The Annapurna Diaries Part II: The Two Peaks & the end of the Fellowship

Contd. from The Fellowship of Annapurna.

The fellowship, now reduced to 6 hastily made its way towards the fish tailed mountain. It was a bright and clear morning. There was just a hint of that gentle breeze cutting across the valley. The valley had also closed in considerably. With its jagged faces on both sides riddled with open spouts high above. These had to be those avalanche spouts we had heard of at Chomrung. From where without any warning one would hear a sudden and loud thunderclap and then a swoosh of ice, rock, snow and other mountain debris would hurtle towards the ground, over you if you were unlucky and far away on the other side of the stream if you were not. This meant one’s gaze was perpetually fixed upwards, the senses alert for that ominous sound. Even when you were forced to look down and watch your step as you walked, the eyes at the back of your head kept a lookout.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries Part II: The Two Peaks & the end of the Fellowship” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | 2 Comments

The Annapurna Diaries Part II: The Fellowship of Annapurna

Contd. from Kali Gandaki & Ghorepani

The group continued walking together over the next two days. We were the fellowship of the mountain Annapurna. The days and the moments within them were full of general cheer and mirth. Each of us had our own characteristics. And we managed to hold on to them and to the group overall. We weren’t breaking up. Not just yet. The walk to beautiful Chomrung was long and circuitous on day one, but when we did get there late afternoon we kinda forgot all of it. The small mountain settlement was full of character, replete with tiny shacks serving delectable comfort food in wide variety. Pizzas. Burgers. Stuffed croissants. Apple pies. The whiff of freshly baked food activated the gastric juices within. Internet access was very welcome and so were the chilled beers. A hot shower followed by the wide variety of things to eat was too difficult to ignore. So all of us rushed into it head-on, taking turns with our change of clothes and shower gels on hand. The place we stayed at also served scrumptious wood fired thin crust pizzas. Heaven. It seemed to me. Dinner would surely be memorable.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries Part II: The Fellowship of Annapurna” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries Part II: Kali Gandaki & Ghorepani

The date on the handphone was April 12th. We were nearing 2 weeks in the mountains. How time had passed us by, we didn’t know. So busy were we everyday. The one marker which was an indication of this however was our shaggy and rugged facial look. Whenever we had access to a mirror, we would stop and try to recognise the face staring into it. After having discovered it was actually us, we couldn’t stop the ‘self admiration’ that took over. I was ageing. The salt and pepper look suited me though. This look I would take home, when I returned. The face had also narrowed and shrunk. The excess fat had disappeared from the face, the girth and the legs and i could feel them bones. Varun meantime had turned an Italian and a Spanish for most of the journey and drew attention from travellers in the lodges. The boyish Kashmiri looks had deceived most whom he had interacted with, including the opposite sex until they had realised he was from India.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries Part II: Kali Gandaki & Ghorepani” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries: Ascent of the Mighty Thorung La

Contd. from The Best Skies ever and the very cool lodge of Thorung Phedi

The night was a long one. Not in the number of hours we spent shivering as we tried to sleep, but in those countless seconds which lay in between the time we hit the sack and when we pulled ourselves out of it. It was amazing how things seemed to drag and come to a complete standstill when there was something big and important around the immediate corner. Varun however slept a peaceful sleep after a while. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I never have before the big night. The deep and dark labyrinths of my mind were full of vivid dreams, flashes, long endless tunnels, high mountain roads, empty spaces and vacuums. I can’t recollect how many times I would have tossed and turned, changed positions, blown out wind from my mouth in a desperate attempt to breathe and stay afloat. The nostrils were blocked. The cold wouldn’t give way. Even resting my head higher against the wall didn’t help. I woke up many times with a jolt and looked around in the dark. It was still and dark outside. Thankfully the weather hadn’t turned for the worse. Not until now, atleast. The Tiger was yet asleep. I made numerous attempts to yawn and feel tired. But it just wouldn’t work. I flicked the switch of my head torch to see the time. It was only 11.30 pm. I still had 3.5 hours to consume. The call time for breakfast was 3. Departure would be sharp at 4 am. With nothing to do, I sank into the bag once again. Knowing fully well, that all the preparations over the last 6 months would eventually boil down to these last 3.5 hours of the climb, through the dark of the cold night.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries: Ascent of the Mighty Thorung La” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries: The Best Skies ever & the very cool lodge of Thorung Phedi

Contd. from The Annapurna III summit by Lt. Cdr. M S Kohli and The Kristiansens.

