Fierce icy winds were blowing and visibility ahead was reduced to few meters, beyond which it was complete whiteout. Ahead was our guide, Kezang marching towards the peak followed by my cousin Ankit bhaiya and below me were two companions puffing with every step in complete tiredness. We already had a late start in morning from the base camp due to rain. Time was running out with weather deteriorating further as we advanced towards the peak. To insulate my face I had bandanna covering almost entire face except goggle on eyes. Every step felt a ton. After taking just 2-3 steps I required to remove bandanna to suck in the air to gain breath in already oxygen starved thin air. It took almost 2 hrs to complete the last 1 km of stretch. Finally the peak of Mt Kanamo at 4pm was greeted by 5 crazed souls out of the 10, who started the ascent yesterday(no worries! the rest 5 just turned back from the base camp due to headache and troubled breathing). Yeah, despite bad weather and late timing, the summit was done. We were at 19000 ft, easily the highest anyone of us ever had (almost at 65% altitude of Everest). But what was equally celebrating that one of our companion for whom it was his very first trek, panting and wearing somehow he reached only due to his unalloyed enthusiasm.
Rewinding 2 month backs when I and Ankit bhaiya were planning an extended backpacking trip, both of us had already been to Ladakh. Somehow we wanted to relish the similar landscape but less touristy. Spiti Valley became our obvious choice. Tucked along the north eastern side of Himachal at 125000ft, Spiti is a cold desert mountain valley with treacherous road connecting via Lahaul side from Manali to Kaza, headquarter and main town of Spiti . One can also reach Kaza via Shimla, the Kinnaur side gateway, thereby completing the circuit till Manali. And thus our plan was shaped:
Day1 : Shimla to Peo by bus
Day2 : Peo to Kaza by bus, ride to Mud by rented bike
Day3 : Mud -> Dhankar -> Hikkim -> Komic -> Langza
Day4: Ki -> Kibber -> Chicham ->Kaza, drop the bike and back to Kibber by bus
Day5& 6: Trek to Mt kanamo and back to Kaza
Day7: Kaza to Chandrataal Lake
Day8: Back to Manali -> Gurgaon
Now when I look back, I realize that it was our sheer frenzy that we had jam packed our itinerary without realizing how physically demanding it was. We only had pre booked tickets for bus from Delhi to Shimla, followed by Shimla to Recong Peo.