Nambu- Shangkhola - Chowri-Nayapatal - Lower Yumbong- Upper Yumbong-Daphevir Pass - Gomathang - Kokling - Panding - Dzongri - Kockchurang - Thansing - Lumeny -Jamelathang - Goechala - Kockchurang - Phedang - Tshoka-Bakhim-Yuskom
By 12:30 PM we, five friends, reached at Sealdah station for Testa-torsha express which was scheduled to be departed by 1:20 PM from the station. It was a sunny day of the mid-summer in West Bengal. The maximum trek gears were collected from Kolkata. Rations were to be collected from Jorthang, Sikkim.
We reached NJP rly station very early in the morning (4 A.M.). After having tea we hired a car for Yuksom. It is preferable to take ration from Jorthang Bazar as the maximum items are available with reasonable price as compared to Yuksom. It took 2 hrs to find and collect all the necessary items from the bazar. We left only vegetables for Yuksom Bazar. Around 3 P.M. we reached at Yuksom. We decided to stay at B S Subba's hotel for two days. A full day was passed to collect all the necessary items, arranging the stuff, taking permission from the local police station, forest department, and local hospital. And it is also highly recommended to take a full day rest before commencing the high altitude round trek for acclimatizing the body. Anyway we decided to have one guide, two porters, one cook, one kitchen helper and five yaks. After several meeting we could calculate the amount of stuffs to be carried with. The next day we planned to roam around some beautiful places in Yuksom with relax mind.
We spent the entire day collecting all the necessary items, permits and packing the necessary stuffs. At night it was raining heavily.
We enjoyed the heavenly weather with some delicious local food and then just relaxed the body inside the hut. From Yuksom the conventional Dzongri - Goecha la trek rout starts. But we started it from Nambu for more adventure.
Early in the morning we left Yuksom by car after having our breakfast. It took 2hrs to reach the village Nambu. 5 Yaks with Yak man were waiting there for us. We were already late by 1 hr and we finally started the trek around 11 A.M. The route starts from the village Nambu and it heads towards Sangekhola with the beautiful river Rimbichu. Initially there was not so much uphill only we had to follow the beautiful river bank. Within 1.5 hr we reached the village Sangekhola through some beautiful green forests. We could have had lunch over there but as we were running late, we decided to go with some snacks to avoid the situation if it rains. The beautiful river Sangekhola is a bit flat over there. We took left of the river bank and entered into the deep forest. The trail is more stepper now. And it continued with gaining altitudes. We had met some of the villagers and forest guards in the trail. They assured us that steeper trail was waiting for us. After one hr we could see the village Shangekhola as a bird's eye view.To reach at time we sped up more to finish the first day's trail. The supporting staff already left us for pitching the tent. Around 4 PM we reached the last village of this trail called Chowri with all exhaustions. It was a beautiful village of 10-12 families and the river bed was completely invisible from there. Only some steep green-black mountains frightened us. The camping ground was inside the village. At night again it was raining and we were mentally prepared to face the muddy trail inside the forest tomorrow.
The morning was clear at Chowri village. We started the trek after having breakfast. All of us were steady on the second day. One of our friends felt sick because of the food and altitude adaptation. The trail came down to the river bed and we followed the upstream of that river for a long lime. Then suddenly the trail entered into the deep rain forest with muddy base. We got some beautiful orchids but that was not enough to bring happiness to our faces as the muddy trail became more stepper. We were continuously gaining altitude through the rain forest. After some time the trail became flat and then it enrooted the river bed again. We came down to the river and crossed the stream with a log bridge .Then we took the right side of the river and after some time we found the forest out post and the army camp. After having lunch we again went towards the north-east direction. Another beautiful river was coming down and crossed our trail. This time it was tough to cross the river with unreliable log bridge which consisted of only two logs. According to our expectations we found the steep uphill just next to the river. We desperately finished it within one hr and came out of the forest to an open meadow. Yes we reached Nayapatal meadow by afternoon. After being in the deep moist forest since last two days It was charming to see the open green meadow with beautiful grassland. We pitched the tents beside a stream which was crossing the field transversely. Some white rhododendrons were adding more beauty to the meadow.
