Peek of a Peak: Kang Yatse 2

On our way from Thochungtse to Nimaling valley

After finalising on Kang Yatse 2, I had my travel arrangements in place and waited eagerly for Jul 12. I had stopped my cross fit training a couple of days before leaving to give my body the required rest before starting the expedition. Plus, I started experiencing lower back pain which would turn out to be a slipped disc case just after a month. Ignoring such rarest possibility emerging out of a lower back pain, I started visualising the summit day and my excitement to be on the top of the world. Having said that, I was also prepared for possibility of being barred from attempting the summit by the trek leader.

Clouds hovering over Kang Yatse
Unpredictable weather on the peak

On 22nd of July at around 12:15 AM, I could sense some bustle going on around the tent. I was unable to sleep due to anxiety over the summit chase we were attempting this night. Last afternoon, we could spot some trekkers coming down the glacier after their summit who looked so minuscule on this mighty creation of nature. I woke up Suresh and Siddharth and we packed our bags with crampons, ice axe, water and food. It was pitch dark and cold. Also, it was a lucky day for us as the weather was calm, both at the base camp and on the peak. Geared with a layer of breathable thermals, quick dry t-shirts and down jackets, we started climbing towards the glacier. I must say it was pretty steep. We couldn’t climb more than 15 steps at a time. The oxygen getting diminished gradually could be felt. After 3 hours of climb, we reached a point at around 5700m where actual glacier trek would begin. After adorning ourselves with harnesses, gaiters, crampons, helmets and ice axe, the guide called upon us to come one by one so that he could tie us by the rope. And then, we continued towards the silent dark.

All 8 of us were in-line secured by a rope. It was a good slope: some 45 degrees. We had to dig our crampon-ed feet in the snow to stay still. One step at a time without wasting much energy. Anyone barely spoke, except the guide. We just treaded through the way, in the dark. Dawn broke over the mountain at around 05:30. With slight light to guide our way, we could see the whitewashed arena. So sacred it felt! Not a single speck of dust, not a single change in colour: Just White! And what’s down there on right hand side? Vast emptiness. It was such a huge glacier! With this kind of slope, anyone would be afraid to slide down. After some 20 minutes of sluggish walking, I asked my friend to look right. He got equally horrified as I because what we were looking at was a whole mass of black cloud approaching us from a distance. I have never seen such a huge black vapour ball so close in my entire lifetime. ‘It must be normal‘, I convinced myself, as the guide was not bothered about it coming towards us like a storm.

Moving ahead, the light got stronger and the views got more astounding. Even though the atmosphere was harsh, the ultimate landscapes paid for it. The clouds disappeared for some time. It gave us a scope to greet other mountains surrounding Kang Yatse which were relatively smaller. The sole fact that no other mountain in my farthest sight was higher than the one I was standing on right then made me feel contended and proud. The patterns formed by the snow-topped Himalayas were breathtakingly fantastic. It seemed like the mountains had draped white rugs to beautify themselves. Some beautiful things come at a good cost and I am glad I paid that cost. (Don’t think in terms of money!)

Also READ: A nature trek at Bir, Himachal Pradesh

Time was an illusion there; so was space. When your mind and body both start playing games with you, you might not know how to react. That’s why rigorous physical and mental training is required. My body weight suddenly felt doubled to me. Each walking step was a mourning gut. Crampons can be blamed as equally as should be thanked. Without them, you are nowhere on a glacier. Wind gushed through us from all the directions. What we wore: The scientific layering of clothing, seemed useless suddenly. Never had I ever felt so dry from inside, constantly in a need of a sip of water which, given our task, was pretty much limited. Even to reach my water bottle strapped in my backpack, I couldn’t garner enough courage to remove the double-layered gloves. We were so exhausted that after every 4 steps, we would need a break. But no one is ever rich enough in terms of time when we do an expedition. There’s a turnaround time and there’s a protocol. Mountains should never be underestimated.

We were gaining height with every step. With every other climbing step, the air became thinner. To survive in this beautiful abode was a test of our ability and will. It’s also important in such conditions how supporting your partners are. Fortunately, I had great motivators in my gang. I remember when one of us at the end of the rope felt disgustingly frightened and was shouting at this height because one of our climbing guides, the only person behind him, took a short break to fix the rope, all of us energy-deprived guys motivated him till the guide returned. Anyone among us in his place would have got terrified. Loads of love for this group!

After some time, we encountered a steep slope to climb to save some time. It required strong use of ice axe. This half a kilogram tool could support more than five times my body weight if properly affixed by the pick. The quality of technical equipments and the expertise of guide matter a lot on the mountains. We encountered a minor crevasse on our way up the slope which we had to jump through by fixing our axe above the crevasse and bouncing our bodies with the push of our legs with full power to get to the other side. It was a daunting task at that altitude for us. Strength training came to help during this moment.

We kept climbing the mountain until we came to a small plain area. Well, it looked relatively plainer. Resting our backs on an elevated, tilted portion of a huge rock, we took out our food supplies. After 10 mins of breather, our guide called to continue. With huge spirits, we all got up on our metal feet. Our trembling legs just had some 200m left to climb for the summit. My breathing frequency had escalated to 5 times the normal. My limbs felt numb. My chest expanded and mouth wide open in search of oxygen. The two sides of the brain started debating with each other whether to continue or not. The side which suggested to continue won. But merely after 20m further, the other side reclaimed its victory. Yes, I stopped there. It seems like a difficult decision but believe me, at that altitude, in those conditions, it was so simple, so relieving! The others continued, apart from us two.

