Traverse Planning: Ladakh, Jul-Aug 2023


Peter Jost one of my Patrons. I’ve been a bushwalker in Australia for decades and have walked in Sichuan, Qinghai, Nepal, Zanskar over the years. I’m planning to spend July & August this year doing a few of the treks you’ve documented. Its hard to choose but thinking of going to Manali, doing Pin Parvati to Spiti, then Parang La to Tso Moririri, then getting to Bharatpur tent colony and doing trips from there.

Due to flooding in Kullu in July we decided to skip the Parvati / Spiti sections, fly to Leh and do some traverses in Ladakh. I proposed following circuits to Pete:

1. Spangting Loop 97km / 8500m+

9 valleys / 8 mountain passes

  • Yoru Rong river (Lamayuru)
  • Prinkti La
  • Wanlah Tokpo (Wanla)
  • Hinju Tokpo (Hinju)
  • Konke La
  • Umlung Lungpa (Sumdah Chenmo)
  • Pangal La
  • Dungduchen La
  • Zanskar river (Chilling)
  • Sumdah Tokpo (Sumdah Chun)
  • Sminopi La
  • Indus river (Alchi, Gira)
  • Tsigar Tokpo (Mangyu)
  • Mangyu La
  • Hibti La
  • Brok Lungpa (Tar)
  • Tar La
  • Hinju Tokpo (Panjila)

Food points

  1. Lamayuru – dhaba / shops
  2. Wanla – shops
  3. Panjila – homestay / dhaba / shops
  4. Hinju – homestays
  5. Chilling – dhaba (optional diversion)
  6. Alchi – dhabas / tourist spot
  7. Sapta / Tar nothing but you might find hospitality or small shops in private homes
  8. Panjila – finish

Blog Posts


Photo album

Photos taken by Pete upon completion over here.

2. Stok Range Circuit – 135km / 7900m+

8 valleys / 6 mountain passes

  • Indus valley (Leh)
  • Rumbak Tokpo (Rumbak)
  • Stok La
  • Stok Tokpo (Mankarmo)
  • Matho La
  • Matho Tokpo
  • Shang La
  • Gyuncho La
  • Shang Tokpo (Shang Sumdo)
  • Martselang Tokpo (Chogdo)
  • Konmaru La
  • Markha valley (Hankar, Markha, Skyu)
  • Singo Lungpa
  • Gand La
  • Rumbak Tokpo (Rumbak)

Food points

  1. Chilling – dhaba
  2. Markha valley – lots of cafes, home stays. Full package includes 1200Rs for dinner / night stay / BF / packed lunch. Although you can also just buy food and camp outside. Last village is Hankar
  3. Shang Sumdo – dhaba
  4. Mankarmo (base camp of Stok Kangri) – dhaba (might not be there if Stok Kangri is closed. Check with locals beforehand
  5. Rumbak – cafes / homestay
  6. Skyu – dhaba

Blog posts


Photo Album

Photos taken by Pete upon completion over here.

What’s next?

After completing the above two circuits we discussed on various other options in Ladakh / Zanskar as the monsoon was still active in the lower Himalayas:

  1. Kanji – Dibling – Lingshed – requires Orna river crossing / not possible in current water flow
  2. Kanji – Photoksar – Lignshed – Zangla – popular route between Leh-Zanskar
  3. Markha-Zangla-Markha – requires Kurna river crossing / not possible
  4. Markha – Zalung Karpo La – Dat – Sangtha
  5. Zangla – Ningri La – Lar La – Gautang La – Shade – continue 6
  6. Tsarap river traverse: Shade / Phuktal Gompa – Sarchu
  7. South Zanskar Khurgiak – Phirse La – Sarchu
  8. Pang to Tso Moriri
  9. Debring – Tso Kar – Tso Moriri

Above can be combined as:


After discussion with Pete we decided on below 4 traverses:

3. Lato to Pang – 124km / 3000m+

3 passes / 6 valleys

  • Mundar Tokpo
  • Lato (food)
  • Pobe La
  • Nimaling Tokpo
  • Markha valley
  • Hankar (food)
  • Langtang Chan
  • Zalung Karpo La
  • Gunjur Nala
  • Khar (unihabited dwelling, night shelter)
  • Dat Tokpo
  • Dat summer dwelling, no dhaba)
  • Jeep track
  • side-trail via unknown pass
  • Yar La
  • side-trail
  • Lungmoche Nala
  • Kharnak (summer dwelling)
  • side-trail
  • Zara Chu
  • Sangtha (summer dwelling)
  • Yabuk Barma (summer dwelling)
  • Toze Lungpa
  • Pang (food)

Blog posts

Zalung Karpo La

Dad to Debring (you will divert via the Toze Chu instead)

4. Sarchu to Shade – 72km / 3000m+

1 valley / 6 passes

  • Pang (food)
  • hitch lorry ride to Sarchu
  • Lachlung La
  • Yunam river
  • Sarchu (food)
  • hitch lorry ride back to Gata loops
  • Tsarap Chu
  • // series of small passes
  • Laol La
  • Umlung La
  • Umlung La
  • Chhohama La
  • Satok (beautiful deserted dwelling, night stay)
  • Tichip (cross Zara chu)
  • Kormoch (deserted dwelling, night stay)
  • Gotunte La
  • Nialo Konste La
  • Tok Phu
  • Niru Chu
  • Tantak (deserted dwelling)
  • Shade (food)


Blog posts

Tsarap traverse:

