Day 7 — Training Camp
In the past 2 days, I was running a fever and was trying to recover. I could not eat well and was suffering from some gastric problems. Today, I felt much better when I woke up. My appetite improved and I felt much stronger. I could actually concentrate on the activities! HAHA.
Having said that, I was still unaccustomed to my surroundings. One of the two things that I still could not get used to was waking up in the morning and feeling reluctant to get out of my sleeping bag; the other being the spicy food in India, it was too spicy for our stomachs!
After breakfast, we headed out to the mountains to do our training. We learned a few ways to set up an anchor — both natural and artificial anchors. The natural anchor that we were taught was a Snow Bollard. It involves us digging a tear drop shaped block of snow and tying a rope around it. We could only do this if the snow was compact enough. Using such an anchor on soft snow is out of the question. The advantages of such an anchor would be that no material is wasted. We don’t have to leave some equipment behind. The disadvantage however, is that it takes quite a long time and may not be ideal in an emergency.
Streaks of cloud
Once it was completed, we set our ropes around it and tested it by leaning our body weight on it. It was surprisingly very sturdy! Pardon the heart shape picture below. It’s a bad example of a snow bollard. We tweaked it into a heart shape after our training.
Erm… a heart shape? That thing is going to support our weight?!
Artificial anchors involved using some equipment like a snow picket, ice axe, deadman, deadboy (I have no idea why it’s called deadman/deadboy). Initially, I questioned the strength of the anchor as it seemed rather weak. I doubt it could support our body weight. I just didn’t trust it! After practising a few times, I slowly gained more confidence, and I was convinced that it could indeed support my weight.
Doesn’t look much better but oh well what is the worst that could happen :O
Is it really secure?!
There was another interesting way of rappelling: self-rappelling. It was a way for you to get off the mountain without any harness/equipment. You just wrap your hands around the rope and go! It’s not really recommended for steep slopes though. It’s more of an emergency rappel, where one does not have enough time to secure yourself to the rope.
After lunch, we had some free time, as usual. Javier and Samuel did some tent maintenance as the snow was starting to melt under their tent. Their tent was no longer sitting nicely on a flat piece of snow, but rather, a plateau of snow. They removed their tent and started digging that plateau, only to realise that it was really thick compact snow and that it would take a very long time to flatten it. As such, they had no choice but to shift their tent to another location, far away from us.
Tent maintenance. A plateau of snow under our tents!
We worked together during tent maintenance and finished it in no time. After that, we had a rope lesson. We were taught how to properly coil the rope and make a stretcher out of the rope for an evacuation. I thought that stretcher was really interesting. A continuous length of rope can be converted into a stretcher through some ingenious knots. It was a long and tedious process but it’s definitely necessary. We will never know when we need this stretcher!
errr teacher! Is that secure enough?
By today, most of us had already recovered from whatever illness that we had previously. Our stomachs were probably more acclimatised to the food. That’s it for today. kthxbye.