Friday, May 29, 2009

No space or time to breathe

Hectic, hectic, hectic... That's been the catch-word for the last two months. Has it been two months already?!

There was the successful Chanderkhani Pass trek, the first from Responsible Travel. Even though the pass was snow-bound, we managed to cross it in early April, opening the route this year for more treks. Then there was a break for a couple of weeks, trekking-wise. The camp, though, took up all the time with continuous groups from Nagpur, Sanawar, Pune, Nasik... The kids seem to be enjoying the whole experience and since that is the aim, there is not too much to crib about the amount of work.

Early in May, we attempted to do Bara Bhangal. But the weather gods who had been kind for the first few days decided to play havoc on the day we reached the base of Kalihani. With more then 3 ft of snow, crossing the pass was out of question though we were confident that if the weather had held for one more day we would have crossed over. So we trudged back through more snow to Riyali Thach and then down to Shangchar, two days short of the intended dates. However, Lin and gang seemed to enjoy the impromptu detour and after promises to try Bara Bhangal again soon, departed to Dharamshala.

A mountaineering course then got underway in Beas Kund for Tesh and Xieheng from Singapore. The aim was to finish training and climb three peaks - Friendship, Shitidhar and Ladakhi. The course and climbs are scheduled to get over on the 31st, so will get a feedback then.

Unfortunately more camp work and a spot of illness kept me at home. In typical reverse logic, I contracted cold and fever when the temperature topped at an unbearable 30C. The mountain sun is quite unbearable when it's hot and minus the humidity, it just drains you.

- K

Now, the virgin trek to Goru Pass is underway. The group has managed to cross Chanderkhani and will attempt to reach Goru tomorrow. It's a relatively unknown pass but a good option for those who have done a couple of treks. Topographically, it lies behind and to the north of Chanderkhani Pass, connecting back to the Kullu Valley above Jagatsukh, near Chota Chandertal. It completes a circuit and looks like a good 10 day option for future groups.

The weather's been a bit moody with spots of snow and sleet, according to K who had called today. Let's hope it holds atleast for tomorrow.

Next in the pipeline, a trek to Hampta Pass after a good 2 years, two back to back climbs on Menthosa followed by a Kang Yatse climb. So no sign of any rest till end of July, atleast.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A year already?

Or almost a year. The last post is dated June 8, 2008. Almost exactly the date when Scrawny, our youngest, fell very ill. For the next 8 months it was an endless series of finding the cause, hunting for a cure and more importantly, to keep her going. Her little heart finally gave up on Feb 15, leaving us in deep shock and unbearable loneliness. We are now down to two - Biki and Maggie who do their bit to cheer us up, but we miss you, Conty papu.

The 2008 season was a hectic one - treks, camps, climbing trips with a few trips to Delhi in between to stock up on more equipment. Did some interesting programs - the Italian expedition to Miyar Valley, the mountaineering course followed by the summiting of Yunam, a successful crossing of Khalindi Khal, introducing more kids to the joys of adventure and mountains...

2009 seems to be shaping up well as well. The campsite will see a busy season with some groups combining a quick trek to Lamadugh along with camping, others will make the most of their camping with rafting and rock-climbing. In the offing, are also some interesting treks, one of which is Goru Pass, a surprisingly accessible but rarely-done route that deviates from Chanderkhani Pass. The other interesting trip will be in the first week of May when we will go across two high passes - Kalihani and Thamsar to Dharamshala.

It's just April and there is still plenty of time for more interesting programs. Like always, it's hectic here with pre-season checking of equipment and stocking up of essentials. The first trek is scheduled for four days from now. Can't wait!

Recession is the buzzword, even in the mountains. But how much it will impact the programs is something I will know only in a couple of months. Business apart, if the weather holds, april-oct will be a fabulous time to be in the mountains.

Just one more promise to myself, will try to write in as often as possible this year.

Why do I live in the mountains?

Why do I live in the mountains?
To see the first sun's rays climb over the mountain to hit the trees behind me
To see the last do the same to the mountain opposite
To wake up to whistling and laughing thrushes
To feel the South-westerly numbing my face as it comes down the valley
To know the spaces that these mountains offer - valleys and gorges and meadows and forests
To gaze at the endless sky with stars so many that they look like a vast city lit up
To still be surprised by how bright the moonlight can be to make distant peaks seem next-door
To know that I needn't hear any traffic, battle a rush hour or worry about office schedules here
To be sure of the one truth - that nowhere else is complete for me