Monday, December 19, 2011

Deep Sea Diving at San Carlos

Machhali jal ki hai raani,
Jeevan uska hai paani...
Haath lagao dar jaayegi,
Bahaar nikaalo mar jaayegi...!!!

Hello friends, do you remember this sweet, innocent Hindi poem? Almost everyone of us started our childhood with this poem. Since childhood we have so much of attraction towards aquatic life. We have listened many stories of "Jal-pari" (Angel of water) from our parents/grandma during the childhood. Right from that age, as we have grown thins fascination for the aquatic world and sea has increased to next level. Sometimes.... You may be tired a lot from your routine life but just one picnic with friends on any beach gives you lot of refreshment.... not just that yaar... Most of beaches are speechless witness of love of lover couple... ;) There is unknown relation between ocean and us just like he is our true friend.... :)

Hey, but do you know there is totally different beautiful world under the sea? Just like you even I was fascinated to explore this world so thought of doing "Deep Sea diving at San Carlos" beach. So are you ready to dive with me?..I can see..."Yes" on your face, so lets continue...... I am not a professionally certified diver but just took one theory lecture from professional diver and did it. So on one weekend, very early morning I started moving towards San Carlos beach with Chandra. Usually in winter, here in California temperature drops below 10 degree Celsius and we are not able to see sun everyday... But I was praying to God that...."Please, please it should be sunny today.... so that visibility under water will be Good".... guess what?....... We started driving and within 20 mins, I could see sun.... Yes.... it was wonderful start of the day and God was with me... :)

[A very beautiful morning, on the way of San Carlos beach.]

Around 9am we reached San Carlos beach and my Deep Sea diving instructor Mike was waiting for me. Mike is having more than 26 years of diving experience. After initial introduction process, he started my theory class on beautiful beach environment. Almost after couple of hour of learning process, I got some idea about deep sea diving. He also taught me some sign language of talking under water. "You have to breath through mouth, equalise your ear pressure, handle air pressure in your air jacket and also keep attention at air gauge of oxygen tank so that you are always aware of oxygen available with you"...... ah....so many things to do. I realised that its not that very straight forward. Deep sea diving is total play of patience, presence of mind and knowledge of instruments. But not to worry, I grasped as much as I can and got ready for the small test. During this small test, mike again confirmed my understanding about various concepts and finally I became eligible for practical experience.... :)

[Welcome sign of San Carlos Beach.]

San Carlos beach is among one the most famous cold water diving beach in California. Yes, water here is very cold with temperature between 8-10 degree Celsius..... I started my preparation for dive, I wore 7mm tick diving suit which covered almost my entire body. Only my face was open. Yes.... This was my protection cover against cold water. Because of that suit, I was feeling like robot... Not just that, on top of that I have to carry oxygen tank and some metal weights for balancing purpose, so totally I was carrying around 18 kg weight on my shoulders. oh God.... so with all these weights I have to dive..... :) After all the preparation, I became ready for diving.

[Myself and Mike ready for diving.]

Finally with lot of excitement and little nervousness, I just recited "Om Namah Shivay" in my mind and started moving towards the ocean. oxygen tank was full and gauge was showing reading of 2400 and We can dive till it becomes 500. I was walking and recollecting guru mantra given by Mike, "Breath continuously and equalise your ear pressure at regular intervals as we go deep down."... Suddenly I kept my first step in water.....oops...oh... God... "This is water is so cold...!!!"... Mike said, "Sandy, follow me."... I said, "Yes" and started moving inside. we walked till water came to our chest and Mike attached duck fins to my foot palms. then he asked me to practise "equalising ear pressure and breathing". I did some practise. Now mike pointed me by sign that lets go deep inside and real action started.....

I adjusted my goggle, caught breathing pipe of oxygen tank in mouth and immersed head inside the water. Mike released air pressure in my jacket and for the first time I was totally inside the water. I was breathing through mouth and started moving ahead deep down but suddenly my goggle started leaking and I asked mike that I am struggling by my hand sign.... he took me out..... oops... failed.... I became bit nervous.... Mike encouraged me and he gave his own goggle to me and he took my leaking goggle. I again adjusted my goggle, oxygen pipe and immersed my head inside water. Again Mike released my jacket air pressure and I started going deep down..... Yes.... Now I was doing my things properly and I was totally comfortable.... Mike was checking my status regularly.

As I started going deep down, slowly I entered into the new dream world. Under water, The beam of sun light started dancing, just like disco light. Air bubbles which were coming out because of my exhalation were going up like parachute. As I moved deep, slowly actual ocean started, Now I could see many fishes around me. One small fish came very close to my head, as if he came to welcome me in their world... I wanted to go behind those fishes but mike used to stop me.... :) As I went to bottom at that point, there were many different star fishes with different colours and sizes, I took some of them in my hands.... ah... it was different feeling, then kept them properly. There were some crabs as well. I grabbed small crabs in my hand played with them but didn't touched large crab, as he could sting me. At bottom there were some big, very big rocks and couple of crabs were climbing on one of them. I felt as if today these crabs have came for hiking on this rock.... :) There were live shells and cones. At one point thought of looking for pearl into them.... :) Also there is forest inside water. There was kelp forest. Sometimes I was moving through creepers of kelp. I was having amazing time over there. Mike was observing my activities and after every 10 mins he used ask for oxygen gauge reading. I felt as if I am moving in dream, I could correlate entire system with our real world on earth. God your a great creator...!!! Usually during all the adventurous activities I feel great excitement but for the first time I was feeling deep calmness. I was over whelmed with emotions and playing with star fishes. Suddenly Mike asked me for oxygen gauge reading and it was 500. oh...no... it was time to go back, else I will run out of oxygen. This world is so amazing, I don't want go out.... :( Finally with heavy heart I said "bye" to all my new friends....Myself and mike started moving up and slowly came to sea shore.

