Search Search... HOME ABOUT US TREKS BIKE TRIPS EXPEDITIONS DH-DIARIES CONTACT US X A Story of Kalang BLACK PEAK EXPEDITION WHERE ARE GOING.... ?? KALANG... BLACK PEAK....!!! Yes, this was the question which was in everyone’s mount on 6th October 2021. I was on my way to Sankri from Dehradun and the first time I heard this question was in Mori and it kept on repeating over and again and continued till we reached Sankri. Our transporter and our guide from Discovery hike had only one answer to it and that was ‘Kalanag/The Black Peak. Yes, we were going on an expedition to the mighty Black Peak or as the locals call it Kalanag. Talking about Kalanag, a one-of-a-kind mountain with a summit height of 6387 mtr’s (20955 ft’s) above the sea level. The tallest and mysterious mountain in the Bandarpunch (Saraswati) mountain range of the Garhwal Himalayas, others being Saraswati Devi Parvat (Bandarpunch I, 6,316 m) and Hanuman Parvat (White Peak or Bandarpunch II, 6,102 m). it takes around 15 day to complete this expedition provided the conditions and the cosmos are in your favor. Here I am trying my best to provide you with the details and share bits of my experience on my very first expedition of my life. Starting from the preparation, life while on expedition, trails, conditions, challenges (Physical and mental) and not to forget the enjoyments we had during this entire expedition. Iwas declining from Kedharkanta trek and was chatting with guide and we were discussing about other treks which can be done around the region and that was the first time I heard the name of Black Peak, the Kalanag and the name just stuck my head. I came back and started doing some research about the peak and started to just gather information about it. there are not many videos or information available online about this peak, you will find few videos on youtube and also few articles on it but trust me they don’t do any justice to what actually you will experience in person. You can only picturize the entire event for about 5% and rest 95% must be only experienced. Without dragging it much, will start with my experience and to make it easier I have divided this article into small sets covering my Planning, Preparation, Days of Expedition (most important) and conclusion. Note: before you continue to read, I request you to kindly google, read and understand the difference between a trek and expedition. This will help you in avoiding at least 30% of your mistakes right away and also help you to make a quick decision and know what you are about to sign up for. PLANNING Once I had all the information that I could gather, I decided to go on this expedition and the first thing was to search for an operator who is organizing the expedition and you start searching, you will find a bunch of operators who claim to be the best, but it’s you who has to be very careful in deciding in who’s hand you are willing to give your life for the entire duration of the expedition. I was lucky on this part as I had a name suggested by my previous guide but still, I did my research on them. The few things which you have to check while looking for the guide are, are they local (trust me locals have the best info), how old is the company, who may peak, passes and hikes do they operate, achievements accomplished by their team, Safety measures, the experience of the leads, technical support team, etc., so after all the readings for hours, I Froze on Discovery Hike, found by Ganga Singh and Co-founder Prakash Singh. They are the best in the business. Please do read about the company and the founders on their website and i assure you that each word written there is true. So, it was in June 2021, I first made a call to Ganga Bhai to check on the Black Peak expedition and he just told me that they have a batch for June and October and I just took the information and told him that I will get back after couple of months as I was not sure of doing it. then in august 2021 I called him again and confirmed on the plan and he along with his team laid out an itinerary and sent it to us and the expedition was fixed to start on 6th October 2021 from Sankri with 4 climbers including me and a team of 9 guides to help us complete this expedition. The rest was handled by the team Discovery Hike, took care of the rest which included our transportation from Dehradun to Dehradun, stay throughout the expedition (you will be staying in tents), food throughout expedition, safety gears necessary for expedition, well experienced leads and guides, registration at IMF, expedition, and forest entry fee and the most important of all ‘my safety’. PREPARATION In my experience, no matter how hard and well you prepare yourself you still fall short of something or the other on such expeditions but the most important thing of all is to prepare yourself mentally and physically to go for that extra mile when its required and the rest assured other things will fall in place. But if a guy like me can do it, then any one with the zeal for adventure can do it as well. Talking about preparation you will have to look at many aspects like your personal fitness, bags to carry, shoes, soaks, hiking pole, medication, things to eat and the cloths. My preparation started 3 months before the expedition, but still ended up preparing daily during my expedition. So I am providing few key notes in each category for you guys to take a note of so that you don’t end up or avoid making few mistakes. PHYSICAL PREPARATION Iam not a regular hiker, most of my treks were done in the south of India and only two normal treks in Uttarakhand (Har-ki-Dun and Kedharkantha) and straight away going for an expedition may sound stupid, but they want and that unknown attraction towards this peak made me do all that I did. I just workout to keep my fitness box ticked but from the time I enrolled for this expedition I had to change my workout routine and a few of my habits to make sure I at least sustain for half the expedition (yes, this was my mindset). With no experience of the expedition and not done a single high-altitude trek