When you are in the mountains, there are moments when the blood doesn’t stop rushing through the body, and the emptiness of the insides is overwhelming. These generally occur together and with the stark surroundings in which you find yourself, they only get amplified. It’s only then you realise that the body is gearing up for the task at hand and steeling itself against expectations set by the mind, and the environment it finds itself in. You feel the rush and then you just want to go and not stop till you finish what you actually set out to do in the first place. For me these moments surfaced the morning when I resumed the journey towards Thorung Phedi, the launch pad for Thorung La, the highest point in the itinerary. And it didn’t stop till we had descended to the hindu pilgrimage town of Muktinath the next evening. It was one continuous surge of adrenalin.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries: The Best Skies ever & the very cool lodge of Thorung Phedi” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries: Annapurna III Summit by Lt. Cdr. M.S Kohli & The Kristiansens

Contd. from Manang & The Best Day of the Trip

The cool insides of Hotel Thorung La played havoc with the body which was steaming hot courtesy the burning trail we had just walked on. The quadriceps froze instantly, felt extremely heavy and the knees creaked. Ouch, I cried out as I hadn’t anticipated this. Gingerly, I took the next few steps as we climbed up and down the hotel stairs ferrying our bags from the reception to our room. Both of us desperately needed a shower as well. We hadn’t had one since the night of April 2nd at Syange, which was Day 2 of the itinerary. We were on Day 6. And this day had been very sweaty and grimy. Varun volunteered to test the water first, and shrieked out loud from the washroom. “We need warm water”. And followed it by the choicest of expletives in Hindi. I laughed out loud. “Welcome to the mountains, my friend. If the heat doesn’t get you, the cold will. And if both do, then you’re history”. Yeah, yeah he replied. “I was climbing them when you didn’t even know what they were”. “That’s why they call you Sir Tiger Channa”, I replied. “After Sir Hillary, it’s you, mate. I am in hallowed company”!

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries: Annapurna III Summit by Lt. Cdr. M.S Kohli & The Kristiansens” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries: Manang & The Best Day of the Trip

Contd. from Annapurna 2, Paungda Danda & The Peaceful Forest

The dinner mess was snug and warm as the fireplace crackled away with much gusto. All it’s inhabitants crowded around the central heating unit, to soak in the heat generated. There were various teams who filled this large dining area on the second level of the wooden lodge. The French, the Brits, the Dutch and us Indians were easily identifiable. There were a sprinkling of few others. It was only 4 in the evening and there wasn’t much to do really. Dinner would be served by 7 and we had to bide our time. Some were busy reading books they had while the others, esp. the French gathered in one corner, chatting away (in French) in high decibels. They were a large group again, almost 15 of them. Their guide was a character who spoke fluent French in a hybrid accent, wore a cowboy hat and kept throwing out phlegm at regular intervals much to my annoyance. So many French on the trail wasn’t surprising. Annapurna was their mountain, ever since Herzog had staked claim to it in 1950. Guess they all wanted to visit it and take home a part of the Herzog experience. At the far end was the television area with couches and wooden benches. The enterprising proprietor decided to keep his guests entertained by playing the DVD of Into Thin Air, the cinematic version of that modern mountaineering classic written by Jon Krakauer. Those gathered around the idiot box happily consumed the film’s content. Rob Hall and Scott Fischer were household names by now. The film was a box office disaster however when it was released, due to its shoddy production.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries: Manang & The Best Day of the Trip” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Annapurna Diaries : Annapurna 2, Paungda Danda & The Peaceful Forest

Contd. from 9000 feet & Chame

The morning of April 6th was bright and sunny. The rain had subsided and it had eventually stopped sometime during the night. Wet traces however remained in the lodge’s porch and the adjoining narrow pathways when I walked out. Varun, KB and Lakhpa were out too, waiting. Sounds of light banter trickled out from the kitchen. The proprietor, a young and jovial sort kept his guests entertained as he quickly rustled up the morning’s breakfast for everyone. The Israeli boys walked out, all strapped up. As it had happened, they had spent the night in the same lodge. Their attempt to cook dinner in their room the night before had been met with resistance by the proprietor. Apparently they had skipped dinner and looked like they were skipping breakfast too. How would they survive I wondered? And what had they eaten last night? Walking on an empty stomach was sheer murder.

Continue reading “The Annapurna Diaries : Annapurna 2, Paungda Danda & The Peaceful Forest” »

Posted in Events, Latest Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments