Hidden like a mystery in plain view, Dzo Jongo is one magical peak. Starting from Leh, the trek takes you through the magnificent and arid Markha Valley. What's fascinating is that the peak stays hidden from view till you get to it's very base - the first 5 days of the trek keep you wondering whether the mountain in question actually exists or not. Does it actually exist? Yes it does! Is it gorgeous? Based on our recent experience, we'd say every bit worth the wait! From the dust storms of Markha Valley to the tent-flapping winds of its basecamp at 5,500M to the snow storms during summit push, Dzo Jongo West (6260M) is the perfect recipe for adventure. It's the right amount of challenging and technical, the right mix of extreme temperatures, and requires the right combination of skill and endurance for it to make it to the top of your 'must-have' experiences. What's fascinating about the West face of Dzo Jongo (6260M) is that it's got easy bits of straight walking and it's got extremely scary sections with 80° ice walls. It's got trekking sections and it has got sections where you need to know exactly how to use your tools. It's got sections where you'll feel like it's a cake walk and it's got sections that will make you cry. This magnificent peak can get you brimming with self-confidence and just when you thought you got this, it throws something at you which will fill you with self-doubt. It's an extremely confusing internal and external journey but it's worth every bit of the conundrum for its spectacular views and the amount of learning it offers. Stay on this page for more information on the peak.
Briefing and Acclimatization
Since the trek starts in the high-mountain city of Leh which is at an altitude of 3,500M, it is essential for the body to acclimatize. We utilize the first two days to get in tune with the new environment, get acquainted with each other with briefings on some of the basic mountain rules and what to expect on Dzo Jongo (West).
Since the trek starts in the high-mountain city of Leh which is at an altitude of 3,500M, it is essential for the body to acclimatize. We utilize the first two days to get in tune with the new environment and also to get all our gear in place, including the right-sized snow boots!
Leh (3,500M) to Skiu (3,500M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 35 kms
Time Taken: 3 hour drive
The drive from Leh to Skiu is the perfect introduction to the general terrain we are about to enter for the next few days. We assemble and leave for the day between 10:30 AM and 11:00 AM so that we can make it to the campsite, set up our tents and have hot lunch as we settle into this new environment. The drive is smooth. The road goes through a flat and desolate plain alongside river Indus until we reach its confluence with the distinctly coloured Zanskar River in close to an hour and a half. In this short drive, we witness barren mountains of all shapes, forms and textures – slabs of rock stacked one of top of the other neatly, chunks of rock resting on each other haphazardly, sheets of rock hard-pressed into each other, loose rocks, mountains made of mud, and much more. The entire set up looks like an experimental playfield of forms for the creator where He dumped all the discarded versions of His clay models.
After coming through some of the driest areas you will witness, we reach the campsite by lunch time. This is amongst the many scattered and tiny hamlets spread out in the area which makes it a little green for all the fields of the locals. The freshness of vegetation is a sight for sore eyes.
Once we set up camp and are finished with lunch, we go for a little acclimatization walk in the early evening. This is extremely important as it’s a new terrain and the body needs time to adapt to new conditions. Remember to carry a bottle of water everywhere you go. It won’t be long before you realize the weather here is peculiar – extremely hot, extremely dry and extremely arid. The heat turns you into a crisp and your throat is likely to feel dry. This, however, is normal. Give your body some time to recalibrate.
Skiu (3,500M) to Markha Village (3,710M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 20 kms
Time Taken: 8 hour trek
The first thing you would have noticed on entering Ladakh is that it is extremely dry – your throat is likely to feel scratchy and your face burnt from all the unobstructed heat that the land receives all day under the harsh sun. Marka valley is a long extension of this parched feeling. Imagine walking in the harsh sun on wide, open lands with no respite from the heat in the form of shades from a tree, surrounded by mountains that look like they could come crumbling down at any point; they just aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts! This is Markha valley trek – a civilization of mud, heat and insurmountable beauty of a peculiar kind.
It is a long day. So, we start as early as possible. Right after an early yoga session and breakfast, we pack up our tents and get moving towards Markha Village by 08:30 AM. Mornings, in this terrain tend to get a little chilly; don’t forget to layer up accordingly. The trail today is easy and mostly straight with a few sections of ascent. The pointed rocky peaks, the poplar trees, and the muddy trail, they seem like a constant picture through which we walk for 5 days to get to the camp of Dzo Jongo (West) – quiet and still. The river shining silver in the bright, harsh sun is the only thing that mimics movement in this otherwise static landscape – snaking through the bed of the valley in gushing streams. Two and a half hours into the trek, we cross a small wooden bridge over the aggressively flowing murky stream. And within an hour from then, we reach Sara, which is a halfway mark to our destination for the day. The trail is mostly dirt roads and the rocky sea bed.
