Behind the town of Leh runs the Khardung range, continuously from west to
east. From the meeting point of the Shyok and lndus rivers and going
eastwards this range meets the Pangong range. North of both these ranges
lies the East Karakoram. Some of the highest peaks in the Indian Himalaya
are in this region. A motorable road, one of the highest in the world,
crosses Khardung la to enter the Shyok valley. From the pass, Saser Kangri
II is seen to advantage. Its west peak was climbed by the Indo-Japanese
team while the east peak, at the same height (of7518 m) remains virgin.
The Saser group was explored by Jimmy Roberts and its main peaks have all
been climbed, except one. Saser Kangri I has had received ascents from
both the eastern and western approaches and has a long record of climbs.
Saser Kangri III was once climbed by an Indian team coming from the east.
Peak 7287 m, which Roberts called 'Plateau Peak' is the major unclimbed
Going further north is the Central Asia Trade Route which cuts across the
range to cross Saser
la. This historic pass whose moods vary with fickle weather conditions has
killed many mules and some persons. One is likely to find bleached bones
on this pass as well as on the trail ahead, hence the nickname: 'Skeleton
Trail'. On the trail and its subsidiary routes stands Mamostong Kangri,
first climbed in 1984 and Aq Tash, a stupendous rocky pyramid. I have
crossed the Saser la twice and on the second trip we went to the unknown
Chong Kumdan glacier on the Shyok. Three peaks of the group, including the
main peak at 7071 m were climbed by us along with several others. Chong
Kumdan is known for a dam it created several times in the past on the
Shyok. The advancing Chong Kumdan glacier blocked the Shyok in the winter.
With summer the river swelled up causing the dam to break, and it caused
floods and havoc till many hundred kilometres downstream, The trail
continues to the Karakoram Pas and finally leads to Central Asia.