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Old 16th February 2015, 17:30   #16
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Thumbs up Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Awesome! Just awesome! This is on my to do list now. Please go ahead with your travelogue and complement the mesmerizing pictures with detailed report of each part of your journey. This will be very helpful for anyone planning for this trek.
Rated 5 stars.
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Old 16th February 2015, 21:54   #17
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Default Day One

The path towards Tsokha is high and harsh. Here the scene is somewhat rarer and more beautiful. I watch Justin march up ahead, whereas I rest for a while. There are rocky trails which mark the path. At places, the trail cuts through a patch of land with a row of Magnolias, which appear to glow in the evening light. The rain has also brought about a freshness and clarity to the air.

The legs are tired. True.
But, there a new zest to climb further.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-1-1.jpg

The clouds have started to lift and there is a pleasant, warm light. In the mountains, darkness comes faster. The twilight seems to have spread all around, by the time I open a rickety, creaking gate of a trekkers’ hut in Tsokha.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-2-1.jpg

Dawa, the cook, hands over me a kettle of tea and some biscuits. A table and chair has been laid out in the open and ahead of me is a view of the giant hills of Lampokhari. Mt Pandim pips over partially through them, deeply snowed and glistening in the dying evening light. A couple of horses graze in the valley below. There are racing clouds along some of the green hills. It is an awesome sight.


The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-3.jpg

But the winds start blowing cold and there is every indication that it has snowed in the higher altitudes. Dinner is taken early at 7.30 PM. Plain rice, dal and an egg curry. It tastes delicious to the tired traveler.
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Old 16th February 2015, 22:01   #18
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Fantastic pictures and pretty engrossing and lively narrative. Enjoyed it thoroughly and someday hope to make the trip. Once you fall in love with mountains you need to get back to them every year.
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Old 16th February 2015, 22:09   #19
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Excellent pictures and well written. I hope you will write about how to get there and the logistics arrangements. Look forward to more on the trek.

Keep it up.
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Old 16th February 2015, 22:16   #20
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Default The Second Day

The first night in the tent and I had an intermittent sleep. The legs were hurting badly and it was difficult to change the sleeping orientation. But the -30C North Face sleeping bags were excellent to kill the cold. The morning is excellent - clear, crisp and the sun shines with full conviction.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-7.jpg

From my breakfast point, I can see the Welsh couple, with whom I had interacted the previous day, pose beside the Chortens below. The horses and mules graze. The long blades of sunlight that pour through the clouds make it a pleasant slight. Everyone is getting ready to start the day. But the clouds rush in fast. Good weather in the hills is a rarity during the summer months. It’s the autumn season when weather is almost clear and predictable.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-11.jpg

Tsokha is the last place from where you can get mobile connectivity. I make a call back home saying that I will call again after a week(almost). After the breakfast of toasts, eggs and tea, we resume the walk.

A little above Tsokha is the snow line. I find the going uber tough. My legs hurt me too much as I break the wooden pathways. These pathways have been designed to make the trek a little more easier.

Resting for a while makes me feel good. There is a deafening silence in each pause.
You can listen to the wind.
To the droplets of water that fall from the hanging icicles.
Even your own breathing.
And sometimes your own heartbeat.


The effect of altitude shows. The breaths are drawn and heavy. I munch off the cashew nuts that I have been carrying. Share some of them with Justin. Breaks are an excuse to rest.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-30.jpg

The second day is another long one. Actually a lot tougher than the first. While from a distance standpoint it is lesser, but today involves climbing over the Deorali Top that lies at 13500+ ft.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-37.jpg

At Phedang, a 2000ft gain from Tsokha lies a trekkers hut where we are supposed to have lunch. A little drizzle accompanies me as I enter the hut. Justin brings me a glass of tea, as I stand on the porch jostling for space with other folks. The drizzle, meanwhile, has turned into falling snow and later into a snow storm that hits hard on the ground..The wind blows strong on the open land and I can hear the gale like winds. In a moment, what seems to be not more than 5 mins, the burnt yellow grasses at Phedang have been moulded in the white snow. But in the next 15 mins the sun rises again and I can see the vapours rising from the snow.The outside is so cold, but the tea makes up it. It is the perfect antidote for the body.
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Old 16th February 2015, 22:22   #21
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

