Stok Kangri Q&A
We are delighted to be going back to Stok Kangri in 2015. It's a fantastic adventure and we've already got a team taking shape for next year. I'd been enjoying having a few phone conversations (and a Skype chat with a potential team member from Australia) this week and so we thought we'd answer some common Q&A's for anyone considering joining us.......
Sum up this expedition...
This is, quite simply, an expedition that has it all. The bustling, frentic pace of Delhi, the beautiful, tranquil city of Leh, a stunning 6000 metre mountain that is an achievable goal even for those new to Himalayan mountaineering and, finally, the majestic Taj Mahal to top it all off.
Why did you select it as a Peak Mountaineering expedition objective...?
I first climbed Stok several years ago while guiding in Ladakh for another expedition company. By then I had climbed quite a lot of big mountains and been to lots of places but Stok is such a great mountain that it will always be on my favourites list. From that time I vowed we’d run this as a guided trip and I’m happy to say that it’s a decision I’ve stood by ever since.
Please tell us about Ladakh...?
Ladakh is fantastic. Certainly one of the most remarkable places I’ve visited. It is part of India and yet feels more like an extension of Tibet (it is sometimes referred to as ‘little Tibet’). It sits in a huge bowl nestled between stunning mountain peaks (Stok Kangri is clearly visible from Leh). The landscape around it is arid and yet Leh is very green and well irrigated. It’s a capital city…..but not as you know it!
But what makes a place is, of course, its people. And for that reason Ladakh really can’t be topped. Gentle, welcoming, warm, helpful, humble and fun loving – the people of Ladakh are amazing ambassadors for their country and are sure to give the team an unforgettable welcome.
Is it hard to operate at 6000 metres...
If you went straight from sea level to 6000 metres you would be very lucky not to be affected very badly. The body needs time to acclimatise to altitudes like this. Our itinerary is carefully planned to try to minimise problems with the altitude and to ensure participants have the best chance of success. For example, after flying to Leh (3505 metres) we’ll have several very relaxing days with some short acclimatisation walks near the capital. Our trek is then carefully planned to allow the body to adapt. We can’t guarantee success as it depends on a lot of factors – but we’ll try very hard to make it possible.
How technical is the route...?
It’s a fantastic route. Technical enough to be interesting and yet easy enough to be within reach of relatively inexperienced mountaineers. We tart with a steady walk out of basecamp. From there we drop down n to the glacier. Once we’ve crossed this we’ll climb the lower slopes in the shadow of a vast hanging glacier before weaving across to a stunning ridge which we follow to the summit. It’s a fantastic route.
How fit do I need to be...?
Travel in a developing country. Trekking for several days. Ascending a 6000 metre peak….this certainly isn’t a beach holiday! Having said that it isn’t beyond the scope of everyday adventurers either. Anyone that has reasonable fitness levels, puts some time in to training before leaving and can cope with trekking for a number of days on the run will manage just fine. Oh, and of course, anyone who fancies a great challenge!
Do I need to spend lots on equipment...?
No, no, no! We absolutely do not want to be running expeditions where participants have to fork out loads on new kit. For many people the main possible expenses on this trip will be suitable boots (which can be hired), a sleeping bag capable of keeping you warm during the nights in the mountains (3 season rating will be fine) and a warm duvet jacket which is an important safety item to carry on the mountain and a very useful warm layer to sit around in on chilly stargazing evenings. The rest is most likely to be stuff you already own (standard hillwalking kit). We provide any technical mumbo jumbo like crampons , ice axes, harnesses and helmets (they are all included in the price) and that’s about it. We send a detailed equipment list to all participants and you can check out our general expedition kitlist here.
Can I do the climb for charity...?
Of course. Stok Kangri would be a great charity challenge.
What will the weather be like...?
The traditional trekking season in Ladakh is mid June to mid September. In Leh the typical summer maximum temperature is 30°C and minimum 12°C. At higher altitudes on the trek temperatures can range from about 20°C to -5°C. Delhi is typically hot and humid at this time of year with temperatures in July and August ranging from 24°C to 34°C with high humidity.
What’s the make-up of the team likely to be...?
It’s looking like a great mix. Some are friends that know each other and some are people that are joining alone and don’t know anyone yet. Of course the team will also have the chance to get to know each other at our training weekend rather than meeting for the first time at the airport.
Is the training weekend compulsory...?
We’ll be giving lots of useful advice at the training weekend but it certainly isn’t essential or compulsory. They’ll be plenty of time to share any information you’ve missed if you can’t make it and we’ll have time to practice key skills in-country too.
What in-country support will there be...?
We have a very experienced, ultra-reliable and very friendly agent who’ll be sorting out a lot of the in-country logistics. This ensures the expedition runs as smoothly as possible and allows us to adapt (to some extent at least!) to changing circumstances. The agent will also appoint our pony handlers, arrange cooks and local guides to support us.
What safety back up is available...?
Usually we provide all expedition teams with satellite phones but India banned the use of them some years ago. However, our recent information suggest they may be lifting this ban and we hope this will be in time for our 2015 expedition. Besides this we carry tracking devices and comprehensive medical kits plus we include training on altitude related issues during training. Leh also has good medical facilities and we have good back up in place back in the UK including office staff who have climbed the mountain.
How easy is it to stay in touch with home...?
In Delhi and Leh there are lots of internet services and international phone calls can be made quite cheaply. It is also possible to buy a local SIM card for your existing mobile (please check your mobile will work from India though). We can also allow clients to send and receive messages to our satellite phone although we do need to charge team members for this facility due to the very high usage charges and the use of the satellite phone for emergencies will obviously always need to take priority over personal use (assuming we are allowed satelite phones again next year - see note above).
Do I need a visa...
Citizens from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand require an entry visa. They usually don’t take too long but please leave plenty of time as delays have been known to occur!
Do I need vaccinations for India...?
Yes. You will need some vaccinations. Please obtain professional advice from a travel clinic or your local GP about which vaccinations you need to have. Also, please don’t leave this all until the last minute either as some vaccinations may need to be a course of several injections!
What’s the itinerary...?
At last – an easy question to answer! It’s all set out for you here. If you want any more detail just let us know.
I’m keen. How long do I have to decide if I’m coming...?
We will need to finalise the team by the start of June. This allows us to sort out all the overseas arrangements and ensure flights to Leh are booked. If you are interested and want to speak to us in more detail please feel free to give us a call. We’d really love to have you along.
I’ve got other questions that haven’t been answered here. Who do I ask...?
If you are thinking of something then chances are there are other clients who also are thinking the same thing. Please feel free to give us a call and we’ll answer it for you….and probably also add it to this list!