From An Office Desk To The Himalayas: Basic Mountaineering Course In Manali(ABVIMAS)
I befriended mountains long before I came to know about mountaineering courses. Also, the minute I came to know about these certified courses in Mountaineering and Adventure sports I discovered something I was looking for, something I can make carrier in.
When you are working in an IT organization, getting a month leave for any adventure course only happens when pigs fly. Hence, I had to say a final farewell to my job to come in association with my adoration ‘Mountains’ for all of you know you can’t be faithful toward something you don’t love.
I recall, me and my sister sitting tight at Kashmere Gate on 29th of September for my Delhi – Manali 7 PM bus and the staggering musings that were drifting in my mind kept me very and quite loaded with the energy of new experience arriving my way in days ahead.
I reached Manali before noon on September 30th. Before getting down from the bus, driver advised that I walk around Mall Street first and after that continue toward the Institute, for Mall Street was what Manali is known for. On the off chance that you are thinking about why bus driver realizes that I was going to ABVIMAS, this is on account of bus, for the most part, gets emptied at Bhuntar as most explorers from that point get connecting transports for Kasol and Kheerganga and I came and sat close to conductor situate and was gabbing with both driver and conductor.
As it was my 1st time in Manali, I was amazed looking at high peaks in the beautiful green Beas valley, magnificent towering deodars (cedars), the culture of Himachal and sweet loving people. Grounds of ABVIMAS resembled imperial bungalows having A shape rooftop and was surrounded by tall pine trees.
After apportioning of hostel room, I met other kindred mates of the course with whom I got along effectively on the fact that we shared exuberant interests like adventure travel, photography, mountains and lot more.
I am not early to sleep early to rise kind of person until I have and activity including adrenaline surge following morning. It was an important day and no one wants to be a defaulter on their 1st day of training. So the daily schedule was something like this
4 AM ————–Activity—————– 6 PM
Any mountaineering course has 3 main crafts — Rock Craft, Ice Craft, and Snow Craft. The next 10 days starting October 1st were scheduled for Rock Craft.
October 1st – October 10th
(Rock craft, River crossing)
Day 1st is an introduction which involves campus visit, museum visit, and batch address by the principal.
Next 10 days of Rock craft covers Rock climbing, chimney climbing (my favorite), Wall climbing, Rappelling, Jumaring and river crossing activities with sub training of anchoring and belaying. When instructors were giving the demo it looked like rock were in their favor because when we were climbing it seemed like someone has poured oil on them, regardless of where we kept our foot it was slipping. It was getting that troublesome for us to climb and in light of the fact that I was the rope leader I was the first one to go for two reasons, that inside I was anxious to try it and also mates in my rope volunteered my name since they needed to have some good time before they themselves turn into the puppet of the show.
Men, for the most part, have the benefit of characteristic abdominal area quality and longer tallness and reach. Ladies are regularly lighter and, with less abdominal area quality, have a tendency to grow more exact footwork and adaptability. There are many upsides and downsides of having a male body versus a female body as a climbing competitor; however, it truly appeared to all level out.
October 11th – October 20th
(Snow Craft, Ice Craft, Height Gain)
Snow craft and Ice craft activities are conducted at high altitude because of obvious reasons. Essential types of gear for Snow Craft and Ice Craft were distributed a day prior to marching towards ABVIMAS base camp (Bakhartach).
The night (10th October) before our moving was exceptionally energizing for the reason that everybody was busy packing their 70L rucksack. Half of our rucksack space was occupied by the sleeping bag and the remaining was taken up by snow boots, crampons, activity suit, harness, and helmet. The only thing left was to decide, where to keep garments as we were going for a 10 days camp and rucksack was already overflowing at this point bearing heaviness of 20kg. There were multiple rounds of taking out and keeping things just to find a silver lining in that dark space bag for a few garments. But after struggling for an hour or two I have to take an extra 10L bag of Quechua which I planted atop the rucksack.
Following day (11th October) directly after breakfast, we set out toward Solang valley which was our 1 day stop before advancing to the base camp. It took us 5 hours to reach Solang valley (2480m) with a 20-kg rucksack on back. Solang Valley is nestled at the top of Kullu Valley, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains which are famous for various adventure sports like paragliding.
Day by day we were getting acclimatized to the environment. On 12th of October, we did another practice trek to the soaring Patalsu peak (4220m) which is near Solang valley only and was necessary before heading to our advance base camp.
