Trek Plan - Datewise:
24th Wed Yuksom to Tsokha
25th Thu *** Rest at Tsokha ***
26th Fri Tsokha to Dzongri
27th Sat Dzongri to Thangsing
28th Sun Thangsing to Samiti Lake
29th Mon Samiti Goechela Thangsing
30th Tue Thangsing to Kokchuran
1st Wed Kokchuran to Tsokha
2nd Thu *** Rest day at Tsokha ***
3rd Fri Tsokha to Yuksom
Total of 8 + 2 = 10 days planned
Rice 4Kgs, Atta 3Kgs, Dal 2Kgs,
Maggie Soup 8pkts, Maggie Noodles 8pkts, Tibetan Noodles 4pkts, Eggs 1Tray (32nos), Potato 4kg, Onions 2kgs, Beans 1Kg, Tomatoes 2kgs, Cabbage 2Nos, Chillies 300gms, Ginger 300gms, Garlic 400gms, Haldi Powder 2pkts, ChilliPowder 2pkts, Candles Big 2pkts, Matches 2 Doz, Bread 2pkts, Sugar 2kg, Salt 1pkt, Cooking Oil 1Kg, Jerrycans 2nos (water+Kerosene), Kerosene 10Lt, Stove pins 2pkts, Washing Soap, Milk Powder 5pkts, Tea 2Pkts,
Pickles 1Bot, Biscuits, Dry Fruits, Toffees, Chewing Gum.
Sleeping Bags, Mattress Sheet, Fleece Jackets, Gloves, Monkey Caps, Plastic Sheets (rain-cover), Kerosene Stove 1 no, Pressure Cooker 1 no, Knife 2nos, Utensils 2nos, Ladles-Spoons 2nos, Plastic Plates 4nos, Spoons, Forks.
23rd Nov 2004 - I had reached Yuksom (1630m/5350ft) the trail head village yesterday after acclimatizing a bit for altitude and cold for 2-3 days in Gangtok. I had taken a Dorm bed at Hotel Demazong at Rs 60/- per day.
My plan was to do the 88-Km Yuksom to Dzongri-La (4550 / 15000ft) and then to Goecha-La (4940m/16200ft) and back to Yuksom, popularly known as the "Kanchenjunga Trek". One can get some pretty close views of the mighty Kanchenjunga (8598m/28,200ft) and nearby mountains & peaks, from Dzongri as well as GoecheLa. Picture (left above) of Kanchenjunga the fortress like peak and Mt. Pandim-6691m (pic left below) as seen from DzongriLa at dawn.
It was already the fag end of the trekking season and snow was expected to start falling any time on the high passes on way to Goechela. "Still you could give it a try and hope the heavy snow will come later this year" said Ishenjit Datta, a trained mountaineer and the team-leader of the 3 man team that just came back from their Trek today. Picture below (L to R) shows Ishenjit, me and Pranab standing in the front lawn of Hotel Demazong where we were staying, in Yuksom.
Pic left of Yuksom Main Street and Hotel Demazong behind the prayer flags.
I was lucky I met them, because Ishenjit briefed me all details about the trek and what to expect, as he had just completed the same trek. He said I could stay in Trekkers Huts along the way, so need to hire tents; but I need to carry food, rations, cooking utensils and stove as there were no Hotels on the way. Ishenjit also arranged 2 men for me, Guide-Porter-Cook, whom he had taken with him on his own Trek. They were Mingma Tshering Lepcha and Naydup Tshering. They would cost me Rs 150 per day each, plus food of course.
Ishenjit along with the 2 Guides prepared a Datewise Trek Plan for me (see column left) and a List of rations and other stuff that I will need to buy and carry from Yuksom. I arranged for Mingma & Naydup to go out and buy the rations and hire the stuff required and store it in my dorm, today itself, so we could start early tomorrow.
