Monday, May 1, 2006

The Kudremukh Trek

Trek Name: The Kudremukh Trek
Peak: Kudremukh
Dates: 28-Sep-2003, 29-Sep-2003
Participants: Aneesh(Pringani), Anil Krishnan(Kanchan), Deepak, Jomy(Pattalam), Kannan(Chetti), Sandeep(Sangeeth's Brother), Sangeeth(Aliyan), Sanjeev(Khoj), Sreepad(Pad), Suresh(Warri), Sushen
Photos: Jomy's
Route to Base:
Bangalore => Beltangadi => Navoor
Trek Route:
Navoor => Tolali => Kudremukh => Tolali => Navoor
Trek Map:
Altitude Profile:
Bunch of Useless Facts:

After the hugely successful Kodachadri Trek
we were dying to go for another trek, before the rainy season got over. The place was already in our minds. After the disappointment of the Kudremukh leg of our Kemmannagundi Trip in late 2000, we were determined to conquer the actual Kudremukh.

Chetti found a page "Trekking Kudremukh" by Manoj Kummini. Though he was from my hometown of Shoranur in Kerala, India, I did not know him. Anyway, Chetti contacted him through mail and he gave us appropriate directions. Chetti went and bought the required maps from Survey of India office at Koramangala, Bangalore.

We were all set with snuff powder (as a defense against leeches), maps, cameras, trekking shoes etc. We decided against carrying tents as it would hamper our trek, and also because there was a place caled Lobomane in Tolali where we could stay. Lobomane or "Lobo's house" was a house made by Simon Lobo, a priest who made the Kudremukh ranges his home. He was described as an 96 year old man in a report by D. Nagesh Kumar, then of IISc, Bangalore, in November, 1988. By the time Manoj Kummini did the trek in late 2002, Simon Lobo had passed away. Lobomane was under a caretaker called Shankar then.

We expected to see Shankar in Tolali, who would then arrange our accomodation. The plan was perfect.

We started on a Friday night as usual. The Tempo Traveller was arranged from Prerana Tours and Travels. Deepak had to be in office till 12:00 in the night. So we decided to have our supper at Hotel Empire in Shivajinagar, Bangalore. Kanchan was also having night duty in office. He joined us at the Hotel. After supper we collected Deepak from his residence at Infantry Road and were on our way.

There was a slight difference of opinion on the route to be taken for the trek. Most of the people were in favour of taking the Samse-Tolali-Kudremukh route which was shorter. But Chetti managed to persuade everybody to take the Navoor-Tolali-Kudremukh route. We reached Beltangadi, by Saturday morning. After breakfast, the driver took us to Navoor where we planned to hit the trail. As soon as we got down, we met a forest guard who asked us to get tickets from the Forest Office at Beltangadi. Without tickets nobody was allowed inside the forest. Khoj, Warri and me went back in the van to get the tickets.

When we reached back, we saw a jeep with the forest officer and some guards talking to the others we had left behind. The officer asked us to get some food if we planned to stay the night and warned us that Shankar is no more there at Lobomane. Even though we said that we have carried some, he forced us to go and get more food. I think he was a little suspicious of our intents. Anyway after what seemed like an eternity, we were able to start our trek.

Initially, Khoj, Jomy, Deepak and I were lagging behind. Soon others were out of sight. We saw a shortcut to bypass the winding road and we took it. Though the climb was laborious, we made it to the road again. We then realized that there was nobody ahead of us and that the others were actually behind us. They finally caught us up. But poor guys, they thought that we had found the trek too strenuous and had gone back. They waited while Warri and Pringani ran down almost half a kilometre to see if we were alright. Not finding us, they had started again.

Kanchan was at the end of his strength when we finally met. When the others started, Khoj, Deepak, Jomy and me, set about reviving and remotivating Kanchan. We fed him almost half a packet of glucose. We soon started again and soon Kanchan and Jomy were out of sight ahead of us.

We again met the others when they were waiting for us at a clearing. Though the initial part of the trek was leech free, now they were everywhere. We set about cleaning our feet and started again after some time.

By this time the mobiles also started getting signal. That was surprising. Airtel mobiles were all working. Thus, though we were lagging behind, we were able to maintain contact.

We had climbed almost 13 kilometres with no sign of Tolali. Everybody were at the end of their strengths and nerves. Chetti was getting all the blame. Soon the rear gang of Khoj, Deepak and I got a message saying that Tolali was in sight and was only 1 km away.

We soon reached the spot, the night was almost upon us. All we had to brave the night were some plain balnkets. No tents, no Shankar. Since it was impossible to find our way back, we decided to stay atop the small hill nearby. We could see Lobomane and Simon Lobo's grave nearby.

We collected some firewood and with great effort lit up a fire. The limited food availble was rationed out between the 11 of us by Warri. With the fire going, we all laid down and snuggled close for warmth. Sleep came soon.

Almost all of us were woken up by about 1:30 in the morning. A real icy wind must have done it. We were shivering all over. I could hear Aliyan's teeth chattering. The chattering, once started, took almost a minute to die down. The blankets covering us were wet from the dew. We were seriously in mortal danger here.

When the first rays of Sun started appearing in the horizon at about 5:45 in the morning, everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. We had successfully done it. Not the peak, but a night in Tolali, out in the open, in the rainy season.

Chetti suggested attempting the peak. None of us except Kanchan were ready. Finally, two of them started towrds the peak, while the rest of us stayed behind to enjoy the day. Sounds familiar ? Check out the Kumaraparvata Trek.

We took a few photographs, visited Simon Lobo's grave etc. Some of us like Deepak, simply slept.

We had to start our descend soon. But Chetti and Kanchan was nowhere to be seen. Chetti hadn't taken his mobile too. We decided to start by 11:00 am. Keeping their bags in our camping spot, we set about collecting the wastes of our camp. It was not for nothing that we had learned "No trace camping" from "The Adventurers" in Honnemardu. (Read about it in our Honnemardu Trip).

Precisely at that time the forest guards appeared. They were sent by the forest officer we had met yesterday, to check on us. We showed them our entry passes, and told them that we are leaving now. We also asked them to keep an eye on the bags of Chetti and Kanchan. Of course we did not leave anything valuable inside that.

The way down was led by Khoj. He was literally unstoppable. Deepak and I fell behind as usual. Towards the end we found a stream, with a small waterfall. All of us took a leisurely bath and washed away the blood and leeches from our legs.

We found the van waiting for us at precisely the same spot we had left it yesterday. We decided to go to Beltangadi town and have some food.

After food, we came back to Navoor and waited for Chetti and Kanchan. By 4:00 pm they arrived. Seems, even they did not quite conquer Kudremukh. Kanchan was too exhausted to continue after an hour, so Chetti had gone alone and had reached within 200 metres of the summit. Well, with nobody to verify his claims, we had to accept it.

After Kanchan and Chetti had food in Beltangadi, we started our return journey.