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Old 3rd May 2015, 19:02   #151
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Interesting thread.
Last year three of my friends did sandakphu on bikes. Bullet 350, ktm 200 and pulsar 180.
Now this raises a question in my mind.
A4wd with low ratio or a bike which is better at handling slopes especially if the surface is rough.
Sumitro as you are a vivid biker and off-road driver can you share your thoughts on this?
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Old 4th May 2015, 08:10   #152
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

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Originally Posted by sinhsha View Post
Interesting thread.
Last year three of my friends did sandakphu on bikes. Bullet 350, ktm 200 and pulsar 180.
Now this raises a question in my mind.
A4wd with low ratio or a bike which is better at handling slopes especially if the surface is rough.
Sumitro as you are a vivid biker and off-road driver can you share your thoughts on this?
A 4WD with a Low ratio, is any day more capable than the motorcycle's mentioned above.
As a Thar Crde and a Classic 500 owner, let me give you an example.
There was this one particular incline, which i had failed to climb on a Karizma a few years ago,
tried on the classic 500 in December 2013, failed yet again.
Come june 2014, i took the Thar, tried to climb in 4H, was not able to make it.
Switched to 4L, and it was a piece of cake, as the particular climb was rough, so approaching at a high speed was out of the question.
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Old 4th May 2015, 13:29   #153
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Thanks Akshay..
Very to the point unambiguous response.
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Old 5th May 2015, 14:31   #154
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

This is what happens when you try negotiating tight turns in 2WD vehicle. It happened with me around 5 years back near Poona, I managed to reach on top of a hill clearing all tight turns but while coming back at one sharp turn, I tried to reverse but couldn’t adding to woe was weight of Safari. Finally we arranged a crane from a town which struggled to reach where Safari was stuck, after one and half hrs of struggle in peak May summer Crane reached the spot, lifted vehicle from front and put it on correct path…..
That was my last 2WD vehicle though

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Regards,
Shubhendra Singh
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Old 13th May 2015, 09:07   #155
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Guys, just completed the Sandakphu trip during the May 1 weekend (besides Gurudongmar and Nathu La later).

Going up from Maneybhanjan, it was dense fog all the way up with 10-20 ft visibility (probably thats why I had the nerve to drive up, not seeing what lay beyond 15 ft and just slowly chugging up taking one hairpin at a time).
The last 4 kms was at fullest concentration, and didn't even think of taking photographs.

The fog had completely cleared the next morning, the clouds had settled down to lower heights, and we saw an amazing view of the entire range from Kanchenjunga to Three Sisters to Lhotse, Makalu, Everest, Noptse, Chamling - all the legends in one frame !!!

Coming down, especially the Sandakphu-Bhikheybhanjan part, in crystal clear weather - well, to put it mildly, "thoda faata" !!! Thanks to 4wd low, the reversing for the 3-point turns with the vehicle at crazy angles, was easy. On one of the relatively easier hairpins, switched to 2WD and tried the reversing, failed miserably a few times, thought the risk was not worth it, and promptly switched back to 4wd.

Passed some trekkers on the way down - they were amazed to see a Scorp was coming down.

Will post travelogue later. Few pics from cell phone for now.
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Old 13th May 2015, 18:28   #156
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

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Originally Posted by Shubhendra View Post
This is what happens when you try negotiating tight turns in 2WD vehicle. It happened with me around 5 years back near Poona, I managed to reach on top of a hill clearing all tight turns but while coming back at one sharp turn, I tried to reverse but couldn’t adding to woe was weight of Safari. Finally we arranged a crane from a town which struggled to reach where Safari was stuck, after one and half hrs of struggle in peak May summer Crane reached the spot, lifted vehicle from front and put it on correct path…..
That was my last 2WD vehicle though

Regards,
Shubhendra Singh
That is a very practical example of why people should not venture off road with 2WDs, of course unless it is for fun and with all the recovery arrangements in place.

Thanks for sharing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.sinha View Post
Guys, just completed the Sandakphu trip during the May 1 weekend (besides Gurudongmar and Nathu La later).

Going up from Maneybhanjan, it was dense fog all the way up with 10-20 ft visibility (probably thats why I had the nerve to drive up, not seeing what lay beyond 15 ft and just slowly chugging up taking one hairpin at a time).
The last 4 kms was at fullest concentration, and didn't even think of taking photographs.

The fog had completely cleared the next morning, the clouds had settled down to lower heights, and we saw an amazing view of the entire range from Kanchenjunga to Three Sisters to Lhotse, Makalu, Everest, Noptse, Chamling - all the legends in one frame !!!

