Ladakhi Summer

To enjoy the summer after getting my PhD from Purdue, I’m going for 7 weeks to the Himalayas, mostly to Ladakh in India. I’ll try to write here occasionally while there and I’ll certainly post some pictures when I come back. For now you can look at some pictures from my last time in Ladakh in 2007 here (sorry that there are boringly too many).

ladakh 2007So what’s the plan? I’m flying to Delhi on Thursday, which is very hot now (over 35° C), so I’ll soon take the train up the hills to Shimla (elevation 2200 m). From there I’ll continue via Kalpa (2950 m) to the Spiti region. It is like Ladakh in that it is very dry (which is a great advantage in the monsoon period), the culture is also buddhist and similar to tibetan. But it is hopefully less visited by tourists and you can get there more gradually, which is great for acclimatization. I’ll certainly spend some time around, eg., in Tabo (3280 m) and Kaza (3650 m).

By then, in the second half of July, I should be well acclimatised, and so I’ll go on a trek to get to Ladakh itself (after taking some buses over 5000 m passes to get to the start). I’m thinking about trekking across Karnak, quite similarly to this one, but in the other direction and without ponies. Hiking in Ladakh isn’t particularly technical difficult as the routes follow natural paths the locals use across plains, so the main challenge is the altitude. And so most people (in fact I heard that everyone except for the Czechs and Poles) do the hikes by hiring guides and ponies. It can be sometimes good and sometimes ridiculous (when they take tons of useless heavy stuff like tables and toilets), but to me it feels much more challenging and fun to go on and carry everything on my own (and I have to support our nation’s heroic image!). The trek goes via several 5000 m passes and the Kang Yaze (6400 m) base camp and after some 10 days end near Hemis monastery.

That is finally in Ladakh, in the Indus valley. I’ll spend some time resting and sightseeing (mostly visiting Buddhist monasteries) around Leh (3500 m). After some rest I hope to hike up the Stok Kangri (6153 m) mountain, the highest I’ll have ever been (the highest so far was some 5700 metres at a glacier above Tso Moriri, where we went some 7 years ago, also in Ladakh). And after that the flight to Delhi and back home!

But of course it’s India, so the plans can easily change depending on weather, my acclimatisation (and inevitable diarrhea) and whatever else.