Thursday, December 23, 2010

“RAW Unleashed”… “Endless Alang” and “Dabang Madan” and “One Desperate Moment”

“RAW Unleashed”… “Endless Alang” and “Dabang Madan” and “One Desperate Moment”
Purushottam Thakar, Giridarshan Trekking Club (GTC), Pune
17th ,  18th, 19th December 2010, Alang-Madan, GTC Get Raw event
Dedicated to those 17 daring Participants who made this trek not only enjoyable with their enthusiastic support but also strengthening the bond of lifetime friendship.
“Ayushyat Ek Mitra Asava,
Rikama Trek la yeun aapli ozi vahnara,
Aaichi taarif karat aaplya dabyatil bhaji khanara,
Swathaha “Anchor” na hota aaplyala belay denara,
Dhur bharlya dolyane chulivarti patele dharnara,
Chuklya waatevar pekatat laath denara,
Ratri gaani gatana patelyacha tablya varti saath denara,
Sarti ratra ghorato mahnun shivi denara,
Pack up kartana aapli pishavi(sack) bharanara”
Ek tari mitra asava…..
--- Credit to Sachin Dhavale, Giridarshan Trekking Club, Pune
(Changed some of the words, so suit to general readers)

PS: - All timings are tentative, believe me, this trek makes you forget time. Also most of the time photo's are used to highlight the participants who played the key role in this trek, endless photo's are available at GTC office, please visit to see them. Although i could add many more important photos, apologies for that.
21st  December  9.00 PM Hotel Shreeman, having sip of my Antiquity,
 Just Remembered above mentioned short poem; Sachin Dhavale sent few months back to all of us, I guess at the time of Dhodap-Kanchana Trek, and my mind is going back to the memory lane en-route to Alang-Madan. Antiquity doing its job, its warm in here…..

15th December 8.00 PM GTC HQ, Narayan Peth Pune,
Reached in hurry to GTC to do planning for Alang-Madan Trek, but the mood in quorum is tensed.  Vikas looks busted, sad. “Uttam, If  need be would you do lead climb and lead entire trek?”  asked Vikas.  Nerve freezing question, although I had prepared my mind for the lead climb and wanted to do it  under Vikas’s supervision since we have best tuning.  “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I may not be able to come for trek” said Vikas. Vikas had an urgency in his Company which he must resolve.   I felt so bad, sad Already Amit Govande, Avinav Rau, Sangram Dhongade, Mandar Borse were out of it and now Vikas….No way…..I told them to postpone the event , honestly I didn’t have the confidence to drive the entire trek without these guys at least Vikas, since we are going to a place where 0.000001% mistake is invitation to the dreadfull accident and I didn’t want to take any chances for the participants. But the show must go on.
We settled on hiring an external expert, Get Nirant  Sardar with me and manage the trek. Meantime Vikas was busy convincing his bosses how important this event is for him. It’s not just trek , its more than that. It’s his passion.
Sent Desperate SMS to Vikas to manage somehow.
16th December 10.00 AM
Beep… Beep… Beep! New Message in Inbox, its Vikas
“Done…I’m coming”
My joy knew no bounds that moment and mind started already on Alang-Madan.
16th December 11.30 PM GTC HQ, Narayan Peth Pune,
Bus is ready, Vikas , Harshal doing last checks on the preparations, all are here, we need to pick up Hashmeet(papaji) on Bremen Circle, on board and we started. Some video shooting, initial chit –chat, Ganapati Bappa Moraya!
17th December around 1.30 AM Bota,
Annual Madan Ritual, Must perform, Tea at Bota, Cold here, but less compared to last year. Strange and Unusual.  We had our own stories of Cold in Bota, all made to look fake, no chilling factor this time.
Salman Khan’s Dabang is just over.
17th December around 4.30 AM , Udadhavane
School, our sleeping place for the moment, newly painted, clean, No chilling cold here as well, that’s surprising.  This is mystic. God knows whether we are being fooled around by nature and will have chiller kept on Alang and Madan, let’s see.
Nitin and I roamed around a bit, got some warmth from bonfire, lit by local workers; road work is going on here.
Asleep, “Grrrrrrrrrrrr!, Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!”, Damn!, “Nishant SSSSSSSSS”, it’s not snoring its roaring. Yeh shanti  nahi  , Ashanti hai, Restless People, got some sleep, 6.00 AM, Vikas , calling it out for tea.
Finished morning chores, Got some tea and Jam, sauce Sandwiches, called wife and, changed the small sack to big club sack, I tell you, this sack changed my fate ……
Endless Alang

