Ladakh Day 9 – Yokma La to Spring Camp
The Day We Bushwacked a PassDay Begins: Camp at Base of Yokma La Pass: Yokma La (4700 meters / 15,420 feet) Day Ends: Spring Camp
While Yokma La may not have been the highest pass, it was the most intimidating. On the other three passes, we had really begun the ascent far below where we could see the top and the actual “push” seemed relatively short. Not the case with Yokma La. We camped at the base, and the entire climb stared us down through the night. It looked like a long haul. If nothing else, it looked a worthy finale to the trip. Adding to the fun was the fact that there really wasn’t a path when we got on the face. As a result, we bushwhacked our way up the hill, creating switchbacks when necessary, walking straight up when not.
Getting to the top symbolized the beginning of the end of the trip. While we still had some ground to cover, it was all down hill. Going back and reading Lindsay’s journal from the trip, I kind of forgot how difficult what we had just accomplished really was. My memories are basic delusions of grandeur about how magical the place was and I tend to forget about the aches and the pains and (appropriately enough) the bitching and the moaning, but it doesn’t really matter. Trips like this aren’t easy. If they were, they wouldn’t be nearly as special. The memories that stick are the views and the vistas, the people and the places. And each of the four passes (and the “transition days” in between) were full of memories.
After some bit of time for sappy reflection at the top, we started the descent. Some semblance of civilization awaited us in Kanji. Thankfully, Kanji was more than an afternoon’s hike away so we camped one final night in yet another beautiful valley. Based on the original itinerary, we were scheduled to spend two nights in this camp with an optional day hike. However, I’m still not sure how we could have made it in one less day. Camp sites in Ladakh are completely based on the availability of water and we passed maybe two potential sites that we didn’t stay at during the entire trip. There simply weren’t many options, you stay by the water. That would have meant that we would have doubled up days seven and eight. In hindsight, that would have been a very, very long day. Well, that and Glenn and I wouldn’t have had our Godfather break.
While I would have loved to have made that day hike to see K2 (from a large distance), I can’t say I was disappointed with the way the trip turned out. Our final night in camp (at least the final night out on the trail) was highlighted by some marathon canasta (I’m not going to say who won but let’s just say the boys left the table happier than the girls).