Pangarchulla Peak Trek – My first ever Himalayan trek
A short attempt to write about my first experience with the mighty himalayan mountains. As every hardcore trekker dreamt to scale himalayan terrain, so was I awake with a dream to see white Mountains. And I am thankful to Subodh P Bhave and Dev Bhatt for planning Pangarchulla Peak trek. We started our journey from Delhi, and reached ridwar at 4am. Travelled from Haridwar and reached Joshimath at 7:30pm. We just pulled up our sacks and went to our om to freshen up. Briefing time was 8pm which was followed by dinner. We were 22 people in total. Had our dinner and slept early with dreams of Himalayan Peaks running wild in front of our eyes. We got up at 5:30 in the morning and tarted our journey towards Dhak village which was the last human settlement connected by road. We started our trek from dhak at around 10:15am.. Elevation of Joshimath is 6,150 feet and Dhak is of 6,724 feet. We reached our first camp at Guling top, which is at elevation of 9,600 feet. We were welcomed by cozy tents and superb plateau with Deodar trees surrounding us. There were school kids who were playing cricket on Guling top, and we didn’t miss our chance to show some batting skills. On the way to Guling we came across beautiful village called Tugasi. It was scenic and worth capturing. Rahul (trek leader) chekced our oxygen saturation with the help of oxymeter. Reading showed 90 which made me happy. We had our lunch and took rest for the rest of the day. Before sleeping into out tents we had a nice chat with group members. Next day we got up at 5:30, got ready and tea was at 6am, followed by breakfast at 7am. We left guling top at 8am. Our schedule was now fixed (6,7,8). We reached khulara which was our second camp at around 1pm the other day. After reaching we checked our oxygen level which now showed to be 86 (still good). We had lunch and took rest to restore some energy. The trail was bit better as we walked through dense deodar and pine trees. It was less exhausting as compared to the climb on the first day..We were now at an elevation of 11,122 feet. Next day was very important for all of us as it was the summit day. The day we all had dreamt of. We slept early as we had to get up at 2:30am.. Our briefing time was 3am. We got Maggie for breakfast and we took packed lunch for the summit.
We left our tents at 4am and started walking into the darkness with only one dream glowing our path. Sunlight soon showed us path and we kept moving towards our goal. Soon we could see some gems that himalaya unfolded slowly. We saw hathi parbat, Mt Neelkantha, Mt Dronagiri, Mt chaukhamba which are all above 20k feet. As we were moving ahead, the path now changed. Grasslands were replaced by huge boulders. We had to literally jump of from one boulder to the another. The walk now became more strenuous. Still we didn’t give up and kept walking. We soon covered the Boulder patch and now reached base of mighty pangarchulla peak. We took a water break of 5 mins and started our final ascend. This part of the trek was really exhausting as it was completely steep with almost 70° uphill. Boulders were now replaced with powdered snow. Very soft and slippery. We took out crampons and buckled up for the final climb. It was very tiring as we had to put our feet deep into the snow with our crampons to make a grip over the powdered snow. We had gaiters to prevent snow from entering into shoes. The final ascend checked our patience, strength, and challenged us with every single step. At some point we were totally exhausted and our body was giving up. But it was that moment where we needed to control our emotions and fight back strongly. We saw each other and that made us feel strong. We were not alone now. We all were together. We were a team. We were representing Sahyadri.
We pulled up our socks and made our mind not to give up. Soon we could see summit and gave us that extra boost that we needed. And then there came those last steps. Those steps were so important as they made us stand high on the peak, while looking at the world standing low. We were finally on the peak. We were on summit! We were extremely proud and we were overwhelmed by the efforts that we had taken. Pangarchulla had awarded us. We were not able to see surrounding peaks as the climate was getting worse. Soon we raised our flag high, enchanted our national anthem and started for the descend. As we started moving down snowstorm hit us. Suddenly lightning started terribly and we decided to move down early. Snowfall accompanied us and the Boulders were now completely sunk into snow. We were not able to see anything now, and the trail was completely white. Nature had more to offer as now our steps were slippery and we made few slides knowingly or unknowingly. Yet we enjoyed every bit of it. Some points had pot holes where our legs used to get sunk. But still we loved whatever Pangarchulla had to offer us. We completed the descend and reached our base camp at 4pm. We were surprised to see samosas and chai being brought almost 100 feet above our base camp. Samosas restored our energy. We came back with lot of memories. It was a complete 12hr trek. We took some group pics and all were completely in different mood. We were down physically, but mentally we were still at Pangarchulla.
We left next day early with a heavy heart and lots of memories. It was a team effort and without our group members it wouldn’t have been possible. I was into tears when we had to leave our camp to reach Dhak. Himalaya made me think more deeply about everything. Taught me many things, guided me. Still missing every little bit of that journey. Those moments will always be cherished. Thanks to all my dear friends who accompanied me, who supported me and because of whom i was able to summit. Will miss all my friends a lot. All these days we were together and we lived like a family. Our bonds strengthened. We left Joshimath with a promise to come back to the mountains again!!
Ajinkya Sanjiv Gadgil