The Himalayan peaks of Northern India are a magnificent expedition destination. Stunning mountains, extremely welcoming people and amazing culture – it’s a firm favourite with Peak Mountaineers.
Nestled in the heart of the range is a jewel of a peak. Technically straightforward yet challenging to climb, in a stunning location with views across to the Karakoram and Zanskar mountains and still within the grasp of those new to Himalayan climbing – 6250 metre Kang Yatse II is the highest trekking peak in the range and a mountain that has it all.
After arrival in Delhi we fly into the tranquil mountain town of Leh, joint capital of the union territory of Ladakh. At 3,524 metres Leh is at significant altitude and so we initially take some time to acclimatise around the town before heading for a very unique mountain adventure. Our trip, which is all camping, will be supported by mules and a cook team and we’ll make our way through the stunning Markha Valley and eventually arriving at Kang Yatse base camp.
Kang Yatse has several summits and our objective, Kang Yatse II, makes a great mountaineering objective. Another great feature of this trip is that, once down from the summit, the terrain allows us to continue on a circular route out of the mountains – we never cover the same ground twice.
This is a fantastic option for those with limited time available as the trip fits conveniently into 2 weeks and yet there are also opportunities to spend more time in India and visit sites like the Taj Mahal.
Day 1 – Arrive Delhi. You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to our comfortable hotel. Depending on your flight arrival time we can head out for a meal and prepare for an early departure to the airport for our flight to Leh.
Day 2 – Arrive Leh. Arriving into the tranquility of Leh after hectic Delhi is quite a contrast! Leh is known for both the welcoming nature and calmness of the locals as well as the stunning setting. At over 3,500 metres it is high though – that’s why the rest of this first day needs to be taken very easily to let our bodies start to acclimatise.
Day 3/4 – Leh. We’ll spend the next couple of days enjoying the sights and sounds of Leh and taking some gentle local walks to aid the acclimatisation process. We’ll also have plenty of time to prepare our equipment for departure on day 5.
Day 5 – Trek to Yuruntse. Time to head into the mountains. We leave Leh and travel by 4 wheel drive to the starting point for our trek. Once on our way we’ll head into the beautiful Zingchen Valley and onwards to the tiny village of Rumbak. From there we have a walk to our campsite for the night.
Day 6 – Trek from Yurntse to Shingo (via the Ganda La Pass). From our camp a long and steady ascent takes us to the spectacular pass at 4900 metres. From there a gradual descent takes us our overnight stop at the tiny hamlet of Shingo.
Day 7 – Trek from Shingo to Hamurtse. After leaving Shingu we enter a spectacular rock lined gorge which we descend until it opens up into pasture land around the village of Skiu. From there a gentle walk leads to our campsite at the riverside location of Hamurtse.
Day 8 – Trek from Hamurtse to Umlong. Today we continue along the side of the beautiful Markha River and eventually reach the village of Markha. Although still home to only around two dozen families, Markha is still the largest village in the valley. From the village we continue to our peaceful overnight stop at Umlong.
Day 9 – Trek Umlong to Thachungtse. We continue along the Markha River until Hankur, the last village in the valley. From there cross the Chaktsdang La Pass and camp at Thachungste. We’ll enjoy our first views of Kang Yatse today.
Day 10 – Trek Thachungtse to Kang Yatse Base Camp. The journey to base camp starts steeply and after a couple of hours we arrive at Nimaling. Nimaling is a stunning plateau area used by the locals for summer grazing. The journey from here to base camp is a pleasant gradual ascent.
Day 11 – Kang Yatse Base Camp. Kang Yatse Base Camp sits in a lovely broad flattening nestled in the heart of the mountains. Today will be spent enjoying an acclimatisation walk and preparing for our ascent.
Day 11 – Ascent of Kang Yatse II and return to Kang Yatse Base Camp. This will be a long but rewarding day. The initial ascent line is on easy paths and trails before arriving at the snowline at about 5500 metres. From there the ascent is all on snow and the summit offers fantastic views across the Zanskar range and to the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. Once rested on the summit we retrace our route back to base camp.
