The thrill of life hanging from a very feeble and thin element is something that excites some people. India is a country that has something for everyone and for the people whose hearts yearn for this thrill, there is a festival hidden in the land of snow and hills.
It is the sheer magic of being in an otherwise inaccessible place among breathtaking scenery, and it is certainly not something everyone can say they have done.
Imagine vast stretches of land overlooked by rows of mountains, all covered by a veil of white snow and patches of green scattered scantily amidst the vanilla white landscape. A river meandering its weary way through the valley like a serpent. Thick red-cheeked kids running around the gorgeous Himalayan peaks that turn golden as the sun’s first rays fall on them, or maybe a plate of hot steaming momos and a cup of freshly brewed lemon ginger tea.
A world within a world, Spiti is not only home to warm and welcoming people but also to waterfalls that freeze in the winters. Frosty white walls towering over, freezing cold winds testing the endurance, the steady sound of metal cutting into the rocks as thick pieces of ice fall deep down into the abyss.
Every year, the serene white sheet of snow covers Spiti in the first week of November and stays on till the fourth week of March, making it the coldest and most challenging time of the year. With temperatures dropping below –20 °C, the valley becomes a daunting and challenging place to survive in.
It is the adrenaline pumping in the veins as one interacts with nature at its most raw— this is what ice climbing is all about. Those who want a taste of adventure and adrenaline don’t get more extreme than this. If an adrenaline rush is what you’re after and the thought of conquering the unconquerable sets your blood pumping, ice climbing might be the perfect sport for you.
While ice climbing has a lot of potential in the Indian climbing community, it somehow still remains untapped. The first Piti-Dharr International Ice Climbing Festival took place in India’s Spiti Valley from January 5th-15th, 2019.
The Piti-Dharr International Ice Climbing Festival is an initiative of the Himalayan Outdoor Development Society to share a unique wilderness experience in the remote and cryptic valley.
Spiti’s ‘Piti’ , as the Middle Land of Spiti has always been called by the locals, welcomes you in its season of ‘Dharr,’ which means ice. It is meant to be a downright bone-chilling experience filled with an adrenaline rush.
Ice climbers, both novice and pro, travel worldwide to attend this event to contribute to and celebrate the growing sport of ice climbing in India.
This platform seeks to teach and inspire climbers of all abilities within India to achieve greater heights in this nascent sport. The Ice Climbing Festival offers world-class training through instructions by accomplished and inspiring Alpinists and ice climbers.
For most people, getting up close and personal with ice means drinking a frosty beverage. But ice climbers will spend hours, even days, flat against the side of frozen waterfalls and other formations (i.e., glaciers). There’s something extraordinary and otherworldly about scaling ice. It is the sheer magic of being in an otherwise inaccessible place among breathtaking scenery, and it is certainly not something everyone can say they have done.
Rajesh Pratap Singh, a famous designer from Rajasthan once said in an interview, “I was amongst pure, beautiful isolated mountains, with some close friends who taught me a lot. That experience has stayed with me.”, about his experience of Ice climbing in Spiti.
Safety Measures Before You Go for Your Ice Climbing Experience
Here are some necessary safety tips you must follow before you go ice climbing:
#1 Belaying – Climbing without belaying is never advised. Belaying is the technique that keeps you from falling very far in case of a slip. Get in sync with your partner and clip the ropes properly with ice screws.
#2 Proper Gears – Carry extra gloves, wear layers, and make sure your equipment is well working. There is no predicting nature, so always wear a helmet.
#3 Start Early – You never know how long the climb may take. Always start early, so it doesn’t get too dark while you’re still climbing.
#4 Be Prepared – While ice climbing, always be prepared for natural disasters such as avalanches, falling rocks, and falling ice. Be cautious and observant, and also carry a first-aid kit just in case.
Are you ready to mount the wall and probably call yourself a ‘King in the North’?