MANALI – 2008/2010
The exploration of Indian canyons most likely started in Rishikesh. In 1996, Jean-Luc Joubert started to look for canyon lines around the Ganges. Natural-born explorer, Jean-Luc did not wait on anyone and just began exploring solo the Uttarakhand area, spanning from Haridwar to Nanda Devi National Park, via Mukteshwar.
In 1998, Jean-Luc met 2 young Indian mountaineers, Ramesh Rawat and Kundan Bisth. The 3 of them formed the first ever Indian canyon exploration team. For over 10 years they explored and mapped more than 20 canyons not only in the Indian Himalayas, but also all around the rest of the country (the Western Ghats, the Kashmir region, and the states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Maharashtra), as well as in the the countries of Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
With his family, Jean-Luc moved in to India in 2005, in the city of Manali, and opened the first canyoning agency of the country: Top Rock Adventures. He collaborated with and trained young locals to extreme canyon explorations, and now organizes commercial canyoning tours for tourists.
During the Explo Film Festival 2008 in France, Rodolphe and Yann got to meet and exchange with Jean-Luc and, as one can guess, they connected straightaway! Discussing about passion, work, ventures, exploration etc. they realized that the 2 teams were basically doing the same thing; one in Nepal and one in India. Eventually, they joined forces and spread their activities across the huge playground of the Indian Himalayas. They started exploring canyons in Manali's state, the Himachal Pradesh, beginning with the districts of Lahaul and Spiti, and Kinnaur.
During these explorations, they developed a bulk of specific techniques to "go through the canyons in a very light mode, with the minimum equipment needed, and in fastest as possible, in respect of the environment and local cultures." From these perspectives, they decided to create the nonprofit organization duly named Himalayan Canyon Team.
In October 2010, the group brought along paragliders, cavers and other mountaineering-skilled guides on an expedition to collect even more data of the Spiti Valley's canyons. This led to the discovery of 3 main canyon lines, stretching from the bottom of the Bara-lacha la pass to Chenab river, which remained unexplored… Until today!
The year 2020 will mark the tenth anniversary of this last expedition in India, making it the perfect occasion for the HCT to get back to this "unfinished business" and finally explore these 3 canyon lines, with the ultimate goal of opening the massive canyon of Koksar Nala.