The area most frequented by foreign climbers in the Nun–Kun Massif in the Great Himalayan Range. Its easy accessibility from the Kargil–Padum road and the shortest possible approach march to the base camps makes this massif the most attractive climbing destination in the Great Himalaya, necessitating advance booking years ahead. Among its six known peaks accessible from the Suru Valley, Nun (7,135 mts.) and Kun (7,077 mts.) are the highest summits.
The area nearest to Leh is the Stok–Khangri Massif in the Zanskar Mountains, south of the Leh. The base camp for the various peaks of this massif is about two days’ trek from the village of Stok. Among its known peaks, Stok-khangri (6,150 mts.) in the highest it offers a spectacular perspective to the central expanse of the Indus Valley, which it dominates. Other peaks in the area include Gulap Khangri (5,900 mts.) and Matho West (5,950 mts.) and Kantaka (5,275 mts.). The much higher Konglacha Peak (6,700 mts.) lies south-west of Leh and is reached via Rumbak on the first leg of the Markha Valley trek from Stok. Many un-named peaks in the altitude range of 5,500 mts. and 6,400 mts. are also available for climbing in the same region. This entire area falls well outside the Inner Line, or restricted area.
North of Leh, across the Ladakh Range and the Nubra Valley, lies the Karakoram range. It soars to a number of known peaks which are, however, within the restricted area and so not freely accessible to foreign climbers except with special permission from the Government of India. The most prominent summits in the range, which are accessible from various parts of the Nubra Valley, include Sasar-I (7,415 mts.) Sasar–II (7,513 mts.) and Sasar–III (7,495 mts.).
The climbing season extends from mid-May to mid-October, the ideal period being from June to September because during this time only Ladakh remains unaffected by the monsoon, which holds sway over most of the Himalaya. Foreign climbing expeditions are required to obtain permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for climbing all listed peaks. A booking fee, based on the height and popularity of the allotted peak, is charged and a Liaison Officer is assigned to every climbing team. The minimum period required for processing applications is six months. Every authorized expedition is provided with adequate rescue coverage in the event of accidents and illness.
Foreign Exchange: The State Bank of India has foreign exchange facilities at Leh and Kargil .The Leh branch is also operates an extension counter at the Tourist Information Centre located in the Dak Bungalow. Some hotels in Leh are also licensed to deal in foreign exchange, through these mainly services in-house clients. There is no foreign exchange facility outside these two towns.
Communication: Both Leh and Kargil towns have worldwide direct dial telephone facility besides a General Post Office and a Central Telegraph Office.
The J&K Tourism Department has installed its own wireless radiophone network linking interconnected field stations in the tourist office at Leh, Kargil and Padum and base stations in the Tourist Offices at Delhi, Jammu & Srinagar. The field stations are supplemented with mobile sets used to bring remote location and mountain communication network during the tourist season .The facility is mainly used to monitor the movement and welfare of tourist in the State; it is especially useful in ensuring timely rescue arrangements for tourists falling ill or meeting with accidents.
Health: Ladakh is a high altitude cold desert with a low level of atmospheric oxygen. Tourists reaching Leh from the plains of India by air are required to allow time for acclimatization before engaging in any physical activity. While the S. N. M. Hospital at Leh is fully equipped and staffed with a team of specialists to take care of any eventuality, the rarefied atmosphere of the area may cause high altitude ailments necessitating instant evacuation of visitor unable to get acclimatized.
Acute Mountain Sickness: Anyone travelling to altitudes above10, 000 feet (2,700mts.) is liable to suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS) unless properly acclimatized. The most common symptoms of acute mountain sickness are headache, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, irregular breathing, breathlessness, lassitude and lack of concentration .If you are reaching Leh by air, it is important to take complete rest for the first 24 hours after arrival. Any kind of physical exertion is to be avoided. Smoking and drinking should also be avoided until you are fully acclimatized. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness generally develop during the first 36 hours, and not immediately upon arrival. Your body should get used to the lower oxygen level of Ladakh after 2 or 3 days if you have taken complete rest for the first 24 hours and as much rest as possible during the next 12 hours.
High Altitude pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) and high Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) are very serious forms of acute mountain sickness. They are life–threatening and warrant immediate medical attention. In such case, it is advisable to contact the nearest Hospital or medical Dispensary situated in major villages.
Evacuation of Casualties: J&K Tourism initiates and coordinates evacuation of casualties by IAF helicopters in case of accidents or sickness while trekking, mountaineering or River – Rafting in the remote parts of the State. The evacuation is subject to payment of the operational cost of the aircrafts. A written guarantee indicating the source of payment and address for billing, etc. is required to be furnished to the authorized officer of the State Government while requesting for evacuation .The type of helicopter normally used for the purpose cost around Rs 25,000 per flaying hour. Evacuation from anywhere in the Zanskar Mountains or the Changthang area may take 3 to 4 flying hours from take off to landing back at the air base. Besides the high operational cost, such missions also involve great risk and call for a high degree of skill on the part of the pilots. It is therefore essential that request for aerial rescue is made under compelling circumstances, only as a life saving measure. Also helicopters cannot be requisitioned for lifting bodies of deceased persons from accident sites. Permission for removal of the deceased is rarely granted and the procedure to obtain such permission is very tedious. Evacuation of bonafide casualties with guaranteed payment upon billing can be initiated through the nearest Administrative or Tourist Officer.