LADAKH TREKKING (inc STOK KANGRI)
Trekking to Stok Kangri Base Camp via Stok La
Dates: 19 - 21 August 2013
Company: Myself, Francesco, Romilly, Eli, Paul, Sean, Richard, Chris, Vladimir and Goh
TREK DAY FIVE
Day Five was one of our easiest days trekking. Our itinerary mostly alternated between easy day and hard day. For a pleasant change our day started with descent rather than ascent.
From our camp at 4500m, we made our way down to the valley floor passing a single house en-route called Yurutse.
Descent from Camp #4 towards Yurutse:
The next photo shows some of the green marble against the purple slate.
Green marble and purple slate:
On reaching Yurutse, we stopped for a short break and for a quick look inside the house.
Outside the house a man was busy sewing. He was quite content to have his photo taken.
Man sewing outside Yurutse:
From Yurutse, we continued down to the valley floor and then followed the river for a short distance even further downhill. I believe we descended to a height of only 3800m – 3900m. We then had to cross over a wobbly bridge which looks worse than it actually is. This bridge is unusable when the river is in spate.
After crossing the bridge we met our one and only Yak of the entire trip. It was a really stubborn beast. It was on the path and there was no way it was moving off the path to let us past. It was great to see a Yak
Stubborn Yak blocking our path:
We then made our way towards Rumbak, a settlement of circa twenty houses in a nice oasis of greenery.
It was raining fairly heavily on reaching Rumbak, so it was nice to be invited in to our ponyman’s house to sample some drinks – mint tea, butter tea and Chang (a rather unpleasant ale).
Inside our ponyman’s house at Rumbak:
After spending around one hour in the house, once the rain went off, we made our way towards Camp #5 a short distance beyond Rumbak at a height of circa 4100m.
Looking back to Rumbak:
Heading for Camp #5 beyond Rumbak:
Looking towards Camp #5:
During the walk to Camp #5, I stopped to photograph a bird. I didn’t know
what it was but the guide suspected it was some kind of Flycatcher.
A female Streaked Rosefinch:
View from Camp #5, a short distance beyond Rumbak:
The view towards Stok La was one of my favourite sights of the trip and the walk over Stok La, which we would undertake the following day, is considered to be one of the best walks in Ladakh. The rock colours are incredible.
View towards Stok La (zoom):
It was a lovely warm afternoon on reaching Camp #5. I therefore had a look about to see what wildlife I could find. While walking between some small shrubs something ran at incredible speed between the bushes. Then I saw another and another of these fast-moving beasts. After about 30 minutes, I successfully managed to photograph one of them. According to our guide, these are called Pikka.
I also come across several small lizards and numerous grasshoppers.
Bob, Sean, Francesco and Paul at Camp #5:
Our catering staff at Camp #5:
TREK DAY SIX
After a good nights sleep, we set off on the second longest day of our trek. Today we would cross over the Stok La pass and then descend down the other side of the pass and start making our way towards Stok Kangri Base Camp.
Setting out from Camp #5 towards Stok La:
None of my photos do the pinnacles at Stok La justice. They are one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen; hundreds if not thousands of conglomerate pinnacles.
View towards the multitude of pinnacles near Stok La:
Steep ascent to Stok La:
On reaching a height of circa 4500m, we stopped for a short break. During this time, I took some photos of some of my companions.
As we continued up towards the pass, it was great to get closer and closer to some of the incredible pinnacles.
Hundreds of pinnacles:
The final steep ascent up to Stok La was quite hard work. Stok La is at 4900m.
Ascent to Stok La:
Looking back towards Rumbak (small green oasis centre pic):
Ascent to Stok La:
On reaching the top of the Stok La pass we stopped for circa fifteen minutes to soak in the views.
At the top of Stok La:
View from Stok La:
View from Stok La:
View from Stok La:
Our next sections of track were fairly “interesting”. Not a place for a stumble.
Looking across to our next section of track from Stok La:
Pinnacles at Stok La (zoom):
After a group photo at the top of Stok La, we made our way across the next section of track before stopping for lunch.
Group photo at the top of Stok La:
Looking back to our steep descent from Stok La:
Looking back to Stok La:
While stopped for lunch our two guides Ngima and Jigmet climbed up a small outcrop and then enticed me to follow. Come on Andy!
Ngima and Jigmet atop an easy climb:
It wasn't Difficult - an Easy or Moderate solo up and down
Myself atop that same easy climb:
I realised we still had a long distance to cover and considerable height to lose when our guide pointed out where we were heading next. We could just make out the river valley far below.
Looking down towards our next destination (small river towards bottom right of pic):
Descent from beyond Stok La:
The descent from our lunch stop was fairly steep but fortunately there was a zig-zag path. Some Indian trekkers decided to run down the direct seriously steep route – mad!
Looking back to our steep zig-zag descent:
A Jo (cross between a cow and a yak):
We eventually dropped down to a height of circa 4200m before starting to ascend again towards Mankarmo.
In a couple of days time we would be coming back this way as we were now on the trade-route to Stok Kangri from the village of Stok.
Pinnacles a short distance from Mankarmo:
A man riding a horse:
Approaching Camp #6, circa 0.5km beyond Mankarmo:
Looking back down the valley:
It was great to reach Camp #6 after a long, tiring day. At the camp we got our first real views of Stok Kangri and also our first decent view of Blue Sheep.
They are not blue and I’m not convinced they are sheep!
Camp #6, with Stok Kangri making an appearance:
Some Blue Sheep near Camp #6:
More Blue Sheep:
It was great to see Stok Kangri. All going well, in two days time we would be standing on its summit.
Stok Kangri from Camp #6 (zoom):
During the trip, every morning I woke up with a smile at the sound of our alarm clock. Our donkey liked to make one helluva EEEEEE-AWWWW
around 05:30 every morning
Our 05:30 alarm:
Looking back towards some pinnacles at dusk (zoom):
Next day would be a very short easy day, taking us to Stok Kangri Base Camp.
TREK DAY SEVEN
I don’t have much to say about the walk up to Base Camp. It was a nice easy walk taking us from circa 4300m to around 4950m.
Sleeping at 4950m was never likely going to happen, especially given we would be having tea at 18:00 going to bed at 19:00 then getting up at 23:00 for breakfast for a midnight headtorch start to Stok Kangri
Ascent from Camp #6 towards Stok Kangri Base Camp:
Romilly having a wee rest:
Looking back during ascent to Base Camp:
Ascent towards Base Camp:
As we approached Base Camp it was nice to see a couple of young Marmots.
A young Marmot:
At Base Camp we could see a number of nice tents – Jagged Globe!
Jagged Globe were summiting the day before us. I believe 3 out of 6 of the Jagged Globe group made it to the summit.
I think it would be difficult to beat the Exodus itinerary but they could really do with getting some decent mountain tents.
Stok Kangri Base Camp:
From Base Camp we could see the start of our walk that we would be undertaking at midnight.
Start of the track leading towards Stok Kangri from Base Camp: