Back “Last Crucial Hour Before The Summit: Mt. StokKangri”

“Last Crucial Hour Before The Summit: Mt. StokKangri”

Stok Kangri Expedition 2017
03- 13 July 2017

About Mt. Stok kangri

Stok Kangri
 (6,153 metres (20,187 ft)) is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of northwest India. The peak is located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead at 3,610 metres (11,844 ft) in the village of Stok and around 15  km southwest of the Ladakhi capital of Leh.

Despite its altitude, Stok Kangri is a popular trekking peak and is often climbed as an initial non-technical foray into high altitude mountaineering. However, Stok Kangri is very often underestimated for its difficulty level and in particular the need to acclimatise before and during the ascent.

Summit day lasts 8–14 hours, ascending over 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) from Stok Kangri base camp (4,980 metres (16,339 ft)) to the summit.
About Me
I’m 20 years old from Mumbai pursuing Mechanical Engineering from Pillai college of Engineering. My love for Mountains is unimaginable and never ending. I’ve done two Himalayan treks before, Roopkund and Kuari pass. Summiting Mt. Stok kangri was the best feeling I ever had, when I believed that even dreams come true.

for reaching to the top of Mt. stok kangri an individual should be totally prepared,Mentally and physically. The challenges you go through are just unbelievable, Never underestimate any Mountain.
here is my workout, I used to do daily to increase Strength and stamina.
( Rest day on Friday )
1) 3km Swimming.
–  200m Freestyle warm up
– 800m Freestyle (  1 x 800 )
– 4 x 25m underwater
– 400m Breast stroke ( 2 x 200 )
– 400m Back stroke ( 2 x 200 )
– 200m Butterfly ( 2 x 100 )
– 300m fly kicking using pad ( 3 x 100 )
– 400m Individual medley ( 2 x 200 )
– 200m Freestyle relax swimming.
2) 1 ½ Badminton at night
3) Skipping – 1000 ( 400-300-300 )
4) Stairs Climbing ( 4 floors x 2 )

Few Questions asked by trekkers  who wants to summit Stok kangri
1) Is taking dimox necessary ?
-> I did not take dimox as I believed in natural process but, I think taking dimox on base camp will be much better.
2) Is Summiting Mt. Stok kangri too difficult?
->yes, it is. First 3 days are okay. But the final summit day is next level of difficult. It tests your strength, fitness, endurance and never giving up capabilities.
3) Should we carry rucksack or give it to mules
-> carry it.
4) Carrying Bottle on Summit day.
-> Till Glacier water does not freezes, so carry light weight water bottle don’t unnecessarily increases bagpack weight, it will exert you more.
4)  To all trekkers if you have reached till Shoulder and you don’t want to move ahead, keep in mind at around 6 am there will be sun rise which can make you feel better.
5)keep Drinking water sip by sip every 10 to 15 mins to keep body hydrated from disastrous heat.
Day 1 : Stok village to Chang ma

I got up in the morning at around 8 and quickly freshened up and was ready to move. Leader asked us to gather at a decided place at 8.30 am.

So that we could leave the hotel, and reach Stok Village which was our starting point.

     Once we reached Stok village, we had time till the Mules were loaded. We clicked a few selfies and pictures of the scenic view .  I heard the voice ” Let’s move, guys!” from Nitesh bhaiya. The trail was really beautiful as we were walking along the flowing Stream, and huge rock mountains. Whenever I got tired, the sound of the flowing stream cheered me up. We had to climb 5.5 km to reach our first camping site which was Chang ma. While moving ahead we found a lot of places where we can jump over the stream and at one place I really tried jumping & it was great. Before jumping, I heard Nitish bhaiya say ” Agar pani mein gir gaye toh seedha niche bhej dunga” Hahaha! Really needed guts to cross it as the flowing stream was made of melted glaciers with sub zero temperature. We all were moving ahead doing masti all over the trail. While many were busy clicking pictures which used to slow down their speeds. We reached the Campsite around 12:30. And we were told to pitch our own tent anywhere we want, so everyone started running around to find a nice place to pitch tent. This was really fun as I learnt how and where to pitch a tent – The place with less stones and a little away from flowing stream. Later we had a lunch and everyone was feeling alright, no altitude sickness and no troubles. The best part of our team was everyone was fit and fine. We all played dumb charades which was really funny and interesting. I didn’t even know the movie names as those movies mentioned were released long ago before I was born. Later on we were ready to go on an acclamation walk which was 400 to 500 metres above our camping sites. The main aim of acclimatization walk is to gain altitude and sleep low. This gives you a good night’s sleep. We clicked a few pictures as the view from above was astonishing. I could find huge mountains with natural carvings, the ice capped peaks which I could see far away were Stunning and the cold wind freshened up my mind. Later we started desending to Campsite so that we could take some rest. Later we had Oxymeter test, I was scared but the readings were 83%. Pheww! I took a deep breath as I was eligible to climb to next camping site After a few mins , we had dinner, and everyone went to their tents to have good sleep as next days timing were 7,8,9. 7am –  Tea, 8 am – breakfast, 9 am- Start moving to next camping site.

