Thirumoorthi Hills, Adventure camp
Coimbatore ( 60kms from Kodaikanal ) - 3 day national mountaineering and adventure camp.
Day 1: Date: 5th Feb 2007
I left home at 5:30 in the morning to catch the intercity express. My team consisted of 7 students including me and 1 instructor (Ms. Suma). I was in a dilemma whether or not to purchase the train ticket from Bangalore city to Bangalore cantonment as everybody except me were boarding at cant. I purchased the ticket and climbed into the S4 coach. I was alone from Bangalore city to Cant. It was however only about 10 minutes. My whole team boarded the train at cant. We all sat down in our respective seats. The train pulled out of the station and it was pretty empty, so after some time we relaxed ourselves and occupied 8 seats. Some slept and some of us read books. At about 7:30 we had our breakfast (Uppma and Kesari-bath). The journey was not very eventful but we got to know each other very well.
The train reached Coimbatore station at 2:00 pm. It was half an hour late and all of us were now hungry. We all got down from the train and went to the station exit where we were joined by the coach (chief instructor) Mr. Fredrick L and two other instructors (Mr. Daya Sagar and ). They took us to a really good hotel for lunch. We had our lunch and left the hotel by 3:00 pm. We caught a bus to the main Coimbatore bus stand. From there we caught another bus to Udulampet which was a 2hr journey. At 5:00 we reached Udulampet. Some of us called up home. I however had already talked to my mother on Mr. Fredrick’s cell phone (I did wonder how my mother got his number.). A private mini bus was arranged for us to travel to the foot of Thirumoorthi hills. That was another 20-25 minutes. We finally reached the place where we had to camp. It was kind of a farm. I had fun pitching the tents. First we were shown how exactly to do it. Then we put up the other two tents our-self with the supervision of the instructors.
Finally after pitching up the tents we took rest for about ½ an hour and then at about 7:00 pm made our way to a house like hotel where we had our dinner. The people there were very hospitable. After finishing our dinner at 8:00 pm we went for a stroll to the entrance of the dam. Here we were given instructions about the place and what we will be doing during our stay for the next 3 days. Then as a surprise we were told that we would be night trekking back to camp. It was the first time for me, so I was both excited and a bit scared although I had the torch. It was not very far but it was fun. It was a cross-country like trek through the ups and downs of the mountainous region. We walked one behind another, Mr. Fredrick leading the way and Mr. Daya Sagar as the end man. It became more fun when a snake of about 3-4 feet was spotted by Ms Suma and Sriram (one of the team member). I could however not sight the snake as I was the second last person from the end man. All of us switched on the torch and trekked back to camp. After some relaxation we went to sleep at about 10:30 pm. (It was the first time in the tent for us and so it took a while to go to sleep). We did have some fun chatting in the tent.
Day 2: Date: 6th Feb 2007
The reporting time was 6:00 am. We got up at 5:30 am and had a difficult time getting ready. A real bonus was that there was a toilet and water; otherwise all of us would have had to use the toilet paper. We were ready by 6:15 am. Went to the same place, had tea and biscuits and started the trek to the (easier) mountain top. It was mountainous terrain and team work helped us move along and achieve the task. We reached the top at 6:40 am which was said to us that it was really good time. After spending some time on the top and photo-sessions we started the descent to base camp. We reached camp at 7:30 am and had tasty Dosas and idly’s for breakfast and again made our way up the same mountain to the bouldering (rock climbing) area. As an introduction we were made to climb a mountain side about 25 feet. The climb was done with belay. Our chief instructor and Daya climbed up without any safety equipment and Daya belayed us. I found it difficult at first to find the correct gripping points but later learnt it. After everybody reaching the top, all of us came down. We again went up from another way which I felt easier than the first one.
After the rock climbing, on our way down sir took us to a place where “jamming” was possible. First the instructor demonstrated how to do it and then one by one did it. It involved sleeping flat and crawling slowly without getting hurt and stuck. This particular task made me understand how important teamwork is. The person in front will instruct whether to move the lower part of the body or the upper part and when to turn as we had to keep our eyes closed. After this we made our way back to base camp at 2:00pm.
After dinner we took some rest and then went for river crossing and monkey crawling. River crossing was easy but I found monkey crawling difficult and hurt my finger in the process. After this we went to the dam (Thirumoorthi dam), had photo-sessions and then trekked for about 15mins around the dam to reach a place where we could take bath. It was 2 days since we had taken bath and this opportunity was too good. So we enjoyed in the water up to 5:45 pm after which we trekked back to camp. We had rest till 8:00 pm and then went to have our dinner. It was a feast to go to have something as the food was really tasty.