17th December around 8.30 AM
My Goodness! Are Deva!  Giant! Mammoth! Whatever big name you can think off, Alang the Endless. At least 2 Dhoadap’s will fit in.
Huge cliffs, the other end is not at all visible. Man, I realized this one is penetrating, I tell you, this one is definitely RAW, and it’s going to kick our asses today. I felt RAW unleashed. Are we supposed to climb this endless thing? Yeah yeah yeah….Khaj kunala hoti? Balach badabd! 
On the backdrop of that Monster Alang,
Introduction to the trek, further plan by Vikas , Ghoshna….Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jay!!!, You see the guy in “Jay Maharashtra “ saffron color t-shirt, that’s Madhav Kulkarni(Renamed to Madhav Shastri by Vikas), he was so charged that he extended the Ghoshna “Afazal Khan Murdabaad”, hehehe! LMAO…..
Filled water from the nearby stream, virgin pure water, that’s going to be savior for us since no water on the entire route till we reach atop Alang.
Its 8.55 AM and trek has started. Straight through the paddies, slightly left on the Alang, one can see the route.
17th December around 10.30 AM

Huuuuuussshhhhh!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaahhh! Hhhufffffffffff! Don’t get me wrong ;)! Nitin and me reached first station, the long plateau, one can see Alang and its surroundings clearly, Kalsubai, Ratan, Aajoba, Katrabai, Sceninc Uddhavane, Cool Breeze, Resting for a while, Madan is still not visible clearly.
The straight climb has already started kicking our stamina.
Out comes the Chocolate Sticks, energy bars. We mimicked Chocolate Sticks as Cigars, momentary pleasureJ,  Nitin Spilled  “ Chortyaa  Aafuchi aayat karnari Toli”…..See Vikas bellow, Attal Charsi (btw this is just Gimmick) . Camera’s out, Photography, Rest, Fun, Relaxed and start , keep alang on right start walking and walking and walking and…….walking + n!

Kulang, Madan are in sight,  you can see the entire alang traverse till Madan, which we need to cross to reach to the caves on top.  I lost, Alang won. Shoots! This is way toooooooo long to finish. Never ending.
Nature has once again reminded that we are nobody in front of it; we are minute particles of this ecosystem. Let’s not challenge it.  I’m humbled, all egos burnt, I bowed in respect and surrendered myself to the nature and started.
All people gathering fuel sticks for Food and Warmth, the volume was high this time since we had to take care of fuel for Madan as well, considering the scarcity of fuel on Madan.  Stacks are ready, roped on sacks, some in hand, the fleet starts walking…walking …walking……
1.30 hours, no route in sight to go up, Looks like we have come far away from the original route, Vikas disappeared in the forest to search for exact route, he met a localite villager, who showed the way,
By now, energy levels have already started dropping considerably, Shit, this sack, its killing me.
Zig-Zag way through dried water stream, up , up and up….is it going to really end somewhere?
People turned in to walking woodJ by now. The effort was no more manual, limbs were in motion, automatically they were moving and we were climbing up…..
At one point…I could see dead men walking ………Tyres were punctured ……the journey was slowing down….eyes were closing…..
Sacks Down, Men Down, All Down….. The batli point has been crossed.

17th December around 1.30 Afternoon, dried stream.
Lunch packs are out, home food, now we really start valuing that food. The munching is also automatic, no force needed, jaws were moving automatically in the original torque.
Sproutes, chapati’s  , Chandrakant’s Happe(Vikas calls it Gappe) , Gul Poli, Paratha’s, Sauce and what not.
Sun on top, glaring with its natural capacity. Rest. Limbs back to normal a little bit. Energized we , started towards Moli Patch.
17th December around 3.00 afternoon, Moli Patch