We reach the campsite latest by 4 PM. After setting up our camps in this campsite in the midst of the tall green grass with a backdrop of barren mountains, we go for the acclimatization walk in the evening. The rest of the day is to explore the setting and rest our weary selves.
Markha Village (3,710M) to Lower Hunkar (3,968M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 11 kms
Time Taken: 6 hours trek
Today is not as long as yesterday but we still have to cover a lot of ground. The terrain remains fairly the same, with long patches of even land with a few ascents and descents along the way. Just like Day 4, we start as early as 08:30 in the morning. Within an hour into the trek, we reach our first river crossing. The water levels here are extremely unpredictable. Depending on the level of the water, you will either find yourself wading through waist deep current or cross the stream in a hop, skip and jump.
Within an hour of crossing the river we reach Tacha Gompa – a monastery high up on a steep incline, precariously standing dressed in mud on top of a muddy mountain. In another hour we climb a small patch of steady incline to get to a small village canteen to get some refreshments and well-earned rest. Our campsite for the day is a two hour trek from here. One hour into the trek, we start seeing Lower Hunkar. It is a clearing where large bushes end and the landscape opens up to views of mountains disappearing into each other. This is when you start climbing a little farther up from the river bed. While the trail here can get monotonous at times, the constant dipping of your feet in icy water has a way of jolting you back to attention.
We set up our tents in the middle of wheat fields. Far away villages with houses lined far apart standing guard around the tents, in the background.
There is a lot to explore around Hunkar on our acclimatization walk later in the day. This is one walk you won’t complain about!
Lower Hunkar (3,968M) to Nimaling (4,535M) (Click to View GPS data)
Distance: 12.5 kms
Time Taken: 7 hours trek
Sitting in the heart of a chilly morning, the sunlight inching towards you is one of the best sights - to see it slowly crawl to you like it is teasing you!
We are gaining quite a bit of altitude today and there is also a lot of ground to cover, so we start as early as our previous days.
We pack up our tents and leave the campsite by 08:30 AM. Fifteen minutes of sharp ascent and a 100M altitude gain later, we will reach Upper Hunkar – a small hamlet with houses nestled right in the middle of bright green fields bordered with flowers. Every village in this valley is adorned with prayer flags which add to the colour palette of the otherwise dichromatic color scheme. Also, you will find religious boulders called Mani stones in every village and on the trail between the many villages. These are stone plates and rocks inscribed with Buddhist mantras adding to the inimitable vibe of the valley. Mani stones are placed alongside the roads and rivers or sometimes placed together to form a mound as an offering to the spirits of the place. The beliefs of the locals dictate that these structures be crossed from the left as a continuation of their belief of the universe revolving in a clockwise direction; forming circular patterns which are seen as a repetitive pattern in all Buddhist customs.
The fields in every village form peculiar geometric patterns adding to the atypical aesthetic of the place. We circle around the village of Upper Hunkar to get to the other side. From here, we turn left into the valley towards the side where you start to see Kang Yatse. We continue alongside the river on rocks and boulders. In an hour’s time, we leave the river’s side and make a steep ascend on a muddy mountain. The peaks in this region look like cardboard mountains, sturdy but bent in places in strange ways ready to crumble on one harsh blow. Nothing in the valley is in any hurry except that one lost cloud in the otherwise blue sky which is trying to go places. Yellow and pink flowers add to the chiaroscuro as every blind turn revels a different view holding new secrets waiting to be uncovered.
Within half an hour of the ascent, we reach a small patch of descend taking us to a bridge to cross over to the other side of the river. Our resting point is a desolate campsite at 4,195M where we fill water from a fresh water spring and lay down for a bit in the abandoned stone structures. We have now left the river behind. From here on, we start on a continuous but gradual ascend all the way up to Twin Lake. It will take us three hours to get there from our resting point. Twin Lake provides for the best views of Kang Yatse. The lake itself is embellished with prayer flags and a Buddhist statue bang in the middle of the quiescent water of the lake. There is a small enclosure used as a place of worship, right next to the lake.
The terrain from here on to the campsite is mostly flat with a few humps. Keep a lookout for cute little rodents called pika which are extremely spry and plenty of marmots who zoom past your field of vision like a fast-moving bullet. Two more hours on this mostly flat terrain rife with these rodents, horses, donkeys and herds of yaks going about their business, we would have reached our campsite for the day, Nimaling, at 4,535M. The sunset from this campsite is not something you want to miss.
