Most Inspirational Moment
The most inspirational moment of the trek for me was the realisation that I had got to the top of Konga Ri. I’d had a few days of self doubt and I’d found the climb in deep snow tough. But when I got to the top of the mountain, dropped my pack and just took in the incredible panorama of Beautiful snow capped mountains, none of that mattered. I think the slice of cherry cake Tamchos, our guide, gave me at that point may have helped as well.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Valerie, our group leader, was more than a match for anything the mountains could throw at us. She was able to adjust the route and camp sites to deal with the delays caused by weather and still keep us on track. Her knowledge and experience came across in her confidence, which in turn gave us the confidence that we would complete the trek. Our group provided her with some challenges of her own, but they were all dealt with professionally and without fuss or drama. I certainly benefited from her advice and encouragement. And she has some great after dinner stories that made our experiences pale into insignificance!
Advice for Potential Travellers
The internal flight and trek weight limits mean you have to be ruthless with your packing. If I was going back this time next year I wouldn’t take a heavy down jacket (which I didn’t use) but instead I’d use a midweight one and several fleece and base layers. The river crossings are inevitable and cold and you need to wear some kind of protection for your feet as the riverbed can be sharp and uneven. I took cheap crocs but as there was walking between crossings and it wasn’t practical to keep changing back and forth, I would take a cheap pair of walking sandals next time (as did most of the rest of my group). I ended up walking in my light fabric boots, which was fine, but they took a full day of sunshine to dry out. If, like me, your previous treks have been the likes of Everest Base Camp and/or Kilimanjaro, know that this is physically and mentally much more challenging. I found it hard to accept that although we were climbing passes between 4800m and 5300m most mornings, we would descend again to camp much lower, losing the hard gained altitude. It’s the nature of the terrain and its good acclimatisation but it might sap mental stamina as well as energy. A good group dynamic helped me.
This is a fantastic adventure, full of hard challenges and amazing rewards. Leh and its surroundings offer an amazing cultural centre worth exploring. Once in the mountains, for every icy river crossing, there was a Lammergeier Vulture or Golden Eagle. For every muddy path there was a stunning landscape of rugged mountains and for every rainy day there was laughter in the mess tent. If you have doubts after reading my review, perhaps it’s not for you. But if it has fired you up, then sign up. I might see you in the next group!