It’s challenging but that’s why you do it’
Achievements can be of different shapes and sizes. They may come to you as a hot spring or slither like a snake when you least expect it. But scaling Mt. Nun, a feat to cherish for life, is an achievement that definitely requires physical and mental training. It’s by no means a spontaneous affair that skirts your way.
The Nun Kun sister peaks of about 23, 409 and 23, 218 feet, respectively, are one of the highest ranges in the Himalayan kingdom in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh region. Touted as one of the more dangerous ones to scale, it is no doubt that most people come back halfway or fall at the feet of the mountain.
But meet Gaurav, someone who strikes a balance between mountains as his home and the city as a hobby, who flirts with danger and welcomes snow, ice and glaciers like his new ‘bros’. He has just completed Mt. Nun and arrived back to the city hale, healthy and happy!
He spoke with Get Beyond Limits regarding his experiences.
1. Most people usually will think twice/thrice before scaling this summit? How did you decide to do this?
The Indian Mountaineering Foundation gave me this opportunity. They asked me to accompany a foreign team, as a Liasion Officer, who were coming down to Mt. Nun. An LO is usually required to accompany a foreign team for safety and security purposes, to break language barriers and just help them generally navigate around India. I work as a freelance outdoor leader and have also taught mountaineering at different institutes. I was quite honoured and excited when they asked me and there really was no question of thinking twice. Even my family knew there was no stopping me.
2. You were going there with them for the first time. What sort of challenges did you face?
It definitely was a challenge. Mt. Nun is 7, 135 meters and we took 21 days to complete the trek. I haven’t been there before but that is why you go, to break the obstacles and the mind blocks in your head. It definitely was worth it. I well aware of the consequences so packed a lot of warm clothing, kept myself hydrated at all times, ate my fill and trekked with the a backpack full of tents, medical supplies, sleeping bags. It’s important to be prepared.
3. Any special permits you needed?
Yes we needed four letters from the IMF actually, one to the Army, the tourism officer, district commissioner and senior superintendent of police. The letters mainly said that we would need their help at times of rescue.
4. Were you scared?
Haha! I sure was. There were two expeditions before ours at Mt. Nun. In both expeditions, one person died and another person had a frost bite, so we all had butterflies in our stomach, especially as we got closer to the mountain. However, I kept telling myself that as far as the body and weather allow me to go, I will push myself. Honestly, I feel if mountaineers approach the trek with a healthy attitude, relying on the mountain to take care of them, I am pretty sure the trek will go well. You shouldn’t challenge these powerful forces of nature, you should try to be one with them.
5. Did your team face any injuries?
No. Somebody did acquire Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) but so he stayed at the last camp. He didn’t do beyond 6,500 meters but the rest of us finished it. We also had an acclimatisation trek at Stok Kangri, Ladakh, so we were prepared overall. Usually when someone gets sick during the course of the summit we bring them back to the base camp, so that they are at a lower altitude.
6. What was the route your team took?
Delhi, Leh, Kargil and then the major trek. The foreigners were a little taken aback in Delhi with all the traffic and pollution but we had some great interactions. They are all wonderful, experienced trekkers so it was a really nice team. I think they liked India.
7. Thoughts when you reach the summit?
You actually don’t feel much because you are so exhausted. But while coming back you realise what you have done and it’s so overwhelming. You feel like you have ticked off something from your bucket list or you have just crossed an important milestone. So as your coming down you relive the trek for a second time in your head and savour each moment. It’s a mix of relief and joy.
8. Did you miss civilization when you were there?
I did. But I miss the mountains now. I’m going back in three days. I try to strike a balance between the two lives I lead.
9. Is this your greatest achievement so far?
Sure, the greatest ever in mountaineering. Roopkund, Stok and everything else don’t seem like the magnitude of this one. Next trek is hopefully Kedarnath peak.
You can contact Gaurav at +91-7830410814 or email@example.com.