Bravado in a blizzard

Right in the beginning, when I had just started luge, we used to go to a place called Solangnala, a winter sports hub just ahead of Manali, for practice camps. We’d stay there for a week or two, carrying our food and setting up camp. In the morning, we’d wake up and just ski down the slope.

Once, we stayed there for 10 days and on the last day it started to snow. The snow soon turned into a blizzard and we were stranded there for three days and three nights. I was only 14 or 15 years old then and camping with two friends, so at first we thought it was fun. We kept on training when we could.

But the supplies started running out. We decided to wait for a rescue but that day it snowed over a metre and we ran out of firewood and food. We made up our minds to pack our luggage and ski all the way back home. We were confident on skis and decided we could help each other; sitting in the tents and getting cold not knowing whether we’d be rescued or not was far scarier.

And so we left and skied over 20 km; as we got close to our villages, it starting getting dark. We had never actually skied down those slopes. It was a U-shaped glacial valley — very tricky. It was also risky because the snow covered all the rocks. We didn’t have the equipment suitable for such conditions and didn’t know whether we’d get home. At one point, one of my friends fell into a pit and we had to pull him out by his hair, which was luckily long!

There were dangers all around us, we had snow blindness, there was no path and we had to make our own way. We felt like we were on another planet altogether. All day we’d eaten nothing except some dry fruits. When we wanted water we put a fistful of snow in our mouth, but that only made us thirstier.

My village was the farthest of the three and I had to go the last few laps alone. But it was a great adventure for us and we got to ski slopes we didn’t know about earlier. One of the reasons I chose sport was for the experiences it affords.

From where I come (a town called Vashisht at the foothills of the Himalayas) people have that spirit, because everyday is an adventure.

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