16 Nights / 17 Days | Customizable Package
After an early breakfast, we return to the airport (this time to the Domestic Terminal) for the early morning internal flight to Leh. The hour long flight is simply spectacular and provides close-up views of the 7000 metre massifs of Nun and Kun. Arriving at Leh (3500m), we drive by jeep to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to either rest in the shade of the hotel courtyard, or for those not phased by their long air journey, there is the option to take a lazy walk into Leh colourful bazaar to check out the roadside stalls selling Tibetan artifacts. Flying straight into the high altitude of Leh can take your breath away and it is best to concentrate on acclimatising for the first few days.
After Breakfast, sightseeing as we visit the areas most important monasteries at Thikse and Hemis. These monasteries occupy elevated sites and Thikse has an impressive statue of the Matreya Buddha and there are remarkable views from this monastery across the Indus Valley to the peaks of the Stok Range. Visiting Leh monasteries always involves climbing up and down long flights of stairs which is all good for our acclimatisation. After our visit to Hemis, the most important of the Indus Valley monasteries and tucked away in a rocky valley, we drive on to Rumtse (4200m), where we set up our first camp.
Between the Leh to Manali road and TsoMorari lies one of the highest plains on earth and after the first couple of days we will be trekking above 4500 meters constantly. This does have an effect on our trekking performance and the several relatively small passes that we cross (they are actually 5000 metre passes, but quite minor in terms of the height gain involved) will feel quite tough. On this first day, we start out with a lovely walk to a camp site just above the summer settlement of Chorten Sumdo. The route takes us through pleasant pastures, with several small river crossings. This is an area much used by nomadic shepherds and we will get used to seeing their tented camps, surrounded by herds of sheep. We set up camp on the pleasant grazing ground of Kyanmer (4615m).
The day starts out with a gradual but quite tough climb to the Kyanmer La (5130m), which takes a little over 2 hours from camp. On the way we are likely to see hares, marmots and picas, as well as the elusive Himalayan blue sheep. A recent KE group found the footprints of a snow leopard at this pass. From here, there are spectacular views westwards to the Zanskar range of mountains and also, looking north and east, wide-ranging panoramas across the high plateau of the Chang Tang. We descend on grassy slopes for an hour to TiriDoksa, a temporary shepherding settlement and then continue to a stream where we take lunch. After lunch, a trek of an hour or so takes us across the Mandalchan La (5216m). We reach our camp at Tisaling (5046m).
From camp, we climb up to the Thasang La (5300m). Excellent views of the lake of TsoKar (White Lake) below us. We descend steadily and walk across level plains to Phongponagu (4579m) close to the salt lake of TsoKar. There should be time in the afternoon to explore the lake shore, with a good chance to see kyang (wild ass), marmots and great birdlife, such as bar-headed geese and Brahminy ducks on the lake. TsoKar is a salt water lake and the nomads take this salt across to Tibet for trade.
Todays walk is an easy one, along the shore of the lake and then across the open and quite arid Chang Tang plains to a beautiful campsite in the pastures of Nuruchan (4694m). There are usually several nomad camps in this area, with scattered tents, shepherds and their dogs and herds of livestock.
On leaving camp, we cross a stream and pass close to a mani wall, sculpted by the Chang Tang herders. We then hike up to the Nuruchan La (4750m), before descending easily to cross another stream and another low pass. In this area, the nomadic herdsmen that we meet are likely to be Tibetan, having been displaced here from the western part of that cross-border territory. We camp at Rachungkaru (4952m) amongst grazing yaks, sheep and pashmina goats. Afternoon at leisure.
Today is a fairly long day as we cross 2 passes of above 5000 meters. It takes us around 2 hours to reach the first of these, the Kyamaru La (5400m), where the views extend across a high-level landscape to numerous snow-capped peaks. After a short descent, we climb again to cross the Gyabarma La (5300m), beyond which we descend, cross a stream and reach our camping place in the pastures at Gyabarma (5171m). A wild and remote location.
Today, we finally get views of the stunning lake of TsoMorari, as we reach the top of the YalungNaula Pass (5400m). Some 20 kilometres long and surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks, TsoMorari is one of the most beautiful lakes imaginable. The approach to the pass is straightforward, but quite long. We descend to KarzokDok (4632m) on a zigzag path.
This approach leads through an open valley and over rounded ridges, on a trail that is mostly poorly defined and which crosses a mix of open moorland and bouldery moraine. We set up camp at 5300 metres beside a stream.
A day to rest at base camp and make final preparations for the ascent of Mentok II. The group leader and Sherpas may opt to fix ropes today on the headwall leading to the col between our objective peaks.
After an early start, we hike for 2 hours to the foot of the snow slope that leads to the col between Mentok 1 (6250m) and Mentok II (6210m). We then ascend to the col (possibly with some sections of fixed rope) and continue more easily to the top of Mentok II. If the weather is good, we will spend some time admiring the fantastic views across the lake to the peak of LungserKangri (6666m) and distant Tibet. We descend to base camp via the same route.
This is a rest and contingency day at our base camp. A chance to rest or to do some exploring from camp. We will also be able to make preparation for the ascent of Mentok I.
After another early start, we follow the same route up to the col. From here, we traverse a broad crest overlooking TsoMoriri to reach a steepening that leads to the top of Mentok I (6250m). The upper part of the route is on scree and remnant snow patches. A great day climbing with fine views. We return to base camp after a second long day.
We begin our walk-out with a relatively easy descent to the village of Karzok, which is one of the highest permanently inhabited settlements on Earth. It is scenically located beside TsoMorari at an elevation of over 4500 meters. The afternoon is free to walk by the lakeshore, meet the local people and check out the village and its ancient monastery.
We will rendezvous with our vehicles at Karzok and set off on the 6-hour drive back to Leh. The road is quite rough at first but we travel on an ever improving surface and once we reach the Indus River, the road is very smooth making the final part of the journey quite comfortable. There are some great views as we cross the open plain of the Chang Tang and then descend by the (at this point) very small Indus. We will all be pleased to check into the hotel in Leh, get cleaned up and eye up the soft bed before tucking in to a celebratory dinner.
We have an early start and go to the airport to catch our flight to Delhi. Arriving in Delhi.
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Leh (3N) – Chang Ma (1N) - Mankorma (1N) – Base Camp (3N)
Leh (3N) – Yangthang (1N) - Hemis Shukpachen (1N) – Ang across Mebtak La (1N)
Leh / Alchi / Lamayuru / Mulbekh / Rangdum / Pensi La / Padum / Hanumil / Snertse / Lingshed /Sengee La / Shilla
Leh / Rumtse / Kyamar / Tisaling / Ponganabu / Nuruchan / GyamaBarma / Gyamar / Korzok