Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trapped in the Khatling Glacier (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 8.)


1: Trek preparations
2: Arrival in Gangotri
3: Gathering of Motley's Crew
4: Out of Gangotri
5: Beyond Bugyals
6: Trapped over cliffs
7: Auden's Col crossing
8: Trapped in the Khatling Glacier
9: Lucky to be alive
10: Back to the ices
11: Mayali Pass Crossing
12: Arrival in Kedarnath

Day 5.
Briana wakes me up in the very early. She is very scared and wispers to me that some animal is around our tent and scratching it to gain entry.
I whisper back to her, “There are no animals and even there are no birds not even ravens.”
“But there is some creature, may be big foot Yeti. What do we do?”
To peek outside I unzip the tent from below and then instantly that animal pokes his head in our tent.
Briana screams very loud and I am also very scared, it is still dark outside.
Then we hear, “बच्चा, यह मैं हूँ, 1008 अवधूत. शिव का सैनिक.”
So it is Baba, inserted his head from the bottom. I wonder he is belly down outside on the snow.
Then we hear another loud shout from Biswas, “क्या हुआ मैडम जी को?”
Then we hear someone stumbling. It is apparent that Biswas ran to our tent and then stumbled upon laying Baba, his head in our tent.
Then we hear Biswas screaming and running, “बचाओ बचाओ, कोई जानवर, कोई जानवर, कोई जानवर. खतरा खतरा.”

