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Thread: Extreme Exclusive Wild, Wild North Sikkim--A Himalaya to Bay of Bengal journey > North Sikkim

  1. #16
    Gurudongmar Lake - Part 1

    Gurudongmar Lake (also known as Gurudogmar Lake) is one of the highest lakes in the world located at an altitude of 17,100 feet (5,148 m). It lies on the North side of the Khangchengyao Range in a high plateau area contiguous to the Tibetan Plateau. The stream emerging from the lake is one of the source-streams of the Tista River.

    The lake is named after Padmasambhava, the Indian tantric Buddhist who conducted rituals here. It is said that this is why, even at the height of winter, one portion of the lake never freezes. Guru Nanak, also known as Nanak Lama, who was a devotee of Padmasambhava, visited many of the places where Padmasambhava prayed at, including this lake in North Sikkim.

    It is located close to the Indo-China Border in the province of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India.

    The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months from November to Mid-May except for one small part of the lake which is supposed to be touched and blessed by the Guru Padmasambhava.

    The lake is highly revered by the Sikkimese and Buddhists and the waters are supposed to have curative properties. The Indian Army got into a conflict with the Sikkim Government when they erected a gurdwara (a Sikh temple) near the lake in the 1990s : the gurdwara has now become a 'Sarva Dharma Sthal'(House of worship for All Religions), and ruffled feathers have been smoothened.

    Due to the extremely inhospitable terrain and the difficulties associated with reaching the place, the lake sees only a handful of visitors each year. Access is strictly controlled at the Army checkpost at Giagong. Due to the altitude, there is a scarcity of oxygen. Visitors are advised to acclimatise overnight at Lachen, carry medicines like Coca 10, Deryphyllin etc., and to descend quickly in case of acute or persistent discomfort. Over-excitement and loud, stressful talking should be avoided.
    At the Lake







    And the first view of the Lake



    Local Sikkimese pile up stones per Buddhist tradition.





    And look at the hillock at the backside - local people tells like after 12 o clock winds so strong starts blowing that stones actually starts flying around - and really the winds do pick up at noon as we later find out - its like a switch - everything changes after noon.



    More pics of the Lake
    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_5_T33yE283E/TE...Sikkim6400.jpg






    contd..

  2. #17
    Gurudongmar Lake - Part 1

    Gurudongmar Lake (also known as Gurudogmar Lake) is one of the highest lakes in the world located at an altitude of 17,100 feet (5,148 m). It lies on the North side of the Khangchengyao Range in a high plateau area contiguous to the Tibetan Plateau. The stream emerging from the lake is one of the source-streams of the Tista River.

    The lake is named after Padmasambhava, the Indian tantric Buddhist who conducted rituals here. It is said that this is why, even at the height of winter, one portion of the lake never freezes. Guru Nanak, also known as Nanak Lama, who was a devotee of Padmasambhava, visited many of the places where Padmasambhava prayed at, including this lake in North Sikkim.

    It is located close to the Indo-China Border in the province of North Sikkim, Sikkim, India.

    The lake remains completely frozen in the winter months from November to Mid-May except for one small part of the lake which is supposed to be touched and blessed by the Guru Padmasambhava.

    The lake is highly revered by the Sikkimese and Buddhists and the waters are supposed to have curative properties. The Indian Army got into a conflict with the Sikkim Government when they erected a gurdwara (a Sikh temple) near the lake in the 1990s : the gurdwara has now become a 'Sarva Dharma Sthal'(House of worship for All Religions), and ruffled feathers have been smoothened.

    Due to the extremely inhospitable terrain and the difficulties associated with reaching the place, the lake sees only a handful of visitors each year. Access is strictly controlled at the Army checkpost at Giagong. Due to the altitude, there is a scarcity of oxygen. Visitors are advised to acclimatise overnight at Lachen, carry medicines like Coca 10, Deryphyllin etc., and to descend quickly in case of acute or persistent discomfort. Over-excitement and loud, stressful talking should be avoided.
    At the Lake







    And the first view of the Lake



    Local Sikkimese pile up stones per Buddhist tradition.





    And look at the hillock at the backside - local people tells like after 12 o clock winds so strong starts blowing that stones actually starts flying around - and really the winds do pick up at noon as we later find out - its like a switch - everything changes after noon.



    More pics of the Lake







    contd..

  3. #18
    Gurudongmar Lake - Part 2

    A walk along the edge of the Lake




    to close to the base of the Lake - each and every step in ultra-low O2 a big tiring effort











    And now we both start to have some mild headaches and uneasiness and the child some drowsiness - there is no question of acclatimization at 18k height, after a ascent of 9k feet in 5 hrs. We spend around 2 hours over here at the Lake, much more than one should at such heights.




    And the weather starts to fog up as noon approaches, the already fast winds are now faster - it is leaving time for whosoever is still out there. And we leave with only those Army guys still around - they will also leave soon, no one stays out here.










    contd...

