TREKKING AND MOUNTAINEERING

TREKKING AND MOUNTAINEERING.

 

Himalayan Trekking and mountaineering were never the way we see it happening today. Since the medieval era tribes and communities have been walking on foot up hill with loads on there back and cattle along. These tribes shifted from lower altitude to higher altitude with their families and cattle seasonally   with the aim to sustain their living ,which basically depended on cattle. these groups made temporary camps and settlements before shifting further up. Meadows covered with grass during pre monsoon to autumn attracts these tribes well known as Gujjars , Gadis and Bakarwaals. Even today in 21st  century the practice prevails..The way we see it today, trekking was introduced to the world by  colonel jimmy Robert ,  of british army during 1960’s during his stay in  Nepal. The demand of the supplies to the troops in the mountains of Nepal was met with the help of Sherpas. Sherpas along with the supplying troops had to walk on rigorous tracks with a planned schedule to drop the supplies. over the time hiking got adopted as a hobby worldwide. Numerous big brand emerged to provide clothing and accessories for trekking to enhance a good experience and meet the growing needs  of the trekkers.

Mountaineering on the other hand has always been part of human culture. Himalayan mountaineering is more than just scaling heights, it has religious sentiments and practices involved since centuries. Almost every peak has a religious sentiments ,faiths and stories associated with it be it       Mt. Manimahesh , Mt .Shivling  ,Mt.Nanda Devi, Mt.Saser kangri etc.

 

History’s first recorded mountaineer is Antoine de Ville, lord of Domjulien and Beaupré, who climbed Mont Aiguille in 1492.

Mountaineering gained attention when Mount Everest was scaled by

Tenzing Norgay ,Born Namgyal Wangdi in 1914, Tenzing Norgay was a Nepali Indian Sherpa mountaineer who reached the Everest summit just behind Sir Edmund Hillary.           

Today mountaineering has dedicated  and organized system of Govt organizations that look into the affairs related to Indian  mountaineering .These institutes also train civlian’s and defense personnel’s .Special schools like High altitude warfare schools , Siachen Battle Schools, have been set up with strategic ambitions and to train soldiers in high altitude warfare. The training is focused much on mountaineering aspects.

 

 

 

Siachen battle school.                                            High altitude warfare school.

There has been no clear cut line that differentiates trekking and mountaineering. Though both these activities vary in terms of training, preparedness, logistics, time, goals, fitness, scope, exposure to adversaries.

  • Trekking is a moderate activity that demands moderate fitness level with minimum training.
  • It involves short duration planning with lesser logistics most of which fits in a single bag .
  • Trekking in general is confined to altitudes reaching up to 3-4 thousand M.

 

  • Mountaineering, on the other hand, requires different stages of training like basic training, advanced training, specialised training focused on search and rescue operations.

  • The demand of physical strength is quite high maintenance of the same needs base and specific training.

 

  • A trained mountaineer is well versed with the rock climbing, ice, snow climbing, rescue tactics.

  • Mountaineering is M cube  – mind ,muscles ,money. Mental application and ability to adapt and meet to the needs in diverse and hostile situations is of paramount importance.

It involves long stretch expeditions . Mountaineers in any expedition could be divided in to number of small teams of HAP(high altitude potters),cooking , route openers , logistics , radio communications .Every expedition has a Leader , deputy leader, quarter master , equipment in charge .

  • Mountaineering expedition requires involvement of various Govt departments and officials like IMF ,  police , Liaison  officers, weather centre , department of tourism , forest department in special cases, All India radio ,district administration army.

Comparison between trekking and mountaineering on different aspects.

In today’s challenging times where we face global crisis of environment detritions ,global warming , natural hazards , terrorism , economics etc .trained mountaineers have shown the role with huge success.

During the Uttrakhand disaster it were the trained mountaineers who responded to the call of  required services to rescue strangled civilians along with the defense and paramilitary and police .