Khatling Glacier

Then we see Baba’s head is no more in our tent.
Baba shouts at Biswas who is standing far away and is very scared, “चल बे, जा अपने तम्बू मे. चल भाग. मुझे लीडर से खास बात करनी है. डरपोक कही का.”
Biswas shouts, “मैं डरपोक नहीं हूँ. मैं मैडम जी को बचाने और चेताने आया था.”
We open the zipper and see embarrassed Biswas going back to his tent. He is wearing a tight thermal sticking to his legs and heavy jacket and a monkey cap on his full face; due to panting a large amount of steam coming from his nostrils and mouth. As he is barefoot on the ice so he is doing Pom-Pom dance while returning. Briana falls to a fierce laugh but muffles her face in her sleeping bag.
Baba says, “कैसे आदमी के साथ मुझे रात गुजारनी पड़ती है. कार्टून.”
Then Baba says to me pointing to Briana that Biswas may murder me to elope with Briana.
I reason out with him, “अपनी बोरी को ले कर भागे गा की गोरी को ले कर भागे गा? कैसे भागे गा? कहाँ भागे गा.”
“बात यह नहीं है की कैसे भागे गा. और ना ही गोरी इसके साथ भागने वाली है.
बात यह है की वोह तुम्हारा खून कर दे गा. इसका इतना दिमाग नहीं है की कैसे भागे गा पर तुम्हारी तो छुट्टी हो जायगी, की नहीं?”
I try to reason out with 1008 but he is adamant. He is sucking ceaselessly on his gunza and cooking his own theories.
He finally says, “बच्चा तुम मेरे लिए नारदमुनी सामान हो क्यों की तुम मुझे इस नारदमुनी के राह से केदारनाथ ले कर जा रहे हो. यह गोरी मेरे लिए माँ सीता के सामान है और रावण भी हमे साथ है.’
I promise 1008 that we all three will keep a hawk’s eye on the Ravana.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
There is no sense in sleeping now at 5.30 in the freezing morning. I and Briana come out of the tent and make tea. Sun is beginning to come out and mountains peaks become golden and slowly the crimson glow is increasing and we watch golden triangles on the peaks becoming larger and larger and finally it is a happy morning.
I take two glasses of tea to Biswas in his tent, one for me and other for him. Upon seeing me tears fall down from his eyes.
“I guess I made a fool of myself in the morning, now she will be laugh at me forever.”
“Oh, Noooo Sir, she sent you this cup of tea herself. She is much concerned that for her sake you ran barefoot on the ice. Baba poked his head in our tent from below and we got scared.”
“Yes, that is true. This goddamed foolish Baba, this number one idiot – look at the new holes in my tent, bedding and also on Briana’s jacket and other clothes those you give him each night.”
“Yeah man, what cannot be cured must be endured. Don’t worry about her and keep trying and I think ice is beginning to melt.”
“Really, it is melting out?”
“No you idiot, ice in her heart about you?”
A smile comes on his face and he is again happy.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
Weather is gently cold and we start preparing a grand breakfast. Biswas is also out and chirping with Briana because I told her to be nice with him. Baba is staring at him nonchalant. After washing pots we wound up our camp and begin walking. We hope to pass the glacier today. Walking turns out easy in the snow and we walk for 3 kilometers nonstop. We encounter several crevasses and cross these without much problem.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
Weather is gently cold and we start preparing a grand breakfast. Biswas is also out and chirping with Briana because I told her to be nice with him. Baba is staring at him venomously. After washing pots we wound up our camp and begin walking. We hope to pass the glacier today. Walking turns out easy in the snow and we walk for 3 kilometers nonstop. We encounter several crevasses and cross these without much problem.
We again arrive upon ice and rubble mixture and walking gets difficult and our foot slips several times. Stones act as roller bearings under out feet. We stop to make tea but decide to make lunch because we find clean water nearby. At 2 PM we again begin walking and to our amazement we see the snout of the glacier. It is apparent that the thought of crossing the glacier won’t materialize today. We keep walking and walking on the unstable ground and keep crossing one after other crevasses. We had no choice but to move on the left of the glacier and suddenly the route ends and we face the wall of ice under us. Glacier ends at a 200 meter deep ledge of ice and then rubble below it.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
It is too much to deal with just anything. There is no way at our right, and no way at our left to go any further. Even if we make it to below somehow, there is steep rubble and ice slope for miles.
As we begin walking, Baba picks up some object and shouts, “किसी जानवर की हड्डी.”
But there are no Janwars, there are not even birds.
As Briana catches up with us and she looks at the bone, “This is a human bone, Femur bone of some adult who died not long ago.”
Wow! this is a news to us.
I tell it to Baba and he throws away the bone and begins trembling.
“What do we do with this bone?” Biswas says.
I say, “Leave it exactly form where we took it.”
I pick it from the ground and take it where Baba picked it up.
We saw a water fall half kilometer before and we decide to return there to end our day and make a camp. After descending for a day now it seems Herculean task to climb again. In one hour we reach at the fall and find some flat ground by a clear water stream and we settle there and call off our day. Who knows we may be spending more nights there because we are just deadlocked and stuck in the mountains.
Temperature is mild as we have in Delhi in the winters. We all take a bath in the stream and erect our tents and make tea and cook food. Baba is near blind due to snow white reflections. My eyes are also playing games with me because time to time I walked without sunglasses.
We establish our kitchen and erect tents. Baba is using all our surplus clothes but we pack and repack everything and carry everything for him. So I and Briana again remove each and every garment from our backpacks and throw these in Biswas’s tent for 1008. Now most the things including our backpacks smell cannabis. Most of the clothes have burn holes now.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
Baba is most apprehensive about our finding a passage out from this crater. He is jumpy and nervous. As we begin cooking, he walks back towards the fall to search for the passage. As dinner is ready and we eat early and wait for Baba and he is not here. As sun sets in the mountains at six we are worried about Baba who has not returned yet. We take a walk back towards the fall to look for him as it will be getting dark soon. Biswas has a flashlight but batteries are now very week. We reach at the ledge and no Baba here and we can see at the miles but no signs of Baba.
May be he fell in some crevasse. We shout and shout for him and then at 7PM we give up because it is getting dark and cold. Then Briana hears a faint sound because her hearing is superhuman. She says it is Baba calling us but where we don’t know. Then we spot smoke below in the ice at about the midway to the drop, and shouting in that direction. We don’t see anything in the ice there below us but notice smoke coming out from the ground. We are about to give up but then we see Baba coming out from the ground and is calling us frantically. He is standing naked and waving his smoking loincloth.
We cannot do anything because night is falling. We cannot go to get Baba, it is a definite suicide. We shout to Baba to stay there and spend the night there. Baba starts cursing us.
Helplessly we keep looking at him and as it gets dark we return back to our campsite.

Crossing Khatling Glacier
Luckily it is not viciously cold and we hope Baba will survive. Biswas discovers that Baba has left his bag and we find about 200-300 grams gunza also. His blanket, kamandal, a brass glass and a Shiva’s photo and a brass joth all are here in his sack.
Too bad for him to spend a night on the ice without his gunza supply.

Khatling Glacier
We make another cup of tea, luckily no winds and cold is not so vicious because we are at around 12000 feet.
We all sit in our tent and I and Biswas have drinks, he drinks little and only for the sake of cold but I am from Bhatinda.
Biswas goes out and when he returns again he smells of fresh perfume and Briana blink to me. Raw alcohol hits him hard and he sings many songs till his flashlight dies completely. He is also very worried about out being able to get down to more than 200 meters of the wall drop. Same situation is with Briana, she suggests us to cut our rations because we might stay holed at this place for several days.
I say, “We will cut the rations but what about kerosene?”

From Auden’s Col to Khatling Glacier steep passage on the Ices. Below the ices is the unstable 500 meter straight drop.
We sleep very well at night although we are sad for Baba.
After all he is a team member. He is definitely paying a visit to a hell.
Well – too bad for him.
Nothing we can do about it.

1 comment:

  1. romantic biswas with perfume and trouble making baba without his gunja out in the cold.great post.


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