ROOPKUND – Live the high. | State: Uttarakhand | Altitude: 16,499ft | AKA: Skeleton-Lake

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We started from Patalganga trekking on the loose-limestone-scree of Garhwal-Himalayas towards Didna.6

Up-ahead, Ali Bugyal is a liberating-grassland-upslope. Anand, our guide shared wonderful stories of the mountain-legends, summits and climbing-accidents, anecdotes on Keedaghaas-smuggling(an aphrodisiac sourced from mountains). Mountain-gossip! We hiked up to Bedni-Bugyal, then to Pathar-Nachuni.7

Day 4, was the height-gain-day. We started at 3AM. It was snow all-the-way. Frozen, well-set. The Aha-moment came when we spotted a pug-mark. “Snowleopard”-confirmed Anand! Snow Leopard pugmarkWe got scattered along-the-route. Crossing 14,100ft, my pace reduced.

I started panting. Each misplaced-step brought me down by three, making recovery a struggle. Kicking each step into snow, gaining-meters-by-the-minute drained me fast, oxygen-thinning. We had to climb 4,000ft-over-15kms.

It turned sunny. Snow loosened-up. My pace reduced further.

I remembered the lines of famous mountaineer-author Jon Krakauer-“The most perfect conditions of weather and snow offer the slightest chance of success”.

After a moderate-steep-climb of around thousand-feet, we saw a circular-blue-pool with floating-ice in it. Roopkund! Stark-silent-splendid.

We’re on a high!12

Descent was harder than I expected. I knew I had to lose altitude ASAP. Digging-in-heels strong was the only-way to stay-upright. A little lax would send me sliding.IMG-20150601-WA0011-001

After a rewarding-day, we got into our ABC. No alarms were set.

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