This should be around 20 ft from its base but a dried trunk of a tree is aligned to its middle to make it little easier to climb. There is a crack on its left on the wall of Alang. Rope must be fixed. As getting to the dried tree and balancing on it is really tricky. One has to climb on dried tree, balance and start climbing the actual patch.
There is dent on the right hand side at knee height where you can fit in your right toe, then fix your left to either on tip of dried trunk or in the gap, take the upper holds and rise and you are done.
Vikas made the first climb, dangerously the belay was with Chandrakant down there on which Vikas, myself and nitin were self anchored, believe me if Vikas falls all fall. But he did it as usual. Fixed the rope above, I did second climb and nitin , the most important part last climb and taking off the rope.
Few hiccups with few people, especially Waghya(Ruishkesh Wagh, Madhav Kulkarni) but safe.
Now comes our Hanuman, Chetan Nike , the hulkJ,

Sack pulling is one painfull task which we have to go through while climbing, and this man(Hanuman) single handedly pulled all the sacks as if his hands were a pulley system and picking up the mithai boxes. He made it look really simple and nothing. Thanks Dude.
Waghya, already started with the batch ahead, good at least few people will reach early and capture the cave.
It’s getting late, sun coming down, intensity low. Up to Ganesh darwaja, and this sack sucks man….
I cant do it…. Vikas pulled up the sack on a small patch on the right of Ganesh Darwaja and I made my way.

17th December around 5.00 afternoons, Great Traverse
And Raw Started, endless traverse on right, valley on left, Kulang and Madan are covered by evening sunlight, golden, McKenna’s Gold as it seems or Gran Canyon.
Walking, Walking, Walking…..I wish I could walk all the way to Pune and grab a Johni Walker …..Dead man walking again…..
Sun is setting, 6.30 , people became dead slow, Zero Energy levels and  fall on left side. Feet are dragging, sliding, roughing, exhausted, crawling…walking….walking…..walking…..

God Bless Waghya, he is ready with water bottles in his hands, giving water to everybody who finished walking , what a relief, caves are in sight, somebody please carry me on shoulders, I don’t want to walk an inch more…..
Entire Alang is ours…..nobody else is there….Maaaz!
Sun sets, its dark, up in the cave…..water team is filling the water for food preparations…..
Chandrakant leading that effort, I’ve a question “what formula god has used to make this humanbeing named Chandrakant Mashalkar?”… this man completely finished in that Dried stream, from where he brings all the energy to walk down to water cisterns , and bring the water…..Salute! I’ve seen many participants in other treks, but this Man is of different make and standard. Never seen somebody like him, And the entire team , Chetan, Mrunal, Dinesh and rest, this is a Gang, This is “Band Of Brothers”, Again Salute(For who don’t know what does this mean, please google it, and you will understand what I mean by that).

10 hours…I’m done…..on my back….Don’t want to move a centimeter…. The bloody sack….lying next to me….I hate it….
Steamy tea, in hands (Thanks Madhav, Nitya), My NVIDIA mug out, sitting on the top of the cave on left side….. clear sky full of starts, the Dabang outline of Madan…..and torches on top of it..sight of human beings……

Garam Garam Khichadi...Little Salty but Heavenly Taste (Never tastes like this at home ..heheheehe) ……Commotion……Shouts…Cheers and laughs…….Automatic Munching……Chetan’s Joke’s, Waghya in pain….had a small fall on Moli patch…his forearms are aching….Thinking of Madan……Madan in front of me, from the entrance of the cave….
Enlightened faces, feel of satisfaction for many, sense of achievement through their smiles, giggles, hi-fi’s , hugs…..heavy eyes…..dozed off……
“Nishant SSSSSSSSS”, it’s not snoring its roaring. Yeh shanti  nahi  , Ashanti hai, Nevermind , he deserves this sleep after that wreck less traverse….Restless People, got some sleep, 6.00 AM, Vikas , calling it out for tea.

18th December 7.00 AM towards Alang rock patch
Facing towards Madan, from left route goes up from cave to top of Alang, only me nitin and vikas at caves, rest left for top, Old structure and plenty of water cisterns on the top, I decided to back up Vikas, since he was carrying all the load of the activity on his head, I’m sure he was tired, but still lot more to do…..
He went to fix the rope for deadly rock cut steps for alang towards Rock patch. I followed after tea, geared up that bloody sack on my back…..

