If you’re readying yourself for a high-altitude trek, you can learn from Tejaswi’s wise words. Her group set out at 2 am for a climb to the mountain pass, Goecha La, but Tejaswi was stranded without a torch. She recollects her experience and dishes out advice that seems trivial on the surface, but is extremely important on any trek.
The evening before the final pass – Goecha La Trek
It had snowed at the camp at 15,000 feet today. A snow fall I was not glad of. Anything scared me. The evening fast approached. A giant cloud engulfed the camp site. The temperature had not dropped further but surely, visibility was lost.
The chirpy and fit Chandu Sir started a long address on how many kilometres the next day’s ascent would be. The climb (to Point 1, Point 2, Point 3) to the mountain pass, the walk back to the camp and to then to the next camp site. I swallowed once and thanked my stars that at least somebody spelled it out step by step. All of us retired pretty early, as early as 7:30 pm, not taking any chances. The most boisterous of all tents had also been quiet that day. I could not fall asleep. Again, the tent was pitched on the ground which was slightly sloping down. Gravity kept forcing me to slide down and the chill was getting to me, -10 degrees or perhaps lower than that.
2 am: Supposedly, my tent mates had been trying to wake me up for a while now. Ah, I just beat the cold and got comfortable. Pass day! We had to move quickly and not delay for the rest of the trekkers. I’m wondering if I can brush my teeth. That is about the only thing that usually bothers me; not food, not toilets, nothing else. It felt much colder outside and I soon forgot about brushing. It was a feat to just gulp some water.
I readied my day pack with enough water, got my shoes on and lined up with the rest of the trekkers, all of whom looked charged up. Was I the only one feeling a little unsure?
“We will be going up in three groups. Each group lead by one guide. Please stick to the groups to avoid getting lost. First group, start lining up.”
I joined the second group and started going up. Ah, the pack that I tied to my legs and waist instead of my using my usual back pack was not letting me walk. Why did I experiment today, of all days! I go back to change it and join the next batch. I am one of those people who had not checked the itinerary of the trek before coming. Also, when the check-list said “Torch,” I asked a friend and who said, “To go to the loo in the dark.” I was arrogant enough to think “let me skip it, I will share”. Yes, stupid decision. In high-endurance adventure sports you are mostly fending for yourself.
At 2 am, in the cold I was pretty much troubling anyone around me by not carrying a torchlight. “Could you show me the light too”? I moved extremely slow as my spirits dwindled. The entire group went past me; I was almost the last one in the group, not my usual spot, and it got me uncomfortable by the minute.
To read further about how she handled the situation and whether or not she made it to the mountain pass, head to Tejaswi’s blog.