Day 12 – Trek to Shang Sumdo and drive to Leh. From base camp we head over the Kongmara la Pass and descend to the village of Chogdo and onward vehicle transport to Leh.
Day 13 – Depart to Delhi.
Day 14 – Depart to UK.
It is worth noting that this expedition also makes a fantastic itinerary even if you aren’t keen to make the final ascent of Kang Yatse II. The trek through the Markha Valley itself is an amazing journey and it is very easy to arrange for anyone that wants to wait at Base Camp. This option is also ideal for couples where one partner wants to bag the summit and the other prefers to wait below.
Here are a list of questions clients frequently ask about our Ladakh expeditions. We hope you’ll find the info you need but, if there’s something you want to know that we haven’t covered, please call or email us and we’ll be more than happy to help. In fact, if you’ve thought of it then the chances are other people have too – so we’ll add it to the list!
What is Ladakh like?
India is an amazing country that will provide any visitor with an unforgettable experience. This trip spends a little time in the hustle and bustle of vibrant Delhi before heading for the tranquility of Ladakh. Ladakh is a region of Northern India administered as a union territory and constituting a part of the larger region of Kashmir.
We arrive into the town of Leh which is both the joint capital and largest town. Leh was also the capital when Ladakh was a Himalayan Kingdom and it is still possible to visit the palace. Leh was an important stopover on trade routes along the Indus Valley and there are still many influences of that time in the products on sale in the markets and shops. Hindusim is the oldest religion in the valley and remains the second most followed after Buddhism. Several other religions are also represented including Christianity and Sikhism.
Nowadays, Leh retains its remote mountain town feel and yet has everything a visitor needs. There are a good selection of hostelries and shops and a full range of services. Due to its isolated location there can be problems with the internet and electricity supply occasionally being unreliable, but you’ll want for nothing in this peaceful and tranquil place.
What makes it so special?
Certainly Ladakh is special because of its superb mountain geography and its isolated location, but we’d argue that the most significant thing you will enjoy is interacting with the people. Ladakhi’s are gracious, calm, welcoming and honest – time spent with them will stay with you forever.
Geography – India is, of course, a major world player boths in terms of population and industry. It is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and, with borders to 6 other countries, it is a rich and vibrant travel destination. In the north sits Ladakh, one of its union territories and a mountainous area with most of its land sitting at over 3000 metres. Ladakh incorporates parts of both the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and is home to a broad range of mountains varying from easy trekking peaks to serious mountaineering objectives.
The climate of Ladakh is generally cold and dry with an average annual rainfall of 80mm. The weather varies significantly from extremely cold weather in January and February to the warmer conditions of July and August. For mountaineering the July, August and September months are optimum with stable warm days and chilly but clear nights.
What is the currency of Ladakh and how much money will I need?
The currency for Ladakh is Indian Rupees and these are easy to obtain once in country. We will send advice on how much to bring for each itinerary with your Joining Instructions but generally about £300 should be plenty for most trips – this will cover a few meals, drinks tips for local staff and other minor expenses such as laundry and toiletries. Of course, if you want to buy a number of souvenirs you may need more. We suggest bringing this as US dollars or a mixture of dollars and pounds sterling.
What equipment is provided and do I have to pay to use it?
We supply all the technical equipment you’ll need for your trip completely free of charge. This includes ice axes, crampons, helmets, harnesses, climbing hardware and ropes. Similarly, all camping equipment is provided except sleeping bags and sleeping mats.
You will need to supply suitable clothing, a rucksack, sleeping bag and sleeping mat but detailed information on exactly what you will need is available on the kit list which will be sent with your Joining Instructions.
We are always keen to minimise your expenditure wherever possible and often there are cheaper options to some of the more expensive items needed. Some items can also be hired. Please don’t let the cost of equipment be a barrier to you coming along.
Who is looking after me?