and not having the basic knowledge about mountaineering but all that I had was the confidence given by team Discovery Hike. The first thing I started to work on was my core muscles, especially my thighs, knee ankle, hips, and shoulders. You will need these three muscles to support you all the time during the expedition, so make sure you take care of them. So, what did I do differently to train then? Physical Preparation Running for at least 3 KM a day. Do weighted squats and Lunges Do Cross trainer with level 5 to 12 every alternative day’s for at least 40 min Do cross fitness with bodyweight for at least 2 days a week to keep your heart rate checked Basic breathing exercise Weighted shoulder exercise Deadlift and hyperextension to strengthen your back. Body stretching after training is a must. Long-distance walking with your loaded hiking bag (take more or incline routes) You can always add extra workouts to your comfort. MENTAL PREPARATION The only thing and the best thing for your mental preparation is to stay calm, relaxed, enjoy the moments, talk with your teammates and take one day at a time. Trust me this will do the job. BAGS AND GEARS So, as I said earlier, me having no knowledge of expedition or mountaineering. It was a challenge for me to pick the right gears for this. all I had was to read about on the internet and guess what’s best and what would work but at times too much information would be damaging as well and that’s what happened in my case. So, the basic rule of any high-altitude treks or expedition is to keep yourself DRY, WARM, and HYDRATED all time and you will need to carry things that will help you do that. As we will know mountaineering is an expensive sport. You will have to shell out quite a bit to purchase the right gears and in India, you have very limited options to choose from and the only name which comes to your mind when we think of any nonregular sports is Decathlon. Yes, even I started to buy my gears from them. Below is the list of gears that I actually had from my previous treks and which I bought from Decathlon. Snow Hiking Shoes (SH520 X-Warm Mid Ankle) Lower lining (Hiking Fleece Tights MT100) Upper Fleece (Hiking Fleece Jacket MH120) Hiking Pant (Forclaz WP, WB mountain trekking Trouser MT900) Snow Hiking Pant (Warm Water Repellent Hiking Trousers SH100 Ultra Warm Snow Hiking Jacket (SH100 X-Warm -10-degree water repellent) First layer warm gloves (Liner Gloves Trek 100) Gloves 1 (Ski Gloves 100) Gloves 2 (On-Piste Ski Gloves 100) Torch (On night 100 – 80 Lumen Black) Socks (MH500) 5 pares Poncho (Trek 150 Rain Poncho) Hiking pole (Quechua SH500 All-Season) So these are the things which I bought from Decathlon and this cost me close to INR 40K (after waiting for the discount season). Apart from the above items, you will also need a good hiking bag, regular Track pants, T-shirts, Thermal wear, and water bottles as your basic requirements for which I had to shell out another 6k to 8k (if you are not so brand specific). So, the first and the most important thing you need to look for is a good hiking bag that can pack all these things and still be light on your back and hips. I had no clue about the importance of the bag and had carried all these in a normal 75 ltr hiking bag which I had used for my earlier treks. Although it sustained for the entire expedition, I had to pay the price of carrying a heavy load on my shoulder and had to keep on repacking by stuff as leaving things at base camps as an when possible to make it lighter on the way. So please make sure you buy a proper bag that is made for professional hiking and expedition no matter if you have to shell out a lot on the bag. One such bag is Osprey Aether 70 (you have different sizes to fit your body types and they even have a separate model for women). I am recommending this bag after a lot of research. When it comes to bags it’s not about how much you can fill in, but it’s about how much you can carry and how easy and light they make you feel while you carry. There are other brands as well in the market which you can choose from but please do your research. Coming to the Jackets, Pants and gloves which are other important things as they are much needed to keep you warm and dry at all conditions. They will be part of your body for the entire duration of the expedition. Though I bought all my products from Decathlon I strongly say that not all products of Decathlon under the brand QUECHUA are up to the mark. Please don’t go by their advertisement and what the salesperson on the floor tells you. Especially with the Jacket. The one which I bought claimed that it can sustain up to -10 but I had to wear 2 extra layers apart from the normal 3 layers to sustain the cold. So please look for a proper down, waterproof, wind blocker Jackets when you go on expedition. I would suggest you carry 1 light weight, softshell down jacket for regular wear and 1 Hard-shell, waterproof, down or insulated jacket for harsh conditions. The same things apply to your gloves as well. Shell out a little more on the gloves and make sure they have a wrist looking strap to lock the warmth, this is at most requirement. You can still manage with the pants which I had bought. With the outer layers covered, now let’s talk about the inner layers. For the first 4 days as the weather was bright and shiny during the day and slightly colder during the evening and dint need extra layering till night. We could manage with just one thermal wear as a base layer then a t-shirt and a jacket for upper and just a thermal lower and one layer of socks during night. During the day I just wore a full sleeves quick-dry T-shirt and the jacket handy for the quick draw during the walk in the early evening. The same continued till we reached the base camp. Post that I always wore a full sleeves quick dry t-shirt and a jacket all time and just a hiking pant as a lower during day and as soon as we reach the next camp site we used to do a little stretching have our refreshments and change over for the evening and night with at 4 layer on top (Thermal