Friday, July 3, 2009

2009 June Beas Kund trek & Mt. Patalsu Climbing

Intermount Adventure Mt. Shitidhar Expedition 2009
Team: Dipaali K Bhosle, Sumit Bhosle, Pradeep Chachad, Vaishali Haldavanekar, Rajendra Nehete, Padmaja Prabhu, Tushar Yeole
Support Team : Bhola Thakur, PyareRam, Kishan, Mahindra, Dorji, Tek Bahaddur, Shambho, Kumar, Doulatramji - Burwa, Manali

In month of March, Vaishali suggested the Mt. Shitidhar expedition and I was thrilled to do first peak climbing. Vaishali with the able guidance of Mr. Pradeep Chachad aka Bandya did first hand research and then decided the itinerary. Then the traveling, whether to go by train or air since I have to save my leave I preferred to travel by air. Vaishali is always of opinion to go together for expedition & her opinion is cent percent correct, which I realized through out the trek. I didn’t felt much that time as I must travel with all but when we all started meeting and our preparation started I thought I wish I should have gone with all by train.

In the office, I told most of the people about my expedition. I was behind Shridhar to get 8GB card and also bought extra battery as a backup. Shiridhar’s 8GB card and mine 4GB card total 12GB and two batteries. I was totally geared up to shoot for expedition. Shirish also guided me & Sumit about how to cope-up with climate and medicines for high altitude.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We-me, Tushar & Padmaja decided to go to Mumbai Chandigarh by flight, site seeing at Chandigarh and then bus journey to Manali. Chandigarh was 40 degree so it was totally hot and dry. I could maintain my enthusiasm till Rock Garden but after reaching Sukhana Lake I was completely down by heat. I also avoided the boating and chosen to seat and watch the lake and surrounding. Was surprised to see condom vending machine at the entrance of lake area as first time I saw such machine. Rose Garden is beautiful but we hardly got time to have entire look.

Our bus left on time and late night it halted at one dhaba where food wasn’t at all tasty. But since I was hungry I patiently accept his late order and the food. Sleep in the night wasn’t very comfortable and also eagerness to reach Manali made me restless.

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Morning Bandya came to receive us at depot. It was damn breezy while traveling by rickshaw. We went to Burwa village, which is 8km ahead of Manali. Here we met Mr. Bhola Thakur -local trek organizer, who along with Bandya organized this trek.
Bhola’s house at Burwa is peaceful place.

After getting fresh we went to upper side of village where apple farms were in cultivation stage. Kishan, Bhola’s younger brother who is teacher accompanied us and gave all the information about cultivation. We went up till where road to next village Mazdah is under construction. There was one big rock and Bandya tried to climb it then I went from easy route to the top. Walking on the rock ridge was different experience altogether.

On our way back we came from school side, all students were used to camera and were posing as we clicked. Just before our house-yes it was now our house- there was Ms. Sumitradevi’s house. She was weaving yarn on handloom I always wonders how they do this. But instead of doing it I preferred to click her engrossed face through those threads!

Evening we went for Manali site seeing – Monastery, Hadimba temple, Vasishtha Kund
were now with more crowd compare to four years back when I came here for the first time. Sometimes you just get lost in the crowd I felt the same at Mall Road. Night at Burwa was very comfy.

Friday, June 12, 2009
Next day morning I was eagerly waiting for Sumit & Vaishali. They along with Rajendra came and fun started… We had late lunch and in evening we had acclimatization trek at Jogini falls. The waterfall is massive and I just couldn’t control myself from going there. Vaishali was warning me not to take risk before expedition but still enjoyed going by side of fall.

After trek we started packing for our expedition and took the stuff, which were really required. Vaishali packed and distributed chocolates and dry-fruits. Bhola asked Bandya the price of Hand gloves, which he bought from Avi Industries. When he learned that it costs Rs. 700 he started laughing and told the same gloves one can get at Rs.150 at old Manali market. From that moment we started calling that gloves ‘700 hundred’.
From two sacks, I packed my big sack with all woolen clothes and snacks. The Beasn-laddu and salty ‘Shankarpale’ - waffors you can say- given by Mom was enough for everyone including our support team. Sweet and salt requires when you are trekking.

