Stok Kangri The Expedition — Day 11: Stok Village

It was a successful ascent to the summit and everyone had a good sleep to rest our tired bodies. Rawat, Bramh, Suhas and few others had left to leh the previous day itself. Only a few of us were left and we headed to stok village which would take 4-5 hrs. We would then be transported back to leh.

Since it would be a continous descent, prakash, myself and few others headed off soon. We reached mankarmao in an hour. The rest of them were long way back and we took a break till they reached. Tsering asked us to regroup before we continued as we had to cross few streams and only he knew the route.

The descent continued and jumping across few streams and boulders we continued our journey back to stok village

Way back to stok village

We spotted a couple of ibexes which were doing some acrobatics while trying to get down a hill. A brief glance at them and we continued. After crossing few streams there was a steep pass to climb. This would be one of the two passes and after climbing stok it was pretty easy for us to go over those.

The valley from the first pass was amazing and short break and few shots later we continued the journey

View from the pass

We could see other trekkers coming from stok village as we went ahead. The descent continued for few more hours with small breaks and soon we could see the village in sight.

Hoping across few small streams we reached the stok village and crashed at a shop. Soon the rest of the group arrived thus marking an end to an wonderful trek.

Tired after a loong trek

Bramha and rawat came to meet us and shortly the ponies arrived with our luggage. Dumping our luggage in the car we headed back to stok thus completing an amazing trek

Stok Kangri The Expedition : Day 10 — The Final Ascent

Today would be the first attempt at the summit. We got ready and after dinner everyone had a short nap in their tents before we were called out to our respective groups. Once everyone assembled the first team headed off followed by the others.

Tsering was leading the first group, and they started the trek with prakash leading the way. Bramha was with the second group and we soon started. Rawat was leading the final group. Dambal opted out the final climb and to our suprise vikas had to turn back shortly after the climb began citing shortness of breath. The climb to stok is a direct ascent from the basecamp and there is no descents anywhere. As we go higher the steepness increases.

Bijit was the next to return back after the initial climb and the size of the group in which i was reducing. It was a long walk from the climb to the advanced basecamp and we were moving at a brisk pace while taking small breaks in between.

Couple of hours of walking and we reached the glacier which we had to cross. Out came the crampons and after putting them, we began to walk across the soild ice. There were a couple of places where we had to cross and the helpers who were with us, made it easy by helping us to cross them. The climb continued for couple of hours and as we went higher, the gradient also increased and the pace at which we were climbing was becoming slow.

The path after the glacier was full of rocks and loose stones and vikas at this time was suffering from fatique and had to call it quits. We still had a long way to go and bramha was shouting for us to pick up the pace. It was time to take a break as all climbing was making us feel very tired. Couple of sips of water and the climb began. There were other teams climbing as well and the route was busy. We reached another patch of ice and we had to wear crampons again. Seeing that we were loosing time removing and wearing the crampons bramha asked to leave the crampons on.

It was already 5 hrs since we were climbing and we were yet to approach the ridge. The sun was peaking above the horizon when we reached the ridge after climbing a steep incline. A short break and we could see the summit just a 1000 feet above us. Vibhor had fallen back long way behind and finally managed to catch up with us. We could get a brief glimpse  of K2 and kailash manasasarovar for a brief moment before mist engulfed the place.

The final climb was a bit tricky as we had to negotiate the steep edges and climb carefully. We were roped up to begin the climb. As usual the first batch went ahead and we followed them. Vibhor who was ahead was feeling very tired was constantly taking breaks slowing us down. There were other teams apart from us and everyone were getting delayed. The climb continued at a snail pace and we were almost at the summit when anshul slipped !!!!. Bramha who was just behindhim prevented him from falling thus averting a major disaster !!!!.