upper, T-shirt, Fleece and a Jacket) and a two layer for your lower (Thermal Lower and a track pant) and at least two to three layers of socks (two pairs of normal socks covered with a full length woolen socks). Along with this I also wore a thick woolen skull cap and warm liner gloves to keep my ears and palms covered and warm. I noticed that everyone has different body types and different levels of resistance to cold differ from person to person, so I suggest you carry clothes accordingly. Specially the layering which you need for the night as temperature drops rapidly, and you would not like to wake up in the night and look for your cloths in the tent with a head torch on. Now let’s talk about my packing. Below is the list of things which are carried in my backpack. I strongly suggest carrying as minimum and only essentials in your backpack as even 100 gms matters when you start hiking in such trails and conditions. I was always wanted to reduce as much as weight possible. Special note to people who are concerned about getting dressed and look pretty for pictures. No matter how many pictures or videos you take you will only be seen wearing a single jacket most of the time and no one can make out how dirty you are on a photo or video and no one around will bother or even care if you are wearing the same t-shirt for 3 days because everyone understands the situation and they will in the same boat. Just to let you know I had just carried 4 t-shirts and 2 pants for the entire expedition, and I had to even drop 3 t-shirts and one pant at the base camp and continue with only one set for the rest of the trek till we returned to base camp and my clothes were still neat. So, what all had I packed: 4 quick dry t-shirts 2 hiking pants 1 snow hiking pant 2 set of thermal wear (top and bottom) 1 Fleece jacket 2 pairs of Ski gloves 1 pair of liner gloves 1 full body poncho 8 pairs of socks 1 pair of full-length woolen socks 5 inner wear 2 thick skull caps 2 bandannas 5 inner wear 1 polarized sun glass 1 hiking pole 1 thermal water bottle 1 normal water bottle 1 20000 mAh power bank and charging cables 1 Gopro with selfie stick and few other mounts 2 head torches with 3 extra battery 2 big pouches of wet tissues One lunch box (to pack your daily lunch) Small medical kit (list of medicines at the end of the article) One pouch with basic toiletries Half kg of dry fruits and nuts 8 to 10 protein bar or chocolates 2 knee supporters 1 back supporter strap (I have slight issue with my lower back) 1 pair of flip flops Yes, I started my expedition with all this items on my back and the approx. weight of my bag was 8 to 9 Kilo or slightly more but once I reached the base camp I had to dump 60% of what I carried at the base camp and add other essential things like sleeping bag, snow shows, harness, crampons, gaiters and helmet to your backpack for the rest of your journey and the weight of the bag will slightly increase. That the main reason you will need a good hiking bag which has dedicated space for all these gears and still be light on your shoulders and back. A good bag and shoe can reduce half of your expedition burden and you will enjoy the trails in a better way. Most importantly you will get more time to take pictures and videos. So having most of the things ticked I was finally ready for my very first expedition. I went sleepless the previous night only thinking about how this is going to be and was waiting to board my flight on 5th October 2021 and reach Dehradun on same day. We were supposed to be picked up by Team Discovery Hike the next day morning and take us to Sankri which was 8 hour’s drive from Dehradun. After all the planning, organizing and waiting finally the day had come to experience one of the most awaited event of my life. The Black Peak Expedition with Discovery Hike. Now it’s time to talk about the most exciting part. A 15 day’s long expedition, with 4 climbers, 9 crew members and not to forget the 3 mules and their handlers. So, let’s start. DAY 1: 6TH OCTOBER 2021, DEHRADUN TO SANKRI Small town, which is also the base camp for 40+ treks and Expeditions, its located at an altitude of 1950 mtr’s / 6398 feet’s) Black Peak Expedition This morning we were asked to meet the team Discovery Hike and other fellow climbers near Dehradun Railway station at 6.30 AM and as asked I was already with my bags and started to walk towards the meeting point and after reaching there, I met Prakash Bhai (Co-founder of Discovery hike) and Hari Bhai (a climber his self and our Chief Chef) and Chandraveer Singh, our other climber. There was a formal introduction of all 4 and without wasting time we started towards Sankri around 7.15 AM. it was 8 long hours of drive to reach Sankri and it was not boring at all. At the start, all was quiet as we were still half awake and the weather was perfect for a long sleep. When I was just about to find a perfect position to dive deep into sleep, we reached our first pit stop for the day. we stopped at Kempty which is known for its waterfalls and a perfect stopover for a breakfast. No matter which operator you chose and if you picked up from Dehradun and going to Sankri. This will be the first stop. During the peak season, this place will be more crowded than you can ever expect. So, we quickly finished our breakfast and after having a cup of lemon tea, all our sleep had gone, and the mouths had opened. We started to understand more about each other’s professional life, past experience, and the journey went on. We passed through small and narrow towns, a river flowing beside you all the time, driving through the curves of pine forest and roads that lead you straight into the heart of the mountains. After reaching the mid-way we stopped at a town where we had to collect a few gears for the expedition and buy some groceries for the expedition. That’s when I first heard someone asking, “Where are you Going” and the immediate response to that was Kalanag…! And from there this question was in the air till we reached Sankri. 