No mountain hard to climb for them

blind courage

Those who cannot see tend to feel more; their other senses work together and make them experience even the cool breeze differently, especially when you are at the summit of a mountain,” says Atul Ranjan Sahay.

 He recently led a team of 14 visually impaired people from across the country to Dayara Bugyal expedition in Uttarkashi.

Trekking for almost 20 years, despite being visually impaired, Sahay, was the ca­mp leader for the first time. “We had to reach the highest point of 12,000 feet,” he tells Metrolife. 

“There were some trained and physically fit people too who escorted the visually impaired mountaineering enth­usiasts. Still it wasn’t an easy task. From reaching the base camp to carrying backpacks and then mentally preparing oneself for the next day, it was very challenging,” he adds.

If this was challenging, it was more troublesome for people like Pranav Lal who is completely blind and has a deformity in the left hand. 

“Initially, getting a hiking pole was a tough task. I wasn’t getting the one that would suit my need. I had to make that ordinary stick work for me. Also, I had to be very car­eful about the steps. No matt­er how much your escort tells you to lift a quarter of a foot up, it is difficult to get the exa­ct estimate. Gauging the hei­ght and the depth of the step was the challenging part,” says Lal.

The city-based lad, who is also a technology geek, was troubled by the fact that one wrong step could claim the life of the escort along with him. “I had to ensure that I maintain my own balance. I shouldn’t slip, otherwise I will put the other person’s life in danger.”

Even for partially impaired Nikita Jain, climbing the steep mountains was not an easy task. “People, generally, think I can see properly. But I am gradually losing my eyesight. My eye pressure fluctuates throughout the day which affects my vision. Above all, my eye sight is almost lost after evening hours,” says Nikita, the agony in her voice unmistakable.

But suddenly there is a sense of achievement and she confidently continues, “I stu­mbled many times during the trek but it was fun.” With a smile on her face, she adds, “For me it was the first time, so the challenges were more. 

I had problems in my knees and thighs. Still, with partial eyesight I tried to escort others in my group.”

Sahay too shares his story. “I am 48 plus and I was trek­king after five years. Since I am blind, and above all I had a team to look after, the challe­nges were more. I, however, believe these challenges are making my life more advent­urous. My will power is being tested and I am realising my potential.”

Brimming with confidence, these enthusiasts have lear­ned to respect the rocks. “Th­o­ugh we could not see what was around us, we could feel the topography and the trail nature has made for us. We perceived the images of the sound of river, flowing breeze and beautiful flora around us,” says Pranav Lal with calm on his face.

The expedition was condu­cted by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. The other fearl­ess members of the team incl­uded K Anantha Kumar from Motihari (Bihar), Amandeep Arya from Dehra Dun, Ashasushmita G, Pallavi SJ and Pranay Gadodia from Bengaluru, Chandrani De from Singapore, Mandvi Garg from Hissar (Haryana), Milan Mittal from Delhi and Sunil Sangtani from Jaipur.

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