To the Summit and beyond

Here’s something I have been wanting to write for a while. Late September last year, I ventured out to the highlands of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir. I made a journey from Delhi to Leh and back. The goal of the trip was to traverse some of the high Himalayan Mountains of India in the Ladakh region.

I flew into Delhi and then took a bus to Manali, then onwards to Leh, to Srinagar from there and flew back to Delhi. It was an exciting 2 weeks for me. I never imagined to pull it off.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

Stok Kangri viewed from Leh

Standing tall in the center, Mt. Stok Kangri in the Leh skyline

This fabled trip of mine also included a trek up the highest trekkable mountain in India, Mt. Stok Kangri in Ladakh. Standing tall at 6153m or 20182 ft., amidst the Leh skyline, one mountain peak captures everyone’s, heart. I had zero skills, experience, and almost no preparations to attempt such a feat. But I set forth nevertheless.

More than reaching the peak, it was the whole experience going up. As always, in all my trips until now, I’ve had one of my close friends join me on my journeys. More than just joining me, they have offered a lot of moral and mental support and encouraged me when I was faced with doubts. Now looking back, I can’t imagine what I would have done without their support.

Stok Kangri trail

Trekking up the Stok Kangri trail

Leh was on my mind since my successful trip to the North east of India. After reaching Leh, I trekked up Mt. Stok Kangri and back down in 4 days. We met a lot of people on the trek, but there was a young man who intrigued us. As it turns out there was more to this young man. And I guess he was equally fascinated with us. On the trail, he was trekking solo with his guide and so were we. We were not part of any group and this is how I have liked trekking since. It was great to see a lot of people trekking up this mountain.

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While resting at the first camp on the trek, me and my friend broke into a conversation with this man and soon found out he was from New Zealand. The first thing that comes up my mind when I associate New Zealand and the mountains or the Himalayas in general, is the ever famous name of Sir Edmund Hillary along with Tenzing Norgay, the first men to summit Mt. Everest.

Years later, here was Nicholas Peter Allen, a solo climber from “Middle Earth”. We introduced ourselves and quickly got acquainted with him. We watched him along the trail and noticed he was much faster than us and way more determined. He set up his camps on the same route as we did and we eventually met him again along the trail and had some good conversations with each other.

Camp 1, Stok Kangri trail

The camp where we first met Nick

On the night we went up for the final ascent of Stok Kangri, Nick was also with us. The climb was very hard with the nail-biting cold at -25˚ and the high altitude. Nick fell sick on the way up and was not able to complete the climb. He returned back to the base camp and to Leh immediately after the climb in order to avoid any complications at high altitude. That was the last we saw him.

Stok Kangri Base Camp

Nick setting up his tent at the Stok Kangri Base Camp

After reaching Leh, my friend who joined me on the trek returned back home while I stayed back in Leh to visit some of the other places around. And then one day out of the blue, I happened to bump into Nick again. We were both happy to meet again and shared our contacts. While I continued my journey to Srinagar, and then back to Delhi and home, Nick flew into Nepal to the Everest region. He successfully summited the 6189m Imja Tse or Island Peak, which is one of the highest trekkable peaks in the Nepal Himalayas and then trekked to the Everest Base Camp. I followed his journey on Facebook and was overjoyed with his achievement in Nepal. Nick’s zeal and commitment to climb and press on was admirable.

At the summit of Island Peak

Nick at the summit of Island Peak

Now comes the plot twist, which I discovered later and was lost for words.

Nick grew up as any regular kid but loved the outdoors. Living in New Zealand and watching heroes like Edmund Hillary, he had dreams of climbing the Everest someday. We all know the impact the ascent of Everest has had to the world and for the climbing community. He grew up climbing and hiking in the mountains of New Zealand and had developed a keen sense of alpinism from a very young age.

But tragedy struck when he was 25. Nick was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or MS and was limited to a mobility scooter unable to even walk. After a few years of rehabilitation, a determined Nick got out of his wheel chair and now continues his childhood dream of climbing mountains and inspiring people. I am one of those people who were inspired by Nick and his life’s journey.

Nick now supports other people who suffer with MS and helps them get outdoors while he himself battles it out. He quickly became a living hero for me and his story has been the spark that kept me going when I took my journey to the Everest and the three high passes in the region. He has penned down his battle with MS and his story so far in his upcoming book. I count it a blessing and incredibly lucky to be friends with this amazing young man.

Nick’s inspirational story is detailed on his website www.masteringmountains.org, where he shares and journals his treks and climbs. His story has been a huge inspiration for me since meeting him and I hope it will inspire you as well.

Here’s how you can lend your support to Nick and anyone suffering from MS.

The book titled, To the Summit, will be available from September 16th this year. Grab your copy soon.

Never give up! Never lose hope! Climb higher, to the summit and beyond…

*The featured image of this post shows Nick hiking his way up the Stok Kangri trail*


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9 Comments

  1. Hi Johann,

    I saw you tweeting about blogging and I thought I’d check out your website. I really like it. Looks like Johann has come a long way!
    Good job with the Yoast plugin SEO is so important these days.

    Keep making great stuff!

  2. Gorgeous pictures! Why would anyone want to come back from there? 🙂
    Having said that, I haven’t been to Leh bcoz if I go, I would not want to return! 🙂

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