Winter is the time for comfort, for warmth, for the touch of a friendly hands and for a talk beside the fire…
Just 2 month after i finished my LEH bike ride adventure, the distant winter month: Dec, was calling onto me. Upon inquiring about the mandatory shutdown leaves at the office, i was left disappointed. Thanks to my good old friend HKC, who as well started thinking for an adventure plan in Dec month and we continued discussions on it.
Upon completing Sarpass snow trek by both of us in the past, i wanted to a bit more challenging or difficulty. Further searching over, the availability of trek programs during this season; narrowed down to Kedarkantha winter trek. Though, by altitude wise, its less than sarpass, but doing in winter was new to us.
With that decided, we further went on to prepare detailed itinerary for this adventure: Which includes, the trek, Dehradhun, mussoorie, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Jim corbett national park. Ultimately, the final draft of our itinerary was decided in the month of Aug. We decided to enroll for Batch 5 on 19th Dec of this trek. As usual, the leaves were applied (thanks to our manager for approving), tickets. safari’s and hotels were booked. Most of the preparations was carried out by HKC. Thanks to him.
The D – Day: 18th Dec
The flight towards Delhi was in the morning of 18th. Due to bad weather (dense fog), flight got delayed by 1 hour.
The early morning airport rush wasn’t there at all. We did not find any free WIFI at the BIAL, sadly. However, there is a free WIFI at Delhi Airport for 45 mins. So why not at BIAL? :x
We reached delhi around 12. Had lunch at a nearby restaurant and off to New Delhi Railway station. Our train towards Dehradun departed around 330, thus reaching Dehradun by 11.30PM. We had booked an overnight stay at a nearby hotel: Mandakini.This hotel has a huge front yard for parking, and the rooms werent of that good nor great. But good enough for a day stay. It is very nearby (walking distance) to Bus stand and railway station.
Next day plan to Sankri: Trek Base camp village.
Day 1: The last village – Sankri, 19 Dec :
Sankri lies with in the Govind Wildlife sanctuary. This village is the last place with human habitat.
Upon prior inquiry and again inquiry at Dehradun bus stand (adjacent to railway station), we came to know that the buses towards Sankri departs around 530, 600, 7 AM. We managed to board 6 AM bus. It’s a local private transport, as there is no direct Govt bus to Sankri village.
The private transport buses does take a longer route as appose to Mussoorie route which is around 1 hour shorter in distance. If Govt. buses are taken from dehradun, purola is the final stop, one has to step out and catch a private jeep or a bus towards Sankri.
As like any rural transport across india, this stands no different. The roads are not that good, buses gets crowded, yet the weather is really cold during the whole day. During our travel, the whole day temperature probably was around 5-6C. The whole ride was really scenic.
With long and very long journey of about 10-11 hours: around 5 PM we reached Sankri – YHAI Base camp. This place is very cold, it was told to us that just 2 days earlier, it snowed at the base camp. Hmm..what a spectacular moments to miss out.
From bus stand, it’s hardly half a km or less to the base camp. The base camp is not too big, yet good enough to spend days watching the spectacular nature around.
As ritual goes, we got enrolled for the batch, got our allocated tents and with blankets and sleeping bags provided by YHAI, We finally got some rest from the days long hectic journey.
During the dinner time, the field director informed us of the next days plans.
Post dinner, we had a nature friendly camp fire from the previous batch and events organized by them.
Day 2: 20 Dec
As per the plan, acclimatization exercise starts around 7 AM. The whole gang of 45 started off with difficulty of their own for the warm up. After an hour, we came back and prepared ourselves or the breakfast.
Alas at the breakfast arena, there was a special guest surprise awaiting for us. This cute little guy did manage to grab everybody’s attention and it was loads of fun to get along.
Then we were asked to pack around 2kgs of backpack load and off to acclimatization walk up the hills. Around an hour walk to a nearby hill-top, helped us to get to know others more and gel up good.
There was a gather-up round assembled at the hill-top, wherein each of us introduced ourself and got to know better and further along had some fun moments as well.
We were back by noon for the lunch. The rest of the day is left to us without any programs until dinner. During our camp fire sessions, were suppose to perform some events as well. While some went to deep slumber post lunch, others took shower, few others went for local sights and few others chit chatted day long.
Day 3: Juda Talav Camp
While the next batch prepared their acclimatization workouts, we prepared ourselves for the trek towards higher camps. The real challenge is now upon us to conquer summit. The next 4 days is going to be really cold, challenging and probably brutal.
Walking on the snow is never easy, its more tiring and numbness in the feet; which troubles us more. With that, we started off in the bright sunlight towards the 1st higher camp Juda talav.
The nature around us was really exhilarating. The whole ground is a velvet of snow spread across every where. Though the numbness in the feet is troubling, the excitement being under this beautiful mystical land is an experience forgets all the trouble.