Chandrakant in the below picture
The path is on the right of the caves down to the water cistern, and beyond that along side of exposure, I was welcomed by a deadly slop, slippery, I could not manage with that sack on my back, slipped 2 times with exposure on right hand side, finally gave up and left the sack their, called out Vikas, we both dragged that sack to safe place, anchored myself and followed Vikas on those deadly rock cut one point…you have to face towards steps…keeping Alang wall on your right…leaning on the wall….taking the holds on steps….holds are good but the steps keep narrowing as you go down….the tricky part was changeover of carabineer , where in the middle two ropes were joint……and fall on left hand side…..done……now turn back….face down…..and carefully take right …….and you are in cave….with Rock patch bellow….
This patch is almost 90 degree straight…….very small place to adjust your rappelling start. 2 bolts one hanger are placed in the wall, also natural hole is present for anchoring.
Sacks were kept in the cave, Hashmeet, he passed on the dabba of Upama which Nitya has prepared, me and Vikas munching it to the fullest, Harshmeet helping people to come down from those narrow steps.
18th December  8.30 AM
 I rappelled down first, it was paining. I mistakenly asked Vikas to put me on full belay due to that heavy sack on  my back….looks like he didn’t like this considering my trekking experience…..he almost played around and I got stuck in middle…..he was not letting me go down…and mischievously asking me ….”You wanted Full belay? Take it..Take it….”…hehehe…No Pain No Gain….
I’m taking the rappelled participant down, taking off the gear with help from Chetan and Chandrakant(Thanks Guys, you have been a great help), preparing the set and sending it up again.
Meanwhile, Waghya started towards the Madan traverse taking the participants, me and Vikas about to wind up, a group from Mumbai, joined in to climb Alang, their lead climber made the ascent using our rope, he belayed Vikas to rappel.
All down. Safe and Sound.
18th December about 10.00 AM Alang Wire Patch

Shit! Everybody is still here, we thought the people have gone much ahead, but all are stuck on Wire patch, 10-15 ft patch , not that difficult to climb down with the support of a wire attached by Villagers, god only knows why people were struggling, Again Rope setup, sacks down, everybody down and towards Madan,
Damn , this ate our one more hour or so, we are late, by the time we should have crossed Ghoda Patch.

18th December 11.30 AM Madan Khind
Traffic Jam. The group which was on top of Madan last night were climbing down, so we had to wait in Khind. So again, Chocolate sticks, Energy bars, Fruit and nuts, Relax, timepass.
Waghya decided to quit Madan, due to troubled forearms, and started with the other group to descend to the base village Ambevadi.
It’s getting late and late. We are worried that if we could really make it before sunset to the top.
It’s going to be tough and risky in dark to go over the deadly patch and the scree above. Let’s cross our fingers.

I offloaded the rice and other grocery items from my sack to others, but I think the sack had become mentally heavy for me.
Starting towards Madan…..
18th December  Around 12.30 Ghoda Patch

Traverse, Some more rock cut Steps and Wow! Here comes the one of the thrilling points of Madan,  broken route of almost 15 ft, slanted towards Valley, more than 1000ft exposure, you have to face the rock, valley down and back….sack on your back pulling you towards valley, maintain the weight on the rock….anchored to the rope….First Stretch itself drives your nerves crazy….you go mad…..trembling……’coz you are exposed directly to the valye….you have to fix your fingers in blasting hole. (It is said that this route was broken using Canyons and mines by British to cut the food supply of Peshava's to win this fort in 1760 or so). Then Stretch your right leg, weight on your left leg, stretch as if you are sitting on a horse back (May be that’s why it’s called Ghoda[Horse] Patch, I’m sure if there is other rusting meaning behind its being called “Ghoda” Patch…).
Insert your fingers in the blasting hole on other side, transfer all your weight on your right leg, rise on it….and then slowly, carefully, sticking to the rock, through to the patch…and husssshhhhhhh! You are alive!

