Day 1: Chitkul to Ranikanda Meadows
On 29th May'15 morning, the team started from Chitkul following a trail on banks of Baspa River to reach Nagasthi. It was not an easy start for Rashmi as en route she discovered her shoes to be torn apart from shoe sole and she decided to go further by using sandals. Soon we crossed the local ITBP post where we were glared with an enemy look by the military personnel's but since all our permits were taken in advance we didn’t find it difficult to cross the section. After a walk of around 4-5 hrs we finally reached our day 1 camp site at Rani Kanda and alas, it was a sigh relief. We were having a professional hired photographer with us, Mr. Nishchay Ranta, who after reaching campsite started his camera to capture the moments. We also clicked some good pictures and ended the day with sweet notes.
Day 2: Ranikanda to Dumti campsite
we had our breakfast early morning and started our onward journey towards Dumti, our next campsite. It was a beautiful trail comprising of boulders and steep hike across banks of Baspa river. By the time half a distance was covered over risky zone of Lal Dhank, it was very much clear that Aaditya was hit by AMS and he was needed to be rescued immediately. Till this time the weather started deteriorating and soon it started to receive heavy snowfall, further worsening the progress of the team. Heavy snowfall, falling pebbles, steep hike, chilly winds, were all part of our journey, somehow everyone managed to get themselves into the campsite at Dumti at around 2:30 PM, just next to ITBP camps. Gosh, it was a wonderful campsite with a cricket ground maintained by ITBP personnel's and despite of the lost energy our team enjoyed playing cricket with ITBP personnel's at such a great height on mountains well above 4000 meters. By this time Aaditya, who was hit by AMS was escorted to ITBP camp with the help of porter where he was given emergency aid and was strictly advised to return back, leaving only 8 of us to conquer Lamkhaga pass. The hospitality extended by ITBP Jawan's was to admire, as we were served with hot tea just like home and we were allowed to even make phone calls, though, at some little cost. We didn’t missed the opportunity to click pictures in night; however, the severe cold halted our ambitions to get some good clicks.
Day 3: Dumti to Nithal Thach
The 3rd day of trek was to say goodbye to Aaditya way back home. After breakfast, we decided to take blessings of Karu Devta at Dumti temple, participated in Pooja Ceremony with ITBP personnel's and started our journey towards Gundar. The trail eased up soon and it was looking like a flat farmland with little ice fields in between. The route ahead was predictably smooth, over gradually rising plateus and moraines. The route was still going on the left bank of the Baspa river. It was like a wide valley with snow capped mountains on both sides guarding us. After walking around 5-6 hrs we crossed another local ITBP post at Nithal Thach, passed a small stream ahead and reached our campsite. This was believed to be the last patch of greenery and now we were to enter into complete snow zone. After relaxing for a while, we took a small acclimatization hike on a nearby peak. By this time the weather again worsened and it started heavy snowfall which lasted the whole night. Then came the morning and we found our tents drenched in snow. The early morning sunrays were about to hit the peaks and we immediately captured the moments in our cameras. We were experiencing a new powerful force enlightening our inner souls and energy.
Day 4: Nithal Thach- Gundar
The time was now to head towards Lamkhaga Pass base camp, but after walking a couple of kilometers our team encountered heavy downpour and it looked almost impossible to walk further. Our guide decided to put our tents immediately so that we can get ourselves protected from cold and harsh weather. Our buffer day was utilized here. The downpour lasted till 6 in the evening. The weather got cleared in late evening allowing us to have our dinner comfortably. During dinner we decided to move further in night itself since the weather was predictably worsening between 10Am to 5 PM.
Day 5: Gundar t0 Lamkhaga Pass Basecamp
We started our journey towards base camp at 4 AM next day. It was getting hard to cover the distance due to severe chilly atmosphere and extreme darkness followed by boulder area. After walking a little, the sky started showering light on us as the sunrays were about to hit. Once the sunrays enlighted the sky, the Baspa valley was looking like jewel made of ice with thin snow ridges on both sides of the valley. After a little while we reached the end of the flowing Baspa, overlooking the Baspa Glacier. At extreme right we could sense an opening, the gateway to the Lamkhaga Pass. This was the place where our base camp was supposed to be fixed, but since already we had lost buffer day and there was a fear of getting the weather again worsen, we decided to skip camping in Baspa valley and headed straight towards advanced base campsite. The idea was to get to the ABC by later afternoon but oh man, it was really looking like mission impossible as our real endurance test was to begin now. The walk along the gateway to Lamkhaga Pass was steep hike of approx 800 meters in snow almost covered up to knee height at many places. Crossing ridges after ridges, the Chhotkhaga Pass and Lamkhaga Pass became clearly visible and appeared to be in touchable distance. Chhotkhaga Pass shortens the journey to Kyarkoti but the Pass is extreme steep and very much difficult to cross. After hiking approx 400 meters I angrily asked our guide how much time it will take more to reach the campsite as we had already covered a long distance since morning and now our energies were almost frozen up like ice. The worst part, it started snowfall again but for a little while but the harsh winds continued. The vertical slopes seemed unending. Every now and then one of us would slip into some unseen hole in the snow. I was tempted to be ahead of all, but found myself walking behind everybody taking a breather almost every minute. We were closing to the 5000 meter mark and now it was realizing that the altitude had begun taking its toll. Our prayers answered and negotiating the final snowfield for about 6-7 hrs we reached the advanced base camp site. The view overlooking the Lamkhaga Pass Ridge was just like a National Geographic documentary. We were feeling like in Antarctica as the surroundings were completely covered with white snow. The wind's speed at ABC was such extreme that it was getting very hard for our team to set up the tents. It was completely looking like white-out due to hard chilly winds and snowfall. Somehow our team managed to get the tents ready, putting our worries to a little rest. It was really a bad day for us as we haven't taken lunch and even walked a long way without proper arrangement of water. We were feeling like when this trauma will end. It was kind enough of our support staff who served dinner in our tents itself so that we can avoid the harsh weather outside. The night was pleasant as snowfall stopped and sky got cleared, however chilly winds didn't stopped.