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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Stairwayto Heaven

Summers and sloth usually come together in an unholy pact this time of the year,making it extremely difficult to venture anywhere out of the cool confines of an ideally air conditioned room.

Written by PiyasreeDasgupta |
May 7, 2009 3:26:10 am

This summer,give the mid day snooze a miss,for the thrills of a high altitude trek

Summers and sloth usually come together in an unholy pact this time of the year,making it extremely difficult to venture anywhere out of the cool confines of an ideally air conditioned room. And vacations,for generations of Kolkatans,usually mean a hurried trip to the closest hill destination possible,some sightseeing,the formula pictures and their woolen glory,and a largely satisfied trudge back home. “Though the idea of vacations is strictly personal,wouldn’t it be great,especially for the young if they did something that left them rejuvenated for a long time to come,” says Debonil Sen,owner of 18days.in,a travel and trek site. And here we are talking about high altitude trekking usually done on terrains nearly 10,000 ft above sea level.

Though high altitude trekking is a relatively unexplored avenue when it comes to breaks and vacations,most who have been to one,say that it has very few parallels. And with expert help,now available from the city itself,apart from several other organisations,it makes a lot of sense to pack your bags for once and give it a shot. “High altitude trekking is very non technical in nature. You don’t have to be a professional climber to go on these treks,” says Sen,who has trekked extensively in the Himalayas and now organises treks himself. Preparations for the trek usually include lots of cardio exercises,lightweight training,walking and sporting activities in the run up to the trek. “You have to have high levels of stamina. And the routine of exercises leading to the trek also beneficial for your health,” says Arijit Mullick,president of South Calcutta Trekkers Association (SCTA) which organises at least one high altitude trek a year.

Apart from that,there’s usually expert help at hand. “If needed we usually can get a professional climber to assist us,” says Sen. The SCTA too has provisions for professional help. “Firstly there are several of us who have gone on these treks before. So,it’s not usually a team of only first time trekkers who go on trips. There are people with practical know how about treks accompanying them,” says Mullick. Apart from that,the destinations (usually Himachal Pradesh,Uttranchal,Nepal,Arunachal Pradesh,Ladakh,Kahsmir,Sikkim) are abound with trained climbers,porters and guides who are hired by the teams. “We provide a trained guide from Kolkata itself. A guide who knows how to go about hiring porters near the destination apart from helping people learn to set up tents etc,” says Pulak Khan,owner of Treks and Tours based in Lalbazar,who is a mountaineer in his own right,trained from institutes like the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI),Indian Mountaineering Institute (IMI) Gulmarg etc.

The likes of Khan,who is the authorised guide of the Indian Youth Hostel,offers cutomised packages that start from Rs 10-15,000 per head for a rough week-long trek. “Prices vary according to packages,the state chosen,and even the number of people in the group,” says Khan. For groups like Sen’s 18 Days,tours and prices depend largely on the preferences of the team members. Clubs like SCTA offer trips to members and their friends and people can obtain memberships if they want to be in the loop.

“The sound of boulders (which look like small stones from that height) rolling of surrounding mountains,the clear blue sky,untainted white snow and ice glistening under the sun – it’s a sight that going to live with you all your life,” says Sen about his experience of reaching Goeche La pass in Sikkim. Are you still tempted by the AC room and the TV?

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