In the shiny morning we left the place. Suddenly the rhododendron forest started with gentle uphill. The tree line became thinner and only rhododendron forest with clear base was there with the trail. There we got plenty of Himalayan birds. After one hr it was raining and for the first time we were walking in the rain. The himalyan mosquitoes were stinging badly and after some time leaches joined the feast. The rain forest was looking complete as a typical rain forest. Afternoon came, but still we were struggling with the muddy bolder casting trail. The trail was really very long and we took our lunch with the rain. We were continuing towards the north-east direction which led to the Singalila Ridge. Near Lower Yumbong the evening came with full of red rhododendron. From Lower Yumbong to Upper Yumbong it took 1.5 hr and red, pink, white rhododendron flowers were still with us.The upper Yumbong is a flat ground with green grassland covered with various colors of rhododendrons. One log house was there for the shelter of Yuk's harder in this route. We had to traverse 500m from the camp to find out the source of water and finally we got a pond of 1 m radius and with great care we collected that for drinking and cooking. Like other nights it was also raining continuously.
The rain was continuing till morning. So unfortunately we decided to stay over there as it would be risky to cross Dhafevir pass in that situation (weather). Suddenly by 7 o'clock the rain had stopped and the clear blue sky came out. We planned to go ahead instantly and within no time we left the camp. The supporting staff followed us thereafter. The trail was the longest among all the day's trail. We were continuously gaining altitude with the knee height rhododendron level. We knew the trail was tough. So we decided to cross the pass before noon to avoid the bad weather. We came up to the Singhalila ridge. The uphill was continuing with black rock bolder path. After some time we found some beautiful lakes over there. From that place the black Singhalila west ridge was insight. But unfortunately suddenly we covered up with dense cloud which resisted the view of Kanchejunga and Everest range. The place was dangerous as there was no such trail to mark only black granite with patch of snow. The cold wind started blowing and that made us frighten to cross the pass. Still we could not be able to find the pass insight. The density of the snow increased rapidly which slowed the speed of our journey. We had to cross then some local Glaciers very carefully. The cloud became denser and the visibility went away. It was around 1 o'clock when we were near the pass. The pass was visible from there as a blurred image. We took lunch over there and then keeping sacks over a stone we followed the north-west direction to visit the holy lake Lampokhri. The trail was really critical and nothing was visible. We were still struggling with the icy and rocky trail. The Lampokhri was near about 500-700 m down from the base of the pass. We spent some time at Lampokhri and could find the source point of the river Rimbichu. Then again back to the base of the pass continuously breaking the snow for making a trail. Before the Pass the trail was of thick ice with dangerous ascend. It was really difficult to cross the hurdle as the snow and borders were looking loosely hanging in front of us. One mistake can change the whole story. We crossed that zone one by one successfully and rode the pass with a big smile! It was the time to celebrate the first success of this trip and we did it. Still then we did not know what was waiting for us. The Gomahang camp site was in very steep descent. We started descending and it was never ending. The evening came and still we were continuing to descend. At one point of time snow zone was over but still we were about to descend. Moreover we were completely exhausted! The Situation became critical when we heard still 5 km downhill had to cover. It was shocking news but we had no time to cry when we found the steep descent trail was finished with a huge landslide! The brains were not working. We were traversing the shooting stone area not making any sound. It was hard to find a trail where the daylight had almost gone. The moon raise onto the ridge and we were struggling with our lives. Some were slipped much time but one bad thing happened. The final hurdle of the day was to cross a big stream at the entrance of the valley. Those who reached earlier made that easier by putting some stones across the stream. But the story ended with a beautiful ending. When we were entering into the Gomathang valley, the truly heavenly pink colored rhododendron flowers were welcoming us with its' full bloom. It was so nice to be with some tones of flower that we had never imagined. The valley was at adjoining of the two beautiful rivers and the violet colored Primula flowers turned the green valley into violet. And the never ending white-pink rhododendrons were ready to suck all the exhaustion of the day out. We had nothing to say but wow! We felt lucky to be there!
