Sandeep and I got out of our tents early in the morning. We were expecting to get the excellent views of the Bhagirathi peaks during sunrise. However, the peaks refused to show themselves. They were hidden under a thick curtain of clouds and all we could do was wait.
All of us started for Nandanvan (4370 meters, 14420 feet) at about . I was a little excited at the thought of seeing Gaumukh. Gaumukh (literally “Cow’s mouth”), is the snout of the huge Gangotri Glacier and is about 2 kilometers from Bhojbasa. This is where the mighty
Now started the tough part of the trek. We knew that throughout this trek we had to negotiate glaciers, move on boulders, tackle scree and glacial moraines and this is where it all actually began. The trail (or I should say the route, there was no trail from here on) to Nandanvan climbs up the true right of the Gangotri Glacier and we had to negotiate this part first. We were actually crossing the Gangotri glacier laterally.
I had always imagined glaciers to look like white frozen rivers which flow gently down and this is what I had seen when negotiating the small glaciers during the Bara Bhangal trek. However, I understood that here in true Himalayan country; glaciers are anything but white and anything but gentle. Glaciers here were a total mess! They looked like nuclear test sites rather than gentle snow fields. Glaciers are extremely active as they move slowly creating crevasses and other rubble.
As we climbed, on the way met some porters who were coming down from Nandanvan. They informed us that they are coming back from Vasuki Taal as some of their team members had decided to return after seeing the terrain their.
Now that wasn’t very motivating was it? I think I got a little scared on hearing that account, but then let all those thoughts pass and decided to wait till I saw it myself
We desperately needed a break and some energy, but Budhi kept on pushing us and asked us to continue for some more time. As we reached the point where the Raktvarna (Rakt – Blood,
After this point, started an extremely steep and arduous climb for Nandanvan. We had to put lot of effort for taking even a few steps. Our porters were walking with us and each time they saw me feeling down and tired, some one would motivate saying "Bas madam ji aa hee gaya". The altitude was now taking its toll. We could feel the air thinning and the effect on our lungs and to top it we were also running short of water.
Finally after the tough climb, we reached on the top of the ridge from where we could see our campsite and life suddenly started looking easy again. Much ahead of the camp, we found a big rock and decided to spend some time resting there. We reached the camp site at Nandanvan (4370 meters, 14500 feet) at around after covering a distance of about 10 km.
The effect of altitude was seen on everyone. All of us had as slight headache and nausea.
Sandeep and I decided to take a walk till a nearby ridge for acclimatizing.
JP and Harsh too had gone for a walk for acclimatizing themselves. We asked Moiz to join us, but he wasn’t feeling like taking a walk and decided to rest near the camp itself.
As we approached the ridge on our walk, we could see the huge Gangotri Glacier down below. The glacier looked really scary as we heard loud sounds made by constant rock fall and glacier activity. Harsh, was the official glacier expert amongst us. He seemed to have a lot of scary information about glacier behavior. I had been ignorant all this while and later thought it would have been better that way. Now that you understand the glaciers more, you can’t help but feel scared as you wonder what might be going on inside the glaciers belly.
The campsite itself was surrounded by some huge mountains from one side. Beyond the Gangotri glacier lay the high altitude meadow of Tapovan. The beautiful and majestic
Our campsite was at the base of the Bhagirathi peaks and Nandanvan serves as the Base Camp for climbers attempting any of these peaks.
The weather was still not very good and all these majestic peaks were hidden behind a thick cloud cover. We kept our fingers crossed. This campsite was renowned for its views of Himalayan peaks, especially Shivling and we just couldn’t wait to see it.
Finally in the evening, the cloud cover lifted and we got partial views of the mountains around us.