Archive for May 31st, 2011


Wednesday afternoon, I was busy working in office excited about the trek to the Himalayas. Since a week i had been doing enough preparation, buying necessary stuff and keeping myself both mentally and physically fit. At 4PM Synti and myself started for the airport to meet Rena there. We had a flight to Delhi later in the evening. I had been wondering all the while as to what i had forgotten that day – only to realize i forgot my ATM card in the machine @ office!! Just for the record, I had not done atleast one trip till now without forgetting/losing anything!!

We reached Delhi by around 9 PM and in an hour we caught up with the rest of our gang (Polls, Bhargav, Jishnu and Ninoy) who were waiting outside in an Innova. We immediately took off from Delhi and went about talking in our typical IIT-ian way – lol!! We soon changed topic to philosophy and soon Bhargav and Ninoy were in the midst of all the action. We talked about passion, how and where we would find it!, and about what we learnt in the past few years after we all left for our jobs. We went on and on till we reached Chandigarh by dawn and then we had to change into a Tavera.

 

Chandigarh will need a special mention for being the most beautiful and well planned city I have across till date in India. The wide roads and tress on either side to it and hills on one side, with sun just rising over the horizon – It was just magical. Since i hadn’t slept all night I quickly dozed off after clicking a few snaps. I was trying to sleep at the rear end of the Tavera and thanks to the aweful suspension it had i couldn’t sleep at all!! The entire route was very scenic, with amazing mountains, beautiful valleys and rivers. We saw Sutlej and Beas, and close to 6 hydro power projects on them!

 

Then came the best part of the trip where we had to go through a 4 km tunnel just on the outskirts of the town Aut. It was spectacular and as we went through the tunnel freezing winds at 12 in the afternoon greeted us to the Himalayas. We later had lunch and slowly took off towards Kasol. We had to take a diversion at Bhunter from the Kullu – Manali Highway towards Manikaran.

The journey from Bhunter to Kasol was very scary. The driver started to drive rashly as he was getting late for another pickup. Synti added to the misery shouting and screaming every time the driver took a hard turn. The entire route was scenic as we travelled along the Parvati river till we reached Kasol by 4 PM. We were soon done with all the paper work and later we were given couple of blankets and a tent to stay. We had a very good dinner there and slept early as everyone was tired during the 15 hr journey!

Our next 9 days of Trek: Click on links to read more
Day 1&2 : Acclimatization, Orientation, Rock Climbing & Reppelling
Day 3 : Trek to Youth Hostel Grahan– Ht. 7700 ft. (09 kms) 8 hrs.
Day 4 : Trek to Youth Hostel Padri – Ht. 8900 ft. (10 kms) 7 hrs.
Day 5 : Trek to Youth Hostel RatnaPani – Ht. 10700 ft.(07 kms) 9 hrs.
Day 6 : Trek to Youth Hostel Nagaru – Ht. 12500 ft. (09 kms) 6 hrs
Day 7 : Trek to Youth Hostel Biskeri Thatch – Ht. 11000 ft. via Sar Pass (13800 ft.) (09 kms) 12 hrs
Day 8 : Trek to Youth Hostel Bhandak Thatch – Ht. 8000 ft. (10 kms) 7 hrs.
Day 9 : Trek up to Barshani Road – Back to civilization 6hrs

Links to Pics@ picasa

After chilling out at hotel Malabar for a day, we took the evening bus to Delhi. We reached Delhi at 7 in the morning. I went straight to IITD to meet my sister and went about a small tour there. We later took the evening flight back to mumbai. I was so relieved to be back home after an amazing adventure – By far the best i have had till now!!

I got up at 7 AM, pretty late for YHAI standards. Within an hour we were all packed and this time we did not have a packed lunch as they expected us to reach the base camp by noon. We clicked a lot of pics and i got a chance to enjoy the scenic beauty of the camp. I felt very sad i couldn’t enjoy the beauty prior day thanks to my fever. I got a few pics clicked while i was in air and started our descent almost by 9 AM.

 

 

The days trek was so easy and straight forward that there was no guide for us today. The awesome group that we are, Guess What!! – WE got LOST!! SP-12 we rock. It took an hour before we figured our way out again. On my way i was lucky enough to see a white horse and pat its back :) Since Karthik had to catch a bus early we all left others and walked fast. Ninoy was at his singing best with Bhargav and Jishnu helping him. 2 hr walk and we reached a village. We were happy that we reached civilization. One some enquiry we realized we had to walk another hour across the dam on the valley to get to Barsaani.

