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Solo – Dzo Jongo & Unnamed Peak

Climbing big mountains can be quite demanding. One of the most important aspects of ascending big mountains is how well one acclimatises to be able to climb at high altitudes. I went to Ladakh a couple of weeks earlier than the Expedition to Kun. The idea was to go over high passes and climb a couple of 6000 plus peaks in order to acclimatise well in time for Kun. I chose to climb Dzo Jongo and another peak in the Merkha Valley.

12 – 13 June 2015

36 to 48 hours of acclimatisation at about 11000 ft in Leh before venturing into the mountains is advisable. This can be a boring affair. Fortunately, I went to watch a polo match with Sam, my friend since many years. I also bought my rations, fuel and sundries during those two days in Leh.

14 June 2015

The hike to Chuskarmo was ruined by rains. I had a sunny break in between, but it was mostly overcast and rainy. I got some good shots of the valley and the river when the sun was out. By the time I reached Chuskarmo, I was drenched.

15 June 2015 

It was still quite early in the season. So the route between Chuskarmo and Nimaling had so many sections that were covered in snow and ice. At many places, the river was still under a blanket of snow. The trek to Nimaling via Gongmaru La was also marred by heavy precipitation; rains in the morning and heavy snowfall as I gained altitude.

There was near zero visibility on top of Gongmaru La. The heavy snow fall didn’t help at all. I still made it to Nimaling via Gongmaru La in about 6.5 hours with loads well in excess of 20 kilos.

16 June 2015 

The next day I hiked to Dzo Jongo base camp (behind me, in the distance, covered by the fog and precipitation) which is at 5350 m. There was extremely deep snow and heavy storms. Camping there was dicey because the slopes above base were avalanche prone.

17 June 2015 

The following day I departed at about 4 AM from Nmaling in order to ascend an unnamed peak diagonally opposite Kang Yatse. I figured it was close to or just over 6000m and was worth a shot. Yet again, snow storms did cut short my attempt. I made it to 5400m (from Nimaling – 4800m) in quick time, but had to abort the climb because of the storms.

On my way back I had so much time. Once I was off the mountain and in Merkha Valley, heading back to Nimaling, the weather cleared up and I took quite a few pictures.

The dry arid landscape of Merkha Valley is a stark contrast to the Ice laden peaks and pinnacles on both sides of the valley.

My favourite boots – Sportiva, Nepal Extreme. In the background you can see the Merkha River.

It was awesome to watch cattle crossing a bridge across the Merkha river at Nimaling. Honestly, these cattle had more civic sense than a lot of people I come across.

A few days into the trip, the processed foods that I was carrying with me were not palatable at all. So I requested a family of shepherds to make me some mutton and Rice. The lady in charge was Padma who made the best mutton soup ever. She also gave me some dark powder that spiced up the rice and soup.

19 – 20 June 2015 

I met with a kiwi couple at Nimaling. They were both close to 70 and extremely fit and enterprising. We ended up hiking together for most parts on our way back from Nimaling to Chuskarmo.

20 June 2015

Invasion of Privacy. Mr. Lizard sitting pretty; taken somewhere just short of Shan Sumdo on our way back.

A hearty steak meal – a day after returning to Leh. I really needed this to load up on the calories before commencing the expedition to Kun.

This was not the best solo trip for me in terms of success; but the trip had its merits. I made a few good friends which I seldom do. Despite the frequent snowstorms, I was able to ascend to high altitudes with weight and was able to get into some sort of shape for Kun. I rested myself for a couple of days before flying to Delhi for the expedition briefing at IMF with Kevin.

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