Successfully summitted to Gokyo Ri (5361 m/17588 ft) at 6:20 AM today.

The route that I am going to cover early morning before starting for Dragnag.

And the route of Dragnag was some thing like :

The night before, a couple of team members decided to give Gokyo ri summit a pass. They wanted to conserve all their energy. ( Dude? Energy is always conserved. No?) for EBC. Besides, crossing the Chola pass, the next day too was in their mind.

Hence it was Me, Naveen, Pawan, Prakash and Raj who signed up for the Gokyo summit. We gathered in the teahouse dining room at 3:30. Naveen, being the experienced climber, has already briefed me not to climb in haste. We have to maintain a steady pace, without running out of breath. After quick briefing, we started our climb at around 3:45 in the morning. It was pitch dark when we started. We had to cross a small river by stepping on the round, wet stones scattered throughout the water.

After about an hour and a half of climb, the sky was beginning to lighten and we could see the outline of the mountains behind us and more of the path in front of us. You expect to see the Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and others,  right behind you.

It was just around two hours, but it felt like we have been walking since ages. Climbing to Gokyo Ri is strenuous as it is steep up. And there were more to go.

View on way was amazing despite it being clouded in the valley and up.

Soon the hard work paid. Making it one of the unforgettable day of my life. Cloud opened up briefly for few minutes giving us a good view of Cho Oyu.

Beyond Cloud 9!
With Cho you in the backdrop, who won’t be pumped up after making a successful climb.
Naveen carried his TrekNomads banner.

And we started our descent and soon reached the guest house, to join the team for breakfast and left for Dragnag, with one final look at Gokyo lake.

As we crossed the first hillock, we see huge Ngozumba Glacier. It flows down from Cho Oyu and is the longest glacier in the Himalayas. The terrain is such that one has to be very careful while moving ahead, or they fear the risk of sliding down or twisting the ankle.

It is incredibly unstable, just rock and sediment that is ever changing as the glacier moves slowly along. Stones tumbled down as we walked and Naveen had just one instruction for us : Just get off, of it and onto the “safety” at other side of the glacier ASAP. All it would take is for one decent sized rock to dislodge and come tumbling down and it would all be over.

The terrain of the glacier was like walking through a giant gravel pit, and at times we felt like we are along with Vikram lander walking on the surface of the moon. Hills of grey rock and gravel stretched out all around us, carved up and crushed by the glacier. At times grey dust on which we walked was so fine that it was like talc, or “moon dust”. Nevertheless, the view of this walk was definitely panoramic.

This walk crossing Ngozumpa glacier is around three to hours of steady and careful walk.

Once you cross the glacier, you get flat walk with boulders in between upto Dragnag.

As we relax after our lunch, I look back at the day I can sense a mixed feeling of pride of achievement, relief at the effort, a strong feeling of immense privilege to have been permitted to pass among the giants of Nature unhindered; and to have a small inkling, finally, of why people climb mountains.

And that made me remember following lines from movie Zindagi na Milegi Dobaara, lyricist, Javed Akhtar

दिलों में तुम अपनी बेताबियाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम
नज़र में ख्वाबों की बिजलियाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम
हवा के झोकों के जैसे आज़ाद रहना सीखो
तुम एक दरिया के जैसे लहरों में बहना सीखो
हर एक लम्हे से तुम मिलो खोले अपनी बाहें
हर एक पल एक नया समा देखे यह निगाहें
जो अपनी आँखों में हैरानीयाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम
दिलों में तुम अपनी बेताबियाँ लेके चल रहे हो, तो ज़िंदा हो तुम!

  Prologue-EBC | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 – Gokyo lakes | 6 – Gokyo ri Summit | 7 – Chola pass | 8 | 9 – Kalapatthar/EBC | 10 | Epilogue-EBC