After a long walk in the sun it was almost 1Pm when we reached the bus stand. We met the Gujarati students there who asked us to wait till the entire group arrives so that we have good fun. I was so hungry that i wanted to take a bus to Manikaran and eat there. Due to some differences we stayed back and hoped to find some hotels there. After a half an hour we realized we had nothing there and took a cab to manikaran. There we had lunch and then decided to visit the hot water springs of manikaran. We went to the hot water springs and they smelled heavily of sulphur. The water were very very hot and bubbling. We all decided that it was too dangerous to take a bath in boiling sulphur water and then took a bath to kasol.

By 5 PM we reached Kasol and were greeted by Mithun.  We were waiting for the others to arrive so that we can shout and have fun. In the mean while we met Adithya, camp leader who suggested we leave the base camp immediately and go to Kullu/Bhunter where we can do White water rafting early in the morning. The water in Parvati river were all dirty because of a de-silting activity near the dam in barsaani and hence all the water at the camp were all muddy. Not risking any further damage we all decided to head to a comfortable hotel.

We all checked out by 6 and left for Kullu. We got onto the bus and then debated whether to go to Kullu or to Bhunter. Our debate was short lived as the conductor said the bus only goes till Bhunter. We reached bhunter at 7:30 and checked into Hotel Malabar near the bus stand. I had an amazing half an hour shower in hot water and really enjoyed a nice 12 hr sleep on the cozy bed. It was one hard earned lovely sleep to end the trip :) :) :)

 

 

P.S: My heart felt apologies for ditching the rest of SP-12 and leaving everyone without a formal Good Bye.

 

We got up late in the morning and for a change the camp leader was a chill max guy and he did not trouble us with the infinite whistles that we had gotten used to. We got ready by around 9 and started our trek to Bhandakthatch. We were briefed that Bhandakthatch was the most beautiful of all the camps and today’s was the easiest of the lot. We were excited about reaching the camp the earliest and then have some good time there.

I had already picked up fever that was draining me. But the briefing about the next camp gave me the courage to give it my all that day. We started with a very steep descent. Quite unexpectedly my knees weren’t paining, apparently knees are the one that hurt the most during a descent. But a few meters down we were in for a surprise. The aunt who was tugging along with us with an ankle sprain found it hard to get down and we had to wait an awefully long time for her. The guide and the group leader then suggested she went back to the camp for the day and then get a porter to get her down the next day. She then put a lot of senti stuff and Tanvir fell for it deciding to get her down with the group. The entire discussion took away 90 minutes and i was starting to get my fever and giddiness back!!

I was happy that we then moved on at a healthy pace. We descended around 1000 ft in the next couple of hours without any big break. the Guide and Tanvir took turns getting the aunty down on their backs (Hats of to them!! ). Around noon we then hit a road block. It was a 200 ft steep descent followed by a 150 ft Steep ascend. But what lay between them was the most scariest part: A melting glacier gushing water at huge speed. We had to cross that on two logs which were placed on 2 boulders on either side. One slip and i would drop down dead some 1000 ft downstream. After yesterday’s trek i convinced myself that the worst of the trek was over and all i needed was a little courage to pull my self back to civilization. But the trail had other plans for me!!

Seeing bhargav and polls go by i finally decided to give it a shot. Firstly i had to rappel my self down 200ft. Which in itself was so scary that i kept embracing myself to the rock every step i took. The guide got irritated with the speed i was rappelling that he caught me by my backpack and asked me to drop down fast. Initially very scared i did as he suggested and then i could get down easily. The technique of rappelling really helps when you do it correctly. We had to lean back and not embrace the rocks like i was doing and keep our feet perpendicular to the surface and use the rope to get down.

 

Even before i could take a sigh of relief, i was faced with the next challenge, the one to cross the stream. I very nervously caught the hand of the guide who helped me cross the stream across the logs. The first few steps were very scary as the logs swayed for every step i took. Midway through the water level was higher the logs and i could feel the force of the stream as i waded my way through scarily with my heart in the mouth. After crossing on the logs i had to jump my way across on small boulders. I wasn’t that scared doing that until i stepped on a stone that moved and i lost my balance. Luckily someone lent me their hand i latched onto it in a flash. I cannot imagine where i would have been if he had not helped me.

I was scared and started to freak out badly. Even though i had done it safely, I was in a trans for sometime. The next 150 ft seemed nothing after what I had done. The lunch point was just after the climb. I got chance to relax, have food and start again slowly after lunch. I had a short nap and soon later i realized all my friends left after ditching me. I started walking at a brisk pace as the terrain was almost flat, with occasional climb over the trees that fell because of the avalanches. After half an hour i caught up with everyone but that brisk walk drained me. Ninoy had a twisted ankle and was struggling to walk.To make matters worse, the climate started to worsen and there were lightnings and thunders. One of the tree’s bark caught fire on a lightening strike and the visual of that was quite spectacular.