We go for a short acclimatization walk in the evening, as is the ritual!
Nimaling (4,535M) to Dzo Jongo (West) Basecamp (5,500M)
Distance: 5 kms
Time Taken: 5 hours trek
The basecamp for Dzo Jongo (West) is different from the basecamp that’s set up to climb the mountain from its East face. Since it is not a route that’s frequented, we leave early in the day by around 09:30 AM. We would have received our snow boots today – it would help to practice walking in these and hence would serve well to trek up to the basecamp in these irrespective of whether there is snow or not.
After half an hour of walking across the plain ground of Nimaling, we start to climb the rocky slopes to our right. We walk straight towards a blind turn that leads into the valley. The route from here on is huge humps of ascent. The mountain, full of scree and loose rocks, is deceptive to say the least. Each time you make it to one top, you are introduced to a new top. This stretch which deceives you all of five times, takes a large chunk of time to cross and changes colour with every new hump as the view opens up to accommodate an ever-increasing panoramic expanse of mountain ranges in the region. Kang Yatse is now lost in the many folds of these slopes but you could spend hours looking into peak finder discovering newer mountain peaks. Small flowers spread across the floor give colour to the otherwise monochromatic landscape with the bright orange moss on the rocks pitching in to make the walk up more pleasing to the eye.
Dzo Jongo is a hidden gem in the truest sense as you don’t see the peak until the last half hour of the climb. The last one hour of the climb up to the basecamp is full of scree and moraine. It would serve well to watch your step on these loose rocks and massive boulders for they might look harmless but are capable of a lot of damage!
We will reach basecamp by lunch and then go for an acclimatization walk early evening.
We will be spending three nights in the basecamp. It is quite an extraordinary experience to set up a camp on a bed of sharp rocks and spend a night at 5,500M as the wind is in all its force.
Rest and Acclimatization at Basecamp (5,500M)
Today is reserved for acclimatization to the altitude since we gained quite a bit of height the previous day and have also entered a much different terrain. We use this time to distribute equipment and gears required for the climb and also to practice basic techniques we will require on our summit push tonight. After a late breakfast and equipment disbursement, we go to a nearby slope for training and to get comfortable with our equipment - jumar, harness, snow boots, crampons. We will learn techniques and calls of roping up and ascending and descending on a snowy terrain. We also learn to use ice axe to facilitate our climb and also how to use it for safety on such a crevasse-ridden terrain.
We end the day early so that we can get optimum rest before our climb tonight.
Basecamp (5,500M) to Summit (6,240M) and back to Basecamp (5,500M)
Time Taken: 11 hour trek
Today is THE day! We leave for our summit push between 11 PM and 12 AM. We go straight ahead on an almost flat but rocky terrain from our camp to reach the slope of the mountain. The west face lies to our right. On crossing a few small streams, we get to the base of the mountain from where we start our ascent. The entire route from here on is only in snow and ice. The first three hours of the climb are fairly straight with patches of gradual ascent. That, too, however is laborious because of the altitude and the chilly winter winds in the dark of the night. The winds here are fierce enough to make you yearn for the morning sun for some solace from the cold. The sunrise on this curve of the planet, however, happens as late as 6 AM, hence it is a long night of walking in the cold.
After the first 3-4 hour, we hit our first section of steep incline with a slope between 60-65 degree gradient. This section will require roping up and will take close to two hours to climb. Once we finish this section, we make a left towards another steep incline of 80 degree gradient. This seems especially daunting after the last incline. This section will require a fixed rope arrangement which will require the use of our ascenders to cross. The small bit of respite, however, is the breaking out of the day and with it a sense of warmth which is enough to replenish our energy to finish the climb. This last bit of the climb calls for all the motivation and strength. The end of the fixed rope leads you straight to the heap of big boulders lying next to each other with the world on the other side of the mountain having suddenly appeared – this is the summit at 6,240M – the true summit of Dzo Jongo. The ascent is likely to take a total of 8 hours.
The summit of Dzo Jongo is mesmerizing for the expanse of mountain ranges all around, the last ridge walk, its buttery slopes and the way they appear in daylight.
We will begin to make our way down before the sun starts to make the ice unstable. We will use the fixed rope to rappel down the 80 degree slope post which we rope up again to climb down the 60 degree slope. From the end of this section, it is a long, mostly straight way down to the basecamp. The descent is likely to take close to 4 hours. Expect to reach basecamp by noon.
In case of bad weather or other difficulties, Day 10 is reserved for a second summit attempt. This will only get used if unexpected and unforeseeable conditions present themselves at the last minute preventing the first summit push.
