Stok Kangri Expedition – Day 9 – Trek to Base Camp (4,980m)

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.

Breaking Camp
Breaking camp in the early morning, Stok Kangri looms at the end of the valley

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.

Marmots
Curious Marmots looked on as we trekked past up to Base Camp

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.

Final push to Base Camp
Feeling good and strong on the final push to Base Camp

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

Jebel Toubkal Challenge – Day 2

The Route: Jebel Toubkal | Distance: 10.6km | Time: 7 Hours Height gain: 1866m | Max Altitude: 3207m | Start: Imlil Village | Finish: Neltner Refuge Map: Orientazion – Toubkal Hiking Map ISBN: 9788493560003 | Date: 07/06/2014

I arrived with my new best friends in the village of Imlil. Imlil is the gateway to the Atlas Mountains and the start point for our trek. From here on in there was only one way and it all led uphill! We all stocked up on water supplies from a small tea shop on the edge of the main street through the village while our newly acquired muleteer loaded up our mule for the journey. Our main holdalls would be carried by mule up to the Neltner Refuge, beyond that point the mule don’t go, so we would be carrying our daysacks from that point on. Continue reading “Jebel Toubkal Challenge – Day 2”

Jebel Toubkal Challenge – Day 3

The Route: Jebel Toubkal | Distance: 16.5km | Time: 12 Hours
Height gain: 967m | Max Altitude: 4167m | Start: Neltner Refuge | Finish: Imlil Village
Map: Orientazion – Toubkal Hiking Map ISBN: 9788493560003 | Date: 08/06/2014

There was no mistaking it there was definitely movement on a mass scale as people stumbled around in the dark gathering gear and buckling up! It was 4.00 a.m already and the last time I’d looked at my watch it read only 3.00 a.m. That hour or so earlier and in total darkness I’d crept up the stone stairwell in the refuge finally crawling into my sleeping bag having spent the previous precious hours cold and shivering downstairs on a hard bench. Continue reading “Jebel Toubkal Challenge – Day 3”