This is a continuation of a travel series. Read the previous blogs here..
- To The Himalayas - Unguided Solo Travel
- Niti Malari - Where People Are Gods
- Heavy rains, Dark night, A stone cave and Me
- Loitering in Badrinath | Sadhus, Cannabis, Free Meal, Free Stay
- That's How I Got Leh'd
Leh by default meant Stok Kangri to me. I had thought to do it after my Basic Mountaineering Course, but since I was there already without any plans, I decided to put an effort to summit it.
The plan was simple. I had my own tent and sleeping bag. Trusting my trail finding sense, I decided to do it on my own. A 3-day plan.
Day 1: Leh to Stok Village to Mankormo
Day 2: Mankormo to Base Camp
Day 3: Base Camp to Summit to Leh
My bag felt too heavy. I was too sceptical about my chances of a successful summit with it, so I thought I would hire a porter to carry it for me. This decision of mine was not wise at all, and eventually, I ended up carrying my bag and paying money to the porter too !!
The Chilling Sleepless Night Of Mankormo
I was very confident in my new feather sleeping bag, a duplicate North Face bought from Bhutan. I knew it was a duplicate North Face, but I trusted the down. However, it was not put to test yet.
Mankormo is a cold campsite before Stok Kangri base camp, more so because of the river flowing by the campsite. As night drew in, It started to become even colder.
I was carrying a 3 man tent as that was the only tent I had. Sleeping in the 3 man tent, alone, inside a duplicate NF sleeping bag, in the very cold campsite of Mankormo was a test of my patience. One more thing - I did not have a mattress too !!
Somehow I saw off that sleepless night and it is deeply embedded in my memories so far.
Friendship Enroute. A Rescue From The Cold Too !!
As I started the trek from Stok Village, 2 other guys were trekking on their own as well. Vivek and Himanshu.
Initially, fewer talks, but a friendly warmth was shared. They were to use the Fixed Camp service which I too used for food.
After my sleepless night, I shared my experience with them and requested them to share my tent, which would help me keep warm, and in return, save them tent charge. They showed friendliness and welcomed my idea.
In return, Vivek was carrying an Alpine stove and said that we could cook some tea, soup and Maggi before we start our push to the summit together, around 1 AM at the night. It was welcoming for me, otherwise, I had planned to push for the summit day on cashews, chocolate bars and candies. Something warm was good to have !!
The Summit Push
Post midnight, we woke up to make tea and soupy noodles. After having it, we started our bet for the summit.
On the trail that night were we and a group of students who returned back very soon. A group of few Koreans had left an hour before us.
It was very chilly outside, and maybe I took over precaution for it. Soon, I started feeling uncomfortable wearing too many clothes. I did not have a headlamp, so was carrying a hand torch. The pockets of my jacket were designated for 2 water bottles, and the pockets of my trousers were for a few chocolate bars, candies and some cashews. My camera bag hung from my shoulder.
We crossed the glacier soon and found ourselves on a lost trail. We kept patience and kept moving eyeing the peak and using our directional senses. After walking on the scree zone for quite some time, we got back to the man-made trail. The switchback climbs on the scree felt very monotonous and boring, but we had to cross it. At dawn, we were just below the shoulder. The ridge walk from the shoulder to the summit was the best part of the trek. I always like a trek which makes you forget the time. It was one of those. Soon, I stood on the Summit
The View From The Summit
While taking permission from IMF office in Leh, I was briefed about sighting K2, Nanga Parvat, Nun Kun from the summit. I might have seen those peaks, but very insignificantly smaller to make any difference. Views of Markha Valley down below was amazing. So were the other peaks of Ladakh.
The Return From Summit.
I had to reach Leh the same day, so I sped up on my return climbing down straight taking a shortcut. At 11 AM, I was back at the base camp having a hot bowl of Maggi.
It started to snow as if congratulating us on the success. A few blue sheeps came down to greet us as well !! I gave the plan of going down to Leh leaving such a wonderful place. I was in no hurry too !! So I ordered a beer to congratulate me !!
The next day, we started at ease to reach Leh by afternoon.
Riding The Nubra Valley