Trekking in the Indian Himalayas:
Since times immemorial, the Indian Himalaya has continued to cast a wondrous spell with its archaic beauty of the soul-stirring peaks, the sight of which has spawned countless thrilling adventures. The Himalayas attract the trekkers with its multifarious pictorial landscapes filled with bubbling and rustling streams, snow-clad jagged pinnacles, rolling meadow, gorgeous valleys, green pastures, coniferous forests, stony sparkling glaciers, flowers of innumerable kinds and hues and many more. If you are really on the lookout for a break from your chaotic lifestyle then trekking in the Indian Himalayas will be an electrifying experience.
The sundown and the sunrise from the vantage points bless the mountain visitors with an overwhelming experience. It is almost a surreal experience to watch the mountains in different shades during the day. Waking up in the morning in the mountain-ringed campsites and feasting your eyes on the intoxicating Himalayan beauty is what draws you to the exclusion of everything else.
Trekking in the ‘Abode of Snow’ can be quite daunting too. The weather in each part of the mountains is constantly changing and unpredictable. With its diverse topography and the jagged and steep terrains, the trekkers should be constantly alert and careful. Trekking in the snow is a lot more difficult. The trekkers can indulge in the winter treks only with proper winter trek essentials and safety measures. One has got to be patient and medically fit to undertake any trek in the Indian Himalayas.
Challenges Faced by Trekkers on A Winter Trek:
Though the winter treks happen to be the most fascinating ones, they have some of the most difficult challenges to overcome. If you are unflinching and determined then you can easily overcome all the hurdles that these treks throw your way. The winter treks require you to be prepared beforehand so that you don’t have to suffer later.
Harsh Temperature Throughout the Season:
The winter treks entail the most atrocious temperatures throughout the day. Avalanches, snowstorms are very common in these treks. The temperatures often plummet down to -20oC during the nights. You have to be totally guarded against this bone-chilling and teeth-chattering cold. You have to be mentally and physically prepared to conquer the brutality of the high-altitude conditions. It is very much imperative to layer up yourself with proper warm clothes so that you do not succumb to the harsh conditions of the nature.
Long Icy Walks:
You have to take part in long icy walks during the winter treks in India. You also have to maneuver certain steep ascents during certain parts of the trek in fierce weather conditions. You should be very careful while crossing the frozen riverbeds and snowy paths as they become very slippery and dangerous. These parts of the trek are quite strenuous. You need to have a practice of walking long stretches and remain physically fit so that you can go the whole hog.
The Vagaries of Mountain Weather:
The weather during the winters is extremely inclement and beyond human control. You have to take guard against any casualty that might come your way during the trek. There can be untimely snowfall or even snow blizzards. It also happens that some days do not receive the sunlight and remains bitterly cold and damp. You need to be well versed with these hostile weather conditions to undertake a successful winter trek.
Water During the Winter Treks:
As the temperatures are very low the water freezes in no time. It is very difficult for the trekkers to carry much water as it becomes burdensome. You need to stop at certain places where they serve fresh warm food and water so that you can replenish your energy to continue with the trek.
Acute Mountain Sickness During the Winter Treks:
The winter treks are mostly located at higher altitudes. Due to the thin level of oxygen in the atmosphere the trekkers often suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). The extreme weather conditions and the high altitudes often cause nausea, headaches, fever and breathlessness. To prevent these issues to a certain extent, proper acclimatization is a must. Your body must get enough time to adapt to the mountainous weather conditions. If that takes you longer days to complete the trek, so be it. Slowly and gradually the more your body gets familiar to the new weather conditions, the less difficult it gets to finish the trek with flying colours.
Tips for A Winter Trek In The Himalayas:
- As the temperatures run in minus degree, wearing a lot of woolen garments often do not provide enough warmth. Try to exercise a bit before putting on your jackets. It will absorb your body heat and help you keep warm.
- It is so cold that the water in your bottles often freezes at nights. The trick is keeping your water bottle close to your body so that it does not freeze.
- The winter treks require you to wear two sets of gloves so that it remains warm and you will feel very comfortable.
- During the treks, try to keep to the side of the trek trails. Try to walk on the soft snows so that you can get better grips while trekking. Try to avoid the hard snow crusts totally as they are very perilous and prone to accidents.
- As soon as you reach the campsite, wrap yourself up with heavy woolens. It will keep you warm and comfortable through the night.
- Trekking in the mountains during winters requires practice, sheer endurance and determination. Sleeping at night becomes quite difficult owing to the menacing weather conditions. Try to reform your sleeping cycle one month prior to the trek. Practice sleeping early so that it becomes helpful during the treks too.
- Even when you sleep, put on all your woolen garments so that you do not catch cold and stay fit.
- Use hand sanitizers mostly to wash your hands over the icy cold water.
- Choose yours trekking shoes wisely. The boots should be a perfect fit with a good grip. They should also be waterproof and heat insulators.
- For those who have long hair, it is highly recommended to keep your hair open so that it covers your ears and neck inside the woolen garments.
- Before commencing the trek, try to have a thorough check up of your body. Carry some medicines as per your requirement. It is really useful.
- Eucalyptus oil is one of most important winter trek essentials. Apply the oil on your feet and hands before wearing the gloves and socks. It keeps you very warm.
To be in the Himalayas, despite the prevailing harsh weather, has its own rewards. It is not just what you see, but it is also what your body absorbs, particularly the spiritual vibrations this great and sacred mountain range emits at all times. You are no longer the same person when you return. One’s cleansed of one’s impurities, lock, stock and barrel.
Author’s Bio: Souromi Banerjee is an aspiring content writer. She is associated with Voices, The Statesman, where some of her articles have been published. She is currently pursuing her English Major from Loreto College, Kolkata. She is a travel junkie as mountain is in her bones. Her other hobbies are dancing and painting.