July 6, 2010

Roopkund: high altitude trek at higher Himalayas.

Filed under: Travel, Trekking — Tags: , , , , — Harsha S @ 6:17 PM
Its been a while since I blogged, and couldn’t have hoped for a better opportunity to write. Its a fabulous experience as most of my treks had been one day’s and my maximum being 3 days in Male Mahadeshwara hills, Karnataka. To put in words 20 degree to sub-freeze, 8000 feet 16300 feet, road to jungles to meadows and snow in 4 days and  reduction of 3-4 kg, which I couldn’t achieve for 4 months in gym. Although official trek is 8 days am excluding 2 days of journey. First day from Kathogdam to Lohajung and last day from Lohajung to Haridwar. There were 12 guys and 3 girls in our batch, and trek was organized by Indiahikes.

Day1, 22 nd June 2010, Lohajung(2530) to Didina(2600m):
The day started little early at 5 with bed tea.  After having
little snacks and packing only necessary things (as we were supposed to carry,) leaving the rest at their base camp. We left around 7 with packed breakfast. It was a smooth trial till breakfast as we had loads of energy we could see multiple small waterfalls. As the trial got steeper(to climb) started taking more breaks but after 5 minutes it was same. At around 11 as I was talking to 3 little local girls, saw a mule approaching with Shwetha’s backpack and asked if one more would be heavy for the mule and he agreed to offload me. I did n’t dare to carry my backpack again! All I was willing to carry was a bottle of water, cap sunglasses and an extra layer of protection against rain. Without backpack I could trek faster and caught up with the guys ahead and could reach Didina at 11:40. We chatted for an hour, strolled in Didina for some time and spent most time playing cards that day as there was nothing better to do in rain. We had campfire and dinner before retiring to sleep.

Day2, 23rd June2010, Didina to Bedini (3354m).
Our steepest climb and most straining trek of the 6 days started around 7 AM. It was similar to day 1 till the around 10 AM, then suddenly forests ends  and you could see an endless stretch of green meadows and valleys. After resting for a while we started second half of the journey. The trail was steep(greater than 70+ degrees) and taking every step was becoming straining,  we started together one by one started going ahead of me except Umang. We took horizontal and longer trial it was some relief and we took couple of breaks. After some time Umang also went ahead did not mind as someone was in sight. After sometime I was too slow and could see none except for Shashank and Shwetha sometimes.  I almost came closer to them and then after some more rests i could see none. Then Samir’s advice of taking deeper breaths in every step came to mind and without taking any breaks slowly but steady trekked for one and half hour to finally reach Bedini Bugyal at around 2 PM. When I reached many had faced different problems including our strongest man(NCC RDP) Kunal, who had become self proclaimed high altitude puker. Many had headaches and stomach problems,  not sure if it’s because of  trekking at high altitude or packed food. As advised we spent some time in high altitude and came back to base-camp. After some medical prescription most of them came back to normalcy.

Sleepless night: When we thought everything was ok and went to sleep, initially it was snoring from other tents!, radio sometimes and then it started to rain with winds which could totally rip our tents. Couple of times in the night we turned on our torches to see the status of tent; we could see traces of water inside and fortunately all the ropes were still intact. Rain sound and winds at high speeds made sure that none of us could sleep entire night.

Day3: 24th June 2010, Bedini to Ghora Lotani (3906m).
This was our shortest and fastest,  we reached Ghora Lotani base camp by 9:30AM. Then Sandeep, who is a member Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), came to give some details of remaining part of our trek.  Also some tips on how to maintain heat by covering head(not ears) and legs and trek at high altitudes. Then he showed us some cards tricks and  even taught us some tricks. Then we played Dumb charades, not to forget the unforgettable act by Sharad to enact ‘Fun with Dick and Jane‘. After some time a lady, from previous batch  came to our fiber tent and told us that the hard part i.e steepest and longest trek is over and we should comfortably finish trekking on snow as its no rocket science! She said we were just 15 could not fathom what was the big deal until that night. Though trek was easy the most difficult part of the day was to sleep in a single Fiber hut. Getting into sleeping bag was also not easy. There was literally no space left to move for us, after a sleepless night we had to go through another night of horror (read Symphony) before things improved from next day.

