HMI Darjeeling Basic Mountaineering Course – Part -7
Assembly for Tiger Hill Trek
It was 17.09.2014, 06:00 AM, when we assemble for Tiger Hill Trek.
Last night after the amazing movie, we (the under observation group) were called to medical check up again. This time my BP came down to 130/90. We are still in observation. We have been once again called back today just after the Tiger Hill trek.
We were informed that Tiger hill trek is to-and-fro 22 Kilometers trek from HMI Darjeeling. We have to complete this trek between 6 am to 12 noon with a weight of approximately 20 kilograms in our rucksack. This will be a bit tough. Let us see how it goes. The route is basically civil area and roads. It will be beautiful. In between for 10-15 minutes at Jorbangla market we will be given a break. Tiger Hill is 8000 feet with an increasing altitude from Jorbangla.
There were 70 students in our course. The trek started at 06:15 am.
Notes entry just before reaching Jorbangla at 07:36 am:
We have been walking since 06:15 am and it has been a moderate steep uphill trek. I was able to do it not easy not tough. No major issues observed. We have been informed that the trek between Jorbangla to Tiger Hill will be quite steep. Let us see. Her everyone is taking rest, clicking pictures. Although sky is clear blue and sun shining bright. It seems like we have reached the top of Darjeeling or will reach shortly. About the cough and breathing aspect. It is becoming subsided and me more stable. Traces remain in days and night both. I just have to be more careful.
We reached Jorbangla at 10:00 AM. Jorebangla is 9 kilometers from Darjeeling., a small town from where goes the way to Kalimpong and further. One of its uphill road goes to Tiger Hill. We took a shortcut route/trail to Tiger Hill which is a forest like area of bamboo trees and plants along with other diverse flora.
After about 2 kilometers walking, the trail joins the main road leading to the Tiger Hill. At this junction, we all take rest for some time. Here is a welcome gate for the Durga temple. This is a view point from here whole Kanchenjunga range is visible.
On this junction of trail and road, there is this sacred place where sacred hymns are printed on flags and the flags are hosted here. When wind blows the hymns makes the nearby area sacred.
From here we could spot a peak which is Kabru Dome just above HMI base camp. On its right stands tall, the great Kangchenjunga and on left Mt Everest. But we could not see both due to clouds.
Tiger hill is 8400 feet. From here we have to return back. All are clicking pictures, enjoying the view though little is visible as valley clouds have come up.
On return, at 10:30 am enroute I saw the beautiful ghostly forests with short bamboos and long trees in Senchal wildlife Sanctuary. We came down following the road this time.
We reached Jorebunglow at 11:00 am.
At 11:41 am we passed through Jalapahar Army Cantonement before taking New Cooch Bihar Road to Darjeeling.
The trek was difficult for almost all of us because of the distance, the weight on our backs. Instructors told us that this was a trailer and preparation for the coming trek in Sikkim. We were asked to come to Doctor for medical checkup later in the evening.
Lecture: Map Reading
I was fed up of not taking bath since 13th when I came here and today is was 17th. My body must have started smelling and my shortly cropped hair were filled with dandruff and today morning I saw a pimple on my face. So after this back breaking trek and sweat drenched day, at 02:00 PM suddenly I decided to take bath which I did and am feeling great now in this class of map reading. Also, since last two days, I had stopped wearing fleece at all except for evening time.
Map reading was an interesting subject. The lecturer informed us that the maps in India are prepared by the Survey of India. Information was given about the type of compass, type of maps, how to read maps, using compass and map to know the ones position, tracing a route from map to ground, tracing a route from ground to map etc.
After the class of Map Reading there was a tea-break. I have completely avoided having tea since last 2-3 days so as to control the elevated Blood Pressure. Once they pass me, I can again start the same again or may be I won’t need it. But, a hot liquid is one of the most desirable thing in cold mountains because they re-hydrate body and the hotness helps feel good.
Since I did not take tea, I utilized the break for washing socks and hanging the clothes to dry which were kept as such since before last class as I was getting late.
Side effects of Tiger Hill Trek
But, one thing is sure that many were feeling pain in joints due to the trek. Two students willfully dropped out because they found today’s trek toO tough to bear. Others like me were bearing the pain and excited to go for the Himalayas.
Lecture on Mountain Hazards
At 1650 hours we were asked to come to the lecture hall for class on Mountain Hazards. Powell Sir had already taken the class but due to the medical checkups the class was shortened that day. Moreover his stories of mountains which are most inspiring take much of their lecture time. He is teaching us the importance of empathy and taking all team mates together. He insisted that these are basic mountain manners which are to be followed by everyone. He appreciated our trek timing as all students were back to HMI by 1300 hours.
He further continued on Mountain Hazards:
- Rock Group
- Scree: Loose rocks on a slope of a mountain hill, Injury can be caused by slipping.
- Verglas: Thin layer of ice on rock in early morning or early evening. Since it is also slippery, it is better to put sand on it while passing through or break it using ice axe/walking stick.
- Loose Rocks: Never step on loose rocks, in case they fall shout ‘Rock’ and warn climbers below.
- Snow Group
- Blue-black colored hard snow causes slippery conditions
- Snow on trees: Heavy mass of snow. While resting or passing by the snow can fall thus be careful during camping.
- Weather Group
- Temperature: Better wear clothes as per the changing temperatures in day/night or walking/resting. A useful tip to keep water warm and prevent from freezing is to put the water bottle in sleeping bag. This can be used to wash face, brush teeth etc. Be careful it must not leak. At night whenever one needs to go out, wear all necessary clothes or it may cause shock as the temperatures are generally below freezing point.
- Windchill factor: Windchill factor is determined by wind speed and temperature. Naked skin will burn in cold air. So always use mask, apply sunscreen but keep ears open. He was very specific about keeping the ears uncovered as it may delay acclimatization.
- Lightning: While walking never keep ice-axe above head/shoulder level. Never stand under a lone shade/tower/tree. Always walk in a group and cover ice axe with plastic.
- Hypothermia: To protect from hypothermia, body temperature should be maintained constant. Do not wear a jacket or wind proof jacket while walking as the body may get overheated. Cover your body with a jacket during rest.
- Chilblain: It is the beginning of a frost bite. Never leave the skin uncovered and do not allow water to touch skin.
- Psychological Imbalance
The lecture was amazing as ever. Powell Sir has hands on experience on many peaks including Mt Makalu and Mt Everest. His classes are learning as well as fun. The great thing about him is his experience and he loves sharing it with others. He informed us about Mountain Hazards in quite practical way and preventive and corrective measures. We, the under observation group, had to leave the class for medical checkup at 06:00 PM. My body was in pain due to the trek and when they measured the readings it came to 146/110 which was higher than last time and above the allowed limits. The medical assistant joked on this that he is trying to send me to the trek and I am trying to go back home. Anyway, he called me back for medical checkup on 19.09.2015, a day before trek.
As the chances of us clearing the medical test looked bleak with every passing day, the under observation group thought of Plan-B. A trek to Sendakhphu or Goecha-La on our own won’t be bad. We decided to discuss this on the evening of 19th after the final medical checkup.