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Kalinchowk Trip

After a series of rainy days, me and my cousins agreed to go to Kalinchowk on the day of Holi, 12th March 2017. It was a fine day and we started our journey early morning in a Tata Sumo (rear wheel drive). After playing with water in Bhotekoshi in Dolalghat (as the Elephants would bathe in a river on a sunny day) and enjoying a barbecue so much as if we were the first one to discover fire on the earth, we headed to Charikot at around midday. Around 3 PM, we reached a point in Charikot from where we had to take diversion uphill to Kalinchowk. We hired another vehicle, Mahindra Bolero (all wheel drive) and started moving at around 4 PM. We hoped to reach Kuri Valley, the base station of Kalinchowk hill at 6- 6:30 PM before dark.

I sat on the cargo bed of the pick-up, and believe me, it wasn't a nice experience. At one occasion, I bounced almost 1 feet up and thrashed my bum so badly on the truck that I had to rub it for 15 minutes to get some ease. As the truck wheeled up the hill, the road started getting muddy, slippery and snowy. It started snowing too. It was around 5:30 PM when the pick-up gave up on the uphill road covered with snow. The driver applied brakes but the friction wasn't enough. The truck slid backwards and turned to left towards the edge of the hill. Fortunately, there was a big pile of snow at the edge to stop the truck. I quickly jumped off the truck and slipped on the snow. Hadn't there been the pile, we would have fallen few meters down for sure. Everyone in the truck got off quick with pounding hearts.

We decided to walk from there as we had no other options. The driver said it would take about 30 minutes walk to the Kuri base. It wasn't totally dark but very cloudy and windy. Because of the fresh snow, the road wasn’t slippery though it was icy. However, the wind would blow snow right to our face making the vision blurry and difficult to breathe too. Moreover, the snow being blown from side mountains towards us were harsh. I could feel my nose and fingers freezing. Half hour of walk on the knee deep snow but no sign of settlement or lights, it was getting darker and more windy. The visibility would only be about 2 metres. Everything was grey, the sky, the ground. I couldn’t distinguish between a cliff and the trail. I had to tread every step carefully. If I put my feet on a wrong spot, I could roll down the cliff or I could be stuck in the thigh deep snow. Some of my friends panicked. They said they couldn’t breathe properly. Neither could we turn back nor could we stop. There was no village for 6-7 kms behind us and it was already getting dark. And the snow would freeze us if we stopped moving, even so we were afraid to go forward. The condition might be harsher ahead. In fact, I had begun to think that we might not get out of that situation at all. I thought that our names would be a highlight on the newspaper next day. It was one horrible/memorable experience. I recalled the movie “Everest”, then the TV shows of Bear Grylls. I kept hoping we would not have to use the survival techniques of Bear, kept praying for the wind to subside. We had no water with us. To avoid dehydration, I kept walking without uttering a sound. We must have walked for about an hour when I realized that I need a light. I turned the flashlight of my phone on. My friends couldn’t even do that because their phones were dead already. We didn’t have any battery torch either. With the light on, moving on the snow was a little easier.

At around 7:30, we saw lights from the Kuri Bazaar. I cannot describe the happiness I felt that moment. We shouted with joy. Finally, we are going to be fine. The hotel in Kuri welcomed us with fire and warmth. We all drank to our lives. After about an hour the storm was over and the full moon shone bright on the fresh snow. It was surreal. The next day was sunny too and nothing can be brighter than the snow mountain beneath a clear sky. I wish I could ski or snowboard there. It’s a place one must go (but try to get there before 4 PM of the day).

Two months later, I got an information that a guy from Patan died in Kalinchowk on the day of Holi, the same day we had been there.

Photo: The trail while returning from Kalinchowk the next day.