Identifying the need of having such trained individuals Government of  Uttarakhand established  SDRF (state disaster relief force) these men are trained in mountaineering and search and rescue operations in the mountains and else where. Several expeditions are being sent to various mountains across the nation to clean the mountains. Mountaineering is a holistic training package which involves leadership and management of paramount degree.

Shahid Khan

Founder & CEO                               

The Mountain Knights

(Shahid is a mountaineer of wide scale experience of having scaled numerous mountains successfully . Having done his part as a software developer  and in various MNC’s he now provides training to the young and old in self sufficiency outdoor courses focused on survival )

 

 

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 .

Continue reading Fever and pride.

The Reckless Climb

8 p.m, Mount Kun (King) base camp, altitude 4500 meters, Ladakh, India .

“I am leaving for that peak tomorrow morning, 6 am sharp, have my packed lunch ready”.
“G Saab.”
I lifted my head and gazed at the sky; dark with millions of stars and bright cold crescent. The sky was clear at least for now, I hoped it remains the same tomorrow. The wind was swift as usual at Mount. Kun base camp, flattering the national flag.Violent sounds of the water downstream breaking the haunting silence of the valley, echoing back from the tall ice and snow-clad mountains in the surrounding region reflected back from widespread glaciers and snow, it looked brighter and much beautiful in the night. It’s frightening beauty always reminded of the might of nature, especially in the high mountains. As usual, I felt the strength of my soul, stretching my arms closing my eyes and taking a long chilled breath, was one thing needed before finally offering my gratitude to the God and going to my tent where I slid into my sleeping bag. Before finally falling asleep I recalled the faces of my loved ones, my parents, my inspiring rugged friends. Reaching the peak was a matter of uncompromising honor and returning back safe in one piece was of paramount importance. I often disliked the idea of taking too many precautions, it felt like lowering of moral and weakening of intentions to take the required risk to negotiate the same, so I avoided too many precautionary measures.I always preferred to negotiate such high-risk situations with boldness and planning instead. I analysed the possible hazards that might come across and made a mental preparation and plan to overcome them using the available resources and if required without them too. I paid one final attention to the details of the task ahead. It was not the greatest of all but most challenging of my life so far as i had already climbed peaks much more higher than this one before.The highest one being 7135 Mtrs (Mt.Nun) .The task was to climb a technical peak alone with a limited equipment in an alpine style for the first time.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-18 at 15.09.55

 

Before 6 a.m. I woke up, freshened myself and had breakfast in the mess tent. I packed my rucksack that carried a pair of boreal climbing shoes, a water bottle containing tang mixed water, a chocolate, a packet of biscuit, and crampons. As per the plan the route was to be traveled with the high ankle trekking shoes as far as possible to keep light weight on my feet and maintain required speed and energy. The plan was to return by the noon time or possibly afternoon. The base camp crew was already lazy though it had been just a few days in the base camp and was well aware that for next 25 days no one is going to visit the base camp.They had already begun to feel lonely and had to be constantly pulled to keep them active. Frequent humour and talk about girls had made them adopt a bit casual approach at times towards the instructions given to them. I went to the kitchen tent and asked for my packed lunch, the crew was surprised to see me ready with my gear as I was about to leave. They had least expected me to go alone. “We haven’t prepared the packed lunch.” I was pissed off at their negligence.Now was not the time to react. To cover up they offered me an apple for the way, which I slid into the side pocket of my rucksack. Taking the grip of my ice axe and wrapping the tape sling of the ice axe across my wrist I covered my half face with a black mask before finally leaving for the climb. There were two reasons I always did that the first was to protect against the direct cold air, the second was to resemble the ancient and modern military special force warriors.
With this done I set off towards my destination carrying my ice axe in a self-arrest position. The route was divided into four sections. The first section was a moderate slope that was negotiated in 30 minutes the finish point had a flat portion, covered with streams of water occupying it. Having negotiated the first section with significant speed as per the plan I decided taking a break. The break was not due to physical exertion but there was some sense of disappointment. I was well aware that I was alone. I, also knew that my other two team mates from the USA were at the base camp. If my life was in danger I will not be able to send any signal to the base camp as there were no radios. Even if I had one, questions like why would anyone come? The cook and helper are not much physically tough, know nothing of rescue they somehow managed to reach base camp, they are useless in such demanding situation, even if they hiked a little up in order to find me they won’t go far, thoughts of their wife and kids will stop them.The cook being a Gurkha was daring but physically not strong enough to meet the need of such situations. Other two men from the USA being remarkable climbers, I still doubted that they would come for any rescue. I took a rest for 5 minutes to get rid of all such thoughts. If I was climbing with a team it would have been great as I would have had a chance to bring my leadership into action, just like I did in my previous mountaineering expeditions.Even as a newcomer in the world of mountaineering I had a natural tendency to take responsibility for everyone safety. This increased my efficiency because I well knew that to take responsibility for others I will have to double my moral, which I did well. Such has always been my proactive responsibility for others without exposing it to them that I prepared myself mentally to take everyone to the summit and bring everyone back to the base. My five minutes were over. The flat portion covered with water had some small boulders half-submerged in water, half exposed outside water. Hopping over these boulders I crossed this region.

