Reaching HMI Basecamp – Dzongri Trek Route – BMC (Part 2)

This is in continuation with my previous blog of BMC. If you have missed do read this first – Part 1. So on the next day we had breakfast at HMI and then we boarded our Tata Sumo vehicles to get to Yuksom which is the base camp of our trek. We were singing in the vehicle in excitement of trekking and the beautiful scenery outside – Video.

We reached there around 1.15pm and we had to pitch 4 big tents of 10 occupancy for us 35 girls to stay for the night – Video.

Pitstop on the way to Yuksom

Not to mention our natural phenomenon – menstrual cycle which was acting very weird in the mountains. I got my period on the day we travelled to Yuksom for which I was very very grateful as in the past 8 days it is the only day we did not have to trek for many kms and just travelled in a bus. But also was very scared for the days to come where there would be NO water in the camps as in mountains it is always a dry toilet. I always use menstrual cup but using that meant to wash it in between uses. I had been to treks before on my periods like KGL, Chandrashila but the difficulty involved here was next level. I somehow managed my hygiene here with drinking water given to us.

Tip for girls – Use menstrual cup as it is more convienient for treks – instead of carrying n number of pads you just have to carry a small cup. You can clean it with drinking water which you will get on any trek. Carry panty liners and reduce the number of undergarments – it’s a lifesaver. Carry tablets for stomach pain only for emergency. Carry Electrolytes.

Day 9 – Next morning 5.30am we woke up – 6am had breakfast, took packed lunch in our mess tin and by 6.30am we were moving towards Camp 1 – Tshoka. On the way we had to cross 4 rope bridges and they were just so beautiful for 2 facts.

1 – Rope bridges are so unique in the North-East and Nepal region and they give such an accomplishing feeling when we are crossing them and seeing the water flow across below.

2- Crossing each bridge means we were getting closer to our camp 😛

See the bridge crossing video here.

We entered Kanchenjunga National Park after the first bridge.

The hard part about this trek was we had to cover 14kms in an ascending gradient, but near the bridges it was like we had to get down the steep slope to get to the bridge and then again climb up the same steep slope again – all this with our 18kg (approx) rucksack. But also it was so motivating to see all us girls do this with so much interest and not even one complained 🙂 During trek it’s an unsaid rule to not ask how long to go – that will put an unsaid pressure on your mind that “Oh still so much to go, I’m already tired now”. It’s better not to think about it and go on matching your steps with your breathing so that you will enjoy the view and also stay in the present much.

Halfway near a stream we had our packed lunches, filled our water bottles and started again. For me the savior was 2-3 candies which the instructors used to give at the beginning of the trek daily and then I had my Mentos pack with me which I used to pop in whenever I felt tired. It helped me in keeping hydrated as well and taking some tension off. We reached Bakhim around 3pm – a place to rest, have tea/maggi and also this used to be the previous Camp 1 of HMI. During an earthquake in the recent years and some haunted stories – the camp here got dilapidated. So we had to move to Tshoka which was 4kms from here and also a never ending steep ascent. We went on and on nonstop and finally reached our campsite at 4.45pm just before dark – we were the 2nd batch who reached.

View from Bakhim break point

There was a wooden house with 4 rooms and a big hall for us all to sleep in. Since by the time we came all the rooms 1-2 people had already reserved for their friends, we 4 took the hall and bundled up inside our sleeping bags after dinner – it was not so cold here but was more than Yuksom. This day we all were feeling so tired, but our awesome instructor Sulu ma’am came and put all trending songs on her phone and we all danced our hearts out it was so amazing – even we started feeling less cold – video here.

Tshoka campsite video here.

Day 10 – Next day was our Acclimatization walk upto 11,000ft and kind of a rest day. The “walk” was very steep with nonstop wooden steps but it was very scenic – hence we did not feel that tired as we also did not have our rucksacks. We reached the point in about 1.5-2 hours and here we were made to split into our ropes and have a conversation with our rope instructor and also were given few tips – addressing our problems if any, as such. Then we reached to Tshoka for lunch and the rest of the day was very chill. At Tshoka and Yuksom we were again given an option to keep anything from our rucksack we would not need above – to make our backpack as light as possible and not carry any unnecessary things.

