Across the Frozen Himalaya

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9788173871061: Across the Frozen Himalaya
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Across the frozen Himalaya is a story of eight men who chose to climb not a single peak or traverse a particular valley but challenged the Himalaya itself. They travelled on skis, in winters, across regions rarely visited by adventurers and for the first time took a glimpse at the frozen Himalaya that remained unknown to the world.

It is a gripping first-hand account of a 2,000-km ski traverse from the Karakoram Pass to the Lipu Lekh Pass undertaken in the severest of winter. The Karakoram Pass is the most capricious of all mountain passes. Its importance lies in that it is located on the ancient silk route connecting India and Central Asia. Survival here is at the mercy of the weather and travelling is still as difficult as it was in the time of the king of Kashgar, Sultan Sa'id Khan, who died while crossing the pass in 1531, or of Francis Younghusband three and half centuries later. Never since or before, anyone has spoken kindly about the Karakoram route.

When Harish Kohli and his team returned from the summit of the Karakoram pass, on their first days march, after twenty-six horrifying hours, two of the members were frost-bitten, one of them losing seven of his fingers. But for the Ski Himalaya team, it was only the beginning of their adventure, which became one of the most momentous journeys in mountaineering history.

They went on to cross twenty passes, of which astonishingly, in this day and age three were hitherto unknown. Crossing one of the passes an avalanche creates a phantom menace. One of the team member is buried deep and rescue is undertaken through the night but when the entrapped member realises the team in danger, as small avalanches continue, he asks them to let him be and run for safety. Moving down the valley they walk unknowingly into an ambush by a family of wolves and on another pass waits for them a snow leopard. Danger envelops them at every turn.

At the heart of Across the Frozen Himalaya, is the strange meeting of two different worlds. The West, Americans, Australians and the British join up with the East, Indians to form a strong team. Where Jonny (an American) dreams of getting stuck in a war and they all decide to fight by the side of the Indians with whoever is the enemy. They undergo a journey in a man's world where courage and machismo were the centre of life, and where bravery and comradeship was the supreme virtue.

Across the frozen Himalaya opens new doors to a new adventure in the Himalaya that can be as dangerous as climbing an Everest and as entertaining as skiing the Alps. Kohli provides detail knowledge of the region supported by maps and pictures. It is an interesting book with useful information for future exploration and ski travels.

The breathtaking view of the Himalayas captured through the lenses, merged with the engrossing text is a complete montage of the Himalayan experience. The entire traverse is an action packed record of mental preparation, setting a target and achieving the goal. A vivid description combined with geological importance of the passes makes the book an informative and inspiring piece of reading.

It is a record of triumph and near-tragedy told with understatement, charity and good humour.

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From the Author:

The Himalaya have always been temperamental and adventurers have chosen to strike when they would be more accessible. Travelling in the Himalaya is seasonal. It is feasible during the summer and even this period is broken into pre and post-monsoon. When winter descends, life in the Himalaya hibernates. Animals dig in, birds migrate and villagers lock their houses and return to lower altitudes. Snow falls and passes are closed. No one even thinks about going into those valleys, leave alone crossing them. We dared.

The decision to undertake a winter ski traverse of the Himalaya was purely spontaneous because, it was considered 'impossible'. There was danger of death from avalanches and deep crevasses, hypothermia and frostbite but no one had ever attempted to put the assertion to the test and I refused to accept that it was impossible. As we travelled, we experienced not only hardships but also rewards. One of the finest rewards was the discovery of three hitherto unknown passes. The Himalaya itself appeared in a new guise, draped completely in white like a newborn child. As we made our way over mountain passes and frozen rivers, through snow-filled valleys, submerged forests and deserted villages, the child in me felt moments of exhilaration and of despair. It is this story of pain and pleasure, sorrow and happiness, of love and anguish that I wish to share.

From the Inside Flap:

When Harish Kohli and his team of seven members reached the summit of the Karakoram Pass in the early afternoon of 17th February 1995, they had been on the move for twelve gruelling hours. As the began the treacherous descent, the light breeze turned into a storm and then into a blizzard, plummeting the temperature to minus 48 degrees Celsius. Later that night when they reached their base, after twenty-six horrifying hours, two of the members were frostbitten, one of them losing seven of his fingers. But for the Ski Himalaya team, it was only the beginning of their adventure, which became one of the most momentous journeys in mountaineering history.

Across the frozen Himalaya is an account of the first ever ski traverse from the Karakoram Pass to the Lipu Lekh Pass, a 2000-kilometre epic through the coldest winter in the previous two decades. The Ski-Himalaya expedition crossed twenty passes, including three that were hitherto unknown.

Harish Kohli vividly conveys the painstaking preparations, the physical suffering, the near tragedies and the compassion, humour and self sacrifice of his companions.

Across the frozen Himalaya IS A STUNNINGLY TOLD ACTION TALE THAT WILL DELIGHT, INFORM AND INSPIRE.

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