Scent of the Himalayan Air - After a decade !

Scent of the Himalayan Air - After a decade !

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 32.00000°N / 77.00000°E
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 6, 2011
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Trip and Training

It was going to be very similar to when I climbed Rainier. We all (family) were supposed to go out for a trip in the state of Himachal Pradesh, after which I was going to head off into the mountains, to climb KshitiDhar.
During Rainier, we had been to North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, and a few other places around Seattle, which, in a way took its toll on my body, i.e. while climbing Rainier, at some points, I was utterly exhausted, and I personally blame the trip for that (which included no training, and just hogging on high-carb food).

On April 27th, 2011, I was in the EXACT same situation. The trip was planned, the dates were planned, the hotels were booked, and the only thing that loomed large in my mind was training for the climb.

With only 1 month at hand, I took a systematic approach to training, alternating between strength training, cardio, and load-carrying practice. Fortunately, I have mountains within driving distances from the place where I stay in India, so that helped.

The Range

The Dhauladhar Range in India spans across a few states, out of which Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) is one.
The other team
It spans from the western most part, which is Dalhousie, all the way to Manali, which is on the central-eastern side of the state. Map of main cities in Himachal Pradesh. There are multiple treks that originate from this region. I had been to Beas Kund in 1995, but I know quite a few more who trek in this area, as their first high-altitude Himalayan trek. For a list of treks in this region, click here.
The highest peak in Dhauladhar range is Hanuman Tibba, which is about 18,500 ft high, for which the climb starts from the same base camp as KshitiDhar. A few prominent peaks in the region are Indrasan (which is known to be highly technical), Kullu Pumori, Makerbeh, Shikarbeh, Dharamsura (White Sail), Behali Jot etc.
The Majestic Hanuman Tibba, rises above all...
For a good list of peaks in this region, click here. The Moulkila range (M1 - M10) lies in the Spiti Valley, for which one has to go beyond Rohtang Pass (13,051 ft), drive towards Jispa, and then trek about 15 kms, to get to the base camp. It was here that I had done my Basic Course in Mountaineering in 1998. The mountains in this area are comparatively higher and tougher than the ones before crossing Rohtang Pass.

Dalhousie gets it's name from a British Governer - General, who frequented this place as a summer retreat. I feel, Britishers have really enjoyed the virgin beauty of the Himalayan hill stations, when they were in their most natural forms, as against what they have turned out today - a chaotic place with a "Mall Road", with blaring horns, multi-cuisine restaurants, and innumerable shopping opportunities. The state of Himachal Pradesh also houses Dharamsala (McLeodGanj), the official seat of the exiled Tibetan leader, honorable Dalai Lama. This place is very popular with westerners.

Khajjiar, Chamba, Shimla, Manali, Kullu, Palampur, and numerous other places dot this state, about which information can easily be procured from the internet.

Day 0 - June 3rd - Manali (6000 ft)

Our trip ended on the 3rd of June, when I and a friend, Shruti tried to go andd visit Rohtang Pass by leaving early in the morning, at 4.00 am. It's a different thing that we couldn't reach the pass due to a landslide, but the day was going to turn out to be very, very long.

I met with my guides in the market, after lunch. We sat down for a cup of tea, to discuss the list of items to be bought. After cancelling quite a few items, we finalized on the list, and headed out for the shopping part. A trip to a few grocery stores, a vegetable vendor, and we were done. Then, we went to visit Mr. Vijay, who had provided me with the guides and the cook. He turned out to be a jolly fellow, who was all ready to help out. A short visit to his equipment store made me fully equipped. My carry-mat had gotten torn, so I had to rent one from him. Also, the guides needed their tents, boots, gaiters, crampons, cooking utensils, kerosene (white gas), and a stove.

