MY EXPERIENCE OF TON’S VALLEY TREKKING EXPEDITION 2004
Organized by: - SOUTH CALCUTTA TREKKER’S ASSOCIATION
Team members: - Dr. Aloke Sil (Leader), Mrs. Krishna Sil, Abheek Sil, Partha Sil, Dibyendu Seal (Qr master), Dr. Mushtaque Alam(Equipment incharge), Dr. Saibal Mishra(Treasurer), Meroona Murmu.
Duration: - 12th Oct to 29th Oct 2004
15th Oct: -
Our jeep started at 8.30AM from Sankri. It was proceeding slowly through dense rainforest towards Taluka. We had a big family of 8 members, 6 porters and 1 guide. The road was not good at all. We saw several landslides around us. But the scenic beauty of the journey was enough to keep us moving. The entire route was through Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and there we saw several waterfalls, small in size but beautiful in nature. Suddenly we saw some ice peaks, in the distance. Tomorrow we shall go to explore them this thought left us delighted. The beautiful journey of 14Km ended at Taluka.
We hired the PWD Banglow for our accommodation and soon got engaged in the preparation of our lunch. Taluka is a small village in the lap of Himalaya and the main occupation of the villagers is terrace farming. We saw fields of Potato, Ramdana etc. Ton’s river is flowing just beside of the village. Through out the whole day and night we heard her song.
There are several trekking routes starts from Taluka, viz. Fatchukandi Pass, Manjukandra Pass, Ruinsara Tal etc. Our destination is to visit the valley of goddess- “Har-ki-doon”.
16th Oct: -
We completed the necessary packing in the previous night. It was a bright sunny morning and some Cirrus clouds were roaming around the sky. After a heavy breakfast our trek began. The first 2Km of the route was through the true left bank of the river. After leaving the village area we walked through narrow trek line. Then we crossed a small bridge over “Tatmir nallah” and relaxed our tired legs for a while on grassland. Up to this, we faced hardly any ups and downs. After that the route was through dense rain forest and slowly we started gaining height. It was somewhat treacherous for 1st days trek, as we had to negotiate with soft mud and rotten leaves. Our shoes were getting stuck into it. We saw a large caravan consisting of hundreds of sheep coming from ‘Debsu Bugiyal’ and the local ‘Bakhriwala’ informed us that ‘Debsu’ was under a foot of snow and the camping ground of ‘Ruinsara’ was snow covered two days ago which was not likely to melt.
After 6Km trek we reached ‘Gangar’ village and took some tea and packed lunch. After taking rest of ½ an hour we started walking. Tamasa was flowing through deep gorge, so we did not glimpse at her. Now we started entering in the deep forest of Seema. We were walking through light and shadow of pine trees. This was somewhat less tiring for us as the intensity of ascending was less than before. One of our members was not feeling good due to foot injury. Around 5PM we reached Seema (8000 ft), another small and beautiful village in the bank of Tamasa. We hired the PWD bunglow for our accommodation. We saw patches of snow hither and thither. The night was chilling, so we took our dinner soon and went to sleep.
17th Oct: -
We left Seema around 8AM. It was very cold as the sun was still behind the high mountains. We changed our plan a bit after discussion with the Guide and the villagers of Seema. We crossed the hanging bridge over Tamasa and came to the true right bank of the river. We started ascending through the boulders and bushes. After some time we reached the track of ‘Har-ki-doon’ and took rest for a while. Then the route seemed easier to us and we enjoyed every moment. We noticed ‘Debsu’ fully covered with snow in the opposite bank of the river. We were surprised when we reached ‘Seematra Bugiyal’. There was all greenery around us and sheeps were roving. After crossing a waterfall we started gaining height again. At around 12PM we reached ‘Kalkatti dhar’. From here we glimpsed at “BLACK PEAK”, “BANDARPUNCH”, and “SWARGAROHINI”. We saw the crazy ‘Ruinsara’ river getting combined in ‘Tamasa’. After that the main hurdle of the trek began. We started ascending the steep elevation of ‘Kalkatti dhar’. We had to slow down due to ice patches in some places. The either side of the mountains turned white due to heavy snow fall. We met another team of Kolkata and came to know about the huge snow in the ‘Har-ki-doon’ valley.
At around 4PM we started ascending through snow covered track and within ½ an hour we reached on the top of the ridge. For the 1st time we saw the valley of ‘Har-ki-doon (11500 ft)’ in the lap of ‘SWARGAROHINI’. Seeing this heavenly place I could not able to resist my tears of joy. The combined stream of ‘Morinda nallah’ (Coming from the Glacier of Borasu pass) and ‘Har-ki-doon nallah’ (Coming from Jaundhar glacier) is flowing through the middle of the valley. The entire valley was covered with snow and some chunks of ice were flowing through the river. After crossing a natural bridge we came to the PWD banglow. The sun was setting. The entire sky was getting more and more reddish and ‘SWARGAROHINI’ was seemed to be a picture painted beautifully by some heavenly artist.
