Base City: 

Difficulty: 

Starting Point: 

Korzok

Ending Point: 

Korzok

Average Duration: 

3 to 4 days

Route Finding: 

No trail, find your own route, but the terrain is generally pretty easy to walk across

Equipment Required: 

sleeping bag, tent, 4 days of food, crampons are very helpful but not essential depending on the snow conditions, a walking stick or trekking pole is very useful

Permits: 

interline permit available for a 100 to 200 INR from any travel agent in Leh. IMF permit may technically be required (though unlikely to be checked) you can get one from the IMF next to the garden restaurant at the start of Chanspa Road in Leh

Trek Overview

At 6622 m (21,725 ft) Chhamser Kangri is the third highest peak in Ladakh (excluding Zanskar and the Karakorum) and a remarkably easy climb.  The only issue is the altitude so one must be well acclimatized before attempting it preferably having already climbed one or two 6000 m peaks in the previous weeks.  The base camp is at nearly 6000 m so you must have slept at or above 5000 m at least a few times before with no altitude issues.

If you want to get high this is a good peak. The weather was a bit cloudy when I was up there but on a clear day the views must be spectacular. Although I have not climbed it nearby Lungser Kangri is also suppose to be a relatively straight forward peak. You will need an interline permit easily obtainable from travel agents in Leh which is typically valid for 7 days to visit the area. Buses go from Leh to Korzok on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month returning the next day. They never checked my permit on the bus on the way out. If you got one and overstayed it until the next bus returned I doubt you would have any problems. It is also sometimes possible to hitch out if you are friendly with the jeep tourists.

Do It Yourself Information

Chhamser Kangri at 6622 m rising up from the eastern shores of Tso Moriri, is a very straight forward easy all be it very high climb.  It’s quite possible to do independently for Korzok.  Although technically you are suppose to get approval from the IMF (Indian Mountaineering Federation) no one is going to check or notice, if you do see anyone just tell them you hiking around the lake. The main issue is the altitude.  So you shouldn’t do it unless you are already well acclimatized.  That means slept above 5000 m already in the previous week without issues, and preferably climbed a 6000 m peak.  The trek from Rumtse to Korzok is a good acclimatization hike for Chhamser Kangri and there are a few easy 6000 m peaks en route you can climb.  I took a tent, good sleeping bag (15 F / -9 C real -9 not Indian/Nepali -9 sleeping bag), foam mat, dried food (nuts, raisons, biscuits, peanut butter, candy bars, power bars, and a bag of Tang), crampons, and a trekking pole.  I would say it could probably done without crampons depending on the snow conditions but they are nice to have, and make it easier and safer.  I ended up spending 4 nights out.  One day was spent due to bad weather.  The other days were half days of hiking at the start and the end.  I had already climbed Stok Kangri (6153 or 6123 m depending on who you believe), a 5999 m peak along the Rumtse to Korzok trek, and been in Ladakh a month and a half much of that trekking.

It took about 3-4 hours to reach the section of green grass on the eastern shore of Tso Moriri almost directly opposite Korzok known as Kurchyu from the end of the lake (I got a ride to there).  I took the roughly most direct route there not following the 4wd road which is easier walking but further.  I followed the contour of the lake around the northern and northeastern edge (you’ll need to ford at least one shallow river if you don’t go all the way to the bridge where the 4wd track to the eastern shore meets the main road).  After the first major “river valley” or phu on the eastern shore I walked up to meet the road briefly before leaving it to cut over the ridge directly to Kurchyu, this requires a small decent and re-accent through a second drainage valley to reach Kurchyu.

From Kurchyu I took the path of least resistance not necessary the shortest route to the Base Camp I used which was on the northern side of the ridge which sticks out to the west (towards the lake) of Chhamser Kangri (looks like an oblong hill in front of the mountain).  A better option in retrospect would have been to traverse around the southern side of this ridge and set up camp there (more details later).  It took about 5-6 hours to reach my base camp.  From Kurchyu I took some faint trails that went up over the ridge to the southwest.  I essentially kept heading southwest taking the easiest slopes upward.  Reaching a valley I then cut back to the northwest arriving at the plateau in front of the western ridge.  I chose to head to the north side of the ridge which is more directly in front of the mountain because I saw a source of water heading out in that direction.  Before reaching the main stream I headed up to a small notch between the western ridge and hill before the shallow valley where the major stream was exiting.  Directly below Chhamser Kangri there is a rough plateau of loose rock with several glacial lakes and streams.  It is a beautiful place.  I set up my tent near the northern edge of the western ridge.  Be warned it is very high, near 6,000 m if not actually 6,000 m.   I rarely suffer from any altitude affects and I was very well acclimatized having slept several times before at or above 5000 m and climbed a couple of 6000 m peaks in the previous few weeks, but the first night at base camp I did get very slight headache which was gone in the morning.  I ended up staying two nights a base camp due to poor weather.  This probably helped me with my summit attempt.

From the northern base camp there are two possible routes up the mountain.  One, the direct frontal assault up very steep scree to the summit just to the left (north) of the glacier desending from Chhamser Kangri.  I met some Bengalis who climbed it this way, but it  looked like a miserable climb to me so I opted for the more gradual climb first climbing up the scree and loose rock to the top of western ridge following that southwest, I did have to descend slightly.  There is then a parallel southern ridge to the main southern ridge which I traversed to the south.  In between the two parallel ridges is a glacier/snow field.  It is not steep at all, and there are no major crevasses (a few small ones no larger than the width of my foot), the more tiring part is a section of deep snow in the middle.  I aimed for the notch in true southern ridge on the far side of the snow field.  (If you camp on the southern side of the western ridge you can cut the previous part of the climb out and climb directly to the southern ridge saving about a half hour to an hour on the summit climb.  There is a small lake directly below the southern ridge fed by the snow field I just mentioned crossing where it should be possible to camp.)   From the notch I headed up the ridge to the summit there are a few steeper sections but nothing difficult and the hike along the ridge alternates from loose rock to snow.  A cairn marks the true summit.  There is also a cairn along the southern ridge but only in a white out would one confuse that for the summit.  The summit climb took me 4 hours with the return to base camp 2 hours (the same way) it may also be possible to descend directly down the steam scree on the western face.

It's possible to make it from base camp back to Korzok in a day.  I went down to the end of the northern end of the lake on the same day I went to the summit.  I took the shorter but more precarious route traversing the steep northern side of the stream that exits near my base camp.  I do not recommend this route while shorter it was more nerve wrecking than it was worth traversing steep loose ground on goat trails at best.  Better to take the gentle slopes back down.

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