Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling in Love with Jaonli

Couple of years ago, I spent most of the time in my map reading classes taking forward and backward bearing of Jaonli, never imagined that I would be climbing it some day.

Unclimbed for the last 25 years was reason enough to change Bhagirathi expedition to Jaonli expedition!! Being part of the 1st Indian women team to summit Jaonli in the same year that marks the 25th anniversary of the 1st Indian women summit of Everest is something I will cherish for ever.

The toughest trek to the Basecamp gave a trailer of the toughness of the peak. Hike-up in a dense jungle, crawling under the shrubs in heavy rainfall, traverse the hills and clinging on to everything possible with Lodhgad river gushing right below, frustrating walk on the fresh landslides with ever sliding rocks, never ending moraines, heavier rug sacks and tons of energy took us to something that looked like football field, which became our advance basecamp.

The first look at Jaonli, I made up my mind to write a book, a peak that made me braver, stronger than ever and left me craving for more. Taking pictures when almost pounded under an avalanche or when slipped in a crevasse or dozing off anchored to an ice axe at 21000 ft on the summit day, I enjoyed being on Jaonli every single minute. Each time I returned to a lower camp I only wondered if we really kicked our crampon-ed toes up those huge ice walls.

Even though I can never trade-off Annapurna for any mountain, I am sure I will die on a mountain, freeing my spirit to crawl in & out of the crevasses, shower under avalanches and slide around the glittering snow field all year long.

- Kavitha Reddy

Mt Jaonli - 6632 Mts, IMF Expedition May-June 2009