Kang Yatse is an elegant mountain massif dominating the Markha valley. It has 4 summits. While the main peak - Kang Yatse 1 is a technical peak having a corniced dome summit measuring 6401 meters, Kang Yatse 2 on the other hand is a trekking peak with a summit altitude of 6223 meters. The route to its summit is challenging and climbs over the base camp steeply on soft snows and loose rocks. This is one of the highest trekking peaks in the entire belt of the Indian Himalayas. In fact, Kang Yatse 2 is higher than Stok Kangri which is more popular and commercial trek operators has wrongly made it famous as the highest trekking peak of India. Compared to Stok Kangri, climbing Kang Yatse 2 is a little more difficult task, remote, steeper, and is longer in the total distance as well.
Kang Yatse 2nd Peak thus offers a great chance to climb a 6223-meter peak requiring no mountaineering skills at all, though having it helps. The peak of Kang Yatse dominates the Markha Valley with its elegant presence and stands apart distinctively from its other surrounding peaks, a few of which are also over 6000 meters high. It can be taken as your introduction to mountaineering skills which is very much required to climb higher and deeper in the Himalayas. The altitude, terrain, gradient of the climb, snow conditions and cold presents enough challenge even to the fittest and experienced trekkers. Kang Yatse being a lesser-known peak and remote offers a great raw experience of the Ladakh Himalayas - The Mystical Land Of High Passes.
If you ask us to suggest the best climbing and trekking adventure in Ladakh, we would keep Kang Yatse on top of the list.. not just because it is one of the most elegant looking mountains in the Himalayas, but climbing it also offers a high adventure quotient compared to the otherwise popular Stok Kangri which is over-commercialized and attracts a lot of noisy trekkers.
Approach March to The Base Camp of Kang Yatse, via The Markha Valley
The approach to this gem begins from Chilling and a trek through the beautiful Markha Valley. It passes by some of the oldest and remotest villages of India, namely Skiu, Markha, and Hankar. These villages are some of the historical villages, not only of Ladakh but also of India - a part of the ancient Silk Route and also the Indus Valley Civilization. The fertile land is further turned into a rich agricultural valley by the sheer determination and hard work of the dwelling locals.
On the approach march to the base of Kang Yatse, we come across local villagers living in this beautiful abode. Talking to them gives an enlightening perspective to your thought process and has the power to change your outlook towards the World. The vast and beautiful valley is further mystified by myriads of illusionary rock structures sculpted by wind erosion. As soon as you leave the Markha campsite and walk towards Hankar, the peak of Kang Yatse is seen for the first time and right away, it starts to dominate not just the valley, but also your mind and eyes.
After crossing Hankar and the campsite of Thochungtse, we reach the base camp, diverging from the trail to Nimaling near a natural Lake. Here, the massif of Kang Yatse stands right in front of you inspiring within you enough grit and determination to scale up to its summit.
The Summit Attempt
The peak of Kang Yatse 2 offers a lot of challenges to the climbers. Apart from altitude, which can be managed by proper acclimatization schedule, itinerary, and meal plan, the summit leg to the summit of Kang Yatse is a very long steep walk over scree and piles of snow. We start the trek properly geared up with all our climbing gears and start the trek with our headlamps on right after midnight. Initially, as we start our walk from the Summit Camp, we negotiate the loose scree zone to reach the summit ridge, often the Crampon Point from where we wear our climbing crampons to negotiate the snow and ice ahead. During early June and July, there is ample snow and crampons need to be worn right from the base camp itself. The climb gets steeper and steeper with time and the amount of snow deposit keeps on increasing as well. It's a difficult climb dwelling above 5000 meters and a hard walk for some 5 - 6 hours takes you to the summit of the Kang Yatse 2 Summit. The feeling of standing on the top does feel satisfying. The views from the top are breathtaking! The peaks of East Karakoram, Zanskar, and Ladakh are visible from the top like an eagle's view.
As the famous saying goes - "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory". After offering prayers to the Mountain Gods for allowing us to climb it and experience the exquisite view from its top, we start our descend, and is quite fast. We reach the base camp in some 4 hours on a clear day. It does get tricky at times and requires extra cautiousness, specifically during white-out conditions or soft snow. In our itinerary, we have kept a reserved day that is to be used for bad weather or an unsuccessful attempt.
