A virgin Waterfall climb in Malshej Range_29-30-31 March, 2013

One more chapter wrote in “Unknown Sahyadri Exploration” initiative that means it has to be ‘hatke’! J
Indeed it was ‘hatke’ since, it was not just a climb of the known route or something. It was a virgin wall climb J
Yeah! You read it correct. We successfully climbed 3 virgin patches of 100 feet, 50 feet & 250 feet respectively in Malshej Range on 3 consecutive days on 29-30-31 March, 2013. 
I call it as “a great closing of the financial Year.”  
Let me quickly give a background of this place. This place is located in Malshej Ghat range, one of the beautiful places in Sahyadris (specially in monsoon). This location was found out by Arun Sir when he was exploring Sahyadri ranges in 1987-88. One fine day he reached this place with few of his friends and after exploring, they found out this magnificent Waterfall with 5 stages in it.
Later Arun Sir did a rappelling with his friends from very 1st fall can be seen in above picture till the end covering total distance of 1250 feet. In descending order this patches are of;
1stfall: 350 feet
2ndfall: 300 feet and has a small water pond under which you can go and enjoy the waterfall from its background.
3rdfall: 200 feet and a small pond again.
4thfall: 250 and the fall has created a medium size circular water pond which has a depth of more than 20-25 feet yet, we are not able to touch the ground there.
5thfall: This last patch use to be approx 125-150 feet but, in 2001 monsoon, due to heavy landslide now it has remained with only 60 feet.
From 1989, Arun Sir conducted Malshej Waterfall Rappelling camp here and which is a huge success till date. Every year approx 100-125 people participate and enjoy it thoroughly.
Since, it’s inception it has remained a dream for Arun Sir to climb this Waterfall. 
One fine day, I got a call from Arun Sir about this expedition. He explained me what exactly we are planning to do in this Expedition. As usual a big question mark in front of me since I am a newbie to climbing world and it would be virgin climb. Just last week I did with TelBaila climb, so I was kind of confident and I said, “Yes!” 
Arun Sir replied,”Alright! Be ready on Thursday i.e. 28th March, 2013 around 22.00 hrs I will pick you up from Thane.” 
We were a team of 8 people;
Group Leader: 1. Arun Sawant Sir (Lead Climber & Instructor)
Team Members: 2. Suraj Malusare (Lead climber)
             3. Parag Yeole (Support)
             4. Vinod Jadhav
             5. Mayuresh Sathe
             6. Akash Bhoir
             7. Bhushan Gurav
             8. Shrinivas Gokhale
We started on Thursday evening from Thane by Arun Sir’s car (Arun Sir, Mayuresh, Suraj & I) and rest 4 of them will be coming on 2 Bikes. We reached Thitabi village i.e our base village at Malshej Ghat’s base and camped at Sabale Mama’s front yard.
Coordinates at Thitabi Village: N 19 21.050, E 073 45.950
Day 1: Thursday, 29th March, 2013
Wake up call at 06.00 hrs
We winded up quickly, had a black tea and moved towards our destination. After on and off walk through moraines in the dry river bed, we came across several Water ponds and we reached a junction from where we will take a right turn and ascend a mountain. We decided to have breakfast and tea. Arun Sir quickly set the fire made Tea and later we prepared a special cuisine by mixing all the sabjis that everyone brought from their home and prepared our own “Mix Vegetable!” J


By the time we winded up it was 09.30 hrs. You never know what will come in Arun Sir’s mind. After breakfast he pointed out a peak and said today we are going to explore this new route and if possible we will climb and reach the pinnacle or take the traverse from there and reach our waterfall. We kept ascending on that small ridge through steep scree. At one point Arun Sir said, “Let’s hide our sacks here. Just carry our Lunch and few water bottles. On the way back we will pick up the sacks.” We chose the place and arranged our sacks. We decided to make that untraceable so that monkeys won’t take a look at it 
Coordinates at our Hide out were: N 19 21.411, E 073 47.187
By the time we are done with our job it was 09.52 hrs. We maintained our course in the same direction. We reached the last patch of the scree which doesn’t have any bushes or rocks to take a hold upon and both the sides there was a sheer drop of minimum 1500 feet. Suraj made some steps by digging up with his small spade but, did help us and one by one we reached safely at the base of that wall. This wall was of 100 feet and was full of loose rocks. It was 10.35 hrs by the time we reached there. 
