STOK KANGRI – Highest Mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas

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Stok Kangri Expedition (Trip Dates : 7 – 21 Aug 2013)

About the Stok Kangri Trek 

Standing tall at 6153m, Stok Kangri is often being depicted as an excellent first peak for a 6000m summit in the Himalayas and an ideal initiation into high altitude mountaineering.

Yet, Stok Kangri is by no means an easy challenge.

For a start, those who are attempting the peak will have to take a flight to Leh, the capital of the Ladakh region in northwest India and home to the Stok Range of the Himalayas. Leh is located at 3524m.  At this height, most people will experience some effects from high altitude like breathlessness and headache. Without proper acclimization, these symptoms can quickly, especially during the trek to higher elevation, develop into  Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which are potentially fatal.

There are a few entry points to trek to the Stok Kangri’s base camp (BC), all within 1 to a few hours drive from Leh. Whichever the starting point (Spituk, Chilling, Shang or as far as Lamayuru), there’s no escaping that they all start at above 3000m, the altitude where AMS becomes prevalent . The trek to the BC crosses mountain passes and involves several long days of walking in exposed mountainous terrain that can already easily tired out those who are not physically well conditioned and affect the summit attempt.

Although not technical, the route to the summit is tough. As a general guide, expect a 15 hours round trip from the BC to the summit and back. The trek to the summit typically starts at around midnight. After the BC, trekkers will enter a glacier moraines area before crossing the glacier to the snow slopes and ridges. There is a short, steep, narrow and exposed section on the south ridge near the summit, which requires scrambling on loose (sometimes icy) rocks. This exposed ridge section can be dangerous and must be climbed with great care. The use of ice axe and crampons may be needed during the summit attempt if there are thick snow and ice conditions.

Our Journey

Many trekkers start their trek to the BC from Spituk which is an hour away from Leh and do a short 5 days trek to the summit. We have deliberately chosen to start our trek to the BC from Shang Village. This route, which is longer, as such allow for better acclimatization,  will take you through Shangphu La and Matho La passes, Gangpoche and the Red Valley, before reaching the BC. The descent route is via Mankarmo Valley to Stok Village. A rest day along the trek to the BC and another rest day at the BC have been built in to allow for better acclimatization before the summit attempt. There’s also a contingency day in case of bad weather.

In total the trip (Singapore to Singapore) is 15 days with a 9-day trek.

 Contact Vinnie for details. Email: vinnie@aceadventure.com.sg

 

Trek with us to the Swiss Alps of South East Asia

Rinjani’s towering volcanic presence dominates the entire Indonesian island of Lombok.  Within its huge crater, surrounded by a complex of jagged peaks and smoking fissures, lies a stunning emerald-green caldera lake said by locals to be the home of the goddess Anjani.  The strenuous climb to the summit culminates in a breathtaking view that takes in the tropical idylls of Bali and Sumbawa as well as the winding coast and green valleys of Lombok.

Rinjani Poster low res

Our Journey

There are a few paths leading to the summit.  We will begin from Sembalun Lawang, a small farming village, and end our trail at Senaru, a well-established town with guesthouses and bungalow residence.

From Sembalun Lawang, you begin by crossing a hugh exposed grassland.  Higher up, the trail cuts through ferns and stands of pandan before reaching pine trees that are heavily-draped with moss.  After a good not-so-tough (some steep slopes) trek of 8 to 10 hrs, you will arrive at the crater rim (2639m), a point called Plawangan II, which is one of the two points of access to the crater.  Inside the rim the dazzling sight of Segara Anak lies before you.  We will establish a base camp along the crater rim.

From the base camp is a 4-6hrs strenuous trek up to the summit before sunrise.  The last stretch is a wind-swept ridge of deep, loose ash, and climbing it is more like crawling up a sand-dune!  It takes good fitness to see sunrise from the summit, or witness the first light along the summit trail – it is equally awesome.

The summit view is unforgettable, especially looking down in the caldera with clouds drifting across the surface of Segara Anak.  On the edge of Segara Anak, lies a volcanic cone – Mount Barujari (2375m), still occasionally emits smoke.  Along the summit trail, to the northwest direction, you can also spot a tiny cone among the clouds – the highest mountain in Bali – Mount Agung (3142m).

Descend to base camp, have a quick lunch before making our way down into the lake for another night where you find hot springs bath and dreamy moonlight lakeshore campsites.

From the lake, we will trek up to the other side of the crater rim, Plawangan I (2641m), and then enter into a shady forest of tall teak and mahogany trees where we will exit to Senaru.

Contact Joanne for details. Email: joanne@aceadventure.com.sg

Adventure Conference in the City

Friday, 12th Oct, was an unusual morning for me. I was invited to speak at the inaugural Adventure Conference organised by the SMU Xtremists Club (Singapore Management University). I was not the only speaker. Dr. William Tan – a Neuroscientist and Medical Doctor, a Paralympian, a World Records’ Holder, and an International Inspirational Speaker – was also invited to speak. I was excited about the conference. Aside from having the opportunity to share with the young people about the goodness of adventure, I was more intrigued to hear from Dr. William Tan.

