How high have you ever dreamt of soaring or climbingor floating up the altitude in your dreams? The Stok Kangri, at (hold yourbreath) 20,500 feet ie 6,153 m is the highest summit that one can trek upto inIndia. The allure of scaling the magnificence of the terrain that the Himalayasoffer draws several venturesome travellers to the Stok Kangri.
It is perchedatop the Stok Chu river valley near the village of Stok.The Stok village is located in the Leh district ofthe state of Jammu and Kashmir (Leh tehsil, 17 km southeast of Leh town). The villagehouses its share of locations worthy of being visited, ancient structures suchas the 600-year old Stok monastery and a nineteenth century palace which is thecurrent residence of the former royal family of Ladakh.
According to the 2011census of India, the village of Stok houses some 300 households. It can beexplored for sight-seeing before we set out on the actual trek.Stok Kangri is popular amongst trekkers as atrekking peak and is often climbed as an initial non-technical foray into highaltitude mountaineering. Over the last few years, it has become extremelypopular amongst trekkers even novices due to its non-technical nature. The peakis considered non-technical from July–August, but becomes quite technical whenthe climax of winter hits. Illustrating the Himalayan terrain, this trekembraces deserted surroundings and offers its trekkers the opportunity toexperience a different dimension. The entire trail has incorporated many ridgessuch that one feels the sudden change in scenery. In winter, the wholelandscape attains a perfect magnificence.
The peak provides a dynamic view of Zanskar and the IndusValley. However, this trek does not come without its shareof challenges and risks. The Stok Kangri, firstly, is not for the faint ofheart, as it can stagger you physically. The most essential factor is goodacclimatization without which scaling such an altitude and such a terrain isimpossible. At 20,500 feet, things can get very hard.Despite its relative ease, the peak presents thedaunting risks and challenges of a trekking expedition. Acclimatisation in Leh,before attempting the trek/climb and altitude acclimatization during theascent, is essential.
The biggest obstacle at such altitudes is rarefied air,which can cause acute headaches, nausea and other symptoms of altitudesickness even in the most physically fit of all climbers. There have beena lot of professional and experienced climbers criticising the enthusiasm ofnovices or inexperienced trekkers who set out to climb the Stok Kangri. At 20,500 ft, this peak is the highest trekkablesummit in India. It poses a great set of intimidating challenges. Acclimatization,as mentioned above, is the most important of all factors, as that ensures one’stolerance and bearability factor when it comes to the rarefied air. It is alsovery surprising how this acclimatization is done only in the mountains ofLadakh, which at 11,000 ft are a good 9000 ft short of what one sets out toconquer in climbing Stok Kangri.
Ones capacity to acclimatize there does notpredict one’s capacity 9000 ft above that. Several people are hit by AMS ornose-bleeding and turn back halfway through.