Amongst all the popular treks in Ladakh such as the Indus Valley Trek, Changthang Trek,Markha Valley Trek, Zanskar trek, Monasteries Trek etc, the most exciting and challenging trek in this region is the trek to the Stok Kangri Peak. Stok Kangri is at an amazing height of 20, 080 ft (6, 153 m) and is the highest mountain in the Stok range of Himalayas. It is 24 km from the district of Leh. Even though the Stok Kangri trek is the most glamorous one, it is by no means an easy trek. Only very few people who attempt, succeed to reach the Stok Kangri Peak. People from all over the world come here to endeavor Stok Kangri Trek to the summit.
Day 1 Arrive at Leh.The breathtakingly stunning view from the aircraft window is just the beginning; there are many surprises left in the box. With deep valleys and gorges, Ladakh has all the bounties and miracles of nature. When you land at the Ladakh airport, the sudden drop in temperature will take you by surprise and send a chill running down your spine. The average temperature in Leh stays around the 10 degree C mark, and during winters it can drop down to a bone chilling -20 degrees C or even lower. The air has a distinct freshness and crispiness in it and you will feel like breathing pure air. The chill in the air provides slight indication about the temperatures during the trek to Stok Kangri. Take a stroll through the Leh market, there are various shops selling many different kind of stuff. Few of them will even have things that are required for the trek, thus making last minute shopping a good idea in Leh. The night will be spent in a warm and cozy guest house located in the main city of Leh. Here, you can meet your fellow trekkers, the guide and support staff. People in Leh mostly eat vegetarian food, so it is difficult to get non vegetarian food in the area. Dinner provided will be specially rustled to keep you warm and healthy. Go to bed early as next day you will have to be ready for the acclimatization day, necessary for the trek.
Stok Kangri is the tallest mountain in the area, and there is no place in Leh, from where it is not visible. There is no ignoring the huge mountain of Stok Kangri, the final destination of the trek. The morning hot tea is served, which does adds a lot of antioxidants to our body, but most importantly gives motivation to wake up. After a healthy breakfast, the day calls for acclimatization to the harsh and extreme temperature and environmental conditions that will prevail for the rest of the trek. Today you can enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Leh and its surroundings. You can consider this day to get accustomed with the place and its rich culture and heritage. It is vital to have your first acclimatization night after arriving at altitudes of more than 3000 mts, before you venture out to higher altitudes. Altitude sickness is a common illness among trekkers. This is so serious that trekkers may have to return without completing the trek. All overnight stays are not planned, and during emergency situations like snowfall, blizzards and snow storms, altitude sickness can happen to anyone. For getting used to such altitudes, start off with a little bit of exercise and stretches, as cold tends to slow down your body movements. Explore the city on foot, enjoy the most beautiful mornings ever, the sun rays feels like heaven on our body. For people in their mid-40s and 50s, carrying an oxygen cylinder is a good idea. Go for a visit to Alchi, which is lower than Leh, this will help you to know the terrain better. There are around 10 monasteries and few ancient temples that you can visit.
Today is the actual start of the trek. Deciding to trek in Leh is for many like a dream come true, an experience which is highly valued and rare. Trekking in this part of the country requires strength and serious courage. After breakfast, your guide will give you briefing on the activities ahead. The trekking starts with a drive to Stok village through a paved road. Before you start, always recheck that you have all the required stuff and supplies for the trek. As the drive starts from Leh, you will come across many beautiful and exotic scenes. The drive to the Stok Village is quite adventurous and has bounties of nature never before experienced. Full of lush green, silver birch trees and colourful flowers, there is no better ride. The weather is perfect during summers and roaming around is very peaceful. Stok Village is situated to the south of Leh and is well known for its royal palace and the King of Ladakh who resides here. Experience the immense joy of trekking on snow and open up huge possibilities, for moving ahead. Trek for 8 hours before reaching Mankorma.The walk will traverse through the rough and barren landscape of Ladakh. The landscape is astonishingly beautiful, and the panoramic scenes add glory to it.The winds are quite strong and gusty and might even sway you from side to side.You pass numerous small streams and tiny ponds on the way to Mankorma. There might be instances where you might feel symptoms of altitude sickness.Enjoy the overnight stay in camps under the star gazing sky.
