Trek across Glaciers & Mountains of East Karakoram

By Divyesh Muni | 2018

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1. Team from left-Hufeza, Divyesh, Rajesh, Vineeta, Ashish, Sonali. When our team of mountaineers from “The Himalayan Club”, accompanied by a cinematographer, set out from Rongdo, a quaint village in Ladakh, we had no idea of our final destination or where we would eventually land up. We had on a map, an audacious plan to traverse the Eastern Karakoram mountains, a remote area of which there is almost no existing information.

2. Rongdo village. We completed more than a 100 kms of the traverse that took us across pristine glaciers and mountains. We crossed three high passes (two first crossings) and ascended an unclimbed peak. Karakoram ranges are the most forbidding mountains in the world with a large number of peaks higher than 7000 m.

3. Rongdo valley. The exploratory trek started from Rongdo on the South Eastern end of the East Karakoram range & went through the Rongdo valley, up steep and winding paths, along lush green meadows and grazing grounds, through broken glacial moraine until we established Base Camp at an altitude of 5000 meters.

4. Advanced base camp 5500 metre. From Base Camp we explored a route to cross a high pass to allow access to the East Phunangma Glacier. Advance Base Camp was setup at 5500 m and a Camp at the high passes (now named as Rongdo La) at 5800 m. Photographer is Aditya Kulkarni.

5. Unfortunately while climbing towards the high camp Divyesh slipped on a loose rock and was knocked unconscious. The resulting internal bleeding on his forehead left a sizable bump. The blood settled towards his left eye and he looked a character from a horror movie.

6. Team on the summit of Nga Kangri (6165 m). From the Rongdo La Camp, the team made the first ascent of “Nga Kangri” (Ladakhi for “Snow Peak Five”) 6165 m.

7. Nga Kangri 6165 m.

8. Camp at the junction. A gradual descent from the Rongdo La brought us to the junction of the East Phunangma glacier and the South Argan Glacier. After several hours of searching, we finally found a safe route to access the South Argan Glacier through a huge icefall of the glacier.

9. Route on South Argan glacier. We camped below the high pass that would allow us to cross the ridge coming down from Arganglas Peak.

10. Crossing the Argan La. Fortunately, we found a safe crossing of the Argan La (5950 m) that involved a 200 m climb, a traverse of a narrow ridge and a 100 m descend into the North Argan Glacier. This was the first crossing of this pass.

11. Crossing the Argan La.

12. Negotiating the North Argan Glacier. The North Argan Glacier started as a gentle glacier from the Argan La but then turned into a highly broken and dangerous icefall.

13. Team finding way in North Argan Glacier.

14. While negotiating the glacier, the snow caved in and Divyesh was dangling over a deep crevasse. Fortunately, he could extricate himself in time. The icefall posed a challenge in route finding.

15. Camp site. A scenic campsite provided the much-needed rest and recuperation for the night before the team started its upward journey on the giant glacier over skid-prone gravel and loose boulders.

16. Scenic campsite near South Shukpa Kunchang Glacier. It took us two days to trek up the South Shukpa Kunchang Glacier. The upper section of the glacier was broad and flat and easier to walk on. The landscape was astounding with the formidable Saser Kangri II dominating the horizon.

17. Camp of the South Shukpa Kunchang Glacier.

18. Crossing the Zamoriyon La. We now made the first crossing of the high pass we named Zamoriyon La (5860 m) across the Zamoriyon Glacier to enter the Sakang valley.

19. Rocky slope of Zamoriyon Glacier.

20. After a few days of badly needed rest, the team trekked to the head of the Sakang Lungpa Glacier. You see the Sakang Lungpa Glacier.

21. We decided to end the expedition at the high point on the glacier below Plateau Peak Plateau. Peak at the head of Sakang Lungpa Glacier plateau peak.

22. Exposed traverse on the broken route in Sakang Valley broken route in Sakang valley. To read the original travelogue

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