Sunday, August 18, 2013

About Roopkund Day

A gist of the day 5+6 of Roopkund Trek covered in one day, on 24th May. I hope Soham will soon write about all the other days in his note about Roopkund:

1. May end can be a precarious time to visit the Himalayas, even if this is famous as THE season for Roopkund. On high altitudes, the weather is as unpredictable as the year end bonus of a PBTech employee.

Roopkund is right behind Mayuresh -_-
Indiahikes' original plan had to be tweaked to fit the two day journey from Pathar Nauchuni to Bhagwa Bhasa and Bhagwa Bhasa to Roopkund and back, in one day as the campsite at Bhagwa Bhasa was covered under snow. So, our day had to start at 3 am, with strict instructions to reach Kalu Vinayak (crossing the zig-zag climb) before 7:00. "Anyone who reaches Kalu Vinayak after that, will be advised to return back to Pathar Nauchuni", our leader Akhil said, "if you cannot make it upto 7 there, then you cannot make it to Roopkund by 11 and  you have to start descending when the snow there starts to melt due to sunlight with greater chances of slipping."
Having no intentions of venturing a fall, we started at 3:30 with our torches to show us the way in pitch dark night.

2. It is easier to cover steeper climbs at night, as you get stressed very less due to concentrating on the path below your feet more than the path remaining to be covered. It's good to take breaks as you have to manage a constant breathing pattern to avoid mountain sickness.
We were done with the regular intervals of 15 mins walk - 10 mins break as per instructed and reached Kalu Vinayak at 6:40 am, to meet clouds crossing the edge of the mountain, running past us as the wind carrying them clouds made us cringe with cold! The night had drifted while we were busy trekking and breathing. Adorned with a few visible stars above those clouds, the sky had turned a faint shade of blue-pink. Here, we had to quickly wear those crampons and move ahead to reach Bhagwa Bhasa. through the snow.

A thousand shades of sunlight
On the road towards Roopkund 
3. Bhagwa Bhasa was nearer than our expectation. There was snow everywhere! In fact, TTH's campsite was built on the snow and they had to melt the snow to get water the night before. As we stood in a line, we were all made aware that there is no turning back if you move henceforth. Somehow hardcore trekkers carry an aura of discipline with them, which reflected through Rahul and Akhil's every action and made us more observant of the sincere danger that lay ahead. [I have chosen to keep our slipping, falling, cursing, hating ice in all forms off this post.]

4. Infinite number of ever ending turns is the USP of Himalayan treks. The sun traverses his path quicker at such heights.
I must've asked "aur kitni dur?" a hundred times to our guides on the way towards Roopkund. Bright sunlight gets reflected from the snow wherever your eyes fall and you feel like walking in a crystalline field.. but it does NOT end. It starts becoming frustrating as you sense the monotone of walking through the snow, exerting energy to make each steady-stable step, taking time to breathe and constantly avoid thinking about an accidental slip. I hate wearing shades (or any kind of glasses for that matter) and we had to keep our eyes covered, to be protected against sunlight & whiteout.
The only reason why this 3-4 hour journey was bearable was that there were some people who were as tired as me behind us (:P), I had fantastic company who never got tired of my bakbak and that the view of the valley and the mountains we had to reach to be at Roopkund was getting nearer. 

Most patient guy I've EVER met

5. We met the TTH group at the second last snow-covered hill we had to climb to meet roopkund, and they were descending the hill sliding in uncontrolled directions and told us even this small climb will be tough. Finally, with a pace of one step - 2 minutes break at a time, I reached Roopkund where Mayuresh (who had reached an hour before me) was waiting. 
Roopkund has to be seen without the shades, but removing the shades, I felt blinded by the sunlight for a few seconds. All the struggle was washed by that very emotion of accomplishment which nobody has learned to limn completely. I closed my eyes and took a nap for 10 minutes, and that's a strange thing to do, trust me! Everyone was worried and asked, "what happened? are you all right?"
By the lake Roopkund, I sat down and slept

6. I do not remember eating at all during this day! we only carried some dry fruits and chikki or something like that with us for munching and throughout the journey we felt kinda repulsed at the thought of food. Indiahikes had provided us with roti-sabji and boiled aalu; but none of us had the taste for it. I was heartily disappointed when we didn't get any Roopkund maggi as promised by Pujari ji.. but again, in return of my "kyaa Pujari ji, aapne mere Maggi ke sapne tod diye!" nagging, he did make us awesome 'Hakka noodles' the next day!

Celebrating Roopkund!
7. I was the only one from our team who got to slide down the snow "Wooohoooo!" with a trained mountaineer ;)
We experienced the thrill of watching Jess fall approx 100-150 ft straight, sliding on the snow caught & stopped by the guide who dived right after her and locked her before the situation got worse.
As me and Mayuresh were at the end on our way back, Pujari ji took a shortcut after Kalu Vinayak with us and we saw that priced insect (some insect useful for Ayurvedik medicine, which gets sold @ 1 Lakh/kg, hence being the reson of people sitting on edges of these mountains al lthe afternoon!)

Photo courtesy: Garreth, Supriya, Gadgil and Aniket.

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