1 hour from there we stopped for lunch. I small eatery just beside Tons river. This is where I took out my phone for the first picture. You can’t resist taking pics in this place. Standing on the banks of the river, surrounded by verdant fields of rice and forested hills of pine and deodar. After spending almost an hour here we started again towards Sankri. Finally, at around 4.30 or 5.00 PM we reached Sankri. At the arrival we were welcomed by the team discovery hike and without further delay we were allocated our tents and were asked to fresh up and meet at the common area for tea and snacks. After resting for about 30 min and getting fresh, we went to the common are for our tea and snacks. While walking down I just noticed the surrounding of the camp site which was perfectly placed right in the midst of nature and without disturbing the absolute beauty of the surrounding. We walked into the dining area and saw just about everyone of team discovery hike busy with gathering stuffs and arranging things. Prakash bhai helped us with tea and snacks and just then we heard a gurgling voice saying, “Hello Sir” and that was of Ganga Bhai (Founder of discovery hike) with a huge bag on his back. He wished us and got busy with instructing things to other. We were done with our tea and were looking at the arrangements the team was making for the expedition. Gathering gears, groceries, tents fuels and what not. We were just admiring the efforts of the team and at side Chandraveer was explaining us about the gears and the uses of it. we were still waiting for our 4th climber who was still not in the picture. But later we were informed that we will be joining us a bit late. Then we went back to the tents for some rest and were told that we will meet the complete crew and climbers during dinner and there will be a briefing post dinner. At around 7.30 we are called for dinner and we all again assembled in the dining area and the entire crew was right there and for the first time we met our crew, not just crew but our family for next 15 days. Crew Discovery Hike: Ganga Singh Rana (Lead Climber) Prakash Singh Rana (Lead Climber) Satish Singh (Technical lead Climber) Harish (Chef and Climber) Arjun Bhai (The Hulk of the crew) And few other to join on the way. Along with dinner we had a small introduction of the crew and we are clearly briefed about all the whereabouts of the expedition. Ganga Bhai provided the information on what to expect, do’s and don’t’s of the expedition and Satish Bhai explained about to technical aspects and challenges. The entire discussion when on for an hour and half and then we broke for dinner. Just then comes our 4th partner in crime Deepak Sagar our 4th climber was finally home. After a tummy full of delicious 4-course meal came a form which was supposed to be signed. Yes, the most important part before any Treks or expedition you will have to sign a declaration form, which summarizes taking complete ownership and responsibility of things that may occur while experiencing such adventure sports. We all happily signed it and called it a day. Went back to our tents to prepare our bags for the expedition. After a quick repacking we went to bed with a picture of the Black peak in mind. We had to get up early the next morning to have our last hot water and full bath. DAY 2: 7TH OCTOBER 2021, SANKRI TO TALUK TO OSLA (Taluka, altitude of 1950 mtr’s / 6398 feet’s, Osla, altitude: 2590 mtr’s/ 8498, walk distance: 21 KM) Black Peak Expedition This was the day we have been waiting for from last 3 months, woke up at 7.30 AM to misty morning, took our last hot water shower, packed up and ready to go. We assembled at dining area for our breakfast and after a tasty food and a cup of hot black tea we were all pumped to start the day. we were given our lunch box packed with veg pulao, banana and a 5-start chocolate. Our ride till Taluka was already packed and was waiting for us to board. Without wasting anytime, we took few group pics and hopped on to our ride with lot of noise at around 9.00 AM. But we were told that there might be a land slide on the way, and we might have to change our ride in midway. We stated to drive from Sankri to Taluka which is about 7 KM and you take the normal village connecting route, it’s a pleasant but bumpy route which will take about 45 min to an hour (depending on the road condition). You will get a beautiful view of the Sankri town, the valley’s covered with tall pine trees and streams crossing over. Just after 30 mins of our journey we had to stop as the connecting route was cut due to land slid. We had to get off the vehicle, unload all the supplies and bags and cross over the road by foot and wait on the other side for another vehicle to pick us up. It’s was a fresh slide which we had to cross over. It was all slippery and wet. We just carried our bags and crossed over and the crew was busy moving the heavy load. After 30 min’s past, our ride had still not arrived and one of the team members had to walk to the town to check what had happened and came to know that there was another landslide on the other side as well which had stopped our vehicle. So, without wasting any time we decided to walk the remaining 4 KM to reach Taluka. It’s was a bright and shiny day, and we couldn’t wait to warm ourselves. we started our trek on a flat village trail and after an hour of walk, we reached Taluka. I must say it’s a very pretty village with traditional wooden houses and small doors and windows, children running around the streets and fields of “ram dhana” (a kind of pink grain when processed can be used as like wheat). We reached our assembly point, and our crew was all set and welcomed us with a cup of tea. While we finished our tea, the team had already sent few Mules to carry the rest of the load and we dint had to wait for them. So, we had finally reached our trek start point after walking 4 KM and our next destination for the day was 21 KM away. We picked up our bags, cheered ourselves calling out “Har Har Mahadev” and right foot forward. The trail was normal, for first few minutes we walked through the village, crossed the dry and rocky