People stopped over to prevent the fire, but given my worsening body conditions i decide to move on without any rest. The trail then got a little steeper and that completely drained out any energy that i had. Luckily after that climb i caught up with bhargav, who stopped to have a change of clothes. We waited for a while before ninoy and jishnu had caught up. We kept walking and walking for an hour together under the dark clouds threatening to break lose any moment. I found it had to maintain the sustained brisk pace and very soon i started to feel the weakness in my body. Shoulders started to droop, I often lost my balance due to giddiness. I kept on having glucose and kept going.

Soon the rain started to pour in and for the first time in our trip we opened our ponchos and put them on. The rain was pouring in as we approached the final climb of the day. It was a 300 ft steep climb. Unable to do it i took a break and the rain soon became a hail. Balls of ice started to fall in and it felt we were being pelted by stones from above. Every hit started to pain and the force at which they came upon made life hell climbing up. I wanted to take shelter under a tree and the nearest tree was a few meters away. After some 10 minutes struggle i managed to get to the tree and for a while i looked up to see where we had to go and i got hit by a ice piece enough to knock the left glass of my goggles.

It was frightening and i was draining energy fast. The hail stopped after 20 minutes and i got a chance to climb. I climbed so fast that giddiness got better of me and before i could grab onto something i fell down unconscious. I slid down 20 ft and then my knee got struck in a root preventing a catastrophe. The jolt got me conscious again. Scared and drained i climbed up as the hail came back again. That were the toughest moments of the trip as i was gasping for breath and taking one step at a time. I pushed myself like never before and desperately wanted to make it to the camp. 20 minutes of struggle, 2 more slips later i could see the tents. That was by far the happiest moment of the trek. I managed to drag myself for the next few minutes and as i opened the flap of the tent i fell on my face right on the floor – “As people termed it – height’s of give-up-ness”

Finally gathered some courage to put a pose in hail :)

I must be very thankful to god to have helped me muster enough strength to make it in the end. All my friends had come in by then. I soon dried myself up and dozed off. Everyone had played football as i was sleeping peacefully in the tent. Apparently polls had kicked Synti’s football down the cliff and Synti then had an adventure of his own trying to get the ball. I was so tired that i can’t recollect any other things that happened to me that day!

I am in debt to one and all who helped me survive through this tough day! Thanks one and all!

This time for a change we were served bed tea at 2:30 and we were given an hour to get ready to start the mother of all treks till date – “THE SARPASS”. I got up and just took a stroll down the camp. The wind was strong and it was freakishly cold. Luckily the skies were clear and the stars still visible. Thanks to the near full moon the was enough lighting to see around. The snow reflected more moon light making an awesome sight.

It took me a while to gather up the guts to answer to the longer version of Nature’s call. I should say it was an amazing experience doing that on snow under the moonlight looking at the never ending chain of moutains whose peaks glittered with snow. As i went to a trans admiring the beautiful and awesome sights. My fingers and my A** went numb. I couldn’t feel them anymore. I freaked out and walked back to the camp rubbing my fingers to give them any warmth i could get. After a good hot coffee served at the camp i could get back my fingers. It was my first coffee in my life and what a perfect timing to have one at an altitude of 12500 ft. That will be one coffee i will never forget.. Never..

In a few minutes we were served breakfast and were given some dry sweet to keep the calories running for the day. We packed and were all set to go at 4.00 AM. After we offered prayers to the Almighty we took off. The first few steps to the snow were amazingly difficult and many slipped and struggled to get past. After a few steps my confidence grew and i was now walking at a healthy pace across the snow. Slowly my body was perspiring and was able to maintain a good temperature inspite the freezing winds blowing across the face of the mountain. In a while we stopped in order to wait for the laggards of the group and then i started to feel the cold. I started shivering as i just had my track pants on. The cold started to get intense and i was pleading for the sun to come out and give me the warmth.

Luckily we started moving and my body temperature starting raising again as we climbed the 60 degree climbs one step at a time. A few more moments there sitting would have caused permanent damage to my feet!! As we climbed on and on the gradient got higher. One slip and we would have rolled on the hard ice surface several thousand feet into the valley. It was a scary sight from the top, but the only option i had to was to keep climbing. It soon was a 75 degree climb and i had to literall crawl along the surface of the snow with the help of the stick that i had been carrying since Padri camp.

