So I am finally doing it after all these months. I will write about my Stokangiri hiking expedition in Himalayas that I embarked on last summer with my close friends, Achyut and Madhuri. The expedition lasted for 6 days and the summit stood at 6150 meters (20200 feet) above sea level, which is almost 6000 feet more than my previous summit in Himalayas to Sarkundi pass.
The expedition was led by two experienced Sherpas and here in this post I’ve typed out the recorded conversation I had with one of the Sherpa on the last day of our expedition, who had summitted Stokangiri more than 30 times in the past and is still going strong.
What is your name ?
Skalzang Dorjey Kalyan
Where are you from?
I was born in Ladak and although I did my education in Mysore and Bangalore I eventually came back to settle down here in Ladak.
When did you get involved in hiking and adventure sports ?
As you know, since I was born in Ladak hiking is in my blood and since we’re are at a higher altitude, hiking is a thing in our day to day life.
Why do you like to hike ?
I like to hike because I love the mountains and my job gives me an excellent opportunity to interact with people from around the world.
One best thing about hiking?
I get a chance to mingle with people from different parts of the globe and from different states in India which gives me a great opportunity to discuss many things and learn something new from each other in every trek.
One worst thing about your job ?
One worst thing is that as you know our job is very risky. Every day and every minute we’re like in a zone that is far from the closest village and we can’t get help easily in case of emergency. And going for expedition is always a risky job. Also at times waiting for people who are very slow is irritating. Especially when you know that people in base camp are waiting for you, it can get really annoying. Else it’s our job that everyone in the team reaches the camp safely, so we still move along side them patiently.
What according to you is happiness in life ?
Happiness is something that should remain constant in our life. We should always be happy with people, whether you know them or donno them, whether it is for five minutes or your entire life. (I asked him to be specific as to what makes him happy) Money is important in life to survive, but is not what gives me happiness. I want to earn enough to survive and when I die I don want to have any savings.
Prettiest gal met in hike ?
I have had lot of pretty gals as part of my group who’ve come to hike here and as a guide, meeting these pretty gals keeps me very motivated during the expedition. (Now that’s a honest answer. I acknowledged his words telling that I was once a guide, freelancing, and it was good to have pretty looking gals in the group ). The prettiest gal I met was this girl from Czech Republic. She was really good. She stayed with us in base camp for 3 days and we had really good conversation and it was fun chatting with her.
Why according to you should people involve themselves in adventure sports and hiking ?
Like I said before, its a great oppurtunity to meet people from all over the world. You don’t need too much money to hike, so you get a chance to meet people from diverse background. And the interaction helps you learn a lot about each other’s culture. And as for the fitness, it’s a great workout hiking in these mountains breathing fresh air. Keeps you healthy and motivated. And I am very happy that people in India have also understood this. Three years back we had very less number of Indians for hiking here. We only use to guide foreigners. But now, we have more Indians than foreigners and I am happy that people have started hiking more in our country. And also more Indian gals have started hiking too which is very great. In sports, you go around running in indoor tracks or around your house in loops and that is it. But hiking is even better to be walking in the mountains, enjoying the nature and breathing fresh air.
Lastly give a honest opinion about our group? Are we one of the best group you’ve guided ?
For last three years I have been here, I have met many Indian people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But some of the best people I’ve met are from Bangalore and Pune. Generally Indian people are demanding. If they come to base camp, they ask for Pizza (lol). Do you think they can get it ? No right? Foreigners, they don’t ask. What ever we have, when we offer them, they will honestly thank us and eat. Indian people want the food in the base camp to have the same taste as the food back home, in their city. And your group, you guys did not order anything, you were not demanding. What ever we offered, you just honestly accepted. That’s what we appreciate about your team. As Indian I understand when people ask for junk food and more oily food. They will be like – please add more oil, salt is less, no sugar in the tea. You guys never complained. And I think your group will do more and more hikes in the future too. From my side I wish you guys best of luck. KEEP HIKING!