Now was the turn off 2nd section. This section was a steeper slope of loosely locked big boulders with small patches of hard snow scattered in the way. This section was to be negotiated quickly and advantage of trekking shoes good sole grip to be exploited quickly.To make the travel quicker and save energy in pushing over to anther rocks I often walked over the snow patches that I came across .Side step technique worked well over these snow patches. After covering these loosely locked rocks the fern line began.A wall of cliffs inclined towards me made the beginning of this section more risky as on the top of these 200 meters tall cliffs were huge hanging boulders.I imagined what destruction they would cause if any one of them fell. If it happened the broken portion of the boulder could shoot towards me and shatter me apart or I could just get crushed beneath one of these. Analyzing the danger I increased my pace to get out of the range of the boulder. The adrenaline that often kicked off in dangerous situations is of great advantage. If one knows how to use it and control it, one can increase his/her efficiency spontaneously. As I kept moving head there were no more loose rocks it was the beginning of the glacier covered with a few inches of powder snow from previous day’s snowfall.This thin layer of powder snow provided good grip even with trekking shoes. As I was at a significant height I turned back to take a look at the world around and behind me from that height, the vastness of the white world with clouds, spine .valleys and glaciers sent a chill down my spine. Such effects were always a boost for me. Analyzing the condition of weather I continued further, there were few clouds approaching from the west.As the journey continued along with my isolation in this beautiful and challenging alien world I could recall glorious moments earned in the past.

It was in December 2012 I went on a short expedition with my experienced friends for the first time, some of them were already soldiers and one of them undergoing a final semester of his training in Indian military academy. Others were experienced in climbing and possessed army background, heart .Those who had no connection with the army were no less as they were already a soldiers at  heart.I was just a josh guy with soldier’s heart, warrior soul and fighter mind.I came directly from a desk job that I was doing in Dell internationals in Mohali since the last couple of months.The display of mental and muscle strength both the way up and down without any complain earned me not only respect among my friends accompanying me in the expedition but also ever satisfying words from one of my friend Parmesh (already a soldier in Indian Army)- “khan I am proud of you. Well done! ”, with hand shaken firmly and a brotherly hug, those moments were saved forever in my mind.