The guide made grooves along the way with his ice axe where in we could pierce our stick and climb up using that as the fulcrum. Soon it was 6 and the sun had started to come out. With him were the warm and soothing rays that i really enjoyed after all the experience i had in the morning. This was probably the first time i really loved the sun rise and i was literally cheering him on. The sun posed another danger, the one of melting snow and thus getting a slippery track to trek on in the future. Bhargav and gang inspired me to finish the hard climb without any more stoppages and by 7:30 we were on sarpass. We were so happy, we congratulated one another and joined the gujarati gang who were doing Garbha. It was an amazing experience dancing at 13000 ft with snow all around and the glory of achieving the unthinkable – SARPASS.. Oh wait!!

The guide then said there was another 3 hour trek before we finished. We were still happy thinking what more could be there ahead. We had already done the steepest climb till now that too in snow and that gave us the confidence to move on for an hour. Soon the body was draining energy mostly to keep up the body temperature. All of us started to feel weak and after a small 50 ft climb that was ahead of us i started giving out. A good dose of glucose and a frooti brought my spirits up and for the next hour i was trekking at snails pace along the slope in what was a familiar scenario by now ( one slip and you are straight into the valley ~ 2000 ft deep)

We crossed a fools peak in between only to realise what we had a 80 degree climb before us. I wanted to give up but all i had done over the past week would just go to drain. I wanted to do it so badly and be home. I started the climb, it was more like climbing parallel to the mountain face literally. When ever i took a break and stood straight, Rena freaked out as if i were to drop down. The only consolation this time was that we knew we wouldn’t roll down and die, but rather had to do the entire climb again! The second proposition was also scary to think off!!

I crawled my way up the mountain and the end i took the help of the Sherpa who pulled my up. I wanted to stand tall and scream till the end of the world, but had only enough energy to curl up and sit at a corner. I could see the lunch point from the top. 3 kms down, but we only had to go down sliding as if it were a giant slide. I could see people sliding their way through sometimes reaching speeds in excess of 40 Kmph. Jishnu had made a mess of his slide and rolled spectacularly. It reminded me of massa’s crash in formula 1 last year. He was safe as snow was more merciful. I was sliding on my tracks and the guide asked me to brake hard with my elbows as my speeds may get uncontrollable. A few moments later i took off screaming my way down at amazing speed. I was down in a flash but i really enjoyed every moment of the slide wanting to do that again. It only took me another half an hour to do the remaining 2 kms sliding and running down slope on the snow. After lunch (omellette and maggi) and quick nap i took off for Biskeri camp.

It was a bad descent with sticky mud, melting snow and big boulders. All along the way we were treated to awesome waterfalls combining to form a bigger stream parallel to the path. By 3 we reached Biskeri camp and i went straight to bed. I had picked up cold and fever thanks to the one mistake of putting the tracks in the morning instead of the cotton pants.

After a nap, I had nice soup and some aloo bajji with a dose of Dolo 650. It got me up and energetic in a while and then we played Wolf and literature till we got tired and dozed off!

 

 

Even though we all had gotten up early, we couldn’t start till 9:30. Apparently yesterday’s extra climb meant that we had to climb even less. For the first time we had sights on where we had to go right from the beginning. It seemed too easy after all that we endured to get to Ratnapani. The entire climb was very steep and short. We only had to do climbing and very little walking. All throughout the journey we had breath taking views of the entire valley and the trails that we took the past few days.

Midway we crossed the 11500 ft mark which meant we were in the terrain classified as extremely high altitude. The snow was so near to us now that made us all the more exciting. After some good no of pics on the way and some pretty steep climb we came to the Lunch point. We ate the lunch and started on a very dangerous and steep climb. When ever i looked down the view was scary, there was nothing on the sides – just an infinite abyss. Lucky to be at the start of the pack i could climb it without any fuss and just after the climb i was treated to an awesome view that i will not forget for a while. It was simply superb and mind blowing.

I stopped there for a while enjoyed the nature and the amazing wind that blew over. Then we started the climb again. In 30 more minutes we reached Nagaru at 2.30. The camp was in the midst of a snow ocean. Everywhere i looked I could see at least 3 layers of mountains all covered in snow. We were all tired and also happy that we had done a remarkable 6000 ft in 4 days. The remaining time was spent looking at the awesome skies, beautiful peaks and unpredictable weather. It rained for a while and within 10 minutes there were clear skies!! amazing!!

 

We had an early dinner at 6:30 and slept an hour later as we had to get up at 2:30 the next day for the mother of all treks the SARPASS!!