Sar pass

Dairy Entry

Day 1 (May 15th)
Bad weather prevented my flight from landing in kullu; I could report at the base camp at kasol only on day 2.

Day 2
I reached Kasol at around 9 in the morning and immediately got ready for the acclimatization walk. It was quite an easy trek and we reached the mountain top in one and half hours. Post lunch hours witnessed light showers, because of which the bird watching session had to be cancelled and I spent most of the time rambling around Kasol. Kasol is a quaint little town in an unknown corner, inhabited only by the locals and a good amount of foreigners (90% from Israel and rest from other countries), who have taken refuge here to lead an unhurried life, spending most time on narcotics. The base camp in Kasol can easily accommodate up to 200 in its tents. With river Parvati ceaselessly flowing besides, there can be no better setting to start an expedition.

The river Parvati was in fact a very interesting and integral element of our trek. Every stream that we met on our way (almost once in every hour or two), made way through the rocks and glaciers to merge as one with the Parvati. The very sight of her can rejuvenate one from exhaustion. The small town Kasol almost resounded with her constant gushing sound. There was so much of silence in this sound, that makes one feel absolutely calm and in peace with every single thing around!

Day 3
Nothing special on this day either, except that i got to witness Parvati's charm in closer quarters. We walked a short distance into the jungles and had a training session on rappelling and rock climbing.

Day 4
This is the first day of the actual trek. We started at around 8 and boarded a bus (or rather its top) and reached the village Unch darr (unch - high, darr - line, referring to the stream that looks like a thin white line). From here we started walking towards our first camp site. At around eleven we reached the shila village. The village and its people are the backbone of this trek. Sixteen uninterrupted years of people from all over the country trekking these hidden terrains has almost given a lease of life to the people here. They follow us till the end, carrying the back packs of the old and 'not-so-strong', setting up stalls that sell omlettes, tea and maggie all along the way till the very last day, etc. The couple of thousands that they manage to earn during this short while of time can survive their families for a year. I would probably dedicate a separate blog to describe my encounters with these incredibly genuine and simple people.
Since we were still very close to Parvati, all through the way, we walked past numerous streams. The temperature was high and we were sweating profusely. After the lunch break under the tree shade, it took us almost an hour to reach the first camp site Guna Pani.
The Campsite offered a view of high peaks with snow caps. The place shone in bright green and all around the camp were shrubs from which bloomed purple iris flowers, which the locals called ‘shouti’. As is the rule of nature, in this part of the world, it started drizzling after 3 and went on till dark. I, along with a friend, walked through the jungles for an hour before sunset to catch some amazing glimpses of shacks perched on cliff tops, snow clad peaks and the tiny road, thousands of feet below our feet.

Day 5
The trek from Guna pani to Faul Pani had a very smooth start. We walked past lone houses on mountain tops, green wheat fields and gushing streams. Women folk sold butter milk (with huge lumps of butter in them) along the way.
All went well until the last 15 minutes of the trek, which involved climbing an extremely steep incline, with no proper hold. We all felt a great sense of achievement on completing it, although the sight of the camp site was not rewarding enough, as this is one of the most uncomfortable camps, with tents set upon inclined surface and hardly any space to even come out or walk around. The rains that evening worsened the situation. The loose clayey soil turned extremely slippery and even walking till the point where the food was served was an adventure in itself. Some people even considered skipping dinner to avoid walking into the jungle on the steep slippery terrain in the morning for nature’s calls.

Day 6
The rain had continued till late in the night on the previous day and that was not an encouraging fact for us. We started in the morning with lots of hope and some fear. In an hour we reached a point that seemed like a huge sign board with ‘stop’ sign, erected by the mountain gods! The surface had an incline of 60-70 degrees, with absolutely no rocks or trees to hold. It was wet and extremely slippery loose soil, every step forward on which takes you a few inches back, due to slipping. Some walked with confidence, most with caution and some like me with fear. I slipped at the tricky spot and the person behind me stood on top of my shoes to stop me from slipping further. For a few second I lay on back, with legs resting on ground and eyes facing the sky. It seemed impossible to return to walking position and all the smiling faces and words of encouragement seemed to fall into deaf ears. The guide gave me a hand and made me stand. He caught both my hands and brought me to the top in a blink. I was amazed at how confidence was the only thing that mattered – not the terrain, not the weather – only the courage to overcome fear!
The one slip taught me enough lessons to not slip anytime after that in the trek. Zirmi thatch, the camp site we reached, had beautiful meadows and a very close view of snow covered peaks. We rejoiced with a hot cup of soup and went into our tents to rest by sunset, when the peace was broken by heavy bolts of hail that stormed the place. In a moment the green meadows turned white. There was snow all around us and we enjoyed all of it only until we realized that there was enough water inside our tents, beneath our pants to sail paper boats! We immediately protected our rucksacks inside rain coats and also our sleeping bags. We realized that the snow that had accumulated would only melt and flood our tent more in the night. After some initial clearing, couple of us shifted to a relatively drier tent to give more space for the rest. Although there was water beneath, it was surprisingly comfortable inside the sleeping bag and we had a good night’s sleep.

