1st July : We finally reached base camp. It was a short though arduous trek from Hunkar. We were steadily gaining altitude. Although “mah boyz” had found a rhythm for walking and breathing, they each had to struggle with their own altitude demons as we gained height and the breathing became more laboured and the ruck sacks became heavier. I, on the other hand, have never suffered from the ills of altitude. Never.
(Our resting spot atop a small col)
(….and from this spot a second view of Kang Yatze)
As we walked into the valley below Kang Yatze, the lassitude and head aches gripped the youngsters. I felt almost guilty for not having the same sufferances. I wanted to quietly disappear without being noticed because I was feeling so fit and it felt like I was thumbing my nose or insulting that vastness for not going through the same rites de passage of acclimatization!
(The lotus eaters gripped by lassitude)
Getting to base camp was like successfully completing the first hurdle on the expedition. We could now concentrate on climbing the mountain. Through the night I heard the distant menacing avalanches coming off the face of Kang Yatze I. Our own Kang Yatze II though less technical was almost too vast and insurmountable. With these thoughts rushing through my head, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to concentrate only on the “here and now” and get back to the Yogic way of being!
Sleep at high altitude becomes a rear and precious commodity. Dreams are vivid. If there is one fall out from altitude that I suffer, then it is perhaps this rather odd sleep pattern. It is never a deep sleep. Always shallow.
(Base Camp. Kang Yatze II on the right with the ridge joining it to Kang Yatze I to the left. Almost 2,000 ft of morraine in the foreground that makes up the shoulder of the mountain.)
If there was a way of slowing down any further then it was at base camp. All the political and geographical catastrophes seemed to belong to another planet. Not part of this arid piece of magnificent Ladakh. Getting to the summit of Kang Yatze seemed like a much more important and worthwhile goal for our time than constantly worrying about the Nation. This goal seemed much more attainable than trying to understand the opinions of even friends who’s politics seemed threatening to peace and harmony of the social fabric of the Nation. This dry vastness seemed like the safe cocoon that I didn’t care to leave.