India (July-August 2019): A meandrous 24-day trek in the Kargil and Kishtwar districts of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir
Leg 3: Agsho to Sani across Agsho La and Muni La (Part 1/3)
Views of the itinerary in Google Earth:
[Reminder: Click here (kmz file) and open the downloaded file in Google Earth to access the GPS waypoints that I recorded during the trek: red pins for starts and finishes, green for camps, brown for passes, and yellow for other waypoints. Orange markers have been added by hand; they are not GPS waypoints.]
Left: View of the entire third leg, with only a subset of GPS waypoints. Right: View of the first part of the third leg, with all the waypoints.
This third and last leg of the trek begins in Agsho village located some 50km northwest of Padum, slightly off the road between Padum and Kargil. It ends in Sani, another village on the same road, 9km from Padum, after crossing two highly glaciated passes, Agsho La (WP #083, 5070m) and Muni La (WP #110, 5480m). On the morning of the first day Tundup, Nurbo, and I drove from Padum to the village of Agsho, where we met our new support team of 5 porters, all Zanskaris from around Agsho. We crossed the first pass, Agsho La, on the third day. The ascent to the pass was long, but relatively easy. On the other hand, the descent was very steep and difficult, and occasionally dangerous. But both sides of the pass offered amazing sceneries of high peaks and glaciers. We set the last camp of this part of the third leg near a lake in the valley south of Agsho La.
Day 16 (of trek): A short walk from the village of Agsho (WP #074) to camp at WP #075
The village of Agsho is more a collection of farms spread among buckwheat fields and pastures than a real village.
Monk holding a hand prayer wheel in Agsho.
Woman in Agsho.
View of the valley that leads to Agsho La, seen from the Padum-Kargil road. We set our first camp in the lower part of the valley, a rather flat pasture area where inhabitants of Agsho village bring their cattle.
Day 17: From WP #075 to WP #079
We quickly reached the moraine of the glacier flowing down from Agsho La and other side-valleys. For a while we stayed above the moraine on the right (when looking up toward the pass) slope of the Agsho valley. Later on, the sides of the valley became too steep and we had to hike on the moraine and the glacier.
The pass can be seen on the right of the photo below. The highest peak on its left is Agsho (6300m). The first peak on its right of the pass is Chiring (5450m).
Another view further up.
Reaching the confluence of three glaciers flowing from Agsho La and two side valleys.
Views of the glacier in the side-valley on the right, with Tundup taking a short rest in the second photo below.
Our porters on the central part of the glacier. (In fact, most the time they were way ahead of me.)
Crossing a crevasse using a big rock as a natural bridge.
Colorful cliff on the left of the glacier.
We set our second camp (WP #079) near this small lake, on one of the last patches of grass below the pass.
Day 18: From WP #079, across Agsho La (WP #083), to our next camp (WP #086) on the shore of another lake
Sunrise over the Agsho valley seen from our camp.
Rocky peak lit by the rising sun.
Three peaks on the right side (west) of Agsho La. From left to right: Chiring (5450m), Barnaj III (6000m), and Barnaj II (6300m).
Another view of Agsho La.
Big rock resting on an ice support on the glacier.
Another glacier flowing from the right, below the Barnaj peaks
Hiking on very uncomfortable rocky terrain.
Slowly, we were getting closer to the pass.
Looking back at the valley toward Agsho village.
The 5 porters reaching the pass.
View of the base of Chiring peak on the right side of the pass.
Rock formations on the left side of Agsho La. The vertical walls on the other side of the pass make me realize that the descent might be very steep...
...a concern that was quickly confirmed.
[Later on that day we will establish our camp on the shore of the lake visible in the above photo at the bottom in the valley.]
View from the pass of a glacier located on the right side of our descent, on the southern shoulder of Chiring.
Tundup (left) and porters hanging fresh prayer flags at the pass. The ceremony was short, as everyone was worried about the descent.
Not only was the descent steep, most of it was also on unstable rock slabs and rotten snow.
We stopped briefly beneath the hardest section of the descent to drink hot tea, relax a bit...
...and admire the amazing glacier on the right side.
Reaching the bottom of the valley below the glacier.
The view back toward the pass was truly awesome.
We set our camp (WP #086) at the lake that we saw earlier from the pass. The lake was bordered with beautiful flowers.