Trekking Ladakh’s Langtang and Chang valleys: the videos

It’s time for the third and final instalment of my critically acclaimed… I mean chronically derided Ladakh video diaries. As you prepare to have your ribs tickled, here’s a quick reminder of the story so far.

Back in August and September 2022, Edita and I embarked on our first (and still our only) Himalayan trek since the COVID pandemic, to Ladakh in northern India. Also known as Little Tibet, Ladakh is a desert region north of the Himalayan divide, comprising red granite peaks rising above 6,000m and split apart by crashing river valleys. It was Edita’s first visit, and my first since 2007. We chose the Markha Valley as our destination, a popular and accessible 5-day trek not far from Ladakh’s capital Leh. We extended the journey to climb some trekking peaks and cross a pair of high passes into more remote valleys.

I left you a month ago having climbed the easy trekking peak Dzo Jongo East and made a valiant attempt on Dzo Jongo West in a whiteout. With the peaks happily under our belt, we experienced four days of trekking joy as we crossed high passes linking the Langtang and Chang valleys in a landscape that changed with every day.

The full playlist involves 3 videos and 21 minutes of footage. You can watch the whole thing in one go here, and if you’re a glutton for punishment and you’ve really got nothing better to do with your time you can watch all 76 breathtaking minutes of the complete Ladakh 2022 playlist here.

You can also see all my still photos from the trip here. Finally, if you’re more of a reader, you can read my blog post about this section of the trek here.

1 Dzo Jongo base camp to Kang Yatze meadows

Watch on YouTube

The gentle walk from Dzo Jongo base camp to our campsite beneath the north side of Kang Yatze gave us a grandstand view of the climbing routes on both mountains.

Kang Yatze I looked as desperate as ever, with many hanging seracs and much objective danger on the main climbing route. Kang Yatze II, which almost everybody else was climbing, looked straightforward but a little boring, and not much of a summit. From the trail we also had a glimpse of the backside of Dzo Jongo West, and the cliff that we could easily have stumbled over in a whiteout the previous day (see the previous set of videos).

The day’s walk ended at one of the most picturesque locations I’ve ever had the pleasure of camping in. We named our campsite Kang Yatze meadows. As well as a front-row seat beneath Kang Yatze II, we could look down upon the Markha Valley and line upon line of remote peaks disappearing towards the horizon.

2 Crossing the high passes of Langtang, Ladakh

Watch on YouTube

From our campsite at Kang Yatze meadows, where pikas scuttled across the grass, we crossed a high pass, the Konka Nongpo La (5,160m) into the Langtang Valley, a continuation of the Markha Valley where we started our trek. We saw many blue sheep grazing and climbing among the steep valley walls.

After a night camped in rough vegetation beside the river, the Langtang Valley became increasingly barren as we ascended slowly to a second high pass, the Zalung Karpo La (5,200m). The top was like the surface of the moon, with every scrap of vegetation far below, but the view was magnificent. We surveyed the Kang Yatze massif from the opposite side and a panorama of rocky summits to the west.

Our penultimate campsite of the trek was set in another peaceful location among verdant pasture, with cathedral-like peaks to the south.

3 Gorges and oases of the Chang Valley, Ladakh

Watch on YouTube

The final day of our trek saw us ascending through an oasis of willow trees trapped between the towering red cliffs of a narrow gorge. There were many river crossings, and I got so fed up with taking my shoes and socks off that I ended up wading through them with my boots on.

Our trek ended at the outpost of Dat, an incongruous cluster of pre-fabricated buildings set within a barren, mountainous landscape. Our final campsite was a bit of a dump, in stark contrast to every other place that we’d stayed, but we were relaxed and happy at the end of a rewarding trek.

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