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When it comes to trekking and mountain climbing, Ladakh is a fantastic destination overall, but there’s a region within the province that seems almost designed for these activities: the Changtang – home of the nomads. In a place where the ground level is at 4500m over the sea, climbing a 6k mountain is a very realistic possibility.

 

 

Changthang: High plateau of the nomads

Ladakh_Changthang_Spot

The Changtang is the region to the Sud-East of Ladakh that borders with Tibet

 

The Changtang region is not only limited to the Ladakhi territory. It actually runs from the northwestern parts of Tibet over the border to Ladakh. In its overall expansion from east to west, it stretches over 1,500 km. In Ladakh as well as in Tibet, this is a region very scarcely populated – nothing surprising, since it’s also considered one of the most inhospitable places of the world. Only the toughest people can survive here: hardly anything green grows at this altitude (and whatever grows must be shared with the nomad’s yaks, sheep and goats), and during the winter months the temperature can drop sometimes to less than -30°C.

In spite of this harshness, or maybe because of it, the remote Changtang region is also one of otherworldly beauty with its deep blue, emerald green and shimmering turquoise big mountain lakes – the three most important being Pangong Tso, Tsokar and Tsomororiri – AND majestic peaks ideal for mountaineering. 6k-giants look here almost like the 2,000m-high mountains look in the Alps, since at their feet you are already at least 4,500m above sea level!

 

 

The beautiful Changthang
Take a look at our Photo gallery – we have a great collection of extraordinary shots of this beautiful region. To the Photos

 

Ladakh-Chamser-Lungser

A magnificent view of Lake Tsomoriri and the mountain giants Chamser and Lungser. Photo: Harald Schaffer.

 

Mountain climbing in Changtang: Chamser, Lungser, Mentok and other “Kangris”

The number of 6000m peaks in the neighborhood of the Lake Tsomoriri can make a mountaineer’s heart to start beating faster. The highest, most prominent Kangris (Kangri = snow-covered mountain) in this area are the Chamser and the Lungser Kangri.

 

Lungser Kangri 6.666m

The mountain with the “diabolical” height of 6.666m is situated on the eastern shore of Tsomoriri. It is the highest peak in this mountain chain. Despite its height, from a technical point of view it’s one of the easiest summits to conquer in Ladakh. The usual base camp lies at about 5,000m, and the 1st high camp is normally set up at 6,100m, with a possible second camp at 6,250m near a small lake.

Chamser Kangri 6.620m

Chamser Kangri is the slightly smaller brother of Lungser. They both share the same base camp at about 5,000m (that by the way can be easily reached in one day from the village Korzok on Tsomoriri). The first high camp is set up on a plateau at about 5,650m, and the second one can be set up at approximately 6,100m.

Chamser Lungser

The two giants of the region: Chamser (6620m) & Lungser (6666m)

 

The Flower Mountains

Mentok I, II, III and more

Mentok, the name both of many of the individual mountains and the range to which they belong, translates approximately as “flower” – a rather curious name given the general lack of flowers in this land. However, one could say that many 6k peaks in the region sprout out of the earth like wild grass.

The Mentok mountain range extends from the western shore of Tsomoriri to the northwest. Again, most mountains here are not technically difficult. From Gyama (5,200m) there’s good access to several six-thousanders. However, some may also be tried starting from Manechan Valley.

 

mentok-berge

A couple of the many 6k in the Mentok range

Gya mountains en route to Spiti

Running south of Lake Tsomoriri, on the road to Spiti and the border with Tibet, another sierra delights mountain climbers with many peaks over 6,500m. The most prominent among them is the Mount Gya (6,794m), located right on the border between Ladakh, Spiti and Tibet. For a long time unknown to the West, it has since being conquered in many occasions.

gya-range

The mountain chain south of Lake Tsomoriri and its impressive Mount Gya.

