Trans Himalaya 2019 – Stok Kangri, Stok La, July 28

The night at the Stok Kangri base camp at 4900m was short (2 hours) and cold due to the ongoing rains. I had snugged myself inside my sleeping bag inside my bivy to stay warm. The sleeping may below the bivy got wet and felt cold. Next time I should keep it inside the bivy.11:30am my alarm went of and I braced the cold night to pack up my stuff. I layered up maximum for the expected cold near the summit during the early morning hours. I entered the kitchen tent where they served me hot soup and tea. At midnight we started our ascent.Soon after the base camp we hit deep snow. We could see the torch lights in the darkness of other groups who started ahead of us. Our group proceeded at a fast pace with regular short breaks. Soon we had passed all other groups and our guide was cutting through the fresh snow.Near the final ridge ascent below the peak the guide roped us together as a safety precaution in case anyone would fall. Other trekkers put on crampons while I used my ice axe to get firm grip on the steeper sections. We reached the summit by sunrise after an intense 5 hour climb braving the cold.Luckily the weather held up and we got clear views in all directions with the skyline turning yellow as the sun was rising above the Markha valley. The camera shutters were going non stop taking in the moment at the summit at 6150m.After 30min we started our descent again roped up this time hiking (running) down fast with stunning clear daylight views as the other groups were slowly climbing up from the valley below. It took us just 2 hours to reach back to the base camp where I bid goodbye to my co trekkers.I proceeded another one hour further down to the lower basecamp where I gobbled up some food by 9am as I was starved. The weather turned and it was raining again. We were lucky to have a clear weather window during the summit earlier in the nightAfter refueling my stomach, I decided to proceed to the next pass, the nearby Stok La. Post breakfast and after hardly any sleep the previous night, I felt very sleepy and took a one hour power nap on the way to refresh mind and body. It helped and I was on my way again.The ascent of the Stok La at 4850m is pretty steep and goes across several intermediate ridges. A solid 600m elevation gain from the Stok river below. From the pass it’s an 800m descend to Rumbak village where you find several homestays and a tea tent which serves snacks and Maggie.Looking for better food options after my longest day so far I decided to push ahead to the next hamlet of Yurutse and take dinner in the homestay there. At least 15 other European guests were staying here in a beautiful, large homestay. I was chatting up with a French lady and two alpine style hikers from Holland.Dinner was delicious with many side dishes served along with the rice – dhal, veggies, mushrooms and vegetables salad, best dinner I had since long. I gobbled up after an energy draining 16 hour day day climbing up 2100 meters elevation gain on the Kangri and Stok La combined.After dinner I settled down in a small stuppa shelter just outside Yurutse, ready for my next target: the Ganda La pass towards the Markha valley.