The trek was a much required experience. It officially started on 16th July after two initial days reserved for acclimatisation at Leh during which we strolled down the main roads and small streets of the city and had local cuisines serve our guts.

Chilling (3200m): some 55 km from Leh, served as our starting point as it does for some real good treks including Chadar trek. From Chilling, we had a small trek of around 3-4 hours towards Skiu (3400m). The terrain was monotonously barren on the first day. Skiu was relatively greener and had a river by the camp side. To our excitement, we spotted a double rainbow carving its way between the mountains and forming a canopy over the river. Day 2 showed us a long trek from Skiu to Markha (3700m). Markha valley is so beautiful that in the arid deserts of Ladakh, you cannot imagine such a green place. Thochungtse (4200m) was our next destination which again proved to be an exhausting trek of 7 hours. The locals we met on the way and the journey itself was so beautiful that all our exhaustion melted away. On day 4, we camped at Nimaling (4720m) which was a pretty exposed plain green area resting between Kongmaru-la on the left and Kang Yatse base camp towards the right. The last camping site would be the base camp at 5150m. From here, we could see our goal: KY2. The hide and seek between the clouds and the mountains didn’t allow us to get a clearer picture of Kang Yatse twin peaks till the next day. It looked beautiful and dreadful at the same time.

I would never say I would regret the decision to stop before the summit. The mountain will always be there and I can always come back provided I am alive, fit and fine. It is really important to know our limits and stop whenever required to. It is not about proving our mental fitness but it is about being wise in a calculated manner during such situations. You can map such situations to real life and see the results for yourselves.

This blog comes in relevance to one of my previous blogs on preparing for high altitude treks. Also, if you are planning to build up stamina and endurance, running is a great exercise. Visit my blog on running to know more.

How to start running

Running

I am sharing this small piece of worthy information in the form of tips, from a
running workshop I recently attended. The presenter was a CEO and co-founder of some XXX company (I am really bad with memorising skills). He has done many long runs and has real good titles in his name including 2nd place in the 24 hours continuous run (65 km).

Running helps not only the lower part of your body as many people assume, but it’s responsible for your complete body workout.

This is all I gathered:

For proper outputs:

  • Upper body training : Do regular push-ups and basic weight training.
  • Core/middle body workouts : Do planks, high planks, side planks to make your middle body strong.
  • Lower body training : Do squats, squat holds.

Breathing pattern and proper body form is equally important:

1. Exhale and inhale through your nose. Use mouth only when extremely necessary. Do some breathing exercises we have in Yoga like Anulom-Vilom, a few minutes of deep breathing when not working out, etc.
2. Keep your body straight all the way. Bend a little forward (about 5-10 deg) while you run. But keep your body straight.
3. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
4. The angle between your arm and your forearm should be maintained at around 90 degrees. Don’t close your fists. Let them be open.
5. Land with your foot below your knee. (Straight line)
6. Keep your chest expanded.
7. Don’t move your upper body left or right while running.

7-healthy-tips-for-proper-running
7 healthy tips for proper running

Food:

If you want to burn 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. If you want to do it in a week’s time, then you have to either burn 500 calories more than what you eat in a day or eat 500 calories less. Simple.

Initially, the body utilises/burns carbs, then it moves towards fats and then finally muscles get burned. You might have seen people, who run long in Marathons, have a slim-trim body. Before running, ensure that you give your food ample time to digest. Else you may feel cramps on the sides of your body while running. This is also called side stitch.

If you start your running early in the morning, you can go empty stomach. In case you feel like you need energy, go for a single banana. That too, about 30 minutes before starting. Not only food, water also needs to get properly digested/assimilated in your system. So don’t drink too much water before running. You can have sips of it in between while you run.

Running improves your muscle strength, joints and your cardiovascular endurance. Ensure that you eat enough carbs, fibre and proteins after workout.

Runner's diet
Runner’s diet

Rest is exercise:

Taking 7-9 hours of sleep is really important if you work out. Your body and mind will not respond properly if you don’t have enough rest.

Stretching is also an important part of relaxation. So before you go for running, do a proper warm up. Also, post running session, do some cool down exercises.

Injuries:

Injuries are part of any exercise. While you run, you may feel pain in your calf muscles. For this, massage your calves and do stretching exercise related to them post running. If the problem is with the shin muscles, it is comparatively grave. Shin muscles can pain in only two conditions:

  • You are running too fast.
  • You are running very much, too early. So keep it slow and steady.

Take it slow. Don’t rush up for a marathon just because other people are going for it. Know yourself. Keep long term goals with short term strategies. You can do this by
starting to go for really easy runs with very less speed to build stamina for a good course of time (may be 3-4 weeks).

Gradually increase your speed after the above goal is achieved. Prepare for a 5K run, then 10K run, etc.

Keep learning continuously. Google the facts or ask someone who is already running. Sharing is caring.

Common-Running-Symptoms
Common Running Symptoms

Additional points:

Keep your mind engaged instead of distracted while you do any exercise. So for example if you are doing squats, your mind should constantly focus on the hamstrings and lower body muscles in order to gain output from that exercise.

Do it regularly even if you can’t run what you could run yesterday. Keep yourself motivated by whatever reason you find. Keep fooling/bribing your mind. Keep yourself fit and fine to make your life more beautiful.

maintaining-healthy-lifestyle
Maintaining healthy lifestyle