Finally after 7 hrs and 15 min of climbing we were on top of stok kangri. It was a joyous moment for everyone. The indian flag was proudly hoisted and we had a couple of group snaps to celebrate the occassion

Atop Stok Kangri

Spending some more time at the summit we decided to head back to camp. The descent was slow as everyone were still roped together. We had stop every couple of steps as the person behind had to descend before we could move ahead. We reached the ridge after stopping numerous breaks. From the ridge we decided to take a shortcut which involved a steep descent on the ice. Again it was slow moving as the loose gravel made it difficult to walk and everyone were slipping in the loose gravel.

We reached the ice after a long and slow descent and those who were new to ice had a nice time slipping and sliding down. Rawat was little annoyed with this and asked us to pick up the pace as we still had a long way to go down. Few of them really had a tough time getting down in the ice and after quite a lot of slipping and sliding we managed to reach the bottom. Everyone were tired and we still had to cross the glacier and the advanced base camp. Few of us took a brief power nap before moving ahead. During the descent we could get the enormity of the climb we had done at night. It looked like a never ending walk back to the basecamp.

The glacier was crossed and the next target was the advanced basecamp. The walk to the basecamp was quite a long way and our tired bodies had to be pushed little more till we reached the basecamp. Finally after 13 hrs of trekking we managed got back to the basecamp thus completing a successful ascent to the summit. Energy drinks were consumed and we hit the sleeping bags immediately as our tired bodies needed some well deserved rest

Stok Kangri –The Expedition Day 9: Stok Base Camp

The stok kangri base camp a couple of hours from mankarmao would be the destination for today. Since it would take us less time to reach the camp we decided to take it easy. The path to the basecamp was through the same route me and deepak took to the valley to do our photography. There is a arrow pointing the other way and we followed it.

Crossing streams and boulders we continued the hike. The terrain was pretty flat and we were moving at a good pace. The final climb to the summit however was pretty steep. It was a slow ascent and 3 hrs after leaving mankarmao we reached stok kangri base camp

Stok Kangri Base Camp

We could see huge no of tents from various countries already pitched up and people were busy walking around. A couple of photos from the camp and we went in search of a place to pitch our tents. Bramha had told us if weather conditions are good we would attempt to reach the summit one day before the actual planned day.

When the ponies arrived we pitched our camps and relaxed as we had nothing else to do. There was a short shower and the skies cleared up. Me and anshul went for a short stroll to try and photograph the distant glacier and the mountains as we had nothing else to do

Around base camp

Upon returning to the camp, we were told since the weather had cleared we would be attempting the summit tonight itself. After an hour or so we were called out as tsering and rawat were giving a demo of the gaiters and crampons which we would be using on the ice and other details would be given.

It was time for the demo and rawat gave a brief about the summit climb we would be doin at night. Tsering then showed us the gaitors and crampons we would be using and gave a demo of how to put them on and take them off. We were told to use the crampons only on ice and no to be used on rocks and gravel as it would spoil the crampons.

We were then grouped into teams consisting on one fast walker and a slow walker to even the odds and we were sent back to our tents for some rest. Dinner would be served in an hour or so and the summit climb would be at midnight

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 8: Mankarmao

Before we left shang-pu we had asked bramha to get the Indian flag as we wanted to celebrate Independence day at the camp where we would halt. On 15th morning as usual as we were about to leave gangpoche rawat reminded us about the days significance and asked us to chant the national anthem which we all did. Soon it as time to head to the hills and to mankar mao

Singing the National Anthem

It would be a short walk and we were expected to be there by afternoon. All trekkers who head to stok camp at mankarmao and it was necessary for us to reach there soon and pitch our tents before others come and occupy the place.

The march began as usual with a steady pace and after an hour we took a small break like other days for a short while before heading again. Crossing a couple of streams we continued our climb which was at a steady pace. Soon we reached a pass which we had to climb. This was not very steep which was easily reached. A couple of snaps and it was a long descent all the way down

We came from there

The wind was blowing at a high speed and it was very cold at the top. Jackets soon came out as we got ready for a group shot. We didnt want to stay there for too long and we began the descent which was really steep. Slowly we progressed down and as the descent continued the pace increased. Soon we reached the bottom and rested for a while, as the rest of the group were still far behind. Another couple of group snaps and rest of the guys arrived. Tsering asked us to be in a group and follow him which we did.

