Rupin Pass – Second time lucky
Why Rupin Pass, which is at an altitude of 15,250 feet above sea level? The answer to this is nothing as profound as “Because it is there”! I did not want a run of the mill, regular trek. I wanted a trek with high altitude, with some degree of difficulty and whose start and end points were different. I had been to Sangla valley and was fascinated by the Deodar and Pine tree laden slopes of the mountains surrounding it. As the trek was ending in Sangla Valley, Rupin Pass was the perfect trek for me.
I enrolled with “Trek The Himalayas” for the trek in May 2017. Among all the youngsters, I and an extremely fit chap, were the only trekkers in the age group of 50 + years ! As I had trained for the trek with cross fit classes and power walks, I was feeling fit, healthy and confident. The going was good; the trek leader had kept me in the lead being one of the slower trekkers. I was making good time without delaying the other trekkers.
By noon on the 4th day of the trek, we had comfortably reached Jakha which is at an elevation of 8800 feet above sea level. In the evening, we went for the acclimatization walk to the source of the waterfall that we had come across while climbing to Jakha. All was well, I was not tired after the walk. Every evening, the guide or the trek leader noted our pulse and O2 readings with an Oxymeter, to make sure that everybody was fit to continue. This routine was most dreaded by all of us! That evening, my pulse was ok but Oxygen level was slightly less , nothing unusual or alarming for the altitude and was told to consume plenty of water. I had developed a headache and had a sleepless night (sleeping is difficult at high altitude) which was compounded by toilet visits brought on by drinking copious amounts of water to bring up the O2 level. It was really difficult to go out in the pitch dark and manoeuvre the steep uneven steps to access the toilet, which was two stories below my room (which I was sharing with three other girls from the group). I was shocked and surprised when I could not get up from my sleeping bag in the morning! My head was spinning and I could not stand without falling down! I don’t really know if it was a case of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) or dehydration or extreme fatigue brought on by the 4th consecutive sleepless night. Anyway, proceeding in this condition was out of question and I took the heart-wrenching decision of turning back. TTH was kind enough to offer me this trek free of charge if I decided to do it again. Taking right and hard decisions is crucial not any for your own wellbeing but also for the team as the resources of the team are not used up by the trekker who is not well and still keeps dragging and slowing down the whole team. It was a correct decision to turn back.
Leaving things halfway and turning back without accomplishing the goal kept playing on my mind and I decided to give Rupin Pass a try , once again.
So after four months, I joined the trek of 30 Sep to 08 Oct 2017 with a lot of confidence and some doubts! I made sure this time that there was small water bottle secured to the sling of my backpack, dangling in the front of my shirt, from which I kept sipping water throughout the trek and carried 2 liters of water in my backpack.
Going back for the same trek is never easy! I had to endure the same journey from Delhi to Dehradun by train and then, a 10 hour journey by Bolero to Dhaula. We were 24 trekkers in the team with 6 women and 18 men. In this team, we had at least 6 trekkers who were above 45 years of age ( But still a lot of years younger than me!). We had an Australian trekker amongst us who had quit his job and was travelling the world. He proved to be a thorough gentleman who offered to exchange our tents, since I had got the farthest isolated tent , far away from the toilet tents , because I was the last one to reach the lower waterfall camp.
Since I was a participant during the May trek and the early October trek, I can vouch for the fact that the summer trek is much easier than the October trek. It was raining in May and hence the temperature was pleasant, thus making the trek easier. Also I was told by a participant from the trek in May, that there was snow in the pass, so climbing with crampons was not difficult. Whereas during October, the sun was very hot, we trekked throughout in the hot, blinding sun. The pass did not have any snow and hence the huge uneven boulders were exposed. Finding footholds while ascending on these boulders was tough. Also while descending the glissading option was not available as there was no snow!
This is my story of tears and triumph. The tears were for, when I could not complete the trek after 4 days into the trek and the triumph was, when I successfully completed the trek. Rupin Pass is graded as a difficult trek; hence it was mind over matter when the climb got more and more difficult. The hard working and happy logistics and kitchen staff team, along with the trek leader and the guides made the trek a memorable experience for me. Raman Joshi , the guide was very helpful and made the strenuous climb of the steep pass possible for me.
I am looking forward to more treks with TTH!!