In last night we could not sleep well because of the severe body pain. The pleasant morning came with all its beauty. We were really enjoying the valley with hot coffee. We were roaming here and there along the river bed. Still we could not believe it. With every step we were to smash some Primula flower as it was so dense. The rhododendron flowers shaped all the plant bushy and the leaves were not visible as they were thick and bushy. The Mt. Tinolchu was behind this valley and was able to make perfect background of the canvas. We left the valley crossing the two rivers carefully in a pleasant mood. We headed towards the Boktochu valley. The gentle uphill was full of different colors of rhododendrons which gave us enthusiasm and energy. We crossed the hill beside. The typical ridge trek was full of bolder and rocky area in the lap of mountain range. After some time we came down to the river Boktochu and the Boktochu valley was also full of white and pink rhododendron with the base of violet Primula. Now we took left to the valley. One trail from there enrooted Hans Pokhri and Lakshmi Pokhri. Again a steep uphill was there in front of us. We slowly rode to the hill and it was a dense rhododendron forest. The trail was undoubtedly enjoyable. The mountains around were colorful because of Primula and rhododendron flowers. Meanwhile the valley clouds grabbed us and again we were into the blur world. By afternoon we reached the beautiful valley called Yangshep (4,300 m). The river Yangshep crosses the valley from east to west. No problem was there to find a narrow stream to cross. After crossing the river we walked through the green grassland and then we took the eastern ridge to climb up. The climb was continuously ascended. We took lunch somewhere near about that hill. From the previous days' experiences of this trip we were afraid of the rain which could damage the dream of crossing two high altitude passes in one day. We were in a quite long trail to reach the Kokling base. From there the landscape changed drastically from green to gray. The rocky trail leads to the pass. We crossed this zone with utmost care to ensure the successful crossing of the second pass of this trek and first pass of the day. We reached there around 2 PM and we knew a mammoth like portion of that day's trail was still to complete before the evening. Now comparatively easier, smoother and snowless descend. We were about to come down the wide valley called Kokling valley. It was so large and so wide that to cross this valley would take at least one hour. There we found that the ridge has been divided into two parts one is kokling pass (12,300 ft)and another one is Panding pass (15,200 ft). In between these two giant ridges this valley exists with some beautiful Yuk's grazing ground. The evening came quickly when we crossed the valley from south to the north-east. We found ourselves at the base of a steep (steepest ascend of the whole trail) uphill mountain! And not only had that it supposed to have some land slide zones. Is it really possible for us to climb up it in this evening? No time was there in our hand to think of it as all the porters and Yuks already left us and went for the Punding camp. We were staggering on the loosely stoned slippery path. No point of discussing about the level of exhaustion when death is in front of you and you can smell it. We slowly and gradually were climbing the mountain and were looking back to the down valley which was nearly invisible to us. At last we crossed the second pass of the day when day light was almost finished. But where was the camping ground? We were again lined up on the narrow ridge nose to come down on the other (north) side of the pass. The mountain range which was partly visible through the cloud was just in the hand-shaking distance. After half an hour we could find out the tents and it was a beautiful green grazing ground. Yes there were lots of reasons to become happy then. That evening we had full of energy as we successfully did the Singalila ridge trek.
