Stok Kangri The Expedition — Day 12: Around Leh

With the trek completed, we had an extra day to spare which we decided to make use of in the best possible manner. Suhas and few others were interested in rafting while saloni, nutty and few others wanted to rest in the guest house after a long and hard trek.

Myself and Anshul decided to visit the local places in leh. The local sightseeing began with a visit to the Leh palace which was  just walking distance from the main market. We had to take a detour and go via a longer route due to a bollywood shooting. Passing via some narrow streets we reached the palace from the back side.

First look at Leh palace

The palace is in a ruined state now and ASI is working on renovating it. One can however get a birds eye view of leh town from top of the palace.

Birds eye view of leh

We first went to the gompa which is situated just below the palace. The gompa is pretty old and as other gompas around it contains paintings depicting the teachingsof buddha. There was also a small library which cotains the manuscripts which are used by the lamas. A couple of photos there and we headed to the palace

Paintings and sacred books

With nothing much to do in the palace we head back to the city and looked for options to reach thiskey monsatery. This is one of the major monstaries in leh and one not to be missed. We were looking for bus which would drop us at thiskey however the bus had already left. With not many options left we had to settle for a shared taxi which we took for a short distance. We were told we could get buses from the place where we would stop. A short wait and we soon hopped into a bus and headed to thiskey

Thiskey monastery is situated on top of a hill and the sun was hitting hard by the time we got there. To get to the monastery we had to again climb a whole lot of steps. Before we could begin the climb we took a few snaps from below and headed to a small gompa present at the base

Thiskey Monastery

Photography was prohibited inside and we looked around briefly. Soon it was time to climb and we proceeded one step at a time. The hot weather didnt help us either as we huffed and puffed our way up. A couple of short breathers along the way and we reached the top. There was already a huge crowd by the time we reached there.

There were statues of buddha’s guru and other dieties present. As usual there were paintings on the wall as it was in other monasteries. We played around with the exposure and other settings in the camera and took a few photos before moving to other parts of the monastery. The monastery is huge and contains various sections


As we toured the monastery we found other idols. Many of these idols resembled hindu gods n godesses. Clicking photos we contined the tour.

More idols

Towards the final part of the monastery visit we saw the huge idol of maitrey buddha. As per the description it took the craftsmen 3 yrs to finish the idol. The idol is simply amazing to look at. Taking photos from different angles we relaxed for a while. Our stomachs were already rumbling and we headed back to the main road in search of a resturant

Maitrey Buddha

Lunch was consumed at a resturant on the way down and we headed to the bus stop for our next destination Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery is one of the first monasteries in ladakh and is situated far away. With no buses to go we again had to settle for a cab. After negotiating with the driver we headed to the monastery. We took a deviation near shang and continued to the monastery. Suprisingly there were not many visitors. We were expecting to see something interesting in the monastery however we were disappointed as it was the same as other monastries. Some of the paintings were being restored back by the painters.


Headed back to the parking lot and came back to Leh thus completing a amazing trip. Evening was spent packing our stuff and after dinner it was time to hit the sack as we had a early morning flight to jammu

Snaps can be found here

Stok Kangri The Expedition — Day 11: Stok Village

It was a successful ascent to the summit and everyone had a good sleep to rest our tired bodies. Rawat, Bramh, Suhas and few others had left to leh the previous day itself. Only a few of us were left and we headed to stok village which would take 4-5 hrs. We would then be transported back to leh.

Since it would be a continous descent, prakash, myself and few others headed off soon. We reached mankarmao in an hour. The rest of them were long way back and we took a break till they reached. Tsering asked us to regroup before we continued as we had to cross few streams and only he knew the route.

The descent continued and jumping across few streams and boulders we continued our journey back to stok village

Way back to stok village

We spotted a couple of ibexes which were doing some acrobatics while trying to get down a hill. A brief glance at them and we continued. After crossing few streams there was a steep pass to climb. This would be one of the two passes and after climbing stok it was pretty easy for us to go over those.

The valley from the first pass was amazing and short break and few shots later we continued the journey

View from the pass

We could see other trekkers coming from stok village as we went ahead. The descent continued for few more hours with small breaks and soon we could see the village in sight.

