It was an eager waiting after deciding to conquer Mt. TADA with the Chennai Trekking Club, and even more exciting to write about the experience of conquering TADA with my fellow trekkers. This happens to be the first trek for some of the members with the club.
We started with a Scorpio, two Santro’s, and an Alto with one aim of conquering the mountain from where the TADA waterfalls originate. There were 16 trekking enthusiasts in our group including 5 members from Scientific Atlanta. Complying with our plans Divya, Priya, Chiru and Srikanth got into the Scorpio at Thoraipakkam. Sreekumar and I got into Santro at Velacheri and drove to Fortune hotel in Thoraipakkam to pick Samuel and Jason, two visitors from Taiwan. Next we continued our route to Madya Kailash to find Maya joining with her Alto and Arul got into her car. Maha joined with Maya at Anna Nagar. We then drove through NH5 to reach Tada and give the taste of iddly/dosa to Samuel & Jason (Taiwan).
We were joined by a black Santro – first look at it made us think that they may have just met with an accident, but we soon realized that its yet another feature of this car after seeing the smiling faces (Sunita, Namratha and Jyoti) casually coming out of the car. We continued our drive towards the Tada mountains from there to find the forest check post and paid for entrance fees and cameras. After a short drive through valley we parked the car at shade below a mango tree with full of tasty green mangoes. By then the time was 9:45am and we had a group snap before starting our mission.
By 10 am we started the trek after sharing the load of water and food. Within an hour we reached the temple at 400 ft, the stream of water was so tempting that we all jumped in and started playing a funny donkey “kabadi” game in the water. Soon we realized the time is running out and we wrapped up the game to continue our climb. Climbing the TADA mountain above the waterfall ‘head on’ at the end of the valley is a rock climber’s task (vertical walls), so we decided to climb the hill from the western side of the TADA valley. We started gaining altitude gradually. This could be a little tough job for first time trekkers. Suddenly we heard someone slipping off the track and we missed to capture a video of her fall. Her backpack had taken most of the impact thus it’s always good to wear a backpack while trekking even if it’s empty. The whole team did a real good trek and we reached 1300 ft (previous Tada trek camping site) by 1:30 pm. We took the packed lunch here and managed to click few good snaps of the water falling from the cliff.
One think to be remembered is that we are yet to find a way to our destination (top of Tada mountain) as there was no known or visible trail. All of us were determined to reach it by looking at the pace with which the whole team climbed up the hill. One thing we knew was that there is water on top because we saw a waterfall coming down from the cliff. We started our trek and some of us started feeling tired by the time we gained altitude of 1700 ft after crossing couple of small hills along the upwards trail. It was time to make some decision since we had not found water yet and it was almost 4 pm (2 hours before sunset). We had to do some thing against the golden rule of mountaineering i.e. splitting the team. It didn’t seem to be a good idea to dragging the whole team in search of water, so 4 of us alone went ahead to find water and a place to camp.
The search was exciting and we used the watch & GPS to note our position relative to the rest of the group. We climbed down a valley were we could find some stagnant water, in search of running (=drinkable) water… It was rewarding when the splendid sound of water flow hit our ears. We were jubilant and again 2 of 4 stayed to pin point the water flow & the other 2 of 4 went back to get the whole team to this new world of TADA above the waterfalls. Yes finally we did it, we conquered TADA. The altimeter read 1500 ft.
We got the whole team to the camping site and we were just waiting to jump in to the water after a good trek. There was an awesome natural pool with crystal clear water of about 12 ft deep, we tied a rope in the middle for the learners to try swimming and I think by next day morning almost all the team members gave it a try to enjoy the waters. We collected some fire wood to cook and set up a camp fire to play “Uno” after the dinner. It was really an awesome sleep under the stars after a hard but excellent day of climbing.
Early morning – We all got up at 6:30am, the early morning light gave us the perfectly lit snaps. Not it was time to plan the return trip. We got ready with all the water bottles filled because one could survive even for days just with water in the mountains. We found a path to the cliff that we saw yesterday from the west side of the valley. Then we all went to the deadly and beautiful cliff to pose for snaps. We could get a clear view of the whole TADA valley beneath us. It’s time to make a tough decision again because we were optimistic about finding a new and easier way through the Eastern side of the Tada valley this is against yet another generally accepted rule of mountaineering that the return path should be same as the forward path. However, we were adventures enough to try the eastern side of the valley.
We followed a dry water path and it got tougher and tougher as we climbed down. Luckily each occasion we could find a way down but at times the route was really hard and risky. This road was not taken before, so we were prepared for a challenge. We went down to 1100 ft to reach a walk-able and sometimes steep mountain stream which we followed till we had descended till 300 ft. Now we meet with a 100ft vertical steep impossible to climb down, so we had to find some way out. We have not had our lunch and it was almost 2 pm and we are slowly running out of water.
The rocks were also getting heated up under the scorching afternoon summer sun. Few guys with some mountaineering experience in the team ventured to lay the unknown path. The search along the west side towards the end of the valley went in vain because it was too steep for the team to climb down… Now the options were to try the eastern side or at the worst case get back to the camping area again, but that’s going to be a real tough decision. We didn’t have to go to that extreme as soon the explorers found a possible way on the eastern side the whole team was cheered up with slogans like ‘ We rock TADA ‘.
Thought the climb down is only about 300 ft it was tough for the new trekkers, now was the real test of ‘team work’. The whole team climbing down with stronger members helping others demonstrated the team effort and the spirit of mountaineering. In fact few of them thought it was impossible to manage the steep rocks. Impossible ..! But still they did it and that’s what mountaineering is all about. I am sure we all would have thanked the nature in our own ways for giving us so much of fun, adventure, friends and all the learning. It was almost 6pm by the time we reached the temple were we enjoyed our hot soup and left to the car parking.
Ohh Wait ! Adventure for the day is not yet over…… A river to be crossed… One of the cars didn’t start and we tried so many things and finally we could get its engine rolling after the heartfelt push of the members. The car somehow managed to reach the other end of the river to give out smoke from the radiator…. this wasn’t a problem. Soon we started back to the civilized world. Sunita, Namratha, Jyoti and Maha went back home without having a dinner and all others went to Chennai Deluxe to have a heavy dinner after 2 tiring days.
This is a place gifted with immense of natural beauty and we made sure not to spoil it by putting even a tiny piece of non-biodegradable stuff. Still you can find some pieces of glasses and plastics put by some prior trekkers who never have a heart to preserve the beauty of nature for next generation. In few words the whole trip was filled with fun, adventure and a great team spirit.
Written by Amal. Edited by Arul.