-By Varun Gunaseelan
The climb to Goecha La’s View Point 2 was bound to be a strenuous undertaking with a 24 kilometer round trip exclusively above 4000 meters from base camp at Thansing. We were scheduled for an alpine start following breakfast at 1:30 am and were given a strict turnaround time of 9 am.
At 2 am, the 6 member “Elite Team” set off into the darkness with two guides in a bid to reach Goecha La. Anticipating sub-zero temperatures and frigid glacial winds, we adorned our michellin man-esque down jackets and LED headlamps. Our well-equipped team formed a string of lights maneuvering its way through moonlit rocks and over frosted grass and frozen streams.
View Point 1 offered a spectacular vantage point above the debri-filled glacier and open views of big snowy mountains in all directions. Further, we pushed to view point 2.
We descended for 100 meters into the barren moonscape created by a dry lakebed before continuing a steady ascent towards Kanchenjunga. The terrain turned from sand to boulders to scree and we finally arrived at the glacial ridge of View Point 2 at 8:30 am! On the other side of this ridge was a steep drop into the teardrop-shaped Goecha lake. We were greeted by the thunderous sound of rocks and ice collapsing 200 meters down the steep face separating Goecha Peak’s hanging glacier and the turquoise green lake! View Point 2 was decorated with a few prayer flags and plates left behind by trekkers climbing for various causes including a French climber who climbed in memory of his boss!
The sun emerged over the ridgeline behind us as we started our descent back to Thansing. A quick aloo / roti meal and slew of selfies (profile picture material) gave us the firepower to overcome nagging headaches and fatigued muscles. We stopped at Samiti Lake, which had crystal clear water in contrast to the opaque hyper-mineralized water of Goecha Lake. Trudging along the same route that now appeared starkly different in daylight, we arrived at Lamuney where the trekkers in groups 2, and 3 gave us a loud cheerful applause followed by warm hugs and a well-deserved hot lunch! 24 kilometers and 12 hours later, we celebrated our successful climb back at Thansin.