It was the will power much in action. Some people live for these proud moments, sometimes one has to wait long for the opportunity to earn these moments again. When they get it, stakes are high.The remaining route was traversed with the zig-zag manner and side steps.Ice axe was the only lifesaving tool I had, apart from my crampons in a rucksack. All the way ice axe was held in self-arrest position tied to the wrist and in the hand towards the mountain side. Towards the end of this 2nd section, here was another danger lingering from the east, the same wall of cliffs with another boulder leaning towards me.This boulder posed much more danger than the previous one. The urge to pass ahead of its impact radius was the same as before but this time it was more time-consuming as the slope was steeper and the surface beneath my feet was not solid. It was a thin layer of snow and ice over a scree and rocks fallen from the cliff wall towards east. Water running below the layer of ice and snow was a problem as the layer was too thin to hold my weight.I had to make a rough analysis and identify the thicker portions of the surface. Anchoring the ice axe would have broken the thin layer, getting wet at this altitude could be disastrous.Maintaining my balance and placing my ice axe softly I managed to cover this section and reached the starting of 3rd section – a cornice
3rd section – a cornice, slope 70 degrees,, altitude 5100 meters.
It was high time for me to wear my boreal along with my crampons.The clouds were approaching and the weather could turn bad anytime I had less time before the weather turned bad and it would be a complete white out. My glory was 400 meters away from me.I wanted it. I wanted it bad and now I wanted it quick. I had to take a call and decided to travel over this cornice with my trekking shoes. The snow layer was knee-deep over a hard layer of snow. I knew I was over a cornice I had less time to finish this 200 meters climb.Wearing boreal would have not saved me from falling down towards north into unknown and lost forever .Traversing the cornice was towards west.it was still a bold and wise decision to carry on fast and light without climbing shoes and crampons .Blood pumping faster, my focus getting narrow, alert and agile I could rely only on myself and my ice axe that provided me needed anchoring. With calm mind and speed maintained I moved step by step anchoring myself with my ice axe. The only trouble was the snow slipping in my shoes through the gaps created by my trousers. I had to pull it out frequently when maintaining balance was already a daunting task on this section that was steep towards both sides of my body.30 minutes of these action moments made me reach at the end of this 3rd section.I was on a much less steep section just below the final section towards the summit.