5. Shade to Zangla – 47km / 2100m+

3 valleys / 3 passes

  • Shade (food)
  • Gautang La
  • Niri (deserted dwelling)
  • Lar La
  • Niru Chu
  • Ningri (summer dwelling, night stay)
  • Ningri La
  • Sumdo (deserted dwelling)
  • Zanskar valley
  • Zang La (food)


Blog posts

Shade to Zangla:

Photo album

Link to Pete’s photo album

Exit options

Remember you have various exit options:

  1. Hankar (via Markha valley) 1 day
  2. Sanghta (via jeep track North to Debrig) 2 days
  3. Pang (Manali-Leh highway) 1 day
  4. Sarchu (Manali-Leh highway) 1 day
  5. Shade (1 day to Pukthal gompa / road head) 3 days
  6. Padum (taxi to Manali) 2 days
  7. Udaipur (bus to Manali) 4-5 days

6. Padum to Udaipur – 75km / 1500m+

3 valleys / 1 pass

  • Zangla (food)
  • Zanskar valley
  • hitch ride to Padum (highway)
  • Padum (food)
  • Tsarap Karghiak Chu
  • hitch ride to start of Kang La trail
  • unknown summer dwelling)
  • Temasa Nala
  • several flat spots to camp
  • turn South to glacier (crevasses)
  • Kang La (5400m)
  • long glacier traverse
  • (camp on morraines next to glacier)
  • long morraine traverse
  • Miyar valley / meadows (camp)
  • Many shepherd rock shelters
  • Khanjer (first Bhuddist settlement)
  • Urgus (food, road head, bus stop)
  • Udaipur (food)
  • Chenab river valley
  • bus to Keylong
  • bus to Manali

Blog posts

Kang La:

Food planning

All you need to do is plan your food stops in the villages in between. The trails are quite clear as Ladakh has an active hiking community. You can easily cover 1-2 passes per day 20-30km depending yon your pace / backpack weight. Download OSM map + contours of Ladakh and set the Survey Ladakh map as overlay map (additional terrain details).

I usually carry 50ml of kerosene in a small plastic bottle, keep a plastic cover between bottle and the tap and keep it upright in my bag. Alternatively you can carry some camphor which works very well to start a fire. Even in Ladakh where there is less vegetation you can pick up some dry animal dung (yak, horses, mules) 2km before the campsite which is sufficient to make a small (cooking) fire

I usually eat freshly cooked food in dhabas and then pack up some alloo parata’s or anything fresh for the next 2-3 meals. That gives me fresh food for 1.5 days until I reach the next settlement / dhaba. So there is actually no need to cook yourself unless you go for longer traverses > 2-3 days between settlements

If you have more time you can consider climbing Kang Yatse II and Stok Kangri, both non technical 6000m peaks with stunning views on the surround Hemis national park

[Pete 21 Aug 2023]

Hi Pete, got to Pang yesterday morning. Bit of a hole, but it had the necessary things! Only major problem I had was getting to Dat and finding the whole village had left for some festival! Only one visiting monk and done Nepalese labourers at the gompa! So no food to be had but the lovely monk have me 6 Maggi and 4 Tibetan bread. Enough with what I already had to get to Pang. A couple of the days were a bit of a slog but you’ve got to expect that. Apart from that all good. I’ll stick with the Tsarap River traverse. Thx for your help

[Pete 20 Aug 2023]

This is something I wrote last night. I’m sure more detail will come out when I go through my photos.

I met trekking parties most days on this trek. I suspect it may be one of the last Zanskar treks. People coming from Zangla, Phuctal and Lingshet. Mostly couples with horses

Leaving Pang, so many empty trucks, no pickup because they’re contracted to army. Eventually an empty minibus picked me up. It was going to Gata Loops to pick up a trekking group that was doing the same trek as me but in reverse!

Camped at Tso Mesik.
Next day to Satak. That was eerie. A bit like the Marie Celeste. Seemed the people left in a hurry. Next morning huge cat prints on the track leaving Satak. As big as the front half of my foot. Must be snow leopard.
Next to the entrance to the gorge that led to the 2 high passes. That bridge that crosses the slightly too deep river crossing with the blue glacial water. It’s still there but is deteriorating rapidly. What incredible country that is, walking up high after crossing the bridge and climbing almost vertically afterwards.
Thought about staying at Kormoch but it had a bleak feeling and it was better to be close to the start of the climb.
That was a long day over the 2 passes
Getting to the river junction where to turn left to go to Phuctal was beautiful. Had to look around to find anywhere to camp but found it down low by the river.
Next day a short walk to Shade and then luxury of a homestay. Saw baby take being milled. Basically a rest day.
Next day over 2 high passes walking in parallel with Swiss trekking group. Left them after second pass and didn’t see them again. Camped at Ningri Sumdo but there is more than one by that name. The one I camped at had almost nowhere suitable for a tent but I made do.
Lastly, over Ningri La and camped at Kong Lumche.
Down the gorge the next day.

I know this is a logistical description. I was marveling at the views and geography each day. Also continually amazed at my lack of injuries – breaking a leg or whatever was continually on my mind, but it didn’t happen.
Saw lots of blue sheep, in herds of perhaps 10, many days. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight. My trousers have a draw string, and I can do them up a lot tighter now. It struck me that this area is a totally underused resource for bushwalking. The lightweight approach is necessary because of the altitude and limited food options, but it is possible, and the views and remote experience make it absolutely worthwhile. I think I’ve spent 35-40 days trekking and I only met 2 other couples doing it alpine-style, funnily both at the same time in Markha valley!

Do you mind if I mention this subject on a bushwalking website on Australia? I’m sure you’d get a few more patrons and plenty of enquiries