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Old 5th July 2013, 10:42   #136
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Default Re: Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
So how does a citizen visiting an area more than 50kms from the border create some negative security situation? I could not get your point at all.
What kind of security will restricting access to a war memorial cause. I have travelled extensively in that region. All I saw was some kiangs. Unless then are some top secret experimental weapons made to look like Kiangs, I cannot fathom the logic.
I agree with you - everyone should be able to visit the memorials. And the 1962 memorials are really deserted - may be because of tensions around LAC and/or may be because it was a war lost miserably and nobody wants to remember...but yes, if you build a memorial and then restrict access to the area how can pepople go there - even I was wondering about this!

BTW, as I understand, it's not the border. It's LAC. If you want to exercise your right to go all the way to border, you should ideally be able cover entire Pangong Tso and go even beyond.

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Originally Posted by prabhatshah View Post
I was able to travel through these areas on 3rd june. I did not have any problems.
However going through this and other forums, I understand that this route is quite difficult to do as it depends upon the impression you make on the army officers at the checkposts and is quite subjective.
As an Indian citizen it is your fundamental right to travel anywhere and everywhere in peace time. Of course formalities like all permits should be obtained. However it should not be subjective.
Equality for all is clearly mentioned in our constitution. However on a lighter note, I will quote Orwell "Some are more equal then others."
Even in peace time, you can not go into the Jaiselmer desert beyond Longewala (the border is ~20 km further from Longewala). Also in Chorbat valley, you can not go beyond Tyakshi (the LOC is ~10km further). I would have loved to go further, but may be there are genuine reasons for the restriction - I don't know.

But yes, whatever it is, it should be same for everyone, I agree.

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Originally Posted by prabhatshah View Post

There is no logic.
The Officers have probably been told to discourage tourists.
They are following orders. This is because of ambiguous and vague orders being issued by bureaucrats in the Home Ministry probably acting in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA as was opined by the Hon. Minister himself, believes that "the Americans just scrutinise our data and region". The average Indian tourist on the other hand is a Spy who constantly has snooping and spying on his mind. (Otherwise why deny common people access to areas which in today's world of satellite imaging is common knowledge).
On another note, during my travels in Ladakh I came to understand that the common man there identifies himself more as a Ladakhi then an Indian. If the Indian Government does not do more to integrate the common man living in the border areas with the mainstream we may have borders shifting inwards.
Absolutely.
It's the government who is creating a mess, rather than ITBT/Army. I don't find any reason to argue with the jawans/officers.

Last edited by anandpadhye : 5th July 2013 at 10:56.
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Old 5th July 2013, 11:09   #137
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Default Re: Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide

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Chushul is allowed as such. But from there what route is granted is quite subjective..... is also subjective to Army guys spotting which route one takes from Chushul. The army, if stops you, will not allow Tsaga La route due to China border sensitivity but will advice alternative through Kakasang La to Mahe ......
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When we reached the Police checkpost, we took the lower road, reached the bridge, took the bridge and went to the Chushul War Memorial and then onto the Rezang La War Memorial (Major Shaitan Singh Memorial - 13 Kumaon). From there, we went on to Tsaga La and Mahe...
To Update...

The bikers were able to cross Chushul and were paying their respects at the Shaitan Singh memorial when 2 Army gypsies came up full speed and asked them to turn back !

Their permits had - Chushul - Tsaga La/ Chhaga La - Dungti - Loma written. But the army officer did not budge. Infact, they did not even allow them to go via the Koksang La route.

Had to come back from Chushul to Tangtse (stayed the night there and next day i.e y'day had reached Nyoma). Will be going to Hanle today.
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Old 5th July 2013, 11:17   #138
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Default Re: Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide

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BTW, as I understand, it's not the border. It's LAC. If you want to exercise your right to go all the way to border, you should ideally be able cover entire Pangong Tso and go even beyond. .
LAC, LOC whatever. We can claim all anything as part of India. But the fact remains is that LAC this side is India, other side is China. Same for LOC.
We should be able to cover entire pangong if it was under Indian control. World over, whenever there is a dispute, till it get resolves, actual line of control is border.
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Old 5th July 2013, 11:49   #139
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LAC, LOC whatever. We can claim all anything as part of India. But the fact remains is that LAC this side is India, other side is China. Same for LOC.
In loose terms, you may say what you are saying. But if you are very particular about fundamental rights, then you should also be very particular with the terminology as well.

