Finally, After a year I convinced Paresh to be a story teller and here I am.. sharing his thoughts with my ink.
Lets get started!
It is my life's best adventure trip as of now. As I started planning to go for this adventure, I told some of my friends about it. It is always better to have a good company and they always wanted to for this kind of adventurous trip with me.I tried to convince at least 10 people in which 5 of them were convinced but at the time of booking only two of them got ready Aman(from Indore) and Harshit(from Mumbai). No offense but may be they lost their passion as they had during college or there could be any personal reasons too.
Well, I came to know about an explorer’s group while scrolling through facebook and there I show their upcoming event about the hiking on mountain named “Lingana”. As I searched through the pictures of huge thrilling hiking to Lingana, I could not control my thirst. It was kind of a place, I was wishing to go since a very very long time.
Explorers were about to cancel the trip before a day as they could not receive responses from enough number of people. I pleaded them not to cancel the trip, I was waiting for this from a long time. But they were unable to do anything. Phew! I gave my last try and they got ready to go for the trip. I told them my friends are coming from Indore and Mumbai only for the trip, they have planned leaves also from their job. Yay! Finally the trip was on.
Wait wait…!! before moving forward I forgot to introduce you with the Explorers Group who organized the trip and the summit credit totally goes to them only.
The team of explorers had four people in it named Anand Kenjale, Sunil, Santosh and Yugandhar. They all had a strong experience in hiking. They lead the whole trip with enthusiasm. Yugandhar was the youngest. He was only 18 years old, though had a great experience in hiking. They all were very kind, supportive and took care of everything for every member. They made climbing such a tough trek really easy by motivating each member and guiding properly at each step. Also, one important and good thing was that they did not compromise with quality of equipments. You can reach out to them here at Explorer's Group
About Lingana :
Lingana – It was named as Lingana due to its shape. It looks like a shivling of The Lord Shiva. Its located in Mahad district.It is a massive pinnacle located on the mainline of Sahyadris between Raigad fort(Capital at the time of Shivaji Empire) and Torna at a height of 2969ft above the sea level.
Front view of Lingana captured by me
Shivaji Maharaj used Lingana to lock down the prisoners and it was built in 1648 by himself and then destroyed by the British and was almost inaccessible for a century.
In 1970, a Mumbai based group summited for the first time after destruction followed by summit of many people. Whee! Now it was my turn. Okay enough of history now. Atleast I am not so interested in knowing the past, so lets get started with the actual adventure.
We reached Explorers office at sharp 2.30 pm. They distributed lunch packets to all of us and then we left for Lingana around 3 pm. We were 7 participants apart from 5 explorers I mentioned. Anand picked us up in black Scorpio. We were so curious that we threw queries one after the other on Anand and surprisingly, he answered every query without getting frustrated. According to the plan, we would start climbing at 3 am but everyone was so excited and could not wait to starting climbing at night as soon as we reach the base village. We were having all this discussion on our way and all of us tried to convince Anand about it. But he did not agree at that time. At around 6.30pm we reached the base village Mohari.
We saw a beautiful hut over there belonged to Sarpanch(Leader) of Mohari.
Three of us (me, Aman and Harshit) initially did not involve with the group much. Also I could not stay at single place to rest and was damn excited. So we went to the edge of valley. It was such a refreshing moment to watch the sunset.
Trying to capture the sun departing...
Aha! The beautiful sun set marveled my eyes.
As we were lost in watching the sun depart, I heard the voice, “Guys! Food is ready come along quickly”. Meanwhile other climbers of explorer group were fixing ropes, we started our dinner with a conversation from the same unanswered question – why not tonight only???
Finally, Anand took his Cell phone and called Sunil, who went to fix ropes, to know about the flow of wind over there. Sunil asked him to wait for sometime until he provides the green signal.
Infact the explorers used to climb at night only but since past 8 years, no participant had such enthusiasm and will power to do so and hence they schedule to start early morning. Ah! Finally Anand and Sunil agreed after analyzing the flow of wind and looking at our enthusiasm, excitement and most importantly will power.
Can't wait to see what delicious food we are gonna have... I'm damn hungry man!
In dinner we had delicious mixed spicy vegetable curry, green chilli thecha, nachanichi bhakri, kadhi and rice (purely Maharashtrian food). Normally in Pune, the thecha is not that spicy so I took a bite of bhakri full of thecha. Eek! It was damn spicy, I could clearly feel fire in my mouth. I had lots of water and 5 spoons of sugar. Everyone started laughing to see my situation. After finishing our delicious and spicy food, we all gathered. Anand, winking and giving cunning smile, warned us “No pooping possible during climb and Since it will take long time, whoever had food in excess should go ahead and get freshen up behind trees. You have 20 minutes before we start our trek”.
