Monday, February 15, 2010

A Matter of Honour

Part -1 (Ettina Bhuja)

Our last week trek to Ombattu Gudda was adventurous but unsuccessful being lost in the middle of the forest. We returned back to Bangalore with disappointment but determined to conqueror the peak eventually. After a few days of postmortem Manju, Piyush and myself decided to utilize the Shiv Rathri long weekend and scale two peaks this time, Ettina Bhuja (shoulder of an ox) and Ombattu Gudda (9 hills) with the help of a local guide. Our plan was to trek to Ettina Bhuja on Friday, enjoy the sunset at the peak, camp the night there and walk through the jungle towards OG on Saturday and try our best to return to Hosakere by the same day evening.

Manju did the entire planning from arranging the guide to buying the food. We started on Friday night 10:00PM to Shashila. The winding roads of Shriradi Ghats had given me enough spin to throw up everything that I ate the last evening, leaving me exhausted and hungry again. We reached Shashila at around 6:30AM. Our guide had arranged for breakfast at a bhatt's house where I hogged on enough idlies to keep me going for two days. The Bhatt also packed fresh chappathis and sabjee for lunch in banana leaves. We decided to keep our food at minimum and carry organic plates and covers so that we don't have to carry volumes of litter. Despite our preparation, my backpack was weighing nearly 10kgs (1.7Kg bag+1.5Kg Sleeping Bag + 3.5Kg tent + .7Kg food + .5Kg clothes + 2Kg Water)
Around 5kms from the Bhatt's house was our starting point for the trek, where we had our first glimpse of the peak we had set out to conquer. It was steep climb right from the beginning. The sun was burning us and I had to take breaks every 15minutes to control my hear rate and avoid hyper-ventilating.

We walked for nearly 4 hours under the shades of the thickets and stopped for lunch at about 2PM. We had a wholesome food and decided to take a 'power nap' for 20minutes. The sun was at its peak and we had another 1 hour walk ahead of us in the open heat. With no water source to replenish our bottles we just drank water sufficient to wet our throats. We reached the peak just in time to witness the sunset. We pitched our tents and collected water and log for our night camp fire and cooking. We then left our backpacks at the camp and climbed up the almost cliff section of Ettina Bhuja.

The climb was challenging both physically and mentally. After climbing nearly 90% , I gave up and sat fearing a fall while returning. (I forgot the saying never look down when you are going up). But then it was Manju who made me continue upwards. (Actually, it was more like if Manju can do it would be self humiliating if I didn't make it. :P, no offense Manju). After enjoying the sun set, we returned to our camp to start preparing for dinner.

While I was cutting the vegetables, Manju and others went to collect water from a stream nearby. We then cooked our maggie and began our discussion on our plan for the next day trek to Ombattu Gudda. Only then did we become aware that the guide was not familiar of the route through the forest to OG. The guide informed us that OG was three peaks behind towards east, but there was no defined route. We were left with two options, either to climb down and reach Lakshmi Estate and climb back from the end point or to climb down to Bhariavashwara Devasthanam and inquire the locals about the path to OG. Since our trail was unknown we prepared ourselves mentally for another day of camping. We finished our dinner and slept with little disturbance from the strange sounds that filled the night.

[Day 2: to be contd.]

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