Most of our overseas trips are led by Peak Mountaineering director Paul Lewis and he will be leading our Kang Yatse II expedition. Paul is a holder of the Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor Award (WMCI) which is the highest mountain instructing qualification available under the UK qualifications framework. Paul also has extensive experience of guiding overseas altitude expeditions and he has visited Ladakh many times. Paul will be supported on the trip by local guides and our in-country agent.
How safe are these trips?
Any trip carries risk. Add to this the additional hazards of travelling in a developing country and journeying into mountainous terrain and the risks obviously multiply. So, it would be impossible and irresponsible for us to claim that any of our expeditions can ever be completely safe. Infact, we’d argue that an element of risk is an integral part of any adventure – our job is to try and minimise and control the risk with careful planning and ongoing risk management.
Peak Mountaineering has an unblemished safety record and we make client safety our top priority. As well as using the best guides and in-country support we also run a UK based incident management system during all overseas expeditions. This means we can always seek help if needed and we also engage a third party crisis management company who can help if needed.
Our team will also carry a comprehensive medical kit and Paul is a holder of the Wilderness Medical Training Advanced Medicine Certificate. It should be noted that there are some limitations to communications in the mountain areas of India as the use of satellite communication devices is forbidden. Team members are also welcome to attend one of our scheduled Outdoor First Aid courses for only 50% of the full course fee (we’ll send you the dates and further details when you book). As well as making you a qualified first aider you’ll also feel better prepared for the unexpected.
What standard of living will I experience?
Our expeditions are competitively priced but we also want you to have a good standard of living during your expedition. In Delhi and Leh the hotels and guesthouses will be simple yet comfortable and the food will be plentiful local fare. During the mountain phase we will be camping in simple mountain tents and conditions are basic. We will be accompanied by a cook team and have access to a mess tent and food will again be simple but plentiful. Overall, you will certainly be well looked after but do have to be prepared for very simple facilities and a back to basics lifestyle.
Do I need insurance?
We have professional indemnity insurance but it is essential for you to purchase specialist rescue, medical and repatriation insurance and details of your insurance policy must be sent to us before departure. The following companies provide appropriate insurance:
British Mountaineering Council www.thebmc.co.uk 0870 010 4878
Snowcard Insurance Services www.snowcard.co.uk 01327 262 805
What age do you need to be?
We can only offer this trip to anyone over 18 but we don’t specify an upper age limit – anyone over 18 who can cope with both the physical aspects of the trip and the basic living conditions is welcome to join us. Please contact us to discuss if you aren’t sure.
Will you give my details to other people?All information supplied to us remains completely confidential and we will never pass it on to third parties.
How big will the group be?
We always have to work out the minimum number of people needed to make a trip viable and for this trip the minimum required is 5 people. We also cap the trip numbers at a maximum of 12 as we believe groups over this size are more difficult to manage and also lose their sense of cohesion. As a guide, we usually end up with group numbers of around 8-10 on most of our trips.
What happens if I become sick and I’m unable to continue with the trip, can’t make the summit or there is an incident requiring emergency assistance?
We try to take as many steps to keep team members healthy (such as careful preparation of food and ensuring all consumed water is purified) but unfortunately there is always the risk that you may be come unwell. Similarly, even with a good acclimatisation profile some people do struggle to adapt to the altitude. Your expedition leader will be constantly assessing the health of team members and if someone does become unwell they will discuss options with you.
Sometimes the situation can be managed and the team member is able to simply wait at a lower altitude or rest until their condition has improved sufficiently to continue. Sometimes the only option is evacuation. If a participant does have to descend or leave the group they will be accompanied by a local staff member. As this falls outside the itinerary the costs for this would need to be met by the individual.
In some cases it may not be possible for a team member to walk themselves out of the mountains and we might then need to consider other means of evacuation. The availability of helicopters can be limited in this mountain area as the helicopters tend to be supplied by the military. Sometimes an alternative is to use a mule to carry a team member to safety, Again, any costs for evacuation would fall to the individual and so it is essential that any insurance policy covers helicopter evacuation (please do be aware that some insurance companies do charge an excess for helicopter evacuation).
