Kanchenjunga Expedition-Journey to Base Camp Begins (Day 21)

Ramche was surrounded by these beautiful mountains. One a rare clear day i climbed the hills and would shoot them with their reflection in the lakes. You can see my shadow in this pic on the bottom left corner. In those days of film rolls we shot with a tripod.

10thSeptember-Journey to Base Camp Begins
Ramche is a very beaufiful place. I knew this the moment I landed here a few days ago and I know it now that I leave it for base camp which though is surrounded by big mountains –all snow capped –the Kanchenjunga massif –being one of them-is nothing compared to Ramche when it comes to a perfect idyllic hideout.

The children participated in a big way in any religious festival in Tapleyjung. Here they take the task as musicians.

I am keen to get most of Ramche-particulalry the lone Sherpa inhabitant Pampa-this is perhaps the most ubiqitious Sherpa name-who lives in the stone hut with his two sons. I have tried to communicate with him and his 12-13 year old son but they don’t understand any Hindi. Pampa is as unlettered as his young boys-one of whom recognises me by now and smiles and shakes his head when I come to shoot him. Both of them are chocklate brown with sun-burn and it is just an indication for me as to how I will look after the expedition is done.

Our Arctic tent at Ramche. One clear day when we saw Mr Kabru clearly.

I want to write about this lone yark herder and his sons, his income, tastes, food, friends amusements but will be able to do this only if I get a good interpretor. Kazi is friendly with Pampa and as it turns but there is a woman in her 50’s who looks a bit  too well dressed and clean to be Pampa’s wife –though I am not too sure. Kazi wants me to click his pictures with the family and I do so willingly. Even as I am poised to shoot- a big-black crow sweeps nearby. Kazi tells me it is a Tibetian crow and I am off aiming my 70-300 mm lens at it. It is certainly different from the Ravens we have in Shimla. It is much bigger and has a very hoarse and laboured cawing. And even as it caws the fur bristles and stands on the back of its neck. I manage a few shots but have to run back to my tent for a fresh roll just when the crow had become friendly and less shy.

If I term my journey to the intermediate base came and base camp as an odyssey, it would be an exaggeration. What I can say is that it was the most adventurous journey I have ever taken in my life. Yesterday’s treck to the peak comes a far second and my ten years ago 8kms walk from Kunjum pass to Chander Tal lake fades into insignificance.

I loved the features of this old woman selling pears at the local tournament. She sat in the middle of the throng and conducted her business with through professionalism.

We are seven of us. Major Chauhan, Capt. Amit, Mahi Ram, Gary I and two others.We begin straight after lunch and I am in the lead taking their pictures. Our ruck-sacks have been taken by porters and we have a distinct advantage in mobility. However soon after we cross a few miles I realise how hardy these army chaps are. I must admit with their over 10kg of load I am no match for them. I never manage to catch up with them once I lag behind. The load of my two cameras and the small ruck-sack with a lens and film rolls and battery all weighing less than seven kilos bear me down.
We move through glaciers, big boulders but the soft pebbly mud make it an ordeal for me. To make matters worse it begins to rain. By the time we reach the intermediate Base Camp-after over 3km of walk-I am drenched to the skin. Mahi Ram lends me his warm clothes. Gary and I are in a triangular tent. Its miserable to say the least and i am a bit scared.

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