My first turnback- Kuari Pass

Photo of My first turnback- Kuari Pass by Ankur Pathak

                          My First Turn Back- KUARI PASS

Turn back is a word which no mountaineer likes but sometimes this only word teaches you a lot. This is what happens with me as well on my last trek to KUARI Pass.

KUARI Pass is one of the famous trek near Auli in Uttrakhand and this December 2016, I was here for leading the treks via India Hikes. This Season I have already completed two successful KUARI Pass batches and this one was my last batch of this Season. As usual I was mentally and physically prepared for the trek and I got a team of 8 trekkers along with one guide for this last batch. The trekkers were also very decent and serious about Trekking. The first two days of trek was done nicely, but second day afternoon weather starts getting worst. Snowfall started and by evening the whole forest was covered under snow and my mind started thinking about the upcoming day (the Pass Day). My trekkers started asking me are we going to KUARI Pass tomorrow? as it's snowing regularly and it's freezing cold as well. I assured them we will try till the end to reach KUARI Pass, but Safety is our prime priority. I saw disappointment on few trekkers faces whether they will make it to KUARI Pass or not. Fortunately by late evening, the snowfall stopped. My Guide and I decided to take a final call for Pass Day on next day early morning depending on weather and terrain condition. I told my trekkers to prepare themselves mentally that we all will try to go KUARI Pass considering Safety first. Next day morning when I woke up I saw snow everywhere. It was not snowing but the weather was not in good mood, after discussing with my staff, I decided to go for KUARI Pass till the time weather is good or else we will turn back, Honestly I was not thinking of turn back because I have never returned from any summit or Pass Day and I was looking to complete this time as well. I gathered all trekkers and updated them accordingly and asked everyone to reach Lord Kurzon trail by 10.30 am, if we have to hit KUARI PASS, We also gave them micro spikes to walk on snow. We started our journey for the day, it was freezing cold and weather was not on our side, the time we reached Lord Kurzon trail it was already 11.00 am and Snowfall has already started. I was able to see KUARI Pass in front of me fading in the black clouds and suddenly it was all white out up there. There was a frozen river waiting for us half a km away from kurzon trail in order to reach KUARI Pass. Now the decision was on me to go ahead or to turn back, my trekkers were coming one by one behind me. I could feel the snowflakes on my face and the strong waves of wind. My first thought was let's give a chance may be weather will not turn worst. But then I turned back saw my few trekkers fighting with conditions and weather. I thought there is no way I can put anyone's life under risk, I stood there on kurzon trail for some time and I was looking up in the Sky. In the meantime another trekking group passes us and Sunlight came up from the sky and then I looked towards KUARI Pass which was still in black clouds and snow and I knew the weather will be worse in sometime. Then one of my trekkers asked me "Sir, are we going forward?" I said "No". It came out of my mouth and suddenly my mind said to me, "No, give a try", but I think somewhere from myself I got the answer and I decided to follow it. My trekkers were disheartened that coming that near to the Pass, we are turning back. But they respected my decision and we started descending. While going down the snow fall starts heavily and I looked back to KUARI and I was thinking I never turned back in my life, why I did this today? Did I make the right choice?Well after completing the trek and sending my trekkers back safely. I am still thinking I might be able to go and complete the Pass or might be not taking the risk was the right choice. Well time will surely tell me the correct answer.I always say "No one is bigger than these mountains" and what this trek taught me "Sometimes turn backs are also important in life".

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Photo of My first turnback- Kuari Pass 1/1 by Ankur Pathak
My First Turn back- KUARI PASS