Sar Pass 3: Kasol base camp, YHAI

Neatly spread out kasol base camp @kullu, HP

Neatly spread out kasol base camp @kullu, HP

After a sleepy exciting early morning journey for almost 2 hours we reached Kasol. The cold was pleasant and journey was filled with some magnificent view of snow clad mountains. Base camp at Kasol, was spread over a vast land which hosted around 20 big tents that could hold 15 people each, a kitchen, dining area and a campfire gathering area. It also had 2 bathrooms with 24 hour supply of “chilling” cold water from river Parbati flowing just few meters away. All the first timers at YHAI were shockingly astonished by the view of tents, including me.

Kasol stop..

Kasol stop..

A staircase of rocks took us to base camp which was few meters below from the bus stop. River Parbati was flowing further a few meters below. This was our first introduction to mountain area. A wide stretch of land at the same level is seldom seen in mountains. We all climbed down the stairs carrying our heavy backpacks and those few steps itself were so tiring and exhausting. I started to worry if I could even think of climbing a few meters. A gush of disappointment started to appear with each step. But by the time we came down the senses got its way through logic to realise that we had travelled to Kasol gaining a 6000 feet altitude in good 3 4 hours time and it was not a joke. We needed to acclimatise to this altitude before our systems functioned properly.

Reg desk

Reg desk

A registration desk welcomed us to the base camp and least we knew that YHAI is like a military camp. We saw a respectable woman at the counter who reminded us of Kiran Bedi. As soon as we saw the breakfast being served we almost dropped our backpacks and ran for it, but few opted to fill the forms first before filing their tummies. I grabbed few Sandwiches, Kheer and 2 3 boiled eggs and went to pick up my forms. Despite all checklist’s that we shared, Suma had forgot to bring her photos required for registration and our Kiran Bedi was shouting and instructed us to go to Kasol and get photographs before entering camp. After a bit of request and drama, they agreed to do the registration on a condition that we provide photos by evening. Relief. This was the first time we realized the essence of something we read on a blog, “Follow every single damn instruction given by YHAI”.

Tents

Tents

We reported on the 6th day of May and hence batch was named as SP06. Post registration and breakfast we settled down in our allotted tents, dropping the idea of taking bath. It would have been a really tough job with the chilling cold water. Our experience of washing hands from washbasin tap was enough for the day. 😛  Surprisingly the water never warmed up even in spite of the sharp sun which was tanning the shit out of our skin. Our first day at Kasol was meant for reporting and we were done with it by 11AM. There was no schedule from YHAI for the day and we made ours. Collectively, we made a plan to go around in main city till noon, get Suma’s photos taken and come back for lunch (never wanted to eat outside and miss the yummy food of YHAI), and post lunch a visit to Manikaran Ghats and hot spring bath.

Kasol is a small place filled with Israelis, Royal Enfield bikes, its mechanics and restaurants that serves momos at every nook and corner. Lord Shiva and his name is used for every other late night party. After a 30min stroll in the streets we realised that all those day long visit to Decathlon was so unnecessary. Right from a woolen sock to sleeping bag, walking stick to backpack, everything that is required for a Himalayan expedition was available in Kasol. After a little shopping and photo session for Suma, we walked back to our base camp. We were hungry like dogs and filled our tummies with Roti, Alu Subzi and Kheer that was ready, praising the YHAI guys again for such a tasty food. Deciding to meet again in 30mins to start to Manikaran, we collapsed on our sleeping mat in tents.

When we sleep, dreams take us over, making us forget reality. Then one who wakes up first will shout at others trying to wake up them. It will usually be the one who made the plan or the one who is very committed to the plan. This time it was Sana. I heard her voice from outside tent but I chose to ignore :P. And so the other guys. However she is not the giving up types. After a good 30min shouting and waiting she decided we wont get up and carried along with Suma to Manikaran. Well, we have no regrets for choosing the acclimatisation sleep over hot spring bath. 🙂 By the time I was up, there was a murmer outside our tents. The place was crowded by 3 batches, SP04, SP05 and SP06. We completed the registration process and got hold of our i-cards and sleeping bags.

Camp Fire

Camp Fire

The camp fire at YHAI was very environment friendly. It was called the “electric camp fire”. An assemble of colourful lights were arranged in the centre of field and was lit by our camp director when the crowd cheered “Fire Fire, Camp Fire”.. The day’s campfire cultural activities were planned by the previous day’s reporters, SP05 batch. It was amusing and amazing. The theme of YHAI’s campfire activity is National Integration and participants from different state presented a performance highlighting their state’s culture and tradition.

The whole base camp of 100+ prankster youths was controlled and directed by our camp leader Mr. Mithun Das, who has embodied all the leadership skills that is required to manage such crowd, yet very humble and friendly. In our 3 days stay at the base camp we became good friends with “MithunDa” and once returned we realised its not only us but all participants from 30 batches had the same experience. His last dialogue for the day was “When you are in high altitudes, you must always drink something hot before going to bed”. The only option available for us was Hot Bournvita. 😛 It was served to all of us near the campfire. We din’t know this and ran to tents to collect our glasses to avoid missing it. But again thanks to YHAI, there was enough for second serving as well. With this we called it a day and moved into our tents, wrapped ourselves in all possible warm clothes – sweater, balaclava, glove and sock and sneaked into our sleeping bags.

With Mithun Da..

With Mithun Da..

More action awaited us the next day…

[To be continued…]

Let me know what you think..

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