It was just a short trek this morning to reach the base camp for Stok Kangri which sits at an altitude of 4,980m. The route was straight up the valley following everyone else.
We had now joined paths with the trekkers that came straight up from Stok Village which follows the direct route up the valley. The cheaper and less reputable adventure outfitters, (mainly Indian ones based in Leh it must be said) use this route as it is quicker and cheaper to get up to the base of the mountain.
Of course you are playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with your health because the acclimatisation is far too quick and subsequently many clients fall victim to mountain sickness by the time they reach base camp with no hope of ever summiting.
However, for us the acclimatisation process had been spot on as we had now trekked in over a series of high passes all increasing with altitude and we’d then camped at slightly lower altitudes along the way. We were now finely tuned for the task ahead.
Many other hikers on the route to base camp though appeared to be suffering. Stumbling around almost incoherent with their guides not appearing to be worried in the slightest. I was glad I’d joined a more reputable UK outfitter.
Base camp was a rocky site beside a number of meltwater streams. We pitched the tents for the last time slightly higher than the main camp to avoid undue noise, smells and the litter, plus all the usual detritus regrettably found at base camps around the world.
We settled in for the next couple of days. The topic of conversation was all about the mountain now. I sat down for tea in the mess tent and the chatter amongst the team was all about altitude, times, distances, equipment etc, etc. It was suddenly real and the reality was dawning upon everybody. The next few days were going to be critical and make or break after all the months of preparation and thousands of pounds spent it all came down to the next 48 hours!
Check out more photos from my adventures at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jameshandlon/albums