This Isn’t Over Yet, Lakegala

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The dogs constantly mocked our stamina.

Over the long weekend, we decided to finally head over to Lakegala in Meemure, a sort of remote village somewhere in the knuckles range. It’s pronounced Lak-gala, apparently. Indi managed to think it was Lake-gala (lake-rock, literally).

A bus and a van journey later, we wound up at Meemure village near the temple where we would spend the nights and paid off the peeved off van driver who hadn’t come this way before and was complaining that his van was all busted up.

The locals are really great and offered to cook our meals for us. It was pretty delish. Everyone we met from teenagers playing cricket to the shopkeeper told us we shouldn’t go up to the top because it’s raining/windy/too hot, and to just go up near the peak, then return. We found out after we came back down that the whole village has some creepy deal in place where they dissuade everyone they see from climbing the thing, to prevent injury and/or death by stupidity.

We started the ascent in the morning. About fifteen minutes later Himal and Raisa decided to turn back due to grievous injuries of the nonexistent kind. I kid, it was more like ten minutes.

After a few kilometers through jungle, we finally got to the base of the proper “peak climb”. There was a nice rock pool with cool water where we filled up, and made mental notes about how exactly we’d relax in the natural jacuzzi on the way back down. Getting to the peak is gradually more difficult, starting off with a short climb over a diagonal(thirty-five degrees or so) slope of what looked like cooled and hardened lava. It felt like we were climbing up a frozen river of chocolate. I didn’t try licking it.

After another stretch through some annoying bushes, the whole way to the base of the peak was loose soil sparsely populated by bushes and rocks which will stab you in the back and steal your wife if they could. Sitting there looking all stable and then trying to murder you when you step on them. Tch.

Finally, we got to the big prize. There was only a 100m or so left to the top. Unfortunately this last bit required us to climb along the equivalent of a butt-crack on a near vertical rock face. You so funny, nature.

I was undecided on whether to actually get up there since I was already feeling dead enough after what felt like a hike up a giant ball of cotton candy, but the guide said we’d need to take our shoes and bags off before proceeding, which would make it a lot easier. Note to self: Don’t take anything up a mountain if it can be avoided. Water and minimal food should be enough for most.

Halfway up the wrinkle on the rock, our guide tells us to stop and goes a bit further up to get the rope in place for the last bit. There was already a length of rope put there by a group who were just ahead of us, and the guide wanted to tie our rope to theirs. It was sent up. There was much talking. We (literally) hung out on the side of the rock, clinging for our lives and trying not to look down. Our friend from the village below decides this is a good time to ask us what religion we are. We answer. We also wonder how much your life expectancy is lowered when you get up here. He starts chanting pirith.

I get images of buddhist funerals with oil lamps and smoke billowing around in the wind, with someone chanting things in the background. I try not to pay any attention to it.

Eventually the group ahead communicate that they don’t want to go the remaining 40m or so because it looks batshit crazy. The guide recommends we go down as we don’t want to leave it to them to secure our rope, which is only just long enough to complete the climb if you’re clinically insane. I accidentally look down. I wonder if this is what having vertigo feel like. Indi’s at the bottom of the line, followed by Kirigalpoththa, myself and then Halik just below our guide.

We carefully claw our way down the rock, a task considerably more difficult than climbing it, and head back down, disappointed. Getting down to the lava river was a sea of bruises since the plants decided to get back at us for chopping our way through them on the way up. I even kept slipping and falling on my ass thanks to the loose rocks. A quick dash down the lava-looking thing and we were back at the pool.

After soaking in it for a bit, we headed off back down to the village before it started raining and made the whole trail back a mudslide.

Hopefully we’ll get back there soon, with a length of rope more suited to rock climbing duty instead of pulling-water-out-of-the-well duty.

Pictures will be on facebook soon, along with an ST post(really!). Till then, there’s this flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/indi/sets/72157629402568568/with/7056719387/


13 Responses to “This Isn’t Over Yet, Lakegala”

  1. April 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I’m actually more confident of GNU Hurd taking over than of you guys writing an ST post. 😉

  2. April 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Yeah it is not over yet! We will come back stronger in Lakegala 2.0

  3. April 16, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Beautiful. Where did you stay? How do you arrange to stay there? Rough directions by road?

    • 7 Jerry
      April 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      We stayed at the temple in the village. There’s also the school there.

