Moru added me to a group called “Himankan” on facebook and a lot of great memories resurfaced. I plan to share some of them in next few days.
For the uninitiated, Himankan was a series of Himalayan High Altitude Treks arranged by IIT Bombay Mountaineering Club. The intent of Himankan was to introduce IIT students to the joys of Himalayan trekking.
In the year 1982, the Himankan was organized in Pahelgam region of Kashmir. You can find a more formal report of the venture here.
Sandeep Shah (Sandya), Ajit Ranade (Chiman) and Makarand Karkare (That’s me Makya) were the core group members.
One of the most memorable experience during that Himankan for me was setting up the Liddarwat camp. Why?
We had sent about a ton (really a whole ton) of material on the ponies to the Liddarwat camp site. Four or five of us started a little later from Pahelgam. I don’t remember everyone in the group. There was Ms. Madu Kale, Surya and I think Mayya. We also had one of the doctors with us.
Our job was to set up the Liddrwat camp. We had the whole next day to set up the camp, and the participants were expected a day later. We were very confident that the task was easily achievable. But it was not to be so.
As we were nearing Liddarwat, we met with the ponies and the pony waalas returning. They told us that all the luggage was dropped near the river in a shed and they had kept a pony and a boy behind to help us out. We didn’t understand what they meant.
After some time, as we reached the shed, we found that the shed was on one bank of the river. All the luggage was dropped there about 200 meters from the bank. The camp was to be in a log hut on the other side of the river about a kilometre away. The bridge to cross the river didn’t exist, instead there were only three cross logs going across the river. When I walked on them, they were swinging with an amplitude of about six inches.
PANIC. What were we going to do? The shed was so small that it would just not be possible to have the camp there. We somehow had to move the whole ton of material to the campsite before next evening.
We calmed each other down. I did a recce on the other side of the river over the swinging logs. To my utter relief, I found the cross planks on the other bank. We knew that we could get the bridge functional. That gave us a lot of hope.
We had dinner (Khichadi, soup and papad) and went to sleep. In spite of all the tension, we slept like logs. We had covered about 22-23 km on that day.
Woke up next morning. Just had some tea and biscuits and we started off. I with Surya (I think) went across the river, picked the plank and nailed them on the logs and got the bridge steady. While we were doing that, the remaining people repackaged the luggage. Initially, we had packaged all the material for ponies. Which means about 40-50 kgs per pack. Now we had to carry it ourselves, we had no ponies. So it had to be packaged in about 20kg weights.
We decided that the best course of action for us was to carry the luggage down to the river and then across the bridge ourselves. And then from there to the campsite, let the pony boy carry it to the campsite on the pony back.
We started moving the material across the river. Madhu, who herself weighed 41 kgs was carrying 20 kg packs. A few bags like the 50kg rice bag could not be repackaged and hence we had to carry those whole bags.
We had no clue how the time passed. Finally at 5.30 PM, all the luggage was in the campsite. We heaved a huge sigh of relief. Now, we were ready to receive the first batch of participants tomorrow morning. Madhu made tea for all of us and we congratulated each other.
I have had many other challenging experiences later in my life, but this still stands out as a day of great achievement.