Hee-hee! One of my friend went behind the tree and obviously I took his picture. Lol! Yeah I still have that picture but can’t show it in public.
After 20 minutes Anand asked us to gather behind the hut. There he filled us with more enthusiasm by his motivational speech. Ha-ha! As I am a filmy kind of guy, it reminded me of speech given by Bollywood actor Shahrukh khan to his hockey team in the movie “Chak De India”. He distributed equipments among us and asked us to remove extra weight from our bags and keep it in car.
Anand knew the route very well but he did not want to take any risk specially during night, so he called two local people to cover the end of queue. We started moving towards Boratyatchi Naal, a narrow patch, around 9:30pm. The best thing was it being a full moon night, so we didn’t even need to turn on our torch all the time except few places. Oh! Yes I totally forgot to mention, It was Christmas Eve and so obviously the weather was chilling. Everyone could feel the freezing drizzle of Christmas as were already in outskirts and that too on mountain. The base point/bottom of Lingana was a level down the Naal. As we reached the mouth of the Naal, we tightened up our Harness (climbing gear) and helmet and started descending the mountain.
Though we had to descend the mountain, it could take time. But as the trek was just started, we all were very full of energy, curious and excited, It felt like we reached the bottom of lingana in a blink of eye.Though actually it took us around two hours to reach. It was 11:30 pm, I saw someone flashing light on us from the mountain and they were none other than some members of explorers along with one of the lead Sunil, who settled up rope for us.
"Anand whistled and We all flashed out torch lights above to give them a signal"
Trust me, it was an amazing feeling to reach even the base of Lingana with such enthusiasm.
It's time to climb...
Before we started climbing, we took a break. Anand reminded us about every rule that we need to follow and how to handle the equipments. We started to tighten up the harness, mittens and decenders. Although decenders are required to rapel down. I don’t want to go in technical part much so Yeah let’s move ahead.
Around 12 o’clock, we started climbing finally. I can’t express in words about my excitement and happiness about that moment. Anand lead the group and asked Vaibhav to stay at the end, as he was the only experienced participant.
We attached our self-anchor with a belay rope and start ascending.
Trick to hold torch while climbing...
We held our torch in exactly the same way as we hold pencil during writing so that it becomes easy to climb and watch out in darkness.
After a while we reached a point where we had to cross the curvy edge of mountain to climb further. It was only 1-2 inches wide. We were scared to cross it during night due to darkness, but tried our best by using equipments. First, we self-anchored (attach your harness’s anchor with rope)ourselves so that we don’t fall down if we slip and started placing foot slowly and finally we did it. After climbing for some more time, we reached the point closer to the light coming from side of Sunil. Anand went to the end, Sunil threw a belay rope and as per instructions, everyone attached their anchor and started climbing up. I was the first one to do so. I reached up to Sunil but could not see his face due to extreme wind and I could not even hear his voice. So I waited quietly for others without disturbing him while he was helping others. Gradually, all of the participants reached and at the end anand came up. We started moving towards the right side for cave and if you see in the picture,you will able to understand that it’s a bit off track, is same as the previous curvy one with only some inches to place our foot.
Curvy right side of cave
Phew! Only rope was our hope. Hee-Hee! Forbid my poor rhythm. With the help of rope, we self-anchored ourselves and reached at cave at 2 am.Cave’s dimensions were approximately 12*12*12 feet cubical with front open to huge valley.We quickly adjusted our backpack and took a place and put our bed sheets and relaxed.While doing that I noticed Sunil and Anand took out their sleeping bags, packed themselves and said, goodnight guys! and I was like, bro! we need to purchase these sleeping bags, they are awesome.
The wind was extremely chilling and wild. The temperature at that point was approximately 4°C.We were shivering with cold, as the cave was open from one end. The last person had to sleep on the edge as the cave was small in length. Anand sarcastically warned, “whoever walks in sleep and specially Vaibhav! You are sleeping just 2 foot away from the edge. So be very careful”. He again gave that cunning smile and everyone laughed and went to sleep.
Even after staying so close to each other for almost an hour to protect ourselves from chilling wind,we were not able to sleep. Me and my friend Aman together managed one bed sheet below us. Aman said, laughing and shivering, ”Bhai apni girlfriend samaj ke hi chipakja, Please”(Hey! Please don’t doubt on me guys, it was just a situation Ha-ha!) and I replied, teasing him, “Oh! Bro, Are you Gay?”.
Afterall, A friend in need is a friend indeed. Finally after an hour, we were able to sleep properly for 4 hours.
Marvellous morning with beautiful glimpse of valley:
I woke up at 7 am and slowly opened my eyes. I could see the huge ridge of a mountain with a deep valley infront of me.
What could be more soothing than having such a wonderful glimpse in the morning as the first thing.
