Stok Kangri – A name that always made my eyes pop-out whenever someone told me about it.!

stok kangri
Living up-to my dreams of doing at least 3 himalayan treks in a year, I decided to do Stok as the third one of the season.
Accordingly, we took a road-trip to leh From Jaipur in a Nano.

on the way to leh
on the way to leh

Meeting Chirag after two long years was a treat. Even after staying 2kms close, we never met in Mumbai. So had a lot to talk and share about. Next day morning I was introduced to the team.

chirag on the way to mankormo
(chirag on the way to mankormo)

Giri and Anuj were going to be our guide. Sandesh and Anurag were from Nasik, Chirag and we three idiots (Ganesh Anna, Niraj & me). Being an high altitude trek ,it is recommended to get acclimatize well so we went out for an acclimatization walk. On our Previous trip to leh, we had missed Leh Palace n Shanti Stupa so it was a good decision to visit them.

leh palace

Entering the Leh Palace, first thing that crosses your mind is the “Height”. Wonder how the tiny King stayed in that palace for a lifetime. We walked up the trail and headed to the palace above leh palace. It offers a very good view from the Top. But I was told that Stupa had more scenic view and so we proceeded through the streets of Leh.

streets of lehWalking through the streets of Leh, you realize that everything is so “pretty and cute” there. I mean the kids and the veggie farms.

leh streets
leh streets

Stupa is really a good place to visit, peaceful and a scienic one. We headed down from the stairs and made our way back to our guesthouse through the market. I had never seen the other end of the market and so was surprised to see so many foreigners on the way.

shanti stupa

Post Lunch we were hanging out in the hotel and got our equipment checked for the trek. Evening time was spent in the market to purchase whatever was left out. Also, we had to visit our
beloved over-priced Doctor friend who’s fees made us sick every time. But this time Anna had decided to get the most out of it and thus the moment he asked for Tea, a spontaneous YES! came out from him. After having delicious dinner, we returned to the hotel where Giri and Anuj briefed us about the whole trek.

Day 2 of the trek began where we were supposed to trek upto Camp 2 which was Mankormo at an elevation of 4400mtrs. Trek to Mankormo is a boring one.. with lot of walk.. and morraine.. and the sharp mountain edges..

stok kangri

Somehow I never had that exciting feeling about this trek.. maybe.. because of the hectic drive from Jaipur.. through those killer passes.. though I was totally fit physically. It was a new experience to meet unusual and professional trekkers from all over the globe. I always love to learn something new from everything that I come across.. be it a person.. a path.. a mountain.. etc. We began late but had a good pace so made it by 5pm.

giri crossing river stream
giri crossing river stream

Mankormo is located at a perfect location.. can be rightly said as the “turning point” of the trek. With little headache in everyone’s head, no one was in a mood to setup camp and make arrangements for food. Somehow I gathered energy and helped the cook and Anuj to settle things. It was first night of the trek so it had to be spent out in the open. But then, the “not so excited” mood continued and I hopped back into the sleeping bag and the day ended with sandy’s voice calling me out of tent.

(Milky way seen from mankormo)
(Milky way seen from mankormo)

Day3 of the trek starts with the most idiotic but good thing of the camp site. To use only public washrooms, good and bad at the same time.. good for the environment and bad because it had no doors. So, we had to go in pairs.. with or with our partner in crime.. 😛 After winding up the camp, we headed to the Base Camp of Stok which was 500mtrs higher than Monkormo. A nice hike of 3hours with gradual incline and pretty Marmots welcoming us.. After climbing up the last patch before base camp, It feels like you are on something big and serious mission.

stok kangri base camp

The grandeur of Base camp is just amazing. I had slight headache which went off as I had warm water.. Others.!! were terribly exhausted and I could see the “low oxygen effects”. Everyone went to sleep as soon as the camp was setup. Me, on the other hand.. took out my camera.. & JBL.. and was enjoying the silence and the super wide spread beauty of those Barren Mountains and skies..

summit trail
summit trail

On our back side.. was the gateway to Heaven.. The road to summit of Stok.. I could see people coming one by one and then reaching the campsite by and hour where they were welcomed by their team mates.. Some happy to ‘make it’.. Some.. happy to get ‘back alive’.. and some happy to see them “make-it-back-alive”

blue sheeps
blue sheeps

Post Lunch, I visited the place where Mobile network was there.. It was very touching to see people’s face after talking to their loved ones.. And I still wonder why I lack “that” feeling…

chirag trying to call
chirag trying to call

Anyway.. talking about the trek.. We went to the adjacent peak and almost gained around 5oomtrs which was a very satisfying achievement for me.. and others too..
We sat for a moment.. enjoyed the view, saw the most Famous Khardung La Pass until the weather turned Bad and we made our way back to the camp.

khardung la pass
khardung la pass

Later, that evening during dinner, our guide and cook told us that the weather has remained bad from past two days. But we were too busy with food to think about the weather.
Anna and Sandy had puked earlier so they were skipping food…

bad weather
bad weather at camp

Due to Rains, everyone went in tents and slept.. Me and Niraj were listening to songs and even anna fell asleep in few minutes.. I remember the time on my watch.. 9:35PM and Niraj was telling about his new wife.. I mean his new life.. and we dozed off.
“Machan… please wake up Machan.. I’m not able to breathe..”
That was Anna’s Voice with a severe fear in it.. and I woke up in all my senses the moment I saw him. And Later the discussion went like..

Me : What Happened Anna?

Ganesh : Don’t know Machan.. I’m getting bad dreams…

Me: What kind of dreams machan??

Ganesh : I feel like you are running behind me trying to hold my neck and kill me.. and so I run from you and get into a house where two women are doing something to me..

