Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Mountaineering is not only about adventure. It is about learning to live life and expereincing it in a magnanimous way with nothing and yet everything. 

The weather conditions above 14000 ft change every day and it can be severely hazardous to eliminate you. It can get difficult to walk, especially climb the snow, ice. Even rock patch climb can get risky. Avalanches can become a daily sight. Crossing rivers can become a nightmare. A bee can buzz you for long to have you run out of fear for cover. The paradox is bee does not buzz around for long in case you are still but how can I trust a bee not to sting me. If I run, the disturbance in the wind causes it to attack me. I have to let it sit on me with utter positive belief. In truth, I actually run. The bee leaves me alone only when I am lost in a crowd. O yeah! Animals and just about everything can be there too. I will not be surprised to find Big foot.

Plan well. Learn atleast basic mountaineering. If possible, take a training in First Aid, Disaster management as well. We are fortunate to have Himalayas and good training institues. Don't die out there out of enthuiasm, depression or carelessness. Be safe. 

Few important notes to remind myself and also for my later revisions. Please correct me if there are mistakes.

knotting a person on the rope:

1. End man (used to tie a person at the end of the rope)
2. Guide man (used to tie a person guiding in the front)
3. Middle man (used to tie the person in the middle of the rope)
4. single bow line (special universal knot that can be used for anything)

artificial anchor knots (where man made devices like carabinner is used):

5. figure of 8
6. butterfly
8. clowitch,

natural anchor knots (where nature made anchors like tree, person, pipe etc. is used)

9. figure of 8

joining ropes with equal diameter

11. single fisherman
12. double fisherman

joining two tapes with equal diameter

13. tape knot
14. square reef knot

joining ropes with unequal diameter

15. single sheet
16. double sheet

special knots (used to tie a person while walking in snow or ice)
17. double bow line
18. triple bowline

Jumaring knots (used to ascend using jumars made out of ropes in case the actual metallic jumar has a problem)

18. Prussic
19. French Prussic

1. Casualty
2. Butterfly

BELAYING - technique used to help descend/ ascend a climber
1. Direct (use your body )
2. Semi Direct (use your body and another anchor)
3. Indirect (use anchor)
can use Z-pulley belaying technique

Be close to the water source but not too close to get drowned, drenched in it during high water flow (happens mid day when snow melts due to the sunshine)

Fireman lift (hold the casualty's arm and lift him on your arm joint section)
Foreman casualty lift (two people forming a triple box by putting one arm on the opposite person and other arm on his or her opposite arm. The casualty kind of sits comfortably in it)

Casualty coil lift
You use the rope that you have coiled to have the casualty slide into it and sit in it while you strap the coil on your back. The coil you use is the general casualty coil. It essentially has one big gap that casualty uses to sit on it.

Split Casualty coil lift
You use the rope that you have coiled to have the casualty slide into it and sit in it while you strap the coil on your back. The coil essentially has two gaps used to put one leg in each one of them.

Bamboo structure
Use two bamboo (or any hard poles) and rope to form a strecther like thing using lots of clowitch knots

Pullover Tshirt or a Sack
use two Bamboo and use two or three T shirts. You need to tuck the hands of the Tshirt inwards and slide the bamboos through it. You can make holes in bottom corners of the sack and slide it through the bamboo to form a strecther as well

Improvised rope structure hammock
Make a hammock like structure using only the rope and knots

take the casualty to the safe area first, ensure you are safe, carry out first air
look out for the unconscious first
use the Airway, Breathing, Choking to verify the state of the person
use the Splinting technique to manage fracture. Do not bend, move the bones even if an object is pierced in. keep it stiff.
Oozing Blood: Tie something like a cloth. but loosen it up every 10-20 mins and tie back
Cold injury like frost - take person back to the base camp quickly. this is a killer as there is almost no salvage as part of the body becomes ice inside out, within the nerves and blood (as good as a ice piece that has to amputated off the body)

look out for slope orientation, terrain, flow track (start, slopy, end). be careful of walking on cornice (its a hanging snow on the edges of the mountain but we think there is a hard mountain rock underneath. recognized usually with a slight line separating the rock edge from the mountain)

understand and know how to manage cravasses such as walking on cravasses that are covered with thin sheets of ice, know how to rescue yourself and others in cravasses

Be careful with deviation caused by magnetic, metal attraction from True North Also grid variation from grid north specified on maps. Know how to locate yourself on the map. Know how to navigate back to the spot in case the route changes. Know how to use the team of guide, navigator, pacer and recorder.

Practice the above stuff while you are not on mountains
I know going alone out there sounds good at times. But don't ever do that. Atleast have 3 people on a long journey over the mountains.
Practice how to ascend, arrest from fall, descend well in rock, snow and ice
Practice how to make a temporary natural camp in rock, snow (I love the igloo), ice
Practice running with 25-30 kgs when you exercise
Practice discipline (this is difficult for me)
Have a rescue and backup plan for your every move on the mountain

You can save a life, if you know how to save your life.

I, Mountaineer

""" I go for mountains even when I fail, 

     at least I know I am on a new journey to enjoy the sail .. 

Had I decided to venture not at all,

    I would only be more lonelier, never growing tall ..

I rather fall in life in every toil,

    I will still rise with every step forward on a fresh unexplored soil ..

when I look back, I will not remember the time of lean,
   but that I dared always n that would be my personal win ..

 I once thought the world is all that is around me,
    but it was empty n incomplete until I jumped away n o my ! what a beautiful scene!

