Lungser Kangri, Ladakh, India.

I’ve just got back from a great trip in India, where I led an expedition to Lungser Kangri, a  peak in Ladakh which measures exactly 6666m. The trip began with a night in London then a quick stop in Delhi, from where we flew up to Leh, high in the Himalayas and a good place to start a trip – the town is at 3500m, meaning that acclimatisation gets underway as soon as you step off the plane.

The scenery in Ladakh is mind blowing, and whilst the mountains are not as high as in Nepal, they are perhaps even more photogenic as they rise from long flat plateaus rather than steep sided valleys. The contrast of the green valleys, the brown foothills and the snowy, high summits is amazing, so there is no shortage of photos with this post!

On the way through London before the trip I went and checked out the Natural History Museum. This quote on the right (from the Captain Scott exhibition) summarises how I feel when I have a chippie after a few months in France!

The view from the plane as we descended into Leh

Leh Airport

Leh as seen from the Monastery above the town.

Stok Kangri (6153m) as seen from Leh. I climbed this peak when I was 16. Good times.

We passed a couple of enjoyable days doing the tourist thing in Leh and then headed into the wilderness to start the trekking stage of our trip.

The meeting place of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers

Health and safety is alive and well in Ladakh.

Me and Pete Croudace pulling some yoga moves at the Khardung La, the World’s highest road.

The trekking phase began at the tiny village of Rumtse, and from there we headed into the hills of Ladakh, and barely saw anyone once underway. There are some busy trekking areas in the Himalayas but this is definitely not one of them!

Random dog in Rumtse

A local kid in Rumtse

Our cook, Lal, preparing dinner.

Barren scenery at our 3rd camp

A nomad village, where we camped on the 4th night. The village was deserted as the nomads only spend the 3 coldest months of the year there.

On our 5th night we camped next to a nomad family, and spent an amazing afternoon seeing how they live – definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in the mountains.

Sean teaching a nomad girl to juggle

Rigzin (our sirdar) and me with the Tso Morari lake behind.

Me above Tso Morari, shortly before we got our first glimpse of Lungser Kangri.

Looking into Tibet from the edge of Tso Morari.

Having reached the Tso Morari lake we finally saw Lungser Kangri and got stuck into the climbing phase of the trip.

The team with Lungser Kangri behind.

We set up our base camp at a headache inducing 5600m, and had a rest day followed by a load carry. On the day that everybody else did the load carry, Rigzin (sirdar) and I went all the way to the summit – quite a beasting with 1000m of ascent and descent in a 7.5 hour round trip!

Base camp bouldering

Rigzin heading for the summit

Looking down towards base camp (situated at the far end of the long, flat area in the centre of the photo), with Tso Morari behind.

Me on the summit. Knackered!

Rigzin and me on the summit

Having got back to base camp, all that was left was to climb the mountain again, this time with the rest of the team. We climbed up to the high camp, and the benefit of having had 3 nights at base camp was obvious when nobody had a headache or any ill effects from the altitude, despite high camp being at a whopping 6200m. Unfortunately the wind took its toll though, being strong enough to snap a tent pole! Luckily the tent survived the rest of the night, and we were away at 4am the next morning heading for the top.

High camp, Lungser Kangri behind.

Looking out from our tent at sunset

Jack, Sean, Alex and Dorjee heading up on summit morning

Lee, Kristoff and Olivia early on summit morning

Unfortunately the weather closed in on summit morning so we didn’t get any views, but you’ll have to trust me that 11 of the team made it to the top, a fantastic effort. From the top we descended all the way to base camp, and then the following day down to the roadhead, and finally back to Leh. After a welcome shower and a meal in a local restaurant, we headed back to Delhi, which provided quite a culture shock after the solitude we’d had for the previous few weeks!

Back in Delhi, and enjoying the combination of 38 degree heat and heavy rain!

After a final night together we all made our way back to Europe, and real life. This was definitely one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve done, with amazing views, a great crew and some excellent company provided by our very international group!

Thanks to Pete, Sean, Jack, Alex, Lee, Kristoff, Cordula, Andre, Heinrich, Michael, Marina and Olivia for all the banter, and to Rigzin, Lal, Dorjee et al for being the best crew I’ve had in the mountains.

Safely back in London, enjoying bacon and eggs butties with Sharon and Caroline. Bliss!

Chamonix beckons again now, and I see on various blogs that people have been getting out and doing some good routes recently, so hopefully the weather will hold and I’ll be able to make the most of this acclimatisation!

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