SMU Conference Booklet

The conference is titled as “Adventure’s Role in our Youth’s Education”.  This is a topic that is so close to the hearts of many educators, especially for those involved in Outdoor Education.  Adventure is every where, anyone who seeks adventure will likely to have great returns.

What is an adventure? An adventure is something that has a certain of uncertainty, a risky affair, and is probably a self-discovery process where one can be themselves again.

I was not there to convince the audience to take up climbing, or any particular adventure sports. My sharing placed emphasis on how adventure sports are important to the youth. In this high level of technological development and urban comfort, engaging in adventure sports will likely be one of the best ways to build self confidence and improve self-esteem, resilience, and more importantly, to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

There are various adventure sports that one can engage in, such like mountain biking, diving, climbing, trekking, just to name a few. The key point is that one must enjoy the process of adventurism because most of the time it is enduring of hardship and pain. And through these elements, one will experience many great moments of self discovery, achieving hard goals, good team work – all that can be translated to all  aspects of one’s life.  It doesn’t really matter if you are young or old to engage in adventure sports. However, I strongly believe that adventure sports will greatly benefit our young ones given that most of them grew up in a very well controlled environment, and to the extend of an overly protected environment. Being young is an advantage, because as we grow older, we tend to have fear. Here, I will share a quote by Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (also known as 赛珍珠), (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973), an American writer who spent most of her time in China:

“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.”

The above quote is so aptly applicable to the Singapore Women’s Everest Team. The team was founded by four young ladies, then undergrads with NUS (National University of Singapore). Being young, they made big bold dreams. Had it not for their bold intention, I would not have had the chance to climb Mt Everest, not to mention the experiences that we went through together and the lessons learned that cannot be found in the classroom.

Dr William Tan, a World Records’ Holder, a Paralympian

For me, the highlight of the conference is the sharing made by Dr. William Tan. I also had the privilege to share the same stage with Dr. William Tan, engaging in a dialogue session with the participants. I have read so much about his achievement, and his charity work; to meet him in person and sharing the same topic just made me feel so honored.

Many may not be new to Dr. William Tan’s achievement, but I would still like to make a mention here, I will keep it sweet and short. Dr. Tan set out to attempt seven marathons in seven continents in 2005, after convincing the Antarctic Marathon organiser to accept his participation. Dr. Tan completed his 6 marathons in 6 continents, but faced with a serious technical problem with his wheel chair when he was on Antarctica. He had to abort his attempt. He returned to face the challenge in March 2007.  After completed the 6 marathons, he was forced to abort his attempt, once again, on Antarctica due to poor weather condition. In his own words he said, ” I was disappointed, but no defeated”. The same year, he made the bold attempt again. He then set off to complete the 7 marathons in 7 continents in Dec 2007, completing the feat in 27 days, creating a world record.

It is already hard enough for common folks like us to want to do a running marathon, and here we have a man who was paralyzed from the waist down due to polio at aged two using his hands to wheel 300 kilometers on harsh terrain. Overcoming the adversities, Dr. Tan shared that he sees opportunities not obstacles, and focus on solutions not on problems.  He emphasized to the attentive audience to turn setbacks to a strong comeback, learn from the setbacks and not to let the same mistakes repeat. His words certainly sink into us, for he has preserved and worked his way to become a medical doctor and a neuroscientist he is today, helping to heal lives in his profession.

The dialogue session went on fruitfully, I was totally absorbed into the conversations with the audience. I was absorbed just so because I was speaking from my heart, and speaking about a topic that I am so close to.

I am glad that SMU got me involved in their first Adventure Conference which in return, I gained much by sharing my experiences. Here is a note from the management for the positive responses received by the students:

Dear Dr Tan and Joanne,

I would like to add my thanks for your open, witty, moving, visually captivating and inspirational sharing. It could only take 2 special people who have lived through all that you have to have been able to touch the hearts and minds of the audience.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

Warmest regards,

Ms Bernadette TOH
Director
Office of Student Life
Singapore Management University

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Hi Dr Tan and Joanne,

Just want to drop a note to say a BIG Thank You both for your presence and contributions at the Adventure Conference last Friday.

We have had numerous students coming up to us to say what an inspiration both of you have been to them. We felt that it was timely for both of you to share your experiences and this has definitely created the much awareness we wanted for our students.

With renewed excitement, they have told us they would like to continue to have the Adventure Conference next year as they are quite fired up now.

Again, thank you for your much needed inspirational talk in helping to create more awareness for our Adventure programs.

Thank you.