Section 4 crevasses to the summit. Slope 80 degree.
Analyzing the situation the white out was approaching and I had less time.if I decided to move ahead towards the summit I will have to ascend and descend down quickly, much faster that the speed maintained so far. Descending a 70 -80-degree steep section without a rope and an anchor are far more dangerous and skill demanding than ascending such a section without a rope. Climbing section 4 and coming back all the way through section 4 and section 3 was much more challenging now. Taking a 5 min break was also important.I wanted to see and realize how far I had come. It was refreshing. As it was already a high time I removed my trekking shoes and wore my climbing shoes and attached crampons.Now it was not just final phase of ascending but a difficult descend waiting ahead.Having finished wearing and fixing crampons on my shoes I gave a satisfactory smile at this 5300 meters, realizing how bad ass I could be at times.I said to myself “I just negotiated a cornice that steeps for 30 minutes without a rope and crampons “ not bad! .Though thanks to the snow over hard snow that provided me natural anchor by enabling my feet to go knee-deep in the snow while ascending.Taking a look around I could see the valley from 5300 meters, the only road that leads towards Leh from safat Naala police check post.I could spot the base camp from this height and it was tempting to go back with a victory in hand, safe and sound. It was not an extraordinary moment but it was valid enough to remind myself that at least for these moments at this 5300 meters I was not ordinary and definitely not a part of the crowd.
With this satisfaction and thrill, physical and mental exhaustion could not be felt. But the task was not yet complete over. The final 200 meters were yet to be climbed.Making a rough calculation I analysed that I now had around 20 minutes roughly to reach the summit and come back to the same spot.Another frightening hurdle lay ahead of me at the foot of the summit slope was a widely opened crevasse.There was no way it could be jumped across.There was no ladder. Towards the south was a small bridge where the crevasse was not open.It was a dead end.But the only section that allowed one to move ahead.I had to jump, but jumping could imbalance me and throw me 1000 meters down into unknown and no one would know about it. I had to step across it.A wide step with a support of my ice axe got me through. There was no time to calculate.It was either forward or backwards. I choose forward gathering all my strength I stepped across it, keeping my crampons in position aided by ice axe for anchoring.The remaining 200 meters were climbed maintaining a rhythm of breathing and forward movement. Just reaching the summit it was beginning to get white out.Stopping there to take a selfie or a video was not important it could be done later. Using my heel I ascended down and jumped across the crevasse.Crampons provided me with a good grip to control the fall. I was back to the less steep and flatter section below the slope of the summit.
It was a good time to record this moment in camera. After capturing the images and video was done it was not the end of challenges that awaited. Descending after a summit could be fatal.Most climbers are overwhelmed with their summit and make major mistakes while descending.I had two options to descend the section 3 –the cornice. Either choose the same route over the cornice or choose another route not over the cornice but on the wall stretching towards the south adjoining the cornice. The cornice had high chances of breaking, and if I choose to move down using my heel I would exert too much pressure on the cornice making it more vulnerable to break.If I choose to move down using 4 point technique it would have consumed too much time. Staying on cornice for long was not a good idea, I had to choose another way. The route that was on the adjoining wall.It was solid surface but 80 degrees steep. There was only one way to negotiate this final challenge –to use 4 point technique to descend 200 meters down. It had to be done. I recalled my basic mountaineering training and began to descend.At times like these what counts the most is faith, calm and open mind.Pumping out the strength in me I dug my ice axe and crampons deep and trying to make no mistake kept descending down.There was no time to waste as resting could have consumed more energy.The only way was to descend quickly and safely.The layer of ice was too hard for crampons at some portions.I came across such portion where crampons could not dig in. What I feared was about to happen in a few seconds.I slide down as a part of fall unable to anchor myself till next 10 meters approximately.Crystals of snow scratching off ice axe’s peak began to enter through the gaps of my sunglasses, Obstructing my vision. Realizing that it might slip out of my hand I managed to shatter off the snow crystals in and around my sunglasses and anchored myself back with all the energy I had. Death was at close quarters. With my heart pumping faster I kept descending down. While on the way down I said to myself “you just saved your life”. It increased my josh.With focus intact, I covered this 80-degree slope and was finally at the steeper section.The section 3 was already left behind through this section.This route had brought me much below section 3. I was in section 2.I took a look back and gave a laugh. It was a fall which acted as a remedy to my adventurous soul. Gaining control was a skill assuring moment.I recalled the training days, especially the self-arrest training day that just came into action right now. The remaining route back towards the base camp was to be enjoyed sliding down all alone in the beautiful and dangerous terrain that I had already been through .Where ever the slope offered I did not miss the chance to slide as far as possible.My only remaining task was to reach the base camp in a couple of minutes.I wasn’t in hurry but I was hungry and I knew warm and delicious lunch would have already been cooked.Crossing the loose rocks section, the water streams I was finally on the slope towards base camp. While crossing this last slope I had a satisfaction of having proved something to myself. I was humble and full of self-confidence just the way I was when I decided to make this solo climb. I was proud that the task I took voluntarily was executed as per the plan and with courage.I knew very well that I was not the best climber so far, but I knew myself that if I stand up for something I will do it. Even in the failure, I will learn something major for the future task that I would have come across. A good mountaineer is the one who not only reaches the top but also the one who come back safe and unhurt. This solo climb prepared me more.I became much more than all those experienced climb’s those who never took such a task alone. The most difficult journey is the one that one could make alone.First a leader must prove his mettle alone,he must posses courage and capability to make his way through adversaries own his own  .Only then he will be able to influence ,and lead his men.  I reached back to base camp. I was welcomed by this small group of four men I had in this vast mountain region.” Glad to see you alive” we exchanged laughter for a while. Someone’s Act of courage could often bring the youth of a man back at a time at least for some time.I could see that on these men faces. I Went to my tent unloaded myself wore fresh new clothes, washed my feet with warm water that crew offered me from mess tent. I went to the mess tent and with all gratitude’s to the God, I took one of the most rewarding bits of “aloo poori”.

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While eating food I had one more thing at the back of my mind and that was – the task is not over yet. We were in the base camp of Mount Kun(King) and the swift winds reminded me of the Kun that was yet to be scaled and we had 20 days more remaining. There was a strange silence in my soul, the winds kept flattering the tents and the national flag.