Jamie McGuinness, Project Himalaya owner-guide
Leader Jamie McGuinness



Subscribe to our
occasional newsletter

I agree to have my newsletter
activity tracked

The large wetland of Chibra-Harong

Saving data; use your phone in landscape to see the detailed itinerary and more photos.

Detailed itinerary

For our exploratory trips we don't write out a detailed itinerary. It is worth pointing out that we start our trek in the most extensive valley system in the region, as we need to acclimatize to altitude. A minor constraint is we should start and finish on the Indus river side as our horse team has to come from and get back to that region.



Perhaps surprisingly, we will do some real exploration on some of our backpacking treks, here is a little background.

We have had a slow, ongoing love affair with exploring the greater region, really, truly exploring, and we know more of its secrets over a wider area than anyone else alive. Seriously, over a decade we have trekked east to west and north to south and still have a few more passes to go, all the while running very memorable trekking trips. Previous exploratory treks in Ladakh-Zanskar include:

2019 Markha & Dzo Jongo: we added two variations to this otherwise standard route, both wilderness camps and great for spotting wildlife.

2017 Great Divide itinerary | Flickr album - From Tso Moriri we climbed 6230m then crossed our 2004 pass linking to the Takling area, and there linked with the forgotten pass we found in 2014. Then we linked to the standard but intimidating Parang La and ended with Shimla. This was another most awesome trek.

The 2017 Great Divide team, Mike, Esther, John, Phil, Ranjan, Ralph and Alan - by Jamie

2017 Skypacking: Rather ambitiously for our first ever Ladakh backpacking trip, the first two parts from Shang Sumdo to Tso Kar were entirely exploratory, crossing no less than three passes unmarked on maps (!), and now disused by locals too.

Click for the Flickr album

Lesa, Tomie and Esther - photo by Jamie (links to the Flickr album)

2016: Ladakh Peaks, Passes & Lakes, after success on Dzo Jongo Ri, we did successfully cross that 5865m pass (below), dropping us into the most amazing area where we climbed a handful of peaks - exploratory section album. We continued on the rather busy Rumtse route but finished with a pass that few trekkers ever take to Pang, meaning we have now crossed every pass along the Mentok range.

2015: Ladakh Peaks & Passes, after success on Dzo Jongo East we topped out on a mysterious undocumented 5865m pass (but didn't cross) and will return to this delightful area in the future (and we did, the following year with a successful crossing).

Atop the 5865m pass between Gya and Tsogra

Jamie's 2015 Dzo Jongo Ri Flickr album

2014: Exploring the Great Divide including peak 6230m (finally!), the elusive Pangpo La, Tsarap Chu headwaters and forgotten pass, and the old Spiti pass to the Paralatse region. One of the all time classic treks.

Jamie's 2014 Great Divide Flickr album

David Koelle's Flickr pix, including his bike trip afterwards

Luca's Flickr album, including compelling wide shots

Tod's Flickr album snapshots

Len's Smugmug album Len didn't seem to take a lot of shots, but he really nails the vast wilderness

Jussi's album - proving what a good photographer he is

The 2014 Great Divide team atop the remote Pangpo La, a satisfying achievement.
Lobsang, Luca, Tod (hidden) Demet, David, Arabella, Len, Helena, Jussi and Jamie

2014: We summitted Mentok II (Flickr album) the easy way and found that tough unmarked-on-maps 5950m pass (Lungser Kangri was closed).

2013: We 6000m explored between Tso Kar and Tsomoriri (Flickr album) then climbed Lungser Kangri again (Flickr album), after a decade's break, for wonderful views of our elusive 6230m peak.

2012: Changtang Passes, we explored the Ladakh Range from Ligche; high passes, straightforward peaks and amazing green grass camping. My Flickr album.

Some high exploring

2012: Our Kanji trek was a Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) exploration to those elusive Ralakhung villages, although difficult terrain thwarted us for the final goal. The Dibling-Zingchan traverse was still a first for trekking groups - see the Flickr album.

2009: As part of a long private Zanskar traverse we crossed the Paralatse area to Chandra Tal (lake) - Flickr album.

2006: planned for elsewhere, this turned into an attempt on Kang Yatse. Serious about it, we had everything set up and it rained records, we were about the only people that didn't abandon our trek, even if we didn't have a chance to summit.

2004: Caravan 6000 exploratory with Eric, Brian & Andriya: we climbed the sharks fin, my 2nd to last of the 6000m Mentok peaks and branched off an already minor route to cross the "Rupshu ice field" - we now know some of its secrets. We didn't find the "unknown" peak however we crossed two virtually unknown passes, including the disused 5300m Takling La.

Descending the Takling La, making our own trail

2003: Caravan 6666 exploration with Richard and Nicola: we climbed five (!) 6000m peaks, including the devilish 6666m, some Mentoks and spied this "unknown" peak again and some of the mysterious "Rupshu ice field", as pilots call it.

Richard on our pseudo-traverse of one of the Mentok peaks

2002: Caravan Explorer 6000: from Pang we pioneered our classic Caravan HIGH route - the lowest passes were around 5700m, the highest was 6000m and a couple of us peaked over 6000m. September was cold!

2001: Caravan 6666: in retrospect it was this 39 day trek that started my fascination with the region. We eyed many peaks (climbed on later trips) and climbed Chamser Kangri 6622m and Lungser Kangri 6666m. An all time classic trek.