Coordinates: N 19 21.397, E 073 47.315
Arun Sir fixed up the Piton and our belay point was created in one of the cracks. Suraj led that climb with the help of Arun Sir’s expertise. He went up in approx 30-35 minutes and anchored the rope with the tree on the top of the peak. As I have mentioned, the patch was full of loose rocks. Parag & I were down and small rocks kept falling on our head but, we wore safety helmets hence saved. 
N.B. – Specially, in Maharashtra, you will come across this loose rock and scree structure most pf the places. The rock is not that firm like that we find in Karnataka or down south and that makes the climbs in Maharashtra challenging. I really salute to all the Climbing Groups who even attempt or attempt & succeed in such Climbing Expedition. It is a really a risky stuff.
Arun Sir also went ahead and sent Suraj down to take off the Piton and Sling. Now we had 2 ropes i.e. 1 was for top belay which is attached to the climber’s harness and one to pull and climb. One by one we all climbed. By 14.00 hrs we were all up and decided to have quick lunch that we brought with us. We Had special Mixed vegetable with Chapati, Pickle and Jam. Due to heat we were kind of drained. 
Coordinates: N 19 21.395, E 73 47.323  
Post lunch we continued ascending the ridge through another steep scree patch and through Karvi bushes. But, it was futile effort and we didn’t have time to take that long shot. 
Coordinates: N 19 21.397 E 73 47.363
We decided to go back and rappel down 100 feet wall. Again, descended the scary scree patch and came down where our sacks were kept hidden and reached back to base and decided to camp on the bank of the river Kalu. We decided to take a ‘doobaki’ in water and relieve ourselves from today’s fatigue. We spent a good hour in water and came back all fresh. We helped Arun Sir in cooking dinner. Arun sir is a good cook. He made Rice and Daal. After dinner we called it a day around 21.30 hrs. I slept around 00.00 hrs as I was observing fully lit up sky for a while and listening to Classical Music.
N.B. Those who are using Android Phones and are interested in Sky Observation, there is wonderful App named as ‘Google Sky’. This App allows you to view celestial objects, including stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth’s moon, etc
Day 2: Saturday, 30th March, 2013
Wake up call at 06.00 hrs.Aim was to climb 2 virgin Waterfall routes i.e. 50 feet and 250 feet respectively which was a main aim of this Expedition. We quickly finished our morning parade, in the mean time Arun Sir made delicious Pohe & strong tea for breakfast. We hogged on it. We winded up everything and were good to go by  After that Arun Sir took a quick session on “How to tie knots?” which was very informative for a newbie like me. Arun Sir demonstrated about all basic knots and their usage, etc and did say that you have to practice it and should be able to do it blindly. And that’s the real challenge! 
Again we stared walking through moraines of Kalu river. This whole route is very picturesque specially in monsoon and you can see so many waterfalls around you and complete greenery. Find the snaps below taken in the Monsoon and on 30th March, 2013
We started from base to our destination at 08.30 hrs filled our water bottles on the way and within next 45 minutes of walking through moraines we reached 1stWaterfall patch at 09.20 hrs from down and from top it is 5th and last patch. This patch use to be 100-120 feet approximately but, there was a huge land slide seemed to happen few years back and huge boulders filled the valley. Now, we have only 50-60 feet patch with us which is again full of loose rocks. 
Coordinates: N 19 21.469, E 73 47.397
Arun Sir demonstrated how to fix up a Piton and a Chocknut in the rock cracks. That can be seen in collage below; 
To the readers who are new to climbing, I would like to pause here to explain which basic or advance equipment are used here;
Suraj was our lead climber and Vinod was a Belayer. He started his climb at 10.00 hrs. . He threw several  loose rocks down so that for us it won’t be a risky game. He reached top in approx 15 min and tied up the rope to a huge rock. In the mean time Sabale Mama from Thitabi came with Bhakari & local fish. 2nd man was Arun Sir who quickly climbed and reached top and anchored other ropes as well for sacks.