[Myself, walking out after completing dive.]

I started walking out with divine calmness and Happiness.... Environment on beach was very much happening with so many things but I was deeply immersed in my own world and murmuring one hindi song....

Boondon ke motiyon mein khul ke ehsaas aaya,
Waqt se nikal ke lamha dil ke pass aaya....
Chooke guzra tha par Dil ko na mehsus hua,
Ab jo dekha to woh lamha dil ko raas aya....

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Please click on the following picture to view all the pics


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-----
Sandy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sky Dive (10000 ft) in San Francisco

Now days, because of globalisation world has came very close. People travel a lot to different countries/places for study, business, work, leisure, etc. Journey by aeroplane has become very common thing.

I was on one such journey......

It was wonderful evening on Heathrow airport of London and I was waiting for my connecting flight to San Francisco (SFO). Because of time zone changes, I was feeling bit drowsy but still surrounding environment was so much refreshing that my sleep ran away. I started roaming on airport while listening to music. Finally boarding announcement happened, "Flight BA-285 going from London to San Francisco is ready for boarding..." After completing boarding formalities I moved into plane. Within 15 mins plane was ready to take off. As usual captain of plane welcomed us and gave some safety instructions. I have observed one thing while giving safety instructions they always tell us about oxygen mask, life jacket and emergency exit door. My seat was very close to emergency exit door. I carefully listened to instructions, fastened seat belt. Plane took off and got settled at one height around 30,000 ft moving at constant speed. By this time all people had got adjusted to atmosphere in plane and got busy in their own entertainment like reading/watching movie or sleeping.

[View of Heathrow airport.]

Journey to SFO is like your going from one end of world to other end. If you look down from small window of plane, you will find that down there is huge blue pacific ocean and above there is infinite sky, somewhat blue and bit orange in colour. Some point on the horizon both sky and ocean are meeting like true lover.... :)
I was enjoying all this heavenly dream world and suddenly one apsara of heaven came and served me a dinner.... I mean one beautiful air hostess served me dinner.. ;)

After having some dinner I felt asleep quickly. Guess, what dream I saw??? Don't know why? may be because I was close to emergency exit door or captain's words had some deeper impact on my subconscious mind, In dream, I saw that there is some issue in engine of plane, It's going to crash and we all have to jump out of plane. Captain is continuously making announcement about it. There is tensed environment in plane, everyone is wearing life jacket. some people/children's are crying. oh... God..!!! Plane staff and some brave passengers are trying to make everyone comfortable and ready to face the situation. Captain is clearly saying "Yes, you all have to jump and suddenly emergency exit door opens....."
I was tensed in dream and suddenly realised that someone is saying, "Sir, would you like to have coffee???".... ah.... what this??? It was coffee time. Sweet sound of apsara took me out of that horrible dream. I saw that everything is normal and everyone is enjoying journey nicely.
"ah....... Yes... Please give me glass of water and coffee".... I replied. After having coffee I became relaxed and started watching movie...but just imagine if that situation in dream was true then ......"What would have made me/you to jump out of plane???"... just think about it.....

Hey, But why am I talking that dream now??? ah... if you are with me till this point then please hold your nerves for some more time.... :)

It was usual beautiful and bit sunny morning in California and I was on my another journey........

We were moving to Monterey bay as a part of our weekend activities. As usual Chandra Sir was on driver's seat and I was enjoying climate and listening to music. After enjoying long drive of 35 miles we reached "skydive surfcity, Aviation way" near Monterey bay. oh.... Aviation way??? what we are going to do on small airport???..... ah.... yes, actually I had planned to have Sky Dive from 10,000 ft... wow.... feeling excited? even my feelings were same when I reached there. Volker, an extremely experienced and nice instructor welcomed us. Sky Dive is the most thrilling and at same time dangerous adventurous sport. After completing initial formalities, Volker gave me all the instructions about the sport and I got familiar with different action/precautions I need to take during the Sky Dive. I wore harness and got ready for the dive. Finally with lot of enthusiasm I moved to aeroplane with Volker. Mike was our pilot. While gossiping with Mike and Volker I became comfortable and developed some confidence that "Yes, I can have safe dive with Volker."

[Myself and Volker having some nice time just before boarding the plane.]

