Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trapped over cliffs (Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek 6.)


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 3
Intense cold wake us up at very early. We have no desire to come out of the sleeping bags and leave the tent. Suddenly an thought comes to my mind that today we have to spot the peaks to evaluate our course of journey. There is no other way but to identify the peaks and the Auden’s Col. Peaks are only visible in the morning or in the evening. This means we must start early to get to the point where we see the peaks. I come out of the tent and wake up Biswas. He does not want to leave the tent but I tell him that we must get to the point earliest to find the peaks this sets him to the frenzy to pack up everything.
Briana says, “But what about Baba?”
“Baba wakes up early and he is suppose to come here unless he is dead somewhere or is already on the way back to Gangotri. All we can do it to shout for him.”
Briana says, “If he is lost then what?”
“In either situation we cannot do anything. He is a responsible adult. Either he is dead, or running back to Gangotri or lost.”
We bring our belongings to the cooking site and everything is untouched there. Biswas brings the kerosene bottles from where he hid these. As we make tea we shout for 1008 but hear nothing in return. Nothing else we can do. He might have gone back to the cattle herders camp, some hours walk. We make Pohas with onions and ginger and then pack up and begin walking upwards to the visible snow. After just one kilometer we see golden peaks shining in the early morning sun. With the pictures we identify many peaks. The sun is coming up from behind Patangana dhar the Gangotri peaks one by one start to turn crimson. We identify our beloved Auden’s Col at our right hand side and the gully ends and we are facing the glacier and across it is the Col. There can not be any mistake in identifying the Auden’s col as it is the only dunk in the ridge joining the Gangotri III and Jogin I peaks.

Camp in the middle of cliffs and Auden’s Col is hidden in clouds

So far so good and no sense in returning back to Gangotri now. We happen to be lucky in a sense because within minutes all peaks are engulfed by clouds. With my memory I try to draw the peaks and directions on the paper. We have to keep walking in the northeast direction. I draw and memorize the general landscape towards the Auden’s Col.
It is intense cold. Going is difficult as we are wearing heavy jackets and fingers get instantly numb if we take our hands out of the pockets. Briana wants to celebrate because she always suspected that I will try to find this or that excuse to run back to Gangotri but we have sighted the Auden’s Col and reaching there is my current target for the day.
To celebrate and also to wait for Baba we again stop for making tea although stopping and resting makes the thing worse. It is difficult to open our backpacks and pump up the stove because frost is biting our fingers, noses and ears. As per other traveler’s accounts, we can make it to across the Auden’s Col today and there is a long distance and serious height to be covered over extremely difficult terrain. The climb down on the other side of the Col is a major concern as I have read it to be very bad and requiring rope and ladder work.
After tea we repack everything. It is 10am and no signs of Baba. We assume that he has returned back to Gangotry. Ravine is gradually going upwards and as we are near snows we find an abandoned camp site. It seems like camping party abandoned many things in a rush. We find torn tents and unopened canned food, tea, coffee, biscuits, oxygen tanks and many other things. God knows what happened here, may be people abandoned the site after some heavy snow or hailstorm. We may need some tent pole sticks to probe soft snow so we gather some folding sticks.
We are already loaded and have no desire to add anything to our luggage. Now we are on the glaciers in the midst of the peaks. We keep walking on the glacier with utter care because there are many deep holes covered by soft fresh snow and we cross over many cervices. We poke our pole sticks in the snow to find some firm place to put our feet but still we get many false indicators and time and again we step into deeper snow holes. But so far so good.
For some cervices we make a diversion to find the passable width. We descend to a roaring brook in the middle of glacier and banks are either snow or ice and it is very slippery. We place each step with utter care and first time we use rope. I cross first with the rope other end is held by Biswas and Briana crosses the brook by holding the rope and then Biswas comes. As sun is hitting the white snow we notice the flashes in our eyes and eyes feel itchy. We wear dark goggles.

