“Would you join us for a trek next week? It’s organized by TCS Maitree” — came a subtle voice while I was busy analyzing what went wrong with a mission-critical web application.
I turned to see Gaurav, my colleague, with his typical North Indian smile. “I’ll check the mail”, I said and turned to fix that application that had already resulted in 15 calls from customers asking for turnaround time.
Another 20 minutes and the application was up and running! When customers and clients are happy, we have some time to kill. I turned to find Gaurav on his desk only to see a small gathering already. Unable to hold my curiosity, I went to see what all the fuss about.
“A trek to Harihar Fort, Nashik” — said the email header. Difficulty level — maximum! Reading the details, I understood that after reaching the base which is already at some 2000 ft, we need to climb a straight peak, almost 80 degrees with nothing to cling on. The stairs once carved out by the inhabitants have gradually eroded by regular rain and frequent trekking activities.
I’ve never been to one before, nor am I fit enough to pull this off. But that’s secondary. What to do with that extreme fear I have of heights! I’ve never been able to uninstall a ceiling fan at my home which is usually at 12 ft, how do I go about walking through rough terrains! “Quit it!” said my inner conscience, but my colleagues were more than persuasive. “Kuch nahi hoga, humlog hai na (nothing would happen, we’re there)” said all unanimously.
Persuasion and the smell of an adventure defeated conscience, and half-heartedly I agreed.
After a night-long bus ride, we were ready for the walk on a Saturday dawn.
As if the initial 2 hour-long trek through edges wasn’t enough to scare me, there was that cliff staring at us with its grandeur. I was mesmerized and intimidated at the same time. Seeing the risks, I decided to sit it out at the base while the rest of the team would return after going up. But the team leader was really pushy and something in me told me not to quit after all the pain already taken.
I started climbing the not-so-anymore stairs one at a time with a constant boost from the team leader who was following me.
Some 300 steps after, we faced yet another climb more intimidating. What was worse, during the ascent I bothered to look down and looked straight into the 3500ft deep valley. Panic did strike but losing control meant certain death, not only for me but also for the ones following me. Something in me kept me going and after another hour, we reached the peak. I stood on the edge for a moment, looking down at the valley and at the other mountain ranges visible.
There was a smell of inexplicable achievement in the air, as if an invisible hand patted my back and my inner self shouted out “you’ve done it”.
That was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
I won’t say that I’m completely over acrophobia but I’ve certainly conquered it. I was also amazed by the amount of patience I had — patience to climb 300 stairs, each step at a time while ensuring that I don’t slip off.
I went for several other treks after that but this was the first that helped me see through my fear.