Mike started engine of plane, we sat into plane and action begins.... slowly plane started moving towards runway..... 3....2...1.... plane's speed increases and within few seconds we left the land and started moving in diagonal direction towards sky. Climate was quite Good and we were rapidly gaining height. I was really excited about this activity but at the same time bit nervous as well. I liked enthusiasm of Volker, he was really nice companion. We both were screaming like crazy. while moving up, volker attached myself to his body. Finally we reached height of 10,000 ft. Volker was giving me breathing instructions in case of emergency, I listened to him carefully but I was bit comfortable.

Now at 10,000 ft plane was stable, Volker opened the door and we were ready to jump out. I took my feet out of plane, Volker was just behind me. As soon as Volker indicated, I remembered my all sweet close peoples and jumped out of plane, hhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuu.......... we did one back flip and what??? I was floating in air, yes, I was experiencing free fall from the height of 10,000 ft. ah..... speed of air was too much but still I was screaming like anything..... I was fighting with air and coming down rapidly... oh God, What an experience it was...!!! After sometime Volker opened parachute and free fall finished. Now we started floating with the help of parachute.... "Hurraah...!!!!.....Yes..... I did it...!!!" For sometime I took control of parachute and slowly started coming down, While coming down from that height I could see awesome view of Monterey and Santa Cruz beach and some hills around that area. Monterey down-town have lot of old structures which represents old US culture and having birds view of all these things was truly divine experience..... After screaming a lot and seeing this divine beauty, I just became speechless and nicely landed down.

[Myself, enjoying free fall with my instructor Volkar.]

Volker and myself were very Happy.... he was saying, "Sandy man...!!!... you are brave, have bit stronger heart..." yah.. but one thing I should definitely mention that his friendly nature made my dive bit easy... Reader friend, I hope you enjoyed dive with me..... :)

Hey, I again want to raise the same question, "What would have made me/you to jump out of plane?"... just think about it.....

After having such a out of world experience of Sky Dive, we went to Monterey beach. We roamed there around the beach till evening and enjoyed nice environment with some nice photography.

[Among all the pics, I liked this pic a lot.]

Till now if your with me then I have raised one questioned twice in two journey's and in totally opposite situation.... Question is, "What would have made me/you to jump out of plane?"..... I am sure your thinking about it... More or less to some extend activity is same in both cases but in one case it created intense fear in mind and in other case with some nervousness you enjoyed it like anything...!!! ..... Are you Still thinking about it??? Ok...just do one thing, close your eyes for some time and in both cases try to realise your feelings while jumping, Probably some things are best just for realisation.... :)

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Please click on the following picture to view all the pics


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Sky Dive:



-----
Sandy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

ABVIMAS 4 - Flora Of Western Himalayas

Bakhartaj camping was enjoyable not only for mountaineering activities but also we got introduction to rich flora of western Himalayas. We came across lot of different flora while roaming in Solang Nala, Dhundi, Bakhartaj. Our instructors used to give us information about almost all the tree's and flowers. Also if that plant or flower is medicinal then they used to tell us its ayurvedic importance. While trekking with such a heavy bag it was not possible to click each and every flower but whenever it was possible I captured them. Among all the instructors, special thanks to Pyarelal sir, whom I used to disturb a lot for knowing names of different flowers. If we search on Internet we will get lots of information about Himalayas Flora but this is just an attempt to document flora which I had seen during my camping at western Himalayas.

Flora at higher altitude is completely different from what we see in Sahyadri range of Maharashtra. They are meant for that particular climatic conditions. If you try to cultivate any of himalayas flower in normal conditions of Maharashtra then they don't survive, One of my camp mate Amit had tried it. Nature has given us so much and we just have to enjoy and preserve it.

Each flower/plant has different colour, fragrance, different property which make them unique. But they have one common thing, they all flourish with their own qualities. They dance as per the flow of air, on the music of storm and rain.....Flower with beauty may not have great fragrance and vice versa.... I think even human life has same things..... When we are born, we cannot choose our religion, country, colour, richness of family..... Also we don't know if we are going to live for 100 years or 100 days.... Each one of us has different unique qualities... So just like flowers we just have to flourish in the life with what we have got and our qualities.... We don't have to keep worrying about things which we don't have.... I think in this era of great scientific innovation, we need to get back to basics, somewhere we have lost it..... Some simple laws of nature just enough for beautiful and peaceful life.... I guess, I am getting philosophical.... he he he he he ..... So I know names of some flowers/plants, adding their information directly in blog but there are lot of flower whose names I don't know, clubbing them at the end of post. I hope you guys will enjoy this...!!!

[Himalayan Soar: These leaves have lot of water content. So while climbing if your running out water then you can look for this and eat its leaves.]

[Bhoj Patra: In old days bark of this tree was used for writing. Now days its used in religious purpose.]

[Bhoot Keshi]

[Wild Cherry: We can eat this during trekking.]

