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Stok Kangri Prologue

Damn, I was bored in office !!!!!
Who isn’t ????
I did what I always do – think of wonderful things I could do outside office .
Thinking about that Mt. Everest dream of mine ( All fired up, but still Rs. 45 Lakh short ) .
Suddenly an idea pops in my mind of visiting the dreamy land of Himalayas once again.( Completed Chadar trek in 2016 Feb).
At the top of my mind are few options Rupin Pass, Pin Parvathi & Stok Kangri trek.
But I am still a child at heart, still have that adolescent recognition of height as the benchmark of success. 20,182 ft of sheer beauty beat the other two options hands down.

The picture below describes why the decision was so apt.

stok kangri expedition summit
Stok Kangri Descend From Summit.Brilliant capture by Sanjay Singh Panwar

 

So now I need to get a plan in place as quickly as possible since its June now (and the stok season is only for July-Aug i.e. when there is more likelihood of snow)
For a holiday you require two things
a) Location –Check
b) Leaves – Hmmmmm……
Enter Mission Manager…
MISSION MANAGER

The trek still hangs in the air (Have typed till this before getting my leaves approved).

1.Dropping the hint to the manager: Flights: To & Fro cost 18K
I was present at Manager’s desk discussing User stories of a module. Another colleague happened to enter her cabin to ask for leaves to visit his hometown . I just joked if I could join him. Manager yelled as if i threw a cockroach on her . And I quote verbatim, “ You have just been back from a big leave , now you wont get leaves for like forever”

2.Setting up for the leaves request: Flights: To & Fro cost 19K
I am the most optimist person you will ever meet . If I was a transformer I would be “ OPTIMIST PRIME” .
I did my basic research and finalized three groups (decided against going solo since it would prove to be costly).Decided on dates as July End (to be finalized, if and when the leaves get approved). Waiting for the proper time to pitch manager. Not a good week , Not a proper time for pitching….week passes by.

3.Judgement Day (High time to ask for leaves): .Flights: To & Fro cost 20K
Manager pretty busy till Thursday. Friday was to be the judgement day. For the first four days did my research on things to do , probabale grps, points to & fro to going solo and stuff…
Manager doesn’t show up. Against all my good senses decided to watsapp her . And I quote “ Need few leaves for next month , have to plan an outing”. Curt reply followed after a grueling wait “ Will discuss On Monday”

4.Judgement Day 2 (Monday): Flights: To & Fro cost 20K +
Good Timing: Check
Guts: Getting there. After googling pics, reading thro blogs. Guts check.
Me: “ Hello Mrs. XYZ, I need few leaves in the next month”
XYZ: “ How many”
Me:” 5 Days”
XYZ: “Ok , as long I dont have to do any work on your behalf “
Me: (Mind : that’s it ??????? Really !!!!!) “All my work is upto date. No arears”
XYZ: “Ok”
Me: “OK, will let you know the exact dates as and when I book” …….Giggling like a child being given a chocolate.

5.The Haggle 🙂  Flights: To & Fro cost 22K +
Groups checked , mails dropped ,quotations asked and vacant batches info received.
Permutations & combination of dates available for different groups vis-à-vis their costs vis-à-vis the flight costs in progress. Brain going bonkers. Finally decided on a group & the dates.
Problem: Need to add another day of acclimatization for better chances
Issue : Need to get another day of leave approved.
Another round of world war 3 with manager ensued. Pro’s & cons exchanged between the two parties.
Promises asked .Promises Given. Matter settled.

6.Dates checked: 23 July -31 July . Flights: To & Fro cost 23K
Wondering whether 23K of flight is worth it.
Heart beats increasing.
Brain is getting shot at by all sorts of arguments.
Does this trek justify the cost.
When in doubt google. Few searches, few pics , few blogs later …..
F*** This S*** ,YOLO .
Tickets booked. Trek price paid. Preliminaries concluded. 40K Burned.