During night we did not see anything except darkness. It was very deep and we spent the whole night at such a height.
After a while everyone was up and Anand announced, “let’s make tea first, have some breakfast (packed one given from the office, during the start of expedition) and now everyone wanted to freshen up.
Although it was embarrassing when Anand circulated the newspapers to everyone and explained to poop on newspaper wrap it properly and then throw it down on the side edge and to make sure that it does not open up. He also warned us, “while you throw it down due to flow of wind it can come up back on your mouth as well” and everyone reacted, Yuck man.. !!. Anyways his main aim behind the plan was to keep the natural clean and green and to avoid problems for other hikers as well.
Anyways coming back to the trek, after half an hour we were all set to move ahead. I was thrilled when I came to know that all the ropes which helped us to climb up to cave were removed by explorers.
Climbing through the second part above the cave:
Now we all were filled with an extreme level of confidence and energy.
We started climbing further with the target to summit and to return back to base village Mahori by 4 pm. Also, now we were used to handle equipments and rock climbing too, so we paced while climbing.
But then Sunil told us about one most challenging patch coming ahead. It was the most challenging part of the expedition. Ooh! Explorers have named it as “Ramdev Baba Patch” and You know why? Ha-Ha let me tell you. Because you have to climb the patch with a proper judgement of stretching both hands and legs and put a lot of effort too. When I saw Anand crossing the patch, it seemed easy to me and I felt that we can do it easily. Although we did do it, but no doubt man! It was actually tough and more time consuming as compared to other parts of the mountain but unfortunately Harshit could not do it after trying his best and got really scared.
We even tried to motivate him and Sunil gave support from bottom to push him up but he was not able to do it. In the end he decided to stay there only and waited there till we returned.
Here comes the most awaited part.. “Summit”:
After some bela patch we were left with only 20 minutes of climbing to summit Lingana. It took us around 2 hours from cave to Lingana’s summit point i.e. morning climb.
Whee! Finally I did it, we all did it. It was an amazing feeling. There is nothing quite like reaching the summit of mountain. It was my first summit and it made me feel like the biggest achievement in life.
Well! “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”
Indeed it was, but that time I did not know, there are going to be more such summits in my life. It was actually a big turning point for me.
We congratulated each other with hugs and thanked the explorers’ team.
Celebrating success with a friend is above all.
After dancing like crazy, we clicked some pictures.
Also we were able to see two other forts from that point, “Raigad and Torna. We started our returned journey after enjoying our success. But actually its the important, a bit sad and realistic fact:
“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Rapelling down/ Returning to base village:
Actually, the summit is just a halfway point. During climbing you can see what you have to climb through but in rapelling you cannot see and measure the level of difficulty.
Besides it was my first experience of rapelling, so I was a bit nervous but was more curious.
Well! there were 5 patches to rapel down through the same route we climbed, 3 up to the cave and there was one longest patch of around 150 meters to rapel down. In that patch we were unable to see the edge. In rapelling we used descender, the only equipment we didn’t use yet. Sunil explained quickly about the procedure. Rapelling was obviously faster. Some people on the other valley infront of us encouraged us and in response, we thanked by signaling altogether. We met Harshit as we reached at cave and quickly had lunch of already packed chapati and shrikand.
From that point we rapelled down with our complete baggage and bundle of ropes. I, being full of enthusiasm and passion, personally asked Sunil to let me do descending for a short patch without rope but sadly,he denied as it was risky.
Now the last two patches were left to rapel down and one of them was again a bit hard but somehow we all did it quickly and easily too.
What is hard to endure is sweet to remember.
During rapelling, some tiny rock pieces and stones were falling down and during rapelling as we are not experts so as we were not experts. So we were asked by explorers to warn loudly saying 'WATCH' so that the one who rapelled down before the other could be careful and protect himself by using climbing hat.
Back to Base Village:
Finally we reached at bottom of Lingana. We had to now ascend Boratyachi Naal with some of our left out energy. We were all completely wrecked up. I and Vaibhav were the first to reach base village. As we reached we laid down for 10-15 minutes as if we were dead. Hee-hee! Also I have heard somewhere,"Pain is only weakness leaving the body."
After a while Anand came and told us to go on right direction and see the view of Pinnacle Lingana.
Woo-hoo! We could see the complete view of lingana. It was huge man and we could actually feel what we have achieved in first attempt. We were overjoyed and were just looking at it for around 40-45 minutes. The feeling was more intense than summit. The feeling of elation is above all and it made us proud on ourselves. In the end we thanked the Sarpanch for lovely dinner last night and to keep our extra stuff and left for Pune.
Finally, the great Lingana trip ended with memories, amazing friends for life and urge to go for more challenging mountains.
---- The mountains are calling and I must go.