Hoping across few small streams we reached the stok village and crashed at a shop. Soon the rest of the group arrived thus marking an end to an wonderful trek.

Tired after a loong trek

Bramha and rawat came to meet us and shortly the ponies arrived with our luggage. Dumping our luggage in the car we headed back to stok thus completing an amazing trek

Stok Kangri The Expedition : Day 10 — The Final Ascent

Today would be the first attempt at the summit. We got ready and after dinner everyone had a short nap in their tents before we were called out to our respective groups. Once everyone assembled the first team headed off followed by the others.

Tsering was leading the first group, and they started the trek with prakash leading the way. Bramha was with the second group and we soon started. Rawat was leading the final group. Dambal opted out the final climb and to our suprise vikas had to turn back shortly after the climb began citing shortness of breath. The climb to stok is a direct ascent from the basecamp and there is no descents anywhere. As we go higher the steepness increases.

Bijit was the next to return back after the initial climb and the size of the group in which i was reducing. It was a long walk from the climb to the advanced basecamp and we were moving at a brisk pace while taking small breaks in between.

Couple of hours of walking and we reached the glacier which we had to cross. Out came the crampons and after putting them, we began to walk across the soild ice. There were a couple of places where we had to cross and the helpers who were with us, made it easy by helping us to cross them. The climb continued for couple of hours and as we went higher, the gradient also increased and the pace at which we were climbing was becoming slow.

The path after the glacier was full of rocks and loose stones and vikas at this time was suffering from fatique and had to call it quits. We still had a long way to go and bramha was shouting for us to pick up the pace. It was time to take a break as all climbing was making us feel very tired. Couple of sips of water and the climb began. There were other teams climbing as well and the route was busy. We reached another patch of ice and we had to wear crampons again. Seeing that we were loosing time removing and wearing the crampons bramha asked to leave the crampons on.

It was already 5 hrs since we were climbing and we were yet to approach the ridge. The sun was peaking above the horizon when we reached the ridge after climbing a steep incline. A short break and we could see the summit just a 1000 feet above us. Vibhor had fallen back long way behind and finally managed to catch up with us. We could get a brief glimpse  of K2 and kailash manasasarovar for a brief moment before mist engulfed the place.

The final climb was a bit tricky as we had to negotiate the steep edges and climb carefully. We were roped up to begin the climb. As usual the first batch went ahead and we followed them. Vibhor who was ahead was feeling very tired was constantly taking breaks slowing us down. There were other teams apart from us and everyone were getting delayed. The climb continued at a snail pace and we were almost at the summit when anshul slipped !!!!. Bramha who was just behindhim prevented him from falling thus averting a major disaster !!!!.

Finally after 7 hrs and 15 min of climbing we were on top of stok kangri. It was a joyous moment for everyone. The indian flag was proudly hoisted and we had a couple of group snaps to celebrate the occassion

Atop Stok Kangri

Spending some more time at the summit we decided to head back to camp. The descent was slow as everyone were still roped together. We had stop every couple of steps as the person behind had to descend before we could move ahead. We reached the ridge after stopping numerous breaks. From the ridge we decided to take a shortcut which involved a steep descent on the ice. Again it was slow moving as the loose gravel made it difficult to walk and everyone were slipping in the loose gravel.

We reached the ice after a long and slow descent and those who were new to ice had a nice time slipping and sliding down. Rawat was little annoyed with this and asked us to pick up the pace as we still had a long way to go down. Few of them really had a tough time getting down in the ice and after quite a lot of slipping and sliding we managed to reach the bottom. Everyone were tired and we still had to cross the glacier and the advanced base camp. Few of us took a brief power nap before moving ahead. During the descent we could get the enormity of the climb we had done at night. It looked like a never ending walk back to the basecamp.

The glacier was crossed and the next target was the advanced basecamp. The walk to the basecamp was quite a long way and our tired bodies had to be pushed little more till we reached the basecamp. Finally after 13 hrs of trekking we managed got back to the basecamp thus completing a successful ascent to the summit. Energy drinks were consumed and we hit the sleeping bags immediately as our tired bodies needed some well deserved rest

Stok Kangri –The Expedition Day 9: Stok Base Camp

The stok kangri base camp a couple of hours from mankarmao would be the destination for today. Since it would take us less time to reach the camp we decided to take it easy. The path to the basecamp was through the same route me and deepak took to the valley to do our photography. There is a arrow pointing the other way and we followed it.

