Trip Report for Stok Kangri Trek by Nina Patel - Miyar Adventures
Trip Report for Stok Kangri Trek by Nina Patel

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” — Greg Child

Sandeep led a group of adventurers in August 2016 to the summit of Stok Kangri. Nina Patel an avid adventurer who was part of the group has narrated the trek in a series of beautiful snaps and poetic narrations.

Trek Start Date: Aug/20/2016

Destination: Stok Kangri

Summit Date: Aug/27/2016

Altitude: 20182 feet

Trek End Date: Aug/29/2016

The Beginning: in the Himalayas

In northern India, in the state of Jammu Kashmir, in Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, stands it’s capital city, Leh, a mountain desert, at the altitude of 3524 m (11,562 ft) surrounded by Zanskar and Karakoram mountain ranges. This is where we started our 10 day trek to the summit of Stok Kangri, highest peak in the Ladakh region standing at an elevation of 6,153 m (20,182 ft).

Where breathe was the king of mind, where entering that cathedral above the treeline was an adventure of a lifetime with an incredible crew of 15 climbers and guides and trek crew and lots of lively lovely little ponies; led by Sandeep Nain from Miyar Adventures.

Follow along the stories from this trek to the summit and back …..

Visiting beautiful monasteries and shrines amongst warm Ladakhis as we acclimatize (Leh Palace)

Waking up to gorgeous morning views of Stok from our Chamste guesthouse!
 Photo credit – Michael Milner

    

    

Ready for the trek with this amazing bunch. Here we go. Target summit Stok Kangri @ 20,182 ft. Good luck to all 10 climbers for strong, safe and steady climb and descent !!

In this beautiful cathedral above the treeline, the ceiling is a glorious sky, at times with breathtaking stars, to grueling sun, just like a shangri la in abundance. There are these landscapes roaring with beauty to rich cultures to an aching poverty. There is altitude sickness, excitement, fatigue, loneliness, dread, euphoric anticipation of some quest. And sometimes there is an unburdened simplicity to trekking, just one deep breathe after another, just one foot in front of the other ….

— above 13,000 ft towards Stok Kangri base camp

— photo credit – Michael Milner

    

These mountain passes, with every pass speaks in silence to the very core of your being. It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. The climb is of the climb within. When in that midst of adversity, the spirit is still fed and that’s what it’s all about isn’t it ??

— above 15,000 ft towards Stok Kangri base camp

Arriving at Stok Kangri basecamp @ 4968 mt (16,300 ft). We acclimatize here for next two days!

    

At one point, there was a leg of calm, the mountain energizes you, and moves you. The whole experience is brought down to the basics – walk on the earth, step by step, breathe, push, hungry, not hungry, thirsty, cold …. There are cheering sounds at distance from all climber friends – ‘you can do it’ …. Happy to be at 18,000 ft all of a sudden, Really? And we are all still breathing. Where is that oxygen? At one point, it felt like it was a game of chasing your breathe, the air was thin, fading in, fading out, on the edge of paradise.

Being in the mountain in a way is like being in yoga, it’s kind of the way yoga works, it’s going to try to take you to what you would perceive to be your limits and it takes you just to that edge, and it’s on that edge you kind of give up what you think, what you think you were, what your limit was, and you keep going, you are in yoga, you are limitless after all.

After 4 days of trekking and 2 days of acclimatization at base camp, team was ready for summit push. Resting in our tents all geared up, could hear the hail drops dithering on our tents only few hours before the start of our summit push at 1:00 am. Stepping outside it was snowing, camp getting covered with snow. It was freezing. I go back lying in our tent, hearing the snow, winds picking up, i wonder did the weather just take a 360 turn and if we will make it out for this summit? It was that leg of anticipation of something about to end before it even started, something you were ready to be done with before it even began? I can’t stay here another night. What was my mind thinking? Mountains can make your mind go in circles, but as they say in the mountains, it’s all probably just that altitude !!!! Or may be not, i was actually going crazy.

And then our climb leader, Sandeep calls all climbers to prepare for summit start. After all, it was only 2:00 am in the morning as we put on those headlamps to step into what was going to be yet another adventure of a lifetime …..

— Summit Day towards Stok Kangri Peak, target elevation 6,153 m (20,182 ft)

    

What do you mean, we had to cross a field of ice fall and glacier?

It was like your darkest fantasies coming to life, that fire beneath your feet about to melt the entire ground. The planet was still and quiet around you, but your mind was full of clamors. And when I am at war with myself, i ride, ride, just ride, like crossing an ice fall.

— Summit Day towards Stok Kangri Peak, target elevation 6,153 m (20,182 ft)

At 19,300 ft, your body is still moving, fading in, fading out, at the edge of paradise, you are at the top of Africa already, telling your climb leader, I’ll let you set the pace, cause I’m not thinking straight, my head’s spinning around, i can’t think clear no more – you want to surrender to just being there fully or not

    

… and we made it. At the Summit of Stok Kangri @ 6,153 m (20,182 ft) with Lisa, Michael, Larry, our amazing guides and our climb leader Sandeep.

Reaching to the top of a Himalayan bliss, where somehow in midst of the clouds and above the view of the rest of it seemed clearer. It was a place that made you feel simultaneously very large, very clear, very small, very quiet – a place that took your breath away.


You think the challenging part is over, but it’s not, the descend was another climb in it’s own unique way. We all celebrated our little big summit moment, but it was all sort of a blur for me, like blissful thoughts trying to take over a confused mind – we heard from Sandeep, ‘we have to descend before weather turns again, we can’t stay up high here too long’. We noted the orders in silence. In my mind, i am thinking, what do you mean we have to climb this whole thing back down and it all began again to end and somehow this descend was different than rest, like walking away from something so grand.

Thanks y’all for following along! Until the next summit!