Vikas has gone ahead to fix rope to rock patch. Me and Harshal, helping people to cross this death marathon.
All done,  Nitin back, wind up the rope and started towards Dreadfull Rock patch…..
Youuuuuuuhoooooooo! This is just the beginning…..more and more thrills on your way….these steps are going to freak you out……full exposure on right side…..full inclined rock on your left side…….no rope support…..sack on your back…..your carry mat brushes on the rock wall…. The rock wall pushes you toward right slightly….and hahahahahaa! You become aware of Almighty God!  Wait….there is more to it…. first few steps you still manage… comes the turn……you have to go left…..wall is inclined on your body….your sack pulling you towards valley..Heart bits tripled…Cant think much…Focused on the step..slowly….careful….only one foot can be adjusted at a time…..dead slow…..and you are through…… You are torn apart…..l!!!!!! Harshmeet and Chandrakant had been great help on steps!
Hashmeet in bellow picture
Pppphhhhhheeeeewwwwwww!!! And AAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!  No man…..this is cruelty…Dushta…..Dushta pana aahe ha….it’s not over….

Dabang Madan
Just finished this dungeon  steps and look…the Dabang and Powerfull  Madan is laughing at us…. And calling us out….to dare it…..
40 Ft Rock patch…right in front of us…..Adrenaline pumped, all charged, everybody was ready take it on…thanks to Vetal Tekadi Rock Quarry practice before trek….most of people were well guided, trained so confident. By now it’s 2.30 or so. Clock is ticking, Sunset timing is in head, 6.15…we must get on the top before that….we can’t risk ourselves climbing the last rock cut steps in dark…..
But it was destined…..

Gaurav Bellow

I was finished, for few seconds I thought I cannot make it this time….Madan winked at me….probably it laughed at me mischievously and said, “Come, why worry? I’m there to take you up!” , you have been here last time, and I welcome you this time as well, push a little hard, and you will make it”….and I saw Vikas on belay…..Nitin Anchored me….and I Climbed it again……Vikas smiling….was it Vikas or Madan…..
Few guys struggled but made it….they have done it…..they have conquered it…….they have fulfilled their dreams……Yooooooooooooooo Maaaaan! We are RAW…..and it ROOOCCCCKKKSSSS!!!!
Look at them….. Cheerfull…..inspired…..feeling accomplished…something great has been done…..every inhibition won over…thoroughly complete experience…….Top of the sky!
Vikas, me , enjoying the sight of those 13 Madan Aspirants, smiling from the corner of our eyes…..
This patch makes Madan the Dabang!
Madan takes the pleasure to challenge you, to dare you, it forces you to struggle to beat it, but finally it allows you to beat it, that’s the glory of Madan, the spirit of rock climbing Madan has…. You don’t conquer it,  Madan itself allows you to win! That’s the generosity of Madan!
It’s done!
18th December 6.30 PM
It’s still not over yet!  Worst fears started becoming true….sun set happened….torches out…and we are still at the start of difficult scree. Vikas back again, fixed rope in the dark till the last step. And we anchored, to the rope, one by one slow, dead slow, and extremely careful in moon light and torches….same deadly rock cut steps but this time in complete darkness….Reached the cave….
I’m sure people made it because of darkness since they have not realized its thrill in the dark , they will tomorrow morning…..
Nitin on bonfire, Chandrakant with his usual team for water, nice tea, relaxed in the cave…
Entire Madan was ours…nobody was there…..Parat Maaz!
Chetan’s Jokes are back… of the cave…Cheers….Khichadi…. Commotion…hi-fi’s …heavy eyes….Disprin……

“Nishant SSSSSSSSS”, it’s not snoring its roaring. Yeh shanti  nahi  , Ashanti hai, Nevermind ,  This time its not Nishat it was  Chetan, Nishat was punished to sit and sleep….poor fellow….We made him sleep…..
Restless People, got some sleep, 6.00 AM, Vikas , calling it out for tea.
19th December 2010 top of Mandan

Kalsubai right infront, the Wide spread Arms of Alang in front, the rowdy Kulang at back, It’s a fair here…..Jatra…. Photos, photos and photos…..poses, poses and poses……styles, styles and styles…..Panorama’s everywhere…..All Dabang……and why not? The madan was Dabang so are we! ‘coz We are RAWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!! Ger RAW!

