Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A mad trek in the monsoon

Harischandragad via Nalichi Vaat

A journey into beauteous Nalichi Vaat and discovering the pictorial splendorous nature. 

by Srikanth Rao

We started our journey from Hyderabad to Harischandragad with the team of 12 members. We all met up at Begumpet railway station and took a train to Pune and from there to Belpada. Unfortunately, the tyre of the bus we were traveling on way to Belpada literally blew up. We were a bit unhappy but took this chance to get down and refresh ourselves. 

The journey in mini bus was amazing. Eyeing beautiful mountains, we enjoyed every moment of it and it was hard for us to keep our eyes from the unfolding scene. Weather was distinctly cold (so cold that one can even feel the water droplets spraying one's face). The water flowing from the top of the mountain was really a beautiful sight to behold. On the way, we found a waterfall and people were having a gala time. Ranga and Arun Raj were estimating the height of the mountains, but their efforts were futile. They couldn’t succeed in gauging it perfectly, as the mountains was completely covered with fog.

Trekking from Savarna Village:
We started trekking from the mountainous area to reach Belpada. The long road journey had sapped our energy, and now we were carrying our heavy traveling bags. Water was flowing from the mountains and passing through the village area was so very crystal clear and we were unable to restrict ourselves from swimming. We had an audience in the form of villagers who were surprised at out gleeful joy in seeing water. The villagers were kind enough to rent us a room there we spent our night speculating our journey in the morning.

The first patch - 30ft
We tried to catch some sleep into sleep but were unable to. We were all in one room with two strong buffaloes keeping an eye on us (That seemed to be the case).  It was difficult to close eyes and sleep with the mountains in the background and considerably long water body beside our room. Continuous grunting and croaking of frogs made us think of the possibilities of snakes ambling around. Despite lack of electricity, some of us had a sound sleep.  It was one of the best of the beautiful scary nights I ever spent.

We woke up early in the morning by 5 am with an aim to explore Nalichi Vaat.  It was beautiful but dangerous trekking we ever set for. Nalichi Vaat is a route between two mountains and is connected with rock patches. It was very difficult trek with a stiff wind and a steady drizzle accompanied by bouts of thundering sounds. We managed to cross five big patches. Among them, four patches presented us a big challenge to overcome but we climbed up higher and higher and of course with minor injuries. I must say that the rock climbing at Nalichi Vaat is for professional rock climbers and not for the beginners. Climbing here in the rain can be dangerous for novices.

Second Patch - 40 ft high
The first rock patch was perpendicular and C shaped and it was around 30 ft high. Sailesh, Krishna, Ranga and me climbed up. The surface of the rock was quiet slippery with no proper grabs and to add to the difficulty of climbing, water was flowing down in our direction but we successfully managed to climb up and pulled other guys up with the help of rope. 

The second rock patch was at a height of 40 ft. We could find grabs but were not reliable. Rock grabs were loose and came off at certain places and terrified the watchers who were viewing from below. I managed to climb up and gave belay to others to help them come up. From second rock patch to third rock patch we had take a U turn at the edge of the cliff. A minor mistake would have led us to a 1500 ft slide.

Fifth Patch - 90 kmph windspeed
The third patch was the most difficult one, as we were already at a height enough to scare even the most bravest of the souls. The most difficult part of the climbing was to firmly attach ourselves longitudinally to the slippery surface of the rock which seemed to pulling us off every minute, threatening us to throw us down. Holding on firmly and courageously moving on, we reached the fourth patch which didn't seem to be difficult to reach on as we were all sanguine of success, crossing three big hurdles on our way to the top. Some members struggled a lot to come up and even got some minor injurious.

Way to fifth rock patch was uneven. Besides this, the weather was not supportive. The wind was fiercely hitting us and creating hurdles our way to the top. We were already at a height of 1800 ft. It was all foggy and we were all wet and tired but we didn't give up. We headed forward with zeal and newer enthusiasm. Krishna and I climbed up with our luggage. 

Reaching there on the top of the fifth patch, we were unable to firmly keep our feet together as the wind was blowing with all speed (approximately 90 kmph) and the fog surrounding us blindfolded us. It was difficult to see or hear anything. I was thinking of how to pull up other guys and luckily when I found a bolt, must have been fixed by some professional climbers. I tied myself round belly and was trying to pull up all others who were struggling to come up then all of a sudden wind accompanying rain lashed on us. It was so difficult to look down as the wind and rain were striking every move of ours. Some big rock chips fell on Jyothi and Ranga and that scared us more, but we didn't stop there. We accomplished our task.  