After we got the stove, we realized that it's burner was not working properly. So we had to go to one of the guide's home to procure his personal stove. A quick stove check-up at the market, followed by equipment gathering - and we were ready to head to the mountains the next day. My car's boot was full of stuff, which needed to be packed, plus they were going to carry my tent. So, back at the hotel, while doing my final packing, I realized that I was pretty much carrying everything on my back, except the tent and food. The pack weighed close to 20 kg, which was a little more than what I had expected. At the end of the day, the weight-carrying-training which I had undergone back home, helped. After I was done packing, one of the guides (their names were Kirti and Chunni)called me to take me to a lawyer, to get that mandatory affidavit done, which spells out that I am aware of the dangerous activity I am undertaking, and in case something happens to me, neither me nor my family will hold the guides responsible. And, that I am solely responsible for the expedition and it's consequences.

So, the day that started at about 3:45 am, ended at about 11:45 pm, when I was completely packed to head out the next day. I was so DEAD tired that I didn't think, I could get up and make it the next day.

Day 1 - June 4th - Manali (6000 ft) to Bakkhar-Thach (10,500 ft)

SINKING FEELING



Even though the alarm went off at 4:30 am, I was drifting in and out of sleep since about 2 am. Although this day was far from summit day, the nature of the excitement was the same (everybody knows that there is pretty much no sleep on summit night). My last expedition had been to Mexico, when I climbed Pico de Orizaba, and I had left my 5-months' pregnant wife alone and kissed her goodbye, at College Station, TX. At that time, I had some sort of sinking feeling - of leaving somebody whom you love, behind, to pursue your passion / obsession. But, somewhere inside of me, I KNEW that I am going to return back, no matter what. That, I am not going to make my wife raise the kid on her own. Now, three and a half years later, with the pack on my back, gear loaded, when I saw my wife and kid sleeping peacefully, I had the same sinking feeling. And, again, I told myself - "From the beautiful world I am venturing into, I have to return back to THIS beautiful world", where my wife and son are my everything. Questions like "Why do we climb?", "Why do I like climbing?", "Why do I have to leave them alone?", "Can they be with me?", "Should I drop my plan?" and similar thoughts raced my mind.

Fortunately enough, I was able to shrug them off (even though momentarily), and I woke up my wife, kissed my son on his forehead, and bid goodbye - promising that I WILL come back, no matter what.

ROHTANG TUNNEL



The journey from Manali to Solang Nallah is about 13 kms by road. The road quality was pathetic, when I had been on my Beas Kund trek, about 16 years ago. But, since then the Indian Army had taken over the region under their jurisdiction, and hence, the road quality was top-notch. From Solang Nallah, again, I remember trekking all the way to Dhundi, which is about 8 kms away, on a trail. Now, the scenario was completely different. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) had constructed this road, enabling the heavy machines which were involved in the "Rohtang Tunnel" project, to reach Dhundi. The "Rohtang Tunnel" project is a massive undertaking, which would connect the Kullu Valley (where Manali is nested), to the Lahaul and Spiti Valley. The ONLY current route to go to that side is via Rohtang Pass, which is 51 kms from Manali. In winter, the pass is closed due to snow, and the two valleys are completely disconnected. Once this tunnel gets constructed, the Lahaul and Spiti valley would be open all year-long, both for civil as well as defense purposes.

Kirti's uncle was in some way, involved with the BRO, so Kirti procured a pass for us, to have our driver drive us all the way to Dhundi. It required all the details like his license number, his name, age, the number of people he would be dropping off etc. Looking back, I think it was indeed a good decision, to get this 8 km reduced from our expedition, as we had very few days at hand.
Before getting packed up


While waiting at the main market crossing in Manali, I had bought breakfast (Omlette-bread) for Kirti and Chunni (guides), Bhumi (cook), and myself. Once the driver dropped us off at Dhundi, we thought of having breakfast, but the gear in front of us made us forget breakfast for a while. The stuff needed to be packed ! Frantic packing ensued, and we started from Dhundi at 7:30 am. My initial plan was to go and camp at Beas Kund straight away, but looking at the weight we all were carrying, the weather conditions (which were fair), our stamina and the time at hand, we decided to make camp at Bakkhar-Thach, which in local language means grazing ground, for the sheep. A completely maligned bridge over river Beas (due to landslides and rockfall) was our first hurdle, as we headed out of Dhundi.
Mangled Bridge
It was after crossing this bridge that we took our first break, to fuel our stomachs. The omlette-bread tasted excellent, even though it had a tad-bit of salt on the higher side.

