Mountain Walking

Load Ferrying Our Way Up and Down the Mountain

Load Ferry to Advance Base Camp (ABC) was the plan for Day 4. We were instructed that the team would leave early for the Load Ferry, so that we could return to Base Camp by afternoon. The Base Camp was looking stunningly beautiful as I came out of my tent. Yesterday’s heavy snowfall had covered the site in a thin sheet of snow. The weather last night had cleared up after the snowfall, as a result of which the temperature had dropped. The water stream had a layer of frozen ice on the top and while getting water from this frozen stream, I slipped and almost fell into the stream. I managed to maintain my balance by putting one foot into the water. Luckily my shoes were waterproof and the water was not deep. Phew!

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Snow covered Base Camp in the morning; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

Later as I prepared for the day, I segregated my personal belongings for load ferry and packed my rucksack. My plan was to ferry most of my personal belongings required above ABC today itself along with the technical equipment. The weather was clear today with some clouds in the sky towards the valley in the North-East direction. The sun was up shining brightly over the snowcapped peaks. Soon Base Camp was immersed in much needed sunlight after a cold night. By this time everyone was getting ready and I packed the technical equipment assigned to me and after breakfast of Oats and Aloo Paratha, we started our walk to ABC.

The route to ABC was over and across the moraines that we took yesterday for the acclimatisation walk. Walking on the moraines with a load on your back is very exhausting and no one knows this better than me, given my previous year’s experience on Mt. Thelu. Although the magnitude of the moraines in this valley is nothing as compared to Mt. Thelu, still I was a bit concerned about tackling the moraines. So when Shashi told us to follow the route between the two moraines instead of the one over the moraine, it was a big relief for me.

I climbed the ridge above Base Camp and followed the gully between the two moraines. This route was much more gradual and was full of beautiful little glacial lakes all along the way. Midway through the trail, the weather turned overcast with clouds, with occasional sunlight fighting its way through the cloud cover. This was a blessing in disguise, since the cloud cover and occasional wind made it easy to walk through the terrain. Frequent snowfall in past few days had covered some patches of the moraines in snow and I chose one of these snow covered patch to climb to the top of the moraine. Once on top, I followed the moraine for a while towards Auden’s Cove and finally crossed it and descended into a valley.

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Overcast conditions as the Load Ferry in underway; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Tackling the moraines is easier over snow cover; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Glacial pond along the route to Advance Base Camp; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Across more snow slopes and over more moraines; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Mighty peaks covered in fresh snow; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

The trail now was through snow, which was much easier as compared to walking on the moraines. I climbed the small snow slope, crossed over a rocky patch and continued through another small snow field. Finally I arrived at a small gully and descended through the big boulders and arrived at the Advance Base Camp. Here our guides secured our technical equipment and personal belongings under a tarpaulin sheet and we waited for the other members to arrive. The weather deteriorated further and we decided to return back. Some members were unable to make it to the Advance Base Camp, so their technical equipment were dumped midway and they were asked to return to Base Camp.

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Securing equipment at ABC location; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Thickening cloud cover towards Gangotri-III peak; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Looking towards the Ruduganga Valley as snowfall starts again; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

While returning from ABC, the cloud cover around us got thicker and it started to snow. We walked together, keeping the members ahead and behind in sight, finally arriving safely at Base Camp into another impending white-out. We had Chhole with Rice for lunch and then settled down in the dinning tent. In the evening – just before the sunset – the blanket of cloud finally cleared and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the magnificent peaks. Soon after the sunset the weather became cold. Finally dinner was served and after having my fill of Roti with Daal and Gobi Sabzi, I spent some time outside enjoying the clear starry sky. Having had an eyeful of the beautiful night sky, I retired to my tent.

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Descending through the moraines amidst snowfall; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Base Camp about to be engulfed in a white-out; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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The weather finally clears up; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

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Gangotri-III peeking through the cloud cover; Photo: Swarjit Samajpati.

Lying in my tent, I was feeling satisfied with my effort today in completing the Load Ferry. After a long time I had this feeling of nervous excitement, which happens to every sportsman before taking the field. With each passing day, my excitement was growing – I might make to the summit after all.

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