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???!!! 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.....:)


Please click on the following picture to view all the pics


Life at Bakhartaj Base Camp:



  1. nice clicks looking at ur snaps i can feel that freshness n beauty of environment...amazing dear....n nice gathering of poetic words....just waiting for ur next blog...!!