The weight on their backs really bogged the three guys down. When I had initially suggested we go from Manali (about 6000 ft) and camp at Beas Kund (12,500 ft), they were a little wary of two things - my level of getting acclimatized to the sudden height gain, and the their capacity to carry this much load (they had about 25-30 kg on them) in one day.
Going towards Bakkhar-Thach
In the end, it was the load that proved to be the major reason that we decided to give Beas Kund a miss, and camp at Bakkhar-Thach. After a couple of much needed breaks, we managed to reach Bakkhar-Thach at 11 am.
Another resting period, with splendid views
As soon as we reached, we began pitching our tents, and Bhumi started looking for a place for the kitchen tent. This site at Bakkhar-Thach is frequently used by the mountaineering institute from Manali to set up their base camp. It is here that they get their 45 to 50 odd students, and take them higher for the snowcraft and icecraft training. So, this place has a lot of ready tent-sites, along with a huge area for kitchen tent, meant to cater to so many students.
Our Tent


REACHING BAKKHAR-THACH



Bhumi set up his makeshift kitchen tent with a tarp, and made piping hot tea. It felt great to have tea with biscuits, soaking in the afternoon sun, sitting at the edge of a bowl, which gives us excellent views of Hanuman Tibba, Seven Sisters, Kshitidhar, Friendship and many unnamed peaks.

The cooking utensils we took along had a pressure cooker. When asked for a 3-liter cooker, the helper at the store gave us (by mistake) a 5-liter cooker. So, when Kirti and Chunni bought a 3-liter washer (rubber rim-ring) for the cooker, it didn't fit at all ! So, here we were in a BIG fix, where none of our food would get cooked, as the wrong sized cooker came along. Bhumi applied his cooking skill and technical experience to put a layer of wheat dough in place of the washer, to help seal off the inside from the outside.
The man-made washer, to assist the vegetables in cooking
Due to these complications, our lunch got delayed, and we ended up having lunch at 3 pm. The lunch consisted of Rice and Dal, with vegetables cooked in the Dal. Pickle and Garlic Chutney made for a perfect spicy accompaniment to the food. After we were done with the lunch, Kirti and Chunni and I went for some height gain.
Me, during height gain
For this, we took a detour on the glacier that takes us to Beas Kund. Walking on snow was second nature to them, but I was doing it after almost 3 years. Walking on snow with backpacking shoes (without crampons and ice axe) was tough, as my feet continuously slipped at every alternate step, even though I was using my shoe-edges all along. After about 800 ft of height gain, Kirti showed me the route we were going to take the next day. From Beas Kund, after walking on the glacier for about 2 hours, we come at the base of what is very aptly called as the 'Rape Ridge".
A close-up view of KshitiDhar
This ridge does its bit to test your endurance to its maximum limit. I had no idea that the ridge was indeed going to do its job the next day.

Returned from height gain at about 6:30 pm, and Bhumi had kept tea ready for us. Chunni made a good campfire, and Bhumi kept his cooker on the fire, for the rice and dal to cook. This helped us save some kerosene for future use. At about 8 pm, I felt a chill go through my body, and I started shivering, all of a sudden. This was accompanied with a severe headache. It reminded me of the instance at Upper Boy Scout Lake on Whitney, when I felt the same rush through my body. I immediately pulled out my down jacket, and added a bottom layer, with two pairs of socks to keep my feet warm. This camp, being at the head of a valley, had all the wind coming from top towards us. A thought of popping a pill did cross my mind, but I avoided it telling myself that a good night's sleep should do it's job. A dinner-with-Maggi (noodles) later, I tucked myself in the sleeping bag, bidding goodnight to Bakkhar-Thach. Having drunk a liter of water along with dinner, I had to go and pee at 12:15 am in the morning. It felt utterly awful to get out of the sleeping bag, put on those cold shoes, get out of the tent, and go release the pressure in your bladder. But, my exit was greeted with one of the most beautifully lit skies I have even seen. There were literally thousands of starts across the sky, accompanied by the snow-clad peaks holding their majestic aura above us. The hanging glacier
The MASSIVE Hanging Glacier
just to the right of seven sisters shed a little bit of its weight, and the snow came crashing down with a thunder. I headed back inside, to continue with my sweet sleep.

