/ Ladakh peaks (in May)
I've read that it is an easy(ish) trek in summer months and can be a managable peak in the winter.
I understand May is on the tail end of the winter season so advice on conditions / gear needed / decent maps etc would be very useful!
e.g. full down expedition suit or would just down jacket and a load of layers suffice for the summit?
I have spent 1 months in Leh last summer.I have done the 5days Malka Valley trek for 6000rupee (price for 2 people) as a warm up and Stok Kangril 3 days expedition for 5000 rupees (price for 5 people,including gears).
I meet some people on the trek and they told me that,in term of technical diffculties,it is more like a PD+ grade route in the Alpes.Dont worry much about gear, just the usual stuff you need for a PD grade route.
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I've never been there, but I looked into going there in May a year or so ago (went to Peru instead) and asked friends, who have guided there, about the conditions. I was planning on doing other things, but using SK to acclimatise.
For May, it really depends on how the winter has been, and I have heard that this winter has had a lot of snow. So some of the high passes will be blocked, but this may not be a problem for Stok Kangri, if you use the normal route and don't do the Markha trek or some other high trek for acclimatisation.
But I guess you will have some snow on the SK route, and no track, so it will be harder work, but at least no crowds. Of course you will have to fly in to Leh, and probably out as well, as the roads will probably still be blocked to the south. Sometimes the Rohtang La is open in mid-May, sometimes not.
Did you research which was the best map to use? I've heard you can buy one in Leh but not sure if I want to risk it.
Also did you find out what kind of temperatures were to be expected at that time of year?
There are some nice new French maps made by Olizane, which are OK for SK but have some woeful errors for other peaks in the area, and adjacent regions.
The other issue I didn't mention was river crossings. It's a known problem for the rivers to be high in early June, making some crossings dangerous, but in May you can get in before there is too much melt - but of course this means more snow up high.
-16C there today. You can go back in the almanac for past data at:
Ditto what Damo says about the Olizane maps - they look smart and professional but have some really basic errors. Tracks going over the wrong passes, villages given the wrong names.
SK is classified a 'Trekking Peak' so you don't need an X Visa and you can organise a permit in Leh cheaply, though in May it will be harder for an agent to get a group together.
I haven't got it in front of me. I think it's OK for SK because it's a well-known area, so probably fine for navigation. In other areas the peak heights and names are well off. It may be orthographically correct - the terrain is right - but the names, heights and general labelling is off.
Even if it was 100% accurate, think of the scale. In Scotland I use 1:50,000 map with 10m contours. The best Olizane maps are 1:150,000 with contours at 100m. How much detail can this give? A 50m high cliff might not even appear. An 80m cliff might not appear!
Also, paths make such a difference to progress, and these can change from year to year due to landslides.
So my default position would be to use a local guide. Besides, this adds to the local economy.
That said, in more common routes like Stok Kangri, you might get away with just following the path. There are loads of route descriptions in books and trip reports on line. Likewise, some of the other hills are so rounded and obstacles so few that it would be relatively straightforward to attempt them without a guide. I am thinking of some of the hills round Tso Kar and Tso Moriri. Other peaks are more complicated :)
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