Day 7

After Zirmi, we were too high on the mountains to find trees. We mostly walked trough meadows and rocky patches. There was a point quite similar to the ‘danger slip’, but most of us handled it gracefully. We even walked past intermittent snow patches. After the lunch break, the camp site was to be reached after 2 snow patches, the second one being more than 30 minutes long. I walked with caution and did not have any issues on snow. We weren’t making path on the ice with our shoes or stick, but rather placed our foot over footmarks of those who had already walked (the guide being the first). Hence sufficient caution is enough to manage on snow and technique did not matter.
The Tila lotni campsite was almost on ice and anything you saw around was white in color. Fortunately there was no snow storm here on that day, which saved us a lot of pain.
You could sit on a rock and admire the beauty of Sar pass from here for hours together. There were no clouds above. The clouds were way far below us - we had reached heaven in our bodies.

Day 8
This can easily be described as the best and the most eventful day of the trek. After all, this is when we actually reached our destination – the Sar pass. After a steep one hour climb on rocks, we were on ice and surrounded by fog.
All around us was pristine snow. The first couple of hours were mostly on plane surface, which made the experience better. And then we reached our lunch point, after taking a slide on the snow from the mountain top. Snow is pretty safe when it comes to sliding. You could easily loose control and do a few somersaults and yet totally enjoy it and emerge without a scratch!
After lunch was the never ending trek across the Biskeri pass, which needed undivided concentration and caution for almost 2 hours, as one small slip will take one a into thousand foot deep valley. We then took a long slide (of a couple of kilometers) and reached the plains, after bidding good bye to snow. A 2 hour walk took us to the Biskeri campsite.
Constant drizzling since the afternoon had brought the temperatures down to sub-zero and we found tough to even hold our plates to have food. 

Day 9
We woke up to see a clear sky and lot of sunlight. The view from Biskeri was fabulous -Meadows on one side, white mountains in the background and horses and sheep grazing all around. We started walking towards Bhandak Thatch and with all the experience we had gained in the past few days, we totally enjoyed each and every minute of it, without much physical exhaustion. There was also a small stretch, which we rappelled down.
When we reached Bhandak, a huge treat awaited us. Vast endless meadows and looming peaks – it looked picture perfect. The terrain was close to flat. We had an amazing time and slept much later than our usual bedtime of 8pm.

Day 10
Far down below, we could see road and houses and all other signs of civilization. All good things have to come to an end! We climbed down fast to reach the village and return back to our mundane worlds. By 12’o clock, we were walking on road. Walking felt like lying on a couch :). I went to Manikaran from there and after a comforting bath in the hot water springs, returned to the base camp at Kasol. The familiar tents and Parvati singing the same song, as she hit the rocks the mountains on her way- It felt like being shaken back to reality from a dream. I changed to fresh clothes after an entire week and ambled here and there aimlessly.

Day 11
Bus to Bhuntar – Bus to chandigarh – Train to delhi

Day 12

An agonizing 5 Hour wait in the airport and flight back to pune.


Day 2

Woods near Kasol

River Parvati

Day 3 Rappelling session

Day 4  Kids at Shila Village

Trail through the fields

Day 5
Peak seen from Fual Pani

Day 6
The camp at Zirmi

Day 7Pool of molten snow

From woods to meadows

And then to snow

Tents on Snow at Tila Lotni

Day 8
Begining of Sar pass

 Splenderous snow

Sliding back to foot hills.

 The Biskeri Camp site

Tents at Biskeri

Day 9Meadows at Bhandak Thatch

Day 10  
A scenic floor mill on the way.