Sar Pass 1, Thus it began!

It all started with a mail from Sana. Envied by their Goa trip, I did not want to miss another YHAI expedition. Moreover, I wanted to do an expedition which challenges and pushes me to the limits. So I readily replied with a Yes and our hunt for team building began. Surprisingly, most of the TravelFreaks replied positively and few remain confused. A thought that this might be bigger and difficult compared to our previous travel started to take its toll on my planning and I started sending out mails detailing every minute of  what to do’s and where to go’s. But after a brief session of advice and two coffee’s at Kalmane koffee, by Sana, Manoj and Adi, I decided to finally drop all the planning stuff this time and chill out as much possible.

Hiking towards Sarpass. Photo: Shubha.Dattatreya

Well, the decision stayed with me for only few days and I started to check things one by one. First thing we had to decide was on dates, as we had to hurry in booking the slots with YHAI. It had already started to sell like hot cakes. After much thinking, we decided to book for reporting as 6th batch of this year’s expedition and sent out a mail to our participant list.  It seemed like the group was waiting for a confirmation and one by one everyone completed the booking process instantly. Manoj, Dani, Sana, Suma, Adi, Raja and two of his friends Shiva Subramanyan (aka Subbanna) and Kantilal (aka Kantanna) were on board.  When Ajay tried to book after 2 days, the slots were no more available. It was just like a week since bookings were open and 50 to 0 in that short time just amazed us.  The tradition of TravelFreaks to have at least one new member on board every time was kept up this time too with Kantanna and Subbanna’s addition. That made us 9 excited trekkers all set for the expedition.

At this point we were even not sure about our leaves! So, naturally the next thing we did was to apply for it, keeping our fingers crossed. However, I wasn’t stressed about it as I knew my manager is not sort of worried about applications and sanctions. (You will wonder, one month after the expedition, my leave application is still pending approval in the portal :P)

I was urging on booking flights ASAP to avoid the fluctuations and increase in the ticket fare, but people seemed to be really relaxed about it, or they were waiting for their leave approvals. Meanwhile Sana’s manager was like brainwashing her every day that he and the team will miss her if she go and she did not want to disappoint him. It was too kind of her to think that it is not fair on her part to be enjoying a vacation when her teammates, especially manager are working day and night to meet the deadlines. So she was still not sure if she will join. (pun  intended, or else how dare are you to give this crap to us Sana!!!)

The much awaited KP trek fell in place for a weekend within that month (here is a writeup about it by Sana ). I gained confidence about my fitness after this trek, for we all knew , KP was not a joke. I finished the trek not only without breaking down anywhere but with lot much energy left in the end. Compared to my performance at Amedikallu, 2 years ago, this was a great achievement in terms of fitness and endurance.

When the group was still being lazy in booking their flights, my business trip to Germany came unannounced. All I got was a week’s notice and the paperwork took almost all the time. The day before leaving, I booked my flights and shared the details with group and asked them to go ahead with their bookings as our idea was to fly together.  Since we were not sure of Kingfisher’s ability to fly, we zeroed in on Indigo. By the time I landed in Germany, I got to know that only Sana and Subbanna are flying with me and rest of the clan are flying in SpiceJet.

We were left with one month’s time after I flew back to India. Everyone were already on their heels in getting their fitness training. Yoga, Gym, Running and what not. Rohit (our travel Guru) had shared enough tips on how we should train for an expedition like this. Though I was happy with my fitness after KP, the previous month’s Germany trip has put a break to my regular workouts. The whole gang had enrolled for swimming classes and not to miss the fun, I had enrolled too. But somehow I lost interest in swimming after a few days and I became irregular.  This bought my confidence level a bit low and it sure had its impact during the summit. More of it later.

Shopping –  it was another big time excitement we had in common and in midst of all our swimming and finishing off assigned tasks at office,  we paid many visits to Decathlon. It went on and on for 3 weekends and all in all we had spent more than half a lakh in decathlon alone. However every penny paid proved its worth many times in the trek. Especially the Forclaz shoes with vibram sole. I could never count how many times I had fallen in love with the grip it offered on the snow.

To list down, we narrowed in on these things as our gear for the trek. Well with over confidence I ignored few of these but later realised it was a heavy mistake!!

The idea was to cover ourselves in layers to beat the cold.

  • 2 or 3 thin shirts, 2 quick dry track pants.
  • 1 pair of thermals.
  • A fleece jacket.
  • A warm sweater and a wind jacket to block the wind (or a thick jacked which served both purpose).
  • A poncho/rain sheet to protect from rains.
  • Woolen glove and a snow glove.
  • Balaclava or a monkey cap
  • A black polarized shades, a must to avoid snow blindness.
  • A pair of trekking shoes which is broke in and warm socks.
  • A decent trekking bag, which sits perfectly on your hip.

Thanks to Rohit (again!!), I packed my bag the heaviest. I took it totally wrong when he said it will be better to carry some chocolates and dry fruits. I packed as if I am going to live on only these for 10days. But the food YHAI gave us is more than enough and moreover with all the Maggi and Omlettes we get at every chai point, all packed dry fruits served no purpose. Well a 100 gms would have been enough for the day we crossed sar pass (summit day) as that is when we needed all possible energy.

With this level of training, planning and packing, we headed towards the Bengaluru International Airport on 5th May 2012, at 5 45 AM for our first ever Himalayan Expedition.

(To be continued…)

 

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