Stok Kangri Expedition – Ladakh
Stok Kangri Expedition – 4th Aug to 11th Aug 2012
About Stok Kangri mountain: Elevation: 6,153 m (20,182 feet)
Stok Kangri is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh. The peak is located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead at 3,610 m (11,845 feet) in the village of Stok and 24 km from the Ladakhi capital of Leh. Despite its altitude, Stok Kangri is a popular peak and is often climbed as an initial non-technical foray into high altitude mountaineering. Grade:Moderate to Difficult (Not recommended for the first timers)
Adventure seekers (12):
Madhav Bewoor, Kedar Joshi, Atul Jadhav, Vivan Khubchand, Prasad Joshi, Prerna Joshi, Sanchit Gupta, Deepak Agarwal, Priyesh Desai, Adarsh Jalan, Hrishikesh Shroff& Vishal Jhanji.
Adventure company: TREK THE HIMALAYAS Website: http://www.trekthehimalayas.com/
Leaders: Sandeep Jakhad (Team Manager cum guide), Tashi Butia (lead guide)
I hail from Pune, the city on the western end of the Deccan plateau and on the leeward side of the Sahyadri mountain range! Being an information technology professional my passion for mountains may sound out of place to many but I must confess that I love mountains as if I belong there!
I decided to go for the ‘Stok Kangri’ expedition during my last expedition to Roopkund, a glacial lake in the greater Himalayas in Uttarakhand during 2010. But due to work engagements I could not take it up until August 2012.
Preparations for the expedition:
Most of the times I try to do things in a perfect possible manner and generally I do not take up any task just for the heck of it. Mentally, I prepared myself for this expedition in the month of August 2011 and my physical training started from the month of December 2011.
After reading many articles on the internet I knew that this was not going to be a cake walk. I have done numerous short treks in Sahyadri Mountains and only one big trek in the Himalayas. But I had never done a trek of this magnitude & altitude. My basic concern was to deal with the altitude sickness (AMS). At extreme altitudes, it is the AMS which tires you down. Air gets thinner with the rising altitude and if lungs do not adapt to that less oxygen (Anaerobic) scenario fast then there is huge possibility of AMS striking hard.
Therefore, I decided to train more in the anaerobic phase than in the aerobic phase(in the presence of oxygen). This kind of training would make my body adapt to the less oxygen scenario faster than the only aerobic training. Though there are various ways to train but I stick to these three types:
Under water swimming
As swimming was not an option where I was putting up therefore I did the other two options.
My training schedule:
Mon, Wed, Fri: Weight training for 60mins• (squats was regular on all days)
Thursday• & Sunday: 8 kilometers running in 40 minutes
All my training sessions would end with 15 minutes of yogic asana, which was more of a cool down.
I am a pure vegetarian, infact a ‘vegan’. My diet would consist of veggies and lots of fruits on daily basis along with the regular stuff.
I took an early morning GoAir flight from Delhi & landed in Leh (11550 feet) on the morning of 4th August 2012. I was rather pleasantly surprised to find mostly foreign tourist with me on the flight. Infact fewer Indian tourist visit Ladakh than the foreign tourist.
In little over one hour I was transport from 400 feet to 11550 feet. There was chill in the air and got a rude shock to learn that my reliance cdma phone had no network despite being postpaid connection. Airtel and BSNL have the best network coverage in Ladakh region.
I was transported to my hotel by a friendly young local, Stanzing, the partner at the ‘Lynx Expeditions, Ladakh’. I could feel the thin air while breathing. As I was awake since 3am in the morning, I decided to crash on the inviting bed with thick quilts. I felt restless for quite a while because of the oxygen deficiency in the air. It is recommended for all tourists to rest for 24 hours for better acclimatization before moving around.
Rakesh Pant & Sandeep Jakhad came to my room around 11am and we exchanged greetings. I met Rakesh after 2 years almost. Originally Rakesh was supposed to lead this expedition but then he was leaving for Delhi the same day for some urgent work. Now Sandeep would be our team manager for this expedition. I decided to go around the Leh bazaar as I was feeling restless sitting in my room. The feeling of thin air would come and go.
Today we planned to goto ‘Khardungla’ pass, supposed to be the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380 feet as per the signboard claims at the pass. Though it is debated by many modern GPS claims that the pass is at much lower altitude at 17,582 feet but it continues to be in the limelight as the highest motorable road in the world. There are higher motorable passes at Suge La, west of Lhasa, 5,430 m (17,815 feet), and Semo La 5,565 m (18,258 feet), between Raka and Coqen in Central Tibet.
Trip to ‘Khardung la’ is a must for better acclimatization before the real trek.
Our permits for the pass were secured by Stanzing the previous day. We left Leh around 10am in Stanzing’s Maruti ‘Ecco’ after eating breakfast of ‘Aloo Paranthas’. The road was nicely paved till we reached ‘South Pullu’ checkpost. After that it was a rollercoaster ride till the ‘Khardung la’. It took us almost 2 hours covering a distance of 40 kms. This road further goes to the Siachen Glacier base camp. Siachen Glacier at 70 km long, it is the longest Glacier in the Karakoram mountain range.
There were lots of adventurers & tourist at the pass and it almost looked like a small ‘mela’. We went around the pass, clicked some good snaps, ate maggi, made some video & went to monastery for a quick prayer!
We were back in Leh around 3.30pm and had our lunch at the German bakery. After some shopping we retired to our hotel rooms.
Today my room partner Prasad decided to go around Leh and visit the Castle Shemo & Shey palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh. It used to be the summer palace of the kings of Ladakh.
There are lots of Stupas and Gompas built around the palace. Shey palace was built by Deldan Namgyal in the beginning of 17’Th century AD. Main attraction in Shey is the 12m Shakyamuni Buddha statue inside the Dresthang Gompa.
This was good warm-up for our leg muscles before the real accent the very next day. This was not part of the expedition but we thought of doing some adventure and had good fun.
Written By: VISHAL JHANJI