Stamina Check

Excited, but waiting patiently for the last 30 days
Time to check up on that stamina.
PAST- Karate black belt , An avid Sahyadri trekker ( Done some 40 odd treks ). Regular GymShark
PRESENT- Had an injury 8 months back, stopped gym ….but then continued with treks , need to get back to regular gym schedule.
THE ONE MONTH PLAN:
5 days a week gym plan:
– 2 days cardio
– 3 days weight training two muscles a day (chest + triceps; back+ bisceps; shoulder+ legs)
– Satuday/Sunday : Rest or a stroll to a near by hill
AIM: “To get as fit as possible”
22 JUNE Day One :
cardio : 20 minutes treadmill 2.5 Km, 10 minutes elliptical at high resistance, 25 jor ,25 push ups

23 JUNE Day Two:
legs: squats: 25 reps ( 2 sets) weighted squats : 25 reps ( 2 sets – 5 kg)
lounges : 15 reps ( 2 sets) leg extension : 15 reps ( 3 sets)
leg curls : 15 reps ( 3 sets)

24 JUNE Day 3 overslept due to chilly conditions , day 4 -5 off

27 June Day 6- Killed chest and triceps today

28 JUNE day 7- Cardio: 20 minutes treadmill 2.8Km, 10 minutes elliptical,20 jor . crunches

29 JUNE day 8 –shoulder and legs :
squats: 50 reps ( 1 sets) weighted squats : 20 & 15 reps ( 2 sets – 5 kg)
lounges : nill leg extension : 15 reps ( 3 sets)
leg curls : 15 reps ( 3 sets) calves- 2 sets
Totally killed the legs. When I walk I feel like I am jello zombie waddling my way through life 😀

30 JUNE day 9
Legs are aching . Thinking of doing some basic cardio, but once I start running on the treadmill I get back on ROCKY mode.
Cardio: 20 minutes 2.9Km; treadmill 10 minutes at endurance level 12-13 out of the max 20 ( hardly anyone in the gym goin above 7-8 endurance)

1 JULY Day 10 Back & Biceps

2,3 Weekend rest

4 JULY – had lower back pain , rest

5 July –Tuesday did chest and biceps, instead of trisceps probably got carried away at the site of a beautiful gal in the gym

6 July- Cardio 20 minutes 2.9Km; treadmill 10 minutes at endurance level 12-13 out of the max 20

7 July- back & trisceps , since I forgetfully had biceps day two days back

8 July – Cardio 20 minutes 2.9Km; treadmill 10 minutes at endurance level 12-13 out of the max 20
No legs training this week as I was planning a trek on the weekend and did not want to feel numb legs on the hills

9-10 July – Sahyadri trek – Ramshej & deher gad. Check out my blog on the same. Too muh rain, it was almost flooding in Nashik . Rainproof clothes my ass , I was wet through the day. As a result didn’t go to gym on Monday

11 July Monday- NO GYM , woke up at 9

12 July Tuesday – NO GYM, had sore throat with hints of cold

13 July Wednesday- Hopefully the medicines will do the trick.
No exercise till the D day since not feeling well. Two week without any sort of exercise.

Things to carry

Stok Kangri Things to carry
Things to carry

The bag is filled. But i carried way more stuff than required.

This is what you will really need:

  1. Backpack 60-70L ( with rain cover )
  2. Daypack 20-30L ( On the summit night) must have a rain cover
  3. Trekking shoes
  4. Floaters( would require it at Leh, dont carry this ahead for trek)
  5. 1 good water resistant track pant ( you can also carry a normal track pant and buy a cheap raincoat pant to wear above it . An extra pair of track pant is also good to carry )
  6. 4 pair of normal socks
  7. 1 pair of thermal inners for the summit
  8. Either Down jacket or Fleece jacket ( i carried extra volume by carrying both)
  9. A simple rain coat ( jacket with a hoodie)
  10. Sun cap
  11. Neck cover / Buff ( Buff is just for show doesnt serve anything in cold)
  12. Beanie /woolen cap
  13. Balaclava seems like an overkill (neck cover and the woolen cap does the trick pretty good and is easy to manoeuvre)
  14. Light towel
  15. woolen gloves &  waterproof gloves ( thin woolen gloves come in handy while operating DSLR)
  16. Headlamp
  17. 2 water bottles ( 1 litre each) Bro tip: Carry super hot water in one at any of the camp and  use it to normalise the cold water that u will get otherwise while climbing.Thank me later)
  18. Sunglasses (polarised and obviously with UV filter)
  19. Inners ( Carry atleast one per day 😛 , if you are not lazy enough to change everyday)
  20. ID proof
  21. NoteBook and a pen , you might be provoked to write something on those sleepless nights
  22. DSLR with atleast 2 batteries ( i carried three)
  23. Medicines: as you deem fit. i went to the chemist and asked something for cold, cough, fever, stomach upsets , band aids and small bandages & creams for wounds. Anything else that you require
  24. Toiletries:Cold Cream, Sun screen,lip balm,tissue paper, hand sanitizer and a must carry is an anti- bacterial powder
  25. Foooooooooooooooooooood: Carry lots of energy food. Carry satchets of dry fruits, energy bars and chocolates. I carried 5 ORS ( Oral rehyrdration salts) i suggest carry atleast 20 of them. you tend to loose appetite and ORS comes in handy at any point of time. There is no such thing as excess food. If you have some extra , share & socialise 🙂