Morning Tea and descending, first rock cut steps, scree but It has become a practice for us by now…the limbs were automatically moving…everything was automatic…..
Rock patch…..Nitya Colapsed…Sprain in his leg….Lemon…water…on his feet…..Rapple down….Nitin 1st, I’m 2nd, Chandrakant with me.. Nitin ahead fixing the rope for Ghoda Patch…..Chandrakant And Chetan with me ( Chandu is Duracell, his battery never ends, Chetan as I said Hanuman),  he kept all the sacks down to the steps, for which he at least went 6 times up and down the steps, then he helped me to prepare gear sets out of rappelled participants, then he went down, he carried my big sack to ghoda patch, there he helped a lot of people to cross….then he carried the sacks to the khind and he is back with me again at the rock patch. Hats Off!

We will ask somebody to make a movie on them, “Chandu-Chetan ki Jodi  No.#1”.
The Desperate Moment
It’s me on the patch self anchored, Harshal really apiring to watch Vikas’s last man rappelling. Vikas done the wind up, sack on his back, U loop is formed, double lock descender, through the natural  hole, rope ends are with me…he started….first step….And………
Aaa……break…..silence… heart bits almost stopped….Desperate moment…no thoughts…..eyes  wide open….jaws wide open…..Can you imagine?
Vikas has lost his balance….the only belay is with me….and he has fallen flat…..with his sack down….and his face up….completely parallel to the  valley……and locked….i had made up my mind to climb again if needed and help him….only Harshal was with me….I was thinking of options ….
Few seconds of chilling silence. “Vikas?”, I Called in desperation, “Yes, I’m there…..I’m safe” said Vikas…..
Setup did its job, he was safe, but the question was how will he rise again, but with little feeding of the rope and he was on his feet again and down he comes safely.
I Realized, it’s time for me to learn setup, to off load a lot of burden from Vikas, he had to manage all technical part single handedly , Sorry for this brother….Had I known the setup I would have been a great help….I missed Amit Govande, Avinav Rau….wish they could be here…….but nevermind….. the show was on….
Everybody was content , emotionally charged…..we started climbing down madan at 1.30 in the afternoon, reached the base 3.30. Mrunal “Bhaay” made the descend more enjoyable with his hindi.
After 3 days,  finally washed the faces with fresh water ……looking at Madan…..Saluting and Bowing to its Dabangness and promising it to come back……

With new bonds of strong friendship developed and strengthened …..Chandrakant, Chetan, Mrunal, Dinesh, Deepak, Sunil, Gaurav, Suyog, Hashmeet, Nishant, Karmarkar, Madhav

Signing Off….
The glass is filled again…..relishing…..the antiquity and Alang-Madan ….“RAW Unleashed”… “Endless Alang” and “Dabang Madan” and “One Desperate Moment…hoon, hoon dabang dabang….madan…madan….

PS: - Sorry for making it long, but can’t help it, if I don’t capture it, it will not be justice to alang, madan and those 13 participants who made this a lifetime event for us.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

“Mesmerized” Duke’s and “Haunted” Rain and “Timely Rescue”

“Mesmerized” Duke’s and “Haunted” Rain and “Timely Rescue”
Purushottam Thakar, Giridarshan Trekking Club (GTC), Pune
14th November 2010, Duke’s Nose Lonavla

Few months before
@GTC office,” We need something RAW started someday”, Dada(Satish Marathe).  Dada and Vikas pondering what should be the first one to get the real feel of adventure?
Vikas Kaduskar , took the responsibility on his head to give RAW experience to the trekker’s and adventure lovers, “ the real feel of adventure”. Get RAW is born, Activity decided
13th November 2010
And here at 7.30 I’m at Shivaji Nagar Railway station along with Amit Govande, Sangram Dhongade, Nirant Sardar, Amit Modak and Amit Khaladkar & Me(leaders of GTC) And a  gang of daredevils who dared to rappel from Duke’s Nose 300 Ft. down in the valley on the exposure of 800 Ft at least. Train was late 40 minutes by its original time and finally arrived at 8.40 PM. (Vikas already on Duke’s preparing the safety set up). On board and Ahoy!
 10.30 PM Lonavla, Anna’s hotel, 30 Thalis’, full dinner and on the way to Kurwande (Base Village for Duke’s Nose), breezy night alongside Tata Dam with very less water, an unusual site though. Walked up 4 KM. to reach School, our stay at night. Quiet a cold out here, looks like it rained yesterday. But the sleeping place was dry.  Went to sleep late hours thinking what will be the weather conditions tomorrow, what’s the condition of actual face to rappel etc?

