Fever and pride.


“How is it going Tenzing?”

“Aah!  Fine, this boy is too slow, what about you?

“My client is pathetic but he is pushing himself well”.

“Who is he?” pointing out at me visually he asked Tenzing.

“He is a friend, just met him on the way.”

His client reaching closer he resumed his descent along with his client.

We were about 200 meters below the shoulder that lead towards the summit of stock Khangri (6153 meters).

My two teammates from Poland were already on the shoulder of the peak. The third one was ahead of me and the fourth was behind me. I was in no hurry to move ahead. The pace was good and I was enjoying the company of the rugged boys of Ladakh I met on the way with their clients. I was also in no mood to leave Pawel behind although he would have reached the summit without me too, but it was my moral responsibility to keep a vigil on everyone. For now, only he was close to me so there was no point leaving him and running ahead.

                 

15 30 June 2015

Shahid Khan

Detailing of Liaison Officer (LO) with Foreign Expedition 

Dear Sir,

  1. Reference your letter dated 12.02.2015 for detailment as a LO of Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) with foreign expedition during the year 2015.
  2. You have now been nominated as LO with Polish expedition to peak Nun (7077M) in J&K Himalaya from 07.08.2015 to 06.09.2015.
  1. You are requested to report to IMF, New Delhi on 07.08.2015 between 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. for briefing, filling up of forms tieing up with the leader of the expedition and for other administrative formalities.

Yours faithfully,

(Raj Kumar Yadav )

Lt Col(Retd.)

Director

I applied for LO for Indian mountaineering foundation, having been chosen for the same. I accepted to accompany the team of 4 men from Poland to Mount Nun (7135 meters).On reaching the IMF I was briefed about my duties and responsibilities, handed over the documents to be forwarded to 8 mountain brigade, Superintendent of police, Kargil, department of tourism, and district magistrate in Kargil. On the arrival of the polish climbers. We were introduced to one another and briefed about do’s and don’ts. Polish team left for Leh next morning from IGIA to Leh. I choose to reach Leh by bus all the way through Manali, Rohtang pass and finally to Leh. Coming days were going to ask me to take tasks unplanned and unprepared. I reached my hotel by evening in Leh. When I met my fellow climbers in the hotel. To my surprise, they were all set to leave for Mt.Stok kangri(6,153 m ) next morning.There was no acclimatisation rules to be followed .I wasn’t the leader of the expedition to Mt Nun for which we were here. Stok was going to be the acclimatisation peak before finally moving towards Mount Nun. I was not to take decision for them, my job was to act as a coordinator between them and Government authorities though I had a liberty to climb with them at my own risk. I had already been to mount Stok kangri base camp and climbed Mt Golab kangri(6025 meters ) from the same base camp. I was tuned up with the terrain towards the base camp. The terrain was not an issue for me, moving tomorrow base camp without acclimatisation was also no issue. The issue was something else and it was turning serious now. Before leaving from Delhi I had a fever for which I did not take any medications, hoping it will lower soon. I needed rest and medication to lower my fever, and this was not going to happen now. leaving for Stok will increase the fever.I had a paracetamol hoping it will lower the temperature. It was not enough. I had to keep drinking water in order to lower temperature and to stay fit in terms of acclimatisation. Early next morning we left for Stok kangri base camp. We were taken to the point where the road ended and the trail began towards the Stok base camp. Polish members had breakfast there itself on the road side, raw meat with bread brought from Poland. I ordered a plate of noodles in a small restaurant at the roadside. Porters were to arrive by now, which did not happen. The agency hired to provide base camp services was responsible for this. waiting for porters would have wasted lot of time. Polacy were eager to leave for base camp. I was not sure how good was there team spirit , and how welcoming they were to me in there team. So far I was just an LO eager to climb with them nothing more than that .They had not seen me climbing .Though I was to be seen by them later. I was aware of the route towards the base camp. I could reach the BC without them too. It always felt good taking responsibility, bringing my management and decision making into use. I volunteered to stay behind and wait for the porters and horses. Polacy left their heavy luggage behind with me to be loaded with the mules and horses and left for the BC. When the porters arrived in an hour I helped them in loading their luggage’s and kept my 30 kg rucksack on my back. Fever was still showing its effect on my body, not on my spirit. The potters gave me a grin, thinking that I will give up in middle of the route under the effect of rucksacks wait. I could observe and analyse that. Being young and from mountains, I was physically tough and mentally not weak.Though I was not up to the required level of physical fitness when compared to my other soldier friends and experienced mountaineer’not even. I was an athlete or a sport lover. Though I possessed an athletic physical structure. My motivation always came from my never dying desire to be on the frontline , live the comradeship and lead the men into combat. This desire was not lived yet, and kept me in physical  , moral and mental shape. Mountaineering was still easy than facing bullets.