After a simple lunch, we continue the climb. The gradient is staggering. I continue to climb, but the climb does not end. Sometimes, when I am able to see the overcast sky, beyond the last mountain edge, I feel that’s the top. But once I get to that top, I see that its only the end point of a ridge. Sometimes a determination comes over me. I go beyond my strength and literally race a few steps at one go but that is followed by a pause of heavy breathing. Not advisable. I set myself “short targets”. Like reach that next point 50 ft higher in the next 15 mins. Complete the short targets and you will end up closing up on the goal.

As I continue to rise, the mist starts to get thicker. The path climbs sheerly through the mountain sides and there are sharp drops beside the path. The visibility is low and extends to only a couple of meters ahead of me. The walk for the past hour has been through thinning vegetation and that is more pronounced now. And turn after turn, as we continue to rise, my mind seasoned by now not to think about the Deorali top – comes a flat piece of land, with a chorten and Buddhist prayer flags. Out of nowhere, when I had completed shut my mind to reaching the goal, comes the Deorali top. Its time to do a mini jig, sip some water, take a well-deserved rest and then descend to Dzongri,.

Trekking is about endurance. Not like a motorcycle racing down a road. That is good. And that is Bad.Good because you can enjoy the views and soak in the beauty. And bad, because it requires tremendous motivation to walk slow and hold steady. More so if you are solo like me. Hours will pass by, but the view would remain the same.

The descent from to Dzongri is almost flat. We have entered rhododendron country, but they are completely covered with fresh snow. Fluffy.

Walking through snow is easy.
Walking down the slope is easier.
Reaching the destination brings about a joy that nothing else can give.

And so, at around 3 in the afternoon, with feather soft snow falling across the Dzongri valley, I enter my tent. A kettle of hot orange juice is handed over which I sip and munch onto some cream biscuits. The valley has been carpeted in white and it doesn’t look like that the snow fall is going to stop anytime soon.

Time to dig myself into the sleeping bag and if possible get some sleep.

Outside the snow pelts hard on the tent. When I open the tent zipper, I see that the sky is dark and it looks ominous. The wind too has picked up strongly and resembles a blizzard now. The evening ends, night falls and it has become pitch dark outside. I hear the swaying bells and baying of the Dzos which are kept in the open. Justin comes to my tent and calls me for dinner. Grudgingly I eat and try to sleep later. But the sleep doesn't come quickly.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-45.jpg

Last edited by sayakc : 16th February 2015 at 22:22. Reason: Updated formatting
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Old 17th February 2015, 10:39   #22
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Made my day! Every frame is just so serene and calm. Thanks for posting.
I want to live there all my life. I want. I want. I want.
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Old 17th February 2015, 13:05   #23
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
We saw evenings of the rain.
Of the fading twilight.
Of clouds that were racing against the hill tops.

And lakes that appeared vibrant blue, in a world where shades were only brown and yellow

We saw dawns of delight!
Brightness of the light and darkness of the shadow. A moment, where time stood still.
One of the best that I have read in this forum. As many have said - you write extremely well and your choice of words simply transforms the images too. Provides a new perspective.

If I may say - thanks for doing the trek for all of us here!

Last edited by GTO : 18th February 2015 at 10:17. Reason: Typos
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Old 17th February 2015, 13:13   #24
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Thank you for your comments. Feels great that you have liked it. Before I proceed any further, I would like to provide some details from an itinerary/cost etc perspective.
Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
with Octane_Power. This is a very well written photologue.
Thanks Hemanth! Please dont compare these with Tsk's. His photos are of a different level!
Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
Yummy! Those pictures are nice appetizers to what looks like a big and delicious main course.
Thank you Gearhead.Saw your Kaluk travelogue. It was a great one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhead_mait View Post
Awesome! Just awesome! This is on my to do list now.
Thank you Shantonob, SajiNSalin,Srivatsahg,PISTONS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shantonob View Post
Fantastic pictures and pretty engrossing and lively narrative.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SajiNSalin View Post
Excellent pictures and well written.
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivatsahg View Post
What an Incredible set of pictures you have managed to capture.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PISTONS View Post
That was an amazing photo shoot. Each & every snap is worth being a background image in the devices.
Here are some of the details:

The Dzongri-Goecha La trail is the most popular trek in Sikkim. There are numerous agencies who conduct this trek.
I travelled with Mountain Tours & Treks.
Email ID: sikkim.mtt@gmail.com
Contact Person/Owner : Mingma Sherpa
Trek Guide: Justin Lepcha.Excellent person.

