Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Adding another passion...for mountains

I have added yet another passion to my life..... I have become passionate about mountains ...after the fantastic eleven day and 1000 km journey over the Himalayan mountains from 9 to 19 June. It was a dream trip through the

- exotic places ... Keylong, Udaipur, Kaza, Samdo, Kalpa, Rekong Peo, Sangla, Manali and Narkanda,
- fascinating valleys of Kullu, Parbathi,Lahaul, Spiti, Baspa and Sangla
- breath-taking snow clad peaks of Kinnaur Kailash and Parbathi
- massive glaciers and moist rocks
- rushing rivers of Chandra, Bhoga, Spiti, Chenab,Beas and Sutlej
- the scenic orchards of apples, plums and apricots
- the majestic passes of Rohtang ( 4000 metres ) and Kunzum la ( 4500 m ) passes.
- historic Buddhist monasteries including the famous one at Tabo
- picturesque villages of Kibber( at 4200 metres-has claim to be the highest village in the world)and Chitkul
- the bailey bridges and the one-person ropeways hanging over the rivers connecting mountains
I was thrilled and scared,tested and humbled.

-thrilled by the tall peaks and deep valleys, fresh white snow on top and the rocks sculpted and designed by natural forces through thousands of years, lush green mountains with pine and fur trees contrasting with the stoic and Buddha-like bare brown mountains

-scared going through the high and narrow mountain roads. One gets giddy looking at the steep ravine on one side. Try to look at the other side and there are the rocks and stones perched precariously on the slopes waiting to roll down. Look in front and there are little temples and flags along the road put up in memory of lives lost in accidents. The driver of the jeep added to the fright, with stories of landslides, falling rocks and worse.

-Humbled by the massive mountains on whose shoulders i was climbing like a little ant. Humbled not only by mountains but also by other men and women much more adventurous and daring. While I was riding in the jeep, there were many who were cycling and trekking. There was the young Swiss boy who wanted to complete the 11 day trek to Chandratal even after falling sick on the fourth day. There was an Israeli youth who undertook a 15 day trek from Kibber to Leh. His only company was a guide and donkey.

-Trekking and climbing tested one's will and endurance. "Dont challenge the mountains", advised my fellow traveller,friend Harminder Sawhney, who has experience and enjoys the mountains. slow and steady pace. Dont sit step at a time. Focus on the next step .. and the next one. Body gets warmed, steps become rhythmic and one keeps going and going ...That is when enjoyment starts. After every hundred metres or at every turn of the mountain one looks down at the scenary below, filled with an air of achivement and joy. The best time to go up is the early morning when the mountains are still sleeping, said my friend. The bright sun and the shining peaks inspire one to climb higher.

- inspired by the sturdy, courageous and hard-working mountain people who make use of every bit of land to cultivate crops and live, work and enjoy life amidst the challenging conditions of nature.

It was pure joy trekking, climbing, walking, and breathing. I have come back recharged. I will keep going back to the mountains, for sure.