Though the distance is long enough, the walking on the snow makes one tired and exhausting. Within 4 hours, we reached the next camp i.e juda talav. The whole camp lies between the huge snow-covered landscape making it a beautiful place to live in ;)
Rest of the evening is all about fun time in the snow ;)
Day 4: Luhasu Camp
Next morning, as protocol mandates, all proceeded towards the next higher camp: Luhasu. Enroute, we got to see juda talav aka frozen lake.
This lake looks beautiful during the summer seasons, but brilliant and splendid during winters.
As we ascend, more snow welcomed us with big smile upon our faces along with more bitter cold. It also made our path difficult due to slippery surface, careful steps, weight on our backs, etc. With all these difficulties, yet we enjoyed the lovely snow and the heavenly landscape.
Finally, after 3 hours of trek, we reached the top camp.
I must say, this camp lies in the most beautiful place compared to other camps. The view around is really breathtaking.
The guardian angels of our trail :) These furry guys accompanied us all along till the summit. They even slept all night on the bare snow. Very human friendly and lovely ones, for sure.
While, some of us got more cozy and sleepy inside the tents due to cold, the neighboring camp group decided to build off a snowman.
The night went on in negative upto -10 or more. We were informed that next day we had to start ascending towards the summit around 3 AM.
Day 5: The Grand Summit
I had very well prepared towards this part of the tough journey. But alas my health gave a big shock to me in the early morning. I faced a food/water infection resulting in alot of dehydration. I prepared myself for this: ate less and constantly stayed on water through the entire journey.
With great difficulty, i managed myself to go to a certain extent of this journey for around 2 hours straight, though i am highly dehydrated.
The last stretch was really the most difficult climb ever. The inclination of climb was almost 70-80deg and seemed very difficult to me. I had almost gave up and asked HKC and rest to climb up, leaving me behind. With a rest of around 30 mins or more, the last slow climbers like me came up. With them, i decided to give a final try. Alot of energy had gone out of me due to dehydration coz of stomach upset. Yet, i manage to climb the last part of steep ascend very slowly and in small lengths. Thanks to this small group.
Once i reached the top, by consuming 2 hours or so, my condition turned even more bad..
Due to this, i could not enjoy the complete beauty and 360Deg view of the beautiful heaven around as much as others did :(
We spend around an hour at the summit, by this time all our water bottles had frozen up though the sunshine was very bright. The temperature and the wind is really cold and high respectively.
The descend route is very fun and enjoyable, as one gets to slide around for long stretch. I forgot a bit about my troubles and enjoyed the slide..
The same day we were back to the luhasu camp around 12. I was fully dehydrated and took rest at the camp leader’s tent by taking medicines. After an hour, i got a bit recovered and then continued to the next camp. Thanks goes to HKC for helping me with medicines and food.
Day 6: Har gaon Camp
The distances between each campsites are not far, yet seems very stressful due to cold, slippery surface, snow, etc. Another hour, we reached the last camp.
The downward movement over the snow is quite risky and could be very injurious. Many of us slipped over the snow, though the weather was cold but still its slippery. Make sure you carry a good grip shoes.
After sometime, the mother nature showered us with a beautiful, marvelous art of her: Snow fall. While i could not enjoy like rest, i could hear many enjoying outside under the snow fall. It was beautiful and mystical in nature for sure.
Some beautiful moments outside, during the snow fall.
Day 7: Back to Sankri
Next day morning, every one got ready. The medication on me helped better in shaping up. Still i fixated myself to mostly liquid diet and biscuit. Around 8 AM, we all departed towards base camp.
Reached the base camp around noon time. Took all our assets back from the counter, resting inside tent for a while, i recovered from exhaustion slowly. After lunch, i decided to hit the shower and then the whole day was for us to spend and have fun at the base camp. Many of us had planned to depart towards Dehradun next day, while some did plan to depart same day, but sadly the buses did not arrive to the village at all.
By evening, i recovered almost completely. Thus we planned to stroll towards the village one final time. Many of our batch mates were enjoying with their own sub-groups.
Post dinner, the certificates were distributed to us followed by the next batch camp-fire events. There were speeches, dances, skits and songs. Night ended with much enjoyment, though the teeth chattering cold was still haunting us ;)
When all the events finished and things were settling for the night, our group started to enjoy one final time before we depart to our own life next day morning.
Around 630, the whole group decided to depart basecamp and we had booked full bus a day earlier. Since most of our members wished to drop off in mussoorie, we had planned to travel in this route than the regular one. Enroute, we had a break of about 30 mins or so, due to road clearance due to rubble. While some dozed off in the bus, few of us went out to enjoy the nature.
Around 3PM, we reached the hugely crowded yet narrow place mussoorie. Upon bidding adieu to all the friends, we proceeded towards our hotel, by just dreaming all along the wonderful memories we shared for few days in the midst of nature.
Further journey coming so next blog post ;)
Finally, i would like to thank the whole KK -5 group friends in making it very memorable and YHAI in facilitating, co-ordinating, assisting and taking care of us in good way; best possible in the given conditions. Special thanks goes to HKC in helping and caring for me whenever most needed.