Monday, February 4, 2008

Hike to 'Trisuli'

This afternoon I led a party of 5 members to a peak named 'Trishuli', Lord Shiv's trident. It has been given this name by India and is recognized as such by the Antarctica Gazette. At 1000 ft it is the highest peak in the Schirmacher Oasis. Of these other 4 members, three are new entrances to Maitri, while the fourth, Subhash, came with me from Goa. He has not gone much beyond the Maitri area, so I asked him to come along. Today was a perfect day for an outing with no appreciable wind or clouds and day time temperature at 4 C.. Trishuli is a comfortable walk of one hour and I have been there earlier on 2-3 occasions. It is a beautiful area from where you get to see the Shivling, the big lake, the continental ice sheet (if you walk or ski on it southwards for 2500 km, you shall reach South Pole creating a world record) and sastrugi formation. I gave a brief history to the 'tourists' of Schirmacher Oasis and Indian initiatives on Antarctica expedition. When people visit Trishuli, their high point is to climb on the top to get photographed there. Then they would claim to have climbed the highest peak on the Schirmacher Oasis. Back home they would conveniently forget to mention that it is only 1000ft high. I never had such an ambition. To me 'Trishuli' is a kind of sacred peak; so I went around it as a gesture of reverence.

The possibility of my going to Larsmann Hills is becoming more and more certain with each passing day. Since it is Antarctica, no one says anything for certain. An environmental event can either postpone or even prepone any programme. In any case, all of the summer members of 27th IAE who are returning to India will be shifted to the ship by 10th February. I may be asked to shift earlier; the latter sorties will be reserved for members who are yet to complete collection of their scientific data. Since I have finished my second assessment of the winterers, I do not have any scientific work any more. The second and the final assessment of the summerers (I have coined this word) I shall do on the ship. However, I am busy here like any other scientist. Mostly I am busy in talking to people about their experiences in Antarctica. Now that time of my departure is approaching, I am excited but at the same time I also wish that I am accommodated on the chopper at a later date. Suddenly there is now urgency to complete and wind up many things.

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