SRINAGAR — Tatakooti Peak in the Pir Panjal Range, a technically challenging peak in Kashmir, was successfully scaled by an eight-member joint team from the All Jammu Kashmir Mountaineering Foundation (AJKMF) in a combined expedition with Hike The Trails Adventure Pvt. Ltd. and The North Col.
The team, which was led by Everester Mohammad Iqbal Khan, also comprised Mu’azzam Ahsan (The North Col), Inayat Ullah Bhat (The North Col), Wasim Hassan (The North Col/HTTA), Amir Lateef Dar (HTTA/AJKMF), Danish Dhaar (HTTA/AJKMF), Faizan Shafi (HTTA/AJKMF) and Arundhati Sharma.
While speaking about the expedition, Mu’azzam Ahsan said, “Alhamdulillah! We conquered Tatakooti—arguably the most difficult and the highest peak of Pir Panjal—which is approximately 4760 metres above sea level.”
“On the morning of October 15, we departed from Srinagar at 08:00 AM for Doodhpathri, a popular tourist place in Budgam, some 45-50 km from Srinagar. At 10:15 AM, we arrived at Doodhpathri and unloaded the logistics from the vehicles and loaded it onto the ponies, sent them off and sat down to drink coffee at a shop,” Mu’azzam added further.
According to the mountaineer, the group began the march to Tatakooti at 10:50 AM. “At the beginning of the journey, the trail was a little challenging. Our muscles took a while to warm up and it was okay before we entered Diskal.”
Having reached the highland pasture of Diskal, the mountaineers could see the highest peaks of Jammu and Kashmir. “Nanga Parbat, which is located in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and other peaks were clearly visible with white covers. The Mount Harmukh, Mount Kolahai, and the two other great peaks Nun and Kun of Ladakh were all before our eyes.”
After taking some rest, they moved on to the attractive Ashtar valley which is nestled amidst the mountains where a stream bisects the valley. Running short of time, the group skipped spending much time there against their wishes.
“Around 4 o’clock, we reached Dumail where our base camp was to be installed. Tents were set up and tea was served and mountain gear was unpacked and distributed among the members by the lead climber and ace mountaineer of the valley Everester Iqbal Khan. We sat in the kitchen tent until dinner and got into bed,” Mu’azzam said.
All the members assembled again in the kitchen tent on the next morning (October 16) at 4 o’clock. Everester Iqbal briefed the team on various aspects of expeditions, safety measures, the impending dangers and the ways to avoid them. After having their breakfast, Mr Iqbal led the team towards the final destination—Tatakooti peak.
At the base of Tatakooti mountain, 4-5 inches of snow greeted the team. The snow had accumulated on account of the recent snowfall in the higher reaches, which made it very difficult to walk because it was very steep and slippery at the same time. “One single mistake could push a climber to peril. We negotiated the dangerously slippery patch with great difficulty.”
Another challenge for the mountaineers was a scree patch of almost 300 metres with the imminent danger of earth sliding beneath their feet. Iqbal Khan, however, fixed ropes at two to three points for the team to make it safely to the summit.
“It was at 11:30 AM that we finally set our feet on arguably the highest point of Pir Panjal. We were on top of the Tatakooti. Alhamdulillah! It was a moment of joy and accomplishment. We had done it. We prostrated before the Lord of the Universe,” Mu’azzam said with a smile.
He went on to say that it was by the grace of Almighty and the able and motivational guidance of Mr Iqbal that they achieved the feat of their lives. “Iqbal Khan led us back to the base camp where we stayed overnight only to depart early next morning for Srinagar and onwards to our homes.”