Stok Kangri Expedition 2018 – Day 2 – Alchi Monastery

Prayer wheels at Alchi Monastery
Prayer wheels at Alchi Monastery

We drove for hours across a dusty and barren landscape which makes up the Indus Valley. Our mini bus was headed for Alchi Monastery a few hours up river and deeper into the Ladakh countryside. The Monastery consists of a small collection of monastic temples dating from between 958 and 1055.

According to local tradition the complex was founded by the revered guru Rinchen Zangpo a famous translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan. It is therefore both a very old and a very important monastery and we were headed there as part of our acclimatisation and cultural discovery programme in Ladakh.

Walking stick of Rinchen Zangpo
Walking stick of Rinchen Zangpo

According to ancient texts the tree outside the monastery is of a species not native to the land thereabouts and folklore dictates that it grew as a result of Rinchen Zangpo having an epiphany that he’d found the right spot to build a monastery and so he proceeded to plant his walking stick firmly and permanently in the ground to mark the spot from which the tree we see today grew. Great story, highly improbable but I’d buy into it in all probability had I been around in the 11th century.

Alchi Monastery
Alchi Monastery

The monastery today has three major shrines: the Dukhang (Assembly hall), the Sumtsek and the Temple of Manjushri, all dating from between the early 12th and early 13th centuries. Several small Chortens litter the complex but all appear to have seen much better days. 

Tara in Manjushri
Tara in Manjushri

For us the visit was an opportunity to get away from the confines of our hotel in Leh which was becoming way too claustrophobic and a chance to get out and see some of the countryside. The monastery although interesting was unfortunately easily seen within an hour so the subsequent thought of a return two and a half hour road trip back along the potholed and dusty roads of Ladakh was not too appealing.

Luckily though lunch had been arranged for us by the monastery and so we ate in the tranquil monastery gardens relaxing for a couple of hours before embarking on our weary journey back to Leh.

At the end of the day although tired from the long journey we were a day further into our acclimatisation process and a day nearer to the big climb itself so all was going to plan.

Follow along with the expedition updates being posted over the coming weeks.

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Stok Kangri Expedition 2018 – Day 1 – Leh Ladakh

Rooftop view of Leh from our room
Rooftop view of Leh from our room

We flew into Leh on the first day of our adventure aboard a very early morning flight from Delhi. The approach to Leh airport is what could be termed interesting. 360 degrees of surrounding mountain ranges, a narrow valley and a dusty ex military airstrip to try to land on. It was a sick bags out and hold onto the seat of your pants kind of a landing! Continue reading “Stok Kangri Expedition 2018 – Day 1 – Leh Ladakh”

The Jebel Toubkal Adventure

Due south of the 1000-year-old pink walled city of Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains rise to a commanding 4000 metres and include the famous Mount Toubkal (4167m), the highest peak in North Africa and my target for this little expedition.

The planned trek & summit route

The planned trek & summit route

Reached after a two hour drive across the Moroccan plains on the back of an overnight in Marrakech my adventure really begins with a strenuous five hour hike up to the Neltner Refuge (Base Camp) which at just over 3200m is strategically placed for a good summit bid the following day. Continue reading “The Jebel Toubkal Adventure”

Something more important than fear!

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

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The late great Fredrik Ericsson ascending Laila Peak
“The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all!”