Sankri – Juda – 11th March 2019 – Day 2
Got up around 6 in the morning. The night temperature was around 15 to 17 degree centigrade and quite chilling. We had excellent Swiss Tents provided with double layer protection from cold and quite comfortable bed with mattress and double blankets. Slept well and got up fresh. Hot water was an issue and so we had to manage with one bucket of water for two people. Had two cups of hot tea, while the breakfast was being prepared. We had a continental breakfast. They also packed and provided us with light snacks, juice, biscuits etc. for the refreshment during the trek and lunch. We were asked to be ready by 9 to start our trek. The trek distance is about 5 kms up to Juda campsite. Sankri is about 6400 feet and Juda about 9000 feet.
We were briefed about the route and where all we will be stopping in between. The trek is a mix of level ground and steep climbing over a rocky area. We put on our winter trek gear except the Gaiters. Gaiters are used only while walking or climbing on snow. We carried a backpack with water bottles, snacks and other essential items including Gaiters while rest our luggage were sent to the Juda campsite on mules. We must carry Jacket, cap, trekking pole, camera etc. with us which are mandatory. The backpack should be as light as possible otherwise we will find it difficult while climbing.
We left the Sankri base camp immediately after 9. They had a Jeep arranged for taking us up to the Sankri market. It was fun to travel on top of the Jeep. Our guides Jaichand, Vijay and a cook were with us.
Initially it was walking on plain ground. At one point we changed our course and started climbing. It was a rocky trek and not an easy one especially for the first-time trekker. But it was fun. We stopped in between to take rest for 5 to 10 minutes and around 10:30 we were told to have light refreshment to gain energy for the rest of the trek.
The trek route is very scenic and mesmerizing. As we climbed, we started seeing snow here and there and the density grew more and more. We saw mules transporting food items and luggage between Sankri and Juda. Around 12 we reached a spot where there was a base camp set up by another trek operator. We stopped at Bansilal’s Maggie Point where one could get Maggie noodles and hot ginger tea. We had our sandwich and hot tea there, which was our lunch. From this point onward our trek was on the snow and therefore we put on our Gaiters before proceeding to Juda.
During the journey, I and my wife fell on two or three occasions, but the guides were extremely helpful. Luckily, we did not have any injuries. My wife was assisted by our guide Vijay. He was always with her holding her bag, jacket and helping her walking on the snow. I simply followed their footstep and did not have much problems. Rest of our team were behind us and that gave us motivation. It was no easy to walk over thick ice of about 6 to seven inches high. It was not hard ice and hence when we kept our foot it used to go down. On top of it, we were climbing.
After about 2 in the afternoon, we finally reached the Juda campsite. My wife reached first, and I was second. We felt happy that we managed to reach ahead of all youngsters. Thank god, we achieved this without any difficulties except falling few times. I am a person having severe back pain and blood pressure, but I did not have any issues climbing the entire trek.
Alpine Tents were arranged for us. There were tents of other trek operators and many of them were full. Very soon the rest of the team members also reached there, and we were allocated with our Tents which was a Twin type with protective mats, blankets and sleeping bags. The tents were setup on top of ice.
In about half an hour snow fall started, and the intensity was so high. We were asked to put on the extra layer of inner wears to protect us from the snow and cold. We must remove the gaiters while going inside the tents (and put them back once we go out to walk on the ice). Otherwise it will damage the protective mats on the floor. That was a major issue to remove it and wear it again every time you go in and out of the tents.
Tea was served and we all gathered around the fire to get ourselves warm. We enjoyed dancing in the snow while there was snow fall. It was a wonderful experience. The snow fall was continuous and all the trees in the area were covered fully with snow. Snow accumulated on the tents and every now and then someone should shake the tent to remove the ice. Otherwise the tents will collapse due to the weight of the ice.
Portable Toilets were provided for ladies and gents few meters away from the tents. It was difficult to reach there. We will not know where we can keep our foot. If one is not careful enough, it can go inside the ice which is about 10 to 12 inches deep. Initially there were few walking trails when we reached there but due to the snow fall, they were also covered and not visible.
Except for the few LED lamps, the entire area was pitch dark and it was extremely difficult to identify where our tents are, especially due the snow fall. We had our simple dinner with chapati and vegetable curry and were asked to go to respective tents and take rest.
Sleeping inside the tents especially inside a sleeping bag is not an easy thing. We were lying down on ice, which is not a level surface but bumps here and there. On top of it, the heavy snow fall caused a lot of issues. It was like raining with lightning and thunderstorm the whole night. Every ten minutes, we had to shake our tents to let the accumulated ice fall. We could hear sound of the trek guides and assistants running here and there shaking the tents and clearing the ice. Even then, one of the tents of another operator collapsed with people inside. The guides and assistants immediately cleared it and erected the tent once again. Dogs were barking and people were shouting the whole night and we could not sleep at all.
We were briefed in advance that if there is snow fall in Juda, chances of going up further to the upper base camp next day will be remote and may have to extend the stay in Juda if we really want to go to the summit. It may be one day or two days in Juda till the trek to the summit is clear and safe once again for trekking.
By around two in the night the intensity of snow fall reduced. It must have snowed almost for ten to eleven hours in total. Morning when we woke up, our tents were covered by almost 12 inches of ice on all sides. Coming out of the tents was not easy as we had to clear the ice. We could feel the ice even with double layer of winter dress, socks, jacket, sleeping bag and the blanket.
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