Here’s the story of climbing Mount Rhenock at the end of my 28 days Basic Mountaineering Course at Himalayan Mountaineering, Institute, Darjeeling, India.
I was luckily studying engineering in Sikkim from 2010 until 2012, or was I there so it could be so easy to do this course? Well, what were the odds that my second semester exams got over some 3 days before the Basic Mountaineering Course at HMI was going to begin. I knew quite a few people from when I did my Paragliding solo flying courses who had done even the advanced mountaineering courses. They inspired me to make my BMC happen in the summer of 2011. There was a senior back at University who was game for it too and we decided to do this together.
At HMI, we worked as per schedule including the workout, training, lectures, movies and library hours. We literally ate, drank, slept, lived mountaineering. Our course Director Sir – Kausang Sherpa was a five time Mt. Everest Summiteer and the first ever to climb it from all three sides. Hearing his stories and watching the movie on Mt. Everest, made climbing the peak look so much simpler and doable. We were preparing towards our final stint of summitting Mount Rhenock.
The food was alright and the toilets were traumatising but I heard it was still better than the facilities in the mountains. It was pretty cold and we were just not allowed to take a bath. I yet did so since the last 17 days we weren’t going to be able to do that at all.
On my Tiger Hill 22km rehearsal, my shoulder already hurt because of my rucksack. I believe the 7kms were easy but the slopes took down my knees. I was thankful for the upcoming bus ride to Yoksum. After 7 days at HMI campus, we trekked from Yoksum to Chourikhag – Base camp which proved us the real deal, bang opposite to our thoughts. Yoksum-Bakhim affected my knees tremendously. Bakhim-Dzongri made it so difficult to breathe because of the height gain. Dzongri-Chourikhag was the same apart from the mountain clouds, hail and rain. Now we had the one last stint of Mount Rhenock to go.
Every moment the negativity would start cutting into my mind like a sharp knife, asking me to stop and give up. And then like a scissor, the positivity would struggle to cover up and outgrow it. It was indeed a tough live battle, going on in my mind. The breathing exercise would help. I would try and not stop but the knees would just break the rhythm. Later as the snow clad mighty mountains came into my sight, they pumped up my energy, and that made me go on. Finally at Chourikhag, the four day siege came to an end.
And all the time we fought this war, the us vs the path, the instructors glided through the trekking, so easily. And thats when I realised their extensive experience and I knew the next remaining days I had so much more to learn. And without such senior mentors, none of the 33 women would have made it through the memorable 170kms, 28 days and from 5000ft to 16200ft.
Going back in time, all the way to grade nine, reminiscing hiking Mt. Kalsubai, the highest peak of Maharashtra, the big smile makes me feel so awesome but I couldn’t connect to my feelings back then. But on the day when, BMC-284 from HMI was climbing Mount Rhenock, our first Himalayan peak, the feelings were indescribable.
We started at 7am, post breakfast from our base camp – Chourikhag (14600ft), went up and down few hills and reached the peak’s base. The snow on the Black mountain (Mount Rhenock), spread unevenly and not entirely, made it look like a long lost, black and white dream come true. In spite of running out of breath, not feeling well and the temptation to turn back, I saw the end so near that I went on.
After roping up and climbing, Bhutia sir welcomed us with a warm hug on the snow covered Peak of Mount Rhenock at 16,200ft at 10.55 am. Congratulations and rope pictures followed making that incredible instance unforgettable. Just a meter below we celebrated with Real Mango juice and Tiger biscuits. Then we came down sliding on snow, playing with it and happy. All that together along with the Mt. Rhenock climbing experience made the curtain raiser for 284, a day I will never forget.
After returning to the base in Darjeeling, we graduated with ice axe shaped badges and group photos. I was looking forward to a normal bed, a normal shower and a normal meal. And I thought about my Mt. Rhenock climbing experience and the mountaineering experience at HMI.
Kudos to BMC 284!! 😀