Medical facilities in the mountains are very limited and so the team do carry equipment to try and help team members with medical problems or medical emergencies. These include a range of medications, a portable altitude chamber and bottled oxygen. These may all help, but we do always want to be clear again that travel in remote areas and at altitude can never be risk free.
What if I need to cancel a course booking?
If you cancel over 26 weeks in advance of a course start date we refund all the money you have paid us so far. If you cancel within 26 weeks of a course start date, you forfeit the deposit, but we refund any other money you may have paid. If you cancel within 8 weeks of the course start date you forfeit the full amount unless we are able to resell your place. Please do check our Terms and Conditions page for more detailed information. To cover this eventuality we recommend you take out an insurance policy that includes cancellation of your trip or holiday.
How do I book?
All our courses can be booked online or we are always available to deal with your booking via phone or email if preferred. If you’d like to arrange a private guided option please contact us directly and we’ll be able to help.
Can you guarantee good weather?
Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. However, we do always try to plan areas and routes that should be appropriate for the activity and offer the best conditions. Of course the mountains are the mountains and conditions do very year to year and so we do aim to follow our itinerary as closely as possible but reserve the right to change it for safety reasons if required.
Can you cater for specific dietary requirements?
Certainly. Please let us know beforehand and we will be able to help.
Will I have to carry a heavy rucksack?
Our India expeditions are fully supported and so your main luggage will be carried by a porter. This is a great help as it means all you have to carry each day is a rucksack containing the essentials for that day of trekking. Typically this pack will need to contain similar items to those you’d take on a hill walk in the UK and you’ll be given full information on this prior to departure. Sometimes you might also be asked to carry an item on the team’s emergency equipment but this won’t be more than the size of something like a sandwich box and weighing no more than a kilo.
Is the water safe to drink?
It isn’t safe to drink untreated water anywhere in India. We issue our team members with water purification solution and will teach each team member how to manage the treatment of their drinking water. This is an easy process and soon becomes a part of the everyday routine. In some places purified water is available and bottled water is also an option sometimes – we do try to discourage the overuse of bottled water wherever possible though to help minimise plastic waste.
How do you try to reduce your environmental impact?
We are passionate about protecting the natural environment. Please take the time to read our Environment Page to discover more about our ethos.
Do you need to know about medical conditions?
It is essential that you let us know about any medical condition or injury when booking and you will also be asked to complete a detailed Medical Questionaire in the lead up to the trip. The information provided will remain completely confidential but it is essential that we have a full picture of each team members health to ensure the safety of yourself and to protect other group members. Depending on the information given we may ask for additional details or may ask that you consult your doctor to get their permission to join the trip. We try to be as inclusive as possible but hope you understand why this is so important.
Below is a comprehensive kit list and we’re sure, as you read it, it will look rather daunting! But don’t worry – most of the kit you’ll need is just standard outdoor kit so you won’t have to spend loads. There are a few specialist items but some can be hired from our recommended hire service if needed. Details on this service are at the bottom of the page.
We have also included some additional information about boots at the bottom too. Having correct footwear for this trip is essential for comfort and safety and we do ask that you read that carefully. Boots are another item that can be hired if needed.
If there are items on the list that you aren’t sure about please do ask. We are always just on the end of an email or phone call if you need advice.
It is also important to note that the weight limit for flights up to Lukla is very limited and excess is payable if bags are overweight. Please also remember that everything you take will need to be carried by a porter. So, please bring enough to be comfortable but don’t overdo it.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that it will also be possible to leave some items in the hotel in Leh so it is worth bringing a spare lockable bag for this.