Basecamp (5,500M) to Leh (3,500M) via Kongmaru La Pass (5,236M)
Distance: 17 kms
Time Taken: 8 hours trek + 3 hour drive
The thing about Dzo Jongo is that all the days on this trek are long, as is today. Today we take a different route down to Leh, through Kongmaru La pass which lies at an altitude of 5,236M. We start early since there is a lot of ground to cover before we reach the road head from where we will get our drive to Leh. The morning is spent in wrapping up our campsite and heading back down. The route till Nimaling is the same as the one we took to climb up. From Nimaling, we start to climb the mountain on the opposite side. The sun blushes all shades of red, from pastel to a bright orange as the clouds run amuck in all directions. The sunlight makes the snow on the peaks shine like wildfire adding to the drama of the landscape. At Nimaling, the river flows urgently from the meadows towards the mountains as the many animals, in their morning glory, romance the land below. There are no dangerous patches on this day but the distance and the dry terrain make it a rough undertaking.
The climb up to Kongmaru La pass is a few patches of steep incline between long distances of flat land rich in pikus and marmots. We reach the base of the pass from the base of the mountain in 3.5 hours after which there is a steep incline for half an hour to get on top of the pass. The pass provides for magnificent views of Kang Yatse 1 and 2 and also Dzo Jongo. Adorned with prayer flags, the wind on the pass is fierce. Locals climb the pass very frequently to make phone calls – the pass receives high speed internet and a strong phone network which you lose 5 step on either side of the pass. It is close to 2 kms from Nimaling to the pass.
From the pass, it is only descent on a narrow trail, through gorges and water crossings with the valley appearing and disappearing on every turn. The terrain is interesting in its colours with rocks across the colour palette, to geological formations with massive walls of rocks standing vertically on either side of you and the gush of water filling up these narrow passageways to the strangest and most interesting fauna you will ever see. It is 3.5 hours of up, down, sideway and any other direction you can think of to cross this section to get to the end point of Chokdo from where we begin our 3 hour drive to Leh.
Expect to reach Leh by late evening.
Departure from Leh
The trek ends here but not before some celebration. How can we end this adventure without a summit party?
If you plan to stay for a few more days to explore the wonders of Ladakh, the article below might help start you off on what places to consider:
Like we indicated before, the weather at high-altitudes is unpredictable as are many other conditions. We would suggest you keep spare days between the end of the expedition and your travel arrangements to head back home.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried), Medical Certificate (Soft Copy to be sent to us & original to be carried) and Photocopy of ID Proof and passport size photos are the mandatory documents required for the trek.
The hotel at Leh is the pickup point. The dropping point remains the same.
Expect to reach Leh late in the evening where hotel arrangements would be made by us. Make sure your flight/bus bookings from this point to your respective destinations are in the morning the next day post 10:00 Hrs.
If you want to offload your rucksack, you will have to make a request for offloading a few days prior the trek through an email so that arrangement can be made in advance. You will be charged per day for offloading your rucksack. In case you decide to offload on the spot, you may have to pay a higher price than usual. However offloading your rucksack is not recommended since it is not a safe practice.
A team of participant will be led by a course certified trek leader and a local guide. All participants are requested to abide by what their leader says. There will also be a team of kitchen staff and porters on the trek. We maintain 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have a certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
Yes, trekking pole is necessary. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent it from us on minimal daily basis charges. You can request the renting link from us.
Yes, there are stores/shops in Leh from where you can buy necessary stuff. Though it is recommended that you come prepared with all the stuff. Please do not leave anything for last minute buying.
Yes, it is absolutely safe for solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing tent with each other. In case you are the only woman on the trek, you will be given a separate tent.
Yes, e-certificates will be given at the end of each trek provided that you completed it. It will bear your name, the trek, and the maximum altitude you achieved on the trek.
During the day, the temperature will range from 10 to 15 degrees celsius. The nights will get cold dropping the temperature to 0 to -5 degrees celsius. Higher the altitude you gain, the colder it gets.
July to September is likely to receive a good amount of snowfall. During the other months, the snow accumulation is high and therefore the trek is not feasible.
We provide 4 seasons tents by Gipfel for higher altitudes which can easily withstand heavy snowfall and storms. They are spacious enough to accomodate 3 people at once with a vestibule to place the backpacks. Our sleeping bags are made up of Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation that can provide you comfort in -10 degrees celsius. We also use additional fleece liners to have thermal efficiency even in the extreme temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius.
