Located in Hemis National Park in the heart of Markha Valley, Ladakh, Kang Yatse I at a daunting altitude of 6,400M, is a technical peak which is also challenging in other ways. The mountain has two main summits, one of which is Kang Yatse I with the other one being Kang Yatse II which at an altitude of 6,240M is much easier and hence frequently climbed. As one of the highest peaks in the vast expanse of the arid terrain of Markha Valley, Kang Yatse I makes itself seen on day 6 of our trek through the valley to get to its base. The peak is a thing of sheer beauty standing tall in the middle of this dry land of scree and loose rocks that is Markha Valley. Starting from the high mountain city of Leh, you are in the presence of beauty from the get-go. The drive up to Skiu, the confluence of the distinctly colored rivers - Zanskar and Indus, the occasional sighting of wildlife that’s endemic to the region, the excruciatingly dry yet gorgeous trek through Markha Valley to finally reach the slopes of this much sought after peak which is 6,400M of beauty that’s hard to ignore once you lay your eyes on it. Passing through quaint settlements scattered across this arid landscape give you a glimpse into the local culture and livelihood of the region. Religious shrines, mani walls, stupas and other signs of the faith of the land and its people, pepper the landscape. The prayer flags add to the color palette of this otherwise monochromatic backdrop. They also lend to a sense of peace to the continuously thinning air as we go up towards the higher reaches of this exquisite peak. This mud civilization is not short of old monasteries, ruined forts and abandoned structures which camouflage themselves amongst the peculiar geographical formations in the region which add to the mystery of the place. While Kang Yatse II is a favorite amongst trekkers looking for a non-technical trekking peak, Kang Yatse I is meant for experienced mountaineers with technical knowledge, looking for a challenge. The expedition calls for some specific skills of ice and snow climbing, and excellent physical fitness in addition to high levels of stamina. With a steep summit climb, moraines, crevasses, technical boulder sections and a steep couloir that demands extreme fitness and endurance, the expedition requires the use of technical mountaineering equipment and skills suited for its terrain. The summit gives you impressive views of the renowned peaks such as Stok Kangri, Dzo Jongo and the infamous Karakoram Range of mountains. The best months to undertake the Kang Yatse I expedition are July through September. Stay on this page for more information about Kang Yatse I, its route, detailed itinerary and related blog posts.
Arrive in Leh (3,500 M)
The trek starts from Leh, which is a headway into Ladakh that is home to some of the highest peaks in the region. It is also a very popular tourist destination and hence fairly accessible. If you need guidance on how to get to this high-altitude hub of mountaineering, this article (Travel options from around Leh) might be useful.
Day one is reserved for the climbers to make their way to Leh and get settled into their accommodation. Since climbers will be coming to this altitude from sea level, the body will need time to get comfortable with the mountain air.
Rest and Acclimatization in Leh (3,500M)
Day two is reserved for rest and acclimatization to the altitude, too. This is important to allow your body to adapt to its new environment and reduce chances of adverse health conditions. You can go around and explore the city market, delve into the colors and culture of this high-mountain city and visit some places nearby. A little movement around the city would be good for acclimatization. Also, use this time to go through your checklist and do some last-minute shopping for what you might be missing for the expedition. Leh has the best market for trekking essentials.
While the body acclimatizes, we take this time to get together with the group for a debriefing session where we get to know each other better and delve into the happenings of the next few days - schedule, what to expect, basic do's and don'ts in the mountains, how to maintain the sanctity of the environment and other such matters of importance.
Leh (3,500M) to Skiu (3,500M)
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 on 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 Sara (3,500M)
Distance: 11 km
Time Taken: 6 hours
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, 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 Kang Yatse I – 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 our destination for the day. The trail is mostly dirt roads and the rocky sea bed.
Sara (3,500M) to Markha Village (3,710M)
Distance: 10 km
Time Taken: 5 hours
We continue on the trail from yesterday, onwards to Markha Village which, with upwards of 40 households, is the largest village in the valley. The trail gradually ascends 300M across 10 km, so it is not a heavy day. The terrain also remains the same as yesterday and hence is easier to cover because of familiarity with the topography. We reach the campsite in time for a hot lunch. 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 an 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)
Distance: 11 kms
Time Taken: 6 hours trek
Today we are covering as much ground as we did yesterday. 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 today 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 leading to a small village canteen where we 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 misses an uneven terrain which can get monotonous at times, but constantly dipping 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 stand 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!