At 9:00 pm we went for night trek and survival. We made our way up the same mountain; it was fun as we were not allowed to use torches although we carried it. After climbing up for about 20-25 minutes we reached a cave where Daya sir set up fire using dry firewood. We lit candles in the cave and stayed there for 2hrs. At 11:00pm we made our way back to camp. That was a small taste of survival camp. We reached base camp at 11:20 pm and as we had to again fall in at 6:00 the next day, all of us slept. We were of course completely tired.
Day 3: Date: 7th Feb 2007
Fall in time was 6:30 am and we woke up at 5:00 am this time and even then we got ready only by correctly 6:30 am. After having tea and biscuits we went to climb the big hill (Tougher). Today we were to be sequence climbing the mountain. Sir taught us how to tie the knots. We were not tied one after the other. We are supposed to be the belayer for the next person and the next person for us. We started the climb and almost near the top there was some serious rock climbing. After hard work we reached top. We were made to close our eyes and the instructors guided us to the end of the peak and when we opened our eyes it was a delight to watch the scenery and the dam right below. It was a wonderful sight and I will never forget that moment. After some time and photos we made our way down. First we had to free descend up to some height. That was particularly difficult for me due to the injury yesterday. I managed to climb down almost completely (about 30-35 feet) but at the end say about 3 feet I lost the grip and slipped down to the landing. That was it, as I didn’t leave the rope, my left had finger now was hurt. My friends (team) helped me with my bag. We made our way back to base camp at 9:45 am. Had our breakfast and went back to the mountains for “Jumaring”. After 20 minutes of trek we reached the location suitable for it. (Jumaring involves a device called jummer which only moves in 1 direction. So using it we can climb cliffs without gripping points.) I however was not even able to wear the mittens (A kind of gloves used in mountaineering), so I rock climbed it. While coming down, everybody did Classical rappeling without equipments but due to the wounds, I did normal rappeling. After this we went back to the base camp. We reached at around 3:00 pm. Had our lunch and stayed back at the camp.
It was time for recreation and games. So from 3:00 pm we enjoyed. Played games like: we had to hold hands together as a circle and without breaking the chain turn ourselves. All seven of us standing on a cover and without moving out, reversing it. Tug of war etc.
At 8:30 pm we had dinner and prepared to leave to the peak that we had climbed in the morning for night camping at the peak, but due to some legal circumstances we couldn’t climb the big mountain. Instead we trekked up the easier one, the one we had trekked the 2nd day. We reached the peak at 10:50 pm. After settling down, all of the team members and the instructors went to sleep in their sleeping bags except for Rohit (my friend) and me. We were given night duty for the first two hours. It was getting colder and colder. We some how managed to stay awake and at 1:00 am on the 4th day we woke up 2 other people and decided to go to sleep. To their luck sir told that everybody can sleep. So in the end it was only me and Rohit who had watched for 2 hrs. Anyway it was a nice experience.
Day 4: Date: 8th Feb 2007
At 5:00 am we woke up and packed the sleeping bags and trekked down back to camp. We reached camp at 5:45 am. After tea and biscuits at 6:00 am we again went back to the mountains to do advanced jumaring. (Two jumars and have to pull our self up without any support.) The first two people took a lot of time to do it and this made me think that it was impossible for me to do it with both the hands injured but then I made up my mind and gave it my best shot. I did it, but after which I was completely exhausted. My leg was shivering. After sometime it got better. The train back to Bangalore was to depart Coimbatore at 2:30 pm that day. We hurried back to the camp at 10:50 am. Pulled down the tent and packed our stuff and left for the bus stand. Luckily we got the bus to Udulampet quite early and we reached Coimbatore station at 2:20 pm. After a foot race to the station we finally were calmed by the news that the train was late by 30 minutes and was to leave only by 3:00pm. We had a small certificate presentation ceremony aboard the train before departure. After a few group snaps we got into the train and set to Bangalore. After fun filled hours of chatting and enjoying I reached Bangalore at 10:30 pm and reached home by 10:45 pm.
It was a great experience and has boosted up my self confidence and now I am waiting to do this kind of adventure trip again.
I end this by saying that this trip has kindled a great liking to mountaineering and nature.
LInks to photographs: http://picasaweb.google.com/sarun87/ThirumoorthiHillsNationalCampTrekking