All set for the trek.Next  day we fly to Leh.

FLY AWAY ON MY ZEPHYR

22 July
The flight to Leh is at 04:00 am .Reached airport at around midnight.
Travel motivation:
Met a Slovakian guy ( Norbert Kiss) and a Chinese guy ( Fenni ) at the Mumbai Airport.
Fenni had been to EBC 5 times , it was his probably 8 th trip to Ladakh.
Norbert on the other hand was a Landscape Manager, 37 yrs -self employed. He tavels when he feels like !! The perks of being an entrepreneur. His passport had stamps from Cambodia,Japan, Singapore, Thailand, India, Europe, Costa-rica and plans to add more In the coming days. He had taken 6 big holidays this year, each lasting 3-4 weeks i.e. He has almost travelled through the year. He plans to go around Leh till 10th of August. We exchanged our contact details to go around together for atleast the first three days when I was available. For the lack of network on our mobiles in Leh the plan didn’t materialize.

– The airport always gives me sleepless nights. Didn’t sleep at all. The flight was on time. At around 5 am the view from the plane was mind boggling.I was in heaven.

Stok Kangri -To Leh From Flight
Stok Kangri -To Leh From Flight

Acclimatistaion Day 1 LEH Arrival

-Met Hardik at the airport for the first time. He hails from Bangalore. Numismatist.
-Reached at the Hotel Palace View. Though the room was pre-booked , due to huge rush at the hotel the room was not going to be available till 12:00 hrs. Had a talk with the owner Wasim, got a room in a neighboring hotel. Had a sleepless flight Decided to rest till evening and go out in the evening.
-My First Blackout:
We decided to sleep through the first half of the day. After about half an hour, I woke up with a strange feeling in my tummy. I got up and headed towards the washroom. The washroom was 3-4 steps from the bed.1 step in I started to feel a bit powerless,2nd step and I had a worsened urge of vomiting with a sharp pain in my tummy. Another step and I felt that someone had unplugged my batteries. I had collapsed on the floor sweating profusely.(In my mind , “I am a rockstar this can’t be happening to me”).
Acclimatisation is a bitch !
After few powerless moments, I garnered some energy to sit up on the bed with my hands against my head. I remembered the words I had read before I came here
“ Drink lots of water, Eat dry fruits, energy bars, sleep properly”
Over the night I had not followed a single rule. Soon enough I had an energy bar, sandwich, a litre of water mixed with ORS.
Felt good after a while. Immediately picked up the notebook to pen down my first fainting experience.
& the second :
Took rest for a while. Had a second toned down fainting experience. In my mind, ‘ I am rockstar, just that acclimatization is a bitch’. Slept through the afternoon. Felt much better. Hardik was a sleeper, he could have slept through an earthquake.
Felt hungry after waking up. To our dismay the hotel didn’t have a working kitchen. Had to head to the market in search of food. The blackout incident was stil fresh in my mind. Garnered enough courage and self-motivation and headed to the market. After walking a few 100m my confidence level increased drastically. I decided to take it easy on my stomach and hence decided to have normal yellow daal –rice. I searched the entire old market / Tibetan market for that elusive dal/rice, didn’t find it.Had to settle for an alu paratha.
Back to the room. Had a 2 hr nap. By evening I felt much better.
With the improved acclimatization level decided to go to the Leh palace in the evening.

Stok Kangri - Leh palace
Stok Kangri – Leh palace

Still had doubts regarding acclimatization and how my body would hold up to this climb, palace was at a sleight height. After few conscious steps with mind focused on not stressing my body, we were on the way to the palace.

Stok Kangri- Leh palace
Stok Kangri- Leh palace

It was late in the evening and were the probabably the last people allowed inside.