Day 2 - June 5th - Bakkhar-Thach (10,500 ft) to Beas Kund (12,500 ft) to Camp 1 (15,500 ft)

Awake at 5:45 am, the tent's sheet was slowly getting yellower, with the sunlight trickling in, from between the mountains in front of us. As the routine goes, I drank about half-a-liter of water, followed by tea. The cardamom's aroma enriched tea was heavenly.

A good dump later, it was time for breakfast, and breaking camp. In the morning, we decided to head to Beas Kund, have lunch there, and take packed dinner and breakfast (for the next day), and head to Camp 1. This way, Bhumi won't have to come all the way to Camp 1. I was a little wary about a stove not being with us at Camp 1, but I agreed to their offer, and plan of action. We broke camp, and headed out towards Beas Kund at 8 am. The route goes through a glacier,
Heading towards Beas Kund
then up a steep trail,
The trail, before the morraine hits
followed by sickening morraine, again a walk in a glacier, crossing a small sub-stream of river Beas, to finally get to Beas Kund.

We took a couple of breaks on the trail, and finally reached Beas Kund at 10 am.
First view of Beas Kund (tents bottom left)
The area was entirely in snow, and the camp had to be made on snow. Soon Bhumi and the other two guides pitched their tent, and Bhumi started cooking. We had a good portioned Maggi for lunch. As soon as the Maggi was down, it did it's job of putting pressure on my stomach. In a way that was good, as I can't imagine going for a dump, when all geared up with that harness, boots, gaiters, crampons, and those thick gloves, with which you can practically do nothing but hold an ice axe.

TOWARDS CAMP 1 - VIA RAPE RIDGE



We unpacked our backpacks, left all the unnecessary things at Beas Kund, and only packed the pre-summit-sack. We left for Camp 1 at 1:15 pm.
Kirti, on the way to Camp 1
The sun was on its way down, and because of that, it felt really cold on the glacier walk. In a way, it was good, as the sun would have made the snow slushy, making it tough for us to walk on. So, as they say, whatever happens, happens for good.
After walking on snow for about 2 hours, we took a break and had a bar of 5-star (chocolate). It was then I realized that there was a parallel non-snow-trail that we could have taken. For some reason, I was getting extremely exhausted walking in the snow. So, I took the trail, and headed up the rape ridge. On the ridge, I met Kate, who had camped with her team at Beas Kund, and planned on summitting five peaks - Hanuman Tibba, Ladakhi, Manali, Kshitidhar and Friendship, all in 1 month's time. I had seen her a day ago, when she had headed all the way to Manali
Beas Kund s campsite s view, from just before hitting the rape ridge
to get treated in a hospital for severe sunburn. Her team was already at Camp 1, and she was headed there. She made good speed, and we were together for about half-an-hour on the ridge after which I halted for a while, and she headed up. The last few hundred feet of the ridge were bad, really bad. If you walked on the ridge, on one side, you have a steep glacier, at about 50 deg gradient. And, on the other side, you have scree, which is all mushy. I tried walking on the scree, but everything below your feet moved, so, you are left with no choice but to continue on the ridge.
Arrived at Camp 1


We reached Camp 1 at 6:15 pm. Within minutes of us reaching, snowfall started, and we had to hurriedly pitch our tent. The other team was getting served hot tea, which was as inviting as ever. I me a fellow Indian there, by the name of Abhiram Shandilya, who lived in the Silicon Valley, and worked in Juniper Networks. He had climbed Shasta, and a few other mountains in the US, and was in this region to climb 5 peaks. They had summitted Kshitidhar the earlier day, and on this day, they had done a load ferry to move their stuff for Camp 2, which was required for Ladakhi. They were supposed to start with us the next day, to go and establish Camp 2, and we would go for Kshitidhar summit.