 As I moved out into the world, its perimeter contracted into me its 'everythings',

    I can see more now on my lonely quiet days, in my many 'still' 'nothings' """"

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Roman Kashmiri

Scaled upto 5000m as part of Kun Expedition. In all there were three basic base camps and three advance base camps. I could go upto first advance base camp 1. Post that it was all mountaineering minus trekking. The two boots, helmet, harness, ice axe, jumaar, descender, crampons ec. were feeling like a heavy space suit on me. It was difficult to climb over big slippery dangerous rocks comfortably with it. 

To top it I had the bag whose weight was close to 10-15 kilos (3 kilos of food alone). The rocks were very slippery, the sun was very hot, I was feeling weak with the kind of diet I was maintaining. The snow was all over. A journey to advance base camp 2 meant an 8 to 10 hours journey with 200 m 70 degree climb and a lot of weight on your back. It would get deadly cold if we stayed still. Additionally my crampons were sharp, rusted and would take half an hour to just to get them on my huge heavy snow boots with my bare shivering fingers. My helmet had already fallen once but my team mate help me salvage it. Losing these basic equipment was dangerous. Think about it, a huge lump of hard snow ice falling on the head in the midst of a vertical climb in a white washed chilling freezing deadly atmosphere with not a single person in sight. All the more, I would have been left behind for more than 2 hours. Sherpas would not be around to help me one-on-one all the time.


This is the first time in my life where I decided to give up. I was not physically strong, mentally drained and had zero percent experience in mountaineering. I realized this is where mountaineering becomes different from trekking. If I move ahead towards base camp two, I will get stuck mid way with no idea how to proceed ahead and turn back. I will die. My other friend from Malaysia was mentally disturbed, drained and lost, as he took the decision to go ahead. He was stuck in mid way sitting in bitter cold for three hours with no one around. All he could see was whiteness. He is not a family man but upon his return I saw death in his eyes and all he wanted to do was visit his mother in Tamil Nadu


I am happy I tried though. On my way back I stayed at Kargil and Srinagar. The Ladakh part of Kashmir is very innocent. At Kargil, I bought a Quran, visited a madrassa, met some children studying, met a high cleric Shia and even got invited for a cup of tea and a chat at a small house of a JK Bank manager. 

At Srinagar I reached tired and the guides killed my experience to an extent. The guide I had was nice to me but he extracted 3 times more money from me. With three and half weeks behind, no internet, poor facilities around Rajbaugh area of Srinagar, I was a scapegoat in the hands of a guide. 

I started feeling sick and had to break my vacation trip and return. I am back home and had to cancel lot of hotel bookings, lost quiet bit of money there. Kashmir has lot of mountains, lakes. While I stayed there I visited different places in Srinagar, Gulmarg and Manasbal lake. In Srinagar I visited some mosques including the controversial one where Jesus is laid in a tomb. The shrine is enclosed and its almost impossible and very dangerous to be around the shrine. 

I met a lot of interesting people during the journey. My expedition team had five in all. I had a NASA engineer on myteam who worked on New Horizons for a decade and it is now orbiting the Pluto planet clicking pictures. If you follow Space Science, you would have known by now that New Horizons probe sattelite has clicked some new pictures revealing more clearly about the terrain structure of Pluto. I had a lady senior cop officer from Telangana who narrated me interesting crime stories, the best one being how she solved a 1 crore robbery case within 48 hours. She was a Asst SP, very influential as she had friends at every check post, police station, airport and claimed that she had friends in Interpol as well. But without her pistol, she was very gentle, pious and more scared than a civilian if she was left alone with strangers for few hours. I had a senior Air force Liason officer who was on duty to be with the NASA engineer. The other two were from software, one of them working in Malaysia and the other from IIT. The team behind us were from Navy. I met a few Navy people and a little interesting conversation. There was a commando in the Navy team. I was told that they can fight like an army, air force and navy. A look at this guy did not make me feel that he is a commando but he was. As a part of training, they are left hungry for days enclosed in four walls with a ferocious dog. They are even asked to be submerged under water for 8 mins. But this is just a tip of what all they really are and what they really do.

I always felt more relieved with army people being around. I found women of Ladakh to be extremely beautiful and always covered in their neat Hijabs. They rarely speak except when required such as a shop keeper. They speak a different language and have a different culture from Kashmiris. 

I am not able to judge the Kashmiris but something is missing. There are no private sectors in city. People mostly seem to work for the government job in cities. There are no beggars and to an extent the city is clean and seems like its poor yet self sustained.

There are cheats who say Inshallah, Bismillah all the time in vain, then there are sincere Muslims. I was told that there is a lot of Islamphobia. Muslims are divided into two as one section wants to remain with old practices and the one section wants to practically get revived with modern times. The Shia community seems to be heavily spread out and many follow Khomeini just like Catholics follow Pope. 

I expressed to many good Muslims in Kargil as to how I really loved my Muslim friends in the world and how hurt I feel when someone uses harsh words against Islam. Somewhere my peaceful and welcoming Muslim friends and family get hurt in the process.

The few radicals, top political brass and the news have only talks of terror. But the truth is 98% part of Kashmir is peaceful, welcoming, unexplored, pure, vast, beautiful and safe and no news on this Earth will tell you. 

 Our country has 1.25 billion people and only they can heal Kashmir by visiting them, mingling with them. Kashmir is heavily Islamic and they have a culture, they have a practice and people visiting Kashmir should ensure we respect it. You must have heard of a saying 'In Rome, Be a Roman'. For the last three weeks and more, I was a Roman Kashmiri.