The point I am trying to make is - restrictions on tourists exist because of the dipute. Simple. And hence questioning Army/ITBT's judgement on tourist access may not always be a correct thing to do. Sometimes they may go overboard, but they are posted there for a reason.
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Old 5th July 2013, 12:24   #140
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In loose terms, you may say what you are saying. But if you are very particular about fundamental rights, then you should also be very particular with the terminology as well.

The point I am trying to make is - restrictions on tourists exist because of the dipute. Simple. And hence questioning Army/ITBT's judgement on tourist access may not always be a correct thing to do. Sometimes they may go overboard, but they are posted there for a reason.
I could not understand your point. Are you saying that if a border is disputed, and currently there is a Line of Actual control which defines what is under which country control, somehow the right to visit areas under control of your country is forfeit?
Remember, areas close to LAC are parts of India, and people of those regions are citizens of India. By blocking access, you are blocking their livelihood.
Imagine if you have a shop, and govt decides due to some "vague security threat" nobody can visit your shop?

Let me tell you a true story.
There is a gentleman running a home stay in a remote village about 50kms from LAC in Changthang desert.
Due to chushul route, people started adding his village to their travel destination because it would mean just one extra day for people, and chance to see a lovely place.
So he developed a homestay.
Many stayed with him, however some did not because there were no attached toilets available.
Slowly and slowly he saved money. He told me, by next year I will be able to afford a attached bathroom with one of my rooms.
But that attached bathroom never came. His tourist rush has died up because some babu sitting 1000 kms away suddenly decided there is a "security issue".

Nobody knows what is the security issue. His village is not on the LAC, its far away.
But he does not get many tourists.

Some of his fellow villagers also tried similar ventures, hoping to give a better life to their children.
But now they work as temporary workers in Ladakh hotels, where they are exploited with low wages.

All in the name of some security issue.
All the patriots and "Jai ho" brigade are very vocal in claiming disputed areas. However, they lose their voice when it comes to the right of people living in the country.

The country cannot even facilitate the livelihood of people under their occupation. All in the name of some security issue, decided by somebody sitting 1000s of kms away totally oblivious to the hardships faced.

Lot of us have forgotten that national integration is not saluting and singing anthems. National integration is that every citizen of the country should have equal right for pursuit of financial freedom and happiness.

What is being done in the name of security is no less than Apartheid.

So my request to all visitors to the region is simple. Next time don't just click that lovely lake or that big mountain. Spend just a little time in the kitchen of your homestay, and speak with the owners. Listen to their worries, their fears, and the pressure they have come under, because somebody dreamt some "security issue".

TRIVIA : Till mid 80s(early 80s), entire region of Ladakh was restricted. To go beyond Sonmarg you needed permits which were almost impossible to get. Such is the state of isolation these regions have lived in. With no access to the fruits of development or tourism.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 5th July 2013 at 12:27.
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Old 5th July 2013, 13:41   #141
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Default Re: Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide

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Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
At Tso Moriri, they asked us about the GPS and maps - we politely said yes, we have GPS in our phones and printed maps as well.
Well they need to be aware that every smartphone has GPS installed, and every traveler carries them.

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They discussed internally and allowed us to go. They guard our country so I was always polite and respectful. Many tourists were discussing and remarking about the knowledge levels of our armed forces, etc. Somehow I don't like to do that - they live a tough and boring life and those roads are built and maintained by BRO. It's a previledge to be able to drive on those roads and right of admission is reserved which is kind of okay for me. In fact, I found most of the ITBP and army jawans and officers to be through gentlemen in their dealing with us.
I respect the Armed forces guarding the border as much as the BRO guys working in such conditions, and even local Police force.

But this does not mean they can talk to a law abiding Civilian in a rude and harsh tone. If there is a law, it should be implemented on all, why is GPS allowed on their discretion and almost every car equipped with GPS gets through. This is the reason why i have clearly mentioned Army guys are lot better in public dealing, they know what to say and where to draw a line.

