The Indian Army is working on transforming battlefield Siachen into a tourist destination. In an attempt to kickstart this, the first group of civilian trekkers left for the world’s highest battlefield a week ago. CNN-IBN’s Rasika Tyagi was among the group – the first woman journalist to trek up Siachen.
Leh: It’s the start of a historic and scary journey. Historic because for the first time, civilians are being allowed up to the Siachen glacier and scary because I have to keep up with them at unimaginable altitudes and temperatures
Trying to get up to a whopping 15,000 ft is a motley crew- the oldest person in our group is 55, the youngest only 17.
The Karakorams are the most barren mountains I have ever seen. Just brown earth and snow. I take a deep breath – we are here to scale these mighty mountains. .
But before we go uphill we are told to lie flat for a whole day in Leh so we can acclimatise to the altitude and the thin air. My BP is tested as is my SPO which tells the doctors how much oxygen is in my body.
On Day 2 in Leh, we are told about the high altitude diseases. The list is nearly as long as the glacier itself. In addition there are chill burns, frost bite, pulmonary edema, hypothermia, cerebral edema. Never knew there were so many ways to die!
Day 3 in Leh and finally we are allowed to move around. They are taking us for a one-kilometre walk. That might not sound like much but when you consider the fact that the oxygen in the air here is just 13 per cent while it is 21 per cent at sea level, the task becomes a little more daunting.
These walks will prepare us for the 120-kilometre long trek from the base camp of the Siachen glacier.
On the first day we will walk 12 kilometres to camp 1. Day two – 14 kilometers from camp 1 to camp 2. This is the hardest leg of the trek because of crevasses and thin ice.
Day three sees us trekking 16 kilometers between camp 2 and 3 and on Day 4, 18 km from camp 3 to our finish point camp 4 at 15,000 ft.
Doctors tell us the night temperatures on the glacier will drop to under minus 25 degrees and I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed – that I will return with all my fingers and toes intact.