Shortly we reached another climb and a steep descent followed. We could see the basecamp across the river. Praskash Sir and few others had already reached the camp while me and the rest reached the camp soon. We were asked to pick our spots for the tents to be pitched as we didnt want other teams to come and occupy the space. A couple of photos of the peak and the ponies arrived with the tents and other equipment

Photos from Mankarmao

Tents were pitched and soon we found other groups arriving. Hot soup was given and we got back to discussing stuff. While pitching the tents we met couple of french climbers who were on their way to the stok base camp. A casual chat with them and we came to know they r seasoned climbers who had done lot of climbing in the alps and also travelled a lot in india as well. We bid them goodbye and continued our work.

With nothing much to do me and deepak headed towards the base camp for a short walk. Walking for about an hour, we reached the bend from where we could see stok clearly. Crossing a couple of boulders we were trying to capture the landscape in various angles. Spending half and hour there we headed back to the camp expecting bramha to come with the Indian flag so we could hoist the flag and celebrate the Independence Day

Landscape @ Mankarmao

Getting back to the camp took another half hour and after sometime we saw bramha come to the basecamp. Soon we saw pradeep also come. He had skipped the initial part of the trek due to sinus issues and now he had joined us at mankarmao. Bharani soon joined us and bramha took out the Indian flag which he had bought along with a football.

The stage as set to hoist the flag and to celebrate Independence Day at 4400m

Independence Day Celebrations

Flag was lowered down after a while and we went back to our tents. Dinner was soon served and we hit the sacks

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 7: Shang-Pu to Gangpoche

The trek from shang-pu to gangpoche would be a long one as per rawat. It would take us approximately 6 hrs to reach gangpoche. The inital plan was to camp at mato doksa and then proceed towards gangpoche the next day. However this had to be altered as there was no source of water at mato doksa and the distance to gangpoche is an hour or so.

As usual we started the trek after stretching exercises and breakfast. It was a the same routine as the previous day after climbing for 45min we took a break for a short while before moving ahead. The overcast skies was making us little cold and our jackets came out when we took a break

Break Time

The climb continued again and we were moving at a good pace. To reach gangpoche we had to cross two passes one being shang-pu la which is at a height of 16500 mts and another pass which is much smaller

We reached shang-pu la after a long walk on flat terrain. A short break and the climb began. It was slow moving as we had to stop after couple of steps to get some air into our lungs before moving ahead. The altitude also played a major role as this was the first pass of this we were climbing. Slow and steady progress continued and soon we reached the top of the pass.

Climbing the Shang-Pu la

We could see our camp site which was quite a long way across. Luckily we had an hour break at mato dohksa for lunch and a we spent the time relaxing while waiting for the ponies to come with our lunch. Once lunch was consumed it was a non stop march till the gangpoche.

After climbing the steep incline it was a full descent on a very narrow trail till we hit the river. After filling our bottles it was time to climb another pass which was not so high as shang-pu la. The trail was quite narrow and any slip would send us down the valley. Walking slowly we made our way to the next pass where we had another break.

The trail to gangpoche

We could see our camp site from the pass and to reach there we had to descend and cross another small stream which we did. Finally after 6 hours of trekking we reached gangpoche. The camp is situated in middle of now-where with snow capped mountains surrounding us on one side and a closed valley on the other.

Snow clad mountains @ Gangpoche

Evening was spent discussing about various foods and other topics. Dinner was served which we had under a camp fire and retired for the day as we had the climb to mankrmao the next day

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 6: Shang to Shang-pu

The actual trek began only today and it was also relatively short one for about 4 hrs.  We were asked to be out with the bags by 7 and after some stretching exercises we began the trek. We would be crossing lot of streams and boulder crossing and we were asked to wear our shoes.

The trek began after our breakfast and we started the long walk towards shang-pu. The initial path was on a well marked trail which lead from the camp and continued towards the river.