Toilet tents will be provided to you on the trek.These are portable toilets tents where a deep pit will be dug. A shovel will be provided inside the tent to cover the waste after you have made your business. You can take a toilet roll inside. Make sure you dig used toilet paper along with the waste. Though water is recommended in place of toilet paper. Please refrain from using wet wipes as they are non-biodegradable. There will be no facility for bathing on the trek. Go through our blog section for tips on how to maintain personal hygiene on treks.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters, crampons, and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axe.
Vegetarian food will be served throughout the trek. The only non-vegetarian item served on our treks are eggs. Our kitchen staff follows a proper menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which has been designed in order to fulfil the nutritional requirements of the participants. There will be milk, poha, eggs, muesli/corn flakes, bread and butter served for breakfast. Rice or simple roti sabzi will be packed for lunch. In dinner, you will have dal, egg curry or any other vegetarian dish along with rice, roti, and a dessert item. Packed lunch will be provided to you on the days you are trekking. You are requested to carry your own tiffin box and a mug to consume food. The meals consumed on journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
You can rent following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack.
When you arrive in Leh, your stay will be made at a local guest house/hotel. The rooms will be provided on twin or triple sharing basis. You will receive the details of your accommodation through email a few days prior to the trek. On trekking days, all the trekkers will be accommodated in twin or triple sharing tents. Along with this, there will also be a toilet tent and a dining tent installed at every campsite as we roll.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied by their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
There are so many enchanting places to visit in Leh-Ladakh. During your acclimatization period, you can roam around the town and visit the monasteries; Diskit Gompa, and Lamayuru Monastery. Drive up to the Magnetic Hill and experience the crazy magnetic phenomenon on the hill. The picturesque Nubra Valley will take your breath away. The green oasis villages, the monasteries, the ruined palaces- Turtuk and Bordang; there is a whole different culture in this place. It is 150 km away from Leh. You can take a shared taxi to this route. How can you leave Ladakh without seeing Pangong Lake, the sapphire blue lake? Also, visit Gurdwara Pathar Sahib and Leh Royal Palace.
The trek begins from Leh in Ladakh. The best travel option around Leh is by air.
By air: Jet Airways, GoAir, and Air India provide daily flights from New Delhi to Leh. It is recommended that you make your flight bookings well in advance not only to save on the price but also for a confirmed seat. You can also take an alternate flight route to Srinagar. Fly to Srinagar from Delhi and then drive to Leh from Srinagar. The 10 hour road journey from Srinagar to Leh can be covered by hiring a shared taxi which will cost you around INR 3000-4000. The drive route from Srinagar to Leh is scenic. For coming back, you can either take a direct flight from Leh to New Delhi. Or take the same route via Srinagar. Flights from Srinagar to Delhi are cheaper than Leh-Delhi.
By road: You can take the route from Manali to Leh. Travel from Delhi to Manali by a HRTC Volvo bus. From Manali get a seat in a shared taxi (INR 2500-3500). If you are on a tight budget, There is also a bus from New Delhi to Leh (via Manali) with one side fare of INR 1365. The bus journey begins at 2:30 pm from Delhi ISBT reaching Keylong next day at 1:30 pm. After an overnight halt at Keylong, it reaches Leh the next day. The another route to Leh can be taken through Srinagar. There are shared taxis from Srinagar to Leh available at cost of INR 3000-4000. If you are an ardent biker, you wouldn’t mind taking a bike trip from Delhi to Leh and back.
BSNL has the best connectivity in Leh-Ladakh region followed by Airtel. However, all the mobile networks like Idea and Vodafone also work in Leh. Please note that only postpaid numbers work in J&K state, prepaid connections will cease to work as soon as you enter Ladakh region. On & Off network coverage is available throughout this trek (BSNL & Airtel mostly).
Click here for packing list.
The best months to summit Dzo Jongo are July to October.
Dzo Jongo is made only for experienced trekkers who want to test their limits. The challenges faced in the trek should not be underestimated. You should attempt this trek only If you have already done a trek that climbs to 4700-5000 meters. It is recommended not to opt for this trek if you cannot get acclimatized in the mountains of Ladakh. Besides you need to have a strong physical endurance to complete this trek. For details on trek difficulty level, please read on Bikat Rating Scale
A basic mountaineering course is recommended though not mandatory in case of highly experienced & skilled trekkers. At least 2-3 challenging treks along with 20 – 25 total trekking days in the Himalayas. Medical fitness certificate from CMO of a recognized hospital.
Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins Or Walk continuously for 10 kms (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better) and
Hold your breath for 40 seconds and
3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch and
Push Ups – 10 and
Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
How to use an Ice Axe
How to use Climbing boots & Crampons
How to rope up & follow queued climbing/descending
How to self-arrest using an ice axe
Knowledge of Basic First aid
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure