Mount Kailash – Toughest day of Trek
Thank you for being part of my Kailash Mansarovar journey so far. Before I pen down my further Mount Kailash Kora trek here is the link of my first day of the parikrama of Mount Kailash, in case you haven’t read. This time I am going to write my experience of the second day of outer kora of Mount Kailash to reach the abode of Lord Shiva. This day was full of adventure and peace. Looks strange? Please read the post till the end.
5th June, 2018 (Derapuk)
After tiring day, we had a good night sleep till some Sherpas came in and woke us up at around 6.00 AM to witness the Golden Kailash. It’s the term given go Mount Kailash because of the golden color it gets when early morning sun rays fall on it. When Sherpa woke me, I was in half sleep and confused too. But, when I heard one of the Sherpa saying, “It’s time to see Golden Kailash”, I was up immediately. Put on my jacket and shoes and just marched out of the room to witness the golden Kailash. Within a few minutes, everybody was out of the rooms and facing Kailash to witness that breathtaking view. I couldn’t take my eyes off even for a second. It looked heavenly and more than a dream coming true. Things you have read about, you are actually witnessing it. Can’t be better than this.
Sleeping peacefully at the foot of your Lord and then wake up to see the gorgeous face of him had filled my heart. We freshened up and had our breakfast. They used to serve cornflakes/muesli for breakfast and a packet of lunch. Before leaving for trek, few sherpas came to check everyone’s oxygen level. I remember my oxygen level was above 70%. Since this place was at the highest level to spend the night during the entire trip. Many fell sick and decided to return to Darchen. We pushed Jyothi and Sudhakar to complete kora with us, they gathered courage and came. But Rupa and I were determined to complete our journey. We just chanted “Om Namah Shivaay” and got ready for our trek. This was the toughest and longest day of the trip, where we were unsure about the weather at that altitude. So, it is better to leave as early as we could. A lot of people from my dormitory decided to call off the trip and wished me good luck for my journey to complete the kora. Krishnee aunty hugged me and said, “My dear, I know you will do it”. Sometimes it gives you a good amount of confidence when you see others believe in you. Didn’t had a word to reply so I just smiled, looked in her eyes and told myself, “I WILL DO IT” and left.
Finally, We are on the second day of the trek which is the toughest day of the journey. The total length of the trek was 25 km starting from 16000 ft at Derapuk to cross 19500 ft at Dolma La, which will end at Zuthulpuk. This day is known for taking the lives of dozens of people every year. No matter how will be the situations, I am going ahead. That’s the only thought I was carrying.
We started our trek in the early morning with chilling wind. I was shivering a lot, then I covered the face and wore gloves. Rupa, on the other hand, started having tickling sensation due to the side effects of Diamox. Jyothi and Sudhakar were also coming along managing cold breeze of early morning. Initially, we had to hike on the mountains, which were hidden from the sun, so it was too cold. I felt like my jacket of -10 degrees was not enough.
After a walk of 500 meters, it became steep. I saw a lot of zig-zags where people were going by horses. So I asked Sherpas to take shortcuts. After attempting the first shortcut, I got the idea of how difficult it would be going ahead. On such kind of treks, you have to have a good grip over pebbles and rocks. The sherpas were checking our oxygen level and were continuously asking if we have a headache or any problem. The sherpa who was carrying my bag felt sick due to altitude. He handed over my bag to another porter and went down.
Saw a small shop, which was the last point for one to opt for Pony charging 600 Yuan till Dolma La pass (19500), which is the highest point of the trek. A lot of people faced breathing problem. So Jyothi, Sudhakar and Dato Ji opted for the pony and moved ahead of us. This was the point which separates route of outer Kora and inner kora which points towards the northeast face of Kailash.
Shiva lost in meditation
After 2 hours, we were at some decent height, where we could see magical and mystic Kailash very clearly. The moon was on top of Kailash resembling “Chandrashekhar” form of Shiva. I am a big moon watcher, but that time it was not just a moon, it was holding an important significance to me. In between all big rocky mountains, there stands snow-covered Mount Kailash as Shiva lost in meditation from ages.
It felt like clouds are coming, doing prostration to Kailash and going away. The heavenly view leaves one in silence within. No words can describe the incredible beauty around Kailash. Even Vedas and Puranas have failed to praise it. Now there was no doubt in my heart that we were on the land of Gods.
Way to DOLMA LA -19500 ft – the highest point
Going ahead, the trail became more challenging. All we could see were big rocky stones and we had to trek for several hours till we reach up to Dolma La. With every step up, the oxygen level went down and pulse rate went up. I used to eat nuts/ candies and a sip of water. The only rule while trekking is to stay hydrated and keep walking. Our porter used to point to Dolma La from distance. He said you have to reach where you can see a lot of flags and I said I am seeing flags all the way. Whenever I used to rest, I used to look around. The mighty Kailash, all big mountains, colorful prayer flags fluttering all the way and a lot more. Tibetans carry these huge flags from Darchen to tie and make some wish. People from four religions come here leaving all comforts behind and do a tough pilgrimage.