Subsequently, we all climbed the patch, We decided to pull up the sacks to make our climb quick and easy. Parag & I were the last to climb and we facilitated the sack’s logistics. Everyone was up by 13.00 hrs. 
Coordinates: N19 21.469 E73 47.397
When I reached top, I was awestruck with what I saw. A huge rock wall on the left hand side next to that was Waterfall route which we will be climbing and below there was a sparkling fresh water pond. Frankly speaking I cannot explain how I felt that point of time. What a place.. wondering how this place will look in monsoon… Noo need to say anything… 🙂
I am water freak so without wasting time, I literally threw my bag and clothes and dived into the water and spent a good half an hour. Water is so healing. I believe there is no other medicine as good as Water that acts as a best stress / fatigue reliever. I always enjoy water. Later, Akash & Vinod joined me. Everyone feasted on Bhakari (Roti made of rice flour) and local sweet water fish (Jawala) that Sabale Mama bought and I being a vegetarian, have to eat Bhakari with Jam and ketchup L. Post lunch, Akash & Vinod rappelled down and left for Mumbai since, they had to report on duty next day. 
Now, 6 of us remained to be the witness of one more feather in a cap of “Unknown Sahyadri Exploration” initiative i.e. a virgin Waterfall climb. By 14.30 hrs, we gathered our equipments like rope, carabineers, descenders, pitons (angel/straight/bong), chocknuts, harness, hammers, friends, etc. Arun Sir decided to use Grigri as a belay device. He explained how Grigri works but, somehow I find regular Descenders as a simple Belay device.
Suraj led the climb again and I was belaying him. It was damn hot we were literally burning in the heat. Sun was exactly in front of us and will be in the same direction for next 2-3 hrs till it sets for the day. Suraj was wearing his sports climbing shoes but, rock was so freaking hot that he had to remove his shoes and wear Arun Sir’s shoes which are designed for natural climbing and are breathable. He reached in the crack by 15.30 hrs and fixed up the Piton and Chocknut and created a safe belay point. It is always safe to set Belay point on 2 holds. He climbed approx 150 feet. Now, Arun Sir was the 2nd man. He wore Suraj’s shoes. But, again the same problem. He removed his shoes within few minutes and asked Suraj to send his own shoes. He actually poured 1 ltr of water on his feet. It’s like his shoes were burning from inside. Arun Sir removed shoes and wore his breathable shoes and reached where Suraj has anchored himself. He reached there in 15-20 minutes. They took a halt had water and Tang.
Now, the idea was to climb a traverse and reach the crack between waterfall’s wall and the patch where he stared climbing. Suraj led the climb again. It was damn hot we were literally burning in the heat. Sun was exactly in front of us and will be in the same direction for next 2-3 hrs till it sets for the day. Suraj was wearing his sports climbing shoes but, rock was so freaking hot that he had to remove his shoes and wear Arun Sir’s shoes which are designed for natural climbing and are breathable. He reached in the crack by 15.30 hrs and fixed up the Piton and Chocknut and created a safe belay point. It is always safe to set Belay point on 2 points. He climbed approx 150 feet and now belaying Arun Sir from top. 
Arun Sir stared his climb by 16.00 hrs. He was wearing Suraj’s Sports climbing shoes. But, again the same problem. He felt as if shoes were burning from inside. He actually poured 1 ltr of water on his feet but, no relief. He removed his shoes and asked Suraj to send his own breathable shoes within 10 minutes he reached where Suraj has anchored himself. He reached at anchoring point in less than 10 minutes. They took a halt had Tang mixed water and rejuvenated themselves.
From her on, Arun Sir himself will lead the climb and Suraj will give him bealy sitting in the crack. Arun Sir has to climb approx 50 feet and reach a ledge, again climb for 20 feet and reach a small ledge and then last 30 feet and then he will reach summit. At the age of 55, he was damn good. Arun Sir started. One can simply make out a difference between a new climber and an experienced climber. There is a grace involved in every move that experienced climber takes. It was a flawless. 
