I wrote this travelogue in number of posts. Purpose of writing is that it may help newbie mountaineers further. I got subject good subject and opportunity with Article competition announced. I didn’t have high resolution camera to snap good quality pictures. I tried to ink down everything I observed during the trek. Words are made more enjoyable for fun reading.
Words may be more exaggerated than real experience.
ANARCHY OF FEAR
Now bus had left Pune City. Glows and glitter of big shopping malls, movie theater like Pune Central, Big Bazzar, E-Square had vanished. Bus started running towards destination cutting the chilly winds and growing darkness. Team ‘Trekking Unlimited’ enjoyed Entakshari for some time and slept deeply. Silence was broken when one dog started barking in direction of bus. I opened eyes assuming we must have reached. Bus entered into one village where there was no electricity. I tucked through window. Closed doors and windows of huts, houses were flashed by headlights of our bus. Houses were built with hand made bricks and colored with lime. After staggering some distance though the village, bus stopped in front of school. There we are told to get up.
I came out of the bus. I saw 1.30 am into my watch. Even it was time of midnight. Stars were not much visible. Sky seemed to be cloudy. Mid-night was wholly captured by darkness and cold winds. I could just see dark shades of mountains spread around the horizons.
We entered into narrow verandah of the village school after jumping five feet wall. Everyone rolled out their mats. I slept wearing sweater to protect from chilly breezes flowing over.
My sound sleep broke by the mobile alarm of one guy besides me. It was 5.30 am. Dhumketu Treckers team found to be arrived. There was till darkness in the atmosphere. We packed our bags. There were no washrooms as well as latrines. Then, today all had to do morning duties in open environment. I took my Bislery bottle and walked some distance towards open farm.I could see two flashes of torches where other two other people were squatted. I did the same.
Within half an hour we all packed up our bags. Team moved toward one tea-shop on the Kalyan Road One edge of mountain found glowing red. Colors scattered around the sky gradually. We are given a tea biscuits and pack of two Puran polis(Maharastrian food, It is my favorite cuisine). All people brushed teeth and washed face using the bore well water besides that shop.
We gathered in front of Tea-shop where we were given instructions for the first time. One person from Dhumketu Treckers(DT), Shree came ahead to give some instructions.
He started,” We all here for Rappelling adventure. This event is not individual performance, but every one’s co-operation is necessary. One mistake may cause disaster to whole event. We expect you enjoy this event following all instructions given by us.” He handed over this speech to Cybage HR Harshada who was going to lead the team from Cybage. She continued the speech “Please, cooperate DT by following instructions given by them and let this event happen in most enjoyable way.’
Shree asked, “Is there anyone who has done rappelling previously?”
No one dared to answer. “If anyone has done it previously, he can tell his experience. It would help other to get the idea about rappelling.”
Tushar from our team came up and gave general idea about the rappelling. After having general instructions we crossed the road, and started trek. This was like pre-rappelling session! It was a warm up for the adventure. Team welcomed by awesome arc of rain-bow. Two ends of it were gripped into horizons. Some of us savedThese ephemeral colors into cameras. One of us tried to show rain-bow caught in hand in his snap. This is called creativity! We were divided within some groups leading towards the mountain, where we would start rappelling. I liked to be with the first group with Two People, These were DT team members. One girl walking with me said me that she done Rappelling two times before here. She told her name as ‘Bhavana’. I started firing questions about rappelling, ‘who..? where ? why ? everything about the trek.’
She supported me, “Don’t worry. We are here to look after every thing”
I felt relief thinking she will be with me to guide during the trek.
Our group was moving toward the range of Sahyadri. Gradually rising sun turned more and more bright and heat become unbearable. Now, facing the sun was impossible. On the way knee high meadows allured me to lye over it and take a fantastic snap. Sturdy bushes and plants most clinging to rock or hard soil. Beauty of forestry and splendor of green meadow had vanished because of lack of water. Crops were not cultivated in such barren infertile land. Moving through ups and downs, we reached the place, where we told to ‘STOP’. Danger Zone! This was the place from which we will start rappelling.
I found, we had reached highest point on this mountain. Here deep valley starts! Magnificence of valley is visible at this point. Little rivulet found passing through a rocky channel. Pellucid water finding way through various sized stones to fall from the highest point. Looking towards this transparency, Thirst multiplied hundred times. I drank handful of water from this stream. It had a taste of calcium. A single rock was spread widely. Volcanic eruption must have occurred sometime past there. Some holes are generated on the flat rocky surface. These were looking as if open-mouthed pots fixed on the ground. At this gorgeous spot, all took snaps with various backgrounds with various directions. One guy stretched himself over the rock, hands and legs as apart as possible like dead body from ‘Da Vinci Code’ with different sings scattered around.
