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Stok Kangri - An Unplanned Climb

This is a continuation of a travel series. Read the previous blogs here..

  1. To The Himalayas - Unguided Solo Travel
  2. Niti Malari - Where People Are Gods
  3. Heavy rains, Dark night, A stone cave and Me
  4. Loitering in Badrinath | Sadhus, Cannabis, Free Meal, Free Stay
  5. That's How I Got Leh'd


The Decision

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.

stok kangri peak from base camp


The Plan

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


The Execution

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.

mankormo campmankormo camp with ibex head


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 !!

me above stok kangri base camp for acclimatization

vivek, suman and himanshu on stok kangri acclimatization walk


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

dawn at stok kangri trek

me on top of stok kangri me atop stok kangri


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.

view from stok kangri summit view from stok kangri summit 2

viewof markha  from stok kangri summit markha valley from stok kangri summit



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


View User Profile for Suman

Every day I keep learning new things, but as of now, I think I can describe myself as a Loyal Himalayan Lover, Avid Trekker, Student Of Mountaineering, Amateur Photographer and an Enthusiastic Anthropologist. I am a Computer Science Engineer by education and previously worked as a Software Developer for premium IT companies. However, I quit the luxury of a high-earning corporate job and left behind the herd to walk towards the spiritual path laid down by the Godly Himalayas. At the age of 27 with no savings at all and being the only son from a lower-middle-class family, it was too young to fight against the family who in turn had to fight against the rules laid down by society. However, with my determination and perseverance, everything became smooth by passing time.

It wasn't easy for me as I learnt the hard way from mistakes - my own and by observing others. I fought 2 major road accidents that broke my right tibia and femur. I underwent 7 surgeries that kept me away from the mountains, but I patiently fought them all to get back to trekking again in the Himalayas with rods and plates in my bones. Despite doctors saying I cannot walk properly ever again to getting back to trekking on the difficult routes again, Life made me understand very clearly what it wants out of me in this World. It wants me to serve the Himalayas and its community, live a peaceful, content and simple life. That's what I have dedicated my this life to. I am not religious, but spiritual. The Himalayas define my road.

The Himalayas today is spammed by mushrooming trek agencies and big companies who take pride in being India's Largest, biggest, oldest, etc. They are exploiting everything for the sake of profit. It is in dire need of regulation by credible Government authorities, Sustainable Tourism Practices needs to be forced upon every organisation, Small Group Sizes needs to be mandated, Fixed camping should be restricted in alpine zones and Negative Ecological Impact Trekking Protocols should be laid down immediately by governing bodies. With all these objectives, I founded Himalayan High in the year 2015. Learn more about Himalayan High on About Himalayan High

Posted by Suman Chowdhury Sunday, September 13, 2015 3:48:00 AM Categories:

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