Coming down, especially the Sandakphu-Bhikheybhanjan part, in crystal clear weather - well, to put it mildly, "thoda faata" !!! Thanks to 4wd low, the reversing for the 3-point turns with the vehicle at crazy angles, was easy. On one of the relatively easier hairpins, switched to 2WD and tried the reversing, failed miserably a few times, thought the risk was not worth it, and promptly switched back to 4wd.

Passed some trekkers on the way down - they were amazed to see a Scorp was coming down.

Will post travelogue later. Few pics from cell phone for now.
Another Sandakphu Saga and thanks for sharing. I love to read Sandakphu driving experiences. I wish to drive there some day, but I am yet to gather the courage. The pics shared by 1100D scare me to death

Therefore, thanks for sharing and waiting for your mega travelogue. I guess, when it comes out it will find its place in TBHP hall of fame as a saga of courage and skills.
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Old 13th May 2015, 18:35   #157
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.sinha View Post
Guys, just completed the Sandakphu trip during the May 1 weekend (besides Gurudongmar and Nathu La later).

Going up from Maneybhanjan, it was dense fog all the way up with 10-20 ft visibility (probably thats why I had the nerve to drive up, not seeing what lay beyond 15 ft and just slowly chugging up taking one hairpin at a time).
The last 4 kms was at fullest concentration, and didn't even think of taking photographs.

The fog had completely cleared the next morning, the clouds had settled down to lower heights, and we saw an amazing view of the entire range from Kanchenjunga to Three Sisters to Lhotse, Makalu, Everest, Noptse, Chamling - all the legends in one frame !!!

Coming down, especially the Sandakphu-Bhikheybhanjan part, in crystal clear weather - well, to put it mildly, "thoda faata" !!! Thanks to 4wd low, the reversing for the 3-point turns with the vehicle at crazy angles, was easy. On one of the relatively easier hairpins, switched to 2WD and tried the reversing, failed miserably a few times, thought the risk was not worth it, and promptly switched back to 4wd.

Passed some trekkers on the way down - they were amazed to see a Scorp was coming down.

Will post travelogue later. Few pics from cell phone for now.
Awesome Mr.Sinha . Will wait for your travelogue, and it was nice meeting you after a long time. Hope to catch up with you sometime soon and get to hear the stories.

Last edited by BlackPearl : 13th May 2015 at 18:36.
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Old 14th May 2015, 13:15   #158
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

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Originally Posted by psurelia View Post
I love to read Sandakphu driving experiences. I wish to drive there some day, but I am yet to gather the courage. The pics shared by 1100D scare me to death
On same boat as you Someday, might tag along with 1100D or BlackPearl or Sutripta Da or any other BHPians who know their stuff.

I know my limits, have done hill driving, should know when to call quits, this is important, but at places, you can't turn back.

As a rider, I was always fascinated [when I was starting to ride] by wheelies/stoppies and then later, getting my knee down. Despite being a good rider, riding all sorts of Motorcycles on all sorts of places and keeping up with seasoned riders at places, I could do neither. Not that I did not attempt, but I never went overboard and hurt myself or the ride.

Sandakphu and its enormity does fascinate me, have the necessary machinery to conquer it as well [a 4WD with low ratio GB] but if ever I do attempt, will be very slow & cautious and maybe someone able to guide me. I do have faith in my abilities, have went up & down the hills at night, but all good things come with a bit of patience and are hard to get.

Just hope, it stays open for us, enthusiasts.
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Old 5th June 2015, 15:49   #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post

Sandakphu and its enormity does fascinate me, have the necessary machinery to conquer it as well [a 4WD with low ratio GB] but if ever I do attempt, will be very slow & cautious and maybe someone able to guide me. I do have faith in my abilities, have went up & down the hills at night, but all good things come with a bit of patience and are hard to get.

Just hope, it stays open for us, enthusiasts.
If someday you plan for Sandakphu in your black beast, hope there is space for me.

If we could get gear ratio figures of Land Rovers doing it regularly, I feel it will make calculations clear for other vehicles. IMO those British time Land Rovers are with manual steering and have a high turning radius.
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Old 29th September 2015, 15:24   #160
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Well. I think I will be able to clear some questions of this thread. Since I did the Sandakphu trail on my Duster AWD last weekend. No, I didn't go all the way upto Sandakphu. But that was not because of the vehicle but because of the deteriorating weather conditions.

Our plan was not to do Sandakphu initially. We had just gone to Darjeeling for a weekend from Kolkata. We had no itinerary for the trip. So on Saturday after visiting Rock Garden.We decided to see what exactly this trail was like.

We reached the climbing point of Manebhanjan. The cloud cover had become dense. We saw the Sandakphu milestone & saw the climb up chitrey.


