Some are blessed to have been born with an attitude to inspire others. A successful banker took a bold decision to follow her passion for fitness. An MBA who held key positions during her corporate stint, was not happy being bound by the books of accounts. So she became a professional Fitness consultant and started scaling new heights with trekking /mountaineering expeditions. She is a motivational speaker, an active social media influencer, a marathon runner & a powerlifter. Gayatri Mohanty has following recognitions to describe her persona:-
- Women Achiever Award :2021.
- South India Women Achiever Award: 2020.
- Mrs India Global Universe & Mrs Dazzling Diva : 2019
- Mrs Karnataka (1st Runner Up) & Best Body Award : 2019
- International Women Achiever Award: 2019
- Best NCC Cadet for Orissa Contingent: 2002
This courageous and multi talented girl was born tough, and is unstoppable. Her trekking accomplishments include: –
- Chadar Trek at Ladakh
- Kedar kantha
- Markha Valley Trek
- Triund Trek
- Everest Base Camp (5346m)
- Nangkar Tshang Peak (5077m)
- Kalapathar (5634m)
- Mount Elbrus (5642m)
“One thing I realized is that it’s not the peak or it’s not the mountain we conquer, it’s our will, our capacities, our mental strength, our physical strength that we conquer. We become a different person once we achieve the thing we were not sure of. I believe no workshop, no image building or any kind of Institute can boost your confidence more than what you can do yourself by taking a few challenges in life and that’s what is the beauty of mountaineering.”says Gayatri . If mountains fascinate you and adventure is your core then here is this interesting travelogue by Ms. Gayatri Mohanty.
Kala Patthar : A paradise for daredevils
Kala Patthar, is located on the south ridge of Pumori in the Himalayas above Gorakshep. It is very popular with trekkers in the region of Mount Everest for the spectacular views of Everest, Nuptse and Changtse it offers. The destination where the highest peak is located is across a few parallel mountains which include several steep ascends. Situated at an altitude of 5643 m above sea level, Kala Patthar is known to be a very challenging summit even more than Everest Base Camp (EBC)Summit .
It’s all about being mentally ready
EBC was a 15 day long trek and our EBC Summit had just got over & we were descending back to the favorable environment. We were staying in Gorakshep where the amenities were not so good and we were already facing lower atmospheric oxygen because of the altitude.Par woh kehte hain na ‘Asli himmatwala woh joh haar mushkilo ko bhi apne kandho pe uthake age badhe”. We had Kalapatthar planned for the next day before even our body would have recovered from the EBC Summit. We were already up by 2am on 29th morning with temperature freezing upto -15 degrees. It was slightly windy & the terrain consisting of rocks covered with snow was adding more challenge to our summit push.
Kala Patthar is very close to Everest base camp and Gorakshep. We hadn’t gotten over the hang of the EBC summit, still we all were very excited about the Kala Patthar Summit. But you know what, Everest changes you in a way that is hard to summarize. The moment is still etched in my heart when I got up in the middle of the night to get ready. I was all geared up with the headlights on. I came down and saw our guide Ngima Dai and our trek leader Lt.Col Romil Barthwal standing there. The first thing he said to me was ‘Madam Chale’ and I was like ‘haan chaliye’.
I started at 2 a.m. with my teammates Jagan Sir, Rishi, and Praveen. Everyone was high on energy, especially Praveen, who did Kala Patthar earlier also. He wanted to conquer mountains more than any of us. It was pitch dark outside which made it difficult to walk on the snow-covered path. It was all so enticing till the actual climb started where we came across the real challenges. The cold was seeping through substantial layers of our clothing freezing out body parts. My body was shivering and shaking vigorously which made the climb on the snow-clad surface even more difficult.
The mystery about peaks is that you do not climb on a single mountain.
By the time we had covered half the distance, my body started to give up and I asked my team leader, ‘kya main ye pura kar paungi?’ .But we should always push ourselves beyond what we think we can do.
The Biting Cold and the Almond Power
I remember my motivated trek leader telling me, ‘open your mouth’, popping 8-10 almonds in my mouth and asking me to chew them and also offering me some water.
