Ladakh! A Trek through Zanskar (Ultimate Elevation: 5,000M / 16,000+FT)
October 4, 2012, 5:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By popular demand, I’m posting a long-overdue highlight post from our 2012 trek into Zanskar, Ladakh. It was one of the best yet and reunited much of the Kailash crew from earlier posts, with a few wonderful new additions.

Ladakh is among my favorite, favorite places. I’ve spent several long stretches in Leh doing research on lhamos and lhapas, the spirit medium healers of the region. But this time I hit completely new territory and made it to the remote Zanskar region. This journey is of particular significance now as the region was recently cut open by its first vehicular road, something locals did not seem at all happy about. If the road has indeed been completed, we were one of the last groups to be free of the traffic of jeep safari tourism.

This is a skim through our adventure; more visual than informational as I’m away from my journals and itineraries. It was a dream trek. Namgial from Yama Adventures is your man if you’re ready to go.

The group unites in Leh!

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Leh had done some serious changing since I was there last, almost a decade before. So many more tourists and local families meeting traveler demands by plopping hotels and restaurants over their barley fields and pastures. Long walks I used to take just past the city’s edges with farmers threshing and working their land were unrecognizable with bars and trinket shops.

But Leh Palace, Tikse monastery, all the beauty of the surrounding area remain just the same.

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The first and biggest pass crossing came early on the trip. We hit the 5k meter pass after a long decent up a glacier and had a beautiful rest at the top in the thin air. It was a trudge for me. Sea level San Francisco had me out of shape no matter how much biking/hiking we do.

The first and biggest pass crossing came early on the trip. We hit the 5k meter pass after a long decent up a glacier and had a beautiful rest at the top in the thin air. It was a trudge for me. Sea level San Francisco had me out of shape no matter how much biking/hiking we do.

The first and biggest pass crossing came early on the trip. We hit the 5k meter pass after a long decent up a glacier and had a beautiful rest at the top in the thin air. It was a trudge for me. Sea level San Francisco had me out of shape no matter how much biking/hiking we do.

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The pass was a piece of cake for this Zanskarian.

Our visit to Lingshed Monstery ended up being on just the right day. The community was gathering for an annual festival. The monks had just finished a multi-month recitation of their library of Buddhist text and were ready to entertain.

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Everyone in the surrounding villages had brought out their finest gear to celebrate. The women are adorned in their perak, a traditional headdress with more turquoise than you can imagine seeing in one place!

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We ascended another pass the next day, one with the most wonderful view of Lingshed. It was my favorite pass of the trip, just something about it. I could’ve stayed up there all day watching birds ride the gentle thermals. We hung prayer flags before descending.

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The Zanskar landscape deserves a post all its own, just such incredible high altitude desert. Treacherous pathways were something I slowly grew accustomed; particularly frightening when a herd of donkey come your way and there’s no where to go.

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There’s so much life too; the Ladakhis have been ingenious in their use of glacial water irrigation.

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And we had some friendly contact with the famous pashmina goat (the prized hair is on his underbelly!).

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Another highlight was Tashi, our guide, taking us to meet his uncle at his monastery.

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We made it to Lamayuru, the ancient and ingeniously perched monastery.

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The group was always in good form!

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At the end of our trekking days we jumped in jeeps and made our way to Srinigar. We cleaned ourselves up and lounged around in houseboats; heaven from start to finish. Thanks again, team!

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