Also, the Inner line Permit rule does not mention any kind of restriction on carrying or usage of Camera or GPS devices. I do not feel comfortable to deposit my entire Camera kit with ITBP, if they had insisted on it, i would have taken a U-Turn and gone all the way back till Nyoma and gone through Thit Zarbo La route.

Tso Morirri is not located just next to LAC, even Foreigners are allowed to visit this place.

In remote places like Ladakh, how can you expect the tourists not to carry Cameras and GPS. There are no signposts, at places even GPS and Google Maps go blank, where only common sense works. Don't you think restriction on GPS devices might make more travellers ending up in restricted areas by mistake.
Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide-dsc_2216rsz.jpg

One of these roads goes to Kyun Tso twin lakes and another one to Chumur, without GPS it would be difficult not to land up on way to Chumur.
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This place is far closer and accessible to LAC than Tso Morriri, there is no human being to be seen for entire day in this region. The reason i had to get down and figure out the way, our only companion were the tire tracks, which got washed away at the river bed. Only with the help of Offline Google Maps i could guess the direction.
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Old 5th July 2013, 14:33   #142
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Originally Posted by .anshuman View Post
. Only with the help of Offline Google Maps i could guess the direction.
Attachment 1106104

If you had downloaded OSM maps, you would not have faced any problem. I mapped most of ladakh myself on OSM, and then somebody copied the entire tracks onto google.

Let me tell you a story about Kyun Tso.
Way back in 2010, I decided I must go to Kyun Tso.

Now I want you to go to google.com and type "Kyun Tso",
you will see a host of links and pictures.

Way back then, there was nothing. Just one lone picture from a blog, whose owner did not reply to my mails, and some Geological articles speculating about origin of Kyun Tso lakes and why one is brakish(interesting read nevertheless).

So as I ended up in Hanle, all I knew was that there was a village on the back Hanle called of Punguk.
Cross that village, take track.

At one point the track will bifurcate and left goes to chumur, right to Kyun Tso.

So with lat/lon coordinates punched into oziexplorer, and a line depicting crow flight route to kyun Tso I set off.

At one point the track bifurcated. Even crows flight showed the right track to take.

The right track, went through a couple of switchbacks onto a tabletop mountain.
We reached the top, and the sight was humbling.

Imaging a huge plain, where you can see all the way to Nyoma mountains, but sitting far above the hanle plain.

Anyways we followed the track, and it started turning way from crows flight, and ended at a mountain.

To get to kyun Tso, we would need to climb mountain, which was difficult even on foot.

Thats when we realized, we are on the wrong track.
We came down, followed the old track, and then it bifurcated again.

Took the right wing, and saw the first lake, partially frozen.
What a sight it was.
5000mts+ above sea level a clear blue lake with ice on the edges.


I had also attempted this lake in 2009 from Nidar side, but way was blocked by a landslide.

In our entire journey we never saw a single soul!
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Old 5th July 2013, 15:02   #143
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Default Re: Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar - The Ultimate Guide

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If you had downloaded OSM maps, you would not have faced any problem. I mapped most of ladakh myself on OSM, and then somebody copied the entire tracks onto google.
Currently Google has most of this route on their Map, just some portion of River bed when you have to make your own path by shifting some stones is not mapped, and this cannot be mapped as this changes every time it rains.

To be on safe side i followed the tire tracks on Google Maps Satellite view at the time of planning the trip, except at these river beds the tracks are clearly visible through satellite view.

Just because of your travelogue and this guide i knew what kind of road conditions to expect, despite the anxiety i enjoyed the route more than any other place.
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Old 5th July 2013, 16:19   #144
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Let me tell you a true story.
There is a gentleman running a home stay in a remote village about 50kms from LAC in Changthang desert.
Due to chushul route, people started adding his village to their travel destination because it would mean just one extra day for people, and chance to see a lovely place.
So he developed a homestay.
Many stayed with him, however some did not because there were no attached toilets available.
Slowly and slowly he saved money. He told me, by next year I will be able to afford a attached bathroom with one of my rooms.
But that attached bathroom never came. His tourist rush has died up because some babu sitting 1000 kms away suddenly decided there is a "security issue".

