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Tamarra’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 26 Jul 2007

Location: Leh, India

MapHello All! I am back from the mountain and I can't wait to share my experience and my pics. Unfortunately from Leh it is impossible to upload pics which is too bad because since I arrived up here I have taken 800 pics!! Yep 800 in 21 days! Everything is so amazing up here. So it goes like this Robin (German guy) Jacob (boring Australian, economist) and I head off with our guide Londup, 5 donkeys and two cooks/donkey guys to conquer Stok Kangri the 6120m mountain. The first day we walk three hours to a low base camp. I wanted to continue the next 1 1/2 hours to proper base camp but three against one (this is a bit of a common theme on this trip) so we stopped for the night. We played cards, set up our tent and hung out. It is my first time camping this year. The three hour walk was amazing, the mountains reminded me of the planet Krypton in Superman. Okay, no one else felt that way but that's how I saw them and they were breath taking. The first night we slept at 4600m. You have no idea what a difference altitude makes in the temperature and the ability to walk quickly. We were catered upon with lots and lots of good food. I didn't lift a finger. Just my feet! Day two: Base Camp 5000m. The walk was nice and base camp was full of people, some who were waiting to climb some who had climbed already. We spent the afternoon hiking around the hills preparing for the next morning. I really wanted to sleep at high camp 5600m but my group didn't want to and neither did my guide. I figured it would be another hour and a bit during the day rather than an extra hour in the middle of the night! Nope, no one listens to me!! So we settled in! I tried to go to bed early around 9ish. At 1:30am we were woken up and served tea, cereal, and chicken soup! Strange combo of foods but who am I to complain someone else made it! My guide had invited two of his friends along on the climb which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened, one of the guys carried my 7kg backpack. 4 litres of water, many pieces of clothes, food, snacks, crampons (spikes you attach to your boots to walk on ice and snow), and an ice axe, etc. I didn't exactly have mountaineering clothes but I made do. Thanks for the long john's Darryn they have come in very very handy!! Twenty minutes into the hike that we started at 2:30am my flash light dies or the batteries freeze? I have no light and I am walking up a mountain, over rock on a ledge in the DARK!! Finally someone gave me their lighter with a tiny flashlight on the end. Better than nothing!! We made it to High Camp in an hour which is really fast! Most do it in 1 1/2 hours! Then we were off up, up , up. Over rocks and some glacial ice (all in the dark) finally we stopped to put on our crampons. It is a first for me and they take some getting use to! I decided to use poles instead of my axe. At around 5am it grew light which was great for me, with no flashlight. Then the sun came out. It wasn't a perfect cloudless day but it was pretty good. Then it got tough, I strated counting steps. Just 40 steps then a small break, okay 30 steps then a break then 25 steps then a break. I was ahead of everyone! Who knew I was in such good shape?! Not me that's for sure! Some of the walk was over rock and in crampons that's pretty damn scary, they are great on snow but a disaster on rock, I might as well been in skates! No grip at all. The fear of falling of the side of the mountain is a real one! Don't look down I told myself, as I look down! I could already see an entire mountain range that goes on and on as far as ones eyes can see. Truly incredible! I choked back tears many times! It is an emotional thing conquering a mountain! The last 200 metres were hard work. 5 steps break, 5 steps break 5 steps break. The air is so thin! Not sure how people climb Everest 2000m higher! Either way I made it to the top in 5hours exactly including all the breaks which is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours faster than the average!! I am SUPER WOMAN!! I did cry at the top and so did Robbin! We ate lunch savoured the moment and head back down. For me down was much much much worse than up! It was scary and I had to be sure each foot was solid before taking a step. This made it a long journey. However about half way down we did some ice sliding. I took off the crampons and packed away the poles and down on my butt I went for about 400m on the best slide ride I have ever had! A bit tough on the tush but super fun and I laughed the whole way! If I had the strength I would have climbed back up and done it again! Who am I kidding!! The trek down took almost as much time as the trek up but I stopped for lunch, chats, and a 30 minute nap! The sun was shinning and I was tired! Tea and snack were waiting when we got down! It was an incredilbe experience! Maybe once in a life time, who knows, maybe I will conquer another mountain at some point in my life! The rest of the day was pretty lazy, nap, eating relaxing! The next day we walked 4 hours back to Stok.
My travel agent forgot to book my bus ticket to Shrinigar so I am now taking a jeep for 17hours which leaves this afternoon. I will spend 4-5 days relaxing hopefully with some good people. Then it is back to Delhi to finish getting my visa, picking up my plane ticket and maybe doing a little shopping! Then Canada here I come! See you all soon! Love, T