Day 04 will take you to the Stok Kangri Base Camp. At an altitude of 5000 m the base camp will be the starting point for the summit.It takes roughly 5 hours to reach the campsite, and the trek is breathtaking in its own way. The area has many water bodies around it, and when the sun rays fall on it, the water sparkles like diamonds. The air becomes considerably thinner as you climb. When you reach the base camp you have to try hard to breathe. The temperature here is considerably less than the other places in the trek. After having lunch and an hour of rest,you may opt for the mountain peaks of Gulap Kangri, Parcha Kangri and many others. This is surely going to make your day and inspire you for the final expedition.
Take some rest in the base camp, to assure that everyone is ready for the extreme days ahead. In the coming days, you will find a drastic change in the climatic conditions and even lack of oxygen is going to affect. For the final climb, adjust your equipments and trekking gear. As the evening falls, get ready for a chilling night . After having dinner, go to bed early, as the day ahead is saved for training.
The day will be easy for trekkers. Today is specially meant to know the place and the route to the summit in detail. It is very crucial to know all aspects of team-work and the techniques involved in climbing a peak filled with snow. Your trek leader and guide will train you for the upcoming climb and tell you about all the challenges and possibilities involved. You need to have enough knowledge about the terrain, depth of snow and other environmental aspects before you start climbing Stok Kangri. Snow trekking boots are an absolute necessity as it is slippery on the outside and lets you plough through the snow with ease. Your guide will brief you about the trek plan for the next few days, remember it clearly. At the end of the training period, you will have enough time to take proper rest so that you are prepared for the next day. The upcoming excursion will surely be highly challenging, but will provide immense joy and self-confidence when you make it to the top. The overnight stay as usual will be in camps, but the difference this time is the camps being kneeled onto the snowy ground. Before sleep, you should be in a situation, to take on the summit with a big heart and might. By now, you should be quite familiar with the conditions prevailing during the day and as well as the drastic weather changes during the night.
At the base camp there will be many trekking groups, you can talk to them about their journey to top; it gives an immense boost to confidence.Waking up early is crucial for determining the start time, so make sure that everyone in your group is ready as early as possible. The route goes through glaciers, then through a gradual period of ascent and descent and finally comes to the steep slope to the Stok Kangri ridge. The route starts off with a steep and quite tall ascent, and then the slope will change gradually till the time you reach the glacier. The first couple of hours will be tough and extremely demanding. After 3 hours of trekking, you will finally reach the glacier. Take some rest at this point and don't forget to take pictures.The glacier is the point where the actual climb to the summit ridge starts.The stretch will take 2 to 3 hours to complete depending upon the speed. To walk safely on the thick snow, use your crampons to get a firm grip and avoid slipping.
After a slow and tiring climb, you will finally touch the ridge. Stand up and see how it feels to watch the world from such a height. You can actually very well see that the highest point is still a 2 hour climb away, and the only access to it is via the south shoulder. The shoulder is extremely tough and challenging to traverse. It is very steep at almost 75 degrees and is made up of a narrow channel of rocks. Climb on all fours, any mistake can lead to a fatal fall. After an hour of gruelling climb and tussling with the rocks, the shoulder will ease its way to a much more gradual slope where you can easily walk.The extremely thin air and lack of oxygen will make every step difficult. After a short hike up, you will finally reach the Stok Kangri Summit, the highest trekkable summit in the Indian subcontinent. The summit offers a great view of the area, the Karakoram Range and the Saser Kangri dominates the north, whereas the Zanskar ranges in the south.
This is the final day of your fantastic trek, the unbelievable journey which had all the elements of a high altitude trekking will be over after this day. The first hand mountaineering and expedition experience it provides is comparable to none.The trek back to Leh is exciting and a bit challenging. You will tend to lose balance if you descend very soon, so be careful. Today the walk involved is more than 12 Kms as you need to walk to Stok Village by foot. From there, a drive back to Leh. 5 days continuously on foot will make you nostalgic and devoid of the fun involved with climbs. When you reach Leh, take a hot water bath, it will lessen the pain and fatigue from the trek.
Departure From Leh