ANYTHING TASTES GOOD HERE



A quick dinner of pretty much frozen dry subji (vegetables cooked Indian style) and Roti (Indian bread) was pushed down our throat, inside the tent, as wind howled outside, and snowfall continued
Eating pretty-much-frozen roti-subji at Camp 1
. After dinner, we all finished 1 liter of water amongst us. We were left with only 1 liter of water for the summit day. Kirti asked the cook of the other team, if he could met some snow and give us some water, but he refused. I thought - Tomorrow is certainly going to test our mental as well as physical strength. And, with this thought, I went off to sleep, as we were going to head for the summit at 4 am in the morning, the next day.

Summit (17,500 ft) Day - June 6th

The alarm went off at 3:30 am. By the time we all woke up, and got ready, it was 4:15 am. Putting on the layers of clothes, socks, bottoms, boots, crampons, gloves took its own sweet time, and by the time we left for the summit, it was already 5 am. Gladly, before we left, the cook from the other team gave us a bottle of water. So, now we had 2 liters of water amongst the 3 of us.
Rope-up on summit attempt
Way down enroute...
Close-up of Camp 1 below


About half an hour later, I realized that my crampons were not properly tightened. So, had to stop, take off the gloves, tighten them crampons, and start with the 1-axe-2-feet perpetual and never-ending climbing rhythm. We took a break before the real steep portion began, and had some dry fruits, some chocolates, and a sip of water each.

After about 2 hours, we roped up, and continued climbing. I was in the middle, with Chunni leading, and Kirti trailing behind me. This continued for about an hour. Along the way, we took another break to put aside our headlamps, and pull out our goggles, as the reflections from the snow were soon going to get unbearable. Another hour later, the gradient steepened. Even though I was fine with being roped up, both the guides insisted on fixing a rope. The gradient must have been somewhere around 60 - 65 degrees.
The other group coming up at a slow and steady pace
They both did not have a Jumar, and they had gotten 2 snowstakes. So, Kirti used to lead, fix the rope, I used to climb exactly as if I had a Jumar, but pull myself with my hand, and Chunni used to follow. This happened for 2 rope lengths, and we were on the col. At the col, towards the right, you see KshitiDhar summit, and to your left is Ladakhi summit. The walk to the base of Ladakhi summit is about 2 hour long.

As soon as we reached the col, the clouds started coming onto us, and weather started becoming bad. And, to top it up Chunni felt really ill. After our yet another chocolate break, he decided to just lie down, and sleep, while we summitted the mountain. I was worried for him, and wanted him to not sleep. Kirti too insisted him to not sleep, but he just lied down. The team coming up behind us were way below, and coming at their own pace, as everybody had roped up as 1 team.

I and Kirti summitted Kshitidhar at 9:45 am on June 6th, 2011
Summit. Indian Tricolour. Me.
. I was told that sometimes, your cellphone catches a signal here, at this height. So, I pulled out my cellphone, and called up my sister, whose birthday happens to be on the 6th of June. It was for the first time that I had called somebody from a summit, and told them that I was speaking from the summit.
Call from the summit !
My sister was excited, and so were my folks back home. I spoke with my mom, dad, wife and son also. With the mandatory photographs, we decided to get back, down the mountain. But then, we were surprised to see Chunni walking towards us
Chunni, and Ladakhi
. We waited for him, he also summitted the mountain, took his share of photographs, and we all started descending. At the col, we pretty much could not see anything down below, because of the whiteout.
Me, with Ladakhi in the background


