Last Day at HMI
19.09.2014, today would be the last day at HMI Darjeeling for us in two ways: If we get selected, I will go for the trek with all students. If not, then also I will have to leave HMI due to medical reasons. Today, the weather seems fine after last night’s rains. Khilap sir took us for the PT session and we enjoyed it. He introduced lot of stretching exercises.
After breakfast I talked with Rasheed. He shared his travelling experience and tips. He and his friend are avid travelers. They have this peculiar style of travelling with a destination in mind but with no plan on how to reach there. They try to use free and cheap services. In one of such travels, they decided to go to Kathmandu. They started from Hyderabad and reached Nepal via Howrah, New Jalpaigudi, Darjeeling, Indo-Nepal border. Their story was quite interesting and inspiring. I also thought of going for similar adventures in future.
Outdoor Artificial Wall Climbing Session
Today forenoon there was an outdoor artificial wall climbing session. HMI wall is 45 meters high. I gave a try to the wall but could not climb more than 15 meters of that giant. Only one student could cover the whole height of the wall. He was a NCC boy with speed and technique. Most of the students failed to cover even half of the wall. Few could cross 30 meters mark and my roommate Sagar was one of them.
From the way we were given the training, I realized that Basic Course just introduces one to all the aspects of mountaineering while Advance Course looks in the finer aspects of mountaineering. Advance course students were seen planning their own expeditions in library referring books on the subject.
After the wall climbing session, we assemble outside the Equipment Room with our instructors. Tenjing Sir, our rope instructor asked us to double check our equipments as this would be the last chance to do the same. He suggested me to change my crampons.
Outing — Fun and Shopping
At 10:30 hours all the students were allowed to go for outing so that students can purchase the things they need for coming days in mountains. We were reminded by the instructors to have personal items such as:
- Woolen gloves
- Woolen socks
- Toilet papers
- Sunscreen cream
- Polythene (for covering backpack)
With strict warning, we were asked to reach back to HMI by 1730 hours.
Since I had all the things with me already except for the woolen socks, I did not go for the outing. Sagar would bring them for me. Instead, I preferred taking rest for the final medical checkup due at 1600 hours. I came early in the canteen and seated myself till lunch was ready thinking and writing. At this stage I did not even know if I would be going to home or for the trek, but I had already packed my backpack properly to go for the trek.
After lunch, I slept for two hours in the hostel room. We, the unfit group, assembled in the Medical Inspection room at the given time. Unfortunately this time also I failed the test. The BP did not come down even a single point. I had been declared unfit for the trek but still as a formality and a last hope we were asked to come the next morning at 0600 hours, if we were able to get the blood pressure lower we would be allowed to go for the trek.
By this time I have lost all the hopes and this seemed stupid to be able to manipulate readings which are not in anyone’s control. Along with me, Kalypso, Mukul and Prabhu were also declared unfit. Since we already had Plan-B we decided to go for it.
At 1740 hours we assembled in the Quadrangle. The chief instructor was informing us about the trek in detail. Tomorrow i.e. on 20.09.2014, we were asked to take tea at 05:30 am, have breakfast by 06:30 am and assemble at 07:30 am for the trek. All valuables should be deposited at HMI Warden Office before leaving for the trek else no one will be responsible if they get lost or stolen. Other luggage which is to be left at the hostel must be kept in cupboards and properly locked. In Kanchenjunga National Park, cameras will be chargeable at Rs 20/day. Ration for kitchens had already left for the camps ahead of us. At campsites, huts are available but may not be open yet after the monsoon season.
In the evening we discussed our options with Tenzing Sir who was most friendly and supportive to us. We discussed both the options with him i.e. Goecha La and Sendakhpu treks to go for as a small group on our own. Tenzing Sir was most cooperative and gave us good guidance with all aspects involved.
In Goecha La trek, we will have to take ration and kitchen with us. We would be able to cover the distance easily if we hire a trekking company. He said that huts are available but the problem is they may not be open yet.
Instead if we go for Sendakhpu, tea-houses are available en route where we can get food and shelter. After further discussion within our group, we decided to go for Sendakhphu. Prabhu has already done Sendakhphu and would prove a good guide to us. He promised the views of Kanchenjunga and Everest if the weather is clear on one of the days of our treks. He even made a five day itinerary in case in tomorrow’s final medical checkup he is cleared. We would be leaving shortly after other students have left from HMI.
Since only 10 days of my 30 days leave has passed yet, I had planned to travel the whole time available with me. Me and Prabhu will explored the possibility of Bhutan after we return from Sendakhpu. Although a Passport or Voter ID Card is required to cross the border, I have my company ID and I hope this would be sufficient to cross the border without any problems.
I came back to the room after the discussions. Since, I had already packed, I watched my roommates packing their bags and getting excited about the coming days. Since, I had given up all hopes that I would be cleared for the trek, I shared my plan of Sendakhphu and Bhutan with them. But everything was bleak as compared to HMI trek and Mountaineering training in the lap of Mount Kanchenjunga. This was not the ending I had expected.
I woke up early at 04:15 hours got ready and waited for 06:00 hours to go for medical checkup. My roommate Sameer gave me a small scaly fruit to consume, which looks like Litchi from inside. He had purchased it from a vendor near Tenzing Rock. He said that this has the property to alleviate Blood Pressure temporarily. I did not eat it because, in case it worked, I did not want to influence my Blood Pressure readings. I believed that if high Blood Pressure is something which is taken quite seriously by these institutes then I better not go to avoid facing problems at higher elevations.
I went to the MI room with others. Mukul got lucky and his readings had come down to normal. All others were handed over a slip and asked to go home. I dearly wished I had been selected but was happy at last this tumult will end and I can now move on to other adventures. Two of the rejected students were from Sikkim Scouts. They were admitted for the course on the insistence of their captain who is also a student in the course.
The institute tried their best to take us in. They gave advise on lowering the blood pressure, gave us multiple opportunities and all the moral support. I said goodbye to all my friends and left HMI Darjeeling for a new adventure.
To the beginning of the HMI adventure: