Peak to peak. ( by Saptadipa Nayak)

Sunset behind the  mountains. Our tent at DKD II Base camp.
(Picture taken by kamakshi pal)
IT has been more than a month since I came back from NIM (Uttarkashi). But for some reason it never stopped to grow on me. I am still reminiscing those days, the challenges, the struggle and fighting our way through the last leg of the trip (course). Mountaineering is not easy. It requires skills, incredible strength and a widely determined mind. I went through rigorous exercises and training at few of the highest points in Garhwal Himalayas.
After my first year exams got over I started to look for ways to be outdoors for I got bit bored of the monotonous daily life we all lead. I grew a passion for trekking since childhood , so I thought for the next level , as I always wanted to be a mountaineer, so I reached out for it and enrolled myself at the Nehru Institution of Mountaineering BMC course (250 oct’2017 ) to peruse my dream.
I am relatively pleased with myself for completing the course. There was a time I wanted to dropout and go back to my home. Many of them actually did so. One day prior to the course I reached Uttarkashi along with two of my friends. NIM bus reached uttarkashi market around 10:30am . Approaching NIM I had a sudden smile on my face. That was the moment I felt a little goosey yet happy. I felt like someone is whispering in my ears saying, " This is your day.....the mountains are waiting for you".
19th of oct'17,20thofoct'17
On the first day we were supposed to get up at 5:00 am in the morning for tea and assemble by 6:00am for physical training . NIM is situated on a hill top 4 kms away from the main market in uttarkshi . In the morning , we were supposed to run down to the market . Once we reached the mountaineering institution , further exercises followed. We were randomly divided in ropes (group), of 7 people.
Display of various mountaineering gears
The mountaineering course begins with knot tying tutorials, wall climbing and trek to tekla for rock crafting. We were given practical lessons on how to pitch an tent , how to pack a rucksack, introduction of various mountain gears and their uses. And evenings were reserved for films and documentaries related to mountaineering.
Me practicing rock climbing at Tekla.
21st of oct'17, 26th of oct'17 Day 3 onward , we used to trek to trekla ( NIM’s rock climbing area) ,about 9 kms from NIM, carrying a load of 15-20 kgs on our back. We were totally exhausted once we reached tekla. After some yoga and stretching exercises , we used to get breakfast in our messtins. After having breakfast we had our lecture classes, demonstration, and then practice.This was our schedule for the next 6 days. We were issued with PA shoes which makes climbing easy and that was a great support for my fairly well performance in rock crafting. Nowadays yoga has become popular for climbers to improve their climbing ability since  not only it is fun but it also let you improve several key areas of yours climbling including balance, flexibility, focus and strength.
There we were taught principles of rock climbing , how to grip the rock, anchoring, belaying , rappelling techniques , chimney etc.
Final day at Tekla: While practicing on long pitch.(Group 5 and 6)
Rock crafting lessons were the best experience for me as I enjoyed climbing and rappelling, though it was fearful and I hurt myself many a times. You require good grip and immense arm strength to climb on. But after doing everything I felt very happy and confident. I was sure that I could climb any rock now. Everyday after completing our training at Tekla we return to NIM by NIM bus.
During lecture class at Tekla

27th of oct '17 After finishing with rock crafting we were to develop skills in snow and ice crafting. For that we had to trek to Base camp of DKD II.
Trek to Tekla
Finally that big day came. Before leaving for the mountains, all of us visited the NIM temple for blessings and prayed for our well being during the training. We moved to Bukhi village by NIM bus, which took us around 2hrs. Once reaching there we unloaded our rucksacks and started with our trek. We were warned prior the day that trek to Tel camp wasn’t going to be easy and often called ‘ tel nikalne waali’. Tel camp was 12kms from Bhukki and a really tiring one. But later in the course I realized it was relatively an easy one.
It was b e a u t I f u l  trek. We walk passed a small Garhwali village where people were busy doing their routine household works. As we proceeded we were slowly beginning to lose our connectivity to the world, one bar at a time.
The entire mountain was covered by virgin jungle of oak , maple and various other trees. There was a cloud cover and a cool breeze was blowing , carrying with it the faded sound of the meandering Bhagirathi river. There were points where we found ourselves creeping along the walls of the mountains that flanked us, high above the river. The trail was only wide enough for a single foot. It took us nearly 3hrs to reach Tel camp. It was located at an altitude of 8300ft. I was extremely happy and overwhelmed reaching the camp and felt like just keeping our rucksacks away and lie down on the soft grasses. Our tents were already pitched in and after lazing around on the grass banks, we shifted our stuff inside the tent.
On reaching tel camp
After having lunch our instructors took us for a short acclimatization walk. With the setting sun behind the mountains, cool breeze and lush green mountain forest made the valley a little heaven. That day was one of our batch mate’s birthday. Our cook managed to bake a cake for her. It was one of the sweetest birthday celebration I have ever seen. We were 
served with our dinner by
8:30 and rolled up ourselves in sleeping bags by 9:30. Tents and sleeping bags were very cozy ,warm and comfortable.