riverbeds then slowly the trail gets narrow, and you enter the sloppy, slippery and enter the pine forest. For most of the journey you will walk beside Supin river flowing with all its glory and I’ts like a perfect child’s play or like a roller-coaster ride. At times you will have to slow down while you get up the hills and just before you start taking deep breaths, there is decline in the trail. The entire trail is a mix of incline and decline climbing. The best part is you will always be in the shades of tall pine trees and you will not need to open your water bottle throughout your trek today, you will at least find one stream for every 500 meters providing you with fresh, chilled and natural mineral water. The trails are slippery and rocky so make sure you watch your step. The entire trail looks easy for a regular hiker and moderate for an occasional hiker like me. After about 3 hours of hiking, we stopped for our lunch and took a break for about 15 min post lunch and started off. The weather was so perfect, the trail was shady, and the company was joyful. What best can you expect for a perfect hike? We started off and now for most of the trail ahead will be slightly incline, but very pleasant. we still had to cover 13 KM to reach our destination. After continues walking through the pine hills, collecting some walnuts on our way and taking small breaks at couple of tea shops on the way. We reach a small village at about 4 KM away from Olsa and its was around 3.30 PM. Looking at the situation and our conditions. The crew quickly changes the plan and decided to shift the camp site form Osla to Seema (the last village a little further to Osla). As we still had some energy and a lot of day light left, we agreed and continued further to Seema. After an hour of steep walking at about 6:00 PM we reach Seema and the bonus for walking few extra miles was that we got to spend that night in an unfinished wooden house rather than a regular tent. So, we ended up walking 24 KM on our first day to reach out first destination. After reaching there we quickly did some stretching’s and got into our warm cloths as the evenings began to get colder. The view from the camp was amazing. You could see the entire Osla village hanging on the hills, waterfall, right through the middle of the mountain and the ferocious river Supin flowing right next to the cottage. The crew was busy preparing dinner for us while we were enjoying the beauty of campsite and sipping tea. Around 8.30 PM we were called for dinned and were surprised looking at the menu. Hot roti’s served straight from the pan with vegetable subzi, rice with dal fry and jamoon for desserts. Trust me you will be fooling yourself if you are expecting anything better than this. after a good meal we stepped out for a chit chat and noticed the sky was much clear and starts were much brighter. We spent some time gazing at the open sky and spotting couple of shooting starts. After a long day of walk and a tummy full of tasty food and a warm shelter, it was time to call it as day and crash. Our adventure for the next day was waiting for us. DAY 3: 8TH OCTOBER 2021, OSLA/SEEMA TO RUINSARA TAL (Osla, altitude: 2590 mtr’s/ 8,498 feet’s, Ruinsara Tal, altitude: 3350 mtr’s/ 10,991 feet’s, walk distance: 14 KM) Black Peak Expedition Black Peak Expedition Anew day, with a new shine and a lot of hopes. After a peaceful and cosey sleep at our last luxury half done wood house, we woke up to pleasant shiny day. quickly finished our morning duties and packed our bags. We all assembled for breakfast and a short briefing about the day’s trails by the crew. At about 9.30 AM, after a tummy full of yummy breakfast (Toasts, Jam, butter, Paratha, pickles, and egg) and a packed lunch (Roti rolls, 5 Star chocolate, egg and a banana) we were all up and running. The trail starts with a flat, rocky, wet surface passing through the end of the village loads, fields of Ram Dhana and the Supin river slowing right next to you. We passed few bridges, crossed the little streams, had a glance of few amazing waterfalls, and went through the grassy lands, when we were just about to enter a maple forest the clouds suddenly uncovered the first view of our destination, The Peaks of Bandarpunch range. The tall white mysteries looking peak Bandarpunch 1 and right behind was our sturdy Kalanag. This was the moment I realized that the love at first sight was actually true. The excitement just got doubled just at one glance. We quickly took few pictures at the spot and started to walk further. Right after that was a steep decline through the maple forest which will take you close to the Supin river and you will cross it over on old style wooden bridge. I bet you will not cross it unless you take few pictures and videos there, so have your camera pulled out. the trails ahead still remained flat and rocky till you reach a tea shop, up to here you would have covered close to 3KM. after 30 to 40 min of walk post crossing the tea shop is then the trail start getting narrow and the gradual incline begins, rest of the journey will you be walking in the shades of the forest with a combination of incline and decline climbing. we were crossing over the hills horizontally through the forest, catching few picture-perfect glimpses of valleys on the other side. At about 1.30 PM we stopped for our lunch, next to a small stream, finished our roti roll which Hari Bhai had packed it with all the love, took rest for 15min and continued of walk. There are well laid/marked tracks throughout, you will also cross many streams and walk right under waterfalls. For the last portion of the trails, we entered a small meadow and at a distance we could see a small spread of dry tree forest and were told that our destination for the day is right past that forest. At this point we had completed 10 KM and still 4 Km to finish, the end part of the day was incline, we had to walk through huge rocks, cross the dry forest. Just about when our last energy pack was about to burn out, we caught the sight of our little yellow tents pitched on the