Alan KOH Swee Wan
Senior Associate Director, Sports & Adventure
Office of Student Life
Singapore Management University

 

As Helen Keller once said. “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

When is your next adventure?

With Dr. William Tan at the SMU Adventure Conference 2012

 

Joanne Soo
October, 15 2012

Mountaineering Woes

Over the weekend, I had organised a good friend’s birthday celebration. Her birthday is significant to her and her two boys because it is also her hubby’s (her boys’ daddy) death anniversary. Death is always hated by the living. I dislike death, though I know no one is immune to death. I am especially sad to know that people die while doing what they enjoyed most. Perhaps I should see it positively that it is so much happier to die while enjoying than to die of suffering or of illness. But ultimately, death is still an end to a living, a pain for the living. The celebration weekend ended with a tragic news. An avalanche had hit Camp 3 of Manaslu, killing 9 climbers, and several are still missing at this time that I am writing.

To the climbers who perished, Rest In Peace. There is still some hope that those missing ones can be found and be rescued. That’s if the weather permits, and making rescue at 7300m is no easy task. It is risky for the rescuers too. Just hope that the snow and ice can be stabilized,

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About Manaslu

Manaslu (also known as Kutang) is the eighth highest mountain in the world, and is located in the Mansiri Himal,  part of the Nepalese Himalayas, in the west-central part of Nepal. Its name, which means “Mountain of the Spirit”, comes from the Sanskrit word Manasa, meaning “intellect” or “soul”. Manaslu was first climbed on May 9, 1956 by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu, members of a Japanese expedition. It is said that “just as the British consider Mt Everest their mountain, Manaslu has always been a Japanese mountain 

Manaslu at 8,156 metres (26,759 ft) above sea level (m.s.l) is the highest peak in the Lamjung District and is located about forty miles east of Annapurna. The mountain’s long ridges and valley glaciers offer feasible approaches from all directions, and culminate in a peak that towers steeply above its surrounding landscape, and is a dominant feature when viewed from afar.

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Sunrise on Manaslu, 8,156m, the world’s 8th highest mountain.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunrise,_Manaslu.jpg

Joanne Soo

AAC8 Concluded

Another new milestone registered for Ace Adventure on Sat, 15 Sep 2012. We have successfully held the 8th Ace Adventure Challenge.  It was splendidly carried out by  a team of dedicated volunteers – friends of Ace Adventure.

Some of the race officials (Photo courtesy of Clarence Yap)

The race started off at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park 1 in the morning at 8am. After a 10mins delay for the first wave, the other categories started timely as planned.

The Trail Adventure Team flag-off to a blast. This category will run the whole distance, making pit stops for ropes challenges. Easy task, but good team work and endurance a must. (photo courtesy of Erwin Isaak)

With the new arrivals of Panda Kai Kai and Jia Jia, we got our Adventure Racing team to ride all the way to the Zoo to take a shot , not with the Pandas though (will be too overwhelming to the little pandas), with the welcome banner at the entrance of the Zoo.

AR Men 50 – Team Gen X at the entrance of the Zoo – CP4A, also the Champion of the AR Men, clocking 4hrs 40mins for the race. (photo courtesy of Daniel Lee)

The Trail Adventure Team went up to the Summit of Bukit Timah Hill to take a picture with the summit rock.

Team Dragon of Trail Adventure at the Summit of Bukit Timah Hill (photo courtesy of Alicia Koh)

The ropes segment of AAC is ever challenging. This round, we included a rope ladder, and rope ascending using ascenders. These activities have the reputation of causing muscle spasm, good ascending technique is critical.

Hadi of Team Adventure Maddness tackling the ascent with good technique. (photo courtesy of Erwin Isaak)

Brendan Chin of Team Double Espresso attempting the rope ladder, believe it is his first with AAC.

The less strenuous yet exhilarating for the teams is at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Adventure Tower. Teams have to climb up a 9m wall, then abseil from the 15m tower.

Seen here is Hairul of Team Gen X, racing on the wall with Team Adventure Madness (Joseph just got on to the 9m platform).

One of the AR Teams on Abseil (photo courtesy of Dyan Tjhia)

A series of trail run and mountain biking adds on to the variety of challenges.

Trail Running  (photo courtesy of Clarence Yap)

Mountain Biking (photo courtesy of Clarence Yap)

The final stretch of the race at Pandan Reservoir

The last leg of the race was a team challenge at the Reservoir. Teams had to stay a float on the floating platoon while ensuring that they do not drop the ball given to them.

The finishing was certainly a sweet one for all teams.

The first team to reach the end point – Team Gen X of the AR Men’s. (photo courtesy of Erwin Isaak)

Our adventure racers are getting fitter, and wiser each year. As the Race Director, I am being challenged to set a course that will allow newbies a taster experience, yet sufficiently challenging for the seasoned racers. With the limited land resources we have here, organising AAC will continue to be a challenge that is so appealing to me.

Joanne Soo