Sunday, January 22, 2012

The way back

When we woke up, to our surprise all the surroundings were covered with a thin layer of frost. The night temperature we were told had fallen to -5 degrees celcius!!!
After winding up the camp we started slowly on the way back. We were to cover the journey in two days, camping overnight at Tsokha. Better acclimatised now, and with fewer steep ascents, the return was much easier.

Final views of Kanchenjunga from Devrali

Group snap on the way

First view of Tsokha

Valley views from Tsokha

After we left back from Tsokha, the weather took a turn for the worse. Luckily it didn't rain. The last few kilometers were the worst... your mind is already in Yuksom and your body is just dragging along. We reached Yuksom late in the afternoon. Now was the time to indulge in small luxuries - a hot bath, a mini-feast and finally a night's sleep on a bed!

It had been a great trek. Yes, we didn't reach the final destination but then isn't discretion the better part of valour? :)

Cheers to the team!


4 am - our guide is here to wake us up! We need to leave soon to catch glimpses of the famed sunrise at Kanchenjunga. I put on all the warm clothes that I am carrying and still think maybe I could have done with another layer. The star-lit sky with almost full moon is a delight to watch. The brilliance of nature which we so miss in our urban setting! Inspiring though it was, it wasn't enough to motivate me to take out the camera and click in the cold :)

An hour's climb later we were at Dzongri top, well before the sunrise.

The eager wait...

Finally the spectacle begins...

Few amongst the loads of pics taken...

The prayer flags at Dzongri top

Today was reserved as a rest day... and the rest worked wonders to get rid of our altitude sickness. Unfortunately, Narendra had sprained his ankle on the way down from Dzongri top in the morning. Till afternoon his condition hadn't improved much. We were two days of rigourous trekking away from our destination - Goecha-la. However leaving someone alone in these conditions was not an option, we decided to all turn back.

With the trek aborted, Deepesh and I decided to go back to Dzongri top to see the sunset.

The sunset was beautiful... but the real spectacle was unfolding on the other side... the moon rise and changing colours in the sky

It had been a day well worth the effort! 

Tsokha to Dzongri

Today was going to be one of the more strenuous days of the climb. As usual we started off after a nice breakfast.

After a tiring climb we were at Phedang. A small camping site with snow-capped peaks all around. However Phedang is not a preferred camping site due to a lack of water source. We rested for around half an hour, munching on some snacks we were carrying.

Another steep climb later we were at Devrali, the highest point that we would reach today. And also... the first Kanchenjunga views

From hereon there was snow on either side of the trail

We were now at an altitude of over 4000 mtrs. The hot sun, high altitude and piercing while reflections from the snow were taking its toll. By now, all of us we feeling minor symptoms of altitude sickness. Taking frequent stops we finally reached Dzongri. A quick lunch and we were in our tents resting. The symptoms persisted till late into the night. Sleep was hard to come by. Lines from 'Into Thin Air' came to my mind... 'Attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act - a triumph of desire over sensibility'

Sanchen to Tsokha

Awake early, I again stepped out of the tent as soon as daylight came... And a positive surprise...

The sun was out! Looking forward to a great day ahead, we quickly got ready and went to Lokendra's temporary kitchen for breakfast. Eggs, bread, honey, coffee...  a royal breakast!

A yak sun bathing :P

Today's trail also passed through lush green surroundings

As we neared the fourth and the final bridge, the path became mucky. A week's heavy rains had made the trail very slippery.

When we reached Bakhim we were relieved to see a small hut-cum-shop. We settled down for a ginger tea. Aditya was the happiest at the sight of the hut ;) (No prizes for guessing why)

Here's a clue why...

After hour an hour break we started the steep hike to Tsokha.

The final climb to Tsokha

The over-crowded camp site at Tsokha

The clouds came back, leaving us wondering whether our luck had run out

Tomorrow we will get our first views of Kanchenjunga... hopefully!