To avoid getting stuck in the whiteout, and possible snowfall, Kirti decided to fix the rope, and let me descent on it, by rappelling. He used to belay Chunni, who used to go the rope's length, and tighten the rope by fixing it at the other end. Then, I clipped the rope in my crab with a italian hitch. Kirti, for safety purposes, added a prussik knot on another crab through my harness. This way, I descended the steeper sections of the slope. While descending, if I looked down, it seemed as if I was descending into a never-ending open gaping hole, filled with clouds. We made it to Camp 1 at 12 pm.
Camp 1
One team which we had met at Bakkhar-Thach had come over to Beas Kund, and had come to Camp 1 for height gain purposes. They offered us some snacks, and some water. We rested for a while, and after about an hour later, we wrapped up the tent, and started descending towards Beas Kund. Instead of following the rape ridge, we took the glacier besides it. Part of the descent was glissading, and part was walking down, heel-first.
On the way back to Beas Kund
As the snow had gotten slushier, one of my foot went inside, all the way, i.e. till my waist, where I had to carefully pull myself out.
In....


After reaching Beas Kund at around 3:15 pm, Kirti asked me if I have the strength to go to Bakkhar-Thach. I outrightly denied, and said, I would like to rest at Beas Kund, as it was what was planned. He agreed but said that leaving from Beas Kund would be pretty late the next day, as they all were tired, and would be getting up late the next day. This did not serve my purpose of getting home early, to be able to spend time with my family. I had already booked a ticket for the 8th of June, but would have loved to get back a day earlier. So, reluctantly, I agreed, and started walking towards Bakkhar-Thach, while they all winded up the tent at Beas Kund, and joined me.
Trail, from Beas Kund to Bakkhar-Thach


As soon as I reached the small sub-stream of Beas, I realized that it was no longer a small sub-stream, but looked pretty much like a river by itself. So, I couldn't see any place we could cross it. I waited for the others to arrive, which was about 40 minutes later. They took me up, all the way to the snout of the glacier from where the water was coming, and we all crossed the stream there. This detour added another 45 minutes of snow-walking to our already stretched plan, and tired legs. On the way back, I placed my foot on a huge boulder, and it moved, hurling me forward, to avoid me getting stuck under the boulder. I had a fairly big fall, and hurt my shin real bad. I was glad my pant didn't get torn. The morraine was followed by a steep descent, and half-an hour of walk on snow. Again. But, now, I was in a state where, even if we had decided to get back to Dhundi, I would have hiked out. There is this state of mind, where you get so used to something (and this state is way beyond exhaustion), that no matter what comes your way, you take it as it comes. Before the walk on snow, Kirti and Bhumi realized I was a little annoyed, and tired, and they said, "We know that we have stretched you quite a bit, but you have taken it very sportively, and it seems you have practiced a lot, as it shows in your stamina and determination." A compliment from my guide was the least expected at this juncture, but something like this coming from a guide did mean quite a lot to me. I just nodded, and started walking. At 5:30 pm, we made it back to Bakkhar-Thach. The two tents as well as the kitchen tent were setup in no time, and Bhumi started working on getting us a hot drink. We drank 2 glasses of Bournvita. This was followed by a meal of rice and mix-vegetables curry. Bhumi had put so much of spice and green chilly in it, that it had become extremely spicy. Dinner was followed by a few last photos of the range around us, and I dozed off in the sleeping bag, for the last time in the mountains, happy and content of having achieved the goal.
Last night at Bakkhar-Thach

Back to Civilization - Day 4 - June 7th

A quick morning breakfast of Maggi, followed by tea and lots of water, and we were ready to leave for Manali. we left the tent fly, our boots, gloves etc, to dry out in the sun for some time. Once they dried up, everything got packed, and we headed down. It was about 8:15 am, when we started, and at exactly 9:30 am, we were in Dhundi. On the way to Dhundi, we could see that the institute had put up tents for students of Basic Mountaineering Course, as well as for the Advance Mountaineering course. Kirti commented that had they come a day or two earlier to Bakkhar-Thach, we could have avoided cooking completely, as he was an instructor (on contract) at the institute, and would have arranged for all of us.
Signs of Civilization
Awesome view, when I looked back on the way down
Mountaineering Institute Campsite