I was two hours behind Polacy and I had no hope to catch them on the way. I was not worried about it I had plenty of time reach base camp before dark if I don’t waste time and maintain my pace. We left towards BC while traversing the route, I could flash back all the events and memories associated with this route. I could see her and myself walking together and resting at different locations , sipping water from the same bottle  at different resting locations .I wasn’t missing those days not  her. She was not worth it. Often people need a company for short term , we don’t fit in there long term plans. God has his own ways to get us rid of people not meant for us. I learnt in the past that after me she broke with a guy from Navy and got along with a captain from Army. I did my job as a human then , I was going to do it always. Having felt this I had no regrets. I have always been a sentimental person. I found it to be the essence of humanity. Life had taught me that many will come and many people will go. I always welcomed everyone , and did not let them go. With time I realized that if someone wants to leave let them leave. Who is of your worth will stay. It was after noon and I was half way through with porters sometime ahead of me sometimes behind. At sunset, I reached base camp, winds swift and chilling. Stok base camp has always been packed with climbers from all over the world . Polacy spotted me and were happy to see me. May be they were happy to see their luggage arriving safely. When I unloaded myself and began to pitch tent. I was happy to be pointed out at a spot reserved for my tent. When I began to pitch my tent Suchy approached to help me in pitching of the tent. It was the first sign of team work that I wanted to see from them.

Day 2: Acclimatisation.

Having reached at an altitude of 4500 M in two days without following proper acclimatisation schedule that too with fever my days ahead were going to get worse. Fever had taken a hike,  my body needed rest, I knew it but I was not going to do it. I relied on another tablet of paracetamol and plenty of water. Day two in ladakh and first in bc was meant for acclimatization. We scrambled the slopes towards the mount stock and gained about 200-500 mtrs . Miraculously I couldn’t feel the effect of fever during the entire height gaining. It was good opportunity to get along with Polacy and get to know each other better as mountaineers .We matched each other’s pace. Before returning back we sat and rested on top of a rocky hill and analyzed the route towards the Mt. Stok which was to be climbed soon. Putting forward individual views we could add to some humor much needed to break the ice. We returned back safe and sound to base camp where we rested until next morning approached. The base camp was packed with beautiful girls most of them were not as a climber but as a tourist and were to stay in BC itself. I was getting tempted.

Day 2: Lucky flirt.

Next morning was again reserved for acclimatisation because Pawel was not feeling well. Effect of the sudden altitude gain made me sick. He had taken medics and  was recovering fast. Polacy were unaware of my sickness. They couldn’t see any sign of it so far. We left for height gaining on the same route like previous day and went an hour of extra walk which finished at the starting of the snow line. From here we could see the mount Stok Kangri’s route but the peak was covered behind the clouds. It was a good time to turn around by noon now. Polacy turned around and went ahead .I signaled them to keep moving forward and catch them in a short while. I decided to sit on a rock for couple of minutes and analyze the peak and its route. This provided me some extra time to be just with myself in this vast solitude. While I was about to leave I heard someone urinating behind the rocks , which acted as an obstruction to my vision. I could recognize it to be a female. I felt little lucky as I could walk back while talking to her, or may be flirting. I realized that she was about to get up and in couple of seconds we would be facing each other, that could had embarrassed her. So I quickly went couple of steps backwards to give an impression on her getting up that I was not sitting like a spy but I just reached here. The plan worked when I started approaching in her direction she was already up and trekking down and perceived me to be trekking towards her direction.

“hi ”

“hey”

I waved a hand and she smiled. My half job was done because it was something more than smile which I noticed. Her 3-secondd gaze in my eyes with smile. I was referred to  a book named as “The game”. I came across one of thousands of ways to predict what a females physical gesture say about her mind. The three second technique was something already proven to be correct as I implemented it once when I was in Pushkar in Rajasthan, India where I got along very well with a French blonde before It was time for me to leave for my train in Ajmer.

