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Stok Kangri Climb is a superb introduction to high altitude mountaineering in the Himalayas. Although standing tall at an altitude of 6153m, it is still considered a trekking peak that can be attempted without being bogged down by the technicalities and skill of mountaineering. On the other hand, Stok Kangri can prove to be a serious challenge depending on the snow and weather conditions on summit night.
In recent times this mountain has garnered so much popularity among amateurs and novice climbers, that it could easily be considered as the “common man’s Everest”! The most important aspect to consider while attempting Stok Kangri would be acclimatization to high altitude. At 6153m, the peak is very high while the Base Camp itself is at a height of 4900m, as high as some passes one would encounter on a trekking trail in Ladakh, earning itself the name “The Land of High Passes” Hence, it is paramount to be completely acclimatized before the summit night increasing the chances for a successful attempt. For aiding acclimatization, Adventure Sindbad guides you through the sun-scorched slopes of Matho La and through the arid vast lands Gangpoche, before reaching the base camp on Day 6 of the trip.
The trek up Stok Kangri base camp is scenic, to say the least. The vivid colours and hues of the Stok range changes as the curves that adorn the mountains. These steep slopes are home to some unique buckthorn shrubbery and other patched vegetation. The ‘Bharaal’ is a sight to behold in the mountains of the Stok Range. Also, the trek is layered with a stint of the local essence, the shepherds living in the Doksas give a new perception to a ‘hard life and a happy life’, one gets to imbibe a little through their stories and generous offering of the local dairy products.
It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to climb Stok Kangri, as there are no high camps allowed above Stok Base Camp, this stretches the summit night and increases exhaustion levels by the time we complete the attempt. The view of jagged mountain ranges, snow-clad peaks from the summit of Stok Kangri gratifies the journey through the night. As the trekkers’ descent, the panorama is much more enjoyed and absorbed with the jubilation of summiting Stok Kangri. The climb is definitely a test of endurance and promises to push your limits in a controlled setting. After high altitude trekking, this mountain would be the first step in your path towards serious mountaineering and to reach higher summits in the Himalayan range.Personal equipment and sleeping bags
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Day 1 : Arrive Leh(3500m)
Leh has one the highest airports in the world – Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport situated close to 3500m. Our representative will receive you as you walk out of the small airport and drive you to our hotel in Leh. The first day is reserved for total rest and acclimatization to high altitude. The body needs time to adjust to the rarefied air and lower oxygen levels. Best way to spend the first day is to just read, sleep and lounge around the hotel. Hydration is another aspect which is extremely important to aid in acclimatization. Briefing of the trip would be done post lunch.
Day 2 : Sightseeing Day
Another relaxed day spent mostly in sightseeing of the ancient monasteries and palaces in and around Leh. After breakfast we head to Shey Palace, the erstwhile capital of Ladakh. The palace and the monastery is situated on a hillock. There’s a meadow and a lake right in front of Shey Palace which are popular picnic grounds for Locals. We then visit Thiksey monastery which is famous for the 2 storeyed statue of the Maitreya Buddha. We return to Leh for lunch. Post lunch we finish any last minute shopping and do a gear check to ensure we have everything required for the climb. We retire to bed early.
Day 3 : Drive to Matho(3640m). Trek to Matho Chu(3770m)
Post breakfast, we head to Matho village about an hour’s drive from Leh where our support crew will be waiting with the horses. We spend some time loading horses with camping equipment and ration. Matho is a beautiful village with a big monastery at its centre. We normally start the trek from Matho before entering the Stok Valley as an acclimatization walk. The first day of trek is short and we follow the Matho Tokpo first on the right and then on the left to reach our small camp beside the stream. Post lunch and afternoon siesta we explore the grounds around and try to gain altitude. Return to camp by Tea time.
