GoechaLa trekking – The plan

The Inception:

The plan for Dec 2013 winter Himalayan trekking had failed miserably. Half for my fear of December cold and half for unavailability of leaves. Nams was upset. This time she did not want to take chance and booked her slot with IndiaHikes when Vikas shared the details with her for the great GoechaLa trekking expedition. When the news was broke to me, my situation was no different from previous year, but somehow I made up my mind and got on board (October was a relief though 😉 ). I badly needed a vacation after all the stress of setting up new home and getting along in new project and responsibilities at work. Right away, I blocked my slot with IH and did a quick check with my TravelFreaks group. Yash, Keerti, Pramod and Vishwa showed interest, but within those 2 days, all remaining slots in that batch were filled out with IH and they even had given away my blocked slot. 🙁 I was not very convinced in going with third party from beginning, and this added more fuel to my discomfort. I took up the challenge and proposed that we will plan and execute this trek all by ourselves under the banner of TravelFreaks. With little convincing and discussion both Nams and Vikas finally agreed and a basic skeleton plan was formed on the footpath or Jayanagar next to Ganesh Darshan, munching Masaladosa’s and sipping hot coffees.

GoechaLa is a mountain pass in Sikkim at an altitude of 16200 ft. It offers a splendid view of southeast face of Mt.KanchenDzonga and also serves as a base camp for aspirants who want to scale the third highest peak of world. The majestic Mt Pandim in neighborhood and The Great GoechaLa lake at 16000 ft serves as jewels in the crown. I was thrilled by this fact and some of the pictures posted in blogs by fellow trekkers just took my breath away and made me more determined to do this trek. We had the luxury of accommodating few more people as we were pulling it by ourselves and eventually Sonia, Gautham, Kiran, Vidya and Shwetha came on board and we were a good dozen.

Preparation:

There were many first time high-altitude hikers in our group and I was a little concerned. 16200 feet is not a joke and Goechala trek is not the one for beginners. Even then, by looking at their enthusiasm I could not say NO and discourage them. Instead I made sure that they followed a regular running and stay fit for the trek. Also multiple visits to decathlon to equip them all with proper gear bought in a level of confidence.

Trekking route:

Coming up with day to day trekking plan was a tedious job. I had to balance the difficulty level and altitude gains evenly such that it will not pose a threat of AMS among the freshers and at the same time wont get boring for the experienced kids. The huge altitude gain every day was quite a challenge posed by this trek. Finally, spending awful lot of time on internet, reading all the blog posts from previous trekkers, analyzing their routes and hurdles, charted out the below plan which worked out magically for all. 7 of 12 made it till the view point 2 and 3 even attempted the Goechala pass. AMS not even stepped inside our camps and except the cry of our knees, we had a very happy summit.

The Goechala Plan

Guide:

BasanthNext step was to find a guide who would help us to pull it through. I wanted to reach Yuksom first and checkout for local guides, but since it was trekking season at peak, Vikas did not want to take chance. We did some inquiries in many Himalayan forums and with some friends and finally got a good recommendation from one of Vikas’s friends who did this trek last year. Thus I got in touch with Basanth Xubba. He is a very humble and friendly person and an excellent guide. He is also an aspirant to make it big and has recently started the trekking execution on his own. He has been on the trails of GoechaLa for over 8 10 years and know the trails very well. I started explaining him our requirements, plan and gave the specifics of what all need to be arranged for us. Given my expertise in Hindi, I was getting a little lost while understanding his Nepali accented Hindi. However with few initial conversations, I gained the confidence on his capability. We decided on taking along 2 guides, 2 porters, 2 cooks and 5 yaks for our expedition. Cost wise Basanth’s first offer itself was very reasonable and apt that I had nothing to negotiate. Things fell in place for us and I would strongly recommend him as a guide for the Dzongri or Goechala trek. He can be reached on his FB page or on his mobile 08768027017.

Itinerary:

The trek was planned for 10 days. Given our 10 working day leaves, 2 day of Dasara vacation and weekends, we got around 18 days for the travel. Thus we decided to stay for few days at Gangtok, chill out at the hill station and a possible visit to Gurudongmar lake. We got a good 4 day buffer for this plan after the trek and also a day to spend and explore the city of Siliguri, which is the Gateway to Northeast India and also called City of Happiness. We booked our flights to Bagdogra, the last possible airport to fly and our round trip itinerary followed like this – Bangalore – Bagdogra – Siliguri – Yuksom – Goechala – Yuksom – Gangtok – Bagdogra – Bangalore. More on it in the coming posts.

Budget:

The tricky part always in any of our travel plan is budget planning. The basic rule of TravelFreaks is that we “Travel light and economical, avoid luxuries without compromising the comfort and stay close to nature”. Achieving this is a challenge always. There was an additional challenge to make it cost effective than the pricing of IndiaHikes. Yeah, I did take the whole cancelling the slot issue very personally. 😛  When worked out on paper, our best case estimations came up to 18k per person for 18days, excluding the flight/train fares. And  in reality we almost wrapped up the whole travel in 20k. 🙂 Well, you got to believe me since I have the proof. How we did it, is certainly a trade secret. 😀

group

With everything set, thanks to SpiceJet’s Special offer, the group was split into two teams of 6 each who flew on 24th and 25th Sep respectively. We all met in Siliguri on 25th Sep and started our journey to Yuksom the next day. Thus began one of the most memorable trek of our lives.

Let me know what you think..

3 Comments

  • Thilak Rao November 13, 2014 at 19:33

    Looks like we crossed each other’s path several times during the trek. We started on the 26th as well. Unfortunately, no discount for us on the airfare 🙁

    Wondering how much you spent on the airfare?

    Reply
    • Suhas November 15, 2014 at 11:36

      A whopping Rs.7500 for round trip! 😛 Thilak. You were with which group during the trek?

      Reply
  • Thilak Rao February 18, 2015 at 13:07

    Jeez! I spent 18K for a round trip. Bangalore – Bagdogra – Bangalore. I wasn’t a part of any group, just me a couple of mountaneering buddies. No animals, no cooks, no porters.

    Reply

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