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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Trip report for Ladakh Sky Trail GHT led by Almas Khan in August/ September 2017

Photo: Tso Moriri lake at finish of LST
In August/ September 2017 we organised our 4th Ladakh Sky Trail GHT in northern India. Almas Khan is the leader and organiser for this trek and this year we had an international mix with people coming from Australia, USA and UK.

As mentioned in previous trip reports our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT is a unique itinerary designed by Almas and travels through the best of the three areas of this region: Ladakh, Zanskar and Changthang/ Rupshu. For most of Ladakh Sky Trail GHT we follow rarely trekked trails and this is only possible due to the local knowledge of Almas and our local Ladakhi guides.

These days in most areas of the Himalaya there are more and more trekking groups around and with increasing construction of roads means that more places are accessible. With many years experience of running treks in the Himalaya The Mountain Company specialises in searching out and organising the most remote treks with fewer other groups around. If you are looking to get truly off the beaten track then Ladakh Sky Trail is a good choice for India, Lunana Snowman for Bhutan and Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT for Nepal.

Our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT group arrived to Leh on August 15th and on 18th drove to Lamayuru (3,500m) and 19th they started the trek. One of the changes we implemented for this year was to have three nights in Leh whereas in previous years we only had two nights. As Leh is located at 3,500m the more time one has here to adjust to this high altitude the better before heading off on trek and ascending high passes.

The feedback from this group has been positive with no reported issues relating to altitude sickness and Almas feels that having an extra night in Leh helps everyone feel stronger during the first week on the trek. There are lots of interesting places to see in and around Leh so this extra time is used well to get a feel for the scenery, culture and pace of life in Ladakh.

Photo: river crossings during LST
As for all or our treks in the Himalayas we received bespoke weather forecast from Michael Fagin at Fortunately the weather was good for our 2017 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT trek and for your information I have copied Almas’s words from his trip report:

“The weather on the trip was good. The days were hot in the beginning of the trek till we reached Zangla. It rained only one day while we were in the gorge. That day we camped short at Tilat Sumdo instead of Kumarasumdo. Next day the weather cleared up and we easily covered up the hour and a half we lost the previous day. The weather got cold after Tshokar lake and got light dusting of snow on some nights. Overall the weather for LST 2017 was really good and I think we run this trip at the optimal time of year.”

As mentioned in previous year’s Trip Reports we have carefully selected the time of year to run this trek, by starting in late August into September much of the snow in the mountains has already melted over the summer so river levels should be lower at this time of year. As Almas explains above this trek is in the shoulder season so expect the weather to cool off during the trek as the conditions become more Autumnal towards the end of the trip.

Photo: peaks around Tso Moriri lake
As the weather and conditions were favourable the group made good progress and followed the itinerary as planned. The group arrived to end of the trek at Tsomoriri lake on September 9th and then on 10th drove back to Leh. As with all of TMC western led treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek on SPOT Adventure website

We have made one change on the kit list for our 2018 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT based on feedback from this group and from Almas. In previous years we recommended fully enclosed sandals for the river crossings however this year Almas used a water shoe called Merrell Waterpro Maipo and this provided more protection during the three days walking in the gorge. I have copied Almas's comments below:

"I have tried several styles of shoes for river crossing shoes over the last three LSTs - I feel water shoes without any Velcro work the best - laces are more efficient than Velcro which gets clogged with sediment and stops working. The mesh foot coverage prevents small pebbles getting in and also they were comfortable to walk in between river crossings. We should update the kit list to include water shoes as there are more than 130 river crossings over three days and a lot walking in between. Also can double for camp / travel shoes"

Photo: peaks around Tso Moriri lake

The Mountain Company has a pledge through AITO Project Protect for our groups to collect at least 120kg of rubbish/ trash in the Himalaya and Karakoram during 2017. Our 2017 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT has collected 10kg of rubbish from the trails and around campsites and this is more than our target of 4kg per group so well done to Almas, crew and group!

Photo; photo of rubbish collected on LST 2017

As ever I would like to thanks Almas and the very hardworking Ladakhi team for doing a great job on another successful Ladakh Sky Trail GHT. Almas will be back in Ladakh again next summer leading our 2018 Ladakh Sky Trail and this trek is now already guaranteed to run.

Please get in touch soon if you are interested in joining our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT or if you have any questions on this trek.

Roland Hunter

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