Because IMF ruined my climbing calender (well almost), I decided to go to Jaipur and work some more on my riding. My last trip to Jaipur was smashing and I was hoping Vishal and Ajay will make this one worthwhile too. This would keep me fit and give me some time to sort out a new plan.
So I decided to climb peaks higher than those planned by my friend and IMF. And to soup things up, I decided to climb two such peaks for good measure. The icing on the cake was to do all this in a two week window (including acclimatisation). The two peaks that came to my mind were Chumser and Lungser in Ladakh. Chumser is 6625m tall while Lungser is 6666m tall. Climbing even one of these bulbous objectives can be a handful, not to mention two. Doing that in 10 climbing days is another matter altogether. I have heard of so many people gloating over the fact that Chumser is a "trekking" peak and come back empty handed and a truck load of cold injuries and high alt illnesses to add insult to injury. True - sections of Chumser can be classified as "trekking" peak. But there are some sections that we did which were quite steep especially just short of "our" summit which @ 6635m was 10m higher than the main summit.
Nabarun told me about his stok expedition; how he just about managed to scrape through a summit at the last moment due to bad weather. They stayed put at the base camp for 5 days due to incessant weather. The weather only just about cleared up late on the 7th. So the leader suggested that they venture into the mountain as far as possible. By the time they left the base camp, it was 10. They somehow made it to the summit by 1730. The string of events on stok sounded like a satirical imitation of a laurel and hardy episode. Well! to me. :)
After a brief chat, Nabarun and I walked to his guest house, to pick his pack. By proportion, his daypack was comparatively heavier than his rucksack. His guest house was somewhere on the upper tukcha road. What better way to home in to Mansarovar, than to backtrack on my N8 GPS. The positioning worked like a charm. Nabarun was carrying his own Garmin eTrek Vista. With two GPS sets, we felt secure like a swiss locker on our forthcoming adventure.
After dumping Nabaruns luggage in our room we went to have lunch. Cant quite remember what was for lunch. Sometime in the evening, we walked to Sams office to check the paperwork and equipment. We also met with Thundup, the cook and Tenzin, Deepaks assistant. We agreed to depart from Mansarovar the following day at 0800 and went out to my favourite place in Leh, the courtyard of the Masjid, to try the sheekh kabab of course. Well I "tried" the meats, Nabarun actually "feasted" on it. It was good nonetheless.
September 10th - Day 3 Drive to Tso Moriri/Churchu
I requested Thundup to make some Khichdi for supper. His Khichdi seemed more like Pulao, but it was definitely more palatable than his sandwich. I felt a slight headache and thought it wise to keep Nabarun informed. He suggested that we stay at the base the following day rather than setting up a higher camp.
September 12th - Day 5 Base Camp
After lunch we hiked to the high camp for acclimatisation. Since my pack was over 20 kilos, I felt a little load ferry would do no harm. I carried some of my heavy stuff, crampons, harness, gauntlets etc to be left at the ABC. Because Tenzin didnt acclimatise well, we thought We should take Thundup along so that he was reasonably well acclimatised by the time we establish the high camp the following day. There were two possible locations for a high camp. One at 5950 and another at 6100. The one at 5950 was a proper camp site while the one at 6100 was a little difficult for the ponies to reach. Since this bunch had more insane people than sane, we agreed to camp at 6100m. Too bad for the ponies was the general concensus. Sorry Menaka Gandhi! Thundup had to return to the BC from 5950m because he showed symptoms of AMS, plus we thought by the time we got back we would be hungry, so we might as well let the cook do his job.
We returned to base with a spring in our strides and sleet in our faces. Spring in our strides because setting up a high camp at 6100m increased our chances of summit manifold, sleet in our faces, because there was severe precipitation. LOL
After a very slight breakfast (Nabarun ate well, thank God), Nabarun and I started off to the ABC. Deepak, Thundup and the Pony guy took their sweet time loading up the ponies (and a couple of donkeys too). By now I have been in a state of heavy headedness for about 48 hours. The only good thing about the whole thing was that the pain was at least shifting from behind my skull to forward and back. Everytime Nabarun would enquire about my condition, I would say "I would like to think I am fine". I have felt better during climbs though. So this was not very encouraging, with the summit attempt just about 36 hours away. Nabarun and I maintained a leisurely pace. We made it to the high camp in well under three hours. We laid out our tent while Deepak got busy with the Dining tent. By 1400 or so we had established base at the high camp.
I was glad at least Deepak and Nabarun were enjoying their meals. I on the other hand had to do with black tea and more black tea. I am not even a tea drinker and was craving for food, but for the loss of appetite. At 6100m, Thundup was beginning to feel the effects of altitude. Deepak helped him with the cooking. Nabarun, Deepak and I agreed that if Thundup was still not acclimatised by morning, we would send him back, albeit there was another person who for some strange reason was not acclimatising well in this expedition and was still hanging around. For dinner we had Khichdi, and tonight was probably the only night during the expedition when I actually ate well.
Deepak was back by 1600, and seemed in high spirits. I suggested that he take some rest and forget about Chumser. Perhaps he could guide us to the top of Lungser. "No way" was his response. He said he was being paid to guide us, and he was not gonna sit back. It was hard to reason with him, so Nabarun suggested that he at least take some rest. I told him I will gear up and wake him at quarter to 1 in the morning. By the time we went to our tent, it was 2000. Nabarun slept and I played owl.