The march towards shang-pu

The path continued and after crossing couple of small streams and walking for an hour we took a small break. Discussions continued and after a short while we continued the walk.
Leaving the well marked towards we took a different path while consisted of boulders. Again we had to cross couple of big and small streams and continue our journey. Rajmohan rawat helped us by putting some stones in the flowing river which would create a makeshift bridge.

Rocky path

Walking for some more time we took another break after crossing another stream. We were asked to keep to the right to the river and keep going. Another hour or so and the sky became overcast threatning to open up at any moment. Jackets and other rain gear came out luckily there was only a slight drizzle which onctinued for a while. As we reached shang-pu the drizzle turned into a full hailstorm. There was a couple shepherd huts for which ran for cover. The hailstorm lasted briefly and soon the sun was out.

Our tents arrived shortly and were shown how to pitch it. Soon an interesting discussion regarding ads, domains and all things related to tech began and lasted for a while till lunch arrived.

For the accilimatization trek we were asked to climb a small hill and for those interested in goin further there was a ridge to be crossed to reach another hill which has a pile of stones. Me prakash sir and anshul headed for the second hill beyond the ridge. After an easy climb through the first part we encountered loose stones and soil and a steep climb which lasted for an hour. Finally me and praskash sir reached the second pile with anshul close behind us. It was a moment to cherish as the scenary from the top was breathtaking. With a valley on one side and lush meadows and far reaching sky on the remaining we spent some time enjoying those moments. Couple of snaps and we headed back to the camp

Shang-Pu climb

An hour of descending and we reached the camp. Hot soup was served which made our tired bodies better and after some more chit-chatting it was time for diner and nap time as we had a climb to gangpoche via mato-dhoksa the next day

Stok Kangri The Expedition — Day 5: The trek begins

When coming back from pangong we saw huge welcome signs in leh, later we came to know His Holiness The Dalai Lama would be passing by and everyone were excited to see him.

Early next morning people had lined up the street waiting to catch a glimpse of His Holiness. We too waited for the convoy to pass by. Some of the people were waiting since early morning. As expected there was a delay and after waiting for another half hour or so we could final see the car approaching.

H.H The Dalai Lama

It was back to the guest house and breakfast was served, as were told people would not cook till they saw His holiness. Once the convoy had passed, we had our breakfast and loaded our bags into the waiting cars. Extra luggage was to be kept back at the guest house itself.

As it was the first day of the trek we decided to drive down to shang village which involves a couple of hours drive from leh. We passed shey palace and took a deviation from the road going towards hemis monastery and continued towards shang village. Couple of cars had already passed us and had reached the village. We were asked to get down and after getting our daypacks we began the march to the camp site after a couple of group shots

The group

It was a short walk from the road to the camp site and we got busy chatting with the rest of the gang. We had a interesting mix of IT and Non-IT guys in the group and were sure to have an interesting time in the days to come. Soon we reached the camp site which was just across a small stream. Our bags had arrived and the tents were pitched up. After having the welcome drink which was served we got into the tents for a while.

Hills and Valley of shang

Soon lunch was served and we got back to our discussions which ranged from treks done by the guys to other topics which helped us while away couple of hours. Rammohan then asked us to go to the shang monastery which is located atop a hill as part of the acclimatization walk.

Shang Monastery

The climb took half hour and when we reached the top we found it to be closed, however we told we could go inside. The lamma i.e the head priest was out and we made use of the time goin to the top of the monastery.

Deepak who also had a SLR n myself along with vinay began a discussion about composition, exposure etc. The laama arrived shortly and we went down.  The shang monastery as per the laama was built over 800 yrs ago. The inner part of the monastery retains the original look, the pillars are continously reinforced.  The laama also showed us some old prayer books which the monastery houses. Spending some time there and seeking the laama’s blessing we headed back to camp.

More discussions continued with rawat and he shared some of his experiences while on treks. As the sun went down we had our dinner and retired to our tents as the actual trek would begin from tomorrow

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