Passage between two peaks
We keep walking on the ice and some times ice is soft and covering deep holes. I slip in the ice-hole but get entangled with my bulky backpack and Briana and Biswas pull me out. After some more climb on the flat white ice Briana sinks and we pull her out. We halt for rest. We tie each other with ropes and Briana walks in the front because she is the lightest weight. Before taking each step she pokes the ice with her stick and this way we avoid many falls but still once a while one sinks in the soft places. We place foot in the marks made by Briana.
At a place we rest and my backpack begins slipping fast down. No sense in running after it for the danger of falling in some hidden hole. Luckily backpack stops at some soft spot and almost sinks but its top is still visible. Briana walk down with a rope and ties it and drags it to me. This gives us an idea, now instead of carrying our backpacks we use our ropes to drag these but after a while we feel more tired and we again carry our load on our shoulders.
Then I hear Biswas’s shout and we look back, his goggle fell down is slipping on the ice slope very fast. We keep looking at it till it disappears far away. Luckily we have a spare goggle. As we are looking at the sliding goggle there we find something moving. Briana’s sharp eyes recognized the moving object.

Passage over ices
She screams, “Baba is coming, Baba is coming.”
We all shout for the Baba to listen, he is at least 4 kilometers away. It is only Briana who can tell it is Baba otherwise we don’t see much except a dot in the snow. I doubt if Baba is listening to us or seeing us. He is following our foot-marks on the snow.
We burn pages from a book to make smoke and shout. We keep watching 1008, then we see him slipping over the ice and sliding for long distance and then he again begins walking. He is running on the snow and it is very dangerous. He disappears from our site, probably sank in some hidden crevice and we give up on him but then he reappears from the ground and resume his run. Then he finds our line of trail and walk over our foot-marks and finally he meets us.
He is all black and blue, ice hanging from his beard, eyebrows and hairs.
He only stammers one single words again and again, “म्मम्म माआआअ चिस्स्स्स. माआआअ चॆऎएस. माचिस माचिस.”
I locate a match box from my backpack pocket but his gunza is wet because he fell down in the frozen holes and then again in the river. I wrap wet ganza in a dry paper and light it and he sucks it up fast several times. Now he wants tea and we cannot make tea on the infirm snow and ice terrain. He asks for food and I give him frozen parothas and now he is mad at me and curses me that he will burn me us for abandoning him in the freezing night. He wants warm food and we cannot set up kitchen here on the ice slope. We cannot even place our backpack on the ice because if anything slips it runs down thousands of feet below. We are lucky to be standing on our two legs on this 30 degree slope and Auden’s Col is about 5-6 hours away. Biswas gives him the can of cham-cham and he eats the whole can. He dries his gunza on the burning papers and becomes normal. His feet are blue. I give him Briana’s spare shoes, her spare jacket; Briana gives him her shawl, socks and muffler.

On the way to Auden’s Col
As usual weather in the peaks becomes suddenly cloudy at 1PM and we all are hungry. It begins snowing. Baba’s eyes are red and painful and he is compiling a lot and cursing us all. There comes a big crevice and we walk around for long distance to cross it at the narrow opening. Then we come right below the Auden’s Col and face a rocky wall that we must go up. I leave my backpack on the ground and try to climb on the rocks but my hands are freezing and I wear woolen globes and try again, my hands become numb but I don’t give up but keep climbing and a stage comes when I feel I will faint. Luckily I find a place to stand and then find some passable opening in the rocks. There I throw rope below but it is not enough to reach them. Baba takes another rope and begins climbing with his bare hands to catch the rope and then to tie another rope to it. He slips after few steps, luckily he is not hurt and he gives it up. Biswas takes his rope and begins climbing and as he is about to give up he catches the rope and climbs rest of the fifty feet. There we tie two ropes and ask Baba to tie our backpacks and everything and we pull everything. Then Briana comes up followed by Baba. We walk the rocks and we have made it up to barely one third of the rocky wall. We see barely a two feet square level place and decide to have tea and parothas.

Auden’s Col
Luckily there is still some kerosene in Briana’s butterfly stove, we fire it up and make tea that gets cold instantly and warm up frozen parothas and have lunch while standing on the dangerous cliff. After lunch we have another cup of tea by melting snow on our stove. Snow is still falling. After lunch we resume our climbing on the rocks and at two places I climb alone with all three ropes then all others climb by rope. When we come to the almost top we see now we must go down at the other side and it may take several hours and no chance of our reaching Auden’s Col today.
Our hands are numb and legs are trembling and cold is entering in our bones. Our shoes and socks are wet. We have no choice but to stop at this cliff. I and Biswas climb further to find some flat place to spend night. Luckily we find a level ground barely enough to squeeze our both tents on the sloped rock over hanging on the cliff. We throw ropes to pull our belongings and then pull Briana and Baba.
We are only wondering if we will be able to go either side but I want to leave this worry for the morning. We pitch tents and find another small level place to arrange our kitchen, that is barely two feet square. Not much room to maneuver around so we melt snow and boil rice with salt and spices in it. It is 6PM and luckily snow stops falling and it is misty now. We cannot see anything beyond ourselves and it is extremely dangerous. One misstep and we will fall hundreds of meters below.

