Thursday, 29 October 2015

I did it, man

          One never knows which way life will take a turn and how old times can come back knocking. 20 years is a long time. When I look back two decades, I remember my crazy days of adventure sports. It all began from a rock climbing course in the hills of Bengal and graduated to advance mountaineering course from NIM. Studies, search for job and adventure sports were going on side by side but not necessarily in that order. Then bingo - I got a job. But alas - that became the end of my adventure sports days. 
         During these 20 years old memories came back off and on but never created the craze that I had. So it was slowly but almost forgotten. Suddenly after 20 years it started coming back- automatically. No effort from my side but still it seemed as if a dormant volcano again started to assert its life. To cut the story short, it all came back in a big downpour. Now I had to decide where to start and after long hours on the net, I decided to do the Rupin pass trek in Oct 2015 through Indiahikes.
            It was July when I decided to do the Everest base camp trek in April 2016. From Aug first week I started by physical preparation. I needed a trek in between to check my actual physical ability and assess and re plan my preparation accordingly. That's how Rupin Pass from 17 to 24 Oct 2015.
I am 44 years old and my physical preparation was 3 kms jogging, push ups 30 x 3 sets, abdominal 40 x 3 sets, free hand squats 30 x 3 sets. My BMI was just below 30.
breakfast time
            On 15 Oct 2015, I left Sri Ganganagar and reached Sarai Rohilla Station next day morning. Same day I took the bus from ISBT Delhi to Dehradun. By evening of 16th Oct I was at Dehradun. I checked in a hotel near Dehradun railway station for the night. On 17th Oct morning at 0630 hrs I was at the Dehradun railway station, the rendezvous. We were total 20 trekkers, 14 male and 6 females.
              At about 0700 hrs we started for Dhaula. Its a long journey. We had breakfast at Kemptee falls at about 0930 hrs. Further we reached Purola and halted for lunch. Purola is a scenic place and from there you get the feel that you are entering the remote areas. Anyway after an hours halt we left for Dhaula. By early evening we reached Naitwar which is the entrance of Govind National Park and entry fee has to be paid on per day basis of stay in the National park. By 1700 hrs we reached Dhaula, our first camp.
Dhaula camp
Entry to NP
Its a beautiful camp site, nestled between tall trees and by the bank of a river. As we got down the bus I could feel the chill in the air. The mountains, river and the tall trees were as if welcoming us to the enjoy the beauty of nature. How ever I was apprehensive about my physical ability and had a last thought that why did I come here, with lots of what ifs. But it was too late to step back, so I assured myself and moved towards our campsite. We were welcomed by the trek leader, served tea and pakoras and given the initial required briefings. Thereafter we had an early dinner and went to sleep in our tents(3 persons sharing one tent). The actual trek was to start from 18th Oct. The morning timings were tea- 0600 hrs, breakfast -0700 hrs and trek starts at 0800 hrs.

bridge at Dhaula
      We started from Dhaula at about 0815 hrs, with our pack lunch for the first days trek. About 200 mtrs from the camp there is a bridge which we crossed. The path is well laid and the height gain is gradual. We follow the river upstream on the left bank. It takes about 5 hrs to reach Sewa, a typical small village of the mountains. We are put up in a house in Sewa. There were two rooms, the bigger room was for the males and the smaller room for the females, and it also had two toilets. In the afternoon we went to the village Mandir. There is one idol, an avatar of Hanuman, which is taken to the 11 villages in the area around the year. At our time the idol was not at this village so we could not see it.
Sewa home stay

Jiskun home stay
towards Jiskun
          Again we started from Sewa after 0800 hrs with pack lunch. It included chappati and sabji and a packet of biscuit. The route is again a gradual height gain with no steep ascents. It took about 5 hrs to reach Jiskun, the last village in Uttarakhand. Here also we had a home stay. The first two days trek was normal with no major fatigue. But things were going to change the third day.

