Stok Kangri Wanderers By – The Timeless Drifter
Stok Kangri TrekStok Kangri Trek is the highest peak in the Stok region of Ladakh. At a height of 6153 Meters (or 20187 ft.), it offers an ultimate climbing/trekking experience. One can view a lot of high peaks (mostly 7000 Meters+) from Stok summit but the highlight is the K2 peak which is also visible. Stok Kangri is not a technical climb but it requires a good fitness level. Wanderers team ensures highest safety standards for all the trekkers and also do a few briefing sessions for the trekkers attempting Stok Kangri. I am glad that I selected Wanderers for my first attempt.
Stok has become a famous trekking destination in past few year attracting enthusiasts from all over the world. I was excited right from boarding the plane in Delhi to landing in Leh. We had about 2 days for acclimatization in Leh. Wanderers team planned our sightseeing for the first 2 days. We checked into hotel in Sangkar area of Leh. It was about 10 minute walk from the main city area of Leh. We started our day with visiting the Leh Palace and Shanti stupa which was undoubtedly a serene experience. In the evening, we explored the local market and cafes. The next day, we went to the SECMOL School (a school which is completely solar powered and made of recycled material). It was an experience I will never forget in my life. The practical use of solar cooker to run a kitchen cooking for more than 50 people is just incredible. We also met Sonam Wangchuk who is the mind and soul behind this initiative. He is also the man behind the Ice Stupa (making ice stupas to save water for irrigation in summers). It was a pure delight. We also went to the Hall of Fame museum the same day. Evening was easy and went to bed early We started our trek the next day. It was a cold morning I remember and we drove first to Matho. Our destination for today was Ganpochey. It was a moderate trek to Ganpochey. Wanderers team had the camp set up already with some woods for fire as well. The guide Ali from the Wanderers team kept looking around trying to see if we can spot a snow leopard but we weren't lucky enough. We had a great night along with Music. Cannot thank Devjit enough for the arrangement. We had food and called it a night.
Our second day's destination was Mankarmo through the Mathola pass. It was a moderate (moderate to difficult) trek today and by the time we reached Mankarmo, we were too tired. The hike today was beautiful though. The sights we captured today were so beautiful that no place else can match. We had a great night today as well with fire, music and great food.
Today was an interesting day. We all got up early and the chef Manish made us some Tea/coffee and paranthas. We were all set for our trek today to the Stok Base location. It was a short hike of about 5 KMs but I along with my camera took a little more time. It is a paradise for photography enthusiasts. We reached the stok base and camped. We were instructed by our guide to go to bed early and if the weather permits, we will start our ascent post mid night. We had an early dinner with a few drinks (courtesy: Sam who was carrying some). Wanderers team however called it a day at 7 PM and crashed while the guide kept checking for the weather and so the right time to start. It was about 1 AM when Ali gave us a shout and we were all too excited. We were ready in next 1 hour for the attempt with our head lamps on. Oxygen levels were definitely a challenge and we could feel it. We climbed the steep first ridge that merges into a glacier that Ali and Stanzin tried first and after which we all negotiated it. It was definitely more than thrilling. We were surrounded by boulders and snowcapped peaks. Once on top of the summit, it was a feeling like never before. For me, it was the first attempt to a 6153 Meter peak and I will thank the Wanderers team forever. We had a clear view of entire Zanskar range as well as the Karakoram range. We could also spot K2, Z2, Rimo and Saser Kangri. I felt like on top of the world and also started thinking that I should target more of such peaks. Wont shy away but Everest is now there on my list as well.
Well, we returned back to the base and enjoyed talking about our experience throughout. We had great time enjoying what we had accomplished. We trekked back to the Stok village from the base. We kept engaging with the locals throughout our trek and that was definitely something a traveler is expected to do. It is just amazing how the ladakhi people (whenever alone) keep chanting the mantras. It is absolutely incredible.
The following day we were back in leh and had the entire day to just relax. We went around to the Thikse and Spituk monastieries. It was such a serene experience and I will always cherish it. We all partied that night as it was our last in Leh before we head back to our cities.
We all thanked the Wanderers team and the guide Ali for all their efforts and support. It could not have been better than this.
Till my next summit!!