Stok Kangri as seen from the Shanti Stupa, Leh.
|Elevation||6,153 m (20,187 ft) |
|Parent range||Stok Range|
Stok Kangri (6,154 metres (20,190 ft)) is the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of north-west India. The peak is located in Hemis National Park, 12 km southwest of the trailhead (3,610 metres (11,844 ft)) in the village of Stok and around 15 km southwest of the city of Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
Despite its high altitude, Stok Kangri is a popular trekking peak and is often climbed as an initial non-technical foray into high altitude mountaineering. However, the difficulty of Stok Kangri is often underestimated and the need to acclimatise before and during the ascent makes Stok Kangri an enduring challenge.
In late July and August, all but the top of the peak may be snow-free. The elevation data was verified by GPS readings from 11 satellites at the Summit during a late July 2007 joint Nepalese-US expedition which encountered snow cover for 85% of the final four-hour, four km, 900 metre climb. Another GPS reading provided a 6136-meter elevation. The shortest route to the peak is along the Stok valley, following the Stok Chu to Stok village. This valley's grazing landscape, especially near the village, was devastated by the 2010 Ladakh floods, the most severe in decades.
Over the last few years, Stok Kangri has become tremendously popular amongst trekkers and novice mountaineers due to its non-technical nature. The peak is considered non-technical from July–August, but becomes quite technical during the height of winter. Even in summer, novices should be well prepared, with appropriate physical fitness and equipment. The climb is exhausting and requires a good amount of stamina, both physically and mentally. The First official winter ascent was made by a British team in March of 2002, Led by Ross Cooper, with Chris Hall, Paul Janlid, Mykl White and Caroline Williams. At the age of 20 years, Ross Cooper was the youngest expedition leader recorded by the IMF.
Despite its relative ease, the 6,153 m peak presents the usual challenges of a mountaineering expedition. Acclimatisation in Leh, particularly for those who fly in from Delhi, before attempting the trek/climb and altitude acclimatization during the ascent, is essential. The biggest hurdle at such altitudes is rarefied air, which can cause acute headaches, nausea and other symptoms of altitude sickness even in fit climbers.
It can take anything from two to five days to reach base camp (4,980 metres (16,339 ft)) from the village of Stok, depending on acclimatisation schedules and fitness levels. The summit day lasts 8–14 hours, ascending over 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) from Stok Kangri's base camp to its summit.
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