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Published: October 19th 2005
Children we met in the slum. Great way to make friends, showing the digital photos of them that you just took
We had the privilege of visiting a slum project called Asha. The project started by offering free health care in a slum, and is now operating in over 40 slums in the Delhi Region. One lady we met had an alcoholic husband and was illiterate, she is now a confident woman, who helps to administer medication to the sick and also is a midwife. These women also tackled the authorities and now have a toilet block!! You don’t see many women out and about in India, except in the country when they are doing hard labour like cracking rocks with hand tools. To see these women empowered was fantastic. They then showed us around their houses, and we met more of the locals.
Our Himalayan trekking adventure started with a Sleeper train ride. Then a taxi ride to Ranikhet. Edmund Hilary was in this town in 1951 when he had the call to join the team for his first attempt on Everest. And is also where the McKenzie family would come to escape the Delhi Summer. We saw superb views of the mountains including Trisul. We managed to find the house where the McKenzie family used to
stay (Kailash Bavahan on Kalika Estate). And met the old landlord Mr Shah. Then we headed further into the mountains to Joshimath on a very scary road, engineered across numerous active rockslides and shear rock faces. We loved our taxi drivers, they were very safe!! Dennis, a family friend, was our guide. He can speak the language, which helps in gaining respect from the locals. Less people seem to be ripping us off!! And we even started to learn a little bit of Hindi.
The trek began with a cable car ride up to Auli skifield. Where we spent the night camped on the restaurant floor. After spotting a rat, some opted to put up the tents indoors anyway. We woke to a beautiful sunny morning and spectacular views of the Himalayan Mountains including the sacred 7000m peak of Nanda Devi. A view which Ed Hilary described as the greatest sight ever seen, as he came over the Kuari Pass. We had six hours to appreciate it as we waited for the pack mules and guide.
We climbed up to 3750m and pitched camp, watching the sun set behind the peaks. As the sun set the mules became
restless, and the guide explained that they were sensing a bear or leopard in the area. A quick scout around the campsite revealed snow leopard footprints in the snow above the camp. We stoked up the fire and thankfully had an uneventful night. The next morning we awoke early and made a push for the summit of Gorson Peak (at 4000m this is higher than Mt Cook). Murray and cousin Peter together with the guide summited at around 11am, while the rest of the party turned back at around 3900m after Uncle Peter suffered an attack of altitude sickness. The views from the top were magnificent with the Kuari Pass behind us and an array of 7000m + peaks ahead of us.
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