Grade: Moderate

Itinerary:

What to anticipate?
  • This trek is advertised as the "Kanchenjunga base camp" trek. But in reality it is not so.There are several peaks in West Sikkim that are much more closer than Kanchenjunga. And it is indeed quite an experience. You can see Kanchenjunga - True. But closer peaks like Pandim,Kabru, Black Kabru,Frey Peak, Fork Peak, Simvo, Jopuno, Thin Chen Khan look much more magnificient.
  • I had travelled in the second week of April. But, if you want to see rhododendrons in bloom, then April end to mid May is the best time.
  • The cold floor resulted in a headache on almost every morning. I used to pop a pill of paracetamol before starting the day.
  • There are trekkers' hut where you can stay by paying 50/- trekker. They are more comfortable. However, I chose to stay in the tent. Daily morning chores can be done by using the toilets. Bathing is out of question.
Cost: Rs 45,000. That includes everything on the trek.
Additional Expenses:
  • Possible 2 nights hotel stay at Yuksom.The day you arrive(i.e. day before the trek) and the day you return.
  • If you return early and have a cab booked for departure, then you can depart Yuksom the same day. But that would be a little tiring.
My two bits about the cons in travelling solo:
  • You can beat the boredom during the day by chatting up with other groups during the day. But in the tent you are all alone and that can be depressing.
  • You need to manage the guide and porters.In my case: While in Lamuney, they tried to pitch the tent far away from the actual location. It would have resulted in an extra hour walk for me the next day.
  • These Guides and porters are usually very helpful and well behaved. But often, indulge in drinking or smoking weeds/grasses. Usually, they keep it to themselves. But, at times, this can prove to be a nuisance.
If you are an experienced trekker, obviously you won't need any of these advises. You can very well hire your own porter/guide and conduct the trek yourself.

Last edited by sayakc : 17th February 2015 at 13:30.
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Old 17th February 2015, 14:16   #25
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Sayak,

Thanks for sharing. Great pictures and even better narration (er... poetry) to boot. Brings back nice memories of my few treks to Goechala over the past years. Glad you made the trip. I never ever get bored going there again and again :-)
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Old 17th February 2015, 19:37   #26
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

SayakC the word excellent wont do justice to this travelogue! Its magnificent! Your Himalayan travelogue's are always special! Seems like you and Himalaya are eternally connected! You once again proved it, once bitten by the Himalayan bug it has no remedy! Excellent pictures too. Waiting for more to come. Rated a fully deserved 5*.

Would love to meet you some day to hear your experiences in person.
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Old 17th February 2015, 21:47   #27
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Thank you all. Your posts make this thread interactive
Quote:
Originally Posted by srs_shetty87 View Post
Made my day! Every frame is just so serene and calm. Thanks for posting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveller Nayak View Post
One of the best that I have read in this forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johy View Post
Sayak,
Thanks for sharing. Great pictures and even better narration (er... poetry) to boot.
Thanks for being so effusive in your praise Samba! I always believe your travelogues and especially photos are one its kind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
SayakC the word excellent wont do justice to this travelogue! Its magnificent! Your Himalayan travelogue's are always special!
The tragic part, before I continue with the rest of the posts is I have lost 70% of the photos due to a hard disk crash. The continuation of events, from the subsequent post is the sunrise from Dzongri La.
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Old 17th February 2015, 22:35   #28
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Default The Third Day

It is 3.30 AM in the morning when Justin calls me.
Chae sir..Get up and be ready. We shall start by 4.
The sky has cleared out completely and the stars are twinkling and the moon is shining.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-8.jpg

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-9.jpg

I gulp the tea quickly, take the camera bag and Justin holds the tripod. Brushing the teeth? Well that thought simply doesn’t come to my mind. It can be done once we come back. The pain in my legs is no more. But I feel groggy, waking with a very bad headache. The cold, frosty ground is the culprit.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-17.jpg

So, at 4 AM in the morning, under the fast disappearing star lit sky, listening to the swaying bells of the Dzos and in the blistering cold of the sweeping winds I climb past the valley of Dzongri.