Hunkar (3,968M) to Kang Yatse I Base Camp (5,100M)
Distance: 8-9 kms
Time: 6-7 hours
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 and then turn left into the valley towards the side 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 descent taking us to a bridge to be crossed 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 I as well as Kang Yatse II. 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 route from the lake splits into two – one descending down towards Nimaling and one which takes you to the base camp of Kang Yatse I. We make a right here and head towards the Base Camp. It should take us close to two hours to make it to the base camp. We set up our camps here and call it a day.
Base Camp (5,100M) to Advanced Base Camp (5700m) to Base Camp (5,100M)
Distance: 4-5 km
Time Taken: 6-7 hours
Given that high-altitude climbs demand a rigorous acclimatization routine, expeditions usually employ the method of making rotation rounds between camps so as to better adapt to the environment. Living the tenet of ‘climb high, sleep low’ which is a golden rule for survival in that altitude, we make multiple rounds between campsites. We will carry our load and make our way to the Advanced Base Camp. We climb back down to base camp for the night. The climb up to Advanced Base Camp is not tough but takes you through precarious sections of scree and over glaciers.
Base Camp (5,100M) to Advanced Base Camp (5,700m)
Distance: 4-5 km
Time Taken: 6-7 hours
We once again make our way up to the Advanced Base Camp, this time to occupy the campsite.
Advanced Base Camp (5,700M) to Summit (6,400M) to Base Camp (5,100M)
Today is THE day. We leave the warmth of our tents and start towards the summit around midnight. The route from the Advanced Base Camp starts to get technical. It launches you straight onto steep slopes of a high gradient. Depending on the snow at the time, it might require fixing of ropes to traverse. The climb involves navigating steep sections, ice walls and knife ridges with a steep drop on both sides. The last 500M to the summit are the trickiest and require climbing an almost vertical ice wall with the use of fixed ropes. The summit provides for some exceptional views of the mountain ranges around.
After we savor the moment of having made it to the top, we start to make the equally long descend down towards base camp. It is going to be a long and demanding day which needs caution, both while going up and coming back down.
Base Camp (5,100M) to Nimaling (4,535M)
We pack up our tents and leave for Nimaling where we will stay for the night.
Nimaling (4,535M) to Leh (3,500M) via Kongmaru La Pass (5,236M)
Distance: 15 km
Time Taken: 8 hours trek + 3 hour drive
After a short and easy day yesterday, we have a lot of ground to cover to get to Chokdo – our road head from where we drive to Leh.
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 here very frequently to make phone calls – this place receives high speed internet and a strong phone network which you lose 5 steps on either side of the pass. It is close to 2 kms from Nimaling to this place.
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, geological formations with massive walls 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.
In case of bad weather or other difficulties, Day 13 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.
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. (Places to visit in Leh Ladakh)
Like we indicated before, the weather on high-altitude 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 to 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 participants will be led by an IMF certified mountaineering 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 a 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
Yes, the 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 a solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing a 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. Expect the temperatures to drop down as low as -10 to -20 deg celsius at high camps during expedition.
Since this is a technical climb at 6400 M, you can expect snow and ice on the expedition.
We provide 4 seasons tents by Gipfel for higher altitudes which can easily withstand heavy snowfall and storms. They are spacious enough to accommodate 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. If you carry your own sleeping bag, you will get a cashback reward provided that you inform us as soon as you have booked your trek.
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.
Since this is a technical climb at extremely high altitudes on snow and ice, all required technical equipment such as Ropes, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Mountaineering Boots, Jumar, Descender, Harness will be provided. You can refer to the inclusions section for more details.
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 fulfill 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 the journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
You can rent the 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.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied with 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 Kang Yatse 1 expedition 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.
July to September is the best time to do the Kang Yatse 1 expedition.
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
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.
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.
In accordance with the rules and regulation set forth by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) for mountaineering expeditions, out of 12 seats per batch:
- 6 seats are reserved for aspirants with a certificate in Advanced Mountaineering Course (AMC)
- 4 seats are reserved for aspirants with a certificate in Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC)
- The remaining 2 seats are reserved for aspirants with previous trekking experience of expeditions above 5500 - 6000 meters
Foreign Nationals - Due to a specific set of guidelines for Foreign Nationals it is recommended to call our support team to gain information on the list of documents and procedure involved in booking a mountaineering expedition with us.
Kang Yatse 1 Peak 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 treks that climb to 4700-5500 metres. It is recommended not to opt this trek if you cannot get acclimatized in high altitudes. 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
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