“So! I guess you are returning back from the summit…”

“Yes I am “ she replied .“Where are your companions?”.

“They just went ahead .”I had already come across some climbers passing by me. “Ok ! lets go back to base…”

“Yes sure” she replied back. I learnt that she was from Germany and climbed a peak of 6000 meters for the first time. She was a swimmer and interior designer. By the time we approached close to BC I learnt she had a Boyfriend and I was also aware she is getting along with me quite well. Before we reached BC we had already exchanged our contact number and email id. She wanted to avoid herself getting noticed with me by her boyfriend and I had a prior understanding of that so we maintained appropriate distance on reaching BC. Even if I got noticed, It did not bother me. Being a male I understood well what could hurt a male’s ego .So I decided to maintain that needed distance. It was a successful day .I patted myself and Polacy enquired about blush on my face .In the base camp next to my tent was a tent of someone with whom once again kept flirting for all the remaining time. She was a beautiful dark complexion south Indian girl working for Google in Singapore. Her boy friend kept calling her, I guess he was insecure with our involvement. It was already evening by now and we slept early after having our dinner.

Day 3 A challenging surprise.

Next morning was fresh as I could feel the effect of fever diminishing .We decided not to do much climbing today. So it was going to be a leisure day. I went to the base camp restaurant-“Mitra” and had my breakfast. It was a restaurant made up of torn up parachute used as shelter with a wall of rocks arranged in a circular manner. Inside, the tent was filled with the smell of kerosene oil the only fuel for cooking. The sitting arrangement was on the mats on the floor with two rows of low height tables keeping eating utensils and a lamp. By now I was well familiar with the owner of the Mitra. He was bossy and sarcastically humorous , his humor was meant to entertain only himself and his boys. He was a local unrecognized boss of the base camp. I liked his bad ass attitude , but it was not going to work on me. As a result of which we had unexposed friendly intentions towards each other. I like the way he was looking after his staff. They were young rough boys. Laughing  , cooking, washing, eating, daytime drinking and sleeping. I spend the day hanging around with the staff of Mitra and base camp fellows. I wondered why did the Polacy sleep for the whole day inside their camp, I had no idea. Something was not normal today. I could sense it. The evening approached the German girls and her companions just crossed my tent. They were leaving  I did not showed up to them. I was not feeling well by now and the sense of something not normal was making me restless. Germans left the BC .I went in my tent and tore away the paper with her contact number. What is it that was making me uncomfortable ? I had no idea. The sun was down I was passing my time since morning, sometimes inside my tent sometimes outside my tent. I decided to have my dinner around 7 pm as usual in the mountains and go to sleep. My fever was high by now. I was under the impression that we were to leave for summit climb tomorrow after sunset, so I decide to rest appropriately. Time passed, base camp was silent only the sound of winds outside me tent could be heard. I was sleeping fine. So were the Polacy since long time.

12:30 a.m. I could hear the sound of tents unzipping around me. Some fast activity happening, sounds of metal clicking and people talking to one another in low volume. It seemed as if someone is getting ready for something major. Suddenly Pawel tapped my tent hardly. It just alarmed me.

“Are you coming ? we leave in next 10 minutes.” My sleep vanished as if I was never sleeping. Shocked I was .”What ? are we leaving right now?”. I understood that these crazy people were leaving for summit climb tonight itself. I wasn’t prepared for this but it was not the time to clarify the matter and decision.These people were already in their full gear while I was still in my sleeping bag. They were not going to wait for me. Now I realised why were they sleeping since so long.They were taking full rest to explode their energy in climbing. It was time.  It was more than a climbing expedition for me now. I could visualise myself in a battle field where the enemy just attacked with heavy artillery and intruded with superior fire power, I could visualize that the life of my troops depends on me now. I need to charge back. In just a matter of a few seconds I replied “ok I am coming give me five minutes”

I decided to leave for climbing , my fever was high. I switched on my head lamp quickly wore my down pant and wind cheater above my warm clothes, gathered my water bottle, ice axe, crampons ,  boreal climbing shoes. Slid my hands in gloves. I was ready. I felt like I was ready with my battle gear. I was full of spirit but the effect of fever was over whelming and my energy was of concern to me. Polacy were inside Mitra  filling there bottles with warm water and eating porridge quickly. I went in and the staff boy who was awake on duty saw my face. He asked me ,“Were you guys not going to leave tomorrow for summit?” “There was misunderstanding , we were supposed to leave tonight ” I replied .”what !were you sleeping ?” ,”yes”.

