Most people hiking across Zanskar start their trek in Lamayuru and finish in Darcha, keeping Shinkul La, the highest pass, for last. This makes sense in the summer months, but with the threat of snow this late in the season, we decided to start from the Darcha side and get this oversized hurdle, 5,080 m (16,730 ft), out of the way.
Luckily, we were already acclimatized from our Stok Kangri flop so we weren’t too worried about the two-day 1,500 meter climb. Still, with our 40-pound packs, this was no easy task. At the end of the first day, I was ready to set my backpack on fire, bury it or roll it down the mountain – my back was killing me. Of course, camping on the bumpy cold ground didn’t really help.
But what’s a little pain when you have the chance to walk through such a spectacular landscape. Our way up to Shinkul La lead us by a huge glacier with blue chunks of overhanging ice, which we admired from a safe distance. After 9 long hours, just before it was getting dark, we arrived at the pass. One last look at the snow covered mountains before we headed down the other side to base camp made the climb all worth it.