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Start of our expedition, Vaishali and we all prayed for our successful expedition.
Our kitchen stuff, tents, sleeping bags and other stuff got filled in one small tempo.
We left Burwa by jeep and got down at Solang Nalah. From here our trek started.
We climbed the Solang valley through boulders and that reminded me the start of Nali route at Harishachandragad in Sahyadri. When I read itinerary I felt why we have such a short distance every day but ones start ascending in Himalaya and realized that oxygen level makes you breathless and slows your stamina to climb. But we maintained our speed neither very fast nor slow enjoyed surrounding beauty and most of all got time to clicked the snaps.

By noontime we reached Bakhar Thach, our first campsite. As soon as we reached the tent it started raining heavily and we were worried about the weather. But fortunately by evening the sky was clear. Rajendra was overwhelmed with joy and couldn’t control himself skiing in snow. That day was his birthday, Doulatramji – our cook arranged cake for him and Rajendra was touched by that kind gesture. We all celebrated that evening with cake and pakoda.

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Since we all were well acclimatized and fit Bhola decided to move to next camp at Beas Kund. Here first time from the start of the trek we crossed the snow. It wasn’t like that I saw the snow first time but every time I touched the snow I bowed before the nature, which makes me realized the mystery, the strength, and the optimism within the nature, which drags me to her every year. Every year it’s a new learning. Now I know why Saints go to Himalayas.

We climbed one gradual slope and then boulders walk. There is one tower by army.
One has to cross that tower and then you reach a place where there is route to heaven.
I mean it. No, I haven’t seen it but if heaven means bliss then it was indeed pleasure the moment you look at that Beas Kund area. From every side the snow clad peaks and in the middle huge area and in that you are staying! I am totally in love with this place.

After our lunch we went to near by waterfall thinking that’s the Beak Kund. We clicked lot of snaps in adjacent snow area. In the evening, Mahindra- our guide told us to wear Koflach –snow- shoes for practice and to go to Beak Kund, which was bit away from our campsite. The shoes were really heavy and initially couldn’t seat or bend properly.

By evening it became very cold and everyone wore starting from thermals to windcheater. The tea, garamagaram pakoda and then soup was like must have in that climate.
Rajendra was very quite on first day at Beas camp. He was with us physically and mentally still sinking with beauty of nature. When I said ‘with us and still not with us’ in Marathi then all started laughing at me as it sounded different and funny. But then he got mixed up with all of us. He and Bandya danced and then he started enjoying in the group.

Monday, June 15, 2009
We were bit relax as we were going to stay at the same camp to acclimatize at high altitude. Morning it started drizzling and we all got cozy in kitchen tent. Our support team went up to move some stuff up on higher camp. Bandya asked to get out and get ready for short trek towards higher camp so that we can get used to climb at high altitude.

Initially I wasn’t in mood to get out of the comfort zone and get wet in moist as in the morning I changed my clothes after two days. But again… once I started crossing the snow it was fun. I was thrilled to walk over snow layer beneath there was water roaring.
We reached up of Beas Kund and it started snowing. Bandya asked everyone to descend but then he and Rajendra decided to go up till the higher camp glacier. I asked him to join them and then he asked everyone to come up. Rajendra with his Pranayam knowledge taught me how to have slow breathing and relax when one takes halt on the trek.

Camphor was very useful throughout the trek whenever I used to feel breathless or uncomfortable. Thanks to Shirish! The moment we were closed to higher camp we realized the change in environment. Our ascending became slow and slow and while descending we felt like having headache. We saw our support team descending and then they started skiing and descending on the glacier.

By the time we reached campsite it again started drizzling. We had hot lunch and then all decided to stay back in kitchen tent and started singing songs. Bandya and Sumit tried and tested walky-talky. In the evening, I was glad to have Popcorn at the height of 13,500ft! It wasn’t difficult to make but certainly not imagined so was very happy to get something, which we eat at Mumbai or in city. Everyday, our day used to start with bed-tea then breakfast and tea, Lunch, evening tea and snacks, soup then dinner and then hot milk before sleep. I used to eat double what I eat usually in Mumbai.
Doulatramji, our cook used to cook tasty food and I simply loved it!