I always wonder how he has maintained his stamina and that energy…. When I asked him his answer was very simple. He said, “It’s all mind game course you have to be physically fit for such activities and that can be achieved only if you do it religiously. You have control over your food intake. How much you are eating is not important but, what you are eating is important!” – Simple funda J
And the Summit at 17.20 hrs 
After that, Suraj removed the Piton & Chocknut from the crack and started his climb and he too reached summit in next 20 minutes. Arun Sir and Suraj tied the ropes to the tree and rock so that next day we all can climb up and later rappel down quickly. 
By the time Arun Sir & Suraj rappelled down, I made a quick fire and began to make preparation for dinner. Both of them rappelled down and came to base by 19.00 hrs. We made Curd (Dahi) the day before and kept it in bottle. I smashed Dahi and made proper liquid form which is required for Kadhi. Arun sir made a delicious Kadhi & Rice. I baked Papad for all of us an we literally feasted upon it. 
After dinner, we washed our vessels and slither into our sleeping bags. It was hot that night, Even rock was warm and rare breeze since; we were located at the dead end of the valley. As usual I played Malkauns Raag on my Cell phone. After some time we started talking about classical music and many other things. Finally, by 23.30 hrs we decided to actually call it a day and I slithered in my sleeping bag. Tomorrow will be a big day for all of us.
Day 3: 31stMarch, 2013, Sunday
Wake up call 05.00 hrs. Quickly done with our morning parade and had a tea. By 06.45 hrs we were ready to climb and took our positions with all the accessories and required stuff like water & some quick food. The plan was Suraj will climb and reach 1st point from where he will give top belay to us. On the other hand Arun Sir decided to use Asender i.e. Jumar with the help of which he literally reached at the ledge above the anchoring point / belay point in less than 10 minutes. Now, Arun Sir will do Photography. In the mean time, Suraj reached 1st junction i.e. crack / Belay point and one by one we all followed him there and climbed up till the ledge which was 20 feet above the crack. Last Man was Parag who reached at 08.30 hrs. Everyone was sitting comfortably on the ledge now except Suraj who was still standing in the crack. 
Climb on…..
Mayuresh & Shrinivas climbing & Suraj belaying the climbers
Settled on the on Ledge after the crack_ Coordinates N 19 21.503 E 73 47.428

After a rest for a while, we started our climb again for last 50 feet. by 09.15 we were all on top. Only man ledt was Suraj who reached in next 10 minutes. 
We all successfully climbed a virgin Waterfall patch of 250 feet. Being at such point or any pinnacle is beyond expression to me at least. No matter how nicely I put it, how nicely we talk about it, even pictures cannot express that moment. One has to be there and feel it. 
Coordinates: N 19 21.495 E 73 47.429
We took a stroll around just to check the place and after 15-20 minutes we came back I have carried Mawa Cakes with me to celebrate our success here.


We spent another half an hour there on top and decided to rappel down and pack up the sacks. 
Everyone was down by 11.30 hrs along with the ropes. We decided to have lunch, so Arun Sir quickly made Aloo ki sabji with Tadaka rice & Puran poli. We finished our lunch quickly and rappelled down last patch of 50 feet. By 13.20 hrs everyone was down. Now, it’s walk of an hour or so and we will reach Thitabi village. On the way back we made Limbu Sarbat i.e. Lemon Syrup drink and the quantity was approx 5 ltrs. Everyone of us had minimum 700 ml each.
Climbing is one of the challenging and risky sports activity and it is mandatory to take a proper guidance from an expert since, there are many intricacies involved in both i.e. rock climbing and rappelling. Always use better equipments, do regular exercise, maintain proper food diet. 
Last but, not least, I would like to thank Arun Sir for giving an opportunity to a novice like me. I would like to thank all my Team members who made this Expedition memorable. 
The team From Left: 1. Parag Yeole, 2. Vinod Jadhav, 3. Mayuresh Sathe, 4. Suraj Malusare, 5. Shrinivas Gokhale, 6, Arun Sawant Sir, 7. Bhushan Gurav & 8. Akash Bhoir
Shrinivas Gokhale
10th April, 2013, 02.00 hrs, Thane



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