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