 

6000eroverview

Overview of the region

List of mountains in the region higher than 6000m

  • Mount Gya (6.794m) – South of Lake Tsomoriri
  • Lungser Kangri (6.666m)
  • Chamser Kangri (6.620m)
  • Chalung Kangri (6.545m) – in the Lungser chain
  • Polokongka (6.390m) – mountain range East of Tsokar
  • Spangnak Ri (6.390m) – North of Lake Tsomoriri
  • Unnamed (6.347m) – mountain range East of Tsokar
  • Namsang Peak (6.280m) – in the Lungser chain
  • Mentok Pyramide (6.280m)
  • Mentok I (6.270m)
  • Lanyar Peak (6.254m)
  • Mentok III (6.240m)
  • Kharpa Ri (6.234m)
  • Unnamed in Mentok-Range (6.230m)
  • Mentok II (6.180m)
  • Unnamed in Mentok-Range (6.138m)
  • Unnamed in Mentok-Range (6.110m)
  • Unnamed in Mentok-Range (6.090m)
  • Unnamed in Mentok-Range (6.090m)
  • Yalong Nyau Ri Süd (6.080m)
  • Yalong Nyau Ri Nord (6.060m)

… the list is incomplete and could be continued for a long time

 

climbingMentok

Descent from Mentok II. Photo: Barbara Esser

 

Note: For all peaks over 6,000m a permit from the IMF (Indian Mountaineering Foundation) is required and they are subjected to certain restrictions. Additionally, there are some peaks for which no permit is available.

 

Acclimatization in advance

The Changtang is ideal for trekking tours where a previous, early acclimatization has been performed. Depending on how much time one has planned, it can be a good idea to come from other regions (like Markha or Zanskar …) after at least 14 days getting used to the altitude.

 

Some of our expeditions

Of course there is more possible. These are only a few possibilites. If you intend to climb another peak, simply write to us: daniela@gesar-travel.com or tashi@gesar-travel.comspacer


Two sixthousanders in a row
Expedition with climbing of two 6000ers
If you need a challenge and want to climb not one but two six-thousanders, this is exactly the right trip for you. You will cimb two mountains in the Mentok range at Tsomoriri lake.

demanding


(c) Barbara Esser

Stok Kangri in 2 weeks
Expedition to a 6000er
We offer you a two-weeks tour with ideal preparation for the ascent of Stok Kangri (6.154m), you get acclimatized by daily hikes and a short trek before our endeavor starts. So we are perfectly prepared and our chances are higher to summit the six-thousander at the end of our trip!

demanding


(c) Markus Brixle

Sky of the nomads
Trekking & Expedition in Changthang
On this tour we fly at higher game: the nine-day-trek leads you through the the Tibetan High Plateau. And then you even climb a six-thousander.

medium-demanding


 




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Expeditions in the Himalayas? The majority will automatically think about Nepal. And yes, Nepal has a much longer history when it comes to climbing tourism and they are truly experienced in that business and has the advantage of having the maximum mountains above 8000m.

And there is one more thing that makes expeditions in the indian parts of the Himalayas a little complicate – „The Great Indian bureaucracy“ which even did not spare the spirit of mountaineeering adventure. Although India has just one peak above 8000m, (the Khanchendzonga , the third highest peak in the world- see featured image above) this great country has the maximum numbers of peaks between 6000m to slightly below 8000m. India‘s Himalaya stretches from Arunachal Pradesh in the east to the Karakuram range in Ladakh (in the west) and covering a length above 2500 kilometers.
With the right approach you can climb quite some of them legally and officially.spacer

1. Note regional differences

It always depends, where you want to climb a mountain. The rules are different in Ladakh, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and so on. It is easier to climb a mountain in Ladakh than in Sikkim and the procederes are different as well. For example you can get your peak permit for many peaks in Ladakh directly in Leh – for Stok Kangri even at the base camp upon paying a minor penalty. For Sikkim and Uttarakhand on the other hand you have to approach the IMF (Indian Mountaineering Foundation) headquarter in Delhi.