Climbing Blind
We trekked a few kilometers to reach Harishchandragad. We were actually coming closer and closer to nature. The beauty of nature revealed itself to us and kept many of us engrossed. We admired every beautiful flower we saw there. The wind blowing in gusts magnetized us much more with fog enveloping our way. It took 13 hours to completely cross Nalichi Vaat and reach Harischandragad, where we explored historical hill fort and caves. We spent night in a cave though we had a hotel located there on the top of the hill near the fort and temple.  

Early morning next day we started trekking around the cave-area. Walking for a few minutes, we again came across a rock patch. It was small narrow path on which railing were fixed that took us to Khireshwar.  Analyzing the height we were above from the ground, we took great care while moving on. It was difficult as the whole area was covered with fog.

A note of thanks:

Venkee organized this trip well. It would not have been possible to trek considering the danger involved in it. It took him 2-3 months to plan things out and properly come to a conclusion and find appropriate routes. Selection of trek members was done well, for it required climbers with zeal. It was a huge challenge to overcome the difficulties and Nalichi Vaat.

A million thanks to GHAC for making it possible to root out the fear factor.

Trek Members must have expertise in rock climbing and bouldering. To trek at Nalichi Vaat proper rock climbing equipments are indispensable.  Trekking Nalichi vaat in winter and rainy season is an act of do or die. Beginners or those scared of heights are strictly recommended to keep off.

Trekking stars -GHAC Members- Wild Star Venkee ,Jungle Star Jyothi , AllTime Star Arun Raj RockStar RangaBurning Star BharathKeka Star Krishna, Single Star Srikanth , Happy Star Hrishikesh , Sliding Star SaileshRebel Star Raghu , Anti Star AyushGround star Goutham)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Journey to Everest Base Camp - The dream trek of my life

It was in my school days, when attending an All India Rock climbing camp at Manali in the Himalayas that a dream of climbing the majestic Himalayas was sown.  Way back in 70s, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) was mostly the only way youngsters could experience adventure, camping, trekking and other outdoor activities. Things have changed today you have organisations like Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC) to help you fulfill your dreams for any kind of adventure.

Sports took centre stage for me when I was young and much later in life when my children grew up, that the passion towards trekking started to rekindle during holiday trips and religious temple treks. As family, we tried to find an organization who could take us on well planned treks, but we could never find one and the desire to enjoy treks was sadly not fulfilled.

In 2009, something wonderful happened when a friend suggested that to look up Hyderabad Adventure club now known as Great Hyderabad Adventure Club was planning a day trek to Bhongir and Yadigirigutta. I joined them and it came out to be an amazing trek and a chance to meet lots of young friends.

It was a great beginning and that dream run has been on since. Then came the first ever outstation trek of GHAC to Masinagudi with Rajan Patel as the organizer. This needs mention because in the lighter moods he commented on knowing my age to be above 50 that "We don’t carry baggages". After 3 years of regular trekking, 30 plus in number some leisure and some difficult I graduated by not being a baggage but becoming Sirji or a Fast not so old Man. I have enjoyed every experience and the growing with GHAC.

Why not? The crowning glory was the successful completion of Everest Base Camp Trek in May 2011, a dream as old as 38 years coming true. I thank GHAC ,for all the wonderful Treks and some very nice friends whom I consider brothers and sisters of the wild. I would love to name many but the list is as big as 5000 or more.

My journey with GHAC from a single day trek to a heroic 14 days trek to EBC has been an amazing experience. It was Growing Physically, Mentally and Emotionally.  After the completion of every trek, it has been the fuel which fired the desire and courage of attempting EBC. Though trained last year also, I was not sure of my confidence in the physical preparedness. I backed off from attempting then.

This year, despite business compulsions and other personal engagements, my family supported me in taking up the challenge. That gave me the will to train seriously and prepare myself, physically and mentally to a good shape. I needed to prepare much more than the other younger members, mostly to overcome the worry of getting altitude sickness which can stop your progress and can only mean a walk back to lower altitudes. The hard work while training paid off. I was one of the very few members who did not suffer altitude sickness or any other problems of exertion or physical pain. Instead I mostly was the first to finish every leg of our daily climbs and remained the pacesetter.  This kept me motivated and charged for all the 14 days and truly enjoyed the luxury of being fit even though age was never in my favour as compared to the other team members. 