Video:

Its very late we decided to get back to the room. Met this angry bird on the way back

A Leh kid
A Leh kid

After the short trek, came back to the room and soon enough headed to the market for dinner at about 21:00 hrs. Doubts regarding acclimatization were now firmly buried. The elusive search of daal-rice continued. Had to settle for rice and veg alu mutter gravy. Damn ! I thought of the times when I had taken the dal – rice for granted through the years .Moved around in the market enjoying the light from the glass shops and the soothing wind whistling past the bylanes. The souvenirs had some new life pumped in them at night and appeared so beautiful twice their price.

Found this differently named shop 😀

Leh Shops

Found a café, Rendezvous Café bustling with foreigners. Had hot chocolate. Felt superb. Went back to the room, slept off at 2300 hrs

Acclimatisation Day 2 Getting used to Leh

Intermittent Sleep. How I hate acclimatization !!
Woke up at 0200 hrs for no reason. Tried to sleep again woke up hungry at 0330 hrs. Had a chocolate, felt even more lively now. Decided to try some night photography without the tripod.Tried to capture the Leh palace in the moonlight. No success. It really looked out of the Harry Potter World.Time passed.
Its 0430 hrs ,wide awake, decided to lay back and think about nothing. Slept for another hour. Was up till 0630 hrs. Slept again. Had a good 3 hrs sleep.
Woke up with Our third trek mate knocking on the door. Karthik Reddy had just landed from Houston. This Guy was 22 yrs old and just climbed Mount Agung Bali @ 3031m. He was fairly acclimatized.He decided to rest for half the day owing to his sleepless flight
Hardik and me headed to famous Gesmo Hotel for brunch. Playing it safe: Alu paratha and Fruit Juice. Headed to shanti stupa for todays acclimatization walk.

 

The steps looked normal, but climbing them was a huge task.Finally reached the top , the view was amazing

Shanti Stupa, leh
Shanti Stupa, leh

Apart from elevated heart beat, the climb was completed without any hiccup.

Came back , had lunch, took some rest . Later that evening went for another acclimatization walk to the castle of Tsemo. It was late in the evening, still we made a dash to enjoy the City view in the evening

Castle Tsemo, Leh
Castle Tsemo, Leh

Apart from elevated heart beat, the climb was completed without any hiccup.The view from the top was really beautiful. Climbed a bit forward to a further higher place where lots of prayer flags were tied together. we chillaxed a bit at the top, the view was one to be cherished. The doggy at the top shared the same view.

Castle Tsemo
Castle Tsemo

At night headed to another famous food joint, Lamayuru Hotel where I had the all elusive Dal-rice felt happy. Two days in and I still had not had non-veg, felt bad on so many levels, still had to be strict to prevent any stomach mishaps.

Day 3 Last Acclimatisation Day

Intermittent Sleep. How I hate acclimatization !!
Woke up at 0300, was up till 0430, woke up at 0630 again. Getting bored of this sleep deprived state.
Took care of my morning business and headed in search of a certain Dragon Hotel where Mahavir, Rahul, Hira and Tashi would be briefing us about Do’s and DoNot’s . Here the guides broke the news that we 3 wont be the only ones treking , but few other trekkers from other organsiers would be joining us. The group strength increased from 3 to 21 all of a sudden. Felt a bit mad at the organisers, but then again I would be making new friends, whole lot of them.
AFter introductions and briefing the 3 of us headed for brunch and then hotel room.
All of us felt a bit lazy on the last acclimatization afternoon and decided to get acclimatized with our beds
I couldn’t sleep , so watched a movie instead Kung Fu Panda. Kartik and Hardik also joined me in the movie. Who can resist the Panda. The golden words resonated in my head , “ There is no secret ingredient” , “ Its You”. These words kept me in high spirits during the trek.
Next , while we were surfing the channels , found vertical limit on one. This would provide the exact motivation to conquer Stok Kangri. Looked out of the window towards the formidable nemesis