grassy beds, right next to the rocky banks of the Ruinsara Tal. Trust me after a long walk and desire to reach the destination. The glimpse of your tent gives you the at most satisfaction at the moment. We just crashed our bags at the sight and the crew was ready with all the set ups for us to relax and refresh. Ganga Bhai and Hari Bhai were waiting for us with the hot herbal tea made of freshly plucked herbs on the way and ever tasty and magical veg cutlet which made our taste buds cry with joy. We had rest of the evening for ourselves. we did some stretching, changed over to warm cloths and took a walk to the tal which was just about 100 mtr’s from our tent. The camp site was perfectly pitched at the banks of the sacred Ruinsara Tal, surrounded by the gigantic glaciers of Swargarohini and Bandarpunch rages, Ruinsara Tal receives its fillings directly from the glaciers around it, besieged by the alpine vegetation and rosy, red rhododendrons, the Ruinsara Tal is considered to be sacred by the locals. The locals residing in this area believe that they are the descendants of Kauravas and have built temples in their honor. According to the legends, this is the route that the eldest Pandava brother, Yudishtra took while heading to Swargarohini, the way to heaven. With all this information and we just sat by the lake, enjoyed every sight, and were soaked in all that mountain vibes around. When we returned to the tent our delicious dinner was ready and we could not wait to munch on it. around 8.30 PM we were all done and called it a day. we went back to our cosey tents got into out sleeping bags and even before we realized we well asleep. DAY 4: 9TH OCTOBER 2021, RUINSARA TAL TO KIARKOTI (Ruinsara Tal, altitude: 3350 mtr’s/ 10,991 feet’s, Kiarkoti /Base Camp, altitude: 3620 mtr’s/ 11,877 feet’s, walk distance: 09 KM) Black Peak Expedition The nights were getting colder, so we had to wait till the sun was up so we could step out of our tent that day morning, at around 7:30 AM the rays started to shine bright on the tents and so we started to finish our daily rituals at about 8:30 AM while having a breakfast and a morning briefing we were told that today’s distance would be 9 km and trust me that was a huge sense of relief and when everyone started to relax thinking it was just 9 km and it was an easy walk compare to what we had covered in last two days, Ganga bhai made a statement saying ‘Pehle poncho phir dekhenge’ this was the first note of caution on how the trails ahead would be. We finished our breakfast and pack our bags with lunch and started off the day ‘s journey around 9:15 AM. We first went to Ruinsara Tal, took some pictures of the beautiful morning view of the lake then started walking upwards, to start with the trail was slightly incline we started walking right in between the valleys and the boulders rocks it was a fabulous view on both the sides as we were passing through the mountains, it looked like as if we were entering the heart of the mountain. It was a steep climb for some distance, crossing over big boulders. At times we walked on a flat grassland and at times we had to walk steep and right on the edge of a mountain crossing it horizontally. The trail starts getting narrow and we would even find it difficult to stay on track if you are far behind. Just about an hour walk we came to a point when we had to cross the landslide porn area. This is when we realized what ganga bhai meant when he made that statement. This was our first crossing and by the looks of it was terrible. I could only see rocks, loose soil, falling gravels and we are standing right at the edge of a cliff and our super guides asking us to take the steps. We had to literally get into a landslide area without any trail and worst part was we were supposed to climb down for about 150mtrs and then climb up around 200 mtrs. This was a first hit of a kind. But with our super guides we just went for it. We had to hold on to the rocks pick a spot for the steps and watch out on what’s falling on you. We dint look down nor up not even ahead. Just went step by step and be as quick as possible, without even realizing we had crossed the side and were standing at the edge of the next mountain. The next trail for a quite long will be on the open, sloppy grassland of the hills, you will be walking horizontally on the edges of the mountains. It’s like always walking on the cliff with river Rupin flowing at the bottom of the hill and the beauty view of the gigantic hills, open valleys, free flowing streams from the glaciers on the other side. It will be a long up and down walk crossing hill after hill. You will be crossing through the boulders along with flowing water directly from the glaciers, when you arrive at such points it indicates the end of a mountain and the beginning of the other. The trails are majorly incline and narrow throughout and the boulders adds up to make your journey more challenging. Make sure that you watch your steps and not sprain your ankles. At times you will have to take steps of shaky rocks. As you continue walking you can clearly notice change in the vegetation as the forest areas keeps reducing and the plan grassland starts to takeover. The last stretch for about 3km is completely incline and filled with huge boulders which makes the journey very tiring. But just about the time when we were struggling to take steps and gasping for deep breath, we caught the sight of our bright yellow tents pitched right under the foothills of the Swargarohini. The perfect first view of our base camp. It was just like a place from a fairy tale. With all the left-out energy we just rushed to reach. We sat down for few minutes, stretched our bodies and our tea and snacks were read. We all sat down and started to absorb the magical vibes of the mountains. Every sight was mesmerizing. with Swargarohini at back and the mysterious Bandarpunch 1 and 2 in front of our tent and the majestic Kalanag right beside it. Our tent was pitched right next a small stream flowing straight from Swargarohini which was our last source of