Starting off at an age of 3, Athmika Krishnan has always been an avid traveler and a passionate trekker, covering hikes and treks of no longer than a day in California, USA. Now at the age of 13, Athmika has successfully summitted the very challenging Buran Ghati Pass in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh!
Buran Ghati Pass is a serene landscape that offers an overall experience of the mountain range, forests and grasslands. With a splendid view of the Dayara meadows anyone trying out this trek is bound to feel dwarfed amidst the snow-capped mountains in the background. It is a very beautiful trek and at the same time a very challenging one because of the high altitudes. Setting out at 03:30 AM, the trek was 23km long, across 7 days, with a total altitude gain up to 15000 feet, and camping across five contrasting locations. Navigating through the landslide-prone areas, Athmika braved herself to trek up the snow-slopes of about 70 degrees of inclination, with an altitude gain of ~2000 feet in 3 hours. The descent required rappelling down a steep snow-wall and several snow-slides. The total trekking time for that day alone was 12 hours– from Dunda (at 13100 ft) to the Pass (15000 ft) and then to Munirang Riverside camp (11000 ft).
“The trek brings back the memories of the fear I felt when I first heard about the itinerary included in the trek as well as when we journeyed along the avalanche-prone and hilly stretches of Himachal Pradesh. I was even warned about taking one misstep and finding myself in the deep canyons. The one constant reassurance I did have was my knowledge of the sport and equipment– as I have been involved in rock climbing at my school Oakridge, one of the best international schools in Bengaluru since last year. Being familiar with equipment-management, safety procedures, breath controls, and physical movements truly played a pivotal role in the smoother completion of my trek”, explains Athmika.
To give a better insight into her passion, she said, “In most of the treks I’ve been on, I see only a handful of female trekkers. Since mountaineering is stereotypically perceived as a male-oriented sport, I’d like to break the stereotype and inspire more female trekkers to explore this beautiful arena of nature. And the reason I love mountaineering and trekking so much is because it is disconnected from the world—where it’s just you and the mountains. Just staring up at the peaks gives me a sense of exhilaration and makes you so humble. With unpredictable weather conditions, whiteouts, avalanches etc. apart from physical strength, it takes a lot of mental strength to even attempt these treks.”
This was Athmika’s second highest altitude Himalayan trek in the last three years. She had successfully completed Bagini Glacier and Chandbagh Base Camp Trek at 14800 feet in 2016 at age 11 (46km across 7 days). She thoroughly enjoys the experience and aspires to trek every year attempting those of increasing difficulty in the Himalayas. “It’s very awe-inspiring and changes the way you look at the world, and I’d definitely take up mountaineering course when I’m a little older. I hope that this breathtaking experience of mine will inspire a lot of the other people –adult and children– to bravely face difficult situations while enjoying the journey called ‘life’”, concludes Athmika.