Climbing Chamser Kangri (6662m)

This is the short trailer of my epic adventure in India from 10th June to the 16th of July 2014.

Chamser Kangri stands at 6662metres above sea level and was one mountain that I had done much research since I came back from Stok Kangri in 2013. It took a one year to plan and organize what I needed to use and what I was going to rely on to ensure success and safety as much as possible. Of course, the details of which how I was going to climb it was not to be relayed to my parents since they would have drastic reactions to that. I was intending to climb solo after leading the expedition for 4 clients to Stok Kangri.

Before the climb started, I was advised against my initial plan to bring a guide/ local person. In the end, I employed a donkey man to assist me with the route as all I had were photocopied versions of the map and also a suunto watch as my navigational tool. Even my indian sim card would not work since we were near the border of Tibet.

The climb began with my friend Zafrie and Lobsang who were going to drop me off at the start point on the 27th June 2014. From then, onwards, I would liaise with my donkeyman whom I only knew at Karma. And worst thing was it was only via Lobsang and him that the conversation took place. He spoke no English and I spoke no Ladakhi. What a way to start my 5 days of climb.

The first 4 hours, I spent waiting for him to arrive but sooner or later I found out that he could not have taken so long. I started backtracking along the road from where I came from and expected to see him moving along the road. No soul seen, just the wind and blue sheeps from a distance.

“What if this guy had taken all my belongings and just went away with my 500 rupees deposit?” I wondered.

“I better find this guy”, I ensured.

Just 20 minutes along walking along the road, I heard a man whistling and flagging his jacket in a distance. At once, I knew that this was Karma and the place where my friend Lobsang and him had tied down was wrong.

“This was gonna be an epic start to this climb” I thought.

When I met him, he bent over and told me that his chest was very painful and at once I thought he was going to have a heart attack. I gave him some water and food with whatever I had in my daypack.

Then we started trotting to our first campsite. The first camp site was at an altitude of 4700m at Scyuchuu campsite. It oversees the Tsomoriri Lake from the south and the only thing visible were local normadic sheep herders, an Indian military base and Korzok Town.

We camp for the first night with my one man tent, and cooked up a scrumptious meal of Indonesian Maggie noodles and black pepper duck. I also added Taiwanese quail eggs that my mom bought from Taiwan. My daily lunch was Clif Bars or Probars and my breakfast were simple cereal bars that were light and contained a lot of calories.

The next day, we ascended to about 5555m where we set up base camp and initially I have heard that there was a high camp which was possible to climb to for the ascent to summit. This ascent was about 800 metres, which was quite a lot for that altitude. However, I still felt very strong and had no problems acclimatizing to the altitude.

My plan was actually to ascend up to the summit from 5555m if the weather allowed. However, as I was ascending that day, the clouds seemed to loom over the summit and visibility started to deteriorate. This was a premonition that I really did not want to get.

Unfortunately, as I was preparing dinner that night, snow showered down on me and visibility became less than 10 metres. I was devastated. In my mind, I knew that either I wait out the snowstorm or if the weather did not get better, I would have to descend.

The next day, I awoke to a very still and cold morning. When I opened the tent, snow fell everywhere and I peeked my head out to see the conditions.

The conditions were horrendous. Deep snow everywhere and the summit which was there yesterday was nowhere in sight. So I decided that this was going to be the end of the second expedition and I would not be able to continue climbing with visibility down to 20 metres. Adding on, I would have to push to the summit solo and unassisted.

The climb ended with me walking for 5 hours from the Base Camp to the Town of Korzok, which would normally take two days. In the next few days, I made it back to Leh just in time for the Dalai Lama’s birthday and spent time recuperating for the last part of my journey in India.

Reaching the summit isn’t everything. You might have put in everything, but it is not worth your life or the many love ones that you leave behind if anything does happen.

A quote from Bear Grylls, “Mountaineering is 99% cautiousness and 1% recklessness.”

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