the river bed
          This day was the first tough day of the trek and today we crossed over from Uttarakhand to Himachal. The trail from Jiskun goes down to the river bed and then to a small nala which is the interstate border. After the nala the climb starts and its steep. After some time we hit the road which goes till Jhaka village. Vehicles ply on the road. After a long walk on the road we climb till Jhaka, the hanging village. Its called so because its on the steep slope of the mountain. Here we break for some time till the whole batch catches up. From Jhaka again its a gradual ascent and continue till lunch point which is on the river bank. After lunch its again about 2 hrs till the camp site. Till now we were continuing on the left bank of Rupin river and today we cross to the right bank just before the camp. Today we cross 10000 ft also. Now we feel the change in the temperature as well as the scenery. We cross the tree line and things start looking barren. It takes about 7 hrs to reach the camp site. Over all its a long and tiring day.
rock cut path 
bridge on border
lunch point by the river
Udaknal camp site

          Today is a relaxed walk of about 3 hrs till Danderas thach or the lower water fall camp. Its almost plain with little height gain and today we get a close up view of the water falls. The views are great and a reminder of the tough day tomorrow.
water fall at the background
the formidable waterfalls


climb along lower water fall
the snow bridge
Rati pheri camp
          Today was a difficult day. The water falls which looked so picturesque yesterday had to be climbed. The route is steep and an immediate height gain of about 1000 ft. We start from the right side and after the lower water fall we cross a snow bridge to the left side of the upper water fall. After about 3 hrs we reach the top and have lunch. The view from the top is awesome. Thereafter the route further ascends to the left and the flattens out till the camp. Now its mostly rocky. We start feeling the effect of altitude during the walk. It takes about 7 hrs to reach the camp site which is at about 14,800 ft. Its cold and windy and temperature drops below zero at night. We all have a disturbed sleep. This is the last camp before the Rupin pass.

          We start a bit early ie at 0730 hrs for the Rupin pass. Though we are about 500 ft below but the climb looks daunting at this height. Rest assured its a steep climb. At places its 75 degrees at least. We push on for 2 hrs to reach the top of the pass, which is all rocky. There is very little snow at this time of the year. It is a major boost of confidence for me, at last after so many years and so much apprehension I reached the Pass. We stay there for about 30 mins. The other side has great views prominent being the Kinnaur Kailash. The descent on the other side is very long and a 'knee killer'. We start the long descent after the jubilation. After about 3 hrs of descent we have lunch and there after continue till the camp. It takes more than 9 hrs to complete the day and we are all exhausted. My knees and thighs were paining due to the descent, which I did not have all through the ascent phase. None the less I was happy. Rupin pass which is at 15,300 ft and we descended till 9,800 ft to the camp site.
the start of the ascend to Rupin pass

the steepness of the climb

at last on top
the descent
Sangla Kanda camp site

               After a good nights sleep we start the last leg to the road head at Sangla. Its descent all the way till the bridge on Baspa river in Sangla. From the bridge its 20 mins ascent to the road. It took 3 hrs to reach Sangla eating delicious apples bought from the locals. Thus we concluded the trek and for me, fulfilled a dream. We hired a Scorpio for Kalka (10,500/-)as we had to catch the Shatabdi express next morning. It took us 11 hrs to reach Kalka. We reached Kalka at 0030 hrs on 25th Oct. I stayed in the station waiting room, took a nap and re-did the trek in my dreams.
Kinnaur Kailash in the background

towards Sangla

the bridge at Sangla

                          Its not an easy trek and should not be the first trek for anyone, even for me who is trekking after such a long time. The 3rd, 5th and 6th days are tough but after you finish the trek you get an unmatched satisfaction which does wonders to your confidence and increases your thirst for more such experiences. The peculiarity of the trek is that it starts in one state and ends in another, also the staring point and end point are different. This makes withdrawing midway a difficult option.  For me it was a great booster. I now have the confidence that I can do the Everest base camp trek. I just need to work more on my leg muscles, otherwise I am good to go.
the oldies of the trek- me, Debabrata and Sanjay


  1. Daruun choton...last year few of my college mates did the zongri trek after 20 years and had similar feelings... I too have everest base camp in my mind...maybe 2017. Tukai


  3. Ohh... Great congo...
    I am at age 47 done lots of treks in Indian & Nepal Himalayas but last four years couldn't.
    I have same feeling as you,may be I was in the same Rupin batch in 2015 but at last minute cancelled. may be this time will do....