Siachen Reminiscence

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Thanks for activated my lost memory neurons & reminded me of those beautiful days when I was with my family - my unit & was posted as the Coy Cdr of C Coy deployed in Sonam in Northern Glacier. I was filled with joie de vivre being with my Coy troops & therefore the extreme weather conditions, en shelling or winter stocking challenges were inconsequential. Sonam post lies in the Saltoro Kangri range of Bilafond La Glacier & Sonam has three positions Sonam Helipad, Sonam Base & the formidable Bana post commanding respect which reminds me of another heart-rending story of capture of Quaid post by Jak Li unit team..incase I remember correctly & PVC awarded to Nb Sub now Hony Capt Bana Singh, reminiscence of yet another triumph & feather in India's hat in dominating greater heights & securing our borders by our Valiant troops.Yet another glorious history in itself. Before Northern Glacier, I was posted with 30 Assam Rifles as Coy Cdr in Muguthang post in North Sikkim - a totally isolated post at 16000 ft wherein I had mentioned about the naive & humorous incident of ranking the riding Yak Sonali for a Gen ranking offr. After six months in Muguthang post & Assam Rifles, I was recalled by my unit to Siachen - 'The Land with an Abundance of Roses'.Literally Sia" in the Balti language refers to the rose family plant widely dispersed in the region. "Chen" refers to any object found in abundance. Thus the name Siachen refers to a land with an abundance of roses,though to my disheartenment I didn't find any Rose there but Ice & Ice everywhere with Crevasses & occasionally Avalanches. Well from beautiful Yak country I reached the illusory Rose Country.  The Rose Country lies in the high-Himalayas, northeast of point NJ9842, where the Line of Control (LoC) crosses between India and Pakistan. Here the temperature falls below minus 50 degrees..but we r homeothermic ie warm blooded.lf a living organism is homeothermic, it is able to keep its body temperature at the same level despite any change in the temperature around it unlike some fishes,amphibious & Reptiles who r poikilothermic & can regulate their body temperature with the surrounding environment. So we were dependent on all those Siachen jackets,Koflach boots & other Switzerland & western clo items to keep warm, not to forget about FGHs & the Bukharis. The boys did find innovative ways of boiling eggs & make curd over the bukharies. Reminds me of a few incidents when i was there apart fm the chill of minus 50 & the occasional scrambling to the ice caves when fired upon by en Guns. Bana post was at 21000 feet facing Sonam Helipad as a formidable wall of almost 90 degrees & had a huge ice ledge on top like a mushroom, so climbing to vis fwd post required 4 point contact ie ice axe at both hands & crampon anchoring with both feet. The very thought of it gave me Goosebumps. That  nightmarish ice mushroom fell off during my sleep. A huge rumble sound was heard during the dead of the ni but most times in Siachen,the silence itself was deafening. When I woke up in the morning I found that we were saved by a whisker- an avalanche had struck & the huge block of mushroom ice from the Bana slope had come rumbling down crushing the ropeway cable paraphernalia used to tpt goods for adm sp to the post & a humongous ice boulder stopped just short of my FGH & the Artic tents of tps..unforgettable. I also realized that Avalanches are not just snow but can be huge chunks of ice. The thing however which happened to me during my tenure there in 2002 because of this Avalanche was that Bana was now scalable in 2 pt contact climbing with rope & carabiner & Jhumars. The coy sr jco got a SM for the new route & i was happy to climb effortlessly treading the mtn trail now.Happy I was & happy were my tps since the vulnerable outpost could easily be maint now given that the engr eqpt was demolished in the avalanche. Sonam Base post is about 300m fm Sonam Helipad post. There was a huge tunnel opening fm there towards the en outpost. My predecessor didn't hand me the tunnel on grnd & since I didn't want to give a false report in Sitrep..started digging everywhere with porters for 14 days to find the Tunnel & at one point struck at the heart of the tunnel & maint it fwd & backwards. Can't say more detls about it but salute to the unit which had constructed it. Its a piece of art.I guess some Garwal unit had done it. So Sonam really reminds me of my beautiful tenure there & the bonhomie with my was a fabulous time there amidst few challenges of maint,med issues & evac, stocking & Crevasses mgt. Snow scooters always made me feel being in Switzerland & the chocolates & dry fruits are worth remembering. Thanks SonamπŸ™

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