Stok Kangri: Summit one of the highest trekkable peaks in the Himalayas

7 March, 2021 | Reccy Guide


Towering at 6153m above sea level, Stok Kangri is one of the highest mountains of the Himalayan Stok range and a must summit for avid hikers and mountaineers who are in the region. Offering breathtaking views over the neighboring range and all the way to the K2 in the Karakoram range of Pakistan on a clear day, the Stok Kangri climb  is certainly worth the physical effort needed to reach its summit. So, what does it take to be the next one standing on top?

Explore trip Itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

What will your expedition look like?

You can tackle the Stok Kangri climb via three different routes; however, all of them will depart from Leh and meet again in Mankarmo. Because the trek should be done during the summer months, between June and September, you can access Leh via land or via air. Via land, you have the options of a bus, or a taxi (depending where you currently are in India); however, the easiest and fastest option is to fly. It is especially practical if you come from Delhi, as there are many flights linking both cities every day.

Once you are in Leh, it is recommended that you spend at least two or three days in the city in order to acclimatize to the altitude and minimize the risks of altitude sickness. Luckily for you, the town offers many sightseeing opportunities such as Buddhist monasteries and buzzing local markets. In Leh, you will also meet with your guide and will agree on which of the three routes you are going to take.

The view from summit ridgeThe view from Summit Ridge

The Stok Kangri Route.

This is arguably the most popular route, as well as one of the shortest. On the first day, you will drive from Leh to Stok village, a quick 15 km drive, and continue by foot for 5.5 km to Chang Ma. There, at an altitude of 3988m, you will spend your first night camping. The next day, you will head on a short 3.5 km hike towards Mankarmo, where you will meet up with trekkers from all other routes.

The trail from Stok villageThe trial from Stok village

The Zingchen Route.

This route is a bit longer than the previous one, but just as popular as it gives you extra acclimatization days. Starting in the town of Zingchen, located a short drive away from Leh, the trek will first take you through a 6.5 km hike to Rumbak where you will spend your first night. The next day will be a long one, as you will have to cross Stok La Pass before descending again towards Mankarmo during a 10.7 km day.

The Chilling Route. 

You will start from Chilling, a three hours’ drive from Leh, and follow the trail passing through Skiu before rejoining the Zingchen route in Rumbak. From there, you will be crossing the Stok La pass then arrive in Mankarmo. This is the longest route of all and can take you up to 5 extra days to complete. This option can also help with acclimatization.

As mentioned, all routes rejoin in Mankarmo. From there, you will head towards Base Camp on a 4 km trek and will spend the next two days acclimatizing there. Base Camp is 4930m high, so altitude sickness risks are considerable, so make sure that you hydrate enough. Then comes the day you have been waiting for. Summit day will be a difficult one. You will leave late at night and with the help of a headlamp, will cross trails and a glacier to reach the 6153m high summit in the early morning, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Zanskar Range and even K2 if you are lucky with the weather. You will return to Base Camp around mid day, where you will be able to take some much-needed rest. The descent back to Leh can be via any of the three routes mentioned above.

Is Stok Kangri for me?

While the first few days will seem easy, the climbing conditions from Base Camp to the summit are extremely challenging and the Stok Kangri trek is, therefore, classified as difficult. You will be crossing a glacier, section of verglas, snow and rocky terrains, so experience with using crampons and ice axes is highly preferred. If you do not have any previous experience mountaineering, you are advised to rope up for the last stretch of summit day. In addition to previous hiking and mountaineering experience, it is necessary that you are in good physical condition as this will help with the physical effort but also will allow your body to focus on acclimatizing to the altitude rather than on spending all its energy on the climb.

The summit ridgeDescending from Summit of Stok Kangri

Stok Kangri is not an easy climb, and you will have to push your boundaries to deserve the scenery. But if you do, you can be certain that the expedition will be a highlight of your travel adventures for years to come.

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