“Are you sure who want to leave in this condition? You look unwell.”

“Yes, I will climb and see you tomorrow morning. ”

He was also young and tough he knew well what it takes for a person to make the decision I had taken. He offered me warm porridge .I tried to eat as much as possible but could eat only little. Giving a head nod of assurance he said “all the best and stay safe”. I did not smile but I had a serious look and replied ”See you soon”.

The Polacy began to climb , I was in the middle .Two Polacy ahead and two behind me. I covered my half face with the black mask .And with this done I took the first step in the name of the God. My heart pounding fast, muscles feeling the pain , uneasy breath reminded me of the level of efforts I was required to make. Climb was going to be long. We finished 45 degree slope without snow and ice on it and reached the section where the snow line began the same spot where I met the German girl. It was time to change our shoes. we wore our boreal and fixed crampons underneath. It was good to see Tomack keeping and eye on me while I wore the shoes and crampons. He offered two high quality glucose tablets from Poland. They were just to be kept in mouth till It would dissolve itself. By now I was well enough charged because what waited ahead had not room for me to consider my fever and fatigue. I had to let it go. I was still capable of climbing. I just needed to hang on to my will power and mental alertness. The game was on. We began to negotiate the snow line .steepness increasing with every step. We met a few climbers returning unsuccessfully .They had left before us from the base camp. There reviews were of no business to me, I was on the slope and climbing step by step. I knew I had fever, I kept a check on my condition. Its was a green light to carry on .I could still push myself. The closer we reached to the summit  farther it was in reality. The higher we reached , higher It was every time. It was dawn and time was around 6 am .I came across a young Ladakhi boy motivating a city lad. This ladakhi was also exhausted  as he was not just climbing but also taking care, motivating and helping his client. I reached closer to him and stood to take rest. We exchanged our hello visually and with a head nod. We introduced ourselves and got friendly .His name was Tenzing . I shook hand with his client as he too reached. He was from Gurgaon, surprisingly well mannered and smiling willing to carry on. It was good to be in this challenging times with young boys of my age. Polacy were already ahead of me except one, Pawel. Pawel was climbing slowly so was I as I was in no hurry .I wanted to reach the summit together with him and newly met boys. We decided to continue climbing and stood after sometime when we came across another Ladakhi , who was returning back to his client who was too weak to reach the summit. He was pissed off at his condition and looked relaxed at the same time. He and Tenzing began talking while resting ,they knew each other.

“How is it going Tenzing ?

“ Aah!  fine , this boy is too slow, what about you ?

“My client is pathetic but he is pushing himself well” .“ Who is he?” pointing out at me visually he asked tenzing .

”He is a friend , just met him on the way ”.

His client reaching closer he resumed his descend  along with his client .

This guy looked like a rebel at soul. We continued to climb and reached the shoulder that lead towards the summit. The shoulder was the most dangerous part of this route. It was rocky with thin layer of hard ice on it. And in some portions no ice, just loose rocks. The face towards the other side of shoulder was open area. Any mistake could throw us 2000 meters down. It was morning by now after traversing the shoulder and helping each other we reached the summit .Being on 6153 meters by a feeling beyond words . It was not the first time I was on a summit of a peak and at an altitude more than 6000 meters. I had already been to Mt.Golab kangri  (6025 meters) the previous year.The greatest feeling was to be on the summit for which I left unprepared, and under fever. I needed no one to prove myself. I proved it to myself. If I can do it under fever I realized what I could do without fever.