So my request to all visitors to the region is simple. Next time don't just click that lovely lake or that big mountain. Spend just a little time in the kitchen of your homestay, and speak with the owners. Listen to their worries, their fears, and the pressure they have come under, because somebody dreamt some "security issue".
Not sure why you don't understand my point - I feel it's the J&K government and central government administration that is at fault and not the armed forces. Arguing with the javans at the checkpost or blaming the ITBT/Army is futile.

Regarding the local economy, quality of life, integration - again these are governance responsibilities and they are not doing a good job of it. There is only one MP for entire ladakh region (including Kargil) and he is from kargil as of today. Culturally ladakh is different from J&K but it's population is only 3 lakh or so and it's being denied the status of an an independent state or UT. To appear for any state government exam (e.g. school teachers, etc), they have to go to Srinagar.

These are much bigger and serious issues than your tourist permits.

And inspite of such government apathy, Army is doing a lot - they are running Army Goodwill Schools in villages that have potential unrest. Thoise aribase is used in Winter for all emergency supplies and transportation for the people of Shyok valley - free of cost. Army runs a hospital and offers all medical facilities to the villages - free of cost. Turtuk guys were in pak till 1971 and we heard details of how life was back then and how it has improved after they came under indian control (not everything can be mentioned on the internet).

My request to you is not to assume that all visitors only click panoramas or care for their homestay toilets. And yes national integration is not merely saluting at the graves of the soldiers. But national integration is also not only about tourist permits.

Last edited by anandpadhye : 5th July 2013 at 16:23.
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Old 5th July 2013, 19:33   #145
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Well they need to be aware that every smartphone has GPS installed, and every traveler carries them.
Not about awareness, but about following orders. And such orders have indeed been issued recently - stop any civilian from taking any mapping device, especially GPS, into certain areas. Can't change or ignore orders even if they are aware!

Chumur is now off-limits for civilians, as decided by people in high places. Anyone's brother in the army, posted in Leh, can take him to the Siachen Glacier for a visit, but not to Chumur (though he can go himself as a soldier). The same with Hanle. Also Marsimik La, Rezang La and Tsaga La. Demchok - not a snowflake's chance in hell about making it there any more. No point in arguing about the why and why not. Orders are - well - orders!

BHPian akp is presently travelling back from Ladakh. He was given DC Office (Leh) permit for Man>Merak>Chushul>Tsaga>Nyoma, but unfortunately could not travel that route for personal reasons. So no feedback from him about whether the ITBP/Army is actually turning people back from Chushul - but apparently instructions are already there to turn back civilians from that route.

Things may be different next year. For better, or for worse.

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Old 5th July 2013, 19:50   #146
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Chumur is now off-limits for civilians, as decided by people in high places. Anyone's brother in the army, posted in Leh, can take him to the Siachen Glacier for a visit, but not to Chumur (though he can go himself as a soldier). The same with Hanle.
Chumur is off limits, but there is no restriction as of now for Hanle and Kyun Tso area.

The DC office staff did not even look at my form properly before granting me permits, the guy standing next to me got permit for chushul, I did not mention chushul as I had no plans to visit Pangong and Chushul. They were not not making any fuss about chushul this time, or maybe they know ITBP /Army guys will take care of it.
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Old 6th July 2013, 10:59   #147
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Dear All, to those that have been aggrieved by both the Army/ITBP deployed along the LC/LAC/LOC or even the BSF on the International border-was a part of that uniform for 30 years-out of which spent 20 of them either on the IB or most often then not on the LOC!!
We have our orders which comes from the highest levels and some of these so called "Instructions or Orders" may seem ridiculous to us too but we have to follow it!
Give you a most hilarious example of secrecy-most of our Posts along the LOC have been numbered-supposed to be secret-we were rearing sheep (Bhedu) as some soldiers do not like the taste of sheep meat so we rear them. they were ready for shearing and while on my way back to my HQ spotted a Kashmiri Shepherd and asked him if he was interested in the wool. He turned around and told me-"Yes Sir-will be coming to "4.." (The exact No. of that Post) to shear the sheep tomorrow"-secrecy kicked out of the door!
The point am trying to get to, is that our policies, on confidentiality, are skewered and idiotic. Please do not get angry with the uniformed person. Life there is terrible!

