How I climbed to 4200 m in India and was so close to the mountains – experience trekking up close
My tour to Dzongri & Goechela, India
We are greeted by a cloudy morning, which is why I pack a few more warm items of clothing in my hiking rucksack. As the altitude increases, it is supposed to get cold on this trekking tour in October.
No wonder, as we are now at an altitude of around 3000 m in Khangchendzonga National Park.
After a tasty lunch, the trail leads us – through lush green rhododendron and oak forests – up a steep zig-zag path to Tshoka. In fact, it has now become foggy and cold, so not only are the extra items of clothing from our rucksacks needed, but we also gratefully accept a warming cup of tea from the hands of our cook. Throughout our trek, we are pampered by our local Indian support team. Our cook takes care of our physical well-being with tasty local dishes (also vegetarian on request) and plenty of drinks as desired.
Tshoka – Dzongri (4100hm):
I slept reasonably well, although I admit that I first have to get used to this “tent or hut luxury”. We set off at 9.30 a.m. and today we hike through the rhododendron forest to above the tree line, which we reach at 3,800 meters. The fog has cleared and we have a fantastic view of the furrowed valleys below us. The first white mountain peaks can be seen to the north. However, the climbs are long and steep and I can increasingly feel the altitude: my pulse is pounding in my neck, so I have to take frequent breaks. After 4 p.m. and 16 km of hiking, we finally reach Dzongri . Rarely have I been so happy when someone welcomes me with a hot cup of tea.
Unfortunately, a cold tent awaits us instead of a warm and comfortable room.
Everything is already set up and warm tea and cookies are ready.
After our first refreshment and breather, we inflate our air mattresses and quickly retire to the tents to warm up and rest a little before dinner.
Dinner – consisting of soup, main course with various vegetables and dessert – is served in the “dining tent”, where a table and stools covered with sleeping mats are ready and waiting. A kerosene stove radiates warmth.
After the delicious meal, we sit together for a while in the light of the headlamps and candles, reviewing the day and writing down what we have experienced.
The night is freezing cold and starry here in the far north-east of India!
and I put on ALL the available layers when I finally crawl into the sleeping tent. I have spread an aluminum emergency blanket over the sleeping bag, which stores the heat. A hot water bottle is placed at my feet and I fall asleep relatively quickly.
We have set our alarm clock for four o’clock. It’s still starry and minus 8 degrees. The objects on the table in the dining tent are covered in a layer of frost. Thanks to a deliciously sweet masala chai, our spirits are slowly awakening. It is still dark when our small group climbs up to the nearby viewpoint at 4200 m with headlamps.
At 05.30 a.m. the sun scratches Mt. Kanchenjunga – what an exhilarating and unique experience we have in the Himalayas!
Minutes later, the sun reaches the Kabru (7400 m) on the left and the Pandim (6700 m) on the right, as well as other mountain giants one after the other. The sky is steel blue, the sun makes the mountain giants shine in all their beauty and the colorful prayer flags flutter in the wind. I am deeply touched and would never want to miss this moment of happiness in my life. The mountains in the Himalayas create a magical atmosphere.
Before we hike back to camp, where a hearty breakfast awaits us in the sun, we take a short detour to the stupa.
Well fortified, we set off on a four-hour hike to Ginggey-La at an altitude of almost 4,500 meters. My heart is pounding, the altitude is now clearly noticeable.
Dzongri – Tshoka 3000hm:
The night is over by 6 a.m. and the temperature is around -10 degrees. Nevertheless, we have breakfast outside, even though the sun has not yet reached our spot. The kerosene stove under the table warms us up a little, otherwise it is the steaming teacups that awaken our spirits. At 8.30 a.m. we hike back towards Tshoka. To be honest, we are relieved to get back to lower altitudes. We continue to feel the thin air with every short ascent. The lush alpine vegetation of dwarf rhododendrons, mountain herbs and alpine flowers in the mist seems mystical and enchants me.
We meet many groups with horses and dzoos (a cross between yak and cattle); most of the trekkers here are Indians from Calcutta. It seems to us that hundreds of people are making a pilgrimage towards Goetcha-La; Dzongri will be totally overcrowded today. How lucky we were to have been so lonely and alone up there with ourselves and this gigantic mountain world!
After 4 hours we reach Tshoka and we are very much looking forward to this overnight stay in a permanent dwelling. At the final dinner, our cook outdoes himself once again with wonderful delicacies. As a big surprise, there is a chocolate cake for dessert, baked without an oven, of course…!
Tshoka – Yuksam 1700hm:
When we get up, the last wafts of mist are just disappearing and making way for the morning sun. One last cat wash and morning packing, followed by breakfast in the warm sun! We have porridge – great energy food before the long descent to Yuksam. The endless ups and downs sap my strength, especially in my calves. Regular breaks with power bars and trail mix are the order of the day.
After five and a half hours and a change into shorts due to the weather, we arrive back at the starting point of our trekking tour.
Perfectly organized to the end by Terralaya Travels, our driver is already waiting for us and after a small tea invitation and the enjoyment of delicious momos (speciality) we are taken to our hotel.
I have never enjoyed a warm shower so much, an absolute blessing after five days of cat washing!!!! Afterwards, we celebrated with beer and snacks, reliving the last few days with all our efforts and experiences.
We hiked through the lush green rhododendron forests into the barren alpine zone. On more than one occasion, we enjoyed the snow-capped Himalayan giants and the mountain slopes of Khangchendzonga National Park covered in dense, untouched forest.
The Khangchendzonga mountain was close enough to touch at times and the sight of it in the morning sun compensated us for all our efforts and exertions.
Those who want more can extend this trek to the Goechela Pass (4950 m). This challenging tour takes you to even more remote high altitudes and alpine vegetation. You can request any desired individualization or extension of the routes at any time.
We would especially like to thank the helpers who accompanied us, who always ensured a good atmosphere with small local treats, hot water bottles, extra blankets and hot drinks.
During this tour, we visited the children’s charity in Sikkim, which I support privately. It was a great pleasure to see how the donations are used and the joy these children radiate. Perhaps you would also like to get socially involved during a tour? The Children of Sikkim Foundation is looking forward to your visit!
Best time to visit: mid-March to May and October to mid-November.
Temperatures: Depending on altitude, between approx. +5 and +15 °C during the day and between -10 and +5 °C at night. Snowfall must be expected, especially from mid-November to February!
Please send inquiries for this tour to: email@example.com
Trekking Module: Goechela Trekking zum Khangchendzonga Sikkim,
India – 5 – 12 days – 3 – 8 hours walking time/day – moderately difficult – challenging – trekking trail, open terrain, scree slopes – overnight in tent & fixed accommodation (3 – 4 x) – max. altitude: 4000 – 4950 m above sea level – company: trekking guide, kitchen crew/ porters/carrying animals (pony/zo/dzomo)
Information about this tour can be found here:
Group trips from Zurich to Kanchengdoza, 20 days
from/to Europe: 05. – 24.10.2019 (from CHF 5’130.-)
“Classic Sikkim trekking tour to the Goechela Pass (max. 4950 MHN) with cultural travel days in Sikkim & Darjeeling. 8-day trekking with overnight stays in fixed accommodation and in tents. Benefit from our many years of cooperation with the local people and our local trekking team from Yoksum.”
Please contact us for further information or a private tours. We will be happy to modify the tour according to your wishes and requirements.