Stok Kangri Bird's eye
Stok Kangri Bird’s eye

In the evening went for budget shopping.
Super Market is the place to be to get cheap items. This is a shopping complex consisting of atleast 5-6 shops where we get cheaper goods. If you are walking on the main lane of the old market towards the stok kangri mountain and away from the main majjid , this complex would be at the right side of the road. There would be a small gap in the row of buildings with a small title Super market.If you are not careful enough , you would miss this easily.
Bought:
•Walking Stick: Rs 500
•Gaiter: Rs 450
•Woolen Cap/ Beanie cap: Rs 200
Wondered around the market to but some souvenirs .
Bought:
•Tarchok/ Prayer Flags ( medium size 6 piece for Rs 200)
•Pashmina Silk Stole( 2 piece for Rs 550).
Celebrated the last day in Leh before the trek with a sumptuous & scrumptious dinner
Reached Rendezvous café ( it is the opposite of the road where the old market starts). Ordered Tangy Pasta, A exotically named pizza, and plain old Veg pulav. The food was good & filling. Had lots of dry fruits in the pulav. We were full , still ordered another tasty looking chocochip pie. Couldn’t finish it .Still regret it . Chocolate should never be disrespected.
Went to the room . slept off.

The next day the actual trek starts.

Covered over the NEXT pages

24 thoughts on “Stok Kangri Trek Blog, Leh”

  1. Awesome Niraj! Sounds like a great experience. And knowing how tough you are, this sounds way too tough for folks like me.

    1. Hey Swati, it’s a brilliant trek.
      Its a difficult trek owing to the lack of oxygen.
      Real test of your mettle.

      YOu can definitely try with the a fit body and motivated mind. 🙂

        1. Hey Aakarsh,

          First i would like to say that NEVER EVER has smoking done anyone any good.

          Breathing is always a problem at high altitude for a healthy person. Smoking can only make it worse.
          I would recommend that if any smoker wants to sucessfully summit this 20000ft monster, its better to stop smoking all together atleast two months before the trek

  2. Great account. Planning to do this summer 2017.
    Who was your outfitter and would you recommend them or key things to ask while negotiating a guide/outfitter? and how much did it cost?

    1. Hello Vikas,
      Hope this has helped you. The things you would like to check before confirming any organiser is
      1) whether they would be organising it themselves or sub-contracting.
      2) what would be the batch size of the trek . Smaller the group , merrier the trek.
      3) I had selected an organiser who had sub contracted to the local guys.
      4) Also need to check on the expenditures incurred if one decides to return back from the trek in between.These costs are mostly not mentioend anywhere on any organisers site

      You can go ahead with any trusted organisation. However i believe that the real fun in doing such a trek is with the local agencies.

      Once u book the seat, just get your stamina to the mark & carry lots of dry fruits with you. Drink plenty of water

  3. Outstanding description of the trek..!!! Congratulations..!!! Brought back memories of my stok kangri trek..
    Can you share the name of treking agency that you in this case.

    1. So glad you could relive your glory moments. The batch size of only 3 people turned up for our organiser , hence our group was merged with a bigger group from local organiser. To mention there name would be unfair given the small size of our group. what happens on the trek stays within the trek 😛

  4. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your
    magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social
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  5. thats one hell of a description of the stok kangri trek. It was like a virtual tour for me..pretty insightful and informative…I am planning for stok kangri summit in august 2017. wish me luck TheFreeBird. 🙂
    Any more Bro (not literally :P) Tips would be highly appreciated. TIA…

    1. Sorry for the delayed response, i was out of network reach (in Goa and loving it).
      I really appreciate your comments. The sleepless nights does help you jot down the nuances of the trek.

      I have tried to put in all tips i could personally think of.
      Just stay mentally strong, carry enough quick energy food & lots of water. Try to get as much sleep as possible on summit rest day.
      May the force be with you. Godspeed. \m/

  6. Heyy Freebird,I am planning Stok Kangri trek this year. Your blog is most helpful so far!!
    Had few questions
    1)Was walking stick was really helpful throughout the trek?
    2)If I am not wrong 8 of 23 people summitted. So what were the preparations done by other members who completed trek with much ease?

    1. Thanks for your kind words.Sorry for the late reply, was on the move.
      1)The height does take a toll on your body/stamina. You can breeze past the first two camps without the need of a walking stick. However after that at the last part of reaching the base camp and then onwards to the summit the walking stick does come in very handy. Not necessarily as an aid for walking , but as an extra support for your tired body. During the glacial climb , it is of utmost importance.
      2)No one completed the trek with ease. Every one had to put in lot of efforts. A fit body and a strong mind is very much a necessity.

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