Getting used to something. What does that even mean?
Getting used to drinking alcohol means being able to drink more than you could earlier without falling flat on your face. Getting used to emotional pain means maybe becoming more callous in the long run or even learning to ignore the fact that you do have emotions swimming within you. Or maybe you just learn to live with it. The point is, that getting used to different things has different effects on us. Every day, we get used to something new and it is these small things that change us in ways we perhaps don’t yet fully understand. It could be as small a thing as getting used to waking up early in the morning or even getting used to walking down stairs in a particular rhythmic manner.
When you’re in the mountains, you’ve got to give your body time to get used to the high altitude, the thinner air and the lesser amount of Oxygen that your lungs are receiving. They call it acclimatisation. It is for this reason that on Day 4 of our expedition to Jagatsukh peak, we went on an acclimatisation trek to Chandrataal Lake.
Chandrataal Lake is a frozen lake that is 15,500 feet high. That’s a whole 2,000 feet higher than our base camp at Tainta, where we had spent the night. Needless to say, the climbing and walking each day was getting harder and harder. The highest point that I’ve ever ascended till on foot was Kala Patthar in 2017, which is at a height of 18,513 feet. In spite of the fact that the hike to Chandrataal Lake is 3,000 feet lower than Kala Patthar, the ascent to Chandrataal itself was more intense and tiring.
After quite a bit of manoeuvring through the loose rocks that populated the last leg of the hike, we had to scale a short vertical rock wall before climbing a little more to reach Chandrataal Lake.
Being up at Chandrataal Lake was surreal. There was complete silence, not even the sound of air. It felt like a divine spot. Over there, the rest of the world did not matter. It was just me, the cold, the group that I was in and my heartbeat. It was as if nothing else ever existed.
Since this was an acclimatisation trek, we ultimately had to make our way back down to Tainta. For me, this was the scary part. As somebody who has a fear of heights and vast open spaces because of how insignificant and small they make me feel, this particular descent had me drowning in feelings of uncertainty and unease. The fact that the path back down was steep and full of loose rocks made matters worse. But all that aside, the unease and fear finally dissipated when we reached Tainta, where my feet were once again Terra Firma.
After reaching camp, we tested out our crampons and then called it an early night. At 2:30am, we would awaken once more to do what we had come all this way to do- summit Jagatsukh Peak.
Stay tuned for the final blog in this series- the one covering the summit of Jagatsukh Peak!