This is Spituk Bridge where we started our trek. The bridge crosses the River Indus.
Our group poses here for a shot above the River Indus soon after starting on the first day. The dramatic
landscape with the barren mountains and fertile valleys is once again seen. Leh, where we were based
before commencing the trek, is nestled in behind the ridge in the centre of the picture.
This was the first of many stream and river crossings. Initially the small streams didn't require us to
remove our boots, but still caused some amusement in crossing. Here, we threw a few rocks into the river to
aid our passage.
The paths varied considerably. As can be seen here, they were sometimes no more than a few inches of
trodden earth along the side of a ravine.
The second day of the trek involved walking along the Jingchan gorge on route for the Ganda La pass.
Here we are approaching the village of Rumbak and a dramatic landscape once again unfolds.
Passing through Rumbak, the riverbed widened considerably.
Our route continued up the valley which shows signs of glaciation in the past.
This is Ganda La base camp at 4380m. The low point in the ridge in the distance is the Stok La, a 4800m
pass which can be taken on an alternative first day to the trek. This can prove very demanding, however,
with the sudden altitude gain so early on. Andy, Eily and I experienced headaches at the camp shown due
to the altitude but were much better the following morning as we continued up over the pass.
Our horses eased the burden on our back considerably ... and afforded us a few extra luxuries! Note one of
our horsemen kicking an animal!
Here we are on the Ganda La at 4870m with Skarma, our guide (second from left) and Namgyal, our cook
(second from right). The views were amazing and, as always, there were plenty of prayer flags here.
After crossing the Ganda La, we descended towards the Markha Valley. Here we pass through the small village
Our camp in the Markha valley that night was at Skyu Gongma with this dramatic ridge as a backdrop.
The following day, we crossed the River Markha for the first of many times at this bridge though we needn't
have done so on this occasion - we ended up having to wade back through the water about ten minutes later!
Another bridge across the Markha River high above the waters.
Stu and Andy pass a chorten and mani wall - features that seem part of almost any landscape in Ladakh.
This is the valley between Chalak and Markha, again with Chortens in the foreground.
This river crossing did mean getting our feet wet ...
... if only we could ride the horses too!
This is the village of Markha the evening we arrived. Its' the largest settlement in the valley with several
hundred inhabitants. Barley fields can be seen in the foreground.
Looking up the valley from our campsite in Markha was this view - once again an amazing backdrop.
An evening game of Scrabble in Markha, with two local girls and Skarma, our guide, looking on.
The following day we were getting our feet wet once again. This time below a huge rock pillar marking the
start of a much longer and more demanding trek through the Zanskar mountains to Padum further south.
A close up of the stones on a mani wall bearing Buddhist inscriptions.
This was our first view of Kang Yaze (6400m), the peak we planned to climb, some 2000m higher than us here
in the Markha Valley near Hankar.
Our day ended at Tachungste on a tributary leading into the Markha river.
The food prepared for us by Namgyal, our cook, was always delicious and tasty. Here you can see the array
of food in one meal.
This is Nimaling (4700m) where we ended up the following day (Kang Yaze dominates the background again). We
didn't intend to end up here however. A misunderstanding between our guide and horsemen (who had gone on
ahead that day) meant that we didn't meet at the base camp for Kang Yaze. We therefore retreated to Nimaling
which is the next camp on the standard trekking route.
Here's a slightly closer view of Kang Yaze in the early morning sunlight. Our ascent route involved climbing
the rocks in the left foreground before heading on to the glacier and up to the peak. The peak in shot is
the trekking summit. The ridge leading to the true summit is technically very demanding. The true summit
has not been reached for several years and requires a mountaineering expedition.
Only Stu and I set out to attempt the peak with Skarma and Namgyal. Stu unfortunately dropped out after an
hour or so. I continued up but was forced to stop here due to the altitude. We were some 200m below the
summit at around 6200m. The top was in cloud which was some sort of consolation!
This is a yak calf at Nimaling. Yaks are used for agricultural purpose by many of the local farmers, as
well as providing fresh milk.
Here's a typical campsite latrine. No more than a squat toilet on a platform enclosed by walls to one
height or another!
After three nights at Nimaling, we continued crossing the Gongmaru La at 5130m. As you can see, the weather
had turned considerably.
The paths turned to muddy rivers as we carried on down the gorge the other side of the pass.
At some points, we were forced to follow the riverbed itself.
Here's a traditional rural Ladakhi house, built of mud bricks baked in the sun. The vast majority of
houses appear to be incredibly clean and well kept.
The gorge broadened as we headed downstream. By this point you can see the electricity supply poles
indicating that we were getting near to the end of our trek.
Here our two ponymen take the bags off the horses and pony. Whilst at Nimaling, they had let the horses
wander freely but could not find them all the morning we left. One of them lived in the village of Hankar
a few hours away and spent the morning returning there to borrow some animals from a relative before
they could continue!
Our final night on the trek was marked by an impressive meal with around eight cooked savoury dishes. These
were all prepared on two stoves in the cook tent by Namgyal which we thought was quite amazing - especially
when one of the dishes was a pizza which I thought you'd have needed an oven for! Then we had this cake
for dessert which was just as remarkable. It says Jullay on the top which, if you only learn one Ladakhi
word, is the word to know: it means please, thankyou, hello and goodbye! On this occasion I think it meant
The final day of the trek we reached the road again with another stunning backdrop to finish.