- 35-40 Litre rucksack – this is the rucksack you’ll use every day of our trek and for your summit attempt. If it’s comfy you’ll have a happy days walking. If not your life may be hell! Please also be aware that there will be some team safety items that we will ask each team member to carry. This is usually about a large lunchbox sized item that will weigh no more than a kilo – so please do ensure your rucksack has about 10 litres of spare space about your personal items are packed
- Walking boots – It is essential to have comfortable, supporting well fitting boots that have been ‘broken in’ thoroughly before the trip. Please do not buy them the week before – uncomfortable boots will be another item that can make your life hell. For this trip a 2 season boot is ideal
- Mountaineering boots – It can be extremely cold on Kang Yatse so good boot choice is essential. Double layer mountaineering boots such as the Boreal G1 Lite’s or La Sportiva G5’s make good choices. Please ask if you need more advice and also consider the hire option detailed below if you’d rather not purchase your own
- Sandals or flip flops – great for letting your feet breathe after a days trekking
- Comfortable shoes – A pair of comfortable shoes that can be worn around town or in the tea houses. Approach shoe type shoes work really well and sometimes people like to also wear these for trekking
- Waterproof jacket – a lightweight and breathable jacket. Fabrics such as Goretex or Event work well
- Waterproof trousers – again, please make sure they are lightweight and breathable and much easier if they have side zips to allow you to pull them on over trekking boots
- Duvet jacket – a expedition warmth duvet jacket is an essential safety item. You’ll also really appreciate it when you head out in the evenings to watch the stars. Down works well in the cold dry conditions but synthetic insulation will also work well. Whichever you choose, it is essential that it has a warmth rating to -15 degrees Celsius
- Fleece x 2 – midweight fleeces that can be layered together are the best option. These can be picked up very cheaply and don’t need to be a branded make
- Thermal /wicking tops x 3 – a mix of short and long sleeve
- Thermal leggings – great to wear under your mountain trousers on chilly days or as cosy pyjamas in your sleeping bag
- Trekking trousers x 2 pairs – ideal to have a thicker and a more lightweight pair. You might like to consider some of the trousers that allow you to zip the legs off to turn them into shorts
- Underwear – You may be able to wash them along the way so you don’t need too many sets. We suggest 4 or 5 will be enough
- Shorts – these should be loose fitting and not too short. Please also see the note about zip off trekking trousers above
- T-shirts – a couple of cotton T shirts for general wear.
- Good quality trekking socks x 3 pairs – you really do get what you pay for with trekking socks and they make a huge difference to your comfort. Look for models by Smartwool, Darn Tough or Bridgedale
- Liner socks x 3 pairs – these are a lightweight sock that should be worn under your trekking socks. They will help prevent rubbing and really improve your comfort. Bridgedale make great ones
- Liner gloves – depends on circulation as to how thick they should be but you want these to be dextrous enough to do fine motor tasks. We favour Merino for their excellent warmth to weight
- Mountain gloves – A thicker pair for days when we go over high passes. It is essential that these are insulated and waterproof
- Summit day gloves – It is important to have an additional pair of very warm gloves that can be used on summit day. Mittens work well for this job and either synthetic or down insulation works well
- Neck warmer or buff – this probably gives better versatility as it can be used in conjunction with a beanie to give multiple options and Buff’s are also great to keep out dust or shade from the sun
- Sunhat – baseball style hats are not so good as they offer no ear protection from the sun. The best ones are the wide brimmed models you’ll see in camping shops
- 2 x 1L Water bottles – Nalgene brand are brilliant. You might also favour a hydration bladder but please bear in mind that these are prone to failure and the drink tube can freeze in freezing weather. We don’t use them on trips of this type and would prefer that you don’t either
- 4 season sleeping bag and waterproof compression storage sack – it can be very cold at night and please remember this trip involves many nights of camping. Down is hard to beat for performance
- Sleeping bag liner – adding a liner to your sleeping bag will keep it clean, increase the insulation slightly and, if you are too hot in your sleeping bag (unlikely but possible!), will allow you a lighter weight option
- Headtorch and spare batteries – LED models are preferred due to excellent battery life, no spare bulbs required and they are very light weight. Often the bedrooms don’t have electricity and so you will use your head torch a lot. On several days we will set off in the dark