Crossing streams and boulders we continued the hike. The terrain was pretty flat and we were moving at a good pace. The final climb to the summit however was pretty steep. It was a slow ascent and 3 hrs after leaving mankarmao we reached stok kangri base camp

Stok Kangri Base Camp

We could see huge no of tents from various countries already pitched up and people were busy walking around. A couple of photos from the camp and we went in search of a place to pitch our tents. Bramha had told us if weather conditions are good we would attempt to reach the summit one day before the actual planned day.

When the ponies arrived we pitched our camps and relaxed as we had nothing else to do. There was a short shower and the skies cleared up. Me and anshul went for a short stroll to try and photograph the distant glacier and the mountains as we had nothing else to do

Around base camp

Upon returning to the camp, we were told since the weather had cleared we would be attempting the summit tonight itself. After an hour or so we were called out as tsering and rawat were giving a demo of the gaiters and crampons which we would be using on the ice and other details would be given.

It was time for the demo and rawat gave a brief about the summit climb we would be doin at night. Tsering then showed us the gaitors and crampons we would be using and gave a demo of how to put them on and take them off. We were told to use the crampons only on ice and no to be used on rocks and gravel as it would spoil the crampons.

We were then grouped into teams consisting on one fast walker and a slow walker to even the odds and we were sent back to our tents for some rest. Dinner would be served in an hour or so and the summit climb would be at midnight

Stok Kangri The expedition — Day 8: Mankarmao

Before we left shang-pu we had asked bramha to get the Indian flag as we wanted to celebrate Independence day at the camp where we would halt. On 15th morning as usual as we were about to leave gangpoche rawat reminded us about the days significance and asked us to chant the national anthem which we all did. Soon it as time to head to the hills and to mankar mao

Singing the National Anthem

It would be a short walk and we were expected to be there by afternoon. All trekkers who head to stok camp at mankarmao and it was necessary for us to reach there soon and pitch our tents before others come and occupy the place.

The march began as usual with a steady pace and after an hour we took a small break like other days for a short while before heading again. Crossing a couple of streams we continued our climb which was at a steady pace. Soon we reached a pass which we had to climb. This was not very steep which was easily reached. A couple of snaps and it was a long descent all the way down

We came from there

The wind was blowing at a high speed and it was very cold at the top. Jackets soon came out as we got ready for a group shot. We didnt want to stay there for too long and we began the descent which was really steep. Slowly we progressed down and as the descent continued the pace increased. Soon we reached the bottom and rested for a while, as the rest of the group were still far behind. Another couple of group snaps and rest of the guys arrived. Tsering asked us to be in a group and follow him which we did.

Shortly we reached another climb and a steep descent followed. We could see the basecamp across the river. Praskash Sir and few others had already reached the camp while me and the rest reached the camp soon. We were asked to pick our spots for the tents to be pitched as we didnt want other teams to come and occupy the space. A couple of photos of the peak and the ponies arrived with the tents and other equipment

Photos from Mankarmao

Tents were pitched and soon we found other groups arriving. Hot soup was given and we got back to discussing stuff. While pitching the tents we met couple of french climbers who were on their way to the stok base camp. A casual chat with them and we came to know they r seasoned climbers who had done lot of climbing in the alps and also travelled a lot in india as well. We bid them goodbye and continued our work.

With nothing much to do me and deepak headed towards the base camp for a short walk. Walking for about an hour, we reached the bend from where we could see stok clearly. Crossing a couple of boulders we were trying to capture the landscape in various angles. Spending half and hour there we headed back to the camp expecting bramha to come with the Indian flag so we could hoist the flag and celebrate the Independence Day

Landscape @ Mankarmao

Getting back to the camp took another half hour and after sometime we saw bramha come to the basecamp. Soon we saw pradeep also come. He had skipped the initial part of the trek due to sinus issues and now he had joined us at mankarmao. Bharani soon joined us and bramha took out the Indian flag which he had bought along with a football.

The stage as set to hoist the flag and to celebrate Independence Day at 4400m

Independence Day Celebrations

Flag was lowered down after a while and we went back to our tents. Dinner was soon served and we hit the sacks

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