A journey of Soul, not body
There was a time I felt extremely light and free. It was like I have left everything behind, free from my identity, free from all thoughts, free from all pain even. Just kept going where my heart was only beating for my Lord. My pulse rate was too high and oxygen in the body was low which I could feel. The trail was in real sense breathtaking. I just looked at the Mount Kailash which gave me enough energy to keep moving my feet. I was chanting Om Namah Shivaay, that day I got to know the power of this mantra. All the time I had Shambhoo with me holding my hand. One has to go through a lot of transitions between metaphysical energies which surrounds you all time. Sometimes, the trail looks easy, then difficult and then again easy. Our mind is not used to such kind of strange environment. So, its more about the mental than the physical strength I believe. It’s the journey of the soul, not the body. More I was going ahead more I gained calmness and peace within the mind.
Reached Dolma La
Dolma refers to goddess “Taradevi” and the huge boulder is believed to be the sacred seat of the goddess and is revered by people of Tibbet. The place is beautifully decorated with arrays of prayer flags which looked not less than heaven. The moment we reached on top above 19500 ft, we hugged each other first and then spent some time there sitting with local Tibetans. Finally, we were at the place where reaching up took a few hours which felt like ages :). That time I was not having the feeling of conquering a mountain but I conquered myself in another way. You speak, you share joy but you become absolutely still and silent within yourself. The immensity of the place and faith of people speaks so much but can’t be expressed in words.
Immediately after crossing Dolma La, we saw Gauri Kund, where it is believed that Goddess Parvati comes here for bath. The frozen water of Gaurikund looked like sapphire jeweled in the white snow. The trail was extremely difficult to reach Gaurikund, so I did not dare to go down. We asked our porter Subhash to get water from Gaurikund. We saw him going down and climbing up as if he got some wings. Sherpas are the real heroes on mountains and without them, many people would not be able to complete their journey.
Mount Kailash’s East face
After Dolma La, the trail only descends for few km which is very steep. I fell 3-4 times where Subhash laughed at me and said climbing up looks easier for Shruti compared to getting down. We crossed 2 mountains going down, a patch of a mesmerizing glacier and after that, we had to hike on flat for 12-13 km. More I was trekking, more I fell in love with the place. We trekked for a few km and took a halt at a restaurant. We could imagine how difficult it is to run the restaurant in extreme climatic conditions. After this spot, we were hiking in a beautiful valley along with a water stream on our left.
On our right-hand side, we saw Kailash’s east face with extended snow clad mountains looked like Shiva’s hands. You only get to see a small portion of Kailash’s east face in outer kora. Where inner kora takes you closer to the east face. So on the second day, you will get to see mighty Kailash’s north face 80% of the time. While descending, many at times Kailash is hidden so you can not see, but East face gets visible once you start moving on flat.
Zuthulpuk, stay in Monastery
I was drained out of energy and I got shoe bites on feet due to sweat and dust. So, at times it became difficult to walk but somehow I managed as there was no option. The magnificent view of the place kept me walking just to see what is coming next. Finally, we reached to the monastery in Zuthulpuk where we were supposed to stay. Everyone welcomed Rupa and me praising our efforts and dedication doing the journey on foot as almost everybody took horse. I took off my shoes and by that time my feet were in bad condition. I kept it open and lied on the bed. We got soup and popcorn followed by Khichdi in dinner. That was our last night together in Tibet, so we were chilling out cracking jokes and still, I don’t know when we slept talking to each other.
That day will always be memorable to me and I could still feel the same breathlessness while writing this article. That day gave me my life’s best adventurous experience. More than this, I had the highest level of satisfaction and calmness in my heart. Plus, the feeling of oneness with Shiva was truly a blessing by Lord.
Stay updated for the next day of the trek, driving on the amazing roads of Tibet and coming back to Nepal.
Have look at my picture gallery-
Special thanks to our porter Subhash for not only carrying the load but also for motivating us all the time. We talked to him like you do with a friend. Even almost all the pictures are clicked by him on the second day.
Follow the posts in sequence if you have not gone through
- Planning and preparation for the trip to Mount Kailash.
- Arrival in Kathmandu and visit to Pashupatinath as the start of the journey.
- Trips within the trip – Days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot.
- Survival in no man’s land between Nepal and China
- Arrival at Mansarovar lake- first mystic experience.
- Complete information about Mansarovar, my experience of parikrama and dip in holy Mansarovar lake.
- First day of trek from Yam dwar to Derapuk to reach abode of Shiva.
- Second and toughest day of trek to reach 19500 ft at Dolma La pass
- Third and the last day of trek and coming back to home with tons of memories of Kailash
Stay fit and happy traveling. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, drop your comments.
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OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!