On an icy Himalayan trail
Students of a city college recollect their experiences during the National Himalayan winter trekking expedition organised by the YHAI.
TESTING THEIR ENDURANCE : Students at the base camp
THEY WERE on top of the world for about 72 hours!
For the 35 students of the Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts and Science for Women, it was a strenuous task scaling the heights during the National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition 2002-2003 organised by the Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI).
The six-day expedition included three days of trekking from Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh to Kala Top, Khajjiar and Chamba.
The girls were given two days to orient and acclimatise themselves in the rarefied atmosphere.
Recounting the difficulties faced by the group, K Divya, Chairman of the college's YHAI, says: "We were prepared for it, but it was arduous as the oxygen level was very low".
In some places, the slippery slopes and steep tracks made trekking extremely hard. "Some of us had blisters and cramps. But we were able to manage," group members say. The students had trekked in the Siruvani Hills and Catherine Falls in Kotagiri in preparation for the Himalayan expedition.
"We organised local treks for the group. Moreover, they should trek thrice during a semester," says Suganthi S Kumar, staff advisor.
The students were trained to build up their stamina for the long haul ahead by jogging and exercising early in the morning.
Their first destination was Kala Top, which the group said was the highest trekkable point in Himachal Pradesh, located about 8700 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL).
"Sunlight never hits the top. It's pitch dark after sunset and the temperatures dip below zero," they say.
After the exciting expedition, the members now have plans to seriously take up mountaineering.
"It all started off as fun. Now, after experiencing the adventure and thrill, we want to learn mountaineering and rock climbing," they say in a chorus.
Ms Suganthi says the students would also take part in the summer trekking expedition to be held at Kullu, Himachal Pradesh and the skiing training in Uttaranchal next year. "We also have plans to set up a mountaineering club," she informs.
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