Kanchenjunga Expedition-I reach Base Camp (Day 22)

Base camp and the mighty Yalung glacier in the background.

11sept-I reach Base Camp
The floor in the tent is all bumpy with one big stone sticking into my back. It slopes to my left so that at night I am constantly slipping towards Gary on my right. He has made a partition of camera-bags and a oxygen cylinder we found in the tent lying around for someone in need for it. We also use the Oxygen cylinger to balance our borrowed candle on and I am scared it may blast the cylinder.
I get up early. Its around 5:45am( Gary’s sports watch has also stopped ticking)-so I have to guess time from the brightness of the sky. At the moment it is still deep blue and very clear. On the East-the massif looms up. This is my first clear unobstructed view of kanchenjunga down to its base from where the glaciers stretch out.


The cairn mark our way on the way to the Base Camp. We found these stones all along the route and found them very useful. One is supposed to go around them from the left.

I am excited and eager to get as many shots I can this morning. We move for Base Camp today and I know there will never be as clear a view of Kanchenjunga from any other place, than this intermediate Base Camp. In my hurry, I drop the battery case of Nikon F-100 while changing battery. It shatters into two. I am lucky to locate the other piece among the big boulders where I stand my tripod. I tell myself to take it easy in such situations but my fingers are numb from cold and I can barely press the shutter and focus. The F-100 has a remote device for a shutter release and the army guys have lost it. I use the self-timer which is pretty time consuming. I manage to finish over 2 rolls before my fellow travelers begin to stir and peep out of their tents for tea and hot-water.

My hands are numb and when the time comes to leave I cannot zip up my rucksack. Today was perhaps the toughest walk ever. It took me and my two fellow travellers Mahi Ram and Balwant over 5 hours of constant walk through glaciers , soft sand that sucked your foot in, boulders that threatened to roll over you or twist your ankle mortally and slopes that could drop you  down into the snot-green glacier waters where one was sure to die of hypothermia even though today the sun shone its best.
After taking a small bend from our nights dwelling, Mahi Ram pointed out to a deep tunnel formed of glacial ice with water standing under it. I realise with a shock that our intermediate base camp lay just above this near hollow tunnel. I realise how easily it could stave in but I guess Kazi and his sherpas know better.


I carried the beauty of Ramche with me to the comparatively bland Base Camp higher in the Himalayas.

The walk is gruelling to say the least and after walking for an hour I fall behind. Balwant who is a sturdy walker falls behind to keep me company, ostensibly at the orders of Major Chauhan. Mahi Ram the most affable of the team is there with me too. Together we three see ourself walk through glaciers, the morain, the boulders, the ice with the cairns indicating the way. Within a few hours I am exhausted Mahi Ram is exhausted too and this comforts me a bit. After crossing the morain which was our main route to the Base Camp, there is a mountain to climb. I can barely walk for over 50 meters without collapsing with exertion.

2 Responses to “Kanchenjunga Expedition-I reach Base Camp (Day 22)”

  1. pankaj anand says:

    amazing pics sanjay. I have seen these pics already on ur flickr profile but still it seems so fresh and lively. Its difficult to imagine how tough it would have been for you..

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