That evening it started raining constantly then followed by snowing. Rajendra & Bandya enjoyed that snowfall with dance and Sumit instantly started shooting with handycamp. Sumit was also enthu to click the snaps in snowfall. Bandya covered Sumit’s camera with his Poncho and Sumit clicked some excellent snaps. Vaishali was restless with continuous snowfall. As she was aware that if it continued till night the climbing to higher camp and to Mt. Shitidhar would be difficult and may get cancelled. She was very upset with changing climatic conditions and she also came to know about weather forecast from Bhola that next two days weather would be equally bad.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Whole night I could feel that porters are clearing the snow from tent. Morning I got out of tent and it was different world. Our tent was in snow. It was delight to watch that paradise. But that also made our move to higher camp doubtful. I asked Bhola and he sadly said no…but when snow will get clear? he said let’s see!
Vaishali was still upset but then started accepting the fact and talked to everyone.

Bhola asked to have practice of climbing in incline patch of snow with Koflach shoes. We somehow got out and went to a patch where Mahindra was giving training to everyone. I thought it would be easy but it was tricky to balance one’s self in the snow. Mahindra asked to climb on toe and while descending get down on heel. He also showed the technique of how to lock our fall with ice-axe. When I was about too comfortable in descending the snow it became windy and started raining. Bhola asked us to get into the tent immediately.

Whole day Bhola and his team were watching Mt Shitidhar area. In the evening they saw the UK team from higher camp & Japanese couple coming back from mid of higher camp, which wasn’t good sign! Whole day we passed our time by clicking the snaps or playing cards, which Bandya brought from nearby Shepherd. Our moving up became more doubtful. Still we packed our sacks for higher camp thinking climate may get clear by night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Next day morning when I got up it was very late. This means we are not going up.
We all were uneasy but Bandya was very disturbed as we called off our move to higher camp and summit to Mt. Shitidhar. I wish we should have gone at least to higher camp because route to higher camp was on bit vertical ridge that could have been experience to learn. But one has to accept and respect the nature. Going to higher camp means close to summit and still coming back that would have been more painful. I console myself like that…

Bhola and team decided to go to higher camp to get back material, which they kept on higher camp. Bandya and Rajendra wanted to go with them but Bhola didn’t want to take any chance. Since we were doing nothing Vaishali asked our cook Doulatramji for suji.
She took all the dryfruits, butter and Sumit helped her in preparation. We had tasty Shira as a sweet dish for our lunch.

We decided to go Shepherd’s place after lunch, as we wanted to get playing cards and Bandya also described about his hukka. Vaishali was keen to see that hukka and have that experience. Shepherd’s place was small shelter of stones kept on one another.
First Bandya had few puffs and then he handed over to Vaishali. She was ‘Bindhast’
and used full ‘Dam maro dam’ style but couldn’t inhale a single time but she fulfilled her wish. Shepherd was bit rude and asked us to go it because of extreme weather he became like that…where he has to struggle for everything then why he will care for us who just came there to have fun for few days? My favorite subject Psychology always helps me to analyze people. Through out the trek I was quite because it was always new learning about human behavior. Sonali, my trek friend once told me that you could make out people very well on Himalayan long treks. How true was that…

Thursday, June 18, 2009
We started our journey back to Burwa. Since we came late we decided to have Maggie and this is the only item that is my last option to have as a meal. Sumit started making fun of that but then I added garlic shev on that and had Maggie in between shev.
In the evening we went to Manali market to have all chat items. It was mouth watering
to see all chat items especially Alu Tikki getting fried in oil on that big pan. Yammmyy!
After that whenever we went to Manali having Alu Tikki was default ritual.

Friday, June 19, 2009
Since we couldn’t attempt Mt Shitidhar Bhola suggested for Mt. Patalsu. The way to Mt Patalsu was through Solang village. Vaishali fooled small girls at Solang village saying that Sumit is hero and innocent girls believed that and clicked the snap with him. The whole route to campsite was through jungle. We decided to enjoy the beauty and have leisure trek, as sun was clear. We halted several time to have snacks and snaps. Bhola was in search of water and where he found stream close to that was our campsite. I was really glad to have such a huge plateau where one can feel like ‘I am king’ and ruling this place….
Or as if God gifted this place as a play garden for his children….
This was the longest trek we did till that date as we climbed 5000ft at one stretch
Here I decided to pitch tent and with Mahindra and others. How easy that was…
Having tea, soup & dinner at that lovely campsite was amazing experience. I went totally mad for that place. I was excited to do summit to Mt Patalsu and slept with the same thoughts!

