It was the summit day. I was up by 3 am. After a cup of steaming tea and some hot popping popcorns, Pramod bhaia helped me get into the crampons, gaiters and spikes and we set off by 3:30 am for the summit climb, with the snow trail lit by torchlight. Stars twinkled overhead ; the dead silence all around, in the dark of the night was broken only by the frequent whistles of Pramod bhaiya. And then, as luck would have it, the weather Gods decided to bless us with the first downpour of snow. That’s the thing about the Himalayas. The weather changes by the minute and you have absolutely no clue what you’re going to get next. The snowfall felt surreal. Maybe , we existed in a little Snow-globe , someone up there played with. One tiny jiggle, and everything started swirling inside the globe. The dancing snowflakes fell relentlessly , transforming the forest into my Winter Wonderland. Sometimes all it takes for love to fall in place, in this snow globe world, is a slight swish.
We started speculating if we could possibly make it to the summit , if this weather persisted, as their was fear of a snowstorm. We decided to push on. It was around 5 in the morning. Every direction I looked, huge mountains stood guard. There was not a soul to be seen or heard. It felt lonely. Magnificent , but lonely. Sweet melancholia. The sort that swallows you in conscious, intentional unhappiness, that perversely makes you happy.
The last few hours were testing. It was a 60 degree steep climb, with a deep ravine on one side, going all the way down. I had ropes with hooks tied to my waist. We would cut steps into the hard packed ice and snow with an ice axe,to help our ascent and to arrest our descent should we fall. We would use the trekking poles to keep us steady and to find snowbanks and holes in the path, that had become hidden. The fresh snowfall had made the trail much trickier. And the relentless cold winds made every small step, challenging. We pushed on, one step at a time. With every step, I got to know a little bit more about myself. I realised it was not the body you got to tame, but the mind. The faith in yourself is what keeps you going. And then after a gruelling ascent of 2 more hours, I took that one final step. I looked down. That’s when I understood. That’s when it all made sense. I was on top of the world. Seemed like it, at least. I looked around. We had a 360 degrees view of the Swargarohini, Kalanag , Bandarpooch peaks, the Gangotri, Yamunotri Ranges, the Rupin range and the Harki-dun valley range. It was around 7 in the morning. I watched the Sun rise in all its glory, from behind the sparkling snow-capped peaks. It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. The peaks of the mountains were resplendent with the changing colours of the sun-from blue to pink to orange and finally golden. I looked around at the endless, huge mountains, the coloured sky and the valley below, the formless pale nebula-clouds against the backdrop of infinity. The loneliness I experienced, the beauty of that solitude coupled with my sudden overwhelming surge of emotions left me a little out-of-depth. Time had stopped for me. I was in God’s own land. No rules existed in this part of the world. Everything in the universe seemed to have come together to cast a magic spell on our little world ; the kind of magic that wants to be held in the palm of the hand, defying all the laws of physics.
It was 24th of February,2018. The day I conquered myself and my fears.
That was the first night in 4 days that I got some sound sleep. For, I had found myself.
There are a thousand tales (not always told by idiots) waiting to be told, within all of us. There lies the strength of a thousand Suns within us. There are a thousand versions of us. We just need to delve within our own selves and find those. One step at a time.