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If you're a trekker, chances are you've got your heart set on the Stok Kangri trek as the ultimate Himalayan adventure. Being the highest trekkable summit in India, it is little wonder that the Stok Kangri trek height is the most appealing factor to most adventurers; 20,180 ft. above sea level. Given the stunning high altitudes that the trek reaches, combined with the challenging and rocky terrain has earned Stok Kangri the fame it enjoys. If there's one trek that every adventurer wants to set foot on, it's got to be the Stok Kangri trek in Ladakh. The Stok Kangri trek route stems from the lovely little village of Stok, and unfurled over eight days of strenuous trekking. Given the extremely high altitude of the trek, the importance of acclimatization cannot be overstated. It is the key to a successful summit attempt.
While the trek sounds undeniably daunting, every labored breath is worth the breathtaking view from the summit. All around you is the rugged, alpine beauty of the trans-Himalayas, with towering peaks like Saser Kangri and Golap Kangri adorning the panorama. Way below you, the sprawling valleys of Indus and Zanskar are visible, guarded by barren, rocky mountains. The gushing mountain wind, though extremely cold, feels like a warm embrace while your heartbeat echoes inside your ears. If you've previously done a Himalayan summit trek, multiply that experience by 10 and you might just begin to describe Stok Kangri. Also, if you're considering taking the plunge into mountaineering, Stok Kangri is a trek that will give you a faint taste of it beforehand.
Though the trek does not require technical mountaineering skills, by no means that imply that it is an easy trek. Granted, you may not need to deal with the technicalities of mountaineering here, but the conditions of very high altitude, weather extremities, thin air, and depleting oxygen level still remain. In addition to that, this eight-days long trek requires traversing several tricky sections, steep ascends and descends. The Stok Kangri trek difficulty puts off many trekkers, but all it needs is a regular and thorough fitness routine, trust us.
On arrival in Leh, you're advised to complete rest in order to acclimatize to the high altitude of the city (approx 11,500 ft.). Do not take acclimatization lightly, as it will eventually decide the fate of your attempt. Avoid any kind of physical exertion. In the evening, you may visit the neighboring attractions like Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa, and monasteries at Thiksey and Hemis. Overnight stay at a hotel/homestay in Leh.
The second day shall also be used to rest and acclimatize. Trekking up to an altitude above 20,000 ft. is no joke. Spend the day resting, and by the evening, you may explore the natural and cultural wonders that Leh is home too. Retire to the hotel/homestay for a good night's sleep.
On day three, you drive from Leh to the village of Stok. The one-hour drive is quite beautiful and allows you to appreciate the cold-desert landscape of Ladakh. The backdrop of rocky, barren mountains accompany you all the way to Stok and beyond. From Stok, the trek begins. You start trekking to Chang Ma which, considering it's the first day of the trek, might be a little challenging (as with the first day of every trek). Over the next days, your body will start to adjust to the low oxygen levels and the terrain. Chang Ma is one of the prettiest campsites of the trek, too. Embark on a short acclimatization walk, and retire to your tents for the night.
Day four begins as you bid goodbye to Chang Ma, and begin trekking towards Mankorma at 14,200 ft.. The trail is relatively easy today, passing through a few streams. It is now that the 'desert' landscape of Ladakh reveals its glory. The trail runs alongside a gushing river with majestic Himalayan peaks for a company as you reach Mankorma. Do not miss the view of the night sky from the Mankorma campsite. The clear sky is an ideal canvas for astrophotography. You might even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, along with a few shooting stars! Camp overnight at Mankorma.
On day five, you make for Stok Kangri Base Camp. The trek isn't very long today. Within a matter of a few hours, you can make out the campsite cradled by grassy patches. Neighboring the campsite are several glacial lakes and streams. Once you've caught your breath and are well recovered, go on a short acclimatization walk towards the higher reaches of Mankorma. Besides speeding the acclimatization process, the walk brings you striking views of the surrounding mountains. Prepare for a drastic dip in temperatures as you reach the Stok Base Camp. Make the most of your warm clothes here. After a hearty dinner, retire to your tents.
Day six is spent entirely at the base camp for acclimatization. You will learn and practice using ice axes, crampons, gaiters, harness ropes and more. Along with that, you will also learn a little something about useful techniques like self-arrest, and when and how to use it. A crucial day, as the training you get today will essentially prepare you for the summit assault the following day. Have an early dinner, and retire early for a good night's sleep as the summit climb begins in the middle of the night.
On day seven, you start climbing towards the summit at about 01:00 AM. Evidently the most difficult day of the trek, as the trail moves over glaciers, along with a couple of tricky sections. The final leg to the summit is very steep. The key is to pace yourself today. Should you start feeling a little tired, the sheer beauty of your surroundings will jog your energy again. With great efforts, you finally make it to the summit. Drink up the views as well as you can. Feel the last shred of exhaustion leave your body and mind as you behold the spectacular sight from the summit. A mountainous embrace awaits you, the cold wind washing over you. There's little to be heard except for the howling winds and your deafening heartbeat. Feel the rush of adrenaline rekindling your spirits as the alpine beauty brings you down on your knees.
The descent is equally tricky, given how steep the ascent was. Make your way back to Stok Base Camp, where you camp for the night. On the eighth and final day of your trek, you begin descending from the base camp and head back towards Stok village, skipping Mankorma and Chang Ma. Throughout the trek, there's the overwhelming joy of having successfully completed the trek accompanying you. From Stok village, drive up back to Leh. Thus ends your trek.
If you're planning Stok Kangri Ladakh in 2020, start your preparation 3-4 months before you leave for the trek. Take up a fitness regime and follow it religiously. Want to reserve your seat with the best trekking company in India? Your search ends at Trekmunk. Check out our Stok Kangri trek prices, and save your seat while you can!