Day 4 : Trek to Gangpoche(4390m)
We continue walking upstream along the Matho Chu. Today they are multiple stream crossings and we will have to take off our shoes on many occasions to cross the Matho Chu stream. It is pretty swift and ankle deep in many places. In between we suddenly veer right, away from the main Valley and enter a thickly vegetated spot with willow. It is difficult to notice the path here, but it takes us to another Valley which leads to a mountain with zig zag trail. Gangpoche is about an hour’s walk to the top from the foot of this mountain. Gangpoche is one of the finest camps on this trail for its scenic beauty and proximity to the shepherd camps. The other peaks of Stok Range is clearly visible from this camp.
Day 5 : Trek to Yuruley(4550m) Over Matho La(4900m)
Our acclimatization trek continues to Yuruley over the Matho La Pass(4900m). The grounds are expansive and we walk on a gentle trail, slowly gaining in altitude over 3 hours to reach Matho La. Magnificent views of the entire trail, Stok Range and Stok Kangri itself from the pass. We then descend steeply to our campsite at Yuruley next to some abandoned shepherd camps. These slopes are also the grazing grounds for horses and mules which carry load to the Base Camp and back. Since there is hardly any grass around the Base Camp, horsemen normally drop all the camping equipment and descend to Smankarmo and Yuruley to let their horses to graze.
Day 6 : Trek to Stok Bc(4900m)
Today we enter the main Stok Valley and make our way upto Stok Base Camp. We are in total solitude till we reach the ridge point just above Smankarmo from where the Stok Valley comes to view. This is the Stok Highway which remains busy the whole of summer with groups trekking up and down throughout the day. As we make our way up, we are greeted by many groups making their way down after their summit attempt. Some beaming faces, some sad and some in all awe of the experience they have just been through. High chances of spotting bharals on this trail. We reach Base Camp by lunch time and rest for the remainder of the day.
Day 7 : Rest Day At Stok Bc
Our trek over Matho La would have helped a lot in acclimatization. Apart from that, our one night’s rest at 4900m would have further aided in getting used to high altitude. After breakfast, we make our way to the ridge point above Base Camp and further on to Advance Base Camp, to get a feel of what it would be like on Summit night. We return to Base Camp by lunch time and spend the rest of the day at leisure enjoying the sights around Base Camp.
Day 8 : Rest At Morning. Summit Night
Another relaxed morning. We spend the day checking our gear for the summit night and practicing walking while roped up. We have an early dinner and retire to bed by 5 pm to rest a bit before waking up again by 11pm to get ready for summit. In the night after waking up, we have a high protein snack and head out all geared up for the climb. It is important to be in a positive frame of mind and take it slow on the summit night. We gradually make our way up the mountain. The entire summit attempt could take anywhere between 10-15 hrs depending on the condition of the day.
Day 9 : Return to Stok Bc
We should be on the summit in the early hours just after dawn. The summit is definitely a great high and the views all around are totally stunning. You can see the Zanskar range on one side, the East Karakorams on the other. We enjoy the views for a bit and start our descent carefully to Base Camp. We stop at the end of the ridge to replenish ourselves for the long descent. We should be at Base Camp for lunch. We pass off as soon as we retire into our camps from all the exhaustion. A celebratory dinner late evening for all our efforts whatever the result before we retire for the night.
Day 10 : Trek to Stok Village(3500m). Drive to Leh
A long descent to Stok Village from Base Camp. We pass the campsites of Smankarmo and Changma on the way down to Stok Village. The Valley is very unique with craggy folds and multi-coloured hues. There is a high chance of noticing bharals on this stretch. We meet a lot of groups trekking up and we wish them luck before we continue on to Stok Village. Lunch on the way. Our taxis will be waiting at the road head to drive us to Leh. We bid adieu to the trekking crew and out horsemen and hop into our taxis for the 40 mins drive to Leh town. A much needed hot shower awaits at the hotel in Leh.
Day 11 : Depart
Early morning transfer to the Airport for flight to New Delhi. Trip Ends.
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