As the climb slowly gets started , the chill is not anymore felt so much , until you stop for a breath or
rest for sometimes. I try to teach the trekkers about this , to ensure warmth you must keep on
walking slowly and not stop much. Some follow others lag behind yet they walk for now.
At chirbasa , the trail vanishes , the snow is too much. The new layer of snow which falls often in the
evening storms covers up the original trail and it is up to us again to break the snow and ice and
make a route to roopkund. I and my staff get to work. With ice axes , we turn by turn break and
make a way. The snow and ice is hard as the sunlight is yet to come up and loosen it up. Though it
helps in walking actually on tougher snows but breaking it and making a way out of it is hard work. It
is a tiring job and the only time when I feel like what am I doing in this godforsaken land.
Anyways our human train again starts moving with us in the front making the way and the rest
following slowly. The speed gets slower and slower , as we are treading some risky patch. The slope
is of sixty degrees or more here , and , obviously the trekkers are scared and we are worried too , as
one slip and you might end up down is the abyss. Many of them are virgin to the snow and ice and
hence they fear more the unknown white that lie as far as our eyes can see. It is like a sea of white
that we must tread across and hence , its a challenge for lots of them.
We hold hands of the trekkers who are weaker and more frightened than others , some realise for
the first time , they too , what we call “ vertigo “ . Most of them are serious and does not utter
words much as the climb is tiring and needs a lot of concentration. After all , as I have warned them
earlier , the mountains do not let you say ‘ sorry ‘.
Its 4.30 am already and we still have more two kilometres more to climb. Most of them are tired by
the climb and chill. We give a break at a place we fill suitable enough to stop for the whole team of
20 people. We sip water and eat some biscuits or chocolates whatever we feel. The light has just
mildly come up from the distant east horizons. We need no more our torches as natural light is
enough now to see.
A lot of the trekkers ask me “ how much more sir ?? “ . I give them a smile and show them the top of
the mountain, the summit. Some smile sarcastically and for some the smile vanishes , as if a kid
being handed over a mathematics question paper too lengthy and complicated. Yet , they don’t give
up and are ready to face the challenge. Strange are the ways of human , we do not know our own
capabilities , our energy or our power to achieve once we have put our heart and mind into it. I have
been witness to feats extreme thanks to my job and it makes me wonder all those when I hear them
say , “No, I cannot”.
We continue our climb. Our aim is to reach Roopkund by 6.30 am , so to see the first rays of sun
falling on the lake which is as amazing as seeing a baby uttering first words. I try to motivate them ,
my staffs help me to cheer the trekkers and there is some results as our speed increases a little. Now
having been walked on snow for sometimes , they are not anymore, as afraid as they were before.
The final climb is really hectic even for us the trained ones. The gradient is harder with an inclination
of 75 degrees and that too climbing on snow and ice makes it more challenging. We stop on our way
, to see the first rays of the sun coming from behind the Junargali peak. The sunrise cannot be seen ,
it is veiled by the lofty mountains we climb , but the lights shine from behind forming a halo over the
peak we must reach.
With final push the team gives it their all , to reach the lake. I cheer them and by the time they have
done the climb , they are all exhausted and tired. It is clear on their face , some even doubting the
purpose of climbing so hard , what for ?
Everything changes as we finally reach the lake.
All the tiredness , exhaustion , feeling dead or doubts of giving up washes away by the glimpse of
Roopkund. It is like a tear drop from the heaven fell on this beautiful slopes of snow and ice. The
lake is still majorly frozen but you can see its blue waters. It is ethereal to the eyes that behold it for
the first time. Most of them explode with joy , some of them start dancing who for a moment ago
were doubting their decisions to climb. Some start singing others start hugging each other and some
thank me and my staff by exchanging smiles and hugging us. I understand the feeling for I have seen
them now a countless times and I have felt those hearts too. Somewhere deep down our hearts , we
are meant and born to be free but fate , family , situations and circumstances has bounded us and
changed us from what we are not. But here at front of this ethereal lake , our true entity turns up.
We are care free souls , destined to fly and wander in those wonders of the world. We are what we
truly are , in front of roopkund. The chilling cold is still there , but all of us have discovered
something inside us that keeps us warm.
As the first rays of sun drop on the lake , the white cover turns golden , many of them starts taking
pictures and some of them captures them with their eyes. I gulp the sight again with my heart , I do
not know why it is so beautiful even after so many times I have seen it. No doubt it is special.
A lady comes to me sits by me. She with a pure smile surely connected from her heart , gives me a
pat and says “ thank you” . I could see a drop of tear at the right corner of her eyes and I understand
the joy , for I have often witnessed it. This small show of gratitude and appreciation is the reason I
guess I live and work on this godforsaken places , I reason my own doubts.
Roopkund is not just a lake or a trek , it is a life not lived by many , but wanted to. I guess that is why
it beacons so many of us for time and again.
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"