Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016 September Stok Range Alpine Climbing

Will Porteous on the summit of Shuku Kangri. We were the only team on this peak.
The Stok range is the prominent skyline of peaks seen from Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The Stok range is most often visited for a climb of the popular trekking peak, Stok Kangri.  The focus of this trip was to seek out new climbing objectives on adjacent peaks and on North facing slopes.  The north facing slopes of this range hold stationary ice bodies and glaciers and do present some degree of climbing challenge, and at the 5500m+ elevation.
      From 25 September - 8 October 2016, we made our way into Stok Kangri base camp via Shang Sumdo and the Matho valley.  There are a lot of tour companies offering climbs of the standard route on Stok Kangri. It is possible to come to Leh and organize a climb of Stok Kangri for about US$400. You go into base camp, sleeping in pre-established camps, and walk up the route with a local boy, under good conditions. This trip has nothing to do with this experience. Our goal was to do alpine climbs of more aesthetic routes, including learning to climb on ice with crampons, and covering other skills for moving in technical rock and ice terrain in the mountains, with a western mountain guide teaching these skills (Luke Smithwick).
Blue sheep cross a glacial stream on approach to base camp.
     Our first day of training for these skills was in Matho Phu, where we covered ascending and descending a fixed rope in steep rock terrain, moving together in alpine style on a rope, basic knots for mountaineering, objective hazards in mountaineering, communications while traveling as a rope team, and how to transition into multi-pitch rappels from upward progress.  Each of our trips is catered to the participants involved. Mahesh wanted to trek and try climbing, Amit wanted to learn to mountain skills, and Will wanted to climb new routes and summit 6000 meter peaks. More images of the trip below. We will return to the Stok range in July 2017. Interested? Contact Luke

Himalaya Alpine Guide Luke Smithwick putting up the rope to belay guests during the ascent of Golep Kangri in alpine style.

Will Porteous on the summit of Stok Kangri.

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The team making their first multi-pitch alpine rock climb. Two of these climbers had never been rock climbing before.

Views on 5000 meter Matho La.

Looking into Matho valley from the top of Matho La.

Amit with Stocky the dog while hiking Stok Kangri.

Mahesh on trek.