Starting point (Stok village)

Day 2: Chang ma to Mankorma 

Today we were about to trek for 3.5km and gain altitude of almost 2000ft. I was really excited as we’d be one step closer to the summit of Mt. Stok Kangri. We packed our tents and were ready to move around 8.50am. Nitish bhaiya told us to clean the Camping site and to keep the mountains clean. We cleaned it and he said, “this same thing will happen at all other sites too.” Such a great initiative to keep surroundings clean!  We started trekking alongside the flowing stream. We saw Mountain goats and Mountain mamoth during the journey to next camping site. They were so beautiful, such innocent creatures! We reached Mankorma Camping site around Noon. It was a great location to stay and enjoy the nature’s beauty. Unfortunately, a Hailstorm started, so everybody went inside the Dining tent (Café). At that time, Nimesh explained everyone how to play ‘Mafia’ and everyone was so excited to play it. Before playing, we had lunch. Later we played it for almost 2 hours continuously. Haha! I remember Harsh and I being Mafias killed our Other mafia(Raag) just to win the game! We went to Acclimatization walk where Nitish bhaiyya gave us a lecture on “How to use Trekking Pole & Advantages of Using it effectively”  I’ve never attended such a class with scenic beauty all around. “Not always classes are taken within 4 walls”. Descending from there was little difficult but I enjoyed every bit of it. We came back to campsite and played Mafia again  Everybody was so addicted to that game! Slowly it started getting dark and then we all sat together and started singing songs. Within a matter of time, the sky opened up. We could see thousands of stars above us. The moon was shining bright as it was a full moon night, moreover, the sky was clear. Oh God! I can’t imagine such a perfect, flawless image, or even explain how the actual scenario was. We started singing with soft song and ended up with motivational ones. Singing “Kandho se milte ka kandhe” at that situation was one of the best thing I did in my life. I got refreshed and my aim was clear,  I took a view at Mt. Stok Kangri Peak and promised to myself I will summit it no matter what. All I could feel was a positive vibe running through me, an electric wave which shocked me. It was all perfect over there, a scenic view, thousands of stars, bright full moon, ice capped mountains and View of Stok kangri. I wanted to take this Scenario back home with me. Ghoshh! How I wish I could. Definitely. Later, cold winds urged me to go back inside my tent & have a good sleep.

Day 3: Mankorma to Base camp

I had a good sleep and was really fresh, early in the morning. As per the schedule 7-8-9, I had breakfast ( Bread jam, salad, milk and cornflakes, egg burji). Yummy!, Harsh S. and I packed our tent and were ready to move to Mt. Stok Kangri base camp. Everybody gathered, and the cleaning drill was carried out. We cleaned our camping site and starting moving slowly to the Base camp. This day was much tiring and literally exhausted me.  Reaching 16,500ft high is quite difficult as high altitude factor plays a major role in it. Thin Air kept slowing down my speed and the climb was too steep. We gained much altitude in less distance. After every 10-12 steps, I felt tired. Likhth told me to drink a lot of Water, as it would help my body to keep moving and hydrated). I owe him a big thanks, it helped me. I reached the base camp around 1 pm after which we quickly pitched our tent as it was about to rain. I was scared “What if the weather remains the same?” as it could create a problem for the summit attempt tomorrow. I took rest for a few hours and then after lunch everyone started playing Mafia again inside the dining tent. Around 4 pm, I roamed all around the Base camp and saw many people who came from different parts of the world to attempt Mt. Stok Kangri. Few were from India, America, Russia, Argentina, and 20 Climbers were from France. And every one was targeting to attempt Summit the next day. The Base camp was beautiful. I could see snow-capped peaks right in front of me, mountain Goats roaming everywhere and the atmosphere on the base camp was electrifying. Many climbers who returned from the Summit shared their experiences and I was afraid about crossing the Glacier and “The Wall”. Later, we got ready for Acclimatization climb, again it was a 500-600 ft climb. It took 40 mins for us to go up, spend some time and again descend down. It was really cold up there with strong winds literally pushing me into the valley. We waited for 15 minutes and came back to the Base camp. We had dinner where Nitish sir told us about our technical team that will give us all the technical equipments next day, and told us that we’ll start climbing at 9:30 P.M. Later, I straight away went to tent, to have some rest and wanted to prepare myself for next day’s challenge.

Day 4 and Day 5

Base Camp to Stok and back to the Base camp.

