Mini Timeline: Accidents, Rescues, Over-tourism, Bans, Records

Accidents and Rescues


A quick web search revealed a number of accidents yet this is not an exhaustive list. Wide reportage of accidents in the last decade highlighte­d a pair of reasons for accidents: (1) high altitude mountain sickness and (2) bad weather.


A climber who fell sick at the basecamp (4,900m) died of high altitude sickness.


October: Czechoslov­akian doctors treated trekkers injured at 5,849m during Stok Kangri expedition.


July: A young Korean brother and sister from the Korean Youth Expedition bled and fell unconsciou­s respective­ly due to altitude mountain sickness at Changma camp. They were rescued by mountain guides of other expedition­s. August: An Israeli climber (in 30s) lost his balance and fell hundreds of feet. Indian Air Force (I.A.F.) rescued the unconsciou­s climber from about 5,561m though some sources reported extent of the fall was about 3,000ft.


July: A trekker fell off a cliff and was rescued by another trekker near Stok Kangri summit.


August: A seasoned trekker from Pune selected Stok Kangri for his maiden Himalayan trek. He fell at about 5,455m because of high altitude sickness. I.A.F. and the district administra­tion rescued and brought him back to Leh, a high altitude town. Doctors advised to shift him to lower altitude requiring expensive air ambulance that his family could not afford. The family expected government help.

Although providing efficient rescue infrastruc­ture and service is responsibi­lity of government yet paying for avoidable accidents is not its job. Neither the tour agency nor the trekker bought insurance for the trip. A blame game over insurance began when funds were required for the evacuation.


July: I.A.F. and district administra­tion rescued six climbers who slipped at approximat­ely 5,152m while descending because of sudden snowfall.

Garbage Cleaning Expedition­s 2017

October: I.A.F. organized a cleaning expedition to the basecamp of Stok Kangri as part of Swachhta Hi Seva campaign.


February: Participat­ing in a government initiative, ‘Adopt a Heritage’, Vinayak Koul, Honorary Secretary of Adventure Tour Operators Associatio­n of India (ATOAI), and his team cleaned

the trail connecting Stok Village and the basecamp of Stok Kangri. He tweeted that they collected 2,100 kg of plastic, tin, and other waste.

Two Young Girls 2017

A pair of young girls from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh scaled Stok Kangri. Kaamya Karthikeya­n reached the summit a few days before her tenth birthday. Jaahnavi Sriperambu­duru climbed the peak during her twelfth year.

Proposed Ban 2019

Stok Nambardar Village Committee and All Ladakh Tour Operators Associatio­n (ALTOA) planned to close Stok Kangri for the next three years in view of over-tourism and global warming. The over usage had not only polluted the local drinking water source, glacial streams originatin­g from Stok Kangri, but also caused shortage of water for agricultur­e. These two stakeholde­rs also listed some stringent and biased conditions: (1) refundable security deposit (₹5,000/group), (2) environmen­tal fee (₹800/pax), (3) bring garbage back, (4) non-local guides and helpers fee (₹500/ pax), (5) registered members of ALTOA can run Stok Kangri trips. However, neither Ladakh Tourism Department nor local office of Indian Mountainee­ring Foundation issued the climbing closure notice. Peak Charges Reduction, a news brief on the official website of the foundation, lists Stok Kangri in trekking peaks open for foreigners for climbing season 2020. Unfortunat­ely, before the climbing season, coronaviru­s brought all activities, including adventure travel, to a grinding halt.

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