Stok – We will be back
Like other trekkers even we had the dream of climbing Stok kangri and this year we planned to do it. We enrolled ourselves for this highest trekable peak in India with Trek the Himalayas which is one of the renowned trekking company in India. We enrolled ourselves a bit late hence we had to pay more fees as compared to the other participants in the team. Also we had to bear excess cost of airfare due to last minute decision of going for a trek. Nevertheless anything for trekking.
From the time we had enrolled for this there was always a conversation taking place between my brain and heart. Don’t know who exactly was trying to motivate me n who was trying to discourage me, but still I always listened to my Heart. The day finally arrived and we landed in Leh and after 2 days we met TTH team and other participants. By then we were acclimatized well. On 9th July finally we started our journey from Leh hotel to Stok village by car. Stok village is just 35-40 km from Leh which takes around 45-60 mins to reach. The car dropped us near a small cafe at stok village where we refilled our water bottles with stream water and commenced the trek towards Changma. Trek to Changma is a trail taking you from 11600 ft to the height of 12900 ft.
Hardly 1-2 places had a bit steep climb, rest trek was a gradual height gain. Total distance of trek from stok village to changma was 5.5 km which took us 4 hours to complete. Post reaching the camp site we were offered Fruit juice (Tang) followed by hot lunch. What else you want on mountains; good food and good people around just adds beauty to the trek. Evening there was an acclimatization walk where we gained the height of about another 300 feet’s and back to camp had soup followed by dinner and then sleep. Second day of trek was from Chang Ma to Mankorma camp site which is 4 km trek and the height gain was from 12950 feet to 14300 feet. Even on second day there was a gradual ascend which took around 4 hours to complete. Third day was a bit tough as you directly gain the height of 16000 to reach base camp. Also on this day the climb near the base camp is steep and u feel this steepness when u have a heavy bag on your back. Both second and third day schedule remained same as first day post reaching the camp site. As per itinerary we were supposed to go for summit next day of reaching Base camp hence we were trying to acclimatize ourselves at the height of 16000 feet. Although it was a quiet a good experience of camping on such a height for the first time.
There was an argument going on between my brain and heart.
Heart: I am so thrilled, tomorrow we are finally going for summit
Brain: Don’t be so excited. You don’t have experience of going beyond 15000 feet.
Heart: So what but I know I can do it
Brain: yaayaa you and your over confidence. Don’t forget you are on the higher altitude
Heart: Yes I do know I am on higher altitude and most important in the midst of the mountains so don’t worry they will take care. They don’t harm anyone.
Brain: Hahaha that’s the reason accidents happen
Heart: Mountain doesn’t harm anyone it’s an individual’s who commit mistake and then they harm themselves.
Brain: To some extend I agree to the fact you mentioned.
Heart: Yes you need to agree with me only then we can summit
Brain: I agree with the fact of mountain not harming people, but not with everything what you say.
Heart: Nevertheless let’s just rest now for a while. We have to summit today.
Brain: Fine. Bye
Ahh finally these two gave me some peace, but what’s up with the weather why is it making a fuss of summit plan.
Weather was getting nastier with every passing hour after 5 PM, resulting we had to postpone our summit plan to the next day. We undeniably got one more day for acclimatization. The sky cleared by 11 Pm on same night and we could see stars shinning in the sky and the mountain range clear calling us and giving us hope to summit next day. All were asleep dreaming for summit.
With the dawn next day we all were happy as we could see sun showering the light on Mountain range. It was such a beautiful sight next day and only one voice came out of everyone’s heart and that was “Today definitely we are summiting”. With all our gears up we then went for a practice walk in Scarpa shoes. From base camp we left on Stok way which was initially a steep ascend and then the walk on snow. To ascend with Scarpa shoes was a difficult task. Unable to figure out whether the shoes are taking me or I am taking those shoes. Almost where ascend was ending I understood the technique of walking with Scarpa shoes which I might forget by next trek though. We marched a few meters ahead on the snow and then decided not to exhaust ourselves at this point of time and we were back to the camp. After early lunch we went to respective tents and woke up for tea at 5PM. Weather again started playing tandav and this time it was worst then the earlier day.
With the bad weather conditions out of 9 people in team only we 3 were still ready to attempt summit. After a lot of arguments between us and the trek lead our voice was heard and we were getting ready at 8 PM. After this argument again there was an internal argument going between my heart and brain with which I was getting distracted.
Heart: yaaay finally we are getting ready to move
Brain: Look at the weather its worst then yesterday.
Heart: It will clear in sometime. Don’t worry
Brain: It’s worsening every minute and you are saying it will clear. Now there is rain plus white out. How are you going to find the way?
Heart: We have the trek lead, the local guide they know the way so relax don’t get hyper.
Brain: I think u are hit with AMS. You are acting stupid. I never knew one of the symptoms of AMS was stupidity.
Heart: Ohh come on stop cracking jokes and let me focus on my goal
Brain: Are you serious. You are still up to the decision of going?
Heart: Yes and will not change it. If I have two great personalities with me who can guide me hold my hand in difficulties do you think I should be scared of anything? And moreover do you think they will go ahead if they see the risk in something
Brain: I agree to the fact that two great personalities are there with you and if they have taken the decision it won’t go wrong.
Heart: Yeaaah Hum Jeetgaye 😛
Brain: Haan Haan don’t be so glad now, just get ready and all the best. Together we have to do it.
After all this distraction I was back to reality getting ready and also seeing that the weather is now dismaying. We hanged on till 9:15PM with no changes in weather so one of us said it’s too risky to attempt now. With this we then decided to give up and attempt it next year. Low-spirited we came back to tent and tried sleeping but could only feel Stok. Somehow we tried telling ourselves its not just the summit which gives the feeling of accomplishment but every step of the way we learnt something new, we witnessed beauty of Himalayas, We met new people made friends to them and most importantly we were in the midst of mountains.