Stage 1 : Climb upto Chitrey. Raod is tarred, but very steep. As fellow member himadrimondal said the picture doesn't do justice to the steepness. Chitrey is a place till where 2WD vehicles can go. But I only found Sumo's there. No hatchbacks. It would be a difficult climb for a loaded hatchback.

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_037.jpg

We stopped at Chitrey to enquire about road ahead. The Sumo drivers had no idea since it is only 4x4 territory & strictly no vehicle goes above that point except the SWB Landrovers. I found a LR driver & asked him about the trail ahead. He looked a bit shocked & asked whether the car is 4WD. I confirmed, but that didn't convince him much. We decided to climb ourselves & see. He warned us about the width of Duster & told us about roads being narrow.

Stage 2 : Rocky & Muddy road to Sandakphu. The tarred road ends just after Chitrey & the rocky road starts. The terrain looks like it has been made only for leafsprings. The road is quite narrow with some very steep hairpins. After some point we encountered this

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_010.jpg

I had my doubts whether duster will squeeze into this gap. Got down of the vehicle to inspect. It looked like we could make it with proper navigation. Remember there is no safety guard on the gorge side. You go down if you are not careful. While going up there was literally a gap of 5 mm with the rock & at most 5mm from the gorge. Since I was at the gorge side I could push the vehicle to the edge of the gorge. While coming back I wasn't that luck. Gauging your front left tyre position down to millimeters & that when you know that there is a gorge next to it not easy. To top it all it was raining. I was overcautious & scraped the rear of my duster with the rock. Better than falling down.

After this encounter we were slowly climbing up. The Dusters Power to weight & AWD performed flawlessly. At no point did it feel less powerful. There were many wheelspins though not the ones that would scare you to back off. Things were going good till we reached Tumling. After that, the rains started heavily, making temporary small streams on the climb & reducing the visibility substantially. The sunlit time left was less too since we were a little late to start the climb. We decided to return from Tumling, which is halfway Sandakphu.

Some points to be noted :

1. The handbrake performed perfectly. It has the capability of holding the vehicle in place at steep inclines.

2. The reverse gear is powerful enough to a reverse climb. We encountered a LR from the opposite side while we were climbing down. We had to reverse up to a point where we could give it some space to pass.

3. The Hill assist work on reverse too. If you are on an incline nose down & want to reverse up, the brakes hold the vehicle for 3 seconds.

4. There was one very steep hairpin where we encountered an LR stopped just after the turn (Not a very wise thing to do). We had to brake midway on a hairpin. On the first recovery try, felt for the first time that extra power would be required. The engine couldn't pull up & died. Restarted & got through by slipping the clutch with high revs.

5. There is no scope of error. Provided you have a 4x4, it all depends on the driver skills. My respect for all those who have done this trail including Blackpearl, 1100D, mr.sinha & himadrimondal. It is quite taxing to your brain.

6. Vehicle width is one major issue. Duster is quite wide, It is even wider (although marginally) than the new gen Scorpio. I doubt anything wider that Duster can make it up due to that rock.

I had done this trip with my wife who was my navigator too. We had not gone on a mission to conquer anything. We had agreed that we will come back if we feel it is too unsafe. As soon has the heavy rains started, we decided to come down. There is no point putting your & your family's life in danger. Please do not do this trail if you are not confident enough or feel any danger to do so.

In the end I would say by whatever I experienced, Duster AWD should be able to climb up Sandakphu. But, in the hands of expert driver & Navigator.


Would not advise or promote Sandakphu to anyone since it is dangerous. Please go there on your own responsibility.

Anecdote : While we were near Tumling, we found some local people quite surprised to see a vehicle other than the LR. They started asking how & whether it is 4x4. I told them it is a 4x4. They said, it is the first time they had seen a duster on this trail & were quite surprised. We moved on post that. While returning, they were in an intoxicated state, started singing "Duster - Duster" & dancing on it. They even clicked a selfie with our car & gave up a thumbs up. We did not get out of the car since I was with my wife. But it was great to see them so excited about the car.

Hope I have been able to answer some questions. Please feel free to ask if you require any more details.

Some pictures :

First break at Chitrey

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7281.jpg

Homestay at Chitrey for the trekkers.