Additionally you have to think about the location of the mountain to be climbed. If it is located close to the border, the regulations will be more complex than the ones away from the border. Permission for expeditions to peaks in the Karakorum range in the valley of Nubra (north and northwest of the river Shayok) are by far more difficult to get granted. No foreign expedition team is allowed to climb without an indian partner and the expedition leader has to be an indian national.

Stok1

On the way to Stok Kangri (c) Josef Reifenauer

 

2. Note the height

Peaks below 6.000 meter are usually not a problem and can be climbed without a permit from IMF. Then there are these so called trekking peaks, which are technically easier. For them you will need a permit which can be obtained without much hassles and comparatively at lower price. Unfortunately, at the moment a very few peaks (especially in Ladakh) fall into this category. The only trekking peak which we find in the IMF trekking peak list is Stok Kangri. Though permits for the Nimaling area (Kangyatse north shoulder, Regoni Mallai Ri, Dzo Jongo etc.) are still granted easily.

Additionally there are open Peaks and those which are banned. That matter is more complex. First of all the regulations are by far more complicate once you envisage a peak above 6.400m and the permits will get more expensive and have to be applied in Delhi. Secondly with any expedition to a peak that does not fall under trekking peak category has to be accompanied by a liasion officer of IMF. And of course you have to pay for him as well. This rule is relatively new and most travel agencies truly resent this for good reasons. So we are all hoping for some sensible changes.

Trek28

Mountains in Changthang (c) Josef Reienauer

 

3. Climbing without permit?

Of course there are many who simply carry their backpacks and head straight towards the peaks without a permit … Usually this will not be notified, since the mountain regions are vast and not all peaks can be controlled. But if you head towards the areas which are frequented by expeditions teams then better don’t try, if you are not the elusive snowleopard! Even around lesser climbed peaks you might be unlucky and come accross an expedition team accompanied with a liasion officer. The consequences depend on the person you are getting involved with.

 

4. Stay up to date

There are constance changes with IMF. That means you have to keep yourself informed again and again how things are evolving. An example: For a long time, the Chamser and Lungser peaks on the eastern shore of Tsomoriri Lake were open peaks and one could easily obtain permit and climb . But suddenly a new army battalion arrives and banned climbing these peaks probably due to fear of any potential spy among the climbers. In these situation, the gaint IMF is powerless for reasons not very clear. We are still waiting for the re-opening of these peak as many are interested to climb these Twin peaks above 6.600m. Best is to wait and drink a cup of tea.

Regularly have a look at the homepage of IMF – there you will find a list of open peaks. But take your time as the regulations are sometimes really confusing and the procedure for applying for permits is complicate.

If you need assistance, we hope you know with whom to get in touch with: Contact

Kangyatse

Kangyatse in Nimaling region

 

Some of our expeditions

Of course there is more possible. These are only a few possibilites. If you intend to climb another peak, simply write to us: daniela@gesar-travel.com or tashi@gesar-travel.comspacer


Two sixthousanders in a row
Expedition with climbing of two 6000ers
If you need a challenge and want to climb not one but two six-thousanders, this is exactly the right trip for you. You will cimb two mountains in the Mentok range at Tsomoriri lake.

demanding


(c) Barbara Esser

Stok Kangri in 2 weeks
Expedition to a 6000er
We offer you a two-weeks tour with ideal preparation for the ascent of Stok Kangri (6.154m), you get acclimatized by daily hikes and a short trek before our endeavor starts. So we are perfectly prepared and our chances are higher to summit the six-thousander at the end of our trip!

demanding


(c) Markus Brixle

Sky of the nomads
Trekking & Expedition in Changthang
On this tour we fly at higher game: the nine-day-trek leads you through the the Tibetan High Plateau. And then you even climb a six-thousander.

medium-demanding