On this day, we had a rest day because were going to climb the the whole night from 9.30pm itself. I was very nervous about summit and was literally roaming around. The whole base camp was talking about their summit attempt. After lunch we were given our Technical Equipments and everything was explained by the technical team

 They gave us harness, spikes, carabiner. Later as I tried walking around with the spikes on, I found it really difficult as I was wearing it for the first time. We had dinner around 6.30 because we were leaving the base camp at 9.30. I didn’t have anything. I just ate dry fruits and drank few sips of water. I packed my bag, wore my harness and was ready at 9. We all gathered, everybody was nervous and excited at the same time. Naimish said a dialogue from Border which cheered us all. Chanting ‘Har har Mahadev!’ and Ganpati Bappa Morya!’, we started climbing our first stage. Slowly after climbing for 30 minutes, we reached the place we came the day before, for acclimatization walk.

We kept walking on the ridge for almost 2 hours and finally reached Advance Base camp of Mt. Stok Kangri. It was quite cold and windy up there. I was wearing 4 layers of clothes on top & 3 Layers on Bottom.  We took a few minutes’ rest and ate Dry fruits. I kept Camphor with me all the time, it really helps. Later,  we started moving on the glacier after hours of trek. I saw water flowing right in front of me and I needed to jump on the other end to cross it. That was the last part of the glacier. I gathered some guts and jumped all over to another side. Unfortunately, I slipped and my right leg went inside the glacier and I could feel my legs getting numb and it hampered my confidence.  My left leg got dug in the glacier. The situation was terrible and I was clueless. But after few seconds, I decided to crawl and cover some distance so that I could get off this glacier, and it did work! I slowly climbed a small steep to rest where almost all the climbers were resting. I was scared that my wet and frozen feet can cause me a Frostbite. I did not even change my socks while everyone else did. I knew that if I see my legs getting wet, or the condition of my feet, it would low down my self-confidence. So I decided to move, considering the loss and extremely trust-worthy Quechua shoes. After a few steps, I saw a steep climb of almost 70° right in front of me and it was “The Wall”. It was a never-ending climb and super exhausting. I saw Harsh and Girish dada talking about going back but I told harsh that after sunrise you will feel better, and started climbing ahead. I could see the shoulder of Mt. Stok Kangri in front of me, but it was still a long way up. Every 5 steps, I felt breathless, but my knowledge of climbing Stok Kangri which I read from articles and blogs came into work. Once the sun rose up above the clouds, my legs felt relaxed, and I pushed myself, and finally reached the shoulder. After spending 5 minutes on the shoulder till others were coming up, I vomited. I felt sleepy and tired (I almost gave up). But Nitesh bhaiyya and Mahaveer bhaiyya backed me up and tied us with the ropes. As we started climbing, the 1st batch returned from the Summit. And then we started. The final descend to reach the summit of Mt. Stok Kangri was left. I climbed the part which was extremely steep, slippery, and risky, but I was in complete senses of what I’m doing. Moreover I had complete faith on my Trek leader and technical team (They are the best). After all  the struggles and tests, I finally reached Mt. Stok Kangri summit at 7.15 AM. All the 9 other trekkers reached the top which was a great achievement for us. I just clicked a picture on top and on my way, of the scenic beauty from up there. After 15 minutes, Nitesh Bhaiyya told us to start descending down as the weather conditions got worse. While descending, I thought I should have taken Dimox as it would have helped me prevent AMS. Nitesh bhaiyya shouted at me many times, because the snow was soft and I was falling everytime. But he is the best trek leader and an amazing teacher. Later, we all trekked back to base camp, looking like Zombies, and were totally exhausted. I had a good sleep for a few hours and then we all met in the dining tent to celebrate the successful climb. The cooking staff surprised us with a Cake at 16,000 ft altitude and everybody was so happy at that moment. Later, we all went to our Tents to take rest as the next day, we were about to descend directly to Leh City from the Base camp.

Day 6 :- Base camp to Leh city

The timing was 7-8-9am, so everybody got up early, gave their technical equipments back to the technical team & geared up to descend down to Leh city from Stok Kangri Base Camp. The journey back to Leh was tiring as we covered almost 13 km in a rainy, windy & stormy weather which was affecting our speed & endurance.

Despite all the problems, it was fun, as we trekkers were enjoying nature’s beauty to the fullest. Unluckily, the trekkers who had to summit Mt. Stok Kangri next couldn’t summit it for another 4 days due to bad weather. Thankfully, the mountain Gods were with us and we could successfully summit the World’s highest trekable peak. We had lunch at Chang Ma, took some rest & started descending to Stok village.  I knew the wonderful & challenge-packed journey will come to an end, when we get back to Stok village.  Later, we went to our guest house & met Rakesh, Irfan bhaiyya, and other trekkers from the next batch.I felt proud of myself and even learnt a lot of things. As they say “Every Trek/Trip teaches you something”. It surely does.

Written By:- 

Rohan Rajiv Modak