[Touch me not]

[Anapliz Busuva]

[Regward]

[Bistorta]

[Milk Thisal]

[Jurenium]

[Herculus]

[Willow Bushes]

[Wax Flower]

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Please click on the following picture to view all the unknown flowers


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-----
Sandy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

ABVIMAS 3 - Kshitidhar Camp1 (15700 ft) Climbing

I think mountaineer's are like a free bird. Yes, Birds.....birds don't have any kind of limitations, they find their own path and keep on flying high and high in this blue sky. In same way mountaineer keep on going high and high on mountains finding their own paths, exploring new horizons and enjoying ultimate beauty around them.
One of the most favourite activity of any mountaineer is climbing very high altitude peak's in Himalayas and when its your first high altitude climbing, you have unmatchable excitement and enthusiasm. Yes, same thing I experienced during "Kshitidhar camp1 (15,700 ft)" climbing. One day at Bhakhartaj camp as a part of our learning process we had to go for "height gaining" activity in given period of time. So target was decided, we had to reach "Kshitidhar camp1" in four and half hours. Actual height of "Kshitidhar" peak is 17,200 ft but after considering number of climbers Jagat Sir thought managing these many peoples at summit will be bit difficult task and it will take lot of time. So our target was just limited to "Kshitidhar camp1". We were at "Bakhartaj camp" whose height is 10,700 ft and "Kshitidhar camp1 is at 15,700 ft, So our task was to climb around 5,000 tf in four and half hours. wow....!!!...Hey reader friend, your also feeling excited...right???

(Kshitidhar peak at a glance, Red continuous line shows path followed by our team to reach "Kshitidhar camp1" and dotted lines shows remaining distance to the peak's summit.)

On earlier day evening, Jagat sir gave us brief idea and some tips for "height gaining" activity. I always likes to listen to Jagat sir, he is such an inspirational person. I liked his mantra, he said, "While climbing, just take steps such that you don't run out of breath and be at your own pace". Believe me if you follow just this mantra properly then climbing will become really easy for you. after sir's lecture we got dry ration for next day's activity.
So the plan was everyone will get ready by 5:30am, finish breakfast by 6:00am. We had decided to start sharp at 6:00am and had to reach at the destination before 10:30am. If your at camp1 at 10:30am then fine, your task is completed. But even if its not completed, at 10:30am you may be anywhere on your path, you have to start descending down. Oh... God... We were excited at the same time bit under pressure to complete it. On that day at night we didn't spent much time after dinner and immediately went into sleeping bag as had to get at 4:30am next day.

(My instructor's distributing dry ration to us.)

As per plan we got up early, got ready and after finishing breakfast started our trek sharp at 6:00am. Our instructors were leading us. Climate was very very cold at that time. First we had to reach "beas kund" (origin of beas river) and from there we had decided to follow sharp ridge of Kshitidhar for our climbing. Initially it was dark but slowly sun started rising and got some relief from cold. Today we were going very very high so I was full on ready take lot of photographs. When sun rays falls on fresh snow it looks like gold and its an awesome scene. I captured golden "Hanuman Tibba" and made fantastic start of my photography session.

[Hanuman Tibba (19,200 ft):Looking Golden in early morning sun rays.]

While climbing everyone was moving at their own pace one after another like ant and broadly all the climbers got divided into three categories. Some guys were moving very fast with instructors and they were our star performers. then there was group of people climbing at moderate rate. I was in this group, climbing peacefully and enjoying nature around me with some nice clicks. Also I had Mahendran with me, so we were also talking on some Good topics. There was third group which was moving very slowly. Initially everyone was moving at Good rate but as we started gaining height, breathing started becoming bit difficult and some muscle pain well. But one famous saying by great mountaineer Premchand keep on motivating us... "Pahado me dard saha jata hai, kaha nahi jata....." (Whenever your in mountain, You should tolerate all the pain but should not talk about it.) After crossing "beas kund", Kshitidhar ridge was bit steep, you have to take each step properly. We were moving rhythmically... 1-2-1-2.... take some rest, eat something, drink water so that we don't get dehydrated. While taking rest at 14,000 ft surfaraz and and me did one funny "sholay" mimicry and everyone enjoyed it to fullest.... Slowly I started worried about completion of task but finally around 10:15am I reached at "Kshitidhar camp1". HHHHuuurrrrraaaaaaaaaahh...!!! I completed task within time. ah.... what a relief..!!! Ecstasy of summit of camp1 made me to forgot all the pain. Out of 80 around 50 climbers completed the task. Some people had to go back from half way.

(Myself at Kshitidhar camp1.)

When I reached "Kshitidhar camp1", I felt as if I am in heaven. It was really really beautiful view...!!! You look in any direction, you will just see beautiful mountains of different ranges of Himalayas. Because of fresh snow on the mountains I felt as if they were wrapped with white pashmina shawls having greener border at the bottom. Also on that green border there was designs of different Himalayas flowers. At some places glacier was melting and small waterfall was flowing.... This flowing water was looking like garland around mountain's neck. With all this make up, mountain was as good as beautiful woman and I was deeply immersed in its love......:)

After spending some time in photo session at "Kshitidhar camp1" we started descending down. I think descending is always difficult than climbing and chances of getting injured are very high so I descended slowly and carefully. While coming down I spent some time at "Beas Kund". It is origin of Beas river. I have seen Beas river since the time I entered in Manali and today I was seeing origin of it. Environment over there was truly divine. Ah.... so now I can say that I have seen origin of at least one river... ;)
We all descended down around 2pm and gathered one place. After successful climbing it was time to cheer...some relaxation. Now one by one peoples of each state gave one performance. Among all of them performance given Himachal guys on traditional Himachali song was awesome.... even our instructors got involved in it and everyone enjoyed it a lot...!!! [I have given video of it at end of blog.]

