continued from Part 2
Day 3: Mankorma (4300m) to Base camp (5000m) Today we make our way to Base Camp (finally!)
The snow peaks get nearer in sight with each day, signalling that we are closer to summit day with each footstep.
I once read that Jesus spent his formative years in Ladakh before He went into his ministry at the age 30. There seemed to have some historical records proven that a man from the middle east came to live and walk among them during these times.
After my first two days of moonwalking and Star Wars fantasizing, the prospect of potentially walking in the footsteps of Jesus is an exciting thought. It gives me a boost with each additional step I take.
“Who knows? It might have really happened.”
The first patch of freezing activity comes into sight. We are pretty excited about this small patch of whiteness. We amused ourselves by poking our trekking poles into almost every ice patch that came our way.
“Always look back at the journey you have travelled.”
It’s an important lesson I learnt early in my short career of hiking. The view is stunning as I look back at the distance covered over the past 3 days.
Reaching Base Camp (5000m).
How do you prepare for a big climb? In the mountains, when you are surrounded, it is their majesty that tends to be the only thing on your mind.
I belong to an outdoor adventure facebook group called The Adventure Village, in which there are 2 individuals in the “Encouragement Team” (actually there’s not an official term for it) that sends out cards to members who are going out on a major climb or expedition.
I posted one note to myself on a private FB status before I left for the trip. It was an amended verse from my favorite song “Oceans” by Hillsong United. It served to remind me of why I want to climb mountains.
You call me out to be a searcher
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In mountains tall
My faith will stand
Let me walk upon the mountains
Wherever You would call me
Take me higher than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
We went for an acclimatisation walk that took us 500m further up from the Base Camp. Memories from yesterday’s incident still haunt the members as they took great care not to jeopardise their chances of going for the summit climb the day after.
At this point, we have lost 4 in our group, There was the unfortunate injury from the day before and 3 more have turned back because of AMS symptoms that were bothering them.
Day 4: Rest day + training day
It is essentially a day to train for the upcoming trek and know the possibilities and challenges that are involved in it. The trek leader and guides will brief us about all the different changes in the terrain.
You need adequate knowledge and experience to go around the mountains. There might be situations where you have to trek in the sinking snow. You would find your legs sinking up to your knees. Therefore it is essential that you know the weather and surrounding conditions. Hence the training with the use of crampons and safety harness.
It is also a day when we take enough rest so that members are well prepared for the coming excursion. The overnight stay would again be in tents. The objective, according to the itinerary, is that by now, we should be well familiar to the conditions prevailing during the day and night.
I must admit that my frustration levels were high at this point. During the journey, the operators have been conducting debriefs in Hindi and they did so during equipment training as well.
Maybe I wouldn’t be so frustrated if they hadn’t been speaking to us in fluent English during other parts of the journey. Even the local participants spoke English well.
The sales material in their website is written in English. The operators speak the language. In this critical moment, however, many of us are forced to begin learning how to use the safety equipment through observation only.
Thankfully one of the participants decided on her own to serve as a translator. We got the essentials down soon after.
D-Day minus a 8 hours. I surely followed the itinerary to the T and made sure I had adequate rest. I spent almost the whole of the day in my tent, only coming out for tea breaks and meals. The wind condition outside was too chilly (at freezing temperature).
Things started to appear from my bag. I realized I hadn’t really looked in there from Day 1 unless I needed gear or a change of attire. I found unused ginger tea bags, an unopened cup of noodles, this shaver, and plenty of other stuff.
I shaved for the first time since my arrival in Leh. Sure – I wanted to look good for my summit photos. I also didn’t have much to do…
There’s a slight pain in my stomach when I wake up. It is not long before my heart is feeling congested and I find myself becoming ill.
I can’t believe this is happening to me. It’s only a few hours until the big climb. Is it food poisoning? Am I suffering from AMS? Had I spent too much time in my tent?
I allowed the cold air into the tent for some ventilation and went back to rest for awhile. Hopefully I can sleep this off.
An hour later, I’m still feeling a little unwell, but better after the rest. I got some cold water from the nearby stream and worked on feeling well enough to continue.
Then it’s time for equipment checks and one more air for my shoes. “As long as I am well in my mind, I am going up.” I hope that it will be as good as the manufacturer’s claim, bringing me to the peak I wish to achieve.
D-Day minus 2 hours.
Putting on my shoes, crampons, and ensuring my bagpack is filled with essentials for the climb.
I whispered a prayer.
It is time to go.