Sunday, September 30, 2007

Traversing glaciers that crack

31st August

The night was horribly cold and the wind kept howling outside the tent. Early morning, I heard Moiz, giving the cook recipe for “Poha” and was wondering if we were going to have Poha for breakfast. We were not disappointed. After breakfast, we started for our destination, Sweta Glacier at about 8:30 AM. We climbed up the adjoining ridge and could immediately see the Suralya glacier flowing below us which we had to cross. Mt. Satopanth and the twin peaks of Mt. Chandra Parvat (6739 meters, 22238 feet) were on our right and looked as if they too were ready to move with us.

We knew we would have to cross razor sharp ridges on this day and would have to probably cross them on all fours. As always, Budhi was leading the pack and I kept alongside him so that I could take his help to cross any sharp ridges today. However, we didn’t encounter any even after walking for some time. Budhi told us that these glaciers courses keep shifting and every year, the route keeps changing with no fixed trail. This was the first time I actually thanked the glaciers for their nature, as they had formed new routes for us. However, the shifting ice in the glaciers belly sometimes leads to huge crevasses. While negotiating the Suralya glacier, many a times we heard the sound of the glacier cracking. Harsh, our designated glacier expert wasn’t making things easy for us by giving us “gyan” on the cracking of glaciers.

At one place, we saw an amazingly beautiful emerald green lake and an equally beautiful ice cave nearby. The cave itself was very large, much like the railway tunnels that you normally get on the Mumbai-Pune route.

We spent some time appreciating the cave and the lake. None of us had the will to go down till the cave and explore it more. We were getting a little late also.

We finally reached the campsite of Sweta Glacier (5200 meters) around 2.30 PM. Although the surrounding was amazingly beautiful, the campsite itself was very scary. The camp was on the glacier bed very near a lake. We could actually see that the ice was very thin in this part. Behind the camps, there was one water stream flowing down from the mountains with a big bang sound. The twin peaks of Chandra Parvat looked imposing on the other side. A little further we could see a large hanging glacier, much like a water fall frozen mid way. There was nothing much around the campsite to explore, as it was all glaciers. In the afternoon, the weather was ok because of the sun but as the evening progressed it started getting cold. Our cook also asked us to have an early dinner so that we could call it a night earlier.


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