Shahi Kangri, a peak in the Himalayas (at a height of 6,934m), sits on the Indo-China border. It is surrounded by the river Shyok, also known as the River of Death, courtesy its strong currents, and temperature in single digits. For us, who are city dwellers, trekking to its peak is unthinkable, especially without prior experience. For writer Roshmin Mahendru (29), however, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to experience hard-core mountaineering.
“Shahi Kangri has never been conquered before. We were the first trekking party to venture into its sub-zero temperatures. What’s not to like?” he says. It’s important to note here that Mahendru hadn’t trekked a day in his life before, let alone been part of a full-fledged Himalayan expedition.
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Surely, he must have had some doubts about the expedition. Mahendru says he was confident of his safety, thanks to his mountaineering party comprising Divyesh (52) and Vineeta Muni (51). The Munis are seasoned trekkers, certified by the Nehru Institute for Mountaineering, Uttarakhand, and have close to 30 Himalayan expeditions each to their name.
Mahendru met the Munis at the Banff Mountaineering Film Festival, in March 2016, and asked to join them on their next journey. And as a content creator at 101 India — a digital content company in Mumbai — he proposed making a web series out of it.
“We had been planning the Shahi Kangri expedition since January, 2016. Our strategy and military permissions [courtesy the peak’s proximity to the China border] were in place. When Roshmin asked to join, and film it, I made it clear that he would have to adhere to a set of rules and mandates for his own safety. But it was a good opportunity to set an example for the youth and show them what mountaineering is all about,” says Divyesh.
The film crew documented the expedition and has now released an eight-part documentary, titled My Epic Adventure. Surely, having additional team members carrying heavy-duty film equipment would have been stressful for Divyesh. He, however, insists that it made his job easier. “I am a filmmaker, and have shot my previous expeditions. Shooting and climbing at the same time was tougher for me. I didn’t have to do the shooting this time. It gave me more time and energy to keep the trekking party in check,” he says.