Saturday, January 28

1st Bengali to scale Papua volcanic peak

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It was around 9.33am when a message from his Garmin satellite device flashed on the social networking site page: “Summitted Mt Giluwe at 10.58am (Papua New Guinea time).” Satyarup Siddhanta became the first Bengali to scale Mt Giluwe volcanic summit, the highest volcano (4,367m) in Oceania. With the feat on Friday morning, Siddhanta completed five of the seven volcanic summits. Siddhanta’s final push for the three volcanic summits started with he landed at the Mt Hagen airport on Wednesday. Papua New Guinea, located on the northern side of Australian mainland, is one of the few regions close to the equator that experiences snowfall. “I was hard-pressed for time and needed to acclimatise fast. I headed straight for an altitude of 2,200m…” messaged Siddhanta from satellite phone.

At 2,200m, the huts for climbers are electrified with solar power. While the temperature was comfortable during the day, clouds covered the area from afternoon and temperature began to drop. At the entry to the mountain was a dense jungle, where climbers had to clear their way with machete and axe. The ground, with a layer of ferns and mushroom, was undulating. “Most tricky ones are the swampy marshlands that are waist deep at places. Unlike the Himalayas, where the routes are better defined, it was a journey through a dark, dense forest,” Siddhanta texted. The scene turned worse as it started puring. “The rain gear was of no help,” he wrote. “The narrow trail led to the saddleshaped area connecting Giluwe summit to two other peaks.” Siddhanta felt feverish and decided to set out for the summit at 7 the next morning instead of the conventional 3pm push. “The weather cleared up on Friday morning and Mount Giluwe was visible,” he said. The final climb was steep and Siddhanta gained height fast. He crossed the narrow space to reach 150m below the summit. “As we neared the summit, an unrestricted view showed Mt Wilhelm,” he wrote before his phone went out of reach.

Source: Times of India

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