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Stok Kangri offers the perfect opportunity for fit trekkers without any climbing experience who wish to summit their first Himalayan Peak. It is one of the main peaks of the Zanskar range, situated in the fascinating region of Ladakh. This high and arid landscape has captured the imagination of travelers since it was first opened to visitors in 1974. The extreme adventure expedition travels through remote valleys, scattered high villages and past hilltop monasteries to the base of the mountain.


The South Ridge provides an exhilarating climb in these fantastic surroundings. Although straightforward, the route is challenging and interesting, providing stunning views of the Karakoram Range and on a clear day, even K2 in the far distance.


One of the highlights of the trip is visiting Leh, the ancient capital of Ladakh. The regal air of the city, with its 'potala-like' palace and the charm of the friendly and traditionally dressed Ladakhi people, all contribute to the experience of this expedition.



Day 01: Arrival Leh:Leh
Make an early start to take the flight to Leh, the capital city of Ladakh. The flight would take you over the Greater Himalaya and make an exciting landing at one of the highest airports in the world. One can hope to get excellent views of Stok Kangri as one flies-in and on a clear day the great peaks of the Karakoram are visible to the north. You would be met at the airport by our representative and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day is for rest. Leh is at an altitude of nearly 11,000 ft, and you can expect to feel the effects of the rarefied atmosphere. For the first few hours, you may experience a little breathlessness and perhaps a slight headache. These symptoms of altitude sickness are mild and usually disappear quite quickly; however, everyone is advised to take it easy for the first day or two. Press-ups and hill sprints are definitely taboo.


Day 02: Exploring the city of LehExploring the city of Leh
Today is your day to relax and stroll around Leh, to allow the effects of the altitude to wear off. This is an important period, which allows the body to acclimatise in preparation for the initial trek. There are plenty of distractions in Leh, varying from scenic and cultural to culinary.


Day 03: Drive to LamayuruDrive to Lamayuru
The drive to Lamayuru is an experience in itself and takes around 6 hours. The road follows the Indus for some time and then climbs ever upwards through a series of spectacular bends before dropping down into the small village of Lamayuru. There is a stop en route to visit Alchi, a ‘World Heritage Site’. Once at Lamayuru, after some refreshment, you would leave on a trek for Wanla. Leaving the village, you pick your way through the fertile fields that surround Lamayuru and leave the valley by some Chortens into a dry gorge, which has a beauty of its own. Follow the gorge to the top of the Prinkiti La (3,725 mts). It is a fairly short, steep ascent to the summit of the La (pass), but it is soon gained if you maintain a steady pace. The path then gradually descends a narrow gorge until Mani Wall and Chortens herald your arrival in the Wanla Valley. The ochre monastery in Wanla can be glimpsed through the trees. From this point, the valley is followed and the campsite soon reached within an approximate time of 3 hrs.


Day 04: Trek up the Ripchar Valley
Today you start your trek following a broad trail that runs along the side of the valley until you reach the village of Phenji. From here, you turn up the Ripchar Valley and follow the path that contours the irrigation ditches. You would pass by many villagers working in the fields and scattered houses, all the time gradually climbing higher. After the walk through the warm morning sun, you would partake lunch under the shade of the trees that grow along the valley. After lunch, you continue to climb until you reach the village of Hinju, where it is possible to buy a most welcome bottle of pop. The campsite is some distance beyond Hinju, located amidst pleasant meadows. Total trek would be for approximately 6 hrs at an altitude of 3800 mts. (12,000 ft).


Day 05: Cross Konse La
You leave early and follow an easy path until you are at the foot of the Konse La (height just under 4,950 mts. / 16,000 ft). The walking at this point gets more strenuous, but all of the effort is soon forgotten once the top is reached; from this vantage point, the views are amazing. The descent is as swift as it is steep but as it eases, you would pass a number of shepherds' huts where you may be offered curd. The campsite is reached after about one hour's decent from the pass. Total trekking time would be about 5 hours and the altitude at which the campsite would be set would be approximately 4,100 mts. / 13,500 ft.


Day 06: Trek to the village of Sumdochenmo
From the campsite, the trail descends gradually, criss-crossing a pleasant stream. After a while, you leave this and follow a path adjacent to a water channel until the village of Sumdochenmo is reached. At the village, it is possible to obtain tea and there is a small monastery, which provides a pleasing distraction. After the village, the path contours high above the valley bottom until it drops to a junction of several valleys. Here you would find some welcome shade where you may have your lunch. Until this point, you have been descending gradually. In front of you is a climb separating you from your campsite. At a steady pace, the high point can be reached in about an hour before a gradual descent leads to a dusty but pleasant campsite with spectacular views. Approximately 4 hours of walking would be undertaken at an altitude of about 3,900 mts. / 13,000 ft. where the campsite would be set.


