Day 5 Truncoil to Gangabal Lake and Haramukh Army Camp

The Big One

We left our chilly but sunny camp in Truncoil at 9.30am after a nice breakfast and a wash in the ice. Basically a strip off, pour water and soap over head and scrub with the ice and snow. You feel great after it. The trek took us along the valley through some small pockets of snow to a river crossing. We hopped across the rocks and a gradual climb along a muddy hill, just showing the signs of growth, brought us to a ridgeline where we could see the snowy valley ahead. The new growth and feeling of spring in the air with alpine flowers beginning to bloom and ice melt all around gave a great feeling of nature to the area.

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Start of the hike to Gangabal Lake.

The views got better and better as the day went on and so did the hiking. Hiking through the snow, occasionally falling in a deep patch up to your hips and some tricky ridges and balancing acts meant it was tiring work. As we reached our first ridge before entering an area totally snowed in we bumped into some guys trekking with the Indian army. A seriously fit bunch carrying over twenty kilos of gear from their camp above Gangabal Lake to Naranag

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Myself, Emma and Indian army with Haramukh peak in the background.

What more can I say about the next few hours trekking except that it was the most amazing trekking I have ever experienced. The views can only be told in a few photos and even these do little to show the vast expanses of snow and mountain peaks in the area.

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We continued hiking in over twenty degrees for the next few hours. Just before reaching Gangabal lake, which had just started to melt, we had to cross a river. This was great fun with a homemade ladder and ropes as our aid.

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Another twenty minutes and we reached the lake and the views of Haramukh Mountain. A quick stop for photos and we made our way around the lake for a few kilometres to the army camp. We walked straight in past all the guns and were greeted, mostly well, by the guys on site. The camp doctor came over to chat while they cooked us lunch and we sat on the roof of one of the huts taking in the view. They explained how this was base camp for summit attempts of Haramukh. The army had some successful attempts in recent times, however,
Haramukh is feared by the locals and never summited by them. It also falls in the top five most dangerous climbs in the world ahead of Everest according to the army doctor. The mountain peaks at around 5200 metres with base camp above 4000 metres.

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Myself, Emma and Haramukh!

The return hike took around three hours with the legs getting a little heavy towards the end. We met lots of locals carrying supplies up to the army camp. Duble the distance of our trek with 20kg on their backs both ways. Now that is fitness. This you have to be born to do.

This trek of over seven hours would be the toughest and most amazing day of the entire trip. Sometimes words are useless to explain the beauty of a place like this one. All I can say is go trekking in Kashmir.

 

 

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All Alone

There are times when we all like to be alone, however, this tends to happen quite alot when putting the hours in for adventure racing. With an unusual work schedule and everyone working and living busy lives we have to make the most of our free time. In saying this I spent six hours in the wilderness yesterday, not a very long time, but long enough to think alot. These sessions can be great for focusing the mind on both training, goals and everything in life really. It is not for everyone but for those of you out there who like to rough it, you have to give this a go.  One thing is for sure, there is an adventure playground only an hour from everyone living in Galway and it is going almost unnoticed. There are a few people out there, but apart from my mountain bike section yesterday, I never saw a soul.

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I set off by water from the Gleann shore just North West of Oughterard. A steady 6km paddle brought me to the Boardwalk at the Failmore River on the Western Way. The lake was calm and the cloud was low over the hills, making it almost eery. I decided this session would be more about putting the time in than speed, as most sessions will be this year, but in saying that I need to strenghthen in certain areas so will push harder at some points. Yesterday I decided to give the kayaking a good bash and enjoy the trek and the biking sections a little more.

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The end of the hiking section. I hiked at a good pace from my kayak to Corkog Mountain.A round trip of 14km. If you look closely at the left hand side of the photograph you will see a track in the forest where the Western Way boradwalk and my route back to kayak can be found. The majority of the hike was on boardwalk, with a very tricky and slippy ascent and descent of Corkog. I decided not to summit as the cloud was extremely low and being alone it would be a bad move to start exploring up there.

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No I didn’t kayak this piece, but it was one of the nice sights along the trekking stage. Real wilderness.

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This is an unusual sight in Connemara. Yes it is dry, but also having the support of a boardwalk while trekking over the bogs of Connemara is a strange but nice change to my usual routes. This was just before I hopped back into kayak to head back to the bike. I didn’t take any pictures of the biking stage but my mind was too concentrated on not crashing and taking on the hills to take out my phone.

My base for the day was right beside a back entrance to a great mountain biking trail called Derroura Woods. http://www.derrouramountainbikehire.com/trail.htm

This trail was a fitting end to the session, with some technical biking and some good hill climbs mixed in. There is no doubt this course is going to be a regular training ground this summer so anyone in the area feel free to get in touch and Il lead the way into this great wilderness. Camping trips are definately an option up here too, both on the islands and up the mountains.

For the real AR enthusiasts out there I presume ye are following Godzone at the moment. If so keep a keen eye on Team Sneaky Weasel Gang. Our Teammate for ITERA, Byron Munro, is on the team and they are going well. Good luck Byron and your team.

http://godzoneadventure.com/

 

A Mountain in Leinster

Yes, you guessed it, it is Mount Leinster. Possibly the most original name for a mountain you will ever find.

It was really nice to venture further for the weekend just passed. We spent the weekend with some great friends in Wexford and I managed to summit Mount Leinster twice on Saturday to add in a little training while away. As you can see above the terrain is nasty with ferns, rock, bog, and almost everything thrown into one climb. The fact that there is a road to the summit on the far side means it is not really a mountain used for trekking. This made our adventure all the more exciting, well for my kind of adventuring anyhow.

The first section to the foot of the summit was runnable. In order to summit there was a very tricky steep section. As the ravens circled overhead, I got an eery feeling that they were more like vultures waiting for me to fall into a bog hole and become food for their afternoon. It was windy and cold on the top so I decided why not run along the ridge and make my way back down to tackle the mountain again. Luckily at this point I met Emma and my friends coming up and they had refreshments and water to help me. I was fully unprepared. I set off refueled back up the mountain and towards a second peak before making my way back down again.

The gang ready for off, and thanks to Declan for the great photos.

After 3 hours on the mountain I came down to heat up in the car. The descent was tough with awful ground underfoot and one or two little tumbles slowed me down. I decided best be careful with Sea to Summit only weeks away.

The past few weeks training have been good with lots of watt biking done and a few good runs in castlehackett in the mornings. I will attach the latest stats for those interested and hopefully the winter months will give me more blogging time.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/calendar