Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Trip Report for Stok Kangri expedition led by Alan Ward in July 2010

Photo: view from summit of Stok Kangri

This year Alan Ward led The Mountain Company’s expedition to Stok Kangri (6,123m) in Ladakh northern India, he was helped by our Ladakhi guide Angchok and also our Nepalese climbing guide Shera. Overall the expedition went well with two members of the group summiting and the rest successfully reaching high up on the mountain.

After flying to Leh at 3,505m the team spent three days acclimatising to this high altitude while spending time to explore Leh and the surrounding area. On their second day they visited Leh Palace then climbed to the hilltop gompa and the ruined fort. Next day the team took jeeps to Khardung La, at 5,359m this pass is known as the highest motorable road in the world. Not only is the view impressive but driving up here is helpful for acclimatisation before starting the trek.

Our Stok Kangri itinerary starts from the village of Chilling located on the Zanskar river before entering the Markha Valley, then after crossing Ganda La at 4,983m we make the approach Stok Kangri Base Camp.

On arrival to Base Camp, Alan was informed by the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) representative that it was no longer possible to use the High Camp on the mountain. The reason given was that villagers from Stok were unhappy with the rubbish left at this camp and were worried about pollution of their water supply. While I respect their view on this matter the issue is without using High Camp makes climbing Stok Kangri far more difficult and risky in terms of lack of acclimatisation and forcing a very long summit day. Hopefully in the future a solution will be found to satisfy everyone involved, perhaps by more stringent monitoring of expeditions on the mountain?

Luckily after much discussion IMF granted our group approval to use High Camp due to the fact we had a blind climber in our group however as it turned out the pack animals were unable to proceed to the “higher” High Camp due to snow on the trail.

The team set off for the summit at 4am, on leaving camp they headed up to the glacier which was very wet and slushy underfoot. After making progress climbing the mountain three of the group decided to turn back then two carried on with Shera to the summit. Alan thought that this year the conditions were much more challenging compared to his last visit to Stok Kangri. The view of our summiteers Ian and Paul was that Stok Kangri was more difficult than their previous trips to Mera Peak and Aconcagua.

Congratulations to the whole team it was a great effort given the conditions, I think everyone succeeded in making their own personal altitude records on this mountain.

The Mountain Company is organising an expedition to Stok Kangri in July 2011, please get in touch with us if you would like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

No comments:

The Mountain Company