The Call of the Mountains

Gangchen-Tag
Gangchen Tag: The gorgeous Tiger Mountain

It’s past midnight and the clouds seem to blanket still over the base of Shingchenla pass. The temperature has fallen under –7 degrees at 4,900 meters. However, for me, this is one of the same old days when I am up in my comfort zone. I know that I need to reach my destination before sunrise so that I can capture the first rays that hit the highest peak through my lens. 

In 2016, a group of us found ourselves together in a local group, “Trekkers 360”. We come from diverse backgrounds but the universe indeed conspired to bring us together for our love of the mountains. It started with trekking  to the mountains and soaking in the elements. However, for every trek we invited others too, to combine our energies and efforts to give back something to the mountains, to the community, to the highlanders up there. We started with cleaning the trek routes, offering health check-up by our (doctor) members, setting up mini libraries in schools, contributing warm clothing items and enjoying singing sessions with school children.

As the years passed by, we saw many locals begin hiking and forming their own groups to explore the mountains tied in with social causes. This was an encouraging sign because as Bhutanese we need to first love our mountains, appreciate the scenic wilderness and then only let the world know what’s waiting for them.

One evening sipping on a cup of Americano, I let my emotions flow in these words, which pretty much sums up my undying love for the mountains:

I am not enlightened

So

When I hear less

When I speak less

When I am distracted less

I begin to love myself.

Up in the mountains

A trial begins,

You start investigating yourself

You start admitting your flaws

You start counting your errors

You start hating yourself

And then,

You finally accept the verdict.

Up in the mountains

The elements (Jimilangtsho-Drukpath Trek)

You are the appellant

You are the judge

You are the jury.

The decision is yours

However, deep down

When it’s You vs You

You tend to be finally

Fair and just.

So believe me

Everytime you go up,

The Buddha in you awakens.

What more to ask
(Shingchenla-5,100m)

The mountains have been a part of me for almost a decade now. Every year, the happy memories keep reminding me, it’s time for another trek.

Since last year, I have been on a personal mission with one of my fellow trekkers. We call it, “In pursuit of the Sky Dancer”. This journey of ours has just begun and it may take months, even years but we know deep inside that the Ghost of the Himalayas is somewhere watching us everytime we are up there.

My better-half Chimi quotes, “I am just a speck in this universe so I better stay grounded. However, my mind, be strong. When you are up there, this is exactly how you will feel and what you should do. So, be prepared.”

Karma T. Dorji

A passionate photographer for almost 15 years and a lifelong volunteer for VAST Bhutan, he is presently the CEO of Tarayana Micro Finance Pvt. Limited. He is also the Founder of Drukpro Bhutan, a social enterprise model company ( www.drukprobhutan.com)