Of Pain & Peace


It was a cold, dark, and wet night in Shimla with dense fog shrouding the surroundings all around. The Clarkes Hotel, however, was warm and inviting. Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Himachal Diaries, Day 1: Shimla, 2136 hours, 5th March, 2016

My whole body is paining, the knees in particular are in acute distress. The muscles in the shoulders, back and neck are quivering and there is a cold chill all over, especially the hands and ears.

Outside the hotel, the street is covered in a dense fog, with a biting, cold wind playing a merry tune.

And yet, I feel at peace.

Am just back from a challenging climb to Shaali Tibba, the second climb to that Peak within 7 months. And unlike the August 2015 climb, I completed this one in 3 hours 12 minutes going up and 2 hours 6 minutes climbing down. Why was it challenging? It’s still winter in the region, there was a steady drizzle most of the way up, a fast, chattering chilly wind kept the rain company and it’s a steep incline the last 45 minutes. Of course this time I had Ameen Shaikh and Abhishek Kaushal (co-founders of Mountain Walker and natives of Himachal) providing very interesting and unobtrusive company.

People go up mountains all the time. All the time. And they go for their own reasons, in their own way, at their own pace. Local residents on a mountain go up and down and over and beyond for work, groceries, school, water, fuel, vegetables, grain, college, faith, healthcare … pretty much for basic necessities and daily living. Tourists go up mountains to get a feel of something grand in nature, get away from their daily lives, see a new place, have a holiday, visit 5 places in 6 nights, rejuvenate … among many other reasons. Climbers and Trekkers and Mountaineers go up a mountain for the challenge, to push their limits, to test their endurance, for the love and thrill of it, to discover nature, or maybe to rediscover themselves. And for every person, the experience is different, their equation with nature is different and the outcome of the experience is different.



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