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)


  1. Great work by GTC_RAW Rescuers....unforgettable experience for participants.....everything well captured.....
    Uttam I didn't know u r such a good writer :P