A particularly difficult Adam's Peak trek before we go on to Haputale
Sunday 9 Jan 11 - Sunday 9 Jan 11 15 °C
Well, we did it. Some of us, at least. And even then, only just. The previously mentioned rain only got heavier overnight, and didn’t stop until mid-afternoon, making the whole trip a stupid idea really, but we weren’t to know until we started climbing.
We rugged up in our rain jackets, and a party of around sixteen (Tracey, Richard, Molly, the Heselev/Hughes five, Carina, Shruti, Claire, Dennis, Bev, Des, Kaye, Wendy and apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone else) left Punsisi Rest just after two, in the pitch-black, rainy night. Our first warning was when Irosh and Darshanna elected not to climb – I’d expect them to follow us anywhere, but they were not loyal or perhaps foolish enough to support us in this particular endeavour.
It became clear fairly quickly that this was a going to be a more difficult climb than usual, which is tricky enough. The 5000 plus steps aren’t made any easier to ascend when they are covered in muddy water, or when hearing others speak is made difficult by the rain, or when your shorts are soaked through half an hour into the climb. But we persevered.
Up to a point. About half way up, with perhaps an hour of solid climbing to go, we encountered our first waterfall of the day. Except this ‘waterfall’ had chosen to position itself on the path, with water running down towards us pretty steadily. As we went on a little further, it become clear that this wasn’t an isolated waterfall, no siree, but merely a taste of things to come. A quick crisis meeting was held, with the end result of a split in the group. The only climbers stupid enough to continue now were the Heselev/Hughes clan, Shruti and Richard.
The climbing only got slightly easier after the split. But conditions got worse, if anything. If possible, the rain seemed to get heavier, the wind picked up, and our shoes and socks were by then akin to the lake you can normally see from the peak. The goal now was not to see the sunrise – we had long given up hope of seeing anything from the top given the amount of thick, dark cloud around – but simply to say that we had done it, conquered Sri Pada in totally inhospitable conditions.
We eventually succeeded, reaching the top in about double the time it took me back in 2008/09. Rummaging through our bags for dry, warm clothes was a failure, as the once dry, warm clothes were now wet, useless, heavy clothes. We spent maybe thirty minutes on the peak before heading down due to danger of frostbite. Of the seven of us that reached the summit, five had done so before, so it's fair to say it wasn't a particularly successful trip in terms of allowing people to see the country.
Going down was easier, partly due to the daylight, but as it does every time, it seems to take forever. The highlight of the descent, and I suppose, the morning, was seeing the normally dry rock faces become waterfalls – it was possible to see six or seven waterfalls in one view when looking at the mountains opposite. Still, it was didn’t come close to being worth the trip and our lesson was learnt. I’ll definitely climb for a fourth time given the chance, but not in those conditions.
We got back to Punsisi at about eight, shivering and in need of dry clothes. We fished some out from the back of the truck, had a hasty breakfast and made our way to Hatton Railway Station, still shivering, ready to catch a train to Haputale. Unfortunately the rain played another cruel trick and the train was not ready for us, with reported delays of an hour and a half due to landslides on the track.
The drivers decided to go to the next station, so that at least if there was a major problem with the tracks we could continue on by bus. On the way, we stopped at a tea estate for a cuppa and a toilet break, with me still shivering, and Irosh tried to find out about the train situation. The prognosis was not good, with indefinite delays, and so we decided to keep driving towards Haputale.
The reason for the train trip was comfort and time; Hatton to Haputale by train takes little more than two hours on a straight track, whereas by bus it took us more than six hours along windy, poorly built roads. Still, we arrived at our hotel without any disasters at about five, having missed the mini clinic we were planning to do in the afternoon, but ready to go for the bigger one tomorrow.
We’re staying at Olympus Plaza, a very nice hotel and I think we’re just about the only ones here. Dinner was good, but more importantly we have a table tennis table just outside our room that I intend to utilise fully.
Better get to bed now, I’ve been up for more than 21 hours and have to get up early tomorrow again.