Me : WHAT!? Why would I do that.? Have some water machan… you might have got suffocated..

The most terrifying moment was when he couldn’t balance himself.. he was getting Hallucinations…. he had lost his balance totally.. Somehow I lifted him, took him out and gave him hot water… made him walk, tried to bring him back to senses and made him familiar with the scenario.. After few minutes he was relaxed and we went back to sleep..
But it didn’t end there.. I could hear him murmuring in sleep and all I heard was.. “Please save me machan.. I don’t want to die.. I have two families to take care of.. I want to get married..”
And the most quick reaction from my tiny brain was a slap.. I woke up Niraj and told that something is seriously wrong with Anna. I went out and knocked on Giri and Anuj’s tent..
Giri asked me what was the matter.. I could figure out that he was in deep sleep.. but I had to inform him and so I told him about ganesh’s body loosing his balance And the reply I got was.. “Left me gir raha hai.?? Toh left me sula do usko..”
And that was the most funniest moment of the whole Trek.. I was laughing out lying on the ground like an idiot.. coz only I knew the reason.. Somehow I controlled my smile.. got back and asked him to give Diamox to Ganesh.. because nothing was possible to do at night.
Giri sir came out and checked with Ganesh.. convinced him that everything will be alright and have a good sleep..

stok kangri
night at stok camp

But things just got worse in the morning and Ganesh couldn’t even get up from the place..
Yesterday I had seen a group of experienced Himalayan doctors in our neighbour camp. So I asked Giri to call them and made them check Ganesh. The moment they checked his Lungs they realized that it was a case of HAPE(High Altitude Pulmonary Adema) in which water starts accumulating in our Lungs..
I have always admired these foreign climbers for their skills and Safety measures, whereas we Indians have that “Chalta hai” atitude which leads to most of accidents..
So they gave some first aid injections to Anna and told us to lower him immediately..
But it was difficult to find a mule so early in the morning. So We were left with no choice but to make a stretcher and lower Anna. Unfortunately, all the money makers organizers were not ready to share a rope for the same..
Looking at the Delay, One of the Doctors scolded us in Dutch and which meant that we had only 1hr to lower him down or else he’ll die.
Hearing his words.. I decided to carry him on back and descend down.. And Me,Giri, anuj and our guide took him to Monkormo..

sick anna at monkormo camp
sick anna at monkormo camp

Being an emergency, we were in our true form.. we descended in and hour and made Anna rest were constantly checking his oxygen level and pulse. But he didn’t feel better and so Anuj,Puran and me decided to take him to Leh.
Giri had asked me to Stop and let anuj and puran do the needful. But Anna used to take my name more number of times than he took of the almighty.. Which left me no choice but to go along with him..
We made it to Stok village by 3PM.. By the time we reached stok… Anna was back in action.. guess the medicines worked well… We took him to leh Hospital as a formality and got him checked.
After visiting Leh Hospital, My love for Leh increased by 100times. To know the reason, get admitted.:P
We were looking at the Peak and could see the change in weather and all it got was “ugly” After skipping two dishes anna had a half parantha and we went back to our hotel.
Now, all I had in mind was whether to attempt the summit in a day or to stay back and wait for the team. Anuj and me had something different after 3days of same food at camp. People were surprised to see me online 2days before the schedule. I asked Anuj whether it was a good decision to climb up or to stay back. He agreed and we went back to sleep.

summit day
summit day mornings

Day 5 of the trek was a big day for me.. as I had decided to do something that was very challenging for me.. But as per my calculations we made it to monrkorma within 1.5hrs and till Base camp in another 1.5hrs… I took 2 hours as it was not that easy for me.. The moment we reached base camps all the dull faces of our team mates bloomed. The reason behind the dull faces was the ‘ugly climate’ which was saw from Leh the other day..
Gaining 1600mtrs in a day had started showing its effect on my body.. AMS.. and I was half dead after an hour.. skipped food.. couldn’t sleep for the summit.. and refused to take Diamox..
We began our summit at 11:34 at midnight.. other groups had started off two hours early and they were pretty ahead of us. Niraj and me shared a single sack which made us tired halfway..

summit trek
(summit trek & glacier view)

We made it somewhere near shoulder of the peak and I decided to return.. So me and niraj returned at 5am.. as I lowered my condition began to get worse.. After every 10 steps I use to sit and puke.. I had no idea why I backed off from that height.. but after looking at myself.. I feel that it was the right decision..! We reached back in our tents at 6:15am and fell asleep.

stok kangri summit
(stok kangri summit)

I could hear sandy’s voice and it was 9:45.. but I preferred to rest than to go out and ask what happened.
So, at 11:30, when i finally woke up, I came to know that Chirag was the only one who summitted and rest whole team had returned.. I was very happy for Chirag to make it to the summit as he wasn’t well during the whole trek. After the summit attempt, no one was interested to stay a minute more at the base camp as it was their 3rd day and the weather wasn’t so pleasing…
But we had to wait because of the mules. All we could do is play cards and enjoy music, drain all the power banks.. and eat pakodas.. 😀

fun time in tents
fun time in tents

Next Day We left for Leh, it was a fun descend.. biding adieu to the mighty Stok.. those tiny marmots.. blue sheeps.. It was like.. I had byhearted the route in those 3times of ascend and descends..

marmots on the trek
marmots on the trek

So, I was enjoying a lot.. skipping stones.. jumping from one boulder to other.. matching giri’s pace and breaking our own records..

chang ma
chang ma

Everyone was pretty swift until i took out JBL and everyone’s pace slowed down.. and people began to dance while walking on their way down.. 😛

Reaching back to Hotel.. we found that Anna was no more..