By I.J Maayav


Once I reached the base camp of the Mt.Kamet expedition, I was overjoyed to see a couple Tamil-speaking guys. My excitement knew no bounds as those guys were amiable and superb. The base camp is located at Vasundhara Tal beside a frozen lake. The temperature was declining below -10° and too much briefing made me feel the adrenaline rush. The company of those two guys was the only hope at that juncture. We trekked through the village named Niti, It was rocky terrine, and we had to be cautious of every step. We crossed a lake that was completely covered with thick sheets of ice.

Only through very keen observation, one could realize that there is a stream underneath the ice. It felt as if the entire earth had got submerged in snow. The surroundings were bright and reflective with the snow shield. We literally passed through barren lands and encountered vast boulders of rocks. On our way, we could view Ganesh Parbath and Deoband. Our expedition grew tedious, and trekking on rubble expanses made us feel more depressed. I pushed myself, ‘it’s just a start, and I have a long way to go.’ The guys with me were cracking jokes and keeping the atmosphere lively.

We reached camp 1 after nearly 9 hours of trekking. I felt utterly exhausted and thought I should sleep. The veteran guide was inhuman, and he didn’t allow it. I literally cursed him. We were served hot soups and a simple diet. As the Kamet is located near the Tibetan borders, the food had a peculiar taste, and it was delicious. We were given a briefing about the game-changer for the next day. The guide prepared us mentally to face the hard-hitting challenges we would meet the next day. At night, I was stunned looking at my companions as they set campfires, played music, a few were sharing their past experiences, and a few were playing cards. Despite the chillness and raucous atmosphere, I had a sound sleep, tired of the tedious journey.

The second day gave us extraordinary experiences. We had to be alert as there were wide fissures where one could trip if they were not conscious. Being terrified, I almost fainted with the tremendous clamour of a sudden avalanche. We climbed a steep rock by holding the main rope and the tether tied to our climbing harness. Though I had all the safety gears fixed, I was very anxious to proceed, but the guys, with their liveliness, made me do it. We just moved a few steps to experience the shock of our life. We heard a tremendous noise and turned to see a massive chunk of the rock we had climbed broke. I had goosebumps and sat there for some time. The coldblooded guide cautioned that we must rush as we will not reach camp 2 if it falls dark.

The stern man did not disclose the adventure ahead. After a few steps, we had to cross tapered slopes of ice. While again wearing my harness and getting the carabineer fixed to the tether, I was just glancing down, thinking about the strenuous task. But, in a jiffy, I was there down safely landed. One among the guys, Aabi, held my hand, just dragged me and literally glided down. It took a few minutes to realize what had actually happened to me. He just gave a thud of push kicking on the icy slope, and we were literally in the air. I believe I landed safely because of my stronghold of the main rope. Without even uttering a word, I replaced my gears in the backpack and moved forward, and the guy was making fun of me. In my conscious, I appreciated my friends, who were far more humane than these guys. Before sunset, we reached Camp 2, and the extensive view of the East face of Kamet was mind-blowing.

The expedition for the next three days was even more dangerous. We had to face the deadliest wind, break the hard ice, and walk with crampons on rigid sheets of ice that caused severe pain. At certain altitudes, we grew breathless. We were left to ourselves, and we could not even withdraw. Neither the walky-talkies rarely picked signals nor our phones could be reached. It took nearly 12 days for us to get to camp 5. The weather was extremely furious, and we had spent a few days in the camp tents waiting for favourable conditions. The stay at the pinnacle of Kamet and the scenic beauty that it offered to relish, especially the orange glow that was reflected in the early morning sunlight, is worth all the struggle. After nearly 27 days, we hit the base camp to experience everyday life. Aabi and Ram gave me great company and a lifetime experience to cherish.