Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trek to Nerak ( the warmest camp)

It was the coldest night till now. I was not able sleep and felt very jealous of Sandeep who was snoring next to me.

Today before we started, Lobsang ji asked me to try a pair of overboots. The overboot had some grip on the sole which he said would help while walking on ice. All of us had multiple falls on ice during the last two days and it was not a great feeling as you take a fall on the hard ice, on your back or on your hips.

We started for Nerak at 9.45 AM. The initial part of the Chadar was perfect and we were walking with a good pace. I realized that the overboots were really good except it added 1kg each to my legs. It was like walking with bricks tied to my ankles. It did help me in the walk though and since it had a crampon like sole, it helped avoid the falls. I also thought it would help me in my running once I go back to Bangalore.

The sky was clear blue and the sun had started peeking in from top of the mountains into the gorge. This made the part the ice on top a little watery and it looked like it would break anytime. Lobsang ji wanted us to cross this section quickly as he said the Chadar could break anytime. We did a little climb to reach the lunch point. The lunch point had big broken ice chunks, it looked like some bomb site. The walk after the lunch point was very scenic. All the porters stopped near a big Juniper tree. They offered prayer and silk clothes for a successful and safe Chadar trek.

I realized that my camera batteries had discharged long back and I casually asked Lobsang ji if he had a spare one. He generously gave his batteries and only because his batteries we could click pictures of the remaining days.

There was a massive frozen waterfall after couple of kilometers. We had seen multiple frozen streams and falls en-route but this one took the cake. It looked like time itself had stopped. It was one of the most beautiful and amazing sites I had seen in my entire life. I have never seen such huge frozen waterfall earlier. Later on Mohan told me that people try and climb a frozen water fall using small ice axes and some sort of technical ice climbing skills are required.

The last part of the day was little scary. There was huge section of the slippery ice, one fall and off you go directly into the river. Falls on the ice are common but one has to be careful if the river flows nearby. Sandeep had two falls in succession here but thankfully he was safe.

Imran chose to take a longer detour and climb the rocks instead of walk slippery ice walk. Finally we could see a couple of houses atop a hill. This was the cmapsite for today. The village of Nerak itself is about a couple of hours climb from the river. For us, we climbed up to the campsite where we found a small house where a bunch of kids were playing.

It was a surprise when Lobsang ji told me that we would staying inside the house which had a fireplace or “bukhari”. That was great news. We would be warm in the evening after many days. We had three rooms and five of us settled inside the room with warm bukhari. Later in the evening everyone joined us in our room. We had hot soup and dinner and had a chatty evening. Subbu was responsible for the bukhari and he almost caused a small explosion as he emptied a can of kerosene on the wood. We had a discussion on different types of gears and Imran invited all of us to Bangladesh. Pantho and Imran had a lot of stories to tell us about their country. Mohan got a very good mat which resembled a swimming pool tube which he said required a little balance but provided good insulation. The only thing we fought for on the trek I guess were the mats, we had multiple mats and Mohan and Satya always tried to grab maximum leaving Tuggu with scraps.

Around 9.30 PM we called it a day.

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