India (July-August 2016): Brandy Nala (Ladakh) to Kibber (Spiti)

Days 9 to 15: Sumkhar Togpo to Kiangdam

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Left: map of this section. Right: map of the entire trek. [Click here (kmz file) to see the itinerary in Google Earth.]

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Day 9:

 

On that day we first hiked up a tributary of Sumkhar Togpo. Then we crossed Thelakung La and followed the valley of the Zogoang river. We set Camp C09 in a side-valley leading to Lanyar La.

 

Valley of the tributary.

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View of the 5550m peak (see map) before reaching Thelakung La...

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...and from the pass.

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At Thelakung La (5020m), with the Zogoang valley in front of us.

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Views of the Zogoang valley while descending from the pass with, in the background, the snowy mountain range where the last pass of the trek (Parang La) is located.

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Mani wall along the way.

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Further down.

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Camp C09 below Lanyar La (not visible in the photo).

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Late afternoon views of the Zogoang valley under a brewing storm, from C09.

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Day 10:

 

View of the Zogoang valley soon after leaving C09. We were lucky, the weather was good for crossing the highest pass of the trek (Lanyar La, 5850m).

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Llaretas″ along the way. I thought llaretas grew only in the Andes in South America (see here), but I saw many of them during the ascent of Lanyar La (as well as in some other places during the trek). Here, they probably have another non-Spanish name.

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View toward the west during the ascent.

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The small glacier on the western side of the pass, with a small lake below.

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At the Lanyar La (5850m). [Note: The Olizane 150K map places Lanyar La about 3.5km west of the pass we crossed, at the same elevation. Tundup and Nurbo confirmed that we crossed Lanyar La. It is possible that the two passes bear the same name, since there is no significant summit between them.]

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Looking back at the pass at the beginning of the descent.

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View over the valley below Lanyar La, with Yalung Nong (6080m) visible on the left of the photo.

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Camp C10 below Lanyar La.

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Lanyar La seen from C10 (on the right-hand side of the photo).

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Evening colors on hills above C10.

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Day 11:

 

This was a very short hiking day, which was not bad since the weather was not good. We set our camp C11 in the small Gyama valley just below Yalung Nong, which we had planned to climb on the next day. Gamya valley is on a rather popular trekking route between Rumtse and Tso Moriri. For the first time since the beginning of the trek we saw some trekkers.

 

View of Gyama valley under a thin layer of snow. The snow on the valley floor melted by mid-day.

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Our camp C11-12-13 (near a shepherd‛s tent) at 5000m. We spent three nights there.

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Views from our camp toward the north.

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Evening views toward Lanyar La (in the center of the photos, but not visible) from the camp.

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View toward Lanyar La at dusk.

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Day 12:

 

On that day Tundup and I climbed Yalung Nong (6080m), then hiked to the location marked with a red arrow in the picture below where Tso Moriri (lake) and its surrounding mountains are visible. We were lucky again with good weather most of the day.

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View toward Lanyar La from our camp on the cloudless morning.

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Sheep/goat herding near our camp.

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Kiang on the way up toward Yalung Nong.

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View over the Korzog range during the ascent, with Lanyar La visible on the right of the picture.

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View toward the south from the summit of Yalung Nong. Tso Moriri is out of sight, hidden by a slightly smaller summit further south.

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View over the Korzog range from Yalung Nong.

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Tso Moriri seen from the location marked with a red arrow in the first picture of Day 12.

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Yet another view of Lanyar La at the beginning of the descent back to our camp C11-12-13.

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The Korzog mountain range seen during the descent. Yalung Nyau La, which we will cross on Day 14, is at the left end of the small canyon visible at the bottom of the photo.

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Day 13:

 

On that day I hiked with Tundup north and east of our camp to a place named Slangnak in the valley of Kyagar Nugma (see map at the top of the page).

 

Landscapes along the way were fine, but not spectacular.

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View over the mountain range located on the northeastern side of Tso Moriri. The small lake partially visible below the mountain range is Kyagar Tso. The mountain range is less than 15km away from the Tibetan border.

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The numerous kiangs that we saw on that day were the main attraction (for me). Kiangs are elegant and beautifully colored wild Tibetan asses. There are not especially large (with an average shoulder height of 140cm), but they are very strong. They need it to fight wolves.

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Like many animals they are quite curious (especially when they are in groups and therefore less easily scared)...

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...but they very well know how to tell you when they are no longer interested!

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Day 14:

 

On that day we crossed Yalung Nyau La to reach the village of Korzog on the western shore of Tso Moriri, the first and only inhabited village of the entire trek (other than Kibber at the very end). We set Camp C14 in a small canyon a short distance from the village. I found Korzog a bit depressing. It is dirty and dusty, but set in gorgeous surroundings. The village seems under the control of Buddhist monks, who should perhaps be called Buddhist racketeers. They made my guide Tundup, hence me, pay a fee (more exactly, a mandatory contribution) for most of our camps during this trek (not just C14). We were told that if we did not complied, ″bad things could happen to us″. During the long winter season the village is very isolated and the life of its inhabitants must be extremely difficult.

 

At Yalung Nyau La (5430m).

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Views of Tso Moriri at the beginning of the descent from the pass.

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Looking back at Yalung Nyau La from further down.

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Korzog mountain range with the Mentok peaks.

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Mountain range on the other (eastern) side of Two Moriri.

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View of Tso Moriri from Korzog.

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In Korzog we got a new horseman (the younger brother of the former) and new horses. A Mahindra Jeep sent by Sonam Dawa also brought us more food, including fresh vegetables.

 

Day 15:

 

We walked along the western shore of Tso Moriri to the southern tip of the lake. We set Camp C15 at a place called Kiangdam (which literally means ″kiang‛s place″).

 

View of Korzog.

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Morning sunlight reflection on the lake and mountains on the eastern side of the lake.

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Western shore of the lake.

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Views across the lake toward the eastern side.

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View toward the north from the southern end of the lake.

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Domestic donkeys in Kiangdam, where we established Camp C15.

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Views toward the south from C15.

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Successive views toward the north-east from C15 in the afternoon and evening, as the sky was clearing up. The two snowy peaks are Chamser Kangri (6600m) on the left and Lungser Kangri (6650m) on the right.

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