28th of oct '17 The next morning , we had to wind up our tents and move to Gujjar hut which was at an altitude of 12,800ft. According to me it was the most difficult but also the most rewarding trek of the entire course. It was a jungle trek and we moved along a river for most of the time. There
Way to gujjar hut. Trail through the forest.
were times when we had to walk vertically up. We just kept on moving up and up. Physically it was very challenging. The trek was extremely dangerous at points. And I tripped and slipped many a times. There were points when we scrambled up the steep slopes, with a 20kg backpack. With each step I was draining out of my physical strength . As we had to gain a height of 3000mtrs it could not be an easy one.  We passes through a number of small streams and waterfalls before reaching our destination. The intermittent patch of snow that crossed our paths were really fun to witness and walk through. When we were just 3kms away from Gujjar hut it suddenly started snowing . Chilling winds with snow flakes hitted on my face like needles. We kept on pushing ourselves through the snowfall with our rain sheets on. There were points where I couldn’t take it any longer and I brust into tears. I pushed myself beyond my limits. And we had to move faster now, before the weather gets too bad.
Gujjar hut wasn’t too far away now and we could see the valley surrounded by rhododendron bushes and the meadow abundant with buttercups and marsh marigolds , all covered with snow flakes. I felt like I was living in the movie set of ‘Chronicles of Narnia’. “ Difficult roads always lead to beautiful destinations” – this is an apt description of the gujjar hut camp. From that very moment I just couldn’t stop saying “ wow” and captured all the beauty I could with my camera. This was an experience I could never forget . We did not do anything for the rest of the day as it started snowing heavily. I used to remind myself that I live for such moments so I enjoyed every bit of it. I knew it, once I go back to my home am gonna miss this place , these activities , conversations, people and these beautiful sunrise and sunsets.
First rays of the sun. Gujjar Hut at 6:30 am . P.c. Sanchit
29th of oct'17 Next morning I woke up only to find out that my boots froze, and I had to wear that heavy snow boots. After breakfast we ferry loaded our rations to base camp. Reaching there we cleared up the snow and pitched tents. Before lunch we came back to our gujjar hut camp. In the evening we went to Khera Tal. The walk was again mesmerizing with beautiful meadows and small wooden huts. Gujjar hut was the most beautiful camp we stayed at.

30th of oct '17 The next morning we left for base camp where we had to be for the next 12 days for ice craft and snow craft. The trek was 2 hrs long. It was a clear sunny day. As we approached the base camp oF DKD II  the snow covered peak became visible.
Practicing ice climbing at Dokrian Bamak glacier.
The mountains lay in a great line like spine of the land. It was as if long ago they were a great beast , only to lie down one day and never get up. Perhaps the beast fell into an enchanted sleep, perhaps its soul was still in there. The range was high to the east and low to the west curling at the end like a tail. Both of the peaks DKD II and Joanli soared upward as if determined to kiss the heavens. Each of them were crowned with a headdress of ice like the neat line around a chocolate wafer cone. That’s when I felt like, this is where I meant to be. As if I was a part of the mountains.
Our rope(group 5) at DKD II  base camp. 
The next morning we were taken out for morning PT and that’s when I realized that physical activity at this height is extremely difficult. We used to trek for 2hrs everyday to Dokriani Bamak glacier where we had our ice crafting sessions. As we had to walk over moraines and screes  to get to the glacier we kept our helmets on for safety. We wore our huge heavy koflach boots and crampons and learnt all about ascending , descending, anchoring, belaying, rappelling, jumaring, crevasses crossing , rescue etc. , with the help of an ice axe and ice pitons. The weather constantly changed and it became chilly and cloudy and even with our gloves on our hands would go numb. We could see the glacier melting and we always had to look out for rocks falling from the ice slopes. Everyday we had lecture classes, where our instructors used to give hilarious demonstrations on sessions things which made our classes too interesting and fun. Ice crafting sessions was fun doing, tough and technical. We mainly practiced on blue ice. In the afternoon we had our lecture classes on perils of mountaineering and concerned medical disorder viz. AMS ( Acute mountain sickness), HAPO (High altitude pulmonary edema), frost bite, metal bite chill blain, etc. We were taught about some general precautions and survival tactics, what to do and what not to do on high altitude areas.
First rays at Chaura ki dhar.
With every new daybreak we faced new challenges. Mornings were particulary difficult in these areas, because most of te time your hands were numb. By now we all grew a close bond between us. Washing the mess tin with freezing water was another hurdle. In order to skip washing the mess tin many of them used                                                                   to share one mess tin.