On the 13th of October, we started moving toward our Bakarthatch base camp via Dhundi, which was an 8-hour trek. Dhundi is an alpine plateau and glimpse of Deo Tibba and Indrasan can be seen from here. The passage was greatly wonderful as we strolled past various waterfalls and streams. After each hour of trekking, we took 10 – 15 mins to rest. We put our rucksacks down, rested, drank water, soothed ourselves, have a brisk bite and now and then kneaded each other’s shoulders as they hurt with the heaviness of the sacks. The thought of being on the mountain in the midst of perfect and alleviating condition and positive vibes from all around the mountains took me to another zone.
Bakarthatch (meaning — grazing grounds for sheep/goats) offer a picturesque view of the entire valley and the peaks that form the valley. Bakkar Thatch (10800-ft) is surrounded by high peaks like Hanuman Tibba, Ladakhi Peak, Kullu Peak, Shetidhar, Friendship Peak and Seven Sisters.
In view of temperature distinction, our typical awakening timing moved a bit. On 14th October we celebrated our 1st morning at high altitude, sipping tea in our jumbo mug watching sun rays striking the tip of the Hanuman Tibba like a laser beam. Unlike in Manali here, we used to get up at 6 AM and breakfast was served at 7:30 AM. Right after breakfast, we need to trek 1 hour daily to Beaskund glacier for our Ice craft and Snow Craft exercises.
For a man like me who has never caught sight of a glacier before, it was an amazing perspective to take a gander at piles of icy mass. Our schedule for the next 7 days was pretty much the same as it looks in the next sentence. We wore our heavy Snow boots and crampons and learned all about Ascending, Descending, Anchoring, Belaying, Rappelling, Jumaring, Crevasse crossing, rescue etc, with the help of an Ice Axe and Ice Pitons.
The climate always showed signs of change, and it turned out to be crisp and overcast and even with our gloves and waterproof outers, our hands would go numb while climbing. Ice Craft was to a great degree testing, and we realized that beforehand because we could see glacier melting, and we generally needed to pay special attention to rocks tumbling from the ice slants.
Every time we returned from the training area to our camp, the humble mess staff would always have our lunch prepared. We never had to wait. Even at such a high altitude, they ensured that our taste buds get more than they desire. On our part, we became so mediocre that instead of using our own mess-tin we used to eat with others to spare ourselves from washing and dunking our hands in icy cold glacier water.
Altitude Gain (October 21st)
Every mountaineering course involves altitude gain activity because it is declared in your certificate. An evening before (20th October), we were distributed dry fruits, toffees, and juice with the goal that we can gobble them on our way up.
Before heading for the climb Instructors advised us about vital precautionary measures to be taken while climbing. Moderate walkers and females were requested to move first because it’s a good practice and it is always advised to walk with the speed of the slowest person and encourage them to move fast. I did the support part yet moderate moving! Not my thing and will never be until the point when I have a weird company of somebody who influences me to do insane interesting things on en-route. As this was my 1st height gain activity with all the zen I was climbing since I had my objective set on the pinnacle.
The climb was simple till the point trail was not steep and I said to myself ‘altitude gain is not that difficult’ but as soon the trail became steeper I started panting it became that tedious. I made it to the top in 1st five and like they say “The best view comes after the hardest climb” I felt so contented and glad that I gave a triumph embrace to my companion Genji.
Descend happens pretty fast as compared to ascend. After returning to the base camp we just went inside our tent and slept like a baby.
Morning of 22nd Oct was radiant, both weather-wise and luck wise as we were going to give our practical exam. My seriousness for exams vanished a long time back after completing engineering, So I was pretty much chilling while few were preparing as if they were going to appear in UPSC exam.
After the melodrama of exam, few chose to get clean up in icy cold water of glacier, and I was like ‘ 9 din nahi nahaya, 1 din aur sahi’. On the same evening, instructors organized volleyball match to see a sweet war between all the ropes. Want to know the summary? My rope couldn’t even make it to the 2nd round, but we were so happy about it because the winning team was shooting smashes from left right and center which was a hilarious scene.
October 23rd – October 24th
(Return to Manali via the same route)
Finally, after undergoing 10 days training at high altitude, it was time to head back to Manali. On this day no one wanted to go back, we got so attached to the place and its vibes. On the way back we met another special batch of females going for related activities. We spent the night in Solang and were ready to march back to Manali following morning.
October 25th – October 26th
(Exam and Graduation Day)
Last two days just go in a spur of time. On 25th we gave our theoretical exam and were free for the rest of the day. Those who were leaving on 26th were busy packing and returning the equipment.
On 26th, graduation day happened where we were given our batches and everyone was clicking photos.
Though I have seen this type of training before, being a part of it gave me a whole new experience and knowledge. Right then, I decided I will be going for Advance Mountaineering Course. In a nutshell, I would say everyone should go for this one-month training no matter if you want to pursue mountaineering as a career or not, but the training will bring a positive change in you and the experience will be there for lifelong.