One rope was fixed between both sides of stream. Different colored belts with metallic rectangular locks were hanged on the rope. On the edge of this valley, DT team was making arrangement for rappelling. Tripod was built with ‘four’ wooden poles! These were firmly fixed on ground. Two ropes passed over it. One end wound around one biggest heavy boulder besides and other end went down the valley. Some DT team members climbed down the valley. It was not visible where they went. I was bit curious to feel the dept of valley with hidden terror in mind. I tried to crawl little ahead. But Bhavana warned to stay away from the line of Control.
We are told to gather on the rocky slope. Shree was going to show demonstration of rappelling. He told us to remain silent for couple of minutes as tribute to the people died in Mumbai blast.
He explained, “If we become conscious about happenings around us, such events can be avoided. Here we are forty people. Awareness of thousands of people can fight and protect us from terrorism. If any one found suspicious activity, he will mail to us, news will spread all around and help will be provided quickly.”
After he continued to teach some mostly practiced ‘DOES and DONT’s about rappelling.
“When you start to climb down the mountain, your body must be perpendicular to the ridge. Wide distance must be kept within legs. Legs must not bend from knees. If you reduce the distance between legs, little wind can tilt your body and your head will hit the flank. Next moment you may not be identifiable to anyone. You seen, cartoon avatars can deform their body after bouncing anywhere. But human body once lost its size, nothing will help.”
My terror was growing. But I was listening to him carefully. So, No mistake should happen from me.
Bhavana armed with belt and metallic frame came up with hand glozes. She opened anchors and pushed rope inside one circle of eight-shaped anchor. Then pushed this anchor in another steel frame fixed to her waist.
“Now, here will be simple demo of rappelling. Bhavana had worn harnesses but not hand glozes yet. She did it intentionally.” That moment, I come to know these belts are called as ‘harnesses’.
‘Bhavana had done rappelling previously and she will show you how to rappel over the mountain. All people watched this demo carefully.”
After this demonstration, Team worn harnesses and hand glozes. Ajay, Tushar and two other DT people helped all to do it.
There were two sides from which rappelling started. Other one was at little higher position than my side. One by one person was moving to the tripod, waist was bolted with rope and he was sent down. I was not able to see clearly what was going on. As people in my team were reducing. I pushed myself towards the tripod.
Ajay Dhane was bolting the rope to the frame and was allowing each one let down the valley. It was not visible where were these are going, but the dept of valley threatened me lot. I was preparing hard to remove acrophobia from mind. I pushed my body little ahead to see what is going on. I seen one boy moved towards tripod. His face, which was smiling on the way, had turned red. Whole body was grasped by terror. He was told to move back. But he did opposite. He pushed ahead. I looked other side also. All people were overcastted with fear of death.
Moment by moment group size was reducing. I let other guys to move ahead. I was trying to avoid my number. But At last it was my turn. “No. I don’t want to die. I want to live”, I said myself. I remembered my parents. I hold locket in my hands for a moment. I closed my eyes and prayed my god. I always told my mummy every little bit stuff in my life. But this time I had not asked about this event. If I would told about this, she would never allow me to fall into such dangers. My heartbeats were growing. I asked myself, “Why do you dare to do this? Is your life too cheap? What are you really going to achieve by this adventure? Are you going to do any world record.. No. Isn’t it?” At this moment I repenting for one think repeatedly that I didn’t have my insurance.’ These people took risk form with clear signature below the page telling No one will be responsible for any injury or accident during this event. Now, what do I do? Shall I deny climbing down?”
“No, Umesh. STOP wherever you are”, someone murmured from deep inside my nerves. “First time in life, you started earning before three months back when you joined Cybage. This is start of your professional life. But here what are you going to achieve. Nothhing.! Those people trying to climb down the mountain didn’t have purpose in life. These people never going to understand futility of such ventures. Are you getting me.”
“Yes” I was feeling my second soul is right. Its negotiation had right justification.
“Then why do you dare to fall into such worthless endeavor? You need to do so many great things in life. And this moment you are trying to quit. So, don’t move ahead.” “Yes, man you are right.”
It was difficult to ponder over fact that my life will be hold by this silly rope!
“If any one doesn’t move back, Push his body and throw him down”, One of the DT members told Ajay. And my terror crossed the limit.”