Monday, August 31, 2009

Zen and the Art of Waterfall Rappelling

Have you ever been in the middle of a waterfall after it has left the cliff but before it touches the ground again??

I have :D

Thomas' visit from France provoked Nikhil to do something fun together over the Independence Day weekend. Odati Adventures provided the perfect solution. Apoo, Bisu, Mac, Melanie, Nikhil, Toma and I went waterfall rappelling at Karjat, just below the Matheran range. The falls were 60 Ft high and slippery as hell.

Waterfall Rappelling - also technically known as canyoning or canyoneering is more often associated with technical descents — those that require rappels (abseils) and ropework, down-climbing. It is an adventure sport, where you walk down a cliff amidst the gushing waterfall. In the middle of it and not around it. Here, the water seems to consume you until you come down beneath it and land in a safe spot.

As you get into the harness and feel the pressure mounting, you are always apprehensive about doing the whole thing. But then that’s how we define adventure, isn’t it. If your pulse isn’t racing, you aren’t having a good time. But don’t lose control over the situation. At the end of it, you take home a true feeling of BEEN THERE DONE THAT! You gain bragging rights! Waterfall Rappelling is truly a thrilling sport mixed with a slice of pure nature & great company.

We had chilled all of August 15th and consequently woke up a little late on the morning of the 16th. No too late mind you, just a little. After being woken up by a jet lagged Frenchman (irony), we survived a barrage of incoming calls from the women and hurried our asses to reach the pick-up spot.

There along with our very adventurous guide for the day, we set off in a Qualis to Karjat. In a couple of hours we reached Karjat. After a quick stop for breakfast we signed half a dozen forms, which absolved Odati from any blame in case we went and got ourselves killed. We quickly reached a small village where we parked the cars and left everything but the basic essentials we needed to take for the trek. So all excess clothes, accessories etc were left behind in the cars.

Armed with a backpack containing water, a small towel, a camera, cigarettes, lighters, 2 plastic bags etc we started off on our trek. The previous evening I had gone and bought a brand new pair of Reebok running shoes because I was afraid the ones I already had wouldn’t give me a proper grip under a waterfall. So with nice new shiny white and red shoes I start trekking. And for a while, a very short while, it was all good. Then we come to the fields. Looked like rice/paddy fields. Filled with water. Cool, muddy, brown, water. Like an anglo-mem-sahib I tried doing a dainty little walk on the edges for as long as I could. Very successfully too. Didn’t get a single smudge on them. Till I ran out of options. After much discussion with Nikhil (read swearing) he convinced me to “free my mind” and jump in. I wasn’t going to survive the trek without getting them dirty anyway, and it was always a good idea to get them dirty as soon as possible. Case in point, one of the girls. As soon as we had started the trek she stepped in a nice big warm pile of cow dung.

I agree with Nikhil on this one. Once u get the getting-new-shoes-dirty bit out of the way, you can very conveniently wade through all the shortest distances and encourage other people to just jump in and join you, where it is so much more fun!

So after wading and slipping and sliding and climbing we all finally get to the top of the waterfall. And it looks awesome. Our trainer/guide/whatever was a mild John Abraham lookalike. As long as he kept his hat and Aviators on. He had it going for him :)

Anyway, the other one, the lady who accompanied us in the Qualis was this tiny little 35 year old Journo from Business Today. While she looked extremely toned and fit and strong for her size, the announcement that she would be belaying my rope didn’t exactly inspire me with confidence. I know what the belaying pin/bucket does, have done all this before. But those were different times. When I was a lot smaller. Physically. I am 6ft, 100+ kg individual now. I outweighed her by 3 times. I thought I was a goner that day.

But Mac being the smallest, lightest, and the one with more mountaineering experience than the rest of us put together went first and loved it! So we were waiting for our turn. While that was taking place we went a little further up the fall to discover a very lovely rock pool. It was nice and cold and not too deep. Just right actually.

And my luck running true to form in and around Mumbai, that day, I slipped and fell more times than Jason Statham and the bad guys combined in the Transporter 3 fight sequence while they were covered in axle grease. So I had scratches and scrapes even before I had started going down the waterfall.

My turn finally came, and I went down the fall. I was nervous, for a lot of reasons, but I did it anyway. And flopped spectacularly. I did a Chest flop. Lost my footing on a wet slippery overhang and landed hard on my chest and I bruised a couple of ribs. But the trip was a lot of fun. And the new shoes didn’t do anything for my grip. Infact they were slipperier.

Bisu, my friend, philosopher and roomie, by virtue of having hurt a nerve in his thumb, could participate. But he was sitting at the base of the fall and clicking snaps. I almost brained him when I caused a mini land-slide. Yes. Trust me to break up a millennia old waterfall just by walking down it. Damn!

But I did complete my descent. And I did one more after that too, a little later in the day. And this time I went barfoot. And surprisingly I got a better grip. But after round 1, we broke for lunch and had some very tasty local cuisine, supplied by the nice village people through where we had passed through on our trip.

We chilled in the pool, had a lot of fun, and at end of day wound up by around 1630-1700 hrs. A little time was spared to clean up the site of all debris and waste that we might have been responsible for. Injuries were tended to. Water was passed around. A few last snaps clicked . Then the return trek started. A few more muddy capers, then a short tea break in the village with hot pakodas and then the long road home.

All in all, a very productive weekend. Till I told my mom! She thinks I am trying to kill myself.


Nithya Ravi said...

thou forgot to thank me for suggesting it in the first place :P

Cow-Herd said...

Sorry :) Thank you Nithya for suggesting it :) It was brilliant!