9th of nov ‘17 Once these major crafts were done, we prepared for the last bit of our training, height gain, we were to reach to an altitude of 15,800 ft. A climb of 3000ft within 3hrs. we started with our climb at 7:00 am. It was uphill throughout. As we walked ahead slowly and steadily we motivated each other and there was just one thing on my mind was to reach the top. Our instructors keep on motivating our rope. As we were ascending it was becoming more difficult to push ourselves, and
On our way to Maccha Dhar for height gain.
I found myself breathing heavier. After every 20 steps I rest for two minutes. My thighs refused to support my climb. Nothing qualified as legit motivation at this point. I perched myself on a huge rock and watched my rope mates go past me. A few moments later our head instructor Bhatt sir came up to me and chimed in , ‘chalo good sabbash . pohoch jaoge!’. I got to my feet and took the tiniest and slowest steps. Both Bhatt sir and Umang sir (guest instructors from HMI) kept on motivating me up till I could reach the top. On reaching  there I was spellbound. It was a view one could never express in words. Its something one need to feel and experience. The landscape stood around us as proud paintings etched in hues
On reaching the top of  Maccha Dhar.
At an altitude of 15,000ft.

borrowed from paradise. I stood and just stared. So beautiful. I would never do justice to that beauty with my shabby words. The journey had all been worth it. Suddenly weather turned too bad and we had to turn back. It took us two hours to reach base camp. Upon reaching base camp, we were greeted by our vice principal sir and other staffs with candies. These small gestures made it a memorable experience.
Group photo at Maccha Dhar
The following next day was our written exam followed by navigation exercise and rope knot test. And am proud to say this that our group (rope 5) came second in navigation exercise.

11th of nov '17, 12th of nov'17 On November 11th , we headed back to Tel camp without any break which was 7 to 8hrs long and very strenuous. My rope instructor Tenjing sir motivated me the whole time. Next day early morning we left Bhukhi which was 2hrs long. Reaching there we saw the NIM bus waiting for us, and we were 
Heading back to Bukkhi from Tel cam
all filled with relief and happiness. We all congratulated each other for completing the course. We all were overwhelmed with joy for finally coming back to civilization after 15 long days of no contact with home.
13th of nov '17, 14th of nov '17 The next couple of days were the days I could never forget. We had a short graduation ceremony. This was the day I dreamt of. At evening we had a cultural program. That day was one of the best of my life. It was a dream which finally came true. I felt so happy, fulfilled and satisfied , because it the first step for me towards my goal to live a different life.

 One month of hardship, hills up and down, learning . One month of rigorous training , love , friendship. One month which I will remember life long. There are some moments you need to feel. One cannot express them in words.
Graduating as a mountaineer that too from Asia’s premier institute of mountaineering ‘NIM’ is a great achievement through all the hardship. My face is covered in mountain dust, my spirits are soaring high, lungs are bursting at the altitude.
The most possessed gift from NIM.
This batch is given to those who had completed the course .
(Picture taken by Kamakshi pal)

                               "We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can                                  have if only we seek them with open eyes. "
-Jawaharlal Nehru.
(Picture taken from base camp.)
"Contest entry for The Adventurer Blog Contest November 2017 by Bikat Adventures


  1. Outstanding and now I am speechless.

  2. Simpy Wow...I could actually feel the thrill!

  3. BMC 255 Oct to Nov 2018 , M so excited.

  4. Thanks for sharing such beautiful information. I hope you will share some more information and Please keep sharing.

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  5. Very informative article !!
    thanks for this information.
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