Sunday, September 30, 2007

Long ridge walks and flowing white glaciers

1st September

Last night was the first time; I really had a severe headache. I thought, I was not able breathe in the tent at night. At this altitude simple things like getting in to the tent themselves leave you gasping. Thankfully, I was alright the next morning. As I walked out of the tent, I saw that the lake near the campsite was completely frozen. But I was so lazy; didn't have the will to go to the tent again for bringing my camera and click a photo. Our destination was the base of Kalindi Pass. I was excited because I was quite curious about the Avalanche Peak and wanted to see it with my own eyes.

We started around 8.30AM. I thought we would be walking on hard snow today as I saw flowing white glaciers. But I was so wrong. One should never think of avoiding traversing boulders on this trek simply because it is never possible to do so. We were again negotiating Sweta glacier and the thin air made things very difficult.

As we walked, we came to a point where the route splits at the head. There were two routes now, one going to the right and the other sharply turned leftwards. Harsh and Sandeep were discussing the route that turned right, with Budhi and where it would lead to. This told me that we had to go leftwards. The route that went right was essentially a short cut but has never been attempted, at least by trekkers. We could see that there were huge ice walls, crevasses lining
that route. Harsh was telling the group that some day, we would need to do that route as well.

As we reached the glaciers head, we got the first views of Avalanche Peak (6196 meters, 20238 feet) and Kalindi Peak (6070 meters, 20000 feet). The Kalindi Pass is between these two peaks. Budhi pointed out our campsite from this point. It looked very near, but it wasn't. This is always mystery in the mountains, distances can be so misleading. Walking at 5000+ meters was not an easy task and that too it the route wasn’t an easy walk.

I was a little worried about getting fatigued. On our last trek, Sandeep and I had learnt that in the mountains one should never overdo things and that’s exactly what we were trying to follow.

After sometime we could see our campsite and we reached it at around 2.10PM. Our camps were pitched on a small ridge which was separated from the Avalanche peak by wide glacier. The glacier bed was about 30-40m wide glacier bad and it curved a little towards the camp. All of us had read about this Avalanche peak and stories of many camps getting washed away by Avalanches.

It was really surprising to see that all the mountains around Avalanche peak were without snow and irrespective of very high avalanche rate; Avalanche peak is always covered with snow.

When we reached the camp, the sun was out we thought of spending some time outside.. But suddenly the weather changed and it started to snow a little. We huddled in one of the tent as we discussed the stories from the previous treks when suddenly all of us heard a big sound of falling snow. All of us rushed out of the tent immediately to see that there was a big avalanche coming towards us from the Avalanche Peak. It was the first time I was seeing an avalanche and I wanted to take a few pictures, but was really fixed at just watching the massive snow falling of the cliff.

True to its name, in the next few hours, we witnessed many avalanches emanating from the Avalanche peak. After sometime our guide joined us. He had a few boxes and utensils with us. On asking him, he very casually told us that he got them from a nearby campsite which was blown away by avalanches last year. I thought it wasn’t proper to get stuff like this, but refrained from saying anything.

Budhi had got his Koflachs (plastic mountaineering boots) and was trying them out at this campsite.

We had a very early supper and called it a night as we had to start very early, at 4 IS the next day.


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