Stories & Poetry

Avalanche of Nanga Parbat II : Story of struggle & Win

She was hallucinating!

[She saw a dad scolding 10 year old Amreen, as she wanted to mark her name in golden. She saw him leave her all alone; she couldn’t stop believing the plantations she sowed were going far away from her. She was all alone, with none around. It seemed she lost everyone in this world to the Avalanche].

Furious over the thought, she couldn’t stop tears flowing. Unable to lift her feet buried deep within the snow boundaries, her throat became dry. She managed to drink & eat less but all the bottles in the back pack were nearly finished. Hardly one or two sip. Frantically she moved her hands all through, her mind frozen with the lack of thoughts. She seemed to be insane. A snow ball fell on her hands, but she felt nothing. She lost sensations on her hands & legs. Situation worsened as she was not able to sleep in the wet conditions, she just lay nearly numb in a small snow hole & tried counting days on her fingers.

Yes the ailment was baffling, her heart thumped louder than ever, she had bouts of hallucinations, went full of fatigue. She had an attack of HACE, a cerebral edema on high altitude. Her brain vessels severely lacked oxygen & had swollen.

To worsen the situation, her toes & leg muscles went close to numb. It all felt waxy, as if these parts would break away from the body soon. Blood filled purplish blisters were turning scary. She shivered of the chemical changes..It all took a toll on her! The Great Himalayan Avalanche had broken her!

Avalanche of Nanga Parbat..

Himalayan Avalanche

It had been more than 60 hours! Amreen was buried in the snow at a height of 26,600ft mountain range – Nanga Parbat II.

It was a happy day, when Amreen, 20 year old teenager, obsessive thrill lover decided to conquer Nanga Parbat II, along with 2 other women mountaineers. Nanga Parbat is highly isolated range surrounded by River Indus, a peak in the Himalayan range. It was never conquered by any Indian due to its rough terrain & highly treacherous weather.  It was even being termed as a “Killer Range”. Having dominated close to 22 peaks, she was amongst top mountaineers & held a special position amidst the lady troops. Full of zeal, her mind was made to make her dad feel proud, by being the first Indian to battle on this peak.

With ample advice, sufficient acclimatization & backups, the troop began their 6 days journey. Amazing were first 3 days when they almost reached the peak & communicated to the base stations of their well being.

“Climbing is no kids play, it involves high mental & physical strength, a great self management. It involves dealing with a continuous anxiety to sustain the confidence to reach the goal, despite of the un-predictive dangers with every step ahead. It’s a quest of high adrenaline rush & great patience.”

Conquering was not glorious..

She had indeed triumphed over the odds of the harsh weather & made her flag deeply buried on the summit. It was such a spectacular view, she wished to cherish every moment of her victory. Down in the city, every channel and every paper quoted the overpowering saga of this brave Indian girl & her team.                                                                               

But he was different, an ex-army man, her dad had no emotions for her achievements. She conquered the summit but failed to make her dad love her once again.

But destiny had something else in his plate. Weather all of a sudden became turbulent, an avalanche broke down. It started snowing heavily which triggered rock slides. Amreen did sense it but before she could gauge & open up her shelter, a boulder close to 1000 pounds fell on her right hand. It threw her close to 2000 ft down & made it impossible for her to move. Not just her, she saw one of her team mates fall deep down in the adjacent valley & death was certain. She panicked & frantically looked for 2nd member Anaya, who was some 5-10 feet down her but with the boulder on top of her. Amreen could meagrely see her legs, mountain shoes & right palm. Scared & shocked, she shouted for Anaya to speak & try to move, but all vain.

Heavily sweating with her heart thumping loudly, for next 15-20 minutes she was swinging all alone via rope & ice screws. She had to find a solution for herself. Even though she had broken her arm, she was strong enough to prepare herself a cover dug, a snow hole with her gadgets. She had lost communication with base station due to the terrible winds & heavy snow. Once dug, she managed to move closer to Anaya crawling. She tried breaking the boulder out with Ice axe, but she realized the life was lost! A sad end in her life had struck Amreen hard. Avalanche had broken her.

Grief & Courage..

She yelled, deep in pain. She freaked, every moment seeing Anaya’s lifeless body. Somehow she managed on her food & water supply for next 10-12 hours but she had broken her arms of 2 places & had torn ligaments. Avalanche continued to get harsh for next 48 hours & there began her terror story.

