Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amidst falling rocks

30th August

In spite of the acclimatization day, the mild headache and nausea was still persistent. The rest day was over and it was time to move on. Khada Patthar (5000 meters, 16600 feet) was to be our home for tonight. Budhi had warned us that the route from this point would be fairly tricky to negotiate and we would need help from all quarters possible. There was a small collection of stones at Vasuki Taal with prayer flags and an idol. This was the designated temple for trekkers and climbers. So we all went up there and prayed to the Mountains for good weather and to always be with us during the rest of the trek.

With Yogesh gone, the “Super Six” were reduced to “Fantastic Five” now. Before we started for Khada Patthar, we all huddled together, much like the Indian cricket team. This was to be our practice at all the following campsites. That was a real confidence booster.

The Chaturangi (literally “Four Colored”, so called because of the four types of colored stones that make up the glacier bed) Glacier was on the ridge adjoining the campsite. As we started on the route, initially Chaturangi glacier was on our left. We had to walk along a long ridge to cross Chaturangi. Walking on glacier was something we had become used to now. It almost looked like a common pattern, ascend on to some ridge, then descend down to some glacier and then climb up to our campsite. The descending part was always very risky and hard on the knees. The ascending part, although hard on your lungs, was still alright.

This long haul ended as the small Satopanth Glacier joined the Chaturangi Glacier. At this point we had to descend down and the descent itself was very risky with some of us descending on all fours. The Satopanth Glacier was flowing down from Mt. Satopanth which was on our right. Mt. Satopanth was one of the most beautiful mountains I had ever seen. It looked like a reclining man supporting his head with his arm. We were all amazed at the beauty of the mountain and took a break there just to appreciate the view. We could see the point where climbers set up an ABC.

The climb from Satopanth Glacier towards Khada Patthar was quite steep. As we climbed up the ridge, Budhi pointed our campsite on the glacier down below. Looking at the campsite from top of the ridge, all of us got quite apprehensive. The campsite was on the glacier ridge amidst rocky mountains. There were huge rocks on the mountains around us which looked like were just waiting to fall. After a small downward haul, we reached the campsite fairly early, at around 11.30AM.

One of these mountainous rocks near the campsite is called Khada Patthar (“Standing Rock”). We were still discussing about the risks on this campsite. There was no surface plain enough to pitch the tents. Rocks kept falling from the near mountain tops. This campsite was also very windy; even at afternoon also. However Budhi assured us that it was alright. The wind was horrible now and we just stayed inside our tents.

Later in the night, he told us of some trekkers getting killed on this campsite because of falling rock and avalanches a year ago.

The weather Gods had been with us till now. Generally every evening it would rain or hail for about an hour, never very hard. We were never bothered but were still apprehensive. One can never predict the weather in the mountains.

It was only sometime in the evening, we got out of our tents and decided to explore a bit. Some unknown snow clad peaks were surrounded this camp site.


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