I also feel that mountaineer's are bit mad as well.... he he he he he..... Yes, they are bit mad....!!! Otherwise you just think why people take so much of risk, face so many challenges and go high on mountains??? They are mad because of they have some unique way of getting happiness, different way of realising God....... :)

"Dil chahta hai ki ek kam karadu....
Ye sari zindagi en pahado ke naam karadu....!!!"


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Please click on the following picture to view all the pics


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Kshitidhar Camp1 (15700 feet) Climbing:



Traditional Himachali Performance:



-----
Sandy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ABVIMAS 2 - Life at Bakhartaj Camp

After spending 10 days at Manali campus for learning rock crafting, now it was time to go to more higher altitude and learn some ice and snow craft techniques. So on 11th day morning Jagat Sir gave us all the information about our movement to base camp for further activities. He gave us Good guidance about what are the necessary things to be carried at base camp and all. So we were going to spent next 12 days at "Bakhartaj" which at the height of 10,700 feet in Himalayas. 10,7000 feet???.....wow..!!! we all were excited to go to base camp.

Just with all the technical equipment our rucksack was weighing more than 25kg, now we also had to put our personal things which we will require at base camp for 12 days. Sir had warned us about to be very calculative while taking personal things like clothes, dry ration and all. But while packing rucksack it became real headache. Till late night we all were busy in packing bag and bag became full packed which crossed 30kg.... he he he he... oh... God.... now I have to carry this bag till base camp.

(Blue bag on right side was my full packed rucksack.)

On next day early morning, we all started journey to the base camp. It took us 3 days of trek to reach to the "Bakhartaj". Initially while walking, heavy bag was pulling us back but slowly we became used to it and started walking comfortably. Vishal, Mukesh, Prathmesh, Ladi and me were singing song and had nice time while walking but slowly as we started on difficult terrain, I got left out from that group and just concentrated on walking and some photography. By first day afternoon, after walking for 14km's we reached "Solang nala" which is at the height of 8,134 feet. Thanks a lot to advance course guys who had already arranged tent for us over there. So we all just had some lunch around 3:30pm and got relaxed in tents.

(Taking some rest on way to bakhartaj.)

Now after such a hectic day we all were expecting some relaxed evening. But at ABVIMAS, always expect the unexpected and around 5pm...
Group leader: Come on, we have a "fall in".... (and he Whistles loudly)
(We all came out of tent hurriedly... )
Everyone: oh... What activity is going to happen now???
Sir: "Attention...!!!"....
(Everyone got became alert and stand still.....)
Sir: Guys, Now we will go for Acclimatisation walk....
(Acclimatisation is a process of getting your body used to with higher altitude, In this process you just gain some height and again come down for stay, then again go up.... means just spent some before gaining more height.)
Everyone: oh...... nnnnnooooooo.....!!!
Sir: What?????....Is everyone ready???
Everyone: Yes, Sir.... (Though we were tired, we immediately became ready.... he he he he... )
So we started trek again and went up to the height of 9000 feet. There we spent some time, Pyarelal sir gave some information about surrounding and came back to tent around 7:30pm. Now its an open secret that we were tired like anything...!!! Just had dinner and went to deep sleep.

Second day also we spent in "Solang Nala" for the purpose of Acclimatisation. On that day we had almost gain 3000 feet height, went up to the height of 12000 feet on Patalsu peak and came down to "Solang (8134 feet)" again.

(After reaching 12,000 feet, we were relaxing and our instructors were busy in some chit-chat)

On third day, we started very early morning with our sack and our target was "Bakhartaj" base camp at 10,700 feet. After some initial walk, slwoly terrain became srated difficult. We had to cross river beas at couple places, just on the wood log. On this way for sometime, I got company of Pyrelal sir and he gave me lot of information about rich vegetation in Himalayas. Finally after walk of approx 11km, around 2pm we reached "bakhartaj" at 10,700 feet. After seeing our base camp we all felt relaxed...hhhuuurah....!!! Yes, Finally we are there...!!!

(View from Bakhartaj...!!!!....have you observed shadow of cloud???)

(Usual Morning at Bakhartaj base camp...!!!)

As soon as we reached "Bakhartaj" base camp, we had lunch and first thing we did was we had to pitch our own tent, so we all formed group and started pitching tent. So within 15 min my 1BHK tent flat was ready, I am trying to have 1BHK flat in mumbai since so many years still struggling..... he he he he... and I got Prathamesh, Ajay, Mahi as my tent mates. Once we built our shelter, Suvimal and Namgayal sir conducted small session where he gave some information about the area. Since last three days I was thinking that why this place is called as "Bakhartaj"??? Finally got the answer...... "Bakhar" means "sheep" and "Bahkartaj is a place where village people brings their sheep to graze." This place was nothing but terrain formed out of glacier. On our right side there was "Peer Panjal range" and on left side "Dhauladhar range" of Himalaya. Both the ranges were meeting on "temtuka pass" whose height is 16,000 feet. "Hanuman Tibba" is the highest peak in this area whose height is 19,450 feet. We really felt nice to hear all these things. After that we formed garbage pit and also sir showed us "Yellow area" (I hope you guys understood it.) and we got strict instructions about How we should take care of this entire tent area and should not create any mess.