      You can get there by getting to Kandy, then Hunnasgiriya on the Mahiyanganaya(I think) route. M-something, anyway.

      From there you turn off into the meemure road. You can either hire a vehicle from Hunnasgiriya or drive your own 4wd down the 20 odd km of winding, sometimes nonexistent road.

  4. 8 dude
    April 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Hi there,
    If you guys had decided to climb Lakegala on the 27th of March, some of you may have made it to the top, as we were on Lakegala, and climbed it. Our guide from Meemure (who initially claimed to be Meemure’s answer to Chuck Norris) chickened out just before the crack became vertical and we did the last bit by ourselves.
    The technique (and possibly rope) used by these “guides” is not safe to say the least.
    If you lot want, we could help you climb Lakegala by fixing rope (this would be proper climbing rope) and giving you guys harnesses and ascenders, so you use proper fixed rope techniques (we can teach you this) to climb the “hard” bit.
    This “climb” is actually very easy – an easy scramble with maybe a couple of french 4C-5A moves at the “crux”. But try this without proper equipment and technique/knowledge and you could quite possibly kill yourselves.
    By the way, just for your information, there is fuckall to see on top of Lakegala, and going by some of the descriptions by everyone in Meemure who claims to have climbed it, most of them haven’t been to the top. It is just thick scrub. Oh yeah – above the “hard” bit, where you guys seem to have turned around, the is yet another small cliff, about 15-20 feet high. Since we left all our climbing kit just above the “hard” section, we tackled the smaller cliff above by climbing a tree that grew just next to it and swinging up the cliff from the tree. Since we found that the top didn’t quite match some of the descriptions (despite us walking the entire length of the “summit” by using kalaawa kadaagena yema techniques), we took some pics at the top and geotagged them using the gps on our camera for proof 🙂
    Let me know if you’re interested and maybe we can work something out. One of my friends runs a small hotel in Kubonillla (halfway between Hunnasgiriya and Meemure) and you can maybe stay there. Oh by the way, we also abseiled down the mini world thing as well, while we were there, just to kill time – something you may also be interested in…
    Feel free to contact me by email if you want.

    • April 17, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Hey dude,
      Yup, that’s pretty much what we gathered from the people down in the village as well. Except the boring-ass peak, which was supposed to have views all the way to thoppigala and have some sort of bottomless pit of death next to it. We were actually planning on trying around June-July with actual climbing equipment, will drop you a message when we get to the planning!

    • 10 Whacko
      April 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Dude, that would be epic. I particularly like the offhand manner in which you refer to abseiling down mini worlds end..

      • 11 dude
        April 17, 2012 at 9:30 pm

        Views were nice enough. Dunno what Thoppigala looks like, maybe you can see it. No bottomless death pits or prehistoric helicopters seen. Don’t leave your trip too late, cos it gets crazy windy over there after June…
        No dramas abseiling down mini worlds end. Ok, maybe very slight drama, cos its between 120 and 150 metres down and the longest rope we have is 100m. So we join ropes, which means you have to switch atc’s/fig8’s to get past the knot. Not a big deal if you know what you’re doing.
        Some info for anyone who fancies visiting this area and is looking for a place to stay – http://www.corbetsview.com/contact.htm

        • 12 dude
          January 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

          Hi there

          Did you guys manage to get up Lakegala yet?

          If not, we are planning on running some guided trips up it at the end of this month or in February, as soon as the weather up there improves. We can provide a full package including food, accommodation, fixed rope techniques training as well as the climb, or we can just sort the climb, including fixed rope techniques training.

          We will be using fixed rope (11mm static) and ascenders. Although this is unusual for a climb like this, it will be the safest and most efficient method of getting a group such as yourselves up it.

          Let me know if you guys are interested in this.

          We can also look at doing some interesting abseils if time permits.

          We are also running a couple of other trips to Nepal in the near future, a trek to Everest Base Camp (5364m) and Kalapattar (5545m) in early March 2013 and another trip to Imja Tse/island Peak (6189m) in late March 2013.

          If you or any of your friends are interested in any of these trips, you can contact me at the email address I’ve provided below.


          • February 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

            Unfortunately, we’ve let work and other things get in the way and didn’t really attempt anything after. Thanks muchly for the offer though, will email you if we decide to get off our rears!

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