Sunday, June 29, 2008

A trip to heights of Ladakh

Ever since my EBC unsuccessful attempt, I keep thinking about different ways that trip could have been different. A extra day at pheriche would have made a difference. probably should have listened to the Nepali guide when he said
"I have 14 yrs of hiking experience, so would advise you to stay at pheriche for a day. while coming down from EBC you go in a single day, no problem, but be careful going up"

Well, I had my own reasons and ambitions and gut feeling, which didn't turn out be right. As Dan Sanford has said "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want".

With that experience I cannot afford to take Altitude lightly, 14000ft is about the highest I would ever think of climbing in a single day, anything more than that would require lot more respect from my side.

Couple of weeks back when I was browsing through Bangalore Mirror, I came across a article on Stok Kangri, one of the Trekking Peaks in Leh, Ladakh. Height 6120M. That was it, it is going to be my second trip to Himalayas(also Karokoram) and a chance get over my EBC DNF. After about 2-3 weeks of researching around travel plans, acclimatization schedule, training plan, COST and other trip reports I came out with a following 13 day schedule. A raft, bike , hike and a climb Trip.

End Point

Max Altitude(mtrs) Night Stay
1 Land at Leh

3505 Hotel
2 Acclimatising(visit bazaar)

3505 Hotel
3 Bike to Hemis and back

4000 Monastery/Hotel
4 2 Day hike: Leh to Rumbak

3800 Home stay
5 Rumbak to Gandala Pass to Nimo

4970 Hotel Leh
6 Leh to Stok village to Mankarmo

4500 Camp
7 Mankarmo - Base Camp(BC)

5000 Camp
8 Base-Advanced BC(Acclimatize )

5300 Camp
9 Summit day

6120 Camp
10 Extra summit day - BC

6120 Camp
11 BC-Leh

3505 Camp
12 Spare day/Raft in Indus

3505 Hotel
13 Fly back/back to work

3505 Pune

Unlike my previous trip, my main focus this time is to properly acclimatize before reaching base camp. It was interesting conversing with a Travel agent in Leh. I called up and asked about Stok Kangri, and it goes as follows:

Guide: You come over here, we will fix a trip.
Me: how long will the trip be?
Guide: You are Indian right? Then 5 days you can do it?
Me: what?? 5 days
Guide: Yes , if you were foreigner (referring to westerners) you could in 3 days.

I laughed and told him OK, will come there and decide.

Well If not for my EBC misadventure, I would have landed up in Stok Kangri ready to climb 20000ft + in 5 days round trip :). Ridiculous. Again "experience is what you get" better at EBC than at a dangerous mountain. I had considered some packaged tour options as well, but decided against it as it makes the trip too predictable and leaves little room to explore in your own terms.

The trip mainly will consist of following adventures:
1. Bike ride to Hemis and Back:
Mainly enjoying the high altitude desert and rolling hill ride to Hemis. And visit world famous gompas in the region. Gompas are mainly is a monastery, this was built in `7th century by king
Singe Namgyal.

2. Trek and Climb:
As part of acclimatization I plan to do a 2 day hike covering Hemis National park loop, passing one of high passes gond-La pass and returning back to Hotel at Leh.

With about 5 days in Leh and higher altitude, I should be in good shape to hike towards EBC which will be a total of 5 days round trip to summit of Stok Kangri. I am hoping to join some group once reach Leh.

3. Raft Indus river:
Finally if time permits, a 1 day raft trip in Indus; one of the oldest and longest rivers in the world which has seen plethora of civilizations in her lifetime. This should be a unique experience.

Now except for starting day everything else is decided :). Following sites were a great reference in planning trip so far.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tagged: Thoughts on running

Tagged by my friend Rajeev Patel and here are some thoughts

1. How would I describe my running 10 years ago?
I hav'nt been running that long, but past 6 yrs of running has definitely been a great learning process, understanding different aspects of medium, long and ultra distances. And its amazing to see how body/mind and spirit adapts to demands of these distances. I would say I am more educated, and "going by the feel" runner than a schedule runner. But I do feel schedule does help achieve goals.

2. What is your best and worst race experience?
My best race has been Miwok 100k 2007, not particularly a great time, but after having some issues at Ruth Anderson 100k and AR 50M, I wasn't sure how I am going to feel in this race, but it worked out great, enjoying the lovely California coastline, running amidst some of my buddies. It gave me lot of confidence going into TRT 100M.

Way too cool 50k 2007 was my worst experience, the race organization was perfect, but I forgot the basics of racing ended up not enjoying this beautiful run. Definitely been a learning experience though.

3. Why do you run?
To feel alive, running is the easiest sport to bring back life and optimism into me, . A true gift for life.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Worst piece of advice - nothing in particular.

Best piece of advice - break into mini goals . I had read Yiannis Kouros breaking his 100M run into 25 mile segments, while training for my first marathon, and since then it has helped in almost every aspect of life.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
The time I spend thinking about running events is more than my training time.

Tagged the following:
Rajeev Char
Peter Lubbers