Ladakh Day 8 – Nyigutse La to Yokma La

The day I’m glad I didn’t stay sick…

Day Begins: Ripchar Valley Camp
High Pass: Nyigutse La (5000 meters / 16,400 feet)
Day Ends: Camp at Base of Yokma La

(Note, upon further review and research, this valley was likely not the Ripchar Valley but the camp was likely a place called Urtsi).

While Sanjeev’s elevation estimates were notoriously bad in the trip dossier he had provided, the morning’s temperature made it pretty obvious that the camp at the mouth of the Ripchar Valley was the highest on the trip. It was cold, and I felt miserable. I’m sure the way I felt had nothing to do with the fact I had gorged on various methods of lamb preparation, including delicious fried lamb balls and lamb soup. In all honestly, the lamb had a very earthy taste that made it hit a little close to home what had happened earlier that day but not so close to home as to keep me from gorging for three straight nights. If that doesn’t make you a vegetarian, pretty much nothing will.

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Starting up toward the pass

Even feeling off, the scenery was more than worth it as we started the uphill hike to Nyiguitse La. The actual push to the “summit” seemed short and, as usual, we were well behind the Sparlinski’s (though this time it was based on me; Lindsay rocked this pass, it was awesome). The views at the top, which was the highest we would go during the trek, were unreal. As good as the views seemed, each day there was something new and something better than the last. From the top, we could see the descent in front of us the rest of the day as well as the steep face of Yokma La in the next valley (which was the next day’s challenge). The valley appeared as if two world’s collided, which a green half on the left and red rock on the right.

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Priceless view from Nyigutie La, my favorite trekking photo

As they say on Everest, getting up is optional, getting down is mandatory, it felt a little the same way. We had a long descent to get to camp. Ultimately, we took over an hour longer than planned as the trail had been washed out by the previous year’s flood. While we had seen the devastation that 2010’s cloudburst had caused (wide swatches of valley had been disturbed), it was another thing all together to walk through it. Needless to say,  by the end of the long day, we were ready for a little canasta and some rest.

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Lindsay and I make our final push to the top of the pass

Overall, I’d rate this day as the “signature” day of the trek. My favorite day of Himalayan trekking ever based on the scenery alone.

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