Today, I also completed the KNP (Kanchenjunga National Park) Permit formalities. Filled a form at KNP-counter, paid fees of Rs 470/-, based on number of days trek planned and got the forms countersigned by the Officer at the Police Outpost, before submission. I also bought myself Trekkers Hut stay permits at Rs 50/per night for 8 nights. Thus by evening we were all set to start the trek next day.
24th Nov 2006 - Started the trek early at 7:30am. Walked past the Yuksom Lake and started the climb up from there. Mingma and Naydup each carried a cane basket on their back, with all our food & rations. Each of them also carried a Jerry can in hand, one with water and other with kerosene for the stove. The climb was pretty steep as we started climbing a hill and at around 8:30am we walked past the last houses of Yuksom village, at the upper level (pic left).
At around 9:00am we reached the first of the three bridges that Mingma said we need to cross. That bridge (pic left) was the one that had broken down a few years ago and so we had to make a steep descent in into the Rathong valley and then climb up back again to the trail path.
We crossed the 2nd bridge at 10:15am and carried walking on to a place called "Chechan" by Noon where we stopped for lunch.
Chechan was nothing more than bus-shelter like structure set in a thick forest with a nearby water spring, for washing vessels. Mingma and Dayrup started up the stove and after serving tea first cooked up a Noodles-cum-Soup dish as lunch for all of us.
Started by 11:30 am and by Noon started seeing new snow on the ground which was sparse initially but pretty soon the whole path was covered with snow. Mostly it was soft snow and so not much of a problem.
Pics left - trail path with snow.
Some short stretches were just frozen ice and hence very slippery. One had to be very careful in those icy parts, the walking stick I carried was a life saver. Mingma and Naydup were very sure-footed, even with their heavy loads. Around noon we crossed several snowfields and the weather became foggy and clouded and very cold and windy (pic below).
In picture above, Dayrup is watching me anxiously to see if I am able to cross this icy stretch by myself, or he needs to hurry back to hold my hand. I stopped, took out the camera to take this snap of Dayrup and also take a break and collect my wits before negotiating this stretch ahead.
Managed to reach the Dzongri Huts (pic left) safe around 1:00pm. Dzongri too was fully covered with snow. Many trekkers were there mostly foreigners. Met a Belgian named Frank - an Airbus airliner Pilot - who was also trekking to Goechela. I laid out my sleeping bag and squeezed myself inside it and rested, while Mingma got lunch of hot soup and noodles ready.
That night the outside temperature dipped to 3*C said some German foreigners who stayed in tents (Pic left - Tents in the snow & Mingma walking by). Another Trekkers Hut behind the tents (pic below).
27th Nov 2004. We had planned to climb go up to Dzongri-La Pass, about 500m above our Huts, to see the sunrise. So got up early at 3:30am, much before dawn, and after a cup of tea we set out at at 4:00am. It was dark, very cold and the path slippery and dangerous. I don't know how Mingma and Naydup found a path through the dark and cold and all that snow and climb to the top; taking care of novice climber like me.
Fortunately there was some good moonlight and we could pick our way up.We reached a sort of ridge at the top at around 5:00am and walked along that ridge to its edge to a point facing all the Peaks, where many prayer flags were set up. You can see in the pic below waving happily, for having made it there, as if I had reached Mt. Everest!
Pictures of Black Kabur left and below. Mingma says even when the snow fall is heavy the Black Kabur stays black as no snow stays on it!
Frank was very busy shooting pictures from his tripod camera (left). The sunlight on Kanchenjunga turned from gold to white and the features were seen sharper (pics below).
At 6:22am the sun rays finally reached the ridge we were on (see pic left) and Mingma faced the Sun (pic below) and warmed his face in the morning glow looking like Buddha meditating! The broken hut shelter on the ridge could now be seen clearly (pic left below).
04 Dzongri Trek
Yuksom to Dzongri-La Trek 4550M / 15000ft (Kanchenjunga Trek) in West Sikkim