‘Too treacherous a trek’, says the first Keralite to cross Himalayan Trail pass

‘Too treacherous a trek’, says the first Keralite to cross Himalayan Trail pass
Jibin Joseph during the trek

Idukki-native Jibin Joseph has recently made the landmark achievement of being the first Keralite to cross the highly risky Himalayan trail pass. Jibin Joseph started dreaming of crossing the Himalayan Trail pass well before the COVID-19 pandemic. When his dream finally came true this June, Jibin became the first Keralite to cross the Himalayan Trail pass, a unique achievement.

He was the only Keralite in the team of five who conquered the Trail pass and got the honour of being the 21st team to do so in history.

In 1830, Malak Singh and Supi had crossed the Trail pass for the first time. Since then, more than 90 teams have attempted to cross the Trail pass. However, only 20 teams have succeeded.

Jibin, who is a radiographer with a private Hospital in Delhi, opens up about his travel experience and how he reached the ‘Himalayan’ summit of adventure:

A perilous journey

This is a mountaineering journey which can be attempted only with permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. After reaching Bhageshwar in Uttarakhand on June 5, we left for Jaikuni, a hillside village. Jaikuni is a Himalayan village almost cut off from the outside world. From the next day, we embarked on our journey to cover about 140 kilometres by walk. This path is pretty deserted except for occasional trekkers.

The main hurdle on day two was crossing the Pindari River, which has no bridge across it. We moved across the river despite the extreme cold and strong undercurrents. From the time the sun rises and as the heat peaks, the snow would start melting. So, by noon, the water level and the undercurrents in the river also rise making it even more dangerous.

Jibin Joseph

Continuous steep treks

We slowly scaled up the steep hills and mountains one by one. The green carpet-like meadows without trees and small hills with flowers in full bloom were all enchanting. The snow-clad peaks stood high above these hills like stretched fingers on a hand.

On the June 13, we reached the glacier field. We were to stay and walk through for the next 4 days. It was tough for us to cope with the Himalayan climate. We must drink lots of water. But it’s really difficult to drink cold water in extremely cold conditions.

The level of oxygen in the atmosphere decreases as we scale up. Naturally, it becomes challenging to even walk. As the exposure to sun’s heat is higher at that altitude, we may also be prone to sunstroke during the journey.

On June 14, we reached the Rockwall base camp of the Trail pass. Unlike what we saw from a distance, this was a colossal wall-like mountain which may scare anyone. Most of those who had attempted to cross the Trail pass were deterred by this towering Rockwall.

We started climbing up the dangerous Rockwall which stood steep for 200 metres, using ropes. The area has crevices and cracks in between the glacier layers. Some crevices would be covered in snow and we would not know. If we step on such crevices, we might fall into them and die. It is that risky.

Heading towards the goal

The next day’s journey was through a treacherous snow path. We were all tied to one rope as we walked. This is done so that even if one person falls into danger, they can be saved by others.

On June 15 morning, around 9, we reached the 17,400 feet summit above the Trail pass and hoisted the National flag. The Nandadevi peak stood tall facing us as a witness to our achievement. We were feeling ecstatic as if we had conquered the world. We also achieved the honour of being the 21st team to cross the Trail pass so far.

The 750 metres descent from the Trail pass, which is very steep and treacherous with rock and snow, is another huge challenge. Starting the trek down at 9.30 am, we reached the foot of the mountain by 7 in the evening.

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