My eyes were moist on the summit .I turned around my face to avoid eye contact with tear in my eyes. I regained myself quickly .It was time to unfurl the national flag and take a picture with everyone on the summit. The Polacy , Ladakhis, and there two clients and me. We could see the summit of Mt K2 from this summit .I was surprised to know that It could be seen from the summit of Mt stok. K2 was in POK(Pakistan occupied Kashmir).if it was under my authority I would not think twice before violating the UNO cease fire and get back the occupied Indian territory. At least Mt K2 would be ours once again. We soon descended safely and sound .Polacy went ahead and rushed towards base camp, I wondered why were they in such a hurry. I Was accompanied by Tenzing and his client from Gurgaon. We slided down and enjoyed our journey back talking and laughing and getting to know each other better. By the time we finished the snow line. We met the same ladakhi guy who climbed down hours ago , struggling with his client. He and his client were still on their way back to base camp. we shook hands  and sat for a while and began to talk. I learnt that his name was Tsa-wang. I could see the suppressed anger he had , and his way of still enjoying as if not giving a darn. What made me emotional was something common in Tenzing ,Tsa-wang, and myself. We all had fire to join the Army.  Tsa-wang was in the army once .Just like most mountain boys in India he wanted to join army always and he did it. He was in Ladakh scouts which was a part of regular army . He had left army in the middle of his training. When I enquired he answered with anger and pride. ”My instructor used to abuse every one, I was fine with it as I understood it happens normally in  training .One day he abused my mother and I abused back and restored to physical violence. My pride was too much to listen to him. I resigned. I don’t have any regrets, but I still miss the army.” Tenzing planned to apply for army after his graduation. For now he never missed his chances to climb and earn some money as a high altitude guide . We laughed and gave a high fi to each other. I like tsa-wangs attitude, I liked  people with pride and down to earth. He was hardworking and worked as a guide. He was friendly and humorous. We reached base camp .Before going to my tent I decided to show up to the boy on duty in the restaurant last night. The moment I stepped in there was burst of laughter and steel cups  with tea raised in cheers. ”Glad to see you, you were not ready still you went and returned from summit”. He offered me warm water which I drank in gratitude. All the boys in the restaurant were rugged and reckless. I went towards my tent where Polacy were waiting for me .”Nice ! you proved that you are capable of climbing  with us to Mt .kun” and there was once again laughter among us. I changed and washed my feet and face .We went to the restaurant and ordered Indian food –rice and tomatoes with sauce, and ate them stomach full. Polacy were elder to me and very experienced mountaineers. We decided to leave for hotel in Leh the same day . We were up since 12 :30 am and it was 3 pm I was still under the influence of fever.We packed up.I said my good byes to the guys in restaurant ,tsa-wang and Tenzing were missing .I left a message for them, saying “it was great to meet you guys”. We trekked back and reached our hotel in leh by 8 pm. Where a bottle of balentines was on the rocks. I was relieved to know that we were going to rest for next 4 days in Leh itself. I took rest and proper medicine. During these days I biked on my favorite bike Royal Enfield –thunderbird. Biked once again alone towards Chang-la , Khardung-la (world’s highest motorable road). 4 days were over and we left for our main expedition –Mt.Nun (7135 meters).

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Shahid Khan

Shahid khan is an entrepreneur, mountaineer, wilderness survival expert and an ex-software developer.His early ten years of life were spent in a strict disciplined environment of a reputed boarding school in the hill station, Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh.He posts graduated in computer science, and spent considerable time as a software developer in top MNC's.His urge to be under open sky's, off the desk and his leadership spirit couldn't hold him back from following his visions and take charge of his remaining life as a result of which he gave up his lucrative and promising job and stepped in the field of adventures and leadership. As a mountaineer, he climbed the peak of varying heights and difficulties .Gaining experience from his life and endeavors he founded an outdoor adventure company The Mountain Knights.

7 thoughts on “Fever and pride.”

  1. Well , Shahid my friend n dear buddy , it gives me an immense pleasure to have re your experience you shared. While reading the experience , i will not call it an article as it would be dishomouring you , i always felt that it was not you climbing that mountain peak but me itself. Had i been into those situations , i would have done and carried the expedition the same way. I liked the action of yours where you took out the Tri colour Indian flag to be waived high & unfurled. At last i would say Jai Hind Jai Bharat. God give us all the same courage as you showed. N for u “Jai Hind Saab”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very inspiring Shahid, i thought i’ll read a bit before finding time to read complete blog, but it was so well written, and such an inspiring story that i ended up reading it all in one go. All the best for your future en-devours (i am sure there many more clims to come) and keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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