Day 07: First views of Stok Kangri from Dungduchenia
You leave your camp and pass some herdsmans' huts on your way to the top of the pass. The path is obvious and delightful views of the mountains are afforded (great place for echoes near the top). The top is reached within two hours. The Dungduchenia is at an altitude of about 4,450 mts. / 15,000 ft and from here, if the weather permits, excellent scenic views of Stok Kangri can be witnessed. The way down is most pleasant to begin with, but a steep descent into a gorge heralds the start of a slog if the weather is hot. Fortunately, the campsite at Chilling makes up for the hard work. Sometimes beer is available as well as rum for the more discerning. After about 5 hours of walking you would retire to your campsite at an altitude of about 3,100 mts. / 10,200 ft.


Day 08: Return drive along the banks of the Indus to LehReturn drive along the banks of the Indus to Leh
You make a leisurely start to the day, so as to relax after completing the initial part of the expedition. The trek will have taken you through the spectacular country whilst improving your fitness and acclimatisation, to the altitude and to the culture of the people of Ladakh. The benefits might not be immediately apparent, as you shake off the celebrations from the night before. After packing, you would embark by road for the return drive along the banks of the Indus to Leh. You would settle back in to your hotel for the evening.


Day 09: Rest and exploration in and around Leh
The time is your own to rest and explore Leh. The great palace commands the city, which was the seat of the old Ladakhi kings. Beneath it, the streets, alleyways and tunnels of the ancient city are intriguing to explore, and many of the local people still wear the traditional Tibetan-like costume. There are many shops, bazaars and restaurants exploring which, you can spend a very pleasant and restful day. On the horizon, to the south, one mountain rises higher than all around - Stok Kangri. You may find its appearance somewhat alarming, as it does look very steep from Leh. Just remember this is where the fun and excitement truly lies.


Day 10: Begin trek up Matho River Valley to Stok Kangri
Leaving early in the morning, you would drive up the Indus Valley to Matho (2 hours), which is the start of your approach to Stok Kangri. Returning once again to the barren mountain wilderness, you would trek up the Matho River Valley and set up camp after several hours' of walk, at a place called Matho Phul (4,480 mts. / 14,700 ft). After your rest in Leh and with your body fully acclimatised, you would be fit and in good shape for the trek to base camp and climb.


Day 11: Trek to Stok Kangri Base Camp
From Matho Phul, you continue up the valley making a steep climb over a pass from which you can take in the awesome views of Stok Kangri. Also visible below is the base camp and the entire route from base camp to the summit can be seen. From here, a steady descent leads to your base camp and home for the next two nights (altitude approx. 5,000 mts. / 16,000 ft).


Day 12: A rest day and time for final preparations
The expedition leader checks the route to the glacier and looks for a site for advance base camp. It is possible that he may require help to prepare the campsite, which is located on the glacier, cradled on the lower slopes of the mountain itself, several hours above base camp.


Day 13: Move to Advance Base CampMove to Advance Base Camp
From base camp, you would climb straight up the moraine, which stands immediately above your camp. This is tiring work first thing in the day but it soon eases to give a gentle descent and access to the glacier beyond. Depending on snow conditions you may be required to put on crampons as you walk onto the glacier. The surface of the glacier will probably be uneven and furrowed by melted water streams. There are a few, very small crevasses, which you would be required to navigate carefully. At the top of the glacier the slope steepens as you climb up onto the south face where the camp is located on a promontory of rough ground at approximately 5,300 mts. / 17,400 ft. Using this high camp also engenders a real 'expedition feel' and heightens the anticipation of the climb itself.


Day 14: Summit day
Your summit day begins before dawn, which gives ample time for the climb. Being several hours above base camp, starting from here considerably shortens the day and increases everyone's chances of reaching the summit. The nature of the climb from advance base camp depends on the snow cover. It is most likely that you would not need your crampons for the most part as you scramble over scree and boulders, which lead up to the south ridge. The 1,500 ft ridge that stretches up to the summit is exciting and superbly exposed, although never particularly steep and very straightforward. Most of the ridge is like a steep path, so ropes are not usually necessary, although some scrambling is required. At an altitude approaching 20,000 ft it is extremely tiring and anybody who needs a rope will be able to use one.


The summit is a superb reward for your effort, giving magnificent views in every direction. The city of Leh would appear so small that you would barely be able to see it. After taking photographs and perhaps a bite to eat, you set off to return, down the hill. The route taken depends on the leader, but it is usually a reversal of the way you went up. Occasionally groups have descended the South Face, in which case a small abseil is necessary near the top. On reaching the glacier, you would return all the way back to base camp, your advance base camp having been dismantled by your camp staff. The evening meal is to be accompanied by a wee dram to celebrate the occasion!

Day 15: Spare Summit Day
An extra day in case of conditions or situations like bad weather, individual acclimatisation, or anything else which requires more time for the ascent to be completed successfully.


Day 16: Trek to Stok from Base Camp
From base camp we trek directly down the valley towards the village of Stok. This is a delightful walk, passing several homesteads and numerous ruins of old fortresses. We reach Stok after about six hours walking, from where transport meets us and take us back to the Hotel in Leh.


Day 17: Fly from Leh to Delhi
After another spectacular flight, return to Delhi for overnight stay.