(Its me with our tent, almost ready for going on field.)

In base camp, we learned snow and ice crafting. Also here our field activity used to continue from morning till evening 5pm. ah.... it used to be very long day. We had to wear our special very heavy ice shoes. (In above pic you can observe these shoes). I have given some video's at the end of blog which shows snow crafting. But ice craft was more difficult as compared to snow crafting. In fact I would say, ice crafting was the most toughest activity in this course. Our glacier field for ice crafting was bit far from our base camp and we used to loose almost all the energy for reaching there. Even after that we used to do activity for all the day. During ice crafting maximum students fell sick. There was one day when there were 18 students absent on field. Thankfully I attended all the sessions. Ice crafting involves climbing and descending on ice wall of glacier whose temp was around -30 to -35 degrees. When you approach the wall for climbing at that time you loose half the mind because of that cold and on top of it you have to climb that wall. I guess now you can imagine severity of this activity. In addition to this, sole of my shoes was broken which made this task more challenging for me. I really struggled a lot during ice crafting. One day we were doing jumaring (jumaring: Ascending with the help of fixed rope) on ice wall and I struggled like anything, I would say, that was my worst day in this course.
I was ready for climbing using jumaring technique. sir said start and I started climbing. This was third consecutive day on glacier and by now my toes were paining a lot. Still I started hitting toe to ice wall and climb up. I climbed up some distance but because of tiredness I didn't had much momentum because of which I started feeling really cold. Cold was increasing.... hand gloves almost fully wet... full body is tired and shivering... My loose foot holds on wall started dangling. I got stuck in between on wall. Everyone from down was saying "come on.... come on... You can do it"... instructor, my friends were encouraging me but I had lost all my energy and was not able to move up now. Increased cold made situation worst. I had never given up during any activity of the course but for the first time I said... "I can't move up now"..... oh no.... Finally Jagat sir understood my condition, he just came up, attached me to descending rope and I descended down safely.

On that day my moral was down, I really lost my confidence. On that day almost everyone struggled a lot. but after activity, some talk given by Jagat sir helped me to boost my moral. I can still remember his words.... he said..."Don't get upset if your not able to do it. Try again and again and you will learn it. Keeping positive attitude is important, don't give up...!!!"

(Students doing ice climbing on glacier wall.)

(One day after snow activity, we went for walk up to height more than 12,000 feet and from there I caught Areal view of Bakhartaj Base Camp.)

In base camp, with increase altitude and severe cold conditions were bit adverse. Water used to be so cold that we even if we wash our hand, we used to feel numb for couple of minutes. In these types of condition there was no question of having bath. We just used to clean our face.... he he he he.... Sun was the only source of light so no light at night, you have to do all the work with torch. In all these conditions, we students helped each other a lot, we got close and really became Good friends. As I had mentioned earlier, we all were from different background and we had nice time together with different view on each thing. We were 7 guys from Maharashtra and used to enjoy talking in Marathi. My tent mates Mahi, Ajay, Prathamesh really became Good friend of mine and we used to have lot of fun. But apart from this I really enjoyed time spent with "Orissa Police". Whenever we used gather we used to share our life experiences. These guys face lot of hardship in their day to day duties. They had worked in naxal area. They just have 20 leaves in a year. Lot of hard work, stress.... always away from family. Still even in this conditions they were really Happy and enjoying life. When I look at them I feel that we general civilian have no rights to complain about our life. Among all of them "Sarfaraz" was really full on person.... Great energy and great attitude towards life. I used to call him "Thakur" as he used to mimic "Amitabh bachchan" with different dialogues of "sholay" film. I also learned some oria language words from them but they taught me only bad words.... he he he he...
Among all of them "Shankar" was the eldest guy whom we used to call "Tau". One day at night "Tau" sang one very funny poem which express all his feelings as a true army guy.

Fouj me mouj hai...
Satso rupaye roj hai...
Bas thodasa risky hai...
Usake liye whisky hai...
Aur thoda thoda gam hai...
Usake liye 3x rum hai...
Bas bis saal ki naukari hai...
Fir to pension hi pension hai...!!!

(Maharashtra Group L to R => Aditya, Kunal, Palash, Me, Prathamesh, Nilesh... Just missing Amit.)

