Chang Ma to Mankorma – Stok Kangri Trek Day 4

by Rahul Arora

This post is in continuation with a previous one, and a part of my Stok Kangri Travelogue. In the previous three posts, I talked in detail about we hiked from Stok village to Chang Ma campsite, as well as the necessary preparations I made before heading out to summit the highest mountain of Ladakh. The post below is a detailed log of our hike from Chang Ma to Mankorma campsite.

Journey So Far:

Our destination for today was the second campsite at Mankorma. Both these places, Chang Ma and Mankorma, receive plenty of trekkers every season. As a result, permanent camps have been set up here by the local travel and trekking agencies. Provisions for buying some snacks, water, and even Beer have been made at the camps here.

The distance between both the campsites is about 4 kilometers. But due to the uphill climb and the harsh terrain, it can easily take you anywhere between 3 to 5 hours to complete it.

Chang Ma to Mankorma – Day 4

By the day, we were matured in our minds. We knew what lay ahead of us & what have we left behind. The recognition of accomplishment stayed with us while we meditated along with some captivating morning Yoga at the Chang Ma campsite. Thanks to Vyshnavie for conducting the insightful & necessary Yoga session.

yoga session

yoga sessionSoon after breakfast, we packed our stuff & left for the next milestone, the Mankorma campsite. The rocky terrain followed us all through the trail but the spectacular rocks along the way carved into the faces of the peaks around us kept the shutterbugs busy & our souls, content.

An hour later, we reached a rendezvous point up the hill where we halted for some time & appreciated the beauty around us. Sandeep guided us with the history of the trekking fraternity in the region & informed us of what we could expect further down the trail.

chang ma to mankorma chang ma to mankorma chang ma to mankormaWe continued on the ridden path down the trail, crossed some feeble river streams but couldn’t get enough of the barren yet wonderous sight that accompanied us. I clicked with whatever lens I could get my hands on quickly.

chang ma to mankorma chang ma to mankorma chang ma to mankorma chang ma to mankorma

The Purpose

Along the way, I had a deepening conversation with Teo. We were crossing a rocky patch & came to a resting point where he asked me “So Rahul, why are you here? Why do you want to reach the summit?”

I felt humbled by the question since I love to talk about my passions & am often get emotional. While others walked past us, we stayed & talked. I answered, “I’m here coz I don’t want to be the guy who didn’t climb the mountain just coz he wasn’t cut for it, for the rest of his life”.

I told him that being there was not a result of some strength I had that I was going to put to trial. My mere existence on the trek was to put my weaknesses to test & see if I could be further broken. It was to see if I could move on if I fell & hurt myself.

Most importantly, I was there to prove to my own self, that an average person like me with an average physical enigma & tremendous love for mountains can scale a mammoth height. This was both experiential as well as a spiritual endeavor for me.

rahul arora

Teo smiled & gave me a fist-punch. He mentioned he was there to discover what he’s capable of becoming apart from a regular office-goer. He was looking for meaning, set apart from what we’re usually told.

And for that, he left his job & traveled. Respect! We shared some friendly laughs & continued on our way.

mankorma base campWe were the last ones to reach the Mankorma campsite (15,100 ft). Others had settled in & were enjoying tea & snacks. Without further ado, I hopped on some snacks too.

The Acclimatization Walk

Sandeep asked us to get some lunch & prepare for the acclimatization walk. The first you’d notice at the Mankorma campsite is that you’re closing in on the Stok Kangri. The top of the mountain becomes visible from behind the multiple cliffs & one gets a sneak peek of the summit. That surely kept us going.

I asked Sandeep, “Where are we going for the acclimatization walk?” He pointed at a steep rocky slide next to our campsite & said “You see that! We’re going on top of it.”

I responded in awe, “Terrific!”

We left for the walk soon after we had lunch & this time, Sandeep carried some equipment to acquaint us with some safety procedure to be followed while trekking on greater heights.

mankorma campsite the flagWe headed out for the acclimatization walk. This, so far, was the toughest evening walk on the trek. The cliff stood tall in front of us & we started right at the bottom of the rock. The task looked gigantic but so was the endeavor we signed up for.

The trail uphill was rocky with some loose grits accompanied with some mild barren flora. It was not a convenient track to acclimatize, but more to test your mettle with the mountain.

We somehow made it to the roof of the cliff & it took us close to 45 minutes to brave the unfriendly stretches. Some of us summited the wrong end of the cliff & had to trek sideways, parallel to the ground to reach us. Sandeep kept a close eye on them & talked them through the trail.

acclimatization walk sandeep the campsite

Mankorma Campsite

Once we were there, we took a couple of minutes to catch our breath while Sandeep prepared the equipment for his presentation. We learned about roping up with fellow trekkers, different kinds of knots to secure the harness & how to negotiate tough turns & heights when trekking in groups.

It was an astute session; given that we were in one of the most unfitting environments, some safety guidelines could save a life. We spent an hour on top before we descended down carefully through the steep terrain. Some of us had minor bruises on wrist & palm coz of the rough trail we’d ascend on earlier.

The day started out smooth with some deepening thoughts & easy ascent throughout, but the acclimatization walks really left everyone at bay. The energy levels were shallow, so without further delay, we hopped on to some delicious dinner & turned in for the night.

The next day, we were to leave for the epitome of our journey, the Stok Kangri base camp. Things were going to get serious now & we couldn’t wait to be there. Howsoever seamless the journey had been so far; the game took unexpected turns as the day of light woke us up.

See you on the next page.


I hope the information above on Stok Kangri and the trek between Chang Ma to Mankorma was of help. Please click on the link above to continue reading the next part of this travelogue. If you have any questions or need any other details, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will be glad to answer.

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