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Bangalore Climbing trip December 2017: Part 2

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Lone Ranger · · Mumbai Suburban · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1,514

Day 6: Sport climbing with Dhiru and Ruthu (12 year old niece)
Dhiru, my younger bro and first hiking/outdoors partner since we were smal kids, is never motivated to climb on his own, but is happy to come along whenever I am in Bangalore. We climbed a couple of routes at Gethnaa Rock and I took the opportunity to work NTR 7a on TR. I gave it multiple full-on efforts, but the battle with this one is still far from over. Need to go with someone who can do / has done it and learn the moves.

This is the only pic I have seen of someone climbing it: Aby Iyer 2016; pic courtesy Rahul Thomas

Ruthu started leading easy routes (4c ish) on this trip. The girl has a solid head for heights

Dhiru was supposed to climb with me for three days, but he developed neck pain by just belaying; need to get him belay glasses! So that resulted in last-minute partner searches, with mixed responses.

Day 7-8 Savandurga: 

Day 7: Karthik Vijaykumar’s plans for D7 had fallen and he asked me in the morning if I could come do something in Savandurga/Banyan Tree Pillar (BTP). Now BTP isn’t a place where I would climb with someone I don’t know well; these climbs tend to involve some shenanigans. And I have not climbed with Karthik before though we have had significant online exchanges and common friends. Yet I could sense that Karthik was very keen on it (I know because I had been very keen on BTP). Sohan had shown me this treasure back in 2015 and I had to pass the good karma around, so I agreed, albeit a bit cautiously. We met at Savandurga shortly before noon and started planning the goals/gear for the day.

It was Karthik’s first visit to BTP and he seemed happy with To Bee or Not to Bee, a nice 5a+, 3-pitch classic. That sounded like a reasonable objective to me; I was familiar with the route and encouraged Karthik to lead the first pitch, which is pretty manageable, and the crux is only the start of P2. Unexpectedly, Karthik went by without placing much pro; didn’t realize the end of P1 and ended up combining P1 and P2! I thought that was rather impressive, and this was a definitely the more logical way of climbing this route. I got to lead the money pitch, P3 (our P2); enjoyed it as much as I have on previous occasions. 

Here's Karthik topping out from the razor sharp last pitch:


Summit shot with another great new climbing partner:

We finished the day just as it was getting dark and did a home-stay in Savandi.

The plan for the next day was to attempt a route on the rap face ground up, along some interesting features; what we later came to know was an old climb, Idli Grinder. If it were to go well, we would then attempt Cane Toad and head home in good time (my flight from Bangalore was at 7pm).

Day 8: Started the day early and reached the base of the climb around 7am.

That's Karthik's capture of me capturing the morning sun rising over some pretty rocks:

P1: 5c+ I got to lead this pitch. It starts off as a chimney/offwidth for about 12 feet, which I found sketchy. It is not terribly hard but the start moves are very unusual. You need to try and wedge your body inward to keep the off-width from “spitting” you out. Unfortunately we don't have pics of it. After about 10 feet of such climbing, you get to a solid stance to place gear, #4 in the roof crack crux.

Crux: roof crack (location is right next to the rap fall line that day, but the fall line can vary by up to 50 feet depending on how you descend :)

Since I didn’t know how the offwidth would go, I first dropped all the gear and went up with just a 3 and 4, placed a piece and came down to pick up the rest of the gear and finish the pitch. Hung once or twice, to remove a lower piece to save gear for higher up, but that wasn’t required, since the pitch finishes soon after.

The crux is well-protected as the placement below it is solid and by then you are 20 feet above the ground. It involves nice fist jams and a #4 placement. The crack drops in width and angle, easing into the huge belay ledge. Peering down from the ledge:

  The belay station (#5, 1 and 2); the shoes are to protect the sharp edge:

Walk along the ledge 20 feet leftward to the start of P2. In the pic below, Karthik leading P2


P2 is another fabulous crack, about 5b/5b+ but very exposed and overhanging higher up. Continue up over the bulge to get a nice finger crack that soon turns into 4b terrain ending at the rap station of BTP. I was happy Karthik asked to lead this pitch and he led it solidly. I thought it was a spicy pitch too. We then rapped down

We then walked down to Cane Toad, a 6a+, a nice 1-pitch crack line that I had followed clean during my December 2016 trip with Samiran. 

The route as such is not terribly hard, the grade’s about right, but placement is difficult given the shallow crack. I didn’t feel confident leading it from the ground, so I pre-placed my first piece standing on Karthik’s shoulders and free climbed the route with one hang. Placing the first two pieces is the crux; beyond that the crack gets better and the climb more secure. Fantastic finish on a vertical section and a solid tree belay to rap off from. It continues up through a wide crack as Crazy Old Wide Goat; that’s on my bucket-list. 

Done and dusted, we were back at the car at 1pm, grabbed a quick bite and headed home for some more family visits etc. before heading back to Mumbai.

A trip is only as good as your partners; thanks for the great company guys!

In conclusion, I thought barring the failure to clear NTR, I was 100% satisfied with what I could do in this trip. To view this in context, after I returned from my Indian Creek trip early June and up until this trip I could get a total of 02 outdoor climbing sessions for myself at Belapur, each lasting 3-4 hours, and two introductory sessions for newbie climbers. 

BigRed11 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 831

Nice TR! Looks like there's a wealth of climbing in the area - how many lines go up that huge dome in the background?

Lone Ranger · · Mumbai Suburban · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1,514
rpc · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2005 · Points: 575

"over 95% of my climbing time is spent in my head, before the laptop, dreaming, plotting, salivating,"  how true!!

Those cracks on Banyan look fantastic & Savandurga is a multi-pitch dream!!  Thanks for adding the TRs (& hope you guys keep adding area and route beta for these places here on MP).


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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