The Ladakh Lab


Having an average elevation of around 10,000 feet, Ladakh is truly high altitude region. For Seema, its uniqueness struck home in 2015. She and Dinesh were trekking in Ladakh when they met a Russian climber-guide who extended them an invitation to attempt Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. It is also one of the peaks in the Seven Summits list. Reaching Russia not long after the trip to Ladakh and climbing Elbrus successfully despite adverse weather conditions, Seema realized that Ladakh at the northern tip of India had served as an excellent place to acclimatize and get used to altitude. In many ways it was perfect laboratory for such purpose – it had high elevation, cold winter and at the same time Leh and its facilities were never far off should difficulties crop up. Post Elbrus, Seema has woven a preparatory phase in Ladakh to each of her major overseas mountain expeditions. Kilimanjaro – notorious for high altitude sickness because the comparatively easy trek deceptively starts at low elevation in the tropics – was preceded by a visit to Ladakh. Seema made sure there was time spent in Ladakh, before Aconcagua too. As both she and Dinesh point out, it isn’t just about spending time there; it is about doing something personally challenging and doing it in relevant season so that subsequent work on big mountain elsewhere becomes efficient.