Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chanderkhani Pass - The call of the Mountains Part 7 : Crossing of Chanderkhani pass and last camp of Naya Tapru

Day 8: Epic journey of crossing Chanderkhani pass and last camp of Naya Tapru (9000 feet, 14kms)

The whistle blew at 2.30 am, Time to get up and get ready for the epic journey. I didn't feel like getting up, I felt lazy and wished I could spend one more day but that was not an option …. I peeped out of the tent, Our camp was lit by moonlight and it was cold and there was chillness in the air. Slowly everyone started to trickle out of their camps.

Time for hot tea, morning chores sans bath (it was 9th day without bath, not that I don't like to but didn't have the guts to take a bath in such climate, none of members of the group had done it), followed by breakfast and packed lunch (Lunch was frooti, chikki, sakkarpare). Everyone then gathered outside the tent, stood in the line wearing multiple layers of clothes which were still not enough to protect us from cold and chilly breeze, listening to group leaders sermon’s (instructions) before starting the march. It was already 4.30 am. There was worried look on camp leader’s face. We had to cross Chanderkhani pass by noon before sun starts melting the snow. But before we could say goodbye to Nagroni, there was one more important thing we had to do. Celebrate Maya’s birthday !!!  

Maya had traveled from Hyderabad all alone and had planned to celebrate her birthday her way by crossing Chanderkhani pass. But she was not alone anymore and we all had become close friends. She stood in the queue among us ready for next journey unaware of what was happening. Manjusha madam had planned it all. Plate and match box borrowed from kitchen tent, borrowed candle, someone had crumbled mawa cake which acted as her birthday cake. Candle was lit and madam performed aarti for her long life and cake was cut while I clicked pictures and captured the moment. We all sang and wished her happy birthday !!!!  

Bidding adios to Nagroni camp around 5.15 am,We started our journey towards the pass. Today we had 3 Sherpa guides. Initial journey was through last remaining forest but soon we were walking on the mountain slopes. By 7 am the sun was so bright that it felt like it was already noon.  No wonder its important to carry sun screen cream to protect from harsh sun. 

We walked in one line on the mountain slopes covered with snow, following the footsteps of person ahead, thrusting our heals in snow to get a grip. Walking poles coming in handy. There was no ropes or harness to boost our confidence.  Sometimes I avoided looking to my left and looked straight ahead, one slip on the left would have me go down the icy ravine but our guides were closely following us in case we needed any help. They effortlessly did snow slides which we just watched in awe !!!

Everywhere we looked we could only see mountain tops, the tall trees were looking minuscule now. Our first halt was on a snow slope. It was fun time with snow which eventually became a war with snow balls getting thrown on each other. It was refreshing break, Some even had the experience of snow slides and falling on snow.  

As we did our ascend towards the peak the path became narrower at places, had to climb a rock patch, snow whiteness increased while the brown ground reduced. One of our Sherpa guide leading the group with ice axe, making notches which helped us walk on the path. We climbed one peak from left and crossed over to the right side which was entirely covered with snow. I walked slowly, taking baby steps, sometimes my legs going knee deep where snow was not hard enough, Sometimes I desperately digged  fingers of my left hand into the wall of snow to somehow keep my balance.

After laboring for what seemed like eternity, finally little after noon we reached Chanderkhani pass at 12600 feet in Pin Parbat valley of Himalayas. I had summitted Chanderkhani we all had !!!  It was mesmerizing … 

The 360 degree commanding view of Himalayan snow peaks such as Manali peak, Deo Tibba, Peaks of Sar pass, Sarkundi pass, Manali peak, Friendship peak and so many unnamed peaks was all in front of us. Not that I am an expert at identifying the peaks, which one was which but it really didn't matter. Beauty of the mountains was all but lost in me. For a moment I felt as if I had sumitted Mt Everest !!!!!

At Chanderkhani pass there were stones lined and kept one above the other. Seemed like some sort of worship place also I read somewhere that locals also come here to sacrifice animals to please the mountain gods. I bowed to those deities for our safe journey.

Our handover took place to another group of guides here. We were now with new set of guides. We thanked our Nagroni guides for their support, They will go back to Nagroni and will be back again next day with another batch. They would keep doing this work for next 15 days till all the batches had successfully completed the pass.They truly were Gods for us, aptly called snow leopards.

The sun was harsh on the top but nobody cared Everyone was enjoying the moment, It was fun time again with snow ball war erupting more vigorously. We spend time here enjoying every bit of the moment for which we had trekked for last 5 days.

We had a long halt but longed to have a proper lunch. Peanut chikki (Peanut brittle) was our energy dose. Soon we resumed our walk in the snow without any fear, The fear of falling or slipping was overcome. We soon reached a point from where he had to slide down the snow. We now had to descend. Our guides gave us instructions on how to slide on the snow. Experienced among us went first while some had anxious moments. 

Sobia was one of the most scared ones, For she would start yelling the moment she sat on the snow and continue till she had completed her slide. Her yells broke the silence of the mountains, Pretty sure even mountains had a good laugh !! Our guides gave all kinds of assurance which failed to convince her !!! She did all the slides nicely though..Hari had the most horrific first slide, In fact he didn't slide but tumbled down. Luckily no one was hurt during the slides but our hands and bottoms went numb in the snow. 

We did 2 more slides before we reached our lunch point or maggi point. It was around 3.30 pm. The gap between us had increased with me and few others reaching lunch point much ahead of others. This gave us some more time to rest. My hunger had reached a zenith by the time I reached this place, I was so hungry that within no time I had hogged on 3 double omlets and 2 maggi’s. Poor guy was only servicing my order for almost 20 minutes !!! I am sure he was relieved when I said I am done eating, for there were orders for maggi's and omlets flowing in from others in equal quantity. Few of our group members were Jain's and they carried their own maggi masala which they used for special Jain maggi !! Nice idea for treks.

Our journey continued from here. 2 more snow slides followed. Our walk in the snow seemed like a never ending story. Our craving for snow was long gone and now we longed for brown ground. Our clothes were wet due to snow slides and snow walk and they added to our weight now. 

We had been walking since 5 am in the morning and it was well past 12 hrs of walk. Looking back at the mountains we had left behind made me wonder how the batches which encountered snow storm would have  managed in harsh conditions. We surely were lucky enough.

We reached our camp of Nauya Tapru at exactly 6.44 pm and that was an astounding trek of almost 14 hrs !!!!!! Our camp leader was waiting for us. Our camp was welcome sight that we so longed for.  It was good that we reached before sun was completely down. Our love for the snow had vanished after seeing so much of snow. Ajay went to extent of saying that he is not going to capture snow pictures anymore.

I quickly changed my clothes to one solo pair which I had carried all these days. Removing the wet trekking shoes was again a task with my legs giving up. I had no strength left. I soon realized that I could barely walk even a few meters and I was limping in the camp. It was the case with almost everyone with few of us shivering to the core. I don't know what I ate in dinner for all that I wanted was to get in my sleeping bag. Someone suggested that we do campfire for it was our last night in the woods but no one had any strength left. I don't know if camp fire ever happened. 

I was off to sleep in no time taking a pledge not to wake up early next day for sure. I just wanted to enjoy sleep one last time in the mountains.

(Contd :8)


  1. Mr.paresh, with my chander khani pass trek to come in just few days, on june 3rd i was just searching for a detail on this peak, and that took me to your page, i was hooked to this blog for more than 2 hours! your account has so many minute details which is like a complete guide. thank you so much for that narration, i have bookmarked the page and will come back from trek and again read it..

    1. Thank you ...Hope you have a wonderful trek experience