- Small dry bags or stuff sacks – useful to help organise items in duffle bags
- Toilet paper – this won’t be provided so please bring a stock of your own
- Glasses – consider bringing spares as well
- Contact lenses and solutions
- Sunglasses – good quality glasses rated to at least category 3 are vital
- Sunglasses hard case
- Sun cream – Factor 50 or above. Several small tubes are better than a large one incase you lose one
- Lip salve with high SPF – lips are very prone to getting dry or cracked in the cold and dry conditions
- Toiletries – you can buy most things cheaply once in country so don’t feel you need to bring too much of each thing
- Towel – lightweight and compact pack towels are excellent
- Small personal 1st aid kit – we will have a comprehensive first aid kit but please bring along a small personal kit with plasters, blister patches (Compeed are great), paracetamol, throat lozenges (your throat can get very sore in the cold and dry conditions), re-hydration salts and some immodium
- Other personal medication – please bring plenty, and spares……and some more spares. It is also a good idea to split your medicines between your hold and hand luggage for the international and internal flights. It will be extremely difficult to replace specific medicines in country
- Ziploc bags – It is amazing how many uses you will find for these
- Travel wash – a small bottle of multipurpose travel wash will help you keep your clothes clean
- Wet wipes – for a quick clean up when you can’t get to a water source! Conditions in the tea houses are very basic and access to cleaning facilities will be very limited at times
- Earplugs – Campsites can be noisy and the walls of a tent are very thin. Earplugs might become your very best friend!
- Antibacterial hand gel – essential for preventing the spread of germs. Please bring plenty
- Penknife/multitool – you’ll be amazed how many little jobs you need them for
- Watch with alarm
- Trekking Poles – this is an optional choice, but poles can be really useful
- Camera and spare memory cards batteries
- Waterproof rucksack liner– or dry bags to use inside your rucksack
- Reading books, playing cards or games – you will have a lot of down time during the evenings and so please do come prepared to entertain yourselves
- Small repair kit – containing sewing kit, duct tape and Seamgrip.
- Pen – you can never have enough pens when travelling
- Kitbag for portering (90L) – the best way to get your equipment carried on the trek is to use a duffel style bag. They are simple, durable and relatively inexpensive. Please don’t bring bags with a solid structure or wheels as it is much harder for the porters to manage.
- Small padlock that fits kitbag zippers
- Solar panel and battery power bank – There will be no option to access mains electricity during our time in the mountains. If you have power hungry devices you can charge things by hanging a solar panel off your rucksack as you trek or charging a battery power bank during the day to use in the evenings
- Charging leads and adapters – remember that the plugs are different
- Feminine hygiene products – bring more than you think you might need
- Documentation and money – more information on what to take is included in our FAQ’s section
- Trail snacks – it is nice to have a selection of your favourite snacks but these are easy to source in Delhi or Leh
- Crampons – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need these as we won’t have spares in-country
- Ice axe – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need these as we won’t have spares in-country
- Helmet – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need these as we won’t have spares in-country
- Climbing harness – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need these as we won’t have spares in-country
Hopefully many of the items on this kit list will be general use outdoor items that you already own, but we also appreciate that there are some specialist items that you are both less likely to own and that cost a lot to purchase.
In particular, this might include a suitable sleeping bag, mountaineering boots and duvet. It is essential that participants don’t take short cuts with these items as they are essential for comfort, success and safety. Fortunately, there are companies that will hire out specialist equipment at a reasonable price and our preferred provider is Outdoor Kit Hire. They have an easy to navigate website, are great at giving advice, have good quality equipment available and their prices are reasonable.
Please do consider this option if you see this trip as a one off and you are unlikely to do something similar in the future. Of course, we hope you’ll be hooked and a lifetime of high altitude adventure awaits – in which case it may be worth purchasing some or all of the specialist items.