In the morning the Mt. Kabru group was just in front of our tent. The plateau of Panding was looking like a hanging portion of the Singalila Ridge towards the Kabru group. Today we shall join to the conventional Dzongri - Goecha la trek rout. We left the place in the early morning. A steep downhill welcomed us. One of our friends was slept at the bolder zone and was severely injured in his hand. The river Rathangchu is coming down from 2000 ft and falls to the gorge making a huge cascade. We gently came to the river bed and could find a way to cross Rathangchu with the help of some logs. Again the same picture of rhododendron forest was continuing at the river valley. We really enjoyed that place where the river is divided into small streams and flowed down the valley. We then came to another beautiful valley called Tegpla which was beside the river Tegpla. The blue colored water was dividing the green valley into two parts making huge noise. After crossing that river and taking lunch we entered into the Pine forest and of course rhododendron was invariably there with some more varieties. We had to climb up and cross that mountain from west to north side till the Dzongri plateau comes. The rain came when we were in the forest but still we were enjoying the rainy landscape. Before evening we reached Dzongri and we came to the convention rout to Goecha la. We could see man made structure after five days. Some groups were there to go for Goecha la and some were to Yuksom. At night it was heavily raining!
It was a bad and cloudy morning. We went to the Dzongri top expecting to have a majestic view of the mountain range but no way. Everything was invisible because of cloud. You can never expect to go all the things in your favour when you are doing adventure. Let's hope for something better is waiting for us in upcoming days. The trail went down to Kockchurang the Black Kabru just in front of us. Crossing number of green meadows we discovered ourselves at the foot of Mt. Tinolchu, Mt. Pandim ridge. Here some more species of rhododendrons were captured. We came down to the beautiful river Prekchu and beside it the Kockchurang trekker's hut was located. We took lunch there and again started walking to the Thansing meadow through the right bank of the river Prekchu. The trail was looking like a motorable road as we had a very hard ridge trek since last six days. Smoothly we reached Thansing meadow. We enjoyed the evening chatting with other trekking group.
The morning was clear. We were at the foot of Mt. Pandim. It was stunning. The Meadow led to the Zamelathang where the South wing of the Kanchenjunga was visible. We were really speechless. Today's trek was the simplest among all. We were crossing the meadow keeping Mt. Pandim, Mt. Tenzing at the right side and at the left side one ridge came out from the Kabru group. By noon we reached Lumeny which was the base camp of Mt. Pandim. The next day was for Goecha la. For body acclimatization we rode Zamelathang and by the evening we came back to the camp. Praying for the clear morning for the next day we went for sleeping.
We woke up at the mid-night (12 AM). Taking all necessary items we started the day's trek with head torches. Initially we had to cross some streams. The trail led towards the Zamelathang and our goal was to reach the Goaecha la View point - 1 before sunrise. We successfully reached there in time. We were waiting for the sun rise as it was clear sky. We discovered ourselves at the foot of the west portion of the Pandim and in front of us Mt. Kanchenjunga was there with all of her family members. It was impossible to carry out the sense of feelings by writing the moments. The Kabru north, Kabru South was just in front of us. The glaciers from the Kabru group were making a huge glacier path. The Pandim glacier snout was just beside us. We really were lucky to watch the golden view of all the famous mountains over there. After some time we went for the Goecha-la pass taking the north ridge followed by moraine of the glaciers but unfortunately we were trapped into the valley clouds when we approached to the pass. Then we came back to the Samiti Lake and spent some time over there. Suddenly the weather became clear and then we decided to climb up the east ridge of the Samiti Lake. It was a stunning view of the whole Kanchenjunga Group from the ridge. The wall of Mt. Pandim was just beside us with a stunning view. And of course we could touch it! Then after spending some times we came to the base camp of the Mt. Pandim and then we came down to the Kokchurang. We celebrated that night for the success of the trip.
The gentle downhill through the rhododendron forest routed to Phedang. The trail from Phedang to Bakhim was an easy trail as it was a conventional route.
We left the place in the early morning. It was heavily raining and we walked on the rain through the deep forest. We had to cross three bridges over the river Prekchu. We reached at Yuksom by 9 o'clock. Then we went for the NJP rly station.
We are thankful to Mr. Ratan Lal Biswas for his valuable suggestion for this trek.