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Old 7th July 2013, 10:16   #148
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Not about awareness, but about following orders.
...
No point in arguing about the why and why not. Orders are - well - orders!
...
Things may be different next year. For better, or for worse.
That's the point I was trying to make. Thank you.

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Life there is terrible!
Absolutely sir.
I started feeling terrible within days - I can't imagine how javans and officers spend months together in those places, living a secluded and "seemingly" purposeless life. And I met many officers who are quite knowledgeable (technically, socially as well as politically). Some javans may not be but that's fine.

Regarding secrecy - there is one strong theory discussed these days that we are silently and progressively loosing land to China every day and instead of strengthening our forces and infrastructure along the LAC, the government actually just wants to ensure that this information does not become public. Now, if this is true, then it's sad and alarming.

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Old 7th July 2013, 11:52   #149
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I am very confused with this discussion. I am very sure that Army Men cannot question orders. Well that is true.
However, I have never seen any rule anywhere that we cannot question anything? If that was the case, how come we question taxes we deem unfair. How come we have the right to protest and sit on the roads, when something we deem unfair happens.
So somehow, if we question the actions of the Army, it becomes "wrong?". Very very strange reasoning! How come questioning authority is "disrespect".

If we want to follow a system of governance where authority should not be questioned, lets do away with the parliament and import some dictator?

Just because you question something, does not mean you are disrespecting someone.

And if people want to be true to their word, then if their car has GPS they should just rip it out of the console or break it with their crowbar instead of trying to explain that all cars have GPS. Why argue?


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Not sure why you don't understand my point - I feel it's the J&K government and central government administration that is at fault and not the armed forces. Arguing with the javans at the checkpost or blaming the ITBT/Army is futile.
The GPS incident is something else. I was talking about actions which are not consistant. Eg allowing someone, and not allowing others over a route between two places, both of which are part of India, and the route between which is also under Indian control.
The govt started issuing permits, but to be able to use that route is case by case bases.



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Dear All, to those that have been aggrieved by both the Army/ITBP deployed along the LC/LAC/LOC or even the BSF on the International border-was a part of that uniform for 30 years-out of which spent 20 of them either on the IB or most often then not on the LOC!!
We have our orders which comes from the highest levels and some of these so called "Instructions or Orders" may seem ridiculous to us too but we have to follow it!
Thank you for replying on this thread. You cleared my point. The orders you get a "set". Or are they like "If you feel happy allow someone otherwise don't".
When you are asked, block civilian access to point "X". you will block access.
For example, till 2009 or so, the bridge after Hunder dunes had a sentry posted. You could not go to Turtuk. IT was not allowed. Simple orders. Clear and concise.
I am sure vague orders, like allow X and not allow Y etc., are not part of the Army.

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Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
Regarding secrecy - there is one strong theory discussed these days that we are silently and progressively loosing land to China every day and instead of strengthening our forces and infrastructure along the LAC, the government actually just wants to ensure that this information does not become public. Now, if this is true, then it's sad and alarming.
Its not theory, its true. The main point of secrecty in many such areas is actually to hide hanky panky than for national security.
I have spoken to people, you can also ask around. You can ask brigadiars, generals, soldiers, jawans, politicians, etc, and none of them will be able to tell you the answer to this question

"How does a tourist going to chushul hamper national security, any more than a tourist going to Wagah border hample national security".

Try to get an answer to this question, you will not find any. And please understand, asking a question is not disrespect. I actually wrote a letter to MHA in February asking about "permits for chushul", and also the reply MHA gave to member of Parliament.

Nobody replied, but I exercised my right to question, and I have no guilt in questioning anyone.
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Old 7th July 2013, 12:57   #150
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^ I do not understand why the rules can be bent if i happen to be a relative of officer posted there. Last year our host in the Army asked us if we would like to visit Marsimik La, a place off limit for Civilians, we were in my Skoda Laura, no ways my car would have even gotten any close to that place. They even offered to arrange us to be driven in a Army Gypsy if we could stay at the place for 2-3 days more. Similar offer was given for a boat ride at Pangong Tso, all at Tax payers' expense.

This year when i was driving a AWD crossover, the officer was no longer posted there, else i would have attempted the mighty Marsimik La.

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