The Everest Base Camp (EBC) as per Google is one of the best and the toughest treks. That involves walking and climbing 120 km through the majestic Himalayas to reach a height of 15,600 feet. It is at the foot of the Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world on the North face (Nepal). Reaching EBC was an out of the world experience which cannot be compared to any other happiness in life. The flora and fauna is so mesmerizing and beautiful that at the end of the 10 hour walk and gaining altitudes of 500 meters daily, you still cherish those moments of watching picture perfect nature. The sound of bells on the yaks, the chirping of beautiful birds and the whistling of the chilled hard breeze hitting your face is the only companion you have during those long walks. Though with a group, you are walking or climbing alone because every step of yours has to be measured and placed carefully to avoid any major fall which can be fatal if careless. For me, this journey was one of best space of my life where I could look within with continues chanting of Gayatri mantra and rejuvenate the spiritual bonding of self with the nature.      It was the true experience of Gamana vipasna, a Buddhist meditation meaning gamana (walking) and vipasna (meditation). A meditation I would conduct for others to practice attentive allowing one to be at ease with any external experience in the domain of physical, mental and emotional. 

The night halts were well cherished with the gift of Nepali hospitality in the lodges spaced on the hills as small hamlets with only solar power to support modern day technology. We never missed our phones, television, internet and all the other modern gadgets. Jokes and recalling the day’s experiences would make us laugh our way through the tiredness and pain, if any. Some of the members suffered acute altitude sickness including our group leader a very good friend Ali Razvi, my room partner who vomited more than 9 times and visited the corner for more than 4 times during a single night, but he still had the courage and will to start the climb the next day. Priyanka Singh, a young girl of our team continued to vomit and experienced hallucination, suffered bad appetite but continued the journey and finally succeeded. Few others had the same difficulty, but still went ahead to complete the expedition.   

The icing on the cake was our visit to the camp of Indian Airforce Expedition team attempting Mt. Everest at Khumbu Glacier few km up the EBC. The team consisted of women officers some of whom a few days later climbed the Everest. Ali Razvi, Priyanka, Tanvir and I were the lucky ones who had the honour of presenting the National flag to the leader as a token of respect and good luck and share a sumptuous lunch with them.

The GHAC Team at EBC
Our EBC expedition 2011 was also dedicated towards the fight against corruption as an extension to the walks we had with lots of placards and huge strength during our training at KBR. You can see me displaying the fight against corruption placard at EBC. I thank Diya and the wonderful members for the nice send off and the Heroic reception given on our successful return from the expedition.

I can go on and on, but let me have and treasure some of those wonderful moments as very personal memories to be told to my grandchildren and to friends who may have the patience.

Thank you GHAC for providing me this opportunity which I will cherish all my Life.  

Ranjan Sood.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy World Environment Day

World Environment Day 5th June is a United Nations designated day to increase worldwide awareness of environmental issues and to help motivate both individual and political action.  This year the theme is "Forests: Nature At Your Service".  On this occasion GHAC is conducting a clean-up drive at Durgam Cheruvu to ensure we remove all the litter from the lake surroundings and a bicycle ride to reduce the carbon emission and spread its awareness among our friends and family.

Further we all as adventure and nature lovers need to think about what more can be done on our each individual level to protect our environment and the planet.  The future of coming generations is in our hands.  We didn't inherit the Earth from our ancestors but it is only on loan from our children. We should strive to leave the planet better than we found it. There are several actions we can take to protect our planet and pass it to our future generations. For now let's avoid the big talk and think more as individuals as in You and Me and what we can do to protect our planet.

How about using public transport or using a bicycle or a shared car pool to drive to work from tomorrow.
How about asking for bills on email instead of the bank statement or telephone bill on paper.
How about reading your favorite newspaper online.
How about using cloth bags instead of plastics.
How about turning off lights when not in use.
How about taking the stairs instead of using the elevator
How about planting a tree in your neighborhood.
How about spreading the message on taking care of our environment among friends and family.

We will have to sacrifice a bit of our personal comfort for the preservation of nature and our surroundings.   Let our actions speak louder than our words.  I leave you with a thought and would love to hear from you on what more can we do  that will help save our environment.

Happy World Environment Day.

Diyanat Ali
Founder & Chief Organiser
Great Hyderabad Adventure Club