Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Winter in Spiti

This is in early December when I had just reached Kibber. The beauty of the place just swept me off my feet. I didn't stay here for long, this was just a acclimatization point for me. Already at an altitude of 4200 meters i was exited about the days to come when i would be spending 4 months at 4500 meters in the winter.

During the early days there wasn't much of snow and the alpine steppe grasslands and rolling hills were a sight. The landscape with all its wildlife and mountains is just beyond my capabilities to describe.

This was when i got lucky for the first time and saw eight wolves attack a group of bharal. This is probably the best wildlife encounter i have ever had. The sight of eight wolves charging up towards a herd of bharal is just magnificent. although I have posted a photo of the alpha of the pack there were even young cubs in the pack. I cant unfortunately post all the photos as they need to be used for professional use.
Canis lupus chanco

31st December approached and me and Takpa made a plan to climb mt Kanamo again and this time we wanted to do it on the 1st January 2008. We were aware that the temperature on the summit could be anything around -40 to -50 degree C as it was -20 at the camp itself.
The early start for mt kanamo. Cho-cho kang nilda in the background...

The early start in the early morning cold was very helpful. Near the summit both Takpa an me were badly suffering from cold and were lucky to have escaped without frost bites. Takpa proved to be an amazing mountaineering partner. We discussed every decision and his experience was worth a million bucks.

I always make big plans, alpine style etc, I have had my share of success but the peak my of climbing is yet to come. hopefully soon.
Takpa on the summit of Kanamo on the 1st of January...

after 1st January the weather showed its mood and took a turn for the worst. We faced blizzards after blizzards for the rest of January. On many occasions we got caught in . Things thankfully never went out of our control during these stormy outing but facing a head way wind with temperature dipping to -25 C was an experience in itself. soon we got used to it. but today I think of those days and a shot of adrenaline runs through my blood streams

End of the storm season the world changed for me. It turned into a place i had always dreamed of, not that it was any less earlier but i was waiting for this change.
Takpa and Kalzang, in the background is the famous Kee Monastery.

This also happened to be the breeding season of the red fox and the snow leopard and I was fortunate to witness the courtship of the Red fox.
The courting pair...
The same pair...

I always enjoyed watching foxes. Neither are they difficult to spot nor are they too shy of humans. They have a fascinating world of their own. living a life that is mainly very solitary they can often be seen playing with themselves or with their siblings (young) or partners (during the mating season). Their dark red coat and bushy tail also makes them one of the most beautiful animal of the landscape.
A lonely guy who lived near my camp...

Apart from the foxes other animal that blessed me with its sight was the snow leopard. I was luck to have been able to see the snow leopard thrice in those four months. On one of such sighting I was lucky to see three of them together.
This was the third of them. We were fortunate to be able to observe them for over three hours.
And here are two more, although they look like courting pairs in this photograph in the field they felt more like mother and her cub.
Watching a snow leopard in its natural habitat is the ultimate gift that a wildlife biologist who loves mountain can ever ask for. I had my moments.

Apart from the wildlife and mountaineering time I also enjoyed and star gazing in kibber. about which I shall post soon

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