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7282.jpg

Roads

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7291.jpg

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_021.jpg

At a comparatively wider stretch

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7296.jpg

The Hairpins

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7306.jpg
Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-img_7322.jpg
Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_004.jpg
Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_005.jpg

The Visibility at Tumling

Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?-wp_20150926_009.jpg


Regards,

Pawan

Last edited by Gannu_1 : 30th September 2015 at 08:38. Reason: Removed mention of alcohol. Thanks!
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Old 29th September 2015, 15:44   #161
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Awesome, brother! Great guts and huge will power is required to do Sandakphu (or nearby places) and that too in the middle of rain. Bravo!
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Old 29th September 2015, 16:07   #162
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

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Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post

Hope I have been able to answer some questions. Please feel free to ask if you require any more details.
Regards,

Pawan
Bravo Pawan! Pictures of hair-pin bends look really scary. I would not take that kind of risk with my life .

You have now created a solid base for Duster AWD for its prospective customers.
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Old 29th September 2015, 16:17   #163
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Feel like saying Bravo Pawan !!

It's been just over 24 Hours that you have returned from your Darjeeling Trip and already getting an update from you on this thread ..... is awesome.

Good to see you take the Duster to places which should compliment it's being with you. It seems to be in it's natural habitat.

A few questions in mind so bothering you by asking the same :
  • Did you require to use the AWD Lock upto Chitrey ?
  • When do you plan to scale Sandakphu with your Duster AWD ?
Since you were in Darj and that you missed our last Impromptu Meet because of this reason, request you to call for another welcoming meet soon. But, this time the treat has to be on you; for obvious reasons
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Old 29th September 2015, 16:46   #164
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

Thanks for the post Pawan. Great to see that you took the Duster on a proper trail that it deserves and not just some weekend soft-roading

Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaBravo View Post
6. Vehicle width is one major issue. Duster is quite wide, It is even wider (although marginally) than the new gen Scorpio. I doubt anything wider that Duster can make it up due to that rock.
This is a concern. When I had created this thread I was concerned only about the steepness of the slopes. It had not come to my mind that width can be a factor as I had always taken the Bolero to Sandakphu and never faced any issue with the width. I don't know the numbers but it seems that the Bolero is quite narrow compared to the Duster. There was only one place while going to Phalut where I had to get past a rock with very little gap between it and Bolero side step.
BTW, is the Pajero SFX wider than the Duster?
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Old 29th September 2015, 17:04   #165
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Default Re: Can the Duster AWD scale Sandakphu, the highest peak in West Bengal?

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Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Awesome, brother! Great guts and huge will power is required to do Sandakphu (or nearby places) and that too in the middle of rain. Bravo!
Thank you gearhead_mait.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sourabhzen View Post
Bravo Pawan! Pictures of hair-pin bends look really scary. I would not take that kind of risk with my life .

You have now created a solid base for Duster AWD for its prospective customers.
Thanks sourabhzen !! The hairpins are scary indeed. Yes I am quite happy with the abilities of Duster AWD.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-got-BHP View Post
Feel like saying Bravo Pawan !!

It's been just over 24 Hours that you have returned from your Darjeeling Trip and already getting an update from you on this thread ..... is awesome.

Good to see you take the Duster to places which should compliment it's being with you. It seems to be in it's natural habitat.

A few questions in mind so bothering you by asking the same :
  • Did you require to use the AWD Lock upto Chitrey ?
  • When do you plan to scale Sandakphu with your Duster AWD ?
Since you were in Darj and that you missed our last Impromptu Meet because of this reason, request you to call for another welcoming meet soon. But, this time the treat has to be on you; for obvious reasons
Thanks AJ. Answers to your questions :

1. I did use 4WD Lock for Chitrey. On the hindsight, I think it can be done without it. But there are no brownie points for not using it.

2. Not sure AJ. But I believe Blackpearl has some plans in mind for next year Quarter 1, when the weather would be kinder.

Let's meet up on the next extended weekend. Treat on me for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Thanks for the post Pawan. Great to see that you took the Duster on a proper trail that it deserves and not just some weekend soft-roading



This is a concern. When I had created this thread I was concerned only about the steepness of the slopes. It had not come to my mind that width can be a factor as I had always taken the Bolero to Sandakphu and never faced any issue with the width. I don't know the numbers but it seems that the Bolero is quite narrow compared to the Duster. There was only one place while going to Phalut where I had to get past a rock with very little gap between it and Bolero side step.
BTW, is the Pajero SFX wider than the Duster?
Thank you Blackpearl for all the support that you have given me in terms of getting to know the 4 wheel driven world. Also, on the invaluable insights on Sadakhphu.

The width is a big issue. Width stats below :

Duster : 1822 mm
Bolero : 1745 mm
Scorpio : 1820 mm
Pajero SFX : 1775 mm
Fortuner : 1855 mm
Storme : 1965 mm

Source : Google


Bolero is approx 3 inches narrower. That is good cushion in such narrow roads. I doubt that a fortuner will pass thru. Also, thing don't loo too bright for Storme.

Regards,

Pawan
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