Day4: 25th June 2010, Ghora Lotani to  to Bhagwa Bhasa(4375) via Kalu to Vinayak(4437):
The days trek was moderate and short and some of us left without waiting for
guides. We took couple of photos at Kalu vinayak, peak for the day, with Kala pattar and Roopkund as background. As soon as we reached our fiber tent Ankit, our physio and camp manager, took charge. He went on for more than an hour telling stories of Roopkund and truck load of bones there, how he joined Indiahikes, which was next to his house, his adventures in trekking Roopkund and how winds had taken tent from Bedini to Ali Bugyal and strange persons he had to face while working at Indiahkes, one asking for A/C rooms, another behind chicken! and another troubled by locals for meddling with their questionable god.
Day 5: 26th June 2010Bhagwabasa to Roopkund (4844m), Return to Bedni Bugyal via Bhagwabasa

The longest day of trek started little early. Its the climax day where we could see Roopkund and if possible Junargali if we reach Roopkund by 8. All of us except for Shwetha, who was down form high altitude sickness, left around 5 in the morning. Its was a clear sky bright and sunny perfect whether to witness Roopkund. The trek was moderate even laggards of our trek including me and Umang who was limping since yesterday could reach by 8:30 AM.  We could see couple of our group members marching towards Junargali with Sandeep. We basked in the glory of reaching Roopkund and took couple of snaps.
The bright sun made our descent on snow little scary. We stated our descent for the day around 9:30 AM, many of us started slipping on snow and Samir could not balance himself. Then Sandeep came running to the rescue ( still envy him for his skills)  and taught some tips on walking on snow, one of which is holding each other hands. The theory is both of us will not slip at the same time.  I held the hand of the strongest man Kunal and could walk little comfortably in slippery.  Some of us had to be slided on snow as they could not balance. After the snow trek is over its was a cake walk till Bhagvabasa.

After having lunch and waiting for rain to stop, we left towards Bedini base camp. Intermittent rain and sun made the valley beautiful. We could spot two rainbows en route to Bedini. Although i could have completed the trek an hour earlier thought of giving company to troubled Umang, with water and sutta breaks. Reached Bedini around 7PM after trekking non-stop 14 hours! Clear sky at Bedni made sure that we could spot all mountain ranges including Hathi, Char Kambh, Nanda Ghunti, Trisul and Kala Patthar may not necessarily in that order.

Day 6: 27th June 2010, Bedni Bugyal to Lohajung via Wan(2520m):
This was an easy day of trek, where most of it was descent till Wan. After trekking in meadows for 3 days it was back to trekking in forests. Except our king Umang, who had the luxury of traveling on ‘Kachchar’, most of us could trek. After steep descent through Oak forests we took time to indulge ourselves in Neel Ganga, which was chilly and refreshing. Then it was time for half an hour ascent before descending again till Wan. All of us could reach Wan by 2 PM.

The most scary part of the day was not trek but ride from Wan to Lohajung in an old Tata Sumo, which was not in good shape. Some of us tried to change to the Jeep thought it made no difference, as  it looked worst. With two people on top of our Sumo we left for Lohajung, only to discover the steepest turns ever took on vehicle. We wondered weather still 2 people are on top! After reaching we talked about our scary ride and how the jeep ride was no better. Heard Jeep had to be started with screw driver and persons on top of Jeep made screams while traveling.

Today was also speech and certification day, we were told that ours was the most successful batch where 9 out of 15 could reach Junargali, till our batch only 9 could reach in 2010. All of us received certification for becoming a high altitude trekker. It was also the feedback time, we had more praise than complaints for organizing a wonderful trek. Special thanks to Sandeep who made sure that all of us reached safely, Ankit physio cum entertainer for taking care of injured, and last but not the least all guides (including Sardarji) who were also doubled as our cooks.

External References:
Some more snaps @

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