water and our last point of water in liquid state. The evening stated to get colder as the sun went down. We had to quickly add some extra layers than previous night to stay warm. We decided to have our dinner together inside the kitchen tent just to warm ourselves in front of the stove. While having dinner we started discussion on the next day plans as we were supposed to do a load ferry to camp 1 and come back to base came. But there was slight change in the plan as the crew decided to do the load ferry and asked us to rest for the day. This was the best news for us so far, after knowing that it’s a day off, I ate 2 extra roti and some extra halva. With tummy full meal and next day off, I went to bed with a smile on the face. DAY 5: 10TH OCTOBER 2021, REST DAY TO ACCLIMATIZE (Kyarkoti /Base Camp, altitude: 3620 mtr’s/ 11,877 feet’s) Black Peak Expedition The bright and shiny day. but our crew was up and running unloading all our gears. We had a fabulous breakfast in the open meadows right beneath the glories Swargarohini and just in time there was an avalanche falling from the tip of the peak and it almost made it till the middle of the peak. it was a beauty to watch but at the same time it reminded us on how challenging the trails ahead would be. The crew had kept all out gears on display, and we had our first introductions to our life savers (The helmets, Ice axe, Harness, snow boots, ropes, quick draw clips, gaiters, crampons, and lot more). Soon the day off became a training day for all, we were asked to wear the heavy snow boots and walk around the place to get used to the weight and feel of the boots, this was the first time I was wearing them, each boot was around 2 Kg’s and after wearing them your walking style changes completely. You will have to transfer your weight to your toes while you walk cos that how you will climb the incline terrains ahead. It was bit tricky at the beginning but after an hour of walking around we got used to it. next there was a long briefing on the use of ice axe, some basic information on the knots, some very useful information on how to self-arrest when you or your any of your teammates slips when your roped up. How to duck the heavy wind and snow that comes along with it, how to walk when you are on crampons and roped up to your teammates. It was a lot of information to process but we were given enough time to try on everything and ask as many questions as we could to get a hold of things. The entire training went on for 3 long hours. Just during our training, we were joined by another lead climber (Prakash Bhai) and a technical climber (Deshraj bhai) immediately after our briefing we saw that our Chacha, Arjun Bhai, Ganga Bhai, Prakash Bhai, Deshraj Bhai and Satish Bhai were ready with all the load and started with their journey to Camp 1 and we were given the entire day to get used to our new partners. So, we were told that going forward we will have to carry our set of gears (Sleeping Bag, Harness, Snow boots, crampons and helmets), so we had to quickly do a repacking to make sure we carry only the at most necessary things with us and add these gears to the bags. So, I decided to wear only one new set of t-shirt and pant for the next journey and took only the warm layers, additional soaks, basic first aid kit, one power bank for 2 of us and some dry fruits and most importantly make sure you pack tissue/wet tissue papers, as I today this was our last source of water in liquid form. tissues will be necessary to help you with your morning rituals. Just with these things the bag was around 5 Kg’s and we had to add another 5 to 6 Kg’s of gears to it. we had no other options but to carry them. it was around 4.30 in the evening and we could already see our team returning from camp 1 and were shocked to see the return so soon. It just took about 4 hours to go to camp 1 and back to base came. Trust me these guys are a different level of fitness. We all sat down for our evening tea and snacks and started discussing about the condition of the routes and distance to cover tomorrow. We were told that the distance was about 6 to 7 Km’s, but the trail is slightly challenging but manageable. Well, the last word of the previous statement always creates a question mark in your brain. But the team mantra was to take one day at a time. So, we stopped thinking about tomorrow and just enjoyed the evening and night at a fabulously magical spot with some music and by sharing some extraordinary experiences of our team. With all the fun and some mouthwatering dinner on the plate we called it a day of joy and went back to our tents a blissful sleep. DAY 6: 11TH OCTOBER 2021, KYARKOTI/BASE CAMP TO CAMP 1 (Kyarkoti/Base Camp, altitude: 3620 mtr’s/ 11,877 feet’s, Camp 1, altitude: 4300 mtr’s/ 14,108 feet’s, walk distance: 07 KM) Black Peak Expedition It was a busy morning for all today, the team was busy carefully packing the essential things for our next few days of journey and we were busy planning on what must be left behind, how to fit in the additional gears to manage the weight. Trust me every 100 grms matters. So, plan your packing very carefully. After an hour of mind scratching work, we were finally ready with our bags. We were handed over a special energy pack by the team today, (roasted horse grams, apple and two 5-star chocolate), it was a very nutritious pack, but it again added to the overall weight of the bag. We couldn’t say no to the pack, as we were told that we will have to eat as much as possible to gain energy to cruise through the trails ahead. When we were all set, we had one more important thing to do, we had to offer our prayers to the almighty mountain gods and cosmos, seeking their permission to step on them, to have a favorable weather conditions and not to be affected by any unseen forces around us during our journey. Our Chacha along with Hari Bhai and Arjun Bhai did the proceedings and we all prayed along with them. After a short ritual and breaking of the coconut as an offering, we all shouted out loud calling out “Har Har Mahadev”. With all that vibes