There are mainly 3 parts of the mountaineering training in Nehru, rock craft, snow craft and ice craft. Supplemented by other general knowledge like first aid, map reading, mountain weather….etc.
Rock craft is the base of all kinds of climbing, and fitness is the base of all. So from the first day of rock craft. We were asked to carry a rucksack with all the heavy but unnecessary equipment inside, walk for 2 hours to reach our training base of rock craft – Tekla.
Tekla is inside a military area. There are boulders scattered around the grass land. And we can see a big rock face hidden behind the bushes. When we arrived, there was a hut already been set for cooking. And it seems the breakfast was ready, we can smell it from far. But we had to first do some stretching and strength training right after we put down the rucksack. After that, we finally had our breakfast.
Yesterday when distributing the equipment, I was surprised to find that NIM even provide a meal canteen! Everyone got a 2 layers metal canteen, a spoon, and a small cup. The cup looks fine, the it’s stainless steel. But the material of the canteen looks really not right ! (Toxic!) But anyway, I was too hungry to think about this.
During the training, there were 2 variations of breakfast, take turns every day.
The first one is: extremely watery oat milk or corn flake milk, 3 puris, watery chickpeas curry, 2 boil eggs and 1 portion of fruit.
The second one is: extremely watery oat milk or corn flake milk, jam and butter toasts, a thick omlet and 1 portion of fruit.
Puri is a thin, unleavened deep-fried Indian bread. I don’t like oily food, so I took just 1 puri at the beginning of the training period. But after we moved the the 3500m mountain base camp, every morning I felt cold and hungry. I started to take 3 and enjoyed that! I always mashed the eggs and mixed it into the curry, tore the puri to pieces and put into the mix. It was nice actually. All my Indian classmates like puri breakfast more than toast.
But I still like the second one more. Because the omlet was awesome. There were onion, chili, and some veg inside the omlet, super tasty. I don’t like jam toast, so always took the butter one. But when we were in the base camp, the butter inside became solid due to the cold weather. Even my Indian classmates complained about that. But I kind of like it. I dipped my toast into the milk tea or oat milk and put into my mouth. Every hot food was tasty in the mountain~
Let’s back to the first climbing lesson at Tekla.
We first practicing bouldering. Every rope was taken by their own instructor to different boulders in the grass land. The highest boulder was not more than 1 and a half floor, the shortest could be less than the height of a man. There were numbers marked on the boulder to inform which one has a certain route to climb.
It’s the first time that we has our own rope lesson. Yesterday, a senior from Searching and Rescue Course(SRC) told me that my rope instructor- Deep Sahi, is the best instructor here in NIM. Soon I know he is right.
My rope had extreme feature, we had me who totally don’t know anything about Hindi, and another Milkha who only undertand Hindi.
Milkha was only 16 years old. His real name is not Milkha, but he likes others call him Milkha. Because he is good at running, and Milkha Singh is name of the legendary athlete of India. Milkha was a bit taller than me, skinny but muscular. The first few day of the training, he always woke up early and did some strength training. As to the reason why he stopped after, I will mention later.
Milkha is one of the few selected student from NCC(National Cadet Corps ). NCC is a military organization , it’s open to school and college students on voluntary basis, aim to cultivate royal and patriotic youth. According to the translation from other students, Milkha had no idea he is coming for a mountaineering training before he arrived. He thought it was just one of the camps of NCC. Because Himalaya range guard the north border line of India, mountaineering means more than a sport for India. So the mountaineering institute in India has close relationship with military. Not only NCC send people to train here (of course for free), sometime NIM have students from army. And the important positions of those Institute were control by military.
Because of Milkha and me, every time Deep taught one time in Hindi, one time in English. He let us practice from a small boulder. He said, “Even the route is simple and clear, try not to climb up with only one step. Try to use more steps to accomplish it, slowly.” He wanted us to try the most complicated way to reach the top of the boulder.
It was my first climbing lesson, so did Milkha. He was vigorous and competitive while climbing. And seems he can’t really understand what Deep said. He climbed with strong arms, jumped up to the top of the boulder with his advantage: long arms and legs. Deep said, “He is too young…” then I got to know he was only 16.
Deep asked us to practice step by step. Climb with our eyes and legs, not just arms. We practiced different skills on different rocks, includes friction climb, mantle climb, traverse…it wasn’t hard, but enough to built up confidence. We had tried boulders with different size and shape, until the last one, which has a steep face. Non of us climbed up successfully. Deep told us with well-intentioned mind the importance of balancing and skill. But Milkha kept trying with his rough power and slided down every time. He kept asking Deep to give him one more chance to try until the last moment. I didn’t really understand his insistence and thought that a bit stubborn. But now I feel impressed by his act, even the way really need a bit correct. Compare to him, I thought more, but try less. Not sure it’s from the refining of aging or it’s just a self-raised obstacle. I guess finding the balance between both is important especially for sport.
When the course in Tekla ended, everyone seems enjoying a lot and having big progress. After anchoring and belaying lecture in the afternoon, we back to NIM, left the practicing part to tomorrow.
During the few days of rock craft, we had lectures in the auditory hall after 5 pm. Different topic were covered by a different instructor. The first lecture today is camp sanitary. And the second one is “Himalaya”, which I was looking forward to for a long time. And the lecturer was Deep! But from this lecture, I started to feel something wrong with my body.
Surprisingly Deep didn’t gave the lecture in English, I guess it’s because more students don’t understand English, especially young ones like Milkha. So the voice of Deep and his Hindi silenced in my distracted mind and slowly heated body. I felt a bit headache.
I was fine during the dinner later, but feeling totally wrong while I wrote my diary before sleep. I started to flake out on the bed.
The next morning, I was pretty sure that I was sick.