Auden’s Col, final approach.
I take out a strip of Dexamethasone tablets and give two tablets to Baba because he is all blue and black. Give one to Biswas and take one for myself. As Dr. Briana notices it, she becomes hysteric and gives me a big lecture about not to use such dangerous medicines freely.
She shouts at me, “You ought to behind the bars.”
After half hour as it is about to get dark, I find her quietly taking out two Dexa pills from my backpack pocket for herself and I hand her water bottle.
We ask Baba about his night and he says he went far to find some cave but then night fell and he was unable to find his way. He shouted and shouted but we didn’t come to his rescue. He then spent night shivering in the ices. I told him that we didn’t hear his shouts but he didn’t believe us.
I told him or to rather everybody sternly: Staying with the group is one’s own responsibility and if anyone wanders around no one will be coming to search. One man cannot jeopardize the safety of the whole group.
Biswas lets Baba to sleep in his tent again and accepts the fate of his tent, sleeping bags and belonging. We give all our spare clothes to him again to use as a cover. His toes are blue and frozen and Briana fears gangrene. We all give him our spare socks.
We fear our tents may fall down the cliff and we use all our ropes to tie both tents to the rocks for as much possible and it is slippery. Briana is touching the rock and my back can feel the end of the ledge. I make a stiff drink and begin sipping it. We have no light etc. and it is dead dark.

Near Auden’s Col
Briana has fever and I can hear wheezing sound coming out from her lungs. She asks me to dissolve another two steroid tablets in the liquor so they act fast. In my leftover drink I dissolve two Dexamethasone tablets and hand it to her.
She says, “Without this medicine one of us was to die tonight.”
I have a medicine kit with some essential medicines but we have no flashlight except matchsticks and lighter. Both things are in our backpacks lying outside on the rocks. Somehow I make it outside and bring in the strip of paracetamol tablets. I ask Biswas if he needs any, yes he too has fever and Baba also has fever. I hand Biswas some paracetamol and dexamethasone tablets for him and 1008-Maharaj.
I still have some water that is not frozen yet because I had the plastic bottle in my pocket; I make another stiff drink in the plastic bottle and share it with Briana. She says she is having liquor second time in her life. It hits her instantly and she falls to sleep.
It takes me a while to get to sleep and over the night we hear ice and rocks falling and crashing around us.
Somehow we fall to sleep.
Arum Triphyllum
Jack of the Pulpit
It grows in Himalayas.
This is an important remedy in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Chinese and Tibetan medical systems. Bill Clinton had hoarse throat near his second term elections. His friend Harbhajan Singh Yogi gave him a homeopathy dose of Arum Triphyllum and he was cured at that crucial time.

Jack of the Pulpit, Arum Triphyllum
Late Professor of Materia Medica in Hering College, Chicago.
Presented by Dr Robert Séror
Arum Triphyllum
Jack of the Pulpit
(Indian Turnip)
Generalities: Many boys have wandered in the low grounds where this wild turnip grows, and have taken a nip out of it, and probably remember the sensations in the mouth that they received at that time.
I distinctly remember making an endeavor to enjoy a piece of wild turnip. The tingling that is left in the lips and tongue and from the throat to the end of the nose, and wherever sentient nerves come to the surface, is astonishing.
The prickling and tingling is painful. It is a sensation that cannot be let alone. It requires a continued manipulation, and from this we gather the sensations that must be present in children when they are suffering from acute diseases and this remedy is indicated.
For, in spite of the rawness and bleeding and smarting of the parts, they will insist on pinching and scratching and picking the lips and pressing around the mouth and boring into the nose.
It has been a guiding feature in acute diseases, scarlet fever, many throat affections, diseases that take on a low type, such as continued fever and eruptive fevers.
Among other complaints, sore throats, zymotic affections, delirium and excitement, even maniacal manifestations. It is manifested to a great extent in these associated symptoms. It must be that there is in the nose and lips painful tingling that the patient persists in boring the fingers into the nose.
“the nose itches,” and the other is “he rubs the nose,”
Heat in the head, determination of blood to the head. It has also cured eruptions upon the scalp like eczema.

1 comment:

  1. dangerous but interesting eventful journey.thank god the god man is back.great pics.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...