What’s the one thing that evaporates quickly at the sight of steep snow-stuffed hills and horses wading through knee-deep powder? Thoughts of the 6,150m Stok Kangri being a trekking peak in summer.

As we found out over seven days in February, winter in this valley of Ladakh is a very different beast, especially when there are unusually high levels of snowfall.

Our journey, like so many others, began with support from hardy horses and maintained momentum on the shoulders of an exceptional crew, tenacious team, and a friendly Mama-dog that saw us off at the first high camp.

Walking, eating, sleeping and chatting about walking, eating, sleeping, was all we did—through ever deeper drifts of snow, which, at as much as three feet thick meant that failure would always be an option. But in the same frosty breath, it meant bad photography was not.

Sankar Sridhar
Our pack horses, laden with supplies and necessities like tents and climbing gear,make their way through Stok village. The snow was thick enough for us to begin our trek from the roadhead in snow boots. Our shoulders were thankful we didn’t have to carry them, though we couldn’t say the same for our feet.
Our pack horses, laden with supplies and necessities like tents and climbing gear,make their way through Stok village. The snow was thick enough for us to begin our trek from the roadhead in snow boots. Our shoulders were thankful we didn’t have to carry them, though we couldn’t say the same for our feet.
Sankar Sridhar
Our kitchen tent at Mankarmo, where steam, divine scents and a spirited game of Rummikub kept the cold at bay.


Sankar Sridhar
Mama-dog joined us at Stok village and stayed on with us until we reached the first high camp. She was obviously a veteran on this trail, walking with us in single file.
Mama-dog joined us at Stok village and stayed on with us until we reached the first high camp. She was obviously a veteran on this trail, walking with us in single file.
Sankar Sridhar
High winds create magnificent snow plumes atop the summit of Stok Kangri.
High winds create magnificent snow plumes atop the summit of Stok Kangri.
Sankar Sridhar
Two Tashis (left and right) and a Mingma (centre) hurry through the ropes of pitching the tent as a churn of clouds threatens to blot out the sun. It was nearly impossible to believe that this was Stok valley’s Changma, a place where people scurry to seek shade under the willow trees in summer.
Two Tashis (left and right) and a Mingma (centre) hurry through the ropes of pitching the tent as a churn of clouds threatens to blot out the sun. It was nearly impossible to believe that this was Stok valley’s Changma, a place where people scurry to seek shade under the willow trees in summer.
Sankar Sridhar
A lone cairn manages to raise its head above the deluge of snow as we make our way towards the summit camp. But for the curtain of clouds, we would have had Stok Kangri for company.
A lone cairn manages to raise its head above the deluge of snow as we make our way towards the summit camp. But for the curtain of clouds, we would have had Stok Kangri for company.