Bultaco Sherpa T 350 Himalaya Prototype M92
Ramon Garcia, Rafa Puig Bulto, Jaime Samso, Gerardo and Dimas Veiga organised in November 2013 and expedition to the Himalayas. They all rode M92 Sherpa T’s specifically adapted for the mission. The Adventurers managed to reach an altitude of 5,156 metres, the greatest height above sea level ever reached by motorcycle by its own means.
The adventure, nicknamed Moto-Himalaya, became very well known and gave great international prestige to Bultaco. Shortly afterwards, the Nepalese Government prohibited access to motorised vehicles to the area, leaving the record definitely intact for history.
From Oriol Navarro on the 20th November 2014 on the amoticos.org forum.
In October 1972, a group of friends from the Moto Club Igualada, fans of making weekend getaways with their country bikes, planned a risky adventure consisting of reaching the highest possible level in the Himalayas.
Once the project was shaped, they got to work and after a long year of preparations at the end of 1973 the expedition got underway. The group is made up of Rafa Puig Bultó, Dimas Veiga, Jaume Samsó Puig, Ramón García-Nieto and Lluís Solé Guillaume and Gerardo Pascual. With the direct support of the Bultaco factory, which gives them six Bultaco units Sherpa 350 and the work of its technical department that makes several modifications to the models so that they work perfectly in the low temperatures and at the altitude to which they were going to be subjected.
They were 125 models, with some adaptation of the 92 model. The tank and seat kit from the Alpina was adapted and decorated as a Sherpa, in red, a new boomerang type silencer that was really a pre-series model, a larger diameter perforated crown, and compressed cylinder heads that did not help them much since the poor octane of Nepalese gasoline caused them more than one head problem.
The logistics of the expedition were impressive for the time. Six large boxes where the motorcycles travelled, plus another ten full of high mountain material, with equipment, spare parts, food, maps, medicines, etc.
The expedition members got on the plane in Barcelona and after a long journey through Frankfurt-Rome-New Delhi, Kathmandu where they spend a couple of days receiving all the material. Later they fly again, this time in a Pilatus Porter plane that will take them to Lukla, land of the Sherpas, already at 2,800 meters of altitude.
A preview of what awaits them is the runway where they are forced to land. A vertical ravine of 500 meters of precipice, and that forms a steep slope of 20% in 400 meters of length. So that passengers do not forget the danger, a plane crashed at the beginning and another at the end of the runway delimit it. Before stopping, the plane must make a 90-degree turn to prevent it from sliding.
At the foot of the ladder, three Sherpas, a cook and the 55 porters who would lead the expedition were waiting for them, commanded by Mohan Lai Rai, who would be the guide, translator and head of the other three Sherpas, 1 for every 2 expedition members and the cook. Each carrier would carry about 35 kilos of material.
After getting jet fuel to get the poor octane up, the first Sherpa started up. It was November 7, 1973. To eat, chat, and prepare for the next day’s work, they used a large tent and slept in smaller ones two by two. The outside temperature was -12º, about -7 inside them. The first days were horrible and they realized where they had been. They spent an hour and a half to travel 3 kilometers, it was just the beginning and in theory the “easy” zone. The worst thing was the descents by the steps that accompanied after a long climb, since they had to secure the bikes and lower them one by one because of the risk of ending up on the cliff at the bottom of the ravine.
They were in the Jorsale camp at an altitude of 2,815 meters and the temperature did not exceed 4 degrees when they set up the tents next to the river. At night it dropped to -12º.
The Sherpa Rai, whom they baptized as “Roksi”, only warned them of the harsh terrain that preceded them, although he did not leave his amazement when he saw those crazy Westerners riding their motorcycles through places that seemed impossible.
At 8 o’clock in the morning of the next day they set off, not without first hearing the bad omens of some of the porters.
In everyone’s mind was the mountainous “hill” where the climb to the next campsite in Namche Bazar begins. They were at an altitude of 2815 meters, while Namche Bazar is at 3,440 meters, which meant an ascent of 710 meters in just over 2 kms.
On a daily basis they encountered western mountaineers who were going up or down the same route and were subjected to the insults and rudeness of a German expedition, of about 12 members, when they saw them with the motorcycles.
Finally and totally exhausted they reached the camp. Namche Bazar, the most important of the mountain range, consisted of about 100 hovels, arranged in a semicircle and at different levels, like an amphitheatre. There, while the Nepalese official did not leave his astonishment, they had to register and get the special passport that allowed them to circulate with the motorcycles through the Himalayas, but not without first presenting the official with a bottle of “Founder” and several packages of ” Ducats “.
The next stage took them to the town of Thyangboche, where the highest Buddhist monastery in the world is located and where they were received as heroes. The news of their arrival preceded them and half a town was awaiting their arrival. Most of them had never seen a motorcycle in their life.
The outside temperature was -8º and they were at an altitude of 3,846 meters.
The following day they remained in the town acclimatizing to the altitude, visiting the monastery and receiving a check-up from Gerardo, the expedition doctor, who later would spend the night awake attending to a German mountaineer, from the same group that had rebuked them, with a lung edema and with a high risk of losing his life. The doctor stayed all night treating him until the next day they could transport him on a yak to Namche Bazar. They started the march in one of the toughest stages of the trip, having to travel through snow and reached Dhyangboche, located at 4,412 meters of altitude. The outside temperature was only -8º but it was only 16.30 so the night was expected to be one of the coldest so far.
Dhyangboche is a group of four yak houses surrounded by 6000-meter mountains, permanently covered with ice and snow. The altitude begins to take its toll on the expedition members and the doctor decides that the next day they will not leave and take him off.
At night the temperature drops to -16º. The return to look at the first steps of the next day that some of them did did more than check the hardness of what awaited them the next day.
The decision to establish a new camp in Bibre, ascending through the Chukung Valley at an altitude of 4,560 meters makes the climb more bearable. Almost all show signs of fatigue and tiredness. Moving the Sherpa from almost 100 kilos to almost 5000 meters of altitude, the lack of oxygen is noticeable and is shown as an insurmountable barrier.
The immense snow-covered plain that forms the Imja Khola glacier in front of them is imposing in all its harshness. They try to keep moving forward, but it is useless. The terrible fatigue, the soft and deep snow does not allow it. The Bultaco Sherpa cannot advance in the face of such a large amount of snow.
They check the altimeter: 5156 meters of altitude. It was 2:05 p.m. of November 16, 1973.
Without looking for a record they had achieved it and it will surely remain unaltered for the remains, since shortly after the Nepalese government prohibited the passage of motor vehicles through the foothills of Everest.