- How one group of hikers tackled stormy weather to conquer Adam’s Peak
Tackling any mountain during the best conditions is in itself a challenge, but some prefer the thrill and challenge of climbing mountains during the off-season, when the weather makes the climb all the more difficult. This is especially true of Sri Pada (or Adam’s Peak), where groups often tackle bad weather during the off season or large crowds during pilgrimage season, which commenced on 7 December, with the Unduvap Full Moon Day.
One group of adventurous thrill-seekers decided to tackle Adam’s Peak during the off season, and shared their story with The Morning Brunch.
The group comprised Gayan, Ashan, Hashiki, Shakila, Vinod, Hiruni Aravindi, Pavithra, Udara, and Sanudi. Despite planning on reaching Erathna early, it was 11.40 a.m. by the time they reached the location. Since they missed their bus, the group had to walk to the foot of Adam’s Peak, adding to the distance of their hike.
Leaving Kuruvita at 12 noon, the group commenced their hike on the old road, walking through tea plantations that lacked proper roads. Not even 100 metres into this journey, they were beset by leeches.
“The journey was tougher than we thought it would be. Most of our time was spent picking off leeches from our legs. And there was no shortage of rain since the start of our trip, but we paid no heed to this since this was a journey we were looking forward to.”
Despite planning on having lunch in Warnagala, the group ended up stopping at a rest house two hours into their journey because they were worried the food they had with them would go bad. After their meal, the group resumed their journey, reaching Warnagala only at 4 p.m. With the rains, the waterfalls were full and beautiful, but despite the temptation to get into the water that truly looked like clouds, they said they didn’t want to take any risks.
“Despite the beautiful views below, we could only take them in for fifteen minutes, and as we continued our journey, it gradually grew dark. We had planned on concluding our day at the Aadiya rest house, so we ignored how tired we were and continued on our way.”
While the travellers were careful during the hike, they weren’t safe from leeches, and Pavithra, who had previously been attacked by one, was once again a target, this time in his eye. Since there was a risk of hurting his eye, they had trouble removing the leech, especially as they were working by torchlight. Ultimately, they had to pour some salt water in his eye to get rid of the creature.
The best part of the journey awaited them, as by 8 p.m., they reached Seetha Gangula, and the rains continued. As the water levels rose, Gayan was the first to cross the waterway, and helped the others get to the other side as well. Looking back, the group did wonder if this was an unnecessary risk they took.
They decided to rest for 30 minutes, lighting a small fire and enjoying a quick snack of biscuits. Despite wanting to stay for longer, the group continued on their way, through dark forests. The strong winds stirred up fear in their minds, but they pushed through the rain and wind, and reached Haramiti Paana past midnight. Here, they took a break, because everyone was tired and the lack of outlets to buy food or drinks on the way made it difficult for some to proceed.
In Haramiti Paana, they were able to get their hands on drinking water as well as washroom facilities at the Public Health Inspector’s official quarters, and after a dinner of noodles, the group lathered balm on their feet and were asleep by 2 a.m.
The next morning, they resumed their journey at 11.30 a.m. after hot cups of instant coffee, and a breakfast of rice, soya, and dhal. They slowly neared the worshipping grounds, facing the worst of the winds in the aptly named Hulan Kapolla. Having fought through the bitter cold, the group reached the grounds at 2.15 p.m. and worshipped the Sri Pada, or Buddha’s footprint.
“We will never forget that moment. The grounds were covered in mist and it was the most beautiful scene we have ever seen,” the group recalled, adding that they commenced the climb down after a cup of tea, leaving for Nallathanni at 3.30 p.m. and reaching it at 7.30 p.m.
Since there were no buses, a shop owner, who always treats them like family whenever they are in the area, made sleeping arrangements for the group. In the morning, they enjoyed some thosai from the shop and headed home.
Tips for first-time climbers
Learning from their experience, the group shared the following tips for those making the climb for the first time, especially during the off-season:
- Bring raincoats that will cover your entire body
- Do not bring unnecessary clothes
- Bring something light to eat, such as biscuits
- If you are planning on cooking, bring all the things you will need
- Don’t forget a torch
- Bring all necessary medicines, as well as pain relief pills, balm, etc.
- Have with you something that will help with leeches
- Two pairs of shoes can make the climb easier