HAMPTA PASS TREK- A story of finding success in failure.

Have you ever failed at something ? Have you ever prepared yourself for an event and still couldn’t succeed in it ? Have you felt that feeling of dejection after failing ? This blog is about my story of failure and how it affected me.

My college’s final exams were starting in a month and I had started my preparation well. Preparation for my next adrenaline pumping adventure ! I love mountains and I am a keen trekker. Me and my friend had planned to do the Hampta Pass trek on our own. Hampta Pass is a stunning crossover trek from Kullu valley to Spiti valley. It’s a 5-6 day trek and the highest point of the trek is 14035ft. We gathered all the information, arranged all necessary items and were all set to conquer the mountains.

It was 22nd May and after a 12 hour bus journey from Delhi to Manali and another 2 hours from Manali in a cab we had reached the starting point of our trek, a place called Jobra. A headache had accompanied me all this while but the excitement to be in the mountain’s lap helped me ignore it. It was around noon when we started our trek. Our first campsite was only an hour away. Abhimanyu, my friend, suggested that we directly move to the second camp site which was 3 hours away. Chikka the second camp site was at 10500ft(approx) and as far as acclimatization is concerned, going Balufrom 700ft to 10500ft in one day is not a smart idea. However, even though I was hesitant we went ahead to Chikka. Around 5 pm, as we pitched our tent I started feeling my headache increase and a slight burning sensation in my eyes. Since we were both very tired and my health was not so well we decided to have dinner and get inside our sleeping bags.

Chikka

A good morning it was the next day. The medicine I took in the night helped me with a comfortable sleep. After a lethargic awakening we packed our stuff. There was a small tent shop which sold tea and snacks. We had our breakfast there and then resumed our trek. Our next stop was Jwara at 11072ft. It was a steep rocky ascent and was testing our endurance to the fullest. Couple of hours in the trek came a river crossing. We tried looking for a different route but nature didn’t give us any option. So we took off our shoes and rolled our pants up to cross the river. My first step in the water and trust me when I say this, the water was DAMN COLD !!! We rushed through that section and warmed our feet on the rocks. After a short break on the other side we got ready and resumed. We reached Jwara early in the afternoon when Abhimanyu gave the idea of pushing forward to the next campsite. I was not very convinced about it though. Time was not an issue as I knew we would make it well before sundown, but examining my health, I did not want to rush things unnecessarily. Skipping acclimatization and now rushing through the mountains, I was just not it favour of it. With a little tussle in thoughts I decided we’ll give it go.

It was around 5:30pm when we reached the campsite, Balu Ka Ghera at 12411ft. In an hour or so the sun would set and the cold winds had already started to freeze our butts. I knew we better hurry up pitching our tent. With a slight difficulty, we somehow managed to set up our shelter. My body was aching, there was a throbbing pain in my head and to make things worse I got cold too. I was in no mood to move a muscle. I had the same routine again. Had a bit of food, took my medicine and went off to sleep in my cozy sleeping bag. I dozed off with a sad feeling that night. I was not having fun. It was all more of a struggle. And it was something that I had never experienced in any of my other treks.

Balu ka Ghera and Hampta Pass in the background

After the cold night, the warmth of the sun felt amazing. Plan of action, well no POA. Two issues arose that day. Firstly, the locals had told us that the Hampta pass can not be crossed due to the thin ice which was not safe to walk on, but we did have the option to go to the top of Hampta Pass. Secondly, my health was no better than last night. After giving it a thought we decided that we’ll rest the entire day and will go for the summit the next day. I did feel better through the day but the cold I had caught kept irritating me. I had chest congestion and nose block, and as it is breathing was an issue at high altitude. The sun was diving behind the mountains and it was getting colder. By the evening it was all same again. Headache, neck pain and everything else. I couldn’t sleep. Around 1 in the night I started feeling a wobbly sensation in my stomach. Soon knowing what it was I got out of my tent and as soon as I got out I puked. It was bad ! I quickly came back inside and tucked my self in the sleeping bag. It was kind of heartbreaking. I went through a series of emotions and questions. I was sad. I was confused. I wanted to be on top of that mountain. Everytime I came out of my tent I saw the snow capped top. But my health took a toll on me and I felt helpless and with a heavy heart I decided to turn back. There was no point staying there for one more night. The only way to regain health was to get to a lower altitude.

After a long cold sleepless night I was happy to see the first light in the morning. I said to Abhimanyu, “I am going down”. I was very blunt and did not want any discussion on it. Though he had agreed to it, I knew he wasn’t very happy about it. We reached Jobra around 2pm and luckily got a ride back to Manali. All this time, from the moment we started back, there was only one thing that was bugging me inside. I had failed. I had failed at something I love doing. I had failed at something I was so prepared for. I had failed at something I have been longing for. It was hard to accept that. I came back to Delhi. My health was lot better. I returned home with that feeling of failure. With a feeling of sadness and dejection. I cried like a baby. My mom gave me a hug and tried consoling me. Later that day in the evening my dad said, “son, you have not failed. Infact it’s a victory”. And it made me think, how is it a victory? I did not succeed.

Last picture before going down

And that is when I realised that I did fail, but ‘fail’ is a conclusion that comes after a long process. And in that process is where I succeeded. There were so many small things which I did right. Pitching the tent, cooking meals in the cold weather on a small stove, navigating through the terrain, and most importantly taking difficult decisions. I learnt how crucial it is to take care of your health and how one needs to know when to summit the mountain and when to submit to the mountain. It was my first trek without any guide. We were our own guides and had to solve problems on our own, and doing that was success. All these small things was that victory !!

I wish you all the very best for all your endeavours. Hope you get what you aim for and achieve success. But if you are ever forced to submit remember that it’s only a lost battle but the war still remains.

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