austrian alps – 3

When I
went back I described my experiences to Ralf and Kramer. Kramer said that he
would ask his David, his 13 year old son, to accompany me the next day. David
had been very aloof all the while and had been quite indifferent to me just
like any young boy would be to a guest. And another thing is he did not speak
any English at all, and all of my German vocabulary could be inscribed on a rice
grain in bold font.

 

Anyway I
thoroughly enjoyed the dinner that evening – as I was starved after my
exploits. I was troubled that Kramer’s wife had to take extra trouble to
prepare vegetarian food as I was the only vegetarian. I tried to convince her
that I don’t mind eating just raw vegetable salad – and though bread, cheese
and salad were indeed my meal for most cases – still she used to go ahead and
cook some nice veg dish sometimes.

 

Later Ralf
and Doris helped clean and dry all the vessels and I too found a way to make
myself useful by assembling them neatly on the table as they were processed.
This concept of the guest easing the responsibilities of the host was new to me
and I felt it was a very neat idea to be implemented wherever I go.

 

The next
day, David and I set off up the trail again. We tried to get some conversation
going – I said something in English to which he helplessly shrugged his
shoulders – later he said something in German to which I had no option but to
do the same… so we finally gave up and proceeded silently. We were going in the
direction of where I had been to earlier and I tried to tell him there was no
way further – which fell on deaf ears. We finally reached the edge of the cliff
and I stopped.

 

He just
walked on down the slope.

 

I just
stood there totally dumbfounded gaping at him as he stood at the bottom next to
the frozen stream and waving at me to get on with it. I wondered how he
could’ve just walked like that. Slowly against my better judgement – I tried to
find some way – I held on to a tree… then skid down a few feet and clung on
tighter for dear life – then slowly somewhat regained my footing and looked for
the next foothold – and released the grip on the tree searching for a new one.
I took a full ten minutes to join him while he waited impatiently with an
amused expression on his face. Then we started walking up the slope, along the
banks of the stream.

 

 

The frozen
stream was just beginning to thaw out as it was spring, and the resulting
trickle of water led to the formation of some spectacular icicles.

 

 

We saw no
animals along the way save one colony of ants just starting to get into
business. However I saw some skull and some hoof marks.

 

 

Here are
two of the most extraordinary icicles.

 

 

This one
David broke off and held in his hand against the sunlight for my photo.

 

At one
point we had to cross the stream. David neatly jumped across. I very warily
hesitated… the challenge was not just jumping the distance but also to land
safely on the slippery floor. He encouraged me… and after a lot of deliberation
and first handing over my camera, I took the leap. I made it but my elation was
only momentary as I lost my balance and my foot went into the icy 1 foot deep
water… brr. I howled out due to the chill and pulled it out. There was this one
second of silence… and then we both burst into laughter for a long time. And at
that instant we became great friends. I had to remove my shoe and squish all
the water out of my socks, but after I put it on again, the cold in my foot
eventually became the least of the challenges.

 

The slope
was very steep at some places, and at some other places, there was no space on
the stream bank to walk, and we had to take a slight detour.

 

At many
such points, proceeding further seemed totally ridiculous. At some point I
would be confronted by an almost vertical slope and at these places I used to
exclaim one the few useful German words I knew – “Unmoglich!!” (Impossible) And
David would readily retort “Nicht Unmoglich!!” climbing up just to prove his
point, as if there was some invisible ladder, and again climb down
effortlessly.

 

 

 

At one
point, I was totally stuck… neither able to go back nor forward nor up nor down.
I was against the face of the cliff, a full 15 feet above what was relatively
horizontal ground. I was holding on to the root of a tree, David was standing
at a platform on top. He kept urging me to come on… and offered me his hand. I
took it and suddenly remembered I was around 70+ kilos and he was a 13 year old
kid and hurriedly took it back. I said “Bitte warten” – “Please wait” and just
took a whole five minutes to carefully assess my precarious situation. This was
my first experience with mountains and I was definitely no Tom Cruise (recall
MI-2). If I was to fall, I wouldn’t lose my life, but definitely my limbs. Here
there would be no way any ambulance would make it, first of all getting in
touch with anyone itself would take eternity. My well being would depend
absolutely on no one else other than my own alertness and sound common sense.

 

I realized
that my immediate next ambition in life was to find the next stable handhold.
Slowly I tested all the different possibilities… which one would be strong…
also planned… almost like chess… if I do that, next I can do that… I’ll get
stuck again… not that way, etc. David, now more patient than earlier, waited
while I figured the whole thing out. Finally step by step, I managed to pull
myself up after which he gave a very encouraging cheer.

 

(This
picture was close to that point, and it shows the gradient – not very clearly
though – at the right edge of the picture)

One Response to “austrian alps – 3”

  1. msanjay Says:

    ha ha 😆 – actually also sounds scary that though I dont know how deep river at Pindari Glacier might’ve been! and thanks bendtherulz!

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