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Feel the king of the world as you conquer the highest stok kangri peak trek-able summit in the Indian subcontinent, Stok Kangri trek (perched at 20,086 feet). It resonates with divine beauty of Ladakh which is known for its black and white beauty with streaks of grey and blue. The peak is situated in Hemis National Park, home to the endangered snow leopard. The Park is also the largest notified protected area in India.
On this Stok kangri expedition, expect an adventure of glaciers, snowy paths, barren hills, sparkling water bodies, a steep slope of almost 75 degrees, rocky inclines and more.
Not for the light hearted, this trek is where you have to challenge your mental and physical self to brave thin air and cold temperatures. The reward though is worth it as this is a dream come true for ardent trekkers.
It is advised to reach Leh (the largest town in Ladakh) by air as the road route can be draining. Enjoy some stunning sights along the way that will set the tone for the splendour that you will come across later on.
Brace yourself for a major drop in the temperature climbing stok kangri. Though it is an average of 10 degrees, in winters it can plummet to 20 degrees or even lower. The air though is crisp and fresh.
Once settled down after arrival, you can amble through the Leh market where you can buy interesting stuff and do the last minute shopping required for the trek. Overnight will be spent in a comfortable and warm guest house in the main city of Ladakh. This is where you will meet fellow trekkers, the guide and support staff. Sleep early to make a fresh start the next day for the Stok Kangri expedition.
Wake up to a steaming cup of tea and feast on a hearty breakfast. This day will be reserved for acclimatization to the extreme conditions that you will face for the rest of the trek. Since many suffer from altitude sickness, it is best to be prepared. Do light stretching exercises as the cold can slow down your body moments. Discover the place by foot. Those in their mid-40s and 50s are recommended to carry an oxygen cylinder.
You can spend your time unravelling the cultural and natural beauty of the region. Soak yourself in its rich cultural and heritage. You can tour the serene monasteries that dot the region. Visit Alchi, which is bit lower than Leh. The Leh market is also a good option, where you can savour dishes that would keep you warm.
Today is when your exciting Stok Kangri trekking journey commence! Post breakfast, your guide will give you the briefing of the day. Ensure that you have carried with you all that is required. Start with a drive to Stok Village that displays nature's many glories. Take in the sights of green stretches, silver birch trees and vibrant blossoms.
Reach the Stok Village. Tucked away in the south of Leh, the locale is known for its royal palace where the King of Ladakh resides. There is also a museum here that displays many religious and historic artefacts. If time permits do visit the grand palace and the museum attached to it. The museum hosts many religious and historic artefacts, which depict the history of Ladakh and its ancient rulers.
When the drive ends, begin your trek to Chang Ma. Since it is the start, you might find it a bit difficult. The thrill of trekking on snow though would egg you on. Trek for around 4 hours to reach the destination of the day. Chang Ma is sought-after for camping as it has a suitable open ground where tents can easily be placed. Spend the night here under the clear embrace of the sky.
This day, gear up for a fulfilling trek to Mankorma that towers at an altitude of 14200 ft. The trail would require you to climb a bit. Make way through uneven and barren topography of Ladakh. Savour the beauty of the place that is dotted with lofty mountains, valleys and stark land that lend a distinct character.
The winds over here are quite strong. Come across some gurgling brooks that have icy cold water in them. After a little more than 3 hours, arrive at Mankorma. In case you are suffering from altitude sickness, do alert your guides who are Certified Wilderness First Aid Responder; spend overnight at in camps.
Today, you will head to the stunning Stok Kangri Base Camp that is perched at an altitude of 5000m. Stok Kangri trek would take you around 5 hours to reach it and you get to unravel many beauties along the way. Lap up the sights of the many water bodies that glisten due to the rays of sunlight. The air turns much thinner as you ascend.
Be prepared as you would have to try hard to breathe once at the basecamp. The temperature will also be less. Indulge in lunch, rest for a bit and go to the close by peaks such as Gulap Kangri, Parcha Kangri and others.For the last ascend, adjust your equipment and trekking gear. Have dinner and go to sleep early in your sleeping tent.
Today will be a light day where you will get familiar and acquainted with the locale and the trail to the peak. Explore the nearby places and ensure that you are not sitting idle. It is vital that you know all features of team work and the techniques required in ascending a snow crusted peak.
Your trek leader will train you for the upcoming climb and brief you on the challenges and possibilities involved. It is essential to have know-how about the terrain, depth of snow and other environmental aspects before you begin trekking to Stok Kangri.
Certain things that you need to be aware of are when your legs sink into the soft and fresh snow it will not be able to handle your weight. Snow trekking boots are mandatory as they help you trudge on without difficulty.
This grand day, you will make your expedition to the Stok Kangri trek summit. Rise early. You will be traversing the highest point through the south shoulder. This route is extremely daunting. Comprising of a narrow channel of rocks, it is rather steep and almost 75 degrees.Post an hour of arduous climb and struggling with the rocks, this shoulder will turn into a steadier slope where it will be easy to walk. Adding to your woes will be the thin air and lack of oxygen.
Post a short hike; feel like the king of the world as you reach Stok Kangri Summit, the highest trek-able summit in the Indian subcontinent.
The return to the base camp follows the same route; though do note that you have to be particularly careful. As you tread downwards, the gravity would pull you and this might lead you to slip and fall. Reach the basecamp and relive your coup.
Today, you will head back to Leh. Keep in mind, if you descend too quick, you might lose balance. Trudge around 12 kms as you will reach Stok Village by foot. Once there, drive back to Leh. Sleep in the comfort of the guest house bed.
Today, you depart Leh to Delhi with sweet memories as your Stok Kangri trek trip comes to an end.
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