This is what Ladakh is all about. High altitude trekking in
what is described as a high altitude desert. Isolation, tranquility and
fantastic mountains. It's a great place to go with mobile phones not working there yet!
We went 5 of us for 3 weeks in August/September in
2003, on a visit organised by a company called Hidden North Adventures, run by Tashi Chotak Lonchey.
We climbed to the top of Stok Kangri which is just over 20,000 ft. It's at the head of the the Markha valley, and we spent 11 days trekking - this was the highlight. It's not difficult technically, but you're likely to need ice axes. We reached the top and you couldn’t see much in the mist – then of course the next day we looked back up from the valley and could see the summit. In the valley there were a few villages, but they were tiny - just a few houses - and we came across these kids in the photo.
The visit to Ladakh came after I met a guy in China, when I was walking the Wall with the 2nd group I took there. Dave Reynolds of Intrepid Travel Co was running the trip, and he said he’d been to the Himalayas. He was supposed to go to Nepal but there had been trouble there, so he went to Ladakh in India. He said it was the best place in the world he’d been, because it’s like stepping back in time, and has big mountains. I respected his judgement, and as my son is into the outdoors, and his 21st was on the horizon, I asked if he wanted to do something different and he agreed.
I had discovered there was a mountain called Stok Kangri near there that hillwalkers can do. I found there were some companies that do Ladakh, but Dave said we could do it for half the price booking direct. He gave me Tashi’s e-mail address, I asked for the price and we agreed on that. I had never known the guy, but sent the money in the post and the trip was fantastic. Now Tashi’s a mate, and I was invited back for his wedding just recently.
It's a great way to get a genuine Himalayan walking experience. Anyone who wants to try it with a group of people should get in touch with Tashi, and he'll organise it. Dave Reynolds had a group of 42 from Australia visiting and neighbouring valley and Tashi organised it. He arranges cultural trips as well.
Contributed by: Bill Cook
For more about walking in Ladakh visit www.hiddennorth.com
View from the tent!
Summit of Stok Kangri in thick cloud - that's Bill, back row, on the right
In the Markha Valley looking back to Stok Kangri the next day - and the summit was clear!
Some kids in Ladakh. Taken while enjoying the Markha Valley Trek.