and energy flowing through the cells we pulled on our bags and started our walk. It was just a 7 Km stretch for the day and all we had to do was to walk in the rhythm, maintain a standard pace, rest for a while when required and mind our steps on our way. To start with, we had to hit the steep uphill walk to reach our cross over point. It was just around 200 to 300 meters, but we were already running out of breath, this was due to our first elevated walk in that altitude, nothing to worry, as it gets better through you walk. After this 60-degree uphill walk came our first challenge of the day, a steep decline, through the land slide area, with no visible trails. I just stood there and watched the absolute beauty surrounding us but in the backend my mind got the first chill thinking on how to cross it. our lead was already on the work and were making the possible route through the dry, dusty and loose soils. I could see then slip their steps but in a blink of the eye where were on the next step. It looked like a magic show to me. I was just wondering how one could slip, slide on one foot and still take the next step and just go on like that. Within matter of few minute our lead was on the other side with two of our climbers. Now it was my turn and I literally could not find a trail to follow, Satish bhai was just few steps ahead of me and I was just told to follow the foot steeps. With a thousand things running in my mind and with a deep breath, I took my first step. I had to hold the strong grass on the edges, look for the most stable area to keep my feet, balance yourself and take the next step. The actual twist was about few steps ahead, when I had to step on a dusty and loose soil, I just took the step and the ground under my feet slipped for about 1 foot, (I had my balls in my mouth for a sec) immediately Satish bhai asked me to take the next step. I just took the next step and had to slide again. It was clear to me that I am going to miss my next step and will slide all the way down to the bottom on the hills, but just after few steps the technic was clear. I just had to keep taking quick steps and not worry about the sliding part and more importantly not stop. Just in matter for few minutes I was on the other side and the thing which looked like an illusion has become a technique.
We were walking on the edges of the mountains, with open sloppy grasslands for rest of the journey. We had to take steep climbing up hill to reach the tip and walk through slightly flat trail to crossover to the other hill. The trails started getting very narrow, as narrow as the size of your feet, absolutely no space to keep both of your feet in one place. But I was used to the trail by then and just kept walking with my head down. I could clearly sense the altitude we were gaining after crossing each mountain. Through the journey we came across 2 more crossing which were affected by recent landslides, one was very fresh, we had to cross over it while there was still few small stone and pallets falling over us, but we had adapted to the new techniques and with the expertise of our leads we were able to cross over such hazardous place with no risk at all. Halfway through the mark we stopped for our lunch on top of the hills from where we had our first view of the entire Bandarpunch range of mountains and its frozen glacier stream flowing all the way down. It looked like a broad ski route starting from the top of Bandharpunch 1 growing all the way down till the bottom of the hill. We could even spot the huge crevasses even from this distance. Right in the middle was the all-white Bandarpunch 1, on the right was the so-called black mountain, Bandarpunch 2 with all rocky and patches of show here and there and to the left was our Kalanag, half of the mountain was all covered with snow and the other half looked like a carved black rock with ice edges. It was our first close sight of these humungous mountains. After our lunch we started walking and just about few minutes the entire geography changes. The grassland was disappearing and the dry rocky and dusty out fields started to take over. The last leg of the journey was filled will with huge, cracked rocks fallen from the mountains, sand and dust from the dry bottoms of the hills and we were walking right through them watching these huge glaciers slowly surrounding us in all 4 directions. After 6 hours walk, we finally reach our Camp 1. We could see our bright yellow tents pitched in a small meadow right on the cliff of a mountain, fully surrounded but these humungous mountains. After reaching the site we just took off our bags and started wondering about the surrounding. I totally forgot how tired we were and was fully lost in the moment. The entire range of Bandarpunch right in front of us, huge and broad frozen glaciers streams from every mountain, the open n scary crevasses. It was a true treat to the soul and the best view of my life till date. The wind was at a high speed because of the location. As our camp site was right in between the hills and the surrounding was little flat it created a vacuum. With a cup of tea and best of nature to fill ur soul, I was totally lost. While we were lost. Arjun bhai was still working hard to find some water for cooking and drinking. He had to walk all the way up to the nearest frozen stream break some ice and carry it down to the tent. We had very limited source of water and it took lot of time and efforts from the team to make water, but thanks to the crew, they never said no whenever we asked to fill our bottles.We had to quickly layer up ourselves as the temperature was dropping and within no time it was too cold, so we had to rush into the tent and crawled inside the sleeping bags. Thanks to the team cos they served us dinner to the tent. It was our coldest night since the beginning of the journey. We had our dinner as quickly as possible that night and just went to sleep with all possible cloths. It became too windy during night and couldn’t get much sleep that night. I just hoped our tents not to fly and tried to rest.