When we were at base camp, apart from field activity we used to do lot of common work like distributing breakfast/lunch/dinner to everyone. Everyday one by one each group used to take this responsibility. Yes.. you feel really Good when you serve some people. But among all this I really enjoyed "Bed Tea Serving duty". One day it was my group turn for all the duties and I picked duty of serving "Bed Tea" to everyone. Everyone was in deep sleep, I got up at 5:30am, got fresh and went to kitchen tent around 6am and picked "Tea Kettle" and one by one went to all tents to give them tea. Its really cold at such an early morning.
I just went to all tent one by one and said loudly "Good Morning...!!!.... chalo.... utho bhai log.... bed tea lelo...."
You know people feel really Happy to get up and have Tea in such a cold condition. For them your like angel...!!! They say... "Thank you sir....!!, thanks yaar..." But its not just words but feelings behind those words are just so innocent.... Its like in such cold condition they were in much need of it and I went there just at right time. Service is the greatest religion in the world and I feel Its best way of realisation of God. Happiness on their faces, gave me true joy of serving...!!!

(Bed tea at 6am.)

We had got very special tiffin box from institute which we used to use for eating/drinking anything at base camp. Yes.... it was multi purpose. Whatever food will be served to you, you have to take in these two tiffins and eat it. After eating just clean it and keep it with you. Water was so cold that cleaning tiffin after eating used to become terrible tasks.... :(

(My tiffin box, this pic was taken during breakfast time.)

(Myself and Prathmesh, enjoying lunch..!!!)

After dinner, ideally everyone wants to talk to family/friends but here there was no mobile range at all. Only local BSNL mobile had range and there were only 3/4 BSNL mobiles in the camp. Also all those mobiles were running out of charge. So if you have some urgent work then only you used to get access to those mobiles. One day it was my one of the best friend's birthday and I wanted to give my wishes. After lot of effort, I got access to mobile and finally I gave my wishes but because of all the effort, I got out of world Happiness after giving wishes.... :)
In general at night, we used to gather together, talk a lot. share some experiences... Sometimes if we had lot of energy then singing session used to be full on....!!! But after an hour slowly everyone used to push themselves in sleeping bag and falls asleep. But me and my one of tent mate mahi used to have lot of discussion. We used to sit on big stone in front of our tent and keep on talking.... One day we really had great discussion... we talked on "WHO ARE YOU???"... Please don't under estimate this question because of its simplicity. Its answer is not really easy.... just think on it... believe me you will just keep on thinking on it...

After discussion, I used to enjoy star watching for sometime and then finally go to bed..... fir kya??... kuch nahi...he he he he... fir halakese nindiya rani ke sath sapanoke duniya me kho jao.....:)

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Please click on the following picture to view all the pics


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Life at Bakhartaj Base Camp:



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Sandy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

ABVIMAS 1 - Life at Manali Campus

25 days spent at ABVIMAS for Basic mountaineering course was truly divine and speechless experience. It was experience of lifetime... I will try to share some interesting things under 5-6 different blog posts. Under this first heading I will be talking about first 10 days spent at main campus of the institute in Manali.
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This course gave good start and perfect introduction to the field of mountaineering. One important thing is, It tell you where you stand? We say in hindi "Ab pata chala hum kitane pani me hai....." It helped to develop lot of endurance, tolerance. Even if we don't become successful moutaineer, This experience will definitely help us to grow as a person.


There were around 79 students gathered together from 17 states of India and one from South Africa. Yes, I could see mini India at this campus. Till now we have read lot about different people and different cultures of India but This was first real experience of it and it was awesome...!!! First day when I entered in campus and went to dormitory I could see nine beds in that room and almost five of them were already occupied. I also choose one of them and got grand welcome from really unknown people who became good friends of mine.
"Hi, mai Satish... Uttarakhand"
"Hi, mai bini...Shimla"
"Hello, I am Surya.. Shimla"
"namaste, hum Hussain, Uttarakhand"
Finally, I said "Hi, mai Sandy... Mumbai-Maharashtra se hu"...
oh.... God... This was just starting point... when I went out in campus... almost every guy was telling name of different states and cities. I could experience real "Unity in Diversity of India..!!!" and you know height of this diversity??? slowly as we started knowing each other we used to call each other by the name of city... so people used to call me "Mumbai"..... he he he he..... Among all these Prathmesh from Lonavala became good friend of mine and we always remained together. Many were from police, NCC, some were working in adventure field and there were national players as well. Among all these strong guys with great stamina, I was bit poor guy :( still I got lot of encouragement from them and gave best of my ability in each activity. We all were from different background with different educational level, different physical strength and different perspective towards life... apart from mountaineering I really learned lot of other things while being with all these peoples.


Whenever we go in mountains for any peak climbing, we may face three kinds of obstacles rock, water (river), snow, ice. So we should be master of all the technical skills required for overcoming these obstacles. So during our first 10 days we learned some the basic technical skills required for rock and river. One of the most experienced and passionate person "Jagat Thakur" was our course in-chagre. he is really simple down to earth person and always used to talk in motivative way. he is having more than 25 years of experience. "Dicky dolma" was our other course in-charge (Youngest Everest climber). With these two main teachers we had group wise instructors (Namgayal, Pyarelal, Sunny, Prel, Suman, Kiran, Nilu, Kapoor, Suresh, Giri.... some more). All were Young, co-operative and strict as well.

(Myself, having great time with jagat Sir during Tea break.)