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Next day morning we had heavy breakfast of Puri Bhaji. With us Bhola, Mahindra and Shambho accompanied for Summit. One cannot make out the summit of Mt Patalsu from the front side of mountain. As snowline started it became slippery as snow was with the grass and that made me scared of falling down. That full patch I was holding Rajendra or Sumit’s hand for support. But once snow ridge started Bhola asked Rajendra to leave me and encouraged me to walk on my own. Initially I was worried how to climb the snow but then learning at Beas applied here and then I was okay to step on snow.
The summit of Patalsu was much behind and away from the point that we thought is our summit! Mahindra was warning us about not to go on the edge and also make a mark where there were gaps down next to stones. Even though initially I was scared, I actually enjoyed ascending in the snow. There was hardly any distance to summit and Bandya asked to come ahead as I was blindly following Rajendra. With all carefulness I went up on my own. That was a moment I reached summit. Hats off to Bandya…only that patch crossing on my own…reaching the summit…boosted my confidence to another level…
That recalled me Sir Edmund Hillary’s statement that… its not that we conquer mountains but we conquer our self….

We all greeted each other, I especially thanked to Vaishali as it was her initiative to do Peak expedition. So I was there… Soon we started our descend back to campsite.
Again while descending I was holding Mahindra’s hand but Bandya asked him to leave me and let me walk on my own. Then I got used to descend on heel but again when snow grass area came I became conscious. Finally I got so used descending on the grass so much that instead of side route I straightway came down.

Evening was relaxed. Since one shepherd stolen kerosene, [also Bhola’s shoes], Dorji cooked food on chulha. Bhola and Shambho went to that shepherd’s place and don’t know what all they said and did but they got the shoes back and money for kerosene. Bhola himself was surprised by this stealing incidence as this happened first time. That night we had campfire but instead of singing I preferred to listen to songs by others.

Sunday, June 21, 2009
Morning we had tasty aloo paratha and started our journey back to Burwa.
Again we decided to make mximum time pass. I felt really bad to leave that place and going back to civilization. Noon at Burwa again having bath, cleaning clothes and in eve we went to Manali…for me again to eat Chat.

Monday, June 22, 2009
We all decided to go for rafting at Kullu. This is the first time we traveled internal roads by public-private transport. I was surprised to see that you can bargain your tickets in private bus available for public transportation. We reached Pirdi, a place 4kms ahead of Kullu, which is a starting point of Rafting. I wasn’t scared or nervous, as I didn’t thought much of fear of waves and raft going up & down. I was thrilled once it started. I was screaming as the water used to drench me. I thoroughly enjoyed rafting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Me, Padmaja & Tushar left for Naggar in the morning by private car. I was keen to see all the wooden carving done at castle and temples in Naggar like Tripura Sundari Temple, Gauri Shankar Temple & Jagati Pat Temple. The food at castle was not up to the mark.
We came back to Manali bus depot as Vaishali, Sumit, Rajendra and Bandya was leaving for Delhi and back journey to Mumbai.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We thought of going to Rohtang but we were not sure about coming back in time so it was skeptical to take chance when we had our bus to Chandigarh in the evening.
So we preferred to stay back at Burwa. Food at Sher-E-Punjab was okay.
Again in evening we went to Manali Market. I ordered for Khadi sweatshirt and Ladaki style kurta at Gulati’s shop. For a change we had Chinese food.
The same house was quite today as half of the team left…

Thursday, June 25, 2009
First time I was happy to start return journey to Mumbai. I must confess this time I did missed my friends, Mom & my house. No doubt Burwa to Burwa trek was indeed pleasure but any outing is joy when u do with like minded people and whole as a group…. the first peak expedition I have lot of learning so as to face life more rigorously…!!!

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