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.
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:
2017 Great Divide: 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 Backpacking: 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.
Lesa, Tomie and Esther - photo by Jamie
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. 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).
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 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 then climbed Lungser Kangri again, 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.
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.
2009: As part of a long private Zanskar traverse we crossed the
Paralatse area to Chandra Tal (lake).
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
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 (below), and some of the mysterious "Rupshu ice field", as pilots call it.
Richard on our pseudo-traverse of one of the Mentoks
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