India Journal X


10/18/2004: 1908 Camp over Kauri Pass






Mo and I standing near the top of Kauri Pass with Dunagiri over my head.

After the picture to the letf was taken, we spent the next two hours hiking through snow and ice.







Clouds moved in as we descended Kauri Pass, so we were unable to see Nanda Devi. As long as it is clear we should be able to get good views of Nanda Devi in the morning. At 7,816 meters (25,656 ft) it is the undisputed queen of the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas.

It is mind boggling to put the elevation and the relative mass of the Indian Himalayan range in perspective. In Colorado there are 54 peaks over 14,000 ft which accounts for all but 14 of the peaks over 14,000 ft in the continental USA. The longest ascent to a 14er in Colorado (Im pretty sure) is Capital Peak at around 5,800 ft. If you took the Capital Peak ascent and added that on top of the highest peak in Colorado (Mount Elbert) you would be at the elevation of Peak 6062 (20,000+ ft) in the Indian Himalayas, and to add insult to injury, you would be only the 469 highest peak in India.

When we got to camp Mo and I realized that Ijabassing was gone. He had decided when we were in Pana to go over the hill to his home to Irani. A friend or acquaintance of someone in the group took over Ijas horses and duties for the last two days of the trip. For us it felt like we had just lost a member of the family, but for Bandana Man and the others a trek like this must be more like working in your back yard. Im sure he had no idea that he had become an unforgettable part a once in a life time journey for us.

Just before dark I hiked about 300 feet up the hill behind our camp to get a sunset view of

the high Himalayas. Appropriately the last peak that was still illuminated by sun light was Changabang which is known as the Shining Mountain by the Hindus.

Changabang catching the last rays of sun light


The summit of Changabang looks like it is just a stone through across the valley. If I walked straight ahead over the top of Changabang (22,000+ ft) and down the other side I would be in China/Tibet. As the crow flies that would be less than 80 kilometers or around 45 miles away.

The shadows of the western peaks rapidly climbed up the slopes of Changabang until it was also in darkness. As the sun faded the temperature dropped. I headed back to the dining room, study, bedroom and closet, also known as the tent.











From We are here look east by northeast over Dunagiri and Changabang to Tibet











Just finished dinner. Had a vote and decided our favorite food of the entire trip is hot soup. Tonight it was piping hot tomato soup. The vote for hot soup may have been influenced by the current in tent temperature of 38oF.


10/19/2004: 0730 Packing Camp over Kauri Pass

This morning a little after 5 AM, and well before sunrise, I hiked up to a ridge at about 13,000 ft behind (south) of our camp.

It was cool last night. The condensation from our breathing during the night had turned into a coat of ice on the inside of the rain fly that shattered as I unzipped the tent . The ponds in the meadow had frozen over with a thin layer of ice and the a heavy frost covered the grass. After gaining the ridge I headed west until I reached a small pinnacle of rock where I had an unobstructed view of the Valley and all the surrounding peaks. From my perch I could see a full 360o.

As the sky lightened over the peaks in the east I could make out layer upon layer of high peaks fading in to Tibet. In the west I could just make out the lower Himalayan mountains as they disappeared in to the haze of the Indian plain. Facing due north I was looking up the enormous valley where the Dhauli Ganga River runs forming the geographic and geologic separation between the Nandi Devi Sanctuary to the Kendernath Sanctuary.

The transition from night to day was visually more dramatic than what I witnessed at Bendi Bugyal. Even as the tip of one of the high Himalayan peaks ( I think Hathi Parbat) caught the first direct sun light from the east the horizon in the west was still black. This sun rise was like no other that I had ever witnesses. The blackness over the plains to the west, rather than just fading away, turned in to a ground up spectrum of black to dark shades of purple and blue, to progressively lighter shades of lavender, pink and yellow. The earthbound rainbow of increasing wave length was separated by thin rays of blackness that radiated from the horizon upward like spokes from a wheel. As the sun rose further the gothic rays receded in to the western horizon until the entire sky was light blue.


10/19/04: Trek to Auli

Today Total

Ascent 1,540 32,564

Descent 3,660 30,871


We had anticipated a gradual descent from out camp at around 12,000 ft to Auli where we would sleep in a real bed for the first time in two weeks. Instead of taking a lovely rock path that led in to the valley below, Retan pointed upward and we began bush whacking (no trail) up a rocky slope until we gained a serpiginous, slimy half frozen trail on the ridge line. Today we hiked 21 kilometers of some of the most amazing trail I have ever been on.


Go to India Journal XI

Back to main index