“Slowly she nearly lost self control & her memory was weakening, she hallucinated every hour. She shivered & had illusion of her mom shouting to save her life amidst the killer ocean. Amreen cried for help but she just saw her mother fading slowly & slowly. There were clear waves & nothing else..Her mom was gone! She panicked losing her dad, her home, her little teddy, small beautiful sapling which was growing into a big strong tree just like her. False impressions were torturing her all the more!! Amreen picked up the snowballs & ate them one after another; she was losing herself to the “Deceitful Himalayan avalanche”.

By then, down the border her dad along with teams had begun the rescue mission. For the first time, he was inconsolable. With clock ticking, every second seemed to be imperative. Helicopter rescue had so far been out of sight due to the bad weather conditions. Teams below & Sherpa guides knew that if alive, Amreen & team would be on the verge of depleting oxygen & food supplies. Every moment they tried to contact them but failed with no signals.

Amreen had lost her consciousness. Her heart rate slowed down to dangerous levels. Mountain rescue teams had begun climbing but twice the hunt was suspended. Now the wait was just for the weather to improve to commence helicopter & rescue team search.

A throwback..

“He had lost his wife while surfing due to sheer negligence. Inspite of her being close to a professional surfer, she entered in the water without life jacket. (Little Amreen had worn the jacket on her frock naughtily & did not want to give it back to her mom). Winds were high & sea was turbulent. She moved away from the shore & amidst the ocean, closer to the tides. She was enjoying & never thought that her love for water could deceit her. It was hardly 2 minutes, when a huge tide splashed her off the surfing board. All they could see was her shade fading away.”

She lost the love of both mother & father. Post this trauma, he remained indifferent to her. She loved him & wanted him to respond, but in vain. Since then she desired to make a mark in this world, to make her dad proud of her ever day, every moment. Her step towards Naga Parbat II was one more towards looking her dad smile & hug her.

For the very first time in past 16 years, did he long for Amreen today. He wanted to hug & play with her. 

Rescue Mission Started

By then announcements were loud enough, Sherpa guides rushed to prepare their team. Police officers &rescue teams strategized with the acknowledgement that avalanche had slowed & in next 6-8 hours would completely end. With improvement in the weather conditions, the base station got connected back to Amreen & team. But they could not hear responses for next 5-10 minutes. This made all to guess that the so called “killer range” had once again proved itself. By then helicopter had begun its rescue operation with consistent try to hear response from the team.

“Hello, I’m here…Papa I don’t want to lose you”. A vanishing shriek was heard! Mountain rescue team bounced back with energy.

Amreen, which side are you, how much down…try to send some signal…Pull your hand or flag out. For next 2-3 hours teams kept on shouting. But they could just hear faint voices time & again…Papa I’m here, dying..Papa, I love you…”

With the understanding of signal being received the team moderated the distances & directions. Every minute turned crucial, but they were near, very near to her. God signalled, with a snow ball dropping from her hole, indicating rescue teams of the presence of the trapped girl. Yes she was there, they saw her. Their mission turned successful, they took along a lifeless & a girl close to getting back in life!

It has been close to 5 months that Amreen is recovering. Having lost tips of 5 fingers to frostbite, a broken arm, It was not the same girl, but a thankful soul who made her dad love her again! For her it was not “Killer Range” but a range which ushered her life with parent love once again, the emotion she lost 16 years ago.

[Did you like the story friends.. I wrote it out a day a year back, dunno with what mindset! It took its shape somehow. Leave the comments of your thoughts.]

  1. mommyingmaars

    An adventure with emotions. My husband and his family love winter sports. And my very fear is what you’ve written. Its so scary at times they tumble they fall and sometimes they get really hurt. While they have yet to conquer mountains like in your story and find the risk of an avalanche, it is still a scary thought. Very capturing story.

    1. Jhilmil

      Thank you so much.. But a short version of this story has been explored by myself when I was stuck on a cliff & a guide had to come to the rescue. It indeed gave me a new thought towards life, but it is really scary to face it! Enjoy your passion of winter sports, just be little careful:)

  2. louandlea

    Loved reading this story very much! I went here not knowing that I was going to read a story but I was hooked from the first sentence 🙂 your writing is very good!

  3. Joshita JJ

    Such an emotional and gripping story. You have expressed the emotions so well, that I could visualize it happening. Well written!

  4. alpanadeo

    I had goosebumps while reading it. What should I say? An inspiring story or outstanding narration? Kudos to Amreen. I felt so so proud of her. Can’t imagine her Dad’s state of mind which had mixed feelings.

  5. Varsh

    This is such a brilliant take on courage and the power and longing of love, Jhilmil. I was glued to it.
    Sometimes it takes dire situations to make us realise the worth of what we have.

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