Yuksom to Dzongri-La Trek 4550M / 15000ft (Kanchenjunga Trek) in West Sikkim 





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


Ration List:   (3 people for 10 Days)

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. 


Hire-List (as needed): 

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. 




Around 12:15pm started the trek again, passing the 3rd bride at 2:25pm (pics left of bridge and me on the bridge). After what seemed like endless steep climbing trails finally reached a village called Bakhim. We had the option to stop there and take room there, but we decided to move directly 

to Tshokha which is a bigger village and has regular Trekkers Hut. By the time we reached Tshokha at 5:15pm it was already pretty dark and I was really tired. After an early dinner of Rice-Dal-Sabzi cooked by Mingma, 

I pushed myself into the sleeping bag and promptly fell asleep by 8:00pm. Thank God tomorrow was a rest day!






 

25th Nov 2004 - Got up at 5:30am to watch sunrise at 6:00am. Pretty good sight of the Himalayas from Tshokha, mainly Mt. Pandim an nearby ranges. Pic left shows part of the village and Tshoka Hut. And above a front view of the Trekkers Hut. There were a bunch of 10-12 foreign trekkers staying in Tents at Tshoka. They all left at 8:00am after breakfast. But a huge contingent of their porters and yaks were there up whole morning removing their tents, packing and loading the stuff on 15-20 Yaks. I spent the whole day relaxing, sitting in the warm sun and watching their packing activities. Mingma served me omelet, bread and tea for breakfast and later Chowmein for lunch. His cooking was OK; nothing great, not bad either. Dinner early at 7:00pm was standard Rice-Dal-Sabzi. Hit the sleeping bag by 8:00pm. 





26th Nov 2004 Got up early, pretty refreshed. After tea started off at 6:00am. It was again a stiff climb up all the way. We reached Phedang at 10:00am and stopped there for Lime Tea and Noodles. Mingma used the broken Hut there (pic left) to set up his stove. The pic below shows the mountain range view from Phedang. 






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!


There was a hut shelter there, but it was broken and buried now in snow and of no use to us. Frank, the Belgian and his guide also landed up there on that ridge. Frank set up his tripod and camera facing Kanchenjunga and we waited for sunrise. At 5:30 the eastern sky started glowing red before sunrise (pic left).  The Mountains showing up in the predawn light (Pic left).


The full-moon was just setting between two peaks (pic above). By 5:58 there was plenty of light (see Black Kabur standing out in front of some snow covered peaks behind in Pic left) but the first golden sun rays hit Kanchenjunga only at 6:00am (pic below). 


 Soon Mt. Pandim too got the sun rays (below).


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).

 




At 6:25 am we started the trek back to Dzongri. The pic left shows me on the narrow ridge with the View Pt. prayer flags and Mt. Pandim behind me. 

We got back to Dzongri Hut by 7:00am. I discussed with Mingma and other Trekkers & Guides about the snow & weather situation for going on to GoecheLa. Yesterdays icy situation in some stretches worried me. Most said there could be more snow falls and I wasn't equipped enough for tackling that. Frank decided to go on as he was pretty well equipped to tackle the ice and also keen to go on to GoecheLa. I decided I was more than satisfied with today's' morning Kanchenjunga views and so 

we would head back to Yuksom while the weather was still holding good.


The Return journey:

So after breakfast, we packed up and started back at 8:30am. Weather was holding and sunny (see pics of Mingma and Naydup and me (left) at 9:00am) and so we made it back to Tshokha by 1:15pm. Had lunch and relaxed. My cell phone was working at Tshokha, so sent some SMS text messages home.  Evening had a local Sikkim Beer and dinner and slept early by 8:00Pm

 

28th Nov 2004. Got up early and had toast and tea and started off to Bakhim alone. Mingma and Naydup said they will pack and follow. I  reached Bakhim by 7:00am and my Guides joined me there. At Bakhim, a teenage boy (Tshering) joined us. He was a young 'porter trainee', but due to altitude sickness he could not continue and so his team leader requested Mingma to see him safely down to Yuksom. He was a jovial young fellow and came along happily with us (see pic below). 


We were again at the Chechen shelter at 9:30am for a breakfast of noodles and tea (pic left). We started again by 10:00am for the long climb down, but by noon the weather worsened and it started raining and after a while it became freezing rain and hail storm. We walked nearly 2 hours in this hail storm and the going became very slow. I had to open out my umbrella to stop being hit by small ice-ball pieces!

The temporary detour path at the broken bridge had become muddy 

and slushy due to the rain and I had a tough time negotiating that; in some places crawling on all fours! Made it back to the normal trail path without any injuries. At around 2:00pm we reached the top of the hill above Yuksom and could see Yuksom village in the distance below.



Finally reaching Hotel Demazong at 3:30pm. After 2 cups of tea at Gupta's felt much better and settled accounts with Mingma and Naydup and asked them to return all the hired stuff. Nearly half the provisions were leftover. I asked Mingma and Naydup to share that between them and carry it home. After an early dinner at Gupta's went to bed tired, but happy to be back safe. 


29th Nov 2004 - Got up early, packed up and caught the first jeep for Jorethang (on my way to Darjeeling) at 6:00am from the jeep- stand next to Gupta's (pic left).