STROKE OF LUCK



10 am - we hit the tar road, and our luck shone on us. We saw a vehicle approaching, and a wave of our hand stopped it. The BRO vehicle allowed us to dump ourselves and our backpacks, and they took us all the way to Manali. This saved me about Rs. 1000. A short rickshaw ride to the hotel, and at 11 am, I was taking a shower in the same room I had stayed with my family.
Back. to the hotel. Ready for a shower...!


After arranging my stuff, I headed to the reception, and got my ticket exchanged to the 7th, instead of the 8th. After that, I was reminded of the awesome food at Sher-e-Punjab, a restaurant in Manali since 1972. I went there, and had a tasty 1/2 butter-chicken and 5 butter-rotis.
My transportation was arranged. I went back to the hotel, took my luggage, and at 5 pm, I was on my way back to Delhi, in the local transportation.

Points to be noted...

Overall, everything went well. Also, it is said that - all is well that ends well. But, looking back at the 3-day expedition, there are a few points that come to my mind, which hopefully will be of help to others.

1 - My expedition was somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with one end being a completely arranged expedition / climb by a climbing organization / club, and the other end being an ENTIRELY self-supported, alpine style expedition, with the climber carrying about 70 lbs. What happened because of this is that the specific deliverable from a company to a client was not laid out in the open. Things which they would carry, things which I would carry, getting the campsite ready, pitching the tents, wrapping up the campsite etc. I personally did not have problems whatsoever, but I can see many clients getting irritated by small, minor things which they might expect the hired people to do, which in this case might not have gotten done.
2 - The uncertainty of water in the Himalayas is usually not an issue. When we climbed from Dhundi to Bakkhar-Thach, there was plenty of water. Even at Bakkhar-Thach, there was a running stream from where everybody took water. But above Bakkhar-Thach, whenever I used to say, "Do we have enough water?", their reply used to be "There is lot of snow melting above, we are sure, we will get water somewhere or the other". As expected, before the summit attempt, at night, we had only 1 liter of water. I was comfortable with that, as I know my body constitution, and can stay without water for a long time. But, in case there would have been somebody else, who would have needed more water, then it would have been a serious problem. While summitting the mountain, I was a little wary about even having 2 liters of water with us. A question constantly bogged my mind - "What would happen, if somebody in this situation gets extremely dehydrated?"

I guess, the answers to the above questions lie in one simple fact - how much money you have paid the people you have hired. I got a fair rate, because they came to me via a friend, but if professionally hired, then probably, we would have had a stove, kitchen tent at Camp 1 as well, and we would have left for the summit after a hot drink, and would have carried 5-6 liters of water with us.

I am glad everything worked out fine for me, and I am back home, safe and sound - to plan for another expedition for the next year!
With Family,  in Delhi

Nostalgia

It was the June of 2001, when I had been to Thelu, and had summitted it. Now, exactly after 10 years, I was in the Himalayas, standing on the top of another mountain.
That time, I had 6 of my close friends with me, to constantly support me. This time, I was alone. Their absence was something which I felt very strongly.

1995 was when I trekked to Beas Kund, along with my 2 cousins. And, 1998 was when I was at the mountaineering institute, along with a dear friend, to do the Basic Course in Mountaineering.

While on the way back, I think of all the years gone by, the moments of happiness and camaraderie, the companionship I have shared with my friends here. With a feeling of nostalgia, I pray to god, and I wish I have some of my friends with me the next time I climb in the Himalayas. And, what better way than to commemorate the climb 10 years ago...

Climbing is fun. It's much more fun with friends who share the same passion. Or should be saying obsession?
At the base camp of Mt....


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