We have climbed this peak many a time from the base camp itself. So in case required, we can have an extra day by skipping the Advanced Camp day to answer weather uncertainties.
Team Himalayan High's Summit Attempt History On Kang Yatse 2
We along with a very few other reputed trek companies had started to climb this peak long back while it was still unpopular, unlike these days when the popular and over commercial trek operators with a history of fatal injuries and deaths on treks like Stok Kangri or even simpler treks have started to bring their flock of large groups to this serious peak. They have started it recently as an alternative to Stok Kangri which is closed by the local administration due to the environmental pollution caused by venturing of large and irresponsible trekking groups. Generally, you will find these websites on top of Google Search as is the case with any commercial operators and their marketing power.
In the past 6 years of our operation, we have scaled this peak successfully many times and put many first-timers on the top. We have climbed this peak even under very difficult and unfavorable conditions when many others have failed time and again or followed our route. All thanks to our hard-working team right from the top till the bottom. We did so without any fatalities resulting in death or emergency evacuation. Thanks to our well-planned itinerary, medical knowledge, and preparedness, trek guides, meal plan, equipment, and experience. For a serious peak like this, you do need to check the background of your trek operator, their team size, the experience of their leaders, and their success rate for the summit.
Himalayan High is a small and transparent trek operator and Word Of Mouth is our only source of marketing. We have been thriving on it since our inception and that's what has brought us here. We have a summit success ratio of 73% from our past records and the above chart explains the same in detail. Read more by following the link Kang Yatse 2 - Summit History For Team Himalayan High from 2015 to 2019
Acclimatization Is The Primary Key To Success
On a difficult trek like this which climbs steeply on difficult terrain higher above 6000 meters, acclimatization is your primary weapon. Our itinerary is well designed from the acclimatization perspective and gives you enough rest to achieve success on the summit. Firstly, the 2 rest days in Leh ( we advise 1 more day in Leh ) and then the short acclimatization walks each evening not just give you better photographs but also help you acclimatize better for the upcoming challenges. The base camp is at 5000 meters and sleeping at this altitude is difficult. However, to be successful in achieving the summit, we need to adjust quickly and sleep well. We have kept extra rest and orientation days in the base camp to help you prepare well for the summit attempt and also acclimatize well for the difficult altitude and trek in the coming days.
The meal plan that we render on the trek is also designed keeping in mind better and quicker acclimatization with more hot garlic soups, more and more water, less oily food, and a balanced diet of carbohydrates and enough but not much protein which is easily digestible.
Slow walks on approach days give much better results with acclimatization, even if you could walk quicker. Preserve that extra energy for the summit walk.
Read more on 13 Ways to Acclimatize Naturally
Importance Of Rest Day and Orientation of Technical Equipment In The Base Camp:
After we reach the base camp, we have a full rest day the next day. Though we call it a full rest day, actually it is not so. We do spend some time getting acquainted with our equipment so that we gear up very quickly for the summit climb which starts right at midnight, around 12 or 1 AM depending upon the team speed. We will give you all the technical gear required for the trek which are - a helmet, walking ice-ax, seat harness, pair of gaiters, screw carabiner, pair of a double-layered mountaineering boot, pair of climbing crampons. Our leaders explain and demonstrate how to wear and use these technical gears. We are supposed to try everything and make sure everything is fine and fit. Our leaders will explain how to gear up for the summit climb and will also show you the rope technique as we will climb the peak roped-up with each other. It's a very important day and we need to very alert in the demo session. We also go for an acclimatization walk in roped-up condition to get acquainted with rope skills and acclimatize better. Its teamwork!
Setting Up Of Advanced Base Camp For The Summit
More snow and a smaller team allow us to set up Advanced Base Camp on the summit ridge. Since the route does not have any water source we will have to melt snow for water. Hence Early June, July eases up setting advanced base camp on the summit ridge. We carry a small butane cylinder and alpine stove to heat water and cook some ultralight food for the Bivouac Advance Camp. This eases our summit climb but one has to be acclimatized well to camp and sleep at ABC, higher up than the base camp. In August and September also it is possible to set up ABC but water has to be carried and a rougher campsite is to be expected which does not ease sleeping at all.
You may also have a look at Our Kang Yatse - Stok Kangri Twin Summit trek or Kang Yatse 1 Climb