At around 7PM I came out of the Banglow. It was dark around us. The sky was full of stars and it was too chilling. The temperature felled 5 degree below zero. We took our dinner at 7.30PM. One of our members was ailing of altitude sickness. So our doctor prescribed him some medicine.
18th Oct: -
We were welcomed by the bright sunlight of the morning and after taking some food we started for ‘Morinda Tal’. We crossed previous day’s natural bridge and started ascending. At 1st we moved through some snow patches which soon turned into deep snow. To protect the feet from frostbite I advised everyone to wrap plastic over the socks. Soon we reached a snowfield. Some of our members were not interested to go up due to snow. So two of our members, Ramlal (Guide) and myself started ascending again. It was deep snow all around and in some places it was about 3ft deep. We were ascending in the route created by the footsteps of Ramlal. There was some risky slopes but we were confident and physically fit to establish the camp at ‘Rathador’.
Suddenly Mushtaque lost his balance and slipped. This caused no major injury but his sunglass was broken. Fearing of snow blindness he returned to base camp. Now we could see the ‘Borasu peak’ far apart from us. The total ‘Swargarohini’ group was shining brilliantly in daylight. Now we were in the height of 13000ft. We started climbing through boulder zone and hardly faced any difficulty. We saw ‘Morinda’ coming down as a waterfall through the ice. We took some rest there and again started negotiating with ice. We reached ‘Morinda Tal (14000 ft)’. We performed puja and some ritual gesture to the God there. The other member was not interested to establish camp there and she wanted to return ‘Har-ki-doon’. It was 12’o clock and the ice had begun to melt. So we abandoned our plan and returned to base camp. Descending through snow was not easy work. We started stamping and came down safely. We exchanged our experience with each other and decided to return to ‘Seema’ on the very next day.
19th Oct: -
We left ‘Har-ki-doon’ at 7.30AM and without much difficulty reached Seema at 4PM. We noticed that the entire snow of ‘Debsu’ had melted keeping only some patches. So we decided to establish camp in ‘Debsu’ on the very next day and attempt ‘Ruinsara Tal’ if possible. So we packed our ration, tents etc.
20th Oct: -
We left Seema at 8AM. Keeping the bridge over Tamasa in the left we took the true left bank of the river. After crossing a waterfall we started gaining height very slowly. Due to hard snow we had to be careful too. It caused ver-glass over boulders, very slippery in nature. Except this there was no difficulty in the route. After 3hours walk we reached in a broad valley- ‘Debsu’. The beauty of ‘Debsu’ mesmerized us. Flat green grassland all around with some snow patches and ice peaks, though they were not clearly visible due to gathering of alto-cumulous cloud in the sky. In spite of having sun the weather was not fully clear and a gentle wind was blowing. We walked another Km and pitched our tents near the source of water.
After lunch, at around 1PM we left our camp to observe the condition of our next day’s way. From ‘Debsu’ we started coming down towards the riverbed. The entire route was through dense forest covered with ice, which even in the afternoon was in hard packed condition. We slipped several times. We reached the ‘log’ bridge of ‘Ruinsara’. The entire scenic beauty had spell bounded us. ‘Ruinsara’ river, coming from the icefall of ‘Bandarpunch glacier (8Km from ‘RuinsaraTal’)’ was flowing robustly through the gorge of sky-scraping mountains. We noticed some landslides in the other side of the river, through which we had to go for ‘Ruinsara Tal (11200 ft)’. We did not find any convenient way to reach ‘Ruinsara Lake’ safely for such an inexperienced team. After discussing with leader about all feasible ways we abandoned the ‘Ruinsara Tal’ programme for the safety of the team. The weather was not clear at all and in this condition, attempting ‘Ruinsara Tal’ would be an unnecessary risk for us.
21st Oct: -
We left our camp at 9AM and reached Seema at 12PM. We visited ‘Osla’ village and temple of ‘Duryodhan’. Our doctor gave some necessary medicines to the villagers. We spent the whole day by freaking out, eating and gossiping.
22nd Oct: -
Our last day of trek. We started for Taluka at 7.30AM and reached there by 2PM.
We spent another day in Taluka.
In this trekking programme we had planned to go up to ‘Kyarkoti (14000 ft)’ and ‘Deobasa (15500 ft)’. We were absolutely mentally and physically fit and we had sufficient rations and fuel for those days. From ‘Seema’ to ‘Ruinsara Tal’ is 15Km trek, which can be completed in one day. Due to snow we had to stay at ‘Debsu’ and we were perplexed whether the camping ground of ‘Ruinsara’ would be snow covered or not. Besides this the weather was not good at all and we feared that there would be snowfall. In the entire programme we had to negotiate with a huge amount of snow, which was beyond our thought. In this situation, we had no other alternative but to move back. As the time passed we got a clear view of the total event. The failure of ‘Ruinsara Tal’ programme has given us more experience and courage than many other successful trekking programmes in the past.
“We never achieve mastery over the mountains; the mountains are never conquered …….. The climbing game is a folly…….. in the context of discovering one self, testing the limits of one’s ability, exploring the boundaries of fear, determination and endurance, climbing is a means of self fulfillment and a source of great satisfaction” --- Joe Tasker