14th November 5.30 AM, Got up with voice of Avinav Rau, another young chap and leader from our team @GTC joine us , came on a bike early hours since he missed his train.  Finishing early team and morning chores, started towards the climb. Received a call from Amit to wait, since water needed to carry from base to the top (remembered my Vanarlingi Rebolting Experience).

14th November 8.30 AM @ the top of Duke’s Nose, The stage was set for performance, but slightly a different place. Than actual face.  Too windy conditions can’t even stand, oops, my RAW cap gone with the windJ.  Finished with Paratha’s  followed by Introduction and “Ghoshna” , “Praudh Pratap Purandar….Shivaji Maharaj ki Jay”. Vikas @ his best in the Ghoshna.

Meantime, The expert gang from “Sagarmatha”, Hari, Munna, Kumar, Sushant, Vivek  doing final checks on the setup and ready to go. Actual face (the Tip with overhang of almost 100 Ft) was avoided due to extreme windy conditions, last night rain to avoid extra swings and injuries or accidents. The ridge between Duke’s nose and Duchess Point was chosen for safety. The rappelling distance little reduced but should be around 270 ft.  The ledge which we planned to rappel down at had become slippery, and risky due to landslides, so there was no point in rappelling that distance and risking ourselves to come out. Still the thrill remains the same.

14th November 10.00 AM , Vikas ready for Demo, geared up, Munna on the edge to guide through the path, Kumar became bealy man, Avinav and Prajakta Ghode readying others for the activity with safety gear. Hari down in the ridge to pull the participant suspended after finishing the rappel to safe place.
I, Amit govande and Sangram on Duchess Point to shoot(Record) using my small sony camcorder.
Wow, I can see some climbers on the ledge bellow, attempting the upper 300Ft difficult climb.
10.30 AM, Whoa! Vikas started rappelling, and Oh! Whats that, Holy ###@@@! It’s the “Bees” all over the rappelling spot, everybody quiet, sitting down, waiting them to go away. Vikas on the start. Finally the bees settled on the hive, Vikas waved his hand at my camera, he’s safe , everybody’s safe, he is starting, belay goes loose, Kumar at his best in belaying, Munna adjusting the jute to protect rope from ruptures.
10 ft, 15, still easy, 20 ft, slant left, still easy, 25 ft , wooohooooo! Going left, left and ohh yeah! The overhang!  Small one but tricky one! Vikas carefully, calmly, put all his weight on the rope looking below the hang, and got it correct and down he goes, disappears in the ridge!

5 minutes of silence, out comes the shout “RRRRREAAAAACCCHHHHHEEEDDDD” and YES, Vikas safe with Hari somewhere in the ridge and Lo, we started  one by one, 30 men, daredevils, challenging their courage quotient, winning over inhibitions, fears, reservations, going deep in the ridge of success.
Food packets were passed (Famous lonavla chikki) , to and fro for experts who standing in wind, extreme sun and helping each and every participant to be safe, to start and to rappel and to take him out safely.
Wonderful experience,  while one rappels bellow one can see deep valley of 800 FT, on the right entire region of express highway and  feeling nervous, excited, fear, sense of achievement, real feel of adventure, then  shout in the mind (I’m RAWWWWW), why in mind? I bet, one leaves with no guts to say  a word when one is  suspended at 100 FT over  800Ft of exposure and not knowing where this will end if  one mistake. 

Hari, swiftly pulling people towards safe place in ridge. Salute to his energy he was there entire day till the last man completed the activity.  Coming out of the ridge was also a task , you have to come across an overhanging big stone, with the help of rope loops and absolutely slippery descent. And Hari was standing here for entire day.
These guys are simply awesome and patientJ.  I’m sure without this gang of “Sagarmatha” this activity would really become a big big challenge for us to manage.
Thanks to Vikas for the “real feel of adventure” I can proudly say , I’m RAWWWWW!!!
What a “Mesmerized” Duke’s it was!