  4. #19
    Returning from Gurudongmar Lake and entering Chopta Valley

    Some return journey pics of Safari VTT










    And we cross the mine fields again on the way back



    The dirt and mud







    Weather was taking a bad turn





    And we thought, after all we have come so far and no visit to Chopta - asked the Army checkpost before at Thangu and they say that no one lives out there - just empty barracks and a day patrol goes over there and returns by noon time. And as we found out it is not tourist route and the few who go, dont go after 12 - we are heading out at around 2 pm with both having a growing headache though the child is okay and absolutely alert.

    contd...

  5. #20
    Chopta Valley @ 14,000 feet

    This is what we knew from the net and enticed us to go, though not at the appropriate time of the day


    The virgin Chopta Valley is located at an altitude of 13,200 ft in the Northern district of Sikkim and is virtually uninhabited apart from the seasonal nomads. As one of the very few accessible places in India, Chopta Valley can be visited from Magan through Thangu in about 45 minutes. Isolated from the rest of the state by lofty mountains, meandering rivers, unspoiled verdant forests and breathtaking scenic beauty, Chopta Valley is an unusual tourist attraction with its unique orchids, rhododendron forests and high altitude alpine vegetation. During the summer months, flowers cover the whole valley in multiple hues, vast green pastures, waterfalls and flowing rivers make it a beautiful place to visit. While in winters, most of the rivers freeze and the nomads return to lower areas with their yaks. The amazing bio diversity, scenic locations and pristine natural beauty coupled with a unique flora and fauna have made Chopta valley feature on the travel map

    And this is what was also on the net and describes prefectly Chopta Valley what it was that day


    One road that goes leftwards from here to reach the mysterious, haunted looking CHOPTA VALLEY, known for its bone-chilling winds
    The narrow trail was broken and this is the good part, other parts are all stones coming down from the hills - a very much landslide prone area which is frequently blocked.





    And the motorable trail ends and is a dead end around Kalapathar at 14500 ft. For extreme treckers the foot track starts here for the punishing trek - Thangu-Muguthang-Chorten-Nyimala-GreenLake trek climbing steep at heights at 19-20k feet.



    Chopta Valley









    Deep inside Chopta, we see this - absolutely surreal, enchanting and what not. I was mesmerized and with the AMS-induced headache now quite nagging and bothering, I stood there watching this for a next couple of minutes - a waterfall frozen in the middle!!! First time I am seeing such a thing and its mind twisting at those heights.






    Dont know what but all the signs out here was like - GET OUT NOW!! But the raw beauty, the black ice mountains, the fast approaching distant fog, the slow snow rain, the AMS headache all had an effect. We do not turn back and decide to go as much further up to Kalapathar as possible. However, it was all snow merging the road and ground and the edges of the road was not visible, and the snow-covered road becomes quite steep too. Had a hell of time backing so not to go into the rut - stuck overnight here and be the frozen tuna with killer AMS headache over here.






    We are around 45 minutes now in Chopta Valley. Again both stop and watch that frozen waterfall, but then suddenly the light hail starts to fall. I look back and see a sight thats still etched in my mind. A front of fog with hazy black mountain background is just about 100 mtrs or so behind. It was amazing but sinister. Jump quickly inside, full wipers, and 60 kph on that narrow trail over rocks. It was dash of a lifetime and came at that intersection and what a relief as we reached Thangu - cant explain enough!!! The headache quite bad for wife and me moderate - Aftereffects of AMS was on full swing.
    Just one photo of the approaching ice storm and then all hands on the steering.



    We return back to lodge at Lachen around evening, tired and exhausted but amazingly the child is as fresh as he was before - for us a bit too much of adventure even by my standard, but all okay after very early good night sleep - next day all head pains gone and now off to Lachung[8.5k ft], our base for Yumthang and Katao at 14kfeet.



    Also, while going back from Gurudongmar saw this spectacle. A avalanche of snow, ice, and mud water going down the slopes, just broken from some barrier high above and rolling down at great speed - another amazing sight.






    During our Lahaul-Spiti travel, we had a max height of around 14.5K at Kunzum Pass and the most important it was a gradual climb from the Chitkul side. Moreover at Yumthang at 14k, none of the problems happened though over there we climbed around 6 k in 2 hrs. What I found out is that there is a whole lot of difference between 14k height and 18k height - after 15k every altitude rise counts.

    If we draw an analogy like, it was like climbing from Manali [here Chungthang] to Khardungla[here Gurudongmar] in 4-5 hrs. Everyone gets hit by AMS, saw a couple of tourists real bad lying in the sumo backseats.

    At 17-18k ft the body does not acclamatize and what made it worse was the very rapid ascent. The Chopta valley or Yumthang at 14k did not bring on the AMS. The AMS was brought on at Gurudongmar, we spent 2 hrs over there where normally the other few tourists that went was there for a max of 30-40 mts, just like they say in Khardung La - dont spend more than 30 mts. The AMS does not hit you like immediately, it brings on a nagging headache slowly and then rapidly. So the Chopta valley symptoms are actually that of what the body went through at Gurudongmar.

    The outside temp afternoon time was around 3-4 C with high winds, but heater was not put on and was not needed, with all windows rolled up the Safari gave enough comfort plus we had the woolen sweaters and jacket on.

    If it was night time surely the heater would have been needed, but then whatever be the vehicle, it will be punishment if someone gets stuck over there.

    contd...

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