Acclimitization walk at Tshoka

Day 11 – Today we had to move from Tshoka to Dzongri which is a total distance of 10kms and the time taken is around 6-8 hours depending on the speed (and the weight of your bag :P). So we started early morning around 7am after having our breakfast and moved on crossing our acclimatization point of the day before, halfway we reached a place where they were selling momos – some people had food, tea and a short break before proceeding forward. The climb here on was even more steep with us having to catch our breath every 5mins – still motivating each other on the path.

We were all naturally split up because of our speeds and each of us could only see 1 girl further top and 1 further below from us. It was all left to our minds to be strong and motivate ourselves to reach the camp despite the shooting shoulder pain of the bag. Many of us girls were on our periods as well making it even more tiring for us and difficult.

From the day we started our trek I always mixed electrolyte in water and it really helped. This is the one I found recently in KGL from my friend and using it since – Enerzal.

As we were nearing Dzongri it was getting colder and we were dead tired. We reached around 2.30pm and we were famished. Here we ate our packed lunch and also some momos, tea which they were selling there. The dry toilets here were worst – we preferred to wait for the dark and go out in the open instead.

We also had to go for acclimitization walk to Dzongri top today to view the sunset but some girls reached around 4-5pm hence we had to go only halfway since everyone were tired – but we did get to see some amazing views from here. Instructors told that this campsite is even more cold than our basecamp itself because of its open location – we had our layers on and slept in a wooden house that night – all cramped next to each other.

Day 12 – Trek from Dzongri to Base camp at Chowrikhang via Dzongri La. Today was the toughest day of all – because of the long path approx 14kms involving steep ascend to reach Dzongri La pass and then having to descend all of that, crossing river bridge and from there continuous ascent of about 2 hours till the base camp.

We started from Dzongri at 7am with gradual ascent and descent, until we trekked upto Dzongri La pass at a height of 13,670ft. And Oh my God it was so so windy that day, upon that I was crossing the very narrow pass just enough for one person to pass through, and because of the wind even my rucksack was wavering. We were split up as always and we had to tackle this individually. Before taking 2 steps also we were pausing as there was heavy sudden gush of wind coming onto us – added to this was the sand hitting our faces. Somehow we crossed this and then had to trek on a narrow ridge with gradual descent for about an hour till we reached a river bridge to cross – Bhikbari. Here we had our tea break with the sherpas giving us hot tea and Parle G biscuits, we also had packed some eggs from morning breakfast which we ate as it was still considerable distance to go.

Before the pass the region belongs to Oklathong valley and after we cross it’s all Rathong valley. After this the trek was getting difficult even though the trail was a gradual ascent – all because of the altitude. We had already crossed 13,000ft because of which we had to stop after every few steps to breathe. It took us more than 2 hours to reach the base-camp and on the way me and 2-3 girls were together and Tashi Sherpa helped us motivate so much. Each part either these Sherpa’s or the instructors had an eye on us and motivated us on every step.

Finally with much difficulty some of us reached around late noon and in about 30mins it was to get dark, still more than 15 girls were left to arrive. We had our lunch immediately as there was no energy left in us. And then saw the instructors and Sherpa’s helping the girls in the last by reducing their bag load aka carrying it themselves and everyone finally reached base-camp.

Chowrikhang the name means “Grazing place of Yaks” and we saw 1-2 Yaks over here for the first time which was great. Situated at an height of 14,600ft we get panoramic views of Mt.Renok, Frey, Kabru Range, Rathong and other nearby peaks.

Coming 12 days were to be the toughest where we have to trek to Glacier for rigorous training and stay in the cold sub zero temperatures learning the practicalities of mountaineering. Here the sun rises very early and sets very early as this is the North Eastern part of India. Hence our schedule also starts at 4.30-5am and we wind up training by 6pm sleeping by 7.30pm.

Training life at Basecamp and the final part 3 of blog – read here

Do let me know if you have any queries, suggestions, or if you liked the blog in comments section!

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