Wandering Goat

Travel stuff by Miguel A. Villarreal

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Location: New York, NY

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ascent Part I

7-28-2005, near Stok Pass, Ladakh
So I tried to be a good guy and save some cash and use an Indian agency rather than a US one.  That as a mistake.  The various middlemen involved did not relay critical info to my guide, (Tundep, who I just call "T"), who can't remember my name though everybody just calls me "sir" as a sahib anyway.
Among the information not relayed is that, as appealing as dragging heavy mountaineering boots, an Ice Axe, and Gaiters throught the Taklamaklan Desert would have been for the past month, I didn't bring any equipment.  So I spent yesterday on the back of T's motorcycle, renting & buying substandard equipment (I believe my rusty ice axe bears the inscription, " property of H. Harrer" on it)  The rest of the evening I spent googling things like "how to use an ice axe," in true Mallory & Irwin fashion. (hey maybe if they had they'd have made it)
Was glad to get out of Leh because it is crawling with tourists, particularly there are more French there than MOMA on a Saturday in August [you know even though france bashing is so cliched, it's really hard not to here.  French tourists are just as bad as any american crew and probably worse;  loud, annoying, insular, and either tubby fannypacked middleagers or hippies trying to go native and failing.  Get the hell out of here guys.  At least the English who also suffocate this place know that they don't fit in.]
So today we set out from Stok Village for a 3-4 hour hike up Stok pass.  Not an exceedingly difficult journey but by no means easy w/elevations ranging from 12-13.5 k fee.  My crew ( I require a staff of 4 - guide (T), cook (Dashi), helper (Dorje), and Pony Man (Pony Man) is currently hard at work setting up camp as I drink tea and wax ironic.  I've had full service camping last year in Tibet but never as the sole object of affection which is a little weird.  Of course I'm rather busy surveying for the RGS, and of course sending dispatches back to Simla on frontier developments ( a group of hashish smoking/new age Israeli backpackers being the most notable incursion) as well as the Bonapartists.


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