"Be careful sir. The ice is very slippery."
The path is icy and completely snowed out.

It is a race against time to a high theater and the entry isn't exactly costly - its priceless. I am walking along the path to reach Dzongri La, the top of Dzongri.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-20.jpg

At the top, the sight knocks me off my still groggy senses. A thousand peaks seemed to surround this precious little perch(read pass), where the snow was soft and powdery. All the peaks - Kanchenjunga, Pandim,Thin Chen Khang, Jopuno, Black Kabru, the sweeping face of Mt Kabru, Rathong, Fork Peak, Frey Peak are glowing in the sun light. And even though, by now, I have witnessed a few golden sunrises, this sight looks domineering.
First they look orange and then golden and then they are burn into a bright white. Especially the wide face of Kabru which is glistening golden in the light.And then the light finally fell upon the pyramid like face of the Kanchenjunga.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-27.jpg

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-29.jpg

People armed with tripods, camera, rucksacks, flasks of tea and what not have come to watch this spectacle.High above the valleys and creeks, Dzongri La offers a commanding view of the geography around. Justin points me towards the valley over which we will walk tomorrow.

This was the perfect Himalayan symphony.
There are times in a journey, when you feel that “this is the moment” - and I was living that moment. The sweat and hardships of the past two days ,when I had felt a little lost, is bearing its fruit. Patience is a sweet thing. Its results are even sweeter.

A carnival seemed to be going on at the top.
But, in reality it was a moment of solitude.
One of immortality. Of realization.
I mutter a silent prayer, thank God that I have been fortunate enough to witness a grand spectacle such as this.

We climb down after a zillion photographs.
It is an experience to remember and thank you all that I got to relive it once again here at Team-BHP!


Later I go for a short snooze and wake up on hearing somebody beating the tent. When I look out, I see that the mists have rolled back in and it has started to snowing once again. Never mind, I go back to sleep. Today, we have time to kill, because today we rest at Dzongri.

During the walking days I had made a few friends. And I spent the better part of the evening chatting with them and enjoying sips of hot Chang, the millet brew that’s very common among guides and porters.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-day-5-47.jpg

This is at the Dzongri Trekkers’ hut and Laxmi Maiyya is at its helm. She chants prayers and lights up some incense herbs in the evening as the snow shows no signs of abating. She stays here all the year round and is responsible for the upkeep of the hut. Her husband is responsible for the rations(thats what the guides told me).

Later, while getting back to my tent, I skid on the crusted ice and fell down. It sure hurts. I get up, my knees shaking and fell again as I take a couple of more steps.
‘Watch out”, says my friend.

I could have stayed at the trekkers hut. But there couldn't have been a better way to experience tent life than this. After all, its only 7 days in a year that we have this wild, wild life! .I step gingerly onto the snow and walk back to my tent. Have dinner and go to sleep.

The Frosty Climb to Goecha La-print-w-rotate_set212.jpg
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Old 18th February 2015, 04:14   #29
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Many of the images are worth keeping them as screen savers, great pictures of Mother Nature.

As I'm easily prone to high altitude sickness due to breathing problem which is holding me back from exploring this places, your narration made me travel this gigantic Himalayas thanks SAYAKC.
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Old 18th February 2015, 10:48   #30
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Default Re: The Frosty Climb to Goecha La

Finally the travelogue is here, has been an year now since you mentioned about this trip !!

Lovely pictures and descriptions sayakc.

I recently did a hiking trip near Lamayuru, an easy one by Goecha La standards. Will be starting a travelogue soon !
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