14th November 4.30 top of Dukes , Extreme Winds, a corner  near the temple, all GTC leaders and Sagarmatha Gang, gathered to partake the morsels of the Rice which Amit Govande and Vikas brought form base Village. 5 minutes and wow! Nothing could be worse than this, just the start of meals and it’s raining. Holding all of us together somehow, avoiding from rains, using umbrella, raincoat whatever we could do to save ourselves from that lashing rain and get some food in our stomach so we could have some energy to wrap up the tent and go down. Thanks, we already had wrapped up the setup so that was safe in the tent.

This rain is different, we trek to Dukes from khandala in rains, but this is way different than what we see in rainy season. This is simply inhuman; it’s just not raining its actually lashing us out.  This rain is going parallel to ground, thrusting upon our face like bees, the rain was biting us all over,  i gazed at the tent, the hurried participants sitting close to each to other to get some heat and fearing as if they could be blown away with the rain and the wind.  Vijaya was holding the taint with fierce power.
I ran towards the group of people, I could see Vikas coming after me absolutely crawling on his knees towards the tent. WE could not even hear what everybody was saying due to such a heavy pourdown and wind.  Initially we enjoyed this “RAW” rain, but now! Oh my God!  Bang, Big noise and people could see a ray of light passing through them with a  Electric Current sound and the Static Shock, It was the lightning struck on Duke’s nose, we all were wet, we all had become “good electricity conductors” due to wetness. That’s first, here comes second, right next to temple, I could see tow Amit’s (Amit Khaladkar, Amit Modak) and Hari almost thrown away with Electric Shock, and bang, third one fallen right infront of everybody, everybody up in the air , millimeters, centemeters whatever it could be, with static electrical.  Extreme Fear, Anxiety, Sangram in tent, packing whatever at his hand hastily in the sacks, camera goes to rice dabba, tools to  plastic, I bet what everybody was understanding at that moment, Run! Reach base as soon as possible, there could be low intensity of rain down there and no electric shocks at least,
Sangram and Me, hurriedly took the sacks on our back, and with participants, almost running down towards the base.
Nobody wanted to hear the news of extinction of a race of trekkers and adventure lovers due to lightning as happened to dinosaursJ
I felt though the Duke’s is mesmerized but the Rain is “Haunted”.

14th November 6.30 PM,

Reached base, with almost no rain, what a contrast, I saw smiling Ajit Kale standing in front of me, he was worried about us and equally happy to see us safe. He had come along with his wife and brother in law just to see us.  We went for the local residence for changing and having hot cup of tea. But he doesn’t know what’s waiting for him next….

Vikas and Sagarmatha gang , still Atop Dukes’ , and here he comes’ and see’s Ajit, the first words “Ajya, Bara zala alas, Rescue Karaychay” (Ajit good you came, we need to go for a rescue).
Oh Man! Remember I talked about climbers who were attempting upper 300Ft of Dukes Nose? Vikas is talking about them, We could not think about them during our own frenzy to come down, it was Vikas whose mountaineering spirit kept him up there worrying about them, since they were in the most madly frantic situation ever, god knows what happened to them during this entire episode of lightling, they were more electrically conductive than us since they were carrying all climbing gear which is mostly metal. Ohh, @@#####!!!!

With no second thought, Ajit Kale(This man comes with lots of solidarity), left his wife and brother-in-law with us and started with Vikas for Rescue, with Munna, Kumar (Sagarmatha Gang)  still on the top, Sangram also joined the effort. All the equipment which we carried down, was taken back to the top. With participants and timely help from Chetan naik, for managing a batch of 10 people to travel back to Pune, we started out journey back to pune.  Leaving Rescue team back and thanking God that he rescued us from “The Haunted “.

Tired, exhausted, Vanquished with last batch, 3  Amit’s and me @ lonavala Railway station, having a fag of relief and worry for Vikas and the team and those climbers, Amit Modak in conversation with Dada(Satish marathe), just thinking about the entire episode…

I’m Whacked…..but I’m RAWWWW…..taking your leave…have a great day!
(PS:- All 3 climbers were pulled safe to the top using top Belay mechanism(Munna & Kumar)  and Jumar equipment late hours, by triangular calling from Dukes to Duchess(Vikas) to climbers on the face. Glad to hear this,  It was such a “timely rescue” . God Bless Vikas and the team, One more feather in the cap for Vikas after Torna Rescue)