Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rock Climbing – The Dan Osman Way!!

Every trek with CTC has loads of surprises, excitement in store for you, and the experience so fresh and reveling. Yes this trek/rock climbing to Ramnagar was no different; it was fun, frolic and a sense of satisfaction all through. Before this trip the only thing I knew about rock was the phrase “on the rocks” – Pun intended!
Here goes my write-up on one of a very beautiful treks organized by Vinod Hari
No respite from rains for about 10 days, water clogged roads, City’s traffic running haywire due to human chain, Chennai offered all the excitement it could and made the travel to a Central railway station a nightmarish experience. But twenty-five like-minded guys coming from various pockets of Chennai still made it to the station in nick of time.
After exchanging usual pleasantries all the guys, fatigued from the hectic weekly schedule, hit the sack. But Reddy and I had some secret discussion before we crashed for the day- okay let’s not keep it secret anymore. This story runs way down to the day Vinod put out the participants name list for the trek. My eyes got glued to a very peculiar name called “Trinka”. Reddy immediately started figuring out which part of the world this “Girl” belonged to? Reddy after some research, true to his reputation, concluded that “she should be somewhere from Eastern Europe. I was also convinced, because “in Reddy, I trust”!
The early morning on Saturday was characterized by chilly winds and murky skies. After basic freshening up we alighted the train at 6AM.
Vinod did a head count of all the guys. Meanwhile we introduced ourselves to the rest of the guys. My wandering eyes were on the lookout for “Trinka”. One deep voice said “Hi” from behind and then came the shocker: “he” said “I’m Trinka”. His full name - Thirugnanasambandam. Reddy and I quickly exchanged glances and our feelings then is left to anyone’s imagination.
We had 5 more people joining us in Bangalore. We boarded two vans and set on our journey to Ramnagar which was 60 kms from Bangalore. We broke for breakfast after some 30 minutes of drive. We had an interesting menu for breakfast - Idly – which was as big a dosa and masala as side dish. After the breakfast it was another hour’s travel to the spot.
We were warmly greeted by the adventure group which was headed by Kamlesh. He took over the proceedings from there.
We were distributed our ration of juices, snacks and some energy boosters. We were then briefed of our itenary for the day which went something like this –
 Trek some 6 kms in deep froest
 Rock climbing
 Take lunch
 Start the descent
We started with what we were good at – Trekking! The ground was sluggish due to overnight rain and rocks were slippery. After some simple walking for 10 minutes the group came to a halt. There was a 60 degree rock which we had to climb. The rock was slippery but Kamlesh climbed up the rock seamlessly and we followed the suit, indeed we were helped by guys in the adventure group. Immediately after I checked with Kamlesh as to whether there was any change in itenary as rock climbing was supposed to be at the last. Bang came the reply – this is no way rock climbing and that kept me guessing.
We encountered many such rocks, much steeper and taller, on the way and due to this we gained altitude real fast. We stopped at a few places to take some photos and yeah to grasp some breath too.
At around 11:30 am we came to a place where were surrounded by huge rocks on both the sides and there was another structure which was laden with huge stones right in front of us. Have we hit on a dead end? As CTC’ns are no new to dead-ends we were figuring out as to how to get past this! Soon came the answer – Nagu, a national champion in rock climbing climbed the structure before us like a spider. He made it seem so easy. We were warned by Kamlesh as to not to dig our hands or legs to deep into the rocks as there could be snakes! Being a nature lover and one who cares for ethical treatment of wildlife, I didn’t want to disturb the snake’s natural habitat, so I obliged to that request.
After that climb there stood a majestic rock unseen by chennaites. It was a massive structure, a 90 degree 100 feet tall rock. To be geometrically correct it became obtuse at the top! We were perplexed to know that this was the rock we had to climb! Our Devil-may-care attitude made the rock seem scalable!
Seeing the Harness, saw powder, ropes and clamps and other paraphernalia gave the feel of being in film shoot of Mission Impossible. We were given some basic instructions and rule 101 was not to panic as we are bellied to a guy standing below and whatsoever it is 100% safe and there is no chance of mishap. But our human minds kept pondering over the same.
Vinod was the first to call the shot. He was harnessed and started the perilous climb. After making some progress he decided to come down as the climb takes a toll on your fingers and bruises your legs/hands.
Then more people started climbing and were cheered by people standing down. But most of us were just able to make some half way on that gigantic rock. But Rajesh made a stupendous attempt and made it all the way to the top. It was great to watch a member of our group make it. Ian was the next guy to make it up, he made on a tougher side of the rock! This inspired many who were struggling to make any progress. Vinod made a yet another valiant attempt, and yes this time he made it very close to the peak. After that we had so many success stories.
Who said its only nice up the corporate ladder, ask the guys who made it to the top, they will vouch that its much enchanting up there. We were so much engrossed into watch other guys climb the rock that we developed stiff neck! I felt that the rock climbing instilled so much confidence in me and made me realize that we could draw parallels between life and rock climbing , Like rock climbing life is tough , yet life is beautiful.
After about 2 hours of rock climbing whistles were blown for the lunch. It was always nice to eat after a hard day’s work and we hogged on the food. The spread was so good and it was delicious too!
After Lunch we were told by Kamlesh that there is still trekking in store for us. Our excitement knew no bounds!
We started our way up to a local peak. In the final stretch we had to encounter some really steep steps. Once the climb was over we ended up in a plateau which gave us views of the entire mountain range! And the view was breath taking. I thought to myself that these steps were stairway to heaven! For the uninitiated, “Stairway to Heaven” is the rated the number one rock song of all times and is from the legendary rock band “Led Zeppelin”. Usual things followed – we took photos, enjoyed the magnificent views and grabbed some quick rest.
Then we started our descent and reached down in 30 minutes time. Once on the foothills of the mountain, we felt a sense of accomplishment creep through us.
What’s a trek without a water body on the way? All that begins well ends in a well. Yes, we were taken to nearby well where people jumped and enjoyed the ice-cold water. We spent an hour lazing around in the water.
After coming out from the well, we thanked Kamlesh & Co who took all the pain in the making this total trek a memorable one. Each one of his guys treated us so warmly that it doubled the fun of the trek. I still can’t believe that how they could offer the whole package at a dirt cheap rate. Anyways we made it clear to them that we still have unfinished business in Ramnagar and will soon be hitting that place once again very soon.
We boarded the van again and started our journey back to Bangalore. After two hours we reached our bus stand. As we were well ahead of time, we (except a few) decided to top our journey with a few glasses of beer. And it was like “Oktoberfest” in Germany. After some merrymaking we came to the bus stand and crashed in the bus like a set of falling pins.
We reached Chennai by 5am and we took the opportunity to thank Vinod for his contagious enthusiasm and his “cool as cucumber” attitude. It was a trek engineered to perfection!
The memory of the trek is so vivid and will stay with us for a long time.

Addicted to Trekking!

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