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Sunday, May 2, 1999
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Pindari Glacier: Majestic river of ice
By Ashok Jerath

MYSTERIOUS are the ways of nature and unique the reply by adventurers. Nature has distributed the scenic beauty by portraying colourful landscapes beyond the reach of human-beings, but man is the most potential living being who has crossed all barriers, natural as well as artificial, to reach his goal. Strange are the ways of his body that, travelling scores of miles at regular intervals, gets exhausted but again comes to life after a bit of rest. Perhaps this secret of the body was realised by the adventurers and exploited to achieve their objectives.

During my stay at Almora I availed several such opportunities of trekking the higher tracts and reaching the Pindari and Kefni Glaciers, daring the onslaught of chilly winds and trekking through layers of ice several feet high. It was a wonderful experience.

We started from Almora in the morning by bus and reached Bageshwar, 90 km away near the foothills of the Himalayas in the noon. By the evening we reached Soung, the last station on the metalled road.

Pindari GlacierHence with our kit on our backs, which ranged between 8 to 10 kg, we started walking in the dark towards the first camp, Loharkhet, about 3 km away on the top of the ridge. The quite forest in the night was awakened by the climbing steps of the trekkers.

The morning was pleasant. After having our breakfast and packed lunch boxes, we set out for the next camp, Dhakuri, which was about 11 Km from Loharkhet. It was a steep climb.

The whole group was automatically divided according to speed, temperament and vitality. While climbing to Dhakuri-talla, we came across a ridge having a height of about 2,300 metres. There was no water around. However, a small tuckshop was there to provide us with water, tea and snacks. Malla Jhandidhara has a height of about 3000 metres. One can view the splendid Sunder Dunga cliffs with all their majesty from the spot.

The path curves down to expose the wonder lying ahead, a fantastic valley in the dense forests of conifers. This is the valley of dreams, Dwali.

The whole Sunder Dunga ranges were clouded on that day. It was a cold day. The students and the researchers played several collective field games and warmed themselves up. After half an hour the clouds disappeared and what a splendid view it was. The cliffs were shining with ripples of golden colour. The night was colder. Sleeping bags alone could not suffice.

A group of trekkers sitting near the glacierThe next morning we set out after a routine light breakfast. It was a typical Kumaon village named Khati, situated at distance of 8 km. from Dhakuri on a plateau. The track to Dhati was comparatively easy. Singing, talking and a few of us dancing, we reached the village. There, we had tea and snacks. The people belonging to the village welcomed us with a smile. They are beautiful, open-minded and well- behaved people but their irony is that most of them have not seen a metalled road, what to speak of vehicles.

The route to Dwali was pleasant and easy going. We started our journey by the side of the roaring Pindar. The gushing water sounded horrible but still it was inspiring. The murmur of the splendid Pindar was cutting the monotony of the deserted tract. On the way a number of picnic spots held us spellbound. After crossing the river the path became more enchanting with the beautifully decorated landscapes. Suddenly the sky was overcast with heavy clouds.

We set our kit on our shoulders again and hastened our steps. It started drizzling, and soon it began to snow.However, we crossed the hanging bridge on the river Pindar and once again changed our direction to climb a small ridge on the other, side so as to reach the rest house.

Most of us, despite a hard trek were shivering with cold. The boys who had crossed the river earlier had a fire made out of the wet logs of wood picked up from the jungle. It was so cold that the limbs were numb.

We left our kit in the rest house and trekked to Pindari Glacier. The distance was about 12 km. climbing up and almost the same distance while climbing down back to the base camp at Dwali.

Around 6.20 p.m. we reached Furkia, a castle like structure, built by the British. The magnificent building with its turrets and chimneys reminded us about medieval architecture. While climbing up from this spot slowly, the vegetation disappeared. It was really difficult to climb up on the frozen water slabs. It was a silent valley surrounded by snow-clad cliffs. We reached the zero point at about 9.30 in the morning. It was foggy. The whole valley was surrounded by misty cliffs. The splendid Pindari Glaciers with all its majesty left us spellbound.

We left the zero point and climbed further a few steps ahead to see the surroundings around. It was a beautiful valley surrounded by snow-clad mountains on three sides.

We returned back to our base camp at about 4 in the evening. To commemorate the trek, we had a memorable camp-fire. The boys and girls went on dancing the whole night, forgetting their fatigue and the return journey. Back

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