A journey into Tibet - Kailash Manasa Sarovar
1. A journey into Tibet - At Kathmandu
2. A journey into Tibet – Mountain flight
3. A journey into Tibet - Manakamana
4. A journey into Tibet - Kathmandu to Nyalam Mu
5. A journey into Tibet - Rest day at Nyalam Mu
6. A journey into Tibet - Nyalam Mu to Zhongba
7. A journey into Tibet - Zhongba to Manasa Sarovar
8. A journey into Tibet - Manasa Sarovar, Darchen and Ashtapad
9. A journey into Tibet – Kailash parikrama from Darchen to Derapuk
The second day
of the parikrama is toughest where we need to cross Dolma La at 18,600ft. Total
distance covered would be 22 km which normally takes 10-12 hours. Many people
do not proceed further from Derapuk and return back to Darchen due to the
arduous trek on day 2.
|Climb after Derapuk|
On the previous
night, I was trying in vain to sleep. I could hear something. It was my own
heart beat!! I could even hear the beating in my ears. Upon checking, I see
that it was above 100 beats per minute. A symptom of altitude sickness!! Panic
set in and I wondered what to do at that remote place where nothing is
available. The urge to shout for help was high on my minds.
|Trail on the second day|
Luckily my mind
worked in such conditions. I started to analyze rationally. Until now I had no
symptoms of altitude sickness. Everything
was perfect. I had walked with ease that day. There were absolutely no issues
till I went to sleep. This sudden increase in heart rate did not fit into
logical scheme of things. I slowly started to know the real reason behind this
abnormal heart rate.
|East face of Kailash at the far end|
If you surf internet,
you will see people providing scary information about Dolma La. Also, our guide
had mentioned few hours back about two Indians who died in Dolma La couple of
days ago. All this had made me to think only
about negative stuff during sleep resulting in increased heart rate. It was the
time for the positive mind to wake up and take control. I told to myself “If
you cannot climb tomorrow, nobody else will. Every year hundreds climb Dolma
La. It is not an impossible task”. And within few minutes I was relieved to see
my heart rate jumping back to normal. It’s all in the mind!! And a peaceful
|Rocky path starts towards Dolma La|
Sherpas wake us
up at 6AM. It was still dark, cold and windy. With shivering bodies, we quickly
finish our morning activities and prepare ourselves for the arduous journey. We
are served with hot Uppittu for breakfast which tasted great!!
|Trail is well maintained!!|
The trek starts
at 7:30AM. The sun was still coming up when we start walking. The weather was cloudy
and I hoped my five layers of cloth would be sufficient. The climb today is
harsh. No option for warm-up. The trail climbs up immediately after Derapuk.
|Dolma La (on the right side)|
It was not an
easy task. Slow walks with frequent but short rests should work. Unlike
previous day, I get tired quickly and have to gasp for breath. Walking at
16,000 ft is not a joke. Whenever I sit, porters would encourage me with “Dhire
dhire chalo”. Seem like it is the only hindi word they know!!
When I look
back, Derapuk is somewhere below. I feel happy and ask Sarangatu to show Dolma
La. He just tells “Very far”. I trudge along. The area is full of boulders but fortunately a
well laid path helps us a lot. I was relieved to see everyone having trouble
climbing up!! I see myself overtaking people again even with gradual walk. That
The weather was
cloudy but fortunately there was no rain or snow. While sunny weather would
make the climb difficult, rains or snow would make it dangerous. We were lucky
to have this weather. On the flip side, the east face of Kailash was not fully
visible. All that we could see was a huge glacier coming from the base of the
|East face of Kailash covered in clouds|
After about 2
hours of climb, we reach the base of Dolma La. The climb so far has been hard
but now it becomes tough. It is a steep climb to the top of the pass. At 17,000
feet, the demand for oxygen is more. Each step taken feels me heavy. The climb
turns difficult as we go up. Oxygen levels starts decreasing even further. I take ten steps and immediately stop for
rest. The progress is slow. I see the people on horse start to catch up. They
are all smiling and I do not like them. I feel that they are laughing at my
decision to walk!! “Beware, your tough time starts now”. I say to myself.
|Prayer flags on top of Dolma La|
It took me about
2 hours 40 minutes from Derapuk to the top of Dolma La pass. This was the
destination I had in my mind when I planned for this trip and I had achieved it.
The feeling simply cannot be said by words and only had to be experienced. For
me the trip was over!! The return journey (a long one) would start!! My porter
asks me to pray for some time and I promptly follow his advice.
As I mentioned
earlier, the tough time for the people on horses starts now. The climb down
from Dolma La is extremely steep (Almost vertical). It is too risky to sit on
horse at such places. They have to walk down for 3 km by themselves. It was
extremely tough for them. Lot of people needed assistance and I could see chaos
among people. The descent should be as quick as possible since staying at
18,000 feet for long cause serious problems.
People had problems
in Dolma La. Two people collapse on top of the pass due to drop in oxygen
levels. Sherpas immediately address them with oxygen cylinders. Fortunately,
they recover but had to be carried down by Sherpas. If not for Sherpas, I was
sure that there would be casualties. They just went up and down helping people.
|Feeling happy after crossing Dolma La|
Dolma La, we see a small lake. It is called as Gauri Kund and looks
spectacular. People consider its water as pure and collect them. Though the
lake looks very near, it is about 500 feet down. If you require water, Sherpas
or porters would bring it for some money.
Kund, we had to cross a small glacier. During July, that was the only point
where snow would be left.
Climb down is
hard on knees but not difficult. After one hour of climbing down, I reach the
valley below. There are some tea stalls where we can have some food. I was
hungry and had my lunch there.
|Path to Zutulpuk after Dolma La descent|
minutes of rest, the long journey to Zutulpuk started. The walk was mostly on
plains with slight descent next to a stream. But it seemed to be like eternity.
Climbing Dolma La was easier than this long plain stretch. A new problem made
my life difficult. Sherpas had carried drinking water from Nepal. Each day we
were provided with that water to drink. But during trek, they used the water
from the glaciers. I had no problems on day 1. But now, my body refused to take
that water (The boiled water from glacier had a strange taste which I did not
like). Dehydration started building up which
made me tired.
Finally at 2PM,
I reached Zutulpuk. I took bottled water from the only shop available there. It
was 3 times costlier than in Darchen. But I had no other option!!
I was the first
one to reach the camp. I had taken 6.5 hours which was much lesser than I
estimated. It was time to sleep. When I got up at 4PM, I see that people were
just trickling in. The last person arrived at 7:30PM!!
There is no
much activity to be done in Zutulpuk. Just eat and sleep.