Saturday, March 19, 2016


The plot was brewing for nearly a month.
Needing new challenges before the winter said goodbye we were rather pissed off when week after week the weather forecast remained atrocious.
What made it more painful was the entire week had excellent weather and it turned worse only on the weekends.
Hopes were kindled when the weather forecast remained decent for Saturday.
7 hours of sun and moderate wind with no threat of clouds or rains.
The die was cast.
A combination of the usually punctual Czech and an equally "fanatic-for-the-time-to-the-minute" Indian made sure that three of us left sharp at the agreed time in the morning.
The departure was timed to reach the parking lot of
at just the right time.

The players:
Pavel Sedivy - The leader of the trek - demanding and considerate at the same time. Plans a trip that tests your capability at the same time makes sure you are left standing at the end of the day (just barely.. )
Michal Sedivy - Pavel's son - Young and a natural on the mountains and a wonderful company - discusses Ayn rand and Nuclear Physics in the same breath (Not that there was going to be any talk on the climb...)
Yours truly - Bitten by the mountain bug fairly late in life - attacking every opportunity with a vengeance -  always looking for another new peak though knowing very well to keep the challenge within manageable limit

The plot:
Pavel explained in the most basic form. Repeating his version verbatim. "We will go small way through woods, cross to the next level along the level-line, and then keep climbing up and down till we reach Chleb after which is a good cottage for a nice beer and finally up a small distance to Velky Krivan and take the cable car down"

Only the last part looked exciting and having known Pavel for nearly 5 years I know what "small" meant 

The day's events:
We reached the parking lot on the dot. And started the usual chores of dressing up, checking that the bags had everything we might need and we set off closer to 0900 hours. Here Pavel stopped and pointed to a map which gave a clear picture of what lay in store in front of us over the course of the day.

This is one thing I have not understood to this day. If my destination is to the right why I set off to the left, walk further away from my destination, then turn back and make the most circuitous way possible to reach the destination !!!!!!

The initial stretch was good and easy, more a stroll through a park, mostly woods, not so dense, and sooner than I expected the first stop "Chata na Gruni" was on us.

The intention to relax started to vaporize when I looked  what lay in front of me.

I could not see any other route to the eventual destination (which as I explained earlier, stayed far off to the right inexplicably) other than this ski slope.

Seriously even Pavel would not expect me to climb a ski slope, I was fairly certain. I put on the chains and adjusted the cap and gloves properly and waited.

Pavel started the lead as usual and to my horror he started walking towards the ski slope.

I asked him "Pavel, do you seriously suggest that we walk up this slope?"

"Did not I tell you that we cross this particular patch along the level-line? Come on, it is not difficult"

I started and inched my way up. Literally! The snow was frequently deep, and given the slope, as my foot plunged it slipped backwards too. I refused to look at the top (which was anyway not visible, I know that these ski slopes twisted as they climbed and each peak one reaches is just a base for the next climb and the next peak) and kept keeping smaller and nearer milestones, the second pole, that small mound that looks like a cat, the next pole, that big fir tree on the right, etc... And Pavel was always ahead, often waiting for me and egging me on.

We reached some indefinite distance, the end of this slope was nowhere seen, and suddenly I froze. From the next peak I could see 5 ski-ers were hurtling down. I was in the middle of their descent. 

Two things bothered me. Would one of them take me down with him? And would I have to climb this much again, assuming I incur no serious damage?

They all had phenomenal control. I helped them by standing petrified in my spot. And continued again.

Much later, after Pavel waited on numerous occasions, we reached the next milestone of our itinerary.

Poludnovy Grun at 1460 mtr. 

The delight of having reached 1460 was nothing compared to the realization that the blasted ski slope was over.  

The joy was however (and obviously) short lived.

There were undulating mountains that rose and fell towards the ultimate peak Chleb and then a small descent to the cottage that held the promised warm interior and the cold beer.

I asked Pavel " Is there no shorter route to the cottage instead of going over and down unnecessarily over all these? " I swept my arm in an alarming arc to encompass "over all these".

"What is the point in reading No shortcuts to the top" was his reply - this was in reference to the book both of us were reading over the last two weeks - The unputdownable account of Ed Viesturs' account of his Endeavor 8000.

After the ski slope no subsequent climb was expected to be tougher and none of them did, some were difficult but were mostly manageable and there were frequent descents too to make it a little more tolerable.

But how can a mountain ever be easy? The undulating range had a narrow corridor on the ridge to walk. On either side of the ridge was a smooth unbroken (the one confidence boosting facet, as it meant no one had fallen down those slopes) layer of snow that led all the way





I kept dragging myself to the center of that narrow ridge and the width was not enough to cover both legs and the trekking stick. 

The iron grip on the stick at the start of the trek had already dwindled to a mere holding. There were many instances when the stick just dragged along instead of planting down firmly and lending me support.

This is how the ridge and I managed each other..........

In the background one could see a potential storm brewing. Fortunately it did not come to pass. Few good things do happen when you are on the mountain.

Not everything is shit.

We eventually reached Hromove at 1636 mtr. Next stop was Chleb the intended peak at 1647 mtr. 

Only 11 mtr vertical distance. Should be easy.

As usual the mountains had a different plan. Pavel gave his demonic smile and I knew at once "game over".

I still do not understand why I had to go from 1636 to 1300 and then climb to 1647. The descent, meaningless as it is, was further hard as on our left, less than 5 kms away, was a sprawling green town. Not a bit of snow, all green and NORMAL.......

Everything was worth it when I finally stood at Chleb at 1647 mtr. Unlike Lysa Hora where i encounter more people than I would at the city center, here there were just 6 people. 

It was peaceful, beautiful and QUIET.

The cottage looked pretty close and the walk down to the cottage was quick.

It was 1400 hours and all I had since morning was a thermos of tea. I was not hungry, I just needed to reach the cottage, enter the warm interior and rest my butt.

About 50 mtrs from the cottage Pavel pointed to "Velky Krivan" at 1709 mtr. It was supposed to be a 40 minute trip both ways included. It was tempting. And I could have managed it. Probably I lost steam. The beer won! Michal and I opted for the cottage and beer while Pavel set on the highest peak of the range.

From the top of Velky Krivan" Pavel had shot this beautiful picture that captured the entire route that we traveled 

One can see Pavel's shadow in this picture

Half-way up the ski slope I said to myself never again to this stupid place. I departed with a vow to visit again and this time make it to 1709.

In summary, a beautiful day. 

And by the way Pavel crammed his back pack with 10 ltrs of water!!!!

Don't ask me why ....................


  1. I had heard that people go crazy after the age of 60 but seeing someone going crazy after 50!! But then what is life without passion. I also wonder if it would not have been this mountain bug then what would have been your passion? Very well written and beautiful photographs. The narrative makes one even above 60 feel like trying it out:-). Kudos

    1. Ha ha - thanks Uday - As I always used to say "To be mad is a pleasure none but the mad men know" - well if not the mountains there are plenty of other things to "climb" :P , right :) - one good thing - got back to my reading habits regularly

  2. Excellent:).uday-not gone crazy but....fill the rest:-)))