lessons taught by Pramod Chavhan and Anjali Parab, both instructors at Arun Samant Climbing wall at Goregaon. The climbing would not have been possible without their motivation, at Goregaon wall as well as while climbing. Anjali tai was the lead climber and Neha belayed her. Suraj Malusare, another excellent climber, followed her. First day was spent to setup the rope and pre-arrangement for next days climb.

The fact worth noting was that five, 11 year old kids from Nandadeep Vidyalay from Goregaon also successfully climbed this pinnacle and gave a stunning message to the climbing community that even they shouldn't be left behind. Given proper training, guidance and motivation, even small kids can climb heights. Checkout the training video from our Rock-climbing practice at Manori. The only thing that annoyed me was that they had to share their PA shoes among themselves. They are currently taking the climbing lessons from Anjali Ma'am and Pramod Chavan sir. The kids are lucky to have the Arun Samant climbing wall in their school premises and the can use it without any membership fees. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Trek to Prabalgad & Kalavantin

Date: 7th Feb. 2015
Per head cost 214 Rs.
Completed this trek in one day, starting from Panvel at 8.00 AM.

Kalavantin as seen while climbing Prabalgad
The Start:
The state transport bus was running late by 30 minutes, a bad start I must say. We started the trek at 9.00 AM sharp from the lord Hanuman (हनुमान) temple. The previous visit to Kalavantin durg  (कलावंतीण दुर्ग)  from Thakurwadi (ठाकुरवाडी) village had simplified a few things for us. This time we took several shorter routes to the otherwise long and  zigzag route till Prabal Machi (प्रबळ माची) and reached the plateau at 10.00 AM. Many trekkers and picnickers prefer to stay at Prabal Machi to visit the duo. But our plan was to complete the two treks in a single day.

Trek to Prabalgad:
We entered the village and exited from the extreme right, crossing the first few electric poles, parallel to Prabalgad (प्रबळगड). Our plan was to enter the fort from the V-shaped gully, also known as Bail Shingi chi vaat (बैल शिंगाची वाट). Most of the route to Prabalgad is covered by the forest and hence offers quite a 'cozy' climb. The gully is made up of several boulders- both loose rocks and scree at few places. The steep, rock-solid stone on both the sides tapers towards the main entrance of the fort. Although the main entrance (महा दरवाझा) lies in a dilapidated condition, we still can visualize how it could be back then. This whole route reminded me of the climb to Hargad (हरगड) fort (the one from Baglan region).

Once we reached the top an old, rusted iron board welcomes us. It has the detailed description of all the worth-visiting places on Prabalgad. The route bifurcates from here to North and South directions. the left one goes to the edge from where we can see the Kalavantin pinnacle, and the right one goes up to the Kala Buruj (काळा बुरूज).

Exploring Prabalgad:
We started off to the Kala Buruj point. Well, the top is mostly a forest patch. A dense one, I would say. Akin to Matheran. I read it somewhere that Prabalgad was first on the list of government to develop as a tourist destination. But several factors, like lack of perennial water source on the top, accounted for the failure of the plan. But that is what kept Pabal, untouched from the evil forces of Tourism Industry.

On the way to Kala Buruj
Almost there....
That's the Kala Buruj !!

Plateau of Prabalgad is no doubt huge. But Matheran is even bigger. Water at Prabalgad is available at both the ends (N/S). There are two water cisterns dug out into the solid-rock foundation at the southern end. Other water sources are hidden inside the thicket of trees and it is possible to access them with the help of a local guy. We could see Matheran, Manikgad, Irshalgad, Morbe dam, Mountain of SondaiPeb fort from the southern tip. It was 12.00 Noon. We had light snacks under tree shade and proceeded to the Kalavantin view point (north tip).

Morbe Dam Backwater

We reached there in one hour (at 1.00 PM). Even here there are two water cisterns (hidden inside trees). From this tip we can sight the Chanderi fort, Mahismaal, ShriMalangad, Ganesh-Kartik pinnacles and Kalavantin (right in front).

Kalavantin as seen from Prabalgad.

Me !!
Prabalgad to Kalavantin:

On the way..

We descended through the V-gully and took the traverse till the Kalavantin-Prabalgad col or khind (खिंड). The less trotted route was hardly a foot wide. We could see several honey combs aigned on the overhang cliff of Prabalgad. The trail was broken at several places and was sometimes covered by the boulders. We reached the col at 2.30 PM, rested for ten minutes, an again started the climb for Kalavantin. The final rock patch seemed easy this time.

Rest time...
We earned it...
At Kalavantin top

We met a trio near the rock patch. They couldn't find the way to reach the top and were waiting for us (They happened to spot us from the top, traversing the Prabalgad). We showed them the route and they followed us to the top. Woohoo !!! We reached the top at 3.00 PM. We had successfully carried out our plan.

Climbing down
Trek almost done now...
End journey:
It was a time to relax now. Well, we had covered up a long distance while walking continuously, without taking short breaks in between (except for the snack time). So we decided to spend a few moments here, experiencing the tranquility of the mountains. We were all alone on the top with nobody to disturb us. It was fun, just staring at the vast Sahyadri tops, watching the golden eagle glide across the valley and tweeting swallows making sharp turns while in flight.

The trek as now almost finished with all the goals achieved for the day. We reached the Prabal Machi  at 4.15 PM. Everyone was hungry. We didn't had a proper lunch for the day, and it was our lunchtime now (yes at 4.15 PM). With a heavy lunch, lemonade and tea it was time to move on. It was almost sunset now (at 6.00 PM).

We reached the Thakurwdi (ठाकुरवाड़ी) village at 7.15 PM and decided to rest at the lord Hanuman temple, and it seemed legit since it was saturday (शनिवार). Our ride to Panvel arrived at 8.08 PM, just in time for us to catch the 9.14 PM CST local train from Panvel station.

Group: Aaditya Gurav, Manoj Patil, Ninad Vilankar, Tarun Kaushik, Yamuna (my sis) and me.