Behind the scenes of organising a successful trek
“Flight tickets? check!”
When you are busy checking every item on your checklist for a trek, the TTH team is braced to make your trek a memorable one.
Have you ever wondered, what actually is trek organizing? What does it take to make a successful trek?
Get a sneak peek into the working of the TTH team…for the first time…!
So these are the entries on their checklist,
- Getting a trail going to a beautiful summit
Before anything, the trek location must be finalized. The trail analysis is called as recce in adventure world. Recce includes investigation of the entire route, literally step by step. Finding out water sources, camping site, resting points, emergency exits, network availability, checking forest permits, medical help modes, are some of the common consideration points during a recce. If you have ever been on a trek, you would know the importance of local guides and helpers. The guides, local helpers, porters, mules, yaks etc. are decided right at this time.
All the above management is considered as per all the seasons. It happens a lot of times, that the water source chosen in summer freezes in winter, therefore alternatives are planned during this phase only. “We usually send 2-3 trusted people who are aware of the location for a recce. The most difficult task is finding a water source near the kitchen tent, for all the seasons. If there is no water source nearby then we have to carry water,” says Rakesh, co-founder of TTH.
The Trek then is opened for trekkers to register. Based on the number of registrations, further logistics are orchestrated.
- Getting the materials
Once the trek location is finalized and a rough idea about the number of trekkers is known, then begins the actual preparation. Arrangements of each and every small and big things are made. As per the calculation, the grocery is sent to the base camp. Along with ration, all other apparatus like gas, cylinder and utensils are also transported. This checklist is checked by the store manager and also by cooking staff, to serve you delicious food on the trek.
Another major section of the luggage includes equipment and gear like tents, sleeping bags, emergency tools. “We keep updating the design of sleeping bags. Before issuing the final ones to trekkers, our trek leaders use them. They are tested by them at different altitudes, temperatures, inside the tent, outside the tent. Only after proper assurance, we finalize a design and print our logo on them, perfectly good to be used by trekkers. Same applies to tents and other things,” says Sandeep, co-founder of TTH.
Before and after every trek these necessary objects are checked for faults. If found any, they are immediately removed out for repairs. “I remember having a session with our team, where we were discussing on improvement of stretcher design. While carrying a casualty on a stretcher, the stretcher starts degrading, of course, due to uneven terrain. We sat together with our team to get their ideas and suggested a new design,” recalls Sandeep.
- Getting the trekkers
All the things on the field? Checked! Next come the trekkers, for whom these provisions are made. “My work timings are from 12am-12pm. Yes, I am not kidding! Trekkers arrive at any time, 3 in the morning, daytime or late night. I arrange transport for them accordingly. Not only trekkers but also for our store luggage,” says Rajat, Transport Manager. “I feel happy that I am the first and the last person, a trekker communicates with. I always hope for happy faces when the trekkers leave.”
- During the trek
How expert a manager could be, or how perfect a team could be, things will never work as expected in the mountains. There are always some unknowns during the trek. Running out of kitchen items, spilling of water in a salt pack, spilling of kerosene on rice bags, breaking of tents due to winds, cloud outburst, injuries, the list is never-ending. Probably that is the real test of how strong a team is!
No technology can ever predict the actual weather in the mountains, hence being prepared is the only choice. Apart from being prepared, the team’s immediate responsiveness always prove as a savior.
The trek leader is the one who has to be aware…all the time. Trek leaders are like the heroes of a trek. They keep a strong coordination between the trekkers and the rest of the team. Sometimes, they have to act smart, sometimes innocent, sometimes be caring and sometimes be strict.
Cooking staff and helpers are the sleepless members! They work day-night, preparing dish after dish for breakfast, lunch, evening snacks, dinner. They wake up at 4 in the morning to prepare breakfast items to be served at 5-6am. Sometimes wake early to make the packed lunch. They pack up the campsite, leave after the trekkers. Yet have to pace up so that they arrive before trekkers, to serve refreshments to the tired participants. And the cycle goes on unless the trek is complete.
Base camp manager is someone who is passively active for immediate assistance. It could be sudden arrangements of grocery, helpers or gear; he is the go-to person. He is the bridge to communicate with the locals. “Of course it is a difficult job to manage everything from nonliving things to living humans. Worst is when there is no network for communication,” iterates Harinder, Base Camp Manager.
Especially, when the weather gets unfavourable, the entire team becomes active for the safety of trekkers. “The entire staff sometimes wakes in shifts at night to clear the snow from the trekker’s tents,” says Sandeep. “I clearly remember this funny incident of Roopkund Trek. At Patar Nachuani, there was a sudden downpour, just before we could reach and set up tents. All were rushed inside a small hut here. Imagine 30-40 people in a small hut with heavy rainfall outside. Our staff then stood with sleeping mats partitioning the hut into 2 parts. One section where the kitchen staff started preparing hot tea and other where participants were changing,” laughs Sandeep.
We have an enormous number of such weird incidents. These seem comical now but in reality, these are the heroic deeds of the team. You might have heard of the team members going out of their way during a rescue. Rescue operations actually deserve another huge article. The stories and efforts put by everyone are humongous. “We provide high-quality safety and emergency evacuation of the victims. This is one of the most prominent reasons why we are notable in the adventure field. All of us are out of sleep until the patient is reached to the hospital,” states Rakesh.
- Getting back home
It has become a tradition to serve exquisite dish after the summit attempt. Along with preparing regular food, the cooking staffs excitedly serve an additional delicious dish. When you are getting ready to retrace steps of the return journey, the entire staffs is busy packing up things. The trek leaders are busy preparing a souvenir for you. Filling up your name on the achievement certificate as well as recalculating the trek expenses, and winding up stuff.
The remaining staffs start packing up the setup. The most important task of clearing campsite is collecting waste. The accumulated waste is secured properly, to be disposed of in the base village or nearby Municipal Corporation. TTH supports Green Trails project, under which the trekking sites are cleaned. The garbage is then carried to the base village for disposal.
“Even after the trek is complete, we cannot take a sigh of relief until the trekkers reach to airport or stations that take them back home,” says Sandeep. “A trek is never successful until trekkers reach home safely.”
- Getting reviews
“Customer reviews are like a report card of your performance. Their feedback is of utmost importance for any company. We honour their good and bad comments,” states Rakesh.
“It is difficult to answer bad feedback, especially when trekkers complain if they were sent back due to ill health. It is like a debate of life vs money with them,” giggles Laxmi, a member of Sales team.
Yet, some the stunning captures of the trekkers make everybody realize that everything was really worth it. Hence gives a motivation to come back…!
- Getting ready for next trek
Despite all the hardships in organizing a trek, the entire team wakes up fresh and energetic to face another batch of trekkers. “We finish everything on a positive note and get started for next trek’s preparation,” cheers the entire team.
Next time you are checking your checklist for a trek, remember somebody else is also checking the checklist…!
TTH Official Writer