When A Mountain Becomes Bridge Between Two Souls
- Raghav Goyal
- Published on 18 Aug 2020, 7:45 am IST
- 5 minutes read
A mountain peak in Spain is named after an IAS officer of Uttarakhand. It all started with an act of compassion.
- From Compassion And Friendship To A Mountain Peak In His Name
Sometimes, a little kindness goes a long way. In this case, it has gone all the way from the hill state of Uttarakhand to Spain- all because of an unselfish, benevolent act of an IAS officer.
It’s a moment of pride for Mr Ashish Chauhan, an additional secretary in Uttarakhand because a mountain peak in Spain has just been named in his honor. Even the route to the treacherous mountain peak, at 2,590 metres, is named as `Via Ashish’. It all started with that one gesture of compassion.
Let’s begin from the beginning. In 2018, Juan Antonio landed in India. He had come here to conquer Mt.Satopanth, a majestic peak in the Gangotri region of Garhwal Himalayas, at an altitude of 7075 metres, and which is usually favoured by serious mountaineers for their `pre-Everest’ workout. It was first conquered in August 1947, 15 days prior to India’s Independence by the team led by Andre Roch, noted climber and an avalanche management specialist.
However, as Antonio started the climb, he realized that Mt. Satopanth had its own plans. If he thought climbing the popular peak would be a stroll in a park, he was in for a rude shock. Because no sooner than he embarked on his climb, difficulties started hitting him with eerie regularity.
As Juan Antonio told Indian Masterminds (through a telephonic interaction), “It became a near-death experience for me, as after climbing the summit, I fell sick for the second time. It was again altitude sickness. The one I suffered while on the way down to our base camp was a lot more painful and serious. Even after we reached the base camp, my body did not respond to treatment. It was all thanks to a liaison officer who came to our help and escorted us back to the base camp. But my condition had started deteriorating. Everything indicated I would die that night.”
The Helping Hand
As Juan came out of the base camp, he was met by Mr Ashish Chauhan, who was then the district collector of Uttarkashi. Speaking with Indian Masterminds, Mr Chauhan said that being the DM at that time, he felt that it was his duty to cater to the mountaineers in a proper manner and help them out if necessary. On knowing about Juan Antonio’s perilous condition, the DM spoke to him gently as a friend. It was this encounter, in which Mr Chauhan basically counseled the sick man, which left a deep impression on Juan.
The Spanish tourist felt a lot better after the session with the DM and was profusely thankful to him for his compassion and the humanitarian touch.
A Spanish Peak For Mr Chauhan
On 15th August, India’s Independence Day, Mr Chauhan shared a moving post on his social media account. It was a message from Juan, and it read: “Today me and my friend David Resino have climbed a virgin peak (never climbed) in Spain and I have given a name to the summit, along with the route where we have climbed. We have decided that the top will be called ‘Magistrate’s Point’ and the route will be called, ‘Via Ashish’. In honor of and in gratitude to you.”
Mr Chauhan also shared, in his social media message, the screenshot of a WhatsApp chat with Juan Antonio on Independence Day. It said, “ALMOST FACED DEATH DURING EXPEDITION TO MT. SATOPANTH.’’
The virgin- and as yet unnamed- peak, as well the route now bearing Mr Chauhan’s name, falls in the Gredos mountain range of Spain. The area is called Canales Oscuras.
After returning to Spain, Juan and the DM remained in touch but not on regular basis. Mr Chauhan said, “Due to the rising Coronavirus cases all over the world, one day I texted him inquiring about his well-being. We had an emotional conversation as he was facing a lot of problems during the pandemic. This is how we connected again.”
Looking back at the events which led to a Spanish peak named after him, Mr Chauhan said, “I feel proud that the good news arrived on our 74th Independence Day. A small conversation filled with compassion and humanity can change a lot of things. As for naming a peak in Spain after me, I feel honoured that India has got this unique honor in a foreign land.’’
The peak in Spain is named `Magistrate’s point’ since Mr Chauhan was the District Magistrate when he met and provided counseling to the beleaguered and very sick mountaineer. On a different note, one would like to remind the wannabe mountaineers of the old adage: it’s not you who climbs the mountain. It’s the mountain which lets you climb it…Of course once in a while, the act of climbing also leads to meaningful connections between two vastly different individuals.
END OF THE ARTICLE