When was the last time you heard of someone scaling a mountain peak without their goggles? Well, we have a story for you — and that, not of a novice but a veteran climber — reminding us that even veterans in a field are capable of mistakes although they find their way out of situations using their experiences.
Everest climber Romil Barthwal, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army, has been undertaking mountaineering expeditions for the last 23 years. Till date, he has completed more than 25 such expeditions. So also, forgetting his goggles and still jetting off on an expedition stands out as a strange story just as it remains an admittedly strange experience for the climber.
Romil, who according to his profile in one of the professional networking sites is also a paratrooper, marathoner, super-randonneur and adventurer, was leading a 12-member team last week that was scaling the 17,348-ft Mt Friendship Peak located in the Pir Panjal Range in Himachal Pradesh.
Wearing crampons, climbing boots, safety harness, down jackets, gloves, headlights, etc., the team started the expedition at 2 a.m. However, at around 6:30 a.m., just when the sun’s rays began piercing through the mountains, Romil started experiencing the symptoms of snow blindness. It was then he realised that he forgot to wear his UV-protected mountain goggles.
For the unversed, snow blindness is a temporary discomfort in the eye when one is exposed to too much of the sun’s ultraviolet light especially at such altitudes. However, the condition is usually not serious and heals on its own in some days
“I was shocked upon remembering that I’d forgotten my goggles. It was frosty, and the temperature was around minus 20 degrees. It was also still dark, but my eyes had started to swell and it was feeling sore and painful, and my eyelids were twitching,” recounts Romil of the experience.