Saturday, December 16, 2006

11-10-2006 [Kalihani Base Camp (~4000m) – Devi Ki Marhi (~3800m) via the Kalihani pass (~4800m)] ~10hrs

Well, the day has come when we cross our first pass on the trek. Crossing of a pass is always an occasion to reckon with during a trek. The pass is normally the highest point on a trek and the feeling of being at such an altitude is always exhilarating.
We woke up at 6 am. It was deadly cold in the morning. Sandeep went to bring some water from a nearby stream to wash his face. The stream was about 40-50 meters down from the tent, by the time he brought the water to the tent, it had turned into ice.
We had some bread-omelet for our breakfast and started early by around 7:30 am. Rinku suggested that we should start walking towards the ice-cave that we could see from the camp and wait for him there.

We started walking towards the cave, but as usual we lost the trail. The glacial moraine of the Kalihani glacier was tough to negotiate. We finally managed to reach the cave from another trail after struggling for half an hour. By this time, Rinku had joined us.

Now some serious climb started. The trail was full of loose stones and moraine. Both the gradient and altitude were taking our exam. We both were breathing very hard and were dehydrated. But the water stock that we were carrying was limited and it had to be used judiciously. We took breaks at regular interval. Since I was beginning to exhaust, Sandeep carried my water bottle and daily lunch pack too.

Finally we managed to reach at the top of the trail. I was very elated as I thought we had reached the pass. But that was not true. The pass was still not visible and Rinku told us that it was quite a distance from this point. Fortunately the weather was on our side today. The views were spectacular and absolutely out of this world. From the top of the trail, we got the first glimpse of the glacier, which we had to cross for reaching to top of the pass. We reached till the glacier after negotiating the big slippery rocks and boulders.

It was first time in our trekking experience that we were negotiating glaciers. It was quite tricky walking on the slippery ice. We could see footmarks of trekkers who had crossed the pass before us indicating that there was no fresh snowfall in the region in the past few days.

After crossing the glacier, there was another small steep climb and that was it. We could see the Cairns and the prayer flags. It was the Top of Pass. After reaching there, I felt as if I was on the top of the world. It was such an amazing feeling, which I can’t express in words. I was crying with happiness. Sandeep said, “Probably we are the first from IBM and Oracle” on the pass J. I have never thought in my life that I would be able to do this. This was just because of so much encouragement from Sandeep. Sandeep too was also very happy.

We clicked some photos and offered prayer and started descending down. Now we were negotiating the big expanse of the Kaliheni glacier. It was very slippery and scary too. On our way, we saw big crevices; some of them were partially covered in snow.

Finally after about couple of hours, we crossed the glacier and with a humble heart we said good-bye to “Kalihani Pass”. Now we have to descend down for our next camp. Rinku informed us that for the remaining distance we had walk on big boulders and wasn’t going to be difficult. I think it was an understatement. Descending down from the glacier was trickier than climbing up. At the base of “Kalihani Glacier” we saw a beautiful glacial lake, very quiet and serene. We took a break near the lake, had some water and chocolates.

Descending down on steep slopes is not one of our strengths. Since during one of his previous trekking expeditions Sandeep had a very bad experience hence while descending down, he is always very conscious and so am I. Rinku always motivated us saying that you both should come out of that fear and you will enjoy the descending down part of a climb.
Anyways, we had already walked for 5 hours and thought our camp would be near by. But it was our illusion. We were negotiating big boulder, twice or thrice Sandeep and I both slipped but managed to start again. At some time there was no trail at all and the route was all lateral and that too when we were almost tired. After sometime Rinku gave a shock saying that he had forgotten the campsite. He moved ahead of us in search of the campsite. At one point Sandeep and I almost got stuck as the trail almost but disappeared. We caught the trail again by staying on the true right of the Kaliheni nullah. We had already walked for 8 hours and were now starting to feel fatigued. Somehow we managed to reach to camp at 5.10pm. What a long day it was. We had almost walked for 10 hours without having our lunch.

Kaushal and Prem greeted us with Hot Tea and Biscuits. Sandeep had some energy left so he went ahead and clicked some photos of this campsite. This place was a small “thach” near the Kaliheni nullah and was called “Devi ki Marhi”. This was again one of the “Gaddi Shephard” encampments. This campsite is called as “Devi ki Marhi” because there is small temple of a “Devi”. A temple meaning, there are a few loose stones kept together with a red cloth wrapped around. This campsite was at an altitude of 3800m.

After sometime we had our dinner and went to our tent. Both of us were feeling very elated. For the first time in our respective lives, we had negotiated tough glacial zones. We again saw our photos in digital camera and felt happy. With this happy feeling we went into a deep slumber.


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