It was 2013. Parth had just started with his college. Simultaneously he was falling madly in love with trekking and outdoors. Almost every weekend he used to travel back home 600km for a 2-day trek. He had done a couple of Himalayan treks by then and was looking for a ‘great adventure’. That’s when he came across the peak Stok Kangri, one of the highest trekkable summits in the world. And thus, it became his bucket list to climb it up and that became almost like an obsession.
Parth started working for an adventure company and suddenly this bucket list of him seemed like a possibility! With the income from the company, Parth managed to buy all the necessary equipment needed for the trek. He also underwent regular workout and exercises which helped him to go on with his dream bucket list.
Thus, he joined a trekking company and was accompanying 25 fellow trekkers, with the same dream of climbing Stok Kangri. The trek up to base camp is a pretty straight forward three-day hike. Upon reaching the base camp which is at an altitude of 5200m (16,400ft), they rest and acclimatize for two days.
On the second night at around 10 pm, they left for the summit attempt. As the night progressed, out of 25 people, one by one started to give up and head down for various reasons like exhaustion, sleep deprivation, cold and symptoms of high altitude sickness. People whom Parth thought would definitely make it to the top were turning around and that scared him a little bit. But he was not focusing on it and was rather focusing on the climb ahead. As he was getting higher, he was feeling stronger and more confident about his chances of making to the top. This was the first time he was exposed to such high altitudes and his body was adapting to it like fish adapts to water and, he was loving it!
They had been climbing slowly and steadily all night now and they were just on the very steep slope that leads to the shoulder below the summit. The dawn had just cracked in the horizon. When his tired eyes saw first rays lighting up the Himalayan Mountains around him, he was awestruck by the beauty and got energized at the same time. To capture this amazing moment, he took out his DSLR camera and took a few shots.
Just as he was keeping his camera inside, the snow below his feet gave away and he went down tumbling, sliding and bashing on the snow slopes. He lost the trekking poles that he had in his hand, his gloves came off and the camera was sliding down the slope with him. Parth tried to stop himself but was just too fast. He thought in his mind that it’s over today! But that was not his time to die and luck was on his side.
There was a guide right below where he was falling and he heroically stopped Parth’s fall and thus saved him. There was a huge rock just 10 feet away from where he stopped Parth. If he was even 1 second late, Parth would have bashed into the rocks at a lightning speed. The guide held his head and tried to make eye contact. Parth was dizzy and out of breath. He told him that he was alright. The guide sat down next to him and gave him water.
Parth got his breath in control and thought about what just happened! He fell for 300 feet down a bloody mountain and was unhurt. He had no idea what got in his head at that moment but he started laughing at the situation. The guide thought he had lost it for sure and told Parth to head down to base camp. And, the laughter suddenly stopped.
“Those were the words I never wanted to hear. I was finally on the slopes of a mountain I had been obsessing over since last 4 years. The answer was a big NO! And as long as we don’t cross our turnaround time, I am going to move forward and head up because I had waited too long to be up here and I was willing to give all I had to make it!”
He was physically completely fine. Though mentally he was very shaken up, he didn’t show it on his face. After a long argument, the guide agreed with Parth and he slowly started to head up again.
Parth had lost all confidence in that fall and in the back of his mind he was very unsure about the climb now. Suddenly he felt very exhausted and started getting out of breath very soon. His speed got very slow. He had to move quickly to make it before turnaround time. His hands had gone numb because he had no gloves now!
He sat down and gave up twice between the shoulder and the top. The summit appeared so close but Parth was not able to reach it and the distance didn’t seem to get any shorter. He was cursing on the situation and himself. Turning around seemed a lot easier. This is not how he had imagined this climb to go but that’s how it was!
When he reached the final summit ridge, he could see the prayer flags on the top and Parth realized he will make it. Slowly and steadily he climbed up the summit slope and made it to the top! He had tears in his eyes and was over joyed. He knelt down on the summit and when he got up, he saw the view that he was longing to see from a long time. A view that he had only seen in pictures. All that trouble seemed absolutely worth it.
“For many, such an incident would stop them from trekking or climbing and it would be logical to do that. But it did the opposite to me. I realized that I am capable of pushing myself to my absolute limits when the time comes and if a near death experience didn’t shatter my belief in me, nothing ever will!”
Other Bucket Lists
Parth has been trekking for the past seven years, and his bucket lists are filled with his mountaineering and trekking goals. But his most important bucket list is to summit Mount Everest in 2019.
Mountains always call. You should have the heart to listen to that call. If you have gone on an expedition like this, share your experience with us and get featured on our blog! Also, add your bucket list on our page.