Climbing the Stok Kangri mountain, Ladakh, India:
Stok Kangri is a 6130 m mountain near Leh, Ladakh region, Indian Himalaya.
First day - from Stok village (3600 m) to Mano Karo camp (4400 m) (tea house and campsite) - 4 hours
Second day - from Mano Karo to the Base Camp (5000 m) - 2-3 hours
Third day - Optional acclimatization day at the Base Camp, including climbing to the Advanced Base Camp (5300 m) - 1.5-2 hours up, 45 min down.
Forth day - Climbing to the peak (~5-7 hours), going down back to the Base Camp (2-3 hours), optional going down to Mano Karo (1 hour)
Fifth day - from Mano Karo (or from the Base Camp) back to Stok (2-3 hours)
Walk description part
1 + map
Walk description part 2 + map
Books and maps:
"Trekking in Ladakh", 3rd edition, by Charlie Loram and Jim Manthorpe in the Traiblazer Publication series, also includes a map and a route description of this trek.
The following site http://alpspitze.al.funpic.de/tripreports/stok_kangri/stok_kangri.htm includes a lot of useful information about the Stok Kangri trek
Check out this 1:250,000 map of the Stok region. Stok Kangri is called Parchakanri (18362 feet) in this map (box 395 x 123)
Carrying your own stuff or hiring donkeys: The route to the Base Camp is quite clear and easy. The ascent in very gradual and is not difficult (of course, aside for the acclimatization). Therefore, you definitely do not need a guide to go to the Base Camp (the ascent to the peak is a different story). You can hire donkeys to carry your stuff up to the Base Camp or carry them alone (it mainly depends on your fitness and if this is your first trek in this season or not). It is possible to hire donkeys at Stok on the spot or in advance from Leh.
Guide for the peak ascent: the ascent to the peak of Stok Kangri is generally not technical. The mainly dangerous part is crossing the glacier after the Advanced Base Camp. If you do not have experience with glacier crossing - you DEFINITELY need a guide.
Another option is to go with someone who has alpine experience with glacier crossing. Sometimes big groups go from the Base Camp to the peak and in such case it is easy to join them. Anyway, you must be fully aware that if you do not go with your guide, your chances to reach the summit are getting lower - either you will not find a group or someone experienced to join or he will go too fast and you will not be able to keep up with him (this is what happened to us).
Keep in mind that 6000 m is extremely high. Even sleeping at the Base Camp, at 5000 m, is not easy. If you are not VERY well acclimatized, do NOT attempt the ascent.
Getting there and back: Stok village is only 40 minutes drive from Leh, by mini bus going from Leh bus station. Enquire at the bus station regarding exact times.
Equipment: You will need to be fully self supplementary: tent, sleeping bag, warm clothing, walking polls, stove, food for 4-5 days. In addition, you need crampons and an ice axe to climb to the peak, which you can hire in Leh. (Of course, if you take a guide and organize your whole trek in Leh in the travel company, you will be provided with all equipment, crampons, food, guide, donkeys, etc...)
I will stress it again: If you do not have experience with glacier crossing or not well acclimatized - DO NOT try to climb Stok Kangri (Advanced Base Camp is beautiful enought as well).
The last tea house is at Mano Karo camp (camp 1). There is nothing aside campsite at the Base Camp.
You can stay one optional day at the Base Camp for better acclimatization. During this day it is recommend to climb to the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) (5300 m), which takes ~1.5-2 hours up, 45 min down. At the ABC you will be able to see the glacier and the path to the peak, check the snow and enjoy the beautiful view. We highly recommend to make this climb to ABC and see what is expecting you the next night.
You should start from the Base Camp as early as possible, the latest at 2:00. We started at 3:00, crossed the glacier at sunrise, were too slow at the slope and as a result we reached 6000m only at 11:00. It was already too late and dangerous, so we had to start descending, without making it up to the summit.
After crossing the glacier and the boulders field, you will get to the start of quite a steep slope (~5500m-5700m). It is possible to zig zag the whole slope up to the peak, but this is the most difficult path. It is easier to cross the slope and reach the opposite ridge as soon as possible and than continue up with the ridge (just note that it is a completely exposed ridge that could be dangerous at strong wind).
You will need crampons if there is snow on the ridge. The snow starts to melt in the morning, making the ascent more difficult and dangerous and increasing the chances for avalanches. This is one of the reasons to start as early as possible at night.
You should start descending, even if you did not reach the summit, when the snow starts to melt (for us it was around 10:00 o'clock).
This picture is taken from http://alpspitze.al.funpic.de/tripreports/stok_kangri/stok_kangri.htm
Last updated 11-01-2008