…3,4, 5, the thunder and lightning was coming closer. Our sore and cold bodies were huddled into the sleeping bags in the tiny tent, on the tiny ledge of dirt. On the edge of the steep mountain side we were trying to think of other things than the frequent aftershocks after the 7.6 2005 earthquake that killed more than 0.000 and left even a greater number homeless. We are humanitarian workers in Pakistan, and since everybody else is celebrating Eid, we have taken off into the Kashmiri mountains. We are only my friend and me, and the security coordinators at our respective NGO’s think we have some locals with us. We have an old Pakistani made gun and a Russian map which is even older. Tales of bears do not scare us enough to stop us from venturing into this unknown territory. On an earlier climb we had seen a glacier on top of a mountain and set our minds to reaching it. It is late fall and all the sheep and herders have moved down to the valley long ago. The trip had been hard, but we had reached our goal, and were now moving down.
We had chosen to descend down a parallel valley and were using a small herders path when it started snowing more and more. The path disappeared about when the light was disappearing too. We got to a spot where the option was fall down the steep mountain side, or pitch the tent on the only spot possible, a small ledge that would move every time we did. After choosing the latter, eating the last of our food, and wrenching the water out of our boots, we curled up in our bags and lay listening to the snow hitting the tent, and the thunder approaching. I remember thinking: “what on earth am I doing here?” The thing is that I have a thing for situations that make me think exactly this. I like it.
There is no point in pretending I am not the adventure junkie that I am, and that this trip was my best and most adventurous ever. But not because of that night, but because we walked where nobody else (apart from sheep and local herders) had walked before us. The feeling of entering the unknown and exploring beats the extremeness in my point of view. I have done many other things which are a lot more hard core in other peoples view, but very often, somebody has been there before, and there is a book, a web site or an advice to listen to. Here it was only us. And the story ends well. The next morning the snow had melted enough to just see the cat like footprints around the tent and to find a safe way down.
My next adventure is a three week trek through northern Bhutan with another friend. Due to the circumstances of the location we are going with a guide on a route that has been traveled before, the so called Snowman trek, but for me it will still be a great adventure, and I am very excited to finally get back into the high mountains:-)