7/29/2009 to 7/31/2009 | India , Ladakh

A 20,000 ft day hike

After a day of rest and recuperation in Korzok following my previous climb, I still had another day before the tri-monthly bus to Leh.  The weather had improved over the last two days and I was eyeing the peak directly to the north of Korzok, marked 5098 m (20,000 ft) on my map.  Though I didn’t know anyone nor had I read about anyone who climbed it, from Korzok it looked like a very climbable peak. I intended to follow the ridge that started above Korzok, hopefully all the way to the summit.  Korzok is around 4500 m meaning it would be a long but feasible 1600 m (5,250 ft) climb to the summit. I packed a bit of food, water, and of course my requisite camera gear and headed off just after 5:00 am.  It was a long and arduous ridge walk, over boulders and loose rock, but fortunately not much snow, having left my crampons behind.  I walked for 6 hours with only about 20 minutes of that devoted to rest.  It was an exhausting climb and my psyche was not helped by the series false summits came and went, each bringing with it a futile hope of culmination.  My consolation was the clear skies and the spectacular views over the lake as I climbed to ever higher altitudes.  After a final steep climb alongside a snow bank I reached the summit at just after eleven in the morning.  Unlike Chhamser Kangri, the clear weather permitted me to enjoy the full splendor of the view from this unnamed 20,000 ft peak.  I found it difficult to imagine that the view from Chhamser Kangri could be any better than what now lay before me.  The entire length of Tso Moriri stretched out before me surrounded by snow capped peaks.  To the northwest I could see all the way to the southern end of the distant Stok Range adjacent to Leh, and the forest of snow capped peaks that lay behind the Mentok Range to the southwest.  I reveled in the view for an hour and a half before starting down, eventually reaching Korzok at about 4:00 pm marking the end of an exhausting but rewarding 11 hour day hike up a 20,000 foot mountain.

The next day I took the bus back to Leh.  I was a little bit nervous because my permit for the area had expired 3 days earlier.  The officer at the army check post in Korzok had told me it was no problem but there was another checkpoint later and I didn’t really want to have to pay my way out.  It turned out my fears were unfounded and I got back to Leh without incident or even having to show my expired permit for that mater.  In fact the only place it was checked during my entire time in the region was when I walked back in to Korzok, after climbing Chhamser Kangri (technically illegally).

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