I was wondering what difference these almonds are going to make in this freezing temperature? It won’t wave off the coldness of the surroundings nor it will help me with the tired and aching body. Waving off my thoughts, I did as he said.He knew I can do this but maybe i’m overthinking so badam kaam agaya to distract my mind.
Suddenly, I heard one of my trek mates saying that he was unable to breathe and also felt like puking. His head was spinning and he wanted to turn back. Romil encouraged him to continue for a small distance giving him water and a few almonds to eat. Despite our shaking determination, Romil, who knew us inside-out, trusted our capabilities and believed in each one of us. He encouraged us to walk smaller distances at a stretch and pushed us throughout the climb. He motivated all of us and slowly we started climbing again.
It was time for the sunrise when we had covered almost 60% of the distance. My toes kept threatening me to go numb. We had reached a point where we all witnessed the amazing sunrise behind Mount Pumori. More than the beauty of the sunrise we were relieved that the little sunlight was a ray of hope in the freezing temperature. Though we were yet to reach the peak, few of my mates had reached close to the peak & were taking selfies there on the peak believing that we had reached our destination. Our happiness vanished the moment Romil unfolded that the Kala Patthar peak is still a long walk from there !
Teammates, Sherpas, Team Leader & The Final Climb
My heart was shattering to think about the bumpy terrain that rested ahead of us. The toughest challenge at that point in time was to find ways to motivate me to continue climbing. When I had signed up for the summit, I had thanked Romil for giving me the opportunity at the last moment. ‘Madam, jab Kala Patthar kar loge na, tab thanks bolna’, he had replied. I remembered our little talk and it motivated me. I continued the climb only to pay my gratitude to our trek leader Romil.
I had gone for 6 treks before the entire EBC summit program but I had never seen so much warmth, care, and patience Romil had as our guide. He was so enthusiastic and passionate about mountains. It was because of his motivation we all could cover the last 20% of the distance to the Kala Patthar peak. The path was narrow and icy. I was following my fellow trekkers who were ahead of me and sometimes I was digging my way through the ice, snow, and rocks.
The moment we touched the peak it was one hell of a view. Nepal is blessed to have the world’s tallest mountains, Mount Lhotse, Mount Nuptse, Mount Ama Dablam, Mount Pumori and The Mount Everest. We could view a wide spread of surrounding mountain peaks from the top of Kala Patthar. The exhilaration we felt in our hearts is beyond description. A ritual that started from Nagkar Tshang had come to it’s final destination. We did push ups there which was our reward that was decided when we commenced initially. It was very risky at the top but despite the very small place we all did push ups including the person who wanted to give up and go back. Kalapatthar Summit happiness doubled as we all could do it as a team.
Kala Patthar has totally changed me because it was the most toughest among all the treks I had done & adding more to it was our already exhausted body post EBC summit just few hours before.Post Kala Patthar summit we had no rest either as our journey back to Lukla had started and few of our trek mates who hadn’t attempted Kala Patthar had left for the days trek and we too had to reach.Must say this “Fitness & mental strength truly tested at Kalapatthar.” It Was only possible because of the amazing team mates, our trek leader, and all the Sherpa who walked alongside us as our guide and caretakers.
The journey to the mountains would be impossible without the Sherpas whom we referred as Dai which is a Nepali version of an older brother. Ngima dai was our guide and entertainer. He took care of our stay arrangements at every place during the trek & managed pretty much everything. Mota dai carried our luggage on his yaks. Jetha was fondly called the ‘water cook man’ as he was ever smiling and used to make tea for us at every destination post our trek. Shukra dai, a young and vibrant guide, had a deep knowledge of the area.
Conquering a mountain requires a lot of preparation. A strong mind overweighs anything else. Mountains shake you as a person. Trust yourself but above all accept the beliefs of the person who trusts your capabilities without judging you. They will help you achieve the unbelievable when you doubt yourselves. It is always easy to give up, continuing and not quitting is something that should be done and if you do not give up you see wonders happening and that’s the spirit of mountaineering.
Also we all have our own mountains within which we need to conquer.
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO YOUR LIFE!
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