Trekking in the Himalayas

Rijul Gill is a young man who lives in my area and is passionate about mountaineering. In the past couple of years he has exhausted the routes in our area and is looking for more challenges and to continue exploring further and further. It makes me happy to see young people pushing their limits and exploring these beautiful mountains all around us. Here is a short interview with him

  • Name : Rijul Gill
  • Age : 24
  • Hometown : DHARAMSALA
  • How I got into trekking : One fine day my friend said lets climb MON Peak . I never knew about climbing and trekking and had never been to the Mountains before ( not even Triund ) I promptly said yes little knowing that peak climbing was a technical thing . We obviously did not make it to the top of MON Peak but I did make it to the top of INDRAHARA PASS . I have never looked back since that day and have trekked across many passes
Rijul Gill, Sersank La, Shiv Shankar Pass, Himalayas, Trekking, Dharamshala
  • Trekking equipment used : I have used equipment of various brands like LAFUMA , LOAMER , CLIFF CLIMBERS , INESCA , WILDCRAFT , ADIDAS , THE NORTH FACE to name a few .
  • My favourites treks and routes : In DHAULADHAR RANGE KUNDLI PASS is my all time favourite trek route from KHANYARA ( DHARAMSALA ) to KWARSI ( HOLI ) CHAMBA . TORAL PASS , TALANG PASS , BHIMGHASUTRI PASS , JARALU PASS , SINGHAR PASS, MAKORI PASS . In PIR PANJAL RANGE CHOBIA PASS , KALICHO PASS , DARATI PASS , CHENI PASS IN GREAT HIMALAYAS SHIV SHANKAR / SERSANK LA PASS , POAT LA , KANG LA PASS .

Rijul has done all this so far with his friends and by his own efforts. He wishes to pursue Mountaineering and is looking at some courses in the immediate future. It is difficult following your passion sometimes, but one has to keep at it. Eventually, the love of what you do infects everyone around you and you are encouraged by your peers to do more.

Rijul, we all appreciate your efforts so far, good luck in your future trips and keep on keepin’ on, brother!!!!

 

The Joy of Riding

To defend the joy of riding a motorcycle can sound like bashing cagers and totally denying the need for any other form of transport. It is edgy, it is fun, it is cool and if you have a vintage motorcycle, then it is sexy.

Royal Enfield, Vintage, Electric Start, Wimbledon

We live in the Himalayas, and ride motorcycles everywhere. It is amazing as each time you ride you feel happy. Going for a coffee means putting on your gear, banging down the checklist, making sure everything works and then starting up your favorite bike. At the Cafe, people look at the bike and take photos and at least one person asks more about the bike. When you are riding long distance, it is just thrilling to go fast on the curvy roads and let your motorcycle loose.

In India, we have the blessing of having a few vintage British made motorcycles still running around and the Royal Enfield still in production. You can find old cast iron motorcycles and fix them up to do epic rides. I myself have 7 of the finest and every day I decide which one to ride to get that coffee.

It’s a revolution, baby!!

Andretta Pottery, with a side of chai

Ride to Andretta

Going to Andretta is like going to your grandparents’ home. It is dated but it had once been young and vibrant, Bohemian even. The ride itself is fun. It is 54 Kms from Dharamshala and the roads are good. Our host, Denis Harrap, has a beautiful natural house and set of cottages that he runs as a hotel.

Walking through the village you can hear leftover echoes of laughter, music, parties and conversations. It used to be an artists’ village where a few famous painters and writers retreated to make art and live their lives in peace. The houses have been taken over by new management and, in some cases, descendants of those famous names. All that survives of its former glory are a couple of houses of famous personalities turned into museums and the famous Andretta Pottery.

The joy of riding in the Himalayas has no bounds. If you can see past the Kamikaze bus drivers, cell phone-using car drivers, jeeps stopped in the middle of the road, pot holes the size of your 19 inch tyres, cows, dogs, pedestrians, priests, sadhus… did I say it was a fun ride?

Chai with a side of moral dilemma

Chimrat is a small village in the Miyar Valley, an offshoot of the legendary Pangi Valley. This valley is a sharp valley formed by the Miyar river, a tributary to the Chandrabhaga River that makes up the East-West running Pangi Valley.

In this little village we met an old man called Devi Singh, who turned out to be a legendary guide and climber. Devi assisted International and Indian mountaineering teams to climb the peaks we see around us. He agreed to walk us to Urgus and back. Urgus is the last village at the head of this narrow valley. From Urgus, you can climb the glacier-covered passes into Ladakh or East towards Chamba.   The Peaks around us were Gardhar, Karpat and Urgus. Devi Singh has climbed and set some records on Karpat.

11 Old lady ChimratAs we left this village, we realised there were 3 more landslides and had to wait for the workers to clear the roads. Right across from the river, there is a little chai shop and a few lean-to shelters. One of these shelters had this old woman. She was local here, but her family had died/left long back and finally she found herself alone. Too old to till her land, she finally lost everything and moved to this side of the road under a yellow tarp. She lives on whatever she can forage and sometimes, relatives send her money for sustenance. The loneliness and the self sufficiency leave you with conflicted feelings. You keep arguing with yourself over what should be and what should not. Our societal programming objects to leaving old ladies to fend for themselves, but the euphoric, hippie side of you thinks it is almost romantic to live within your means. Both are wrong, as we don’t know the story behind her loneliness. On posing the question, her eyes fill up but she doesn’t say anything. We cannot say anything without sounding like assholes. So we politely leave her to her memories and silently apologise for bringing it up for her again.