Monday, November 16, 2015

A chimney climb on the East face of Northern flank of Anjaneri massif

A beautiful virgin chimney climb that team Bhramanti did on the Diwali weekend, Nov 12 through Nov 14, 2015.

Please note: All photos included in this post are courtesy of Sankalp C.

Location / Base
From the forest department outpost near the base of Anjaneri massif where a flight of stairs lead up the fort, walk further South for 10 minutes. You can see two cracks on the wall overlooking the Anjaneri village. The first crack looks broken and chossy and of an easy gradient / easy scramble. Further to its South on the same cliff line the second crack / chimney is the one we attempted.

Second chimney from the right on the East face of Anjaneri's Northern flank

After a 10 minute walk from the forest department outpost, you will be standing straight below the said chimney. The approach to the base of the chimney is a mix of 3rd and 4th class scramble over some scree and loose rocks for approximately 150 feet – It is wise to rope up as a fall here could be bad. The last 25 feet of traverse towards the base of the chimney is exposed and I recommend to place a pro before making the move. I placed a BD #1 cam in this section. At the base of the chimney, there is a tree that would serve as a good anchor.

The chimney

The climb is a two pitch climb and both the pitches can be easily done with a 60m rope. A 50m may be good enough too, but may be a rope stretcher on the first pitch.

Pitch one
The first pitch is approximately 160 feet (with a 70m rope one can comfortably add up another 25 feet to find a good ledge). There are plenty of possibilities along the way to build a good anchor station. I nearly ran out the length of the 60m rope to find a good ledge. 

The first pitch is mostly a 5.5 climb with a couple of 5.7 moves thrown in the mix. The rock quality is better than the Sahyadri average, except for a few, which can be easily avoided. 

The start at the base of the chimney can was wet and hence I started the first 10-15 feet on the face to the right and then traversed left into the chimney. If you decide to do the face, please note that the face moves cannot be protected and it is a no fall zone or else you are sure to hit the ledge. The face moves go at around 5.8

The first 20 feet of face climb (unprotected) to avoid the wet patch near the base of the chimney

Once into the chimney, the climb is pretty straight forward over a couple of ledges for approximately 130 feet. I placed three protection for the first pitch. The first belay ledge takes anything from a BD #2 onwards up to #5. Large tricams may be handy here. I used a BD#5 and a BD #2 to build an anchor. My belayer appended it with a large tricam as the third point for additional safety as I lead the second pitch.

Myself leading on pitch one: Looking for a placement

Kaivalya wriggling through the chimney on pitch one

Pitch two
Pitch 2 is the money pitch of this climb. The second pitch starts as a wide chimney that narrows into an off-width above. The outer end of this chimney is too wide for straddling & bridging, unless you are a super-flexible gymnast! Also, owing to its super wide nature, it is difficult to protect near the base. So, I climbed the arete of the outer wall making up the chimney (some loose rocks attributable to constant wind erosion on the outer edge of this chimney) for about 20 feet. At around 20 feet I found a small horizontal crack that gobbled up a BD #.75 cam to my relief. Up till this point on the second pitch, the moves are unprotected, so a fall means certain decking. Once the chimney narrowed to my comfort levels, I moved into the chimney and bridged my way up for another 25 feet. Again, these moves are unprotected as the chimney is too wide to take anything.

Kaivalya following like a champ on pitch one

At around 25 feet above the previous protection, I managed to place a Big Bro #4 – it was a bomber placement and a confidence booster.

The chimney narrows and tapers rapidly above this point – too narrow to even wriggle through. A seconding climber with a backpack cannot surely fit in. I barely managed to wriggle through with a lot of scraping. I contemplated moving out on the face to bypass the narrow section, but the strong winds combined with loose rocks and scarce protection made me discard that thought. So I continued up in the chimney.

Near the end of this chimney, there is a chockstone that blocks the way. This chockstone is covered with scree on top and hence any attempt to grab the chockstone to look for good hold is wasted. However, this chockstone is firm and safe to protect with a 120 cm long sling. On the right side of the chockstone there is a decent crimp to pull oneself over the chockstone bulging out overhead. This move – exiting the chimney and pulling over the chockstone bulging overhead – I think is a 5.9 move and the crux of the route. The exposure is magnificent while doing this maneuver. Once over the top of the chockstone, a short 3rd class scramble of around 15 feet takes you to the summit. A solitary tree serves as a good anchor. There is one more tree a few feet higher on the left, however the cactus shrubs around it precludes its use as a good anchor. 

Walk off towards the North end of the Anjaneri massif and descend over a flight of stairs to the base in around 45 minutes.

Quick stats
  • Route: 250 feet chimney, 2 pitch climb on the East face of the Northern flank of Anjaneri massif
    • First pitch goes at 160 feet 5.7 
    • Second pitch a 100 feet at 5.8/5.9
  • Best time to climb: Being on an East face, the chimney is in almost always in the shade any time after noon.
  • Protection – 
    • Singles of BD #.75, #4 and #5; double up on BD #1, #2 and #3
    • Single pieces of  #4 and #5 Big bros 
    • 8 single length alpine quick draws; 4 double length alpine quick draws
    • 2 double length slings for slinging chockstones enroute
    • Anchor building gear – Long slings, locking carabiners, etc. etc. You know the drill!
  • 60m rope comfortably covers both the pitches
  • Rock quality: Above average in first pitch and very good in second pitch as long as you stay in the chimney.
  • Time required – 2 hours from the base of the chimney to the summit.
  • Style: The entire route is free and clean: no aid, no fixed pro and no bolts.

A climber's paraphernalia

The chimney climb we successfully completed.

Team Bhramanti
  • Kaivalya Varma
  • Pravin Dabholkar
  • Komal Gupta
  • Sajid C.
  • Santosh Nigade
  • Prashant Sawant
  • Dhiraj B.
  • Sankalp C.
  • Rohan Rao

Please note that all the description about the route, protection, gear placements and anchor conditions are my personal experiences during my lead on 12th November 2015. The route conditions are subject to change and hence always use your own discretion to judge your comfort levels while attempting the route – Rohan R. Rao.