During the entire course discipline was the most basic part. It was kind of military style of working. After each activity they used to tell us our next gathering time... Its called as "FALL IN". I never thought that simple word like "FALL IN" will create such a big terror, but believe me whenever we used to hear word "FALL IN", we may be in any condition but we used to gather together within 5 mins. Our instructors were nice and in most of the cases they used to forgive if you come late by 2-3 mins. But if you get very late then obviously you deserve punishment like push-up's... but there also some student unnecessarily used to act over smartly and do push-up's in improper way. but even for this kind of mis chief once Prem sir showed his anger in calm way. he said "Hamari khamoshi kohamari majburi mat samjhana, yeh aanevale tufaan ki aahat hai...." he he he he....


So usually during first 10 days, our first "fall in" used to be at 5:30am or 6am. We used to to go for 6-7km jogging and after that very severe physical training exercise. This session used to continue till 7-7:15am. This session used to be very tiring specially because that area was not plane like our mumbai roads. It was totally hill area. Many times someone's muscle used to get pulled and lot of pain as well. But our instructors used to motivate us in very funny and nice way.... I could remember, if you tell about your pain to Pyarelal sir then he used to say..... "come on, come on, shabbas.... mard ko dard nahi hota" (It means men should never feel the pain).... he he he he....
After that 7:30am was fuel refilling time for motor, I mean do proper breakfast in mess and get ready for on field activity by 8:30am. Now we used to trek to rock field with all technical equipment. There Jagat sir used to explain everything with demo and then group wise we used to practise it with our instructors.
Here we learned techniques like rock climbing, rappelling (quick descending from rock), river crossing. [I have added some video's/photo's of various activities at the end of this post]. After doing couple of climbs, fruity drink break around 10:30-11am used to be very refreshing. Jagat sir was very particular about our activities, if you have climbed one rock then you have to go to another rock. You can not sit at all :( So in this way till 1:30pm we used to practise a lot and return to institute.
At 1:30pm we used to have lunch. After lunch everyone used to feel sleepy but still we had to attend next "fall in" at 2:30pm and now there used to be theory lecture till 4:30pm. I guess I don't need to tell that after such hard work since morning, almost everyone used to feel drowsy during these lectures. I used to try to control my sleep and take some notes but all attempts failed. I used to start writing from left page and because of sleep my pen used to travel in parabolic path and used to reach on right page, creating shape of mountain. Me and my friends still couldn't control our laugh whenever I used to open my notebook. Finally we used to wake up for 4:30pm tea break.... he he he he.....
After tea break sometimes there used to 3-4 rounds of "obstacles" till 6:30-7pm. Obstacles -- It means you have to run long distance and while doing this you have to overcome/jump different obstacles like big wall, crawl through very short patches, jump trough tire...... This used to be very tiring and clothes used to get muddy because of crawling and all. After this if you have energy then you can play some games till 7:30pm. At 7:30pm we used to get dinner and finally at 8:30pm last "fall in" used to occur to get next mornings instructions. So in this way finally around 9pm we used to get free. If you have observed I never talked about having bath. Its up to you -- If you want to take it then take it, any time during the day whenever you will get some free time..... he he he he....

(Rock climbing -- Almost done, 1 mins sir, I will be there.)

We have learned lot of different types of knots of rope. Being climber one should be Good in knots. Whenever there was some free time, we used to practise knots with rope. Many times in the afternoon we used to have "knots" test. To be frank it was test of presence of mind. This used to be most stressful and funny test.... stressful and funny at the same time??..... Yes, Actually it was simple but The way exam used to be conducted if your giving exam then stressful and when someone else is giving exam, watching him was funny. So one by one sir used to call everyone and he used to ask any knot.
Sir: "Sequence 3 from all groups come forward".
(7 students from 7 groups will get up and stand at front, fully tensed. I being sequence 3 from group 6 joins them.)
Sir: "show me equal diameter rope joining knot and your time is 30 seconds".
(oops ..... just 30 seconds..)
Sir: "Your time start now".
(I quickly bend down, pick up the rope and started to tie a knot.)
Sir: "Stop, time up".
(At this moment, you have stop... thank God, I am done. then he will come and check the knot)
Sir: "Sandy from group 6, Its right....!!!"
(hhhhuuuurrrahhhh...!!! I will get 5 marks....come back to your place Happily and relieved.)
Thankfully I never did mistake in this test. But because of 30 seconds time frame people used to do lot of silly mistakes and observing them was really funny. We all used to enjoy it a lot...!!

(My one of the favourite tree in the institute.)

After such a hectic day, finally around 9pm we used to get some time to relax. Being busy in activity, day time goes very fast and now mind get relaxed. You start remembering your family/friends. You can see everywhere people talking on mobile phones.... I liked one tree in institute where I used to sit alone till I feel sleepy. It was just divine.
of course, you miss your family but there is someone whom you miss a lot..... and poet inside me murmur...

"App se door aate hi hamare liye hajaro raste khule hai,
lekin usame se kisi bhi raste ke har ek kadam par yaad sirf aapaki hai....."


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Please click on the following picture to view all the pics.



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Manali Campus:



River Crossing:



Rock Climbing, Rappelling and Jumaring:



-----
Sandy.