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Old 15th August 2011, 11:37   #1
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Default Driving through a Landslide (including slush)

This comes from recent experience on my trip to Valley of Flowers.

All of us who drive thru' Mumbai-Pune Expressway think the seasonal land-slides that occur on some stretches are such a big deal. Well, drive thru' the Shivaliks, Himalayas and the true meaning of a land-slide will be out!

To go thruough basics, here's why land-slides occur in the first place.

Man does this to make roads in the mountains.

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc00829.jpg

In the rains, the base gives way.

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc00844.jpg

To make way, man does this further

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc00839.jpg

Disaster waiting to happen

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc00833.jpg


Now, when you drive thru' a land-slide, you need to take special care if you're driving a hatch or a sedan.

1) Always drive only between 8am-5pm : The Border Road Organization or any other Force who are responsible for maintaining the roads work during these hours. So, if there's a landslide, they will clear it. If you drive outside their working hours, chances are you'll be stuck till they next start working if a land-slide occurs.

2) Obey the Supervisor at the land-slide site : These guys know the mountains well; they know when rocks/mud will slide and when it won't. So, if you're told to drive, don't worry about rocks; let it to them. Take a quick glance and get out of the land-slide zone ASAP.

3) Zoom ahead : At the land-slide site, you need to get out of that area asap; so just drive quick. Do no dilly-dally worrying right in the middle of the land-slide. Do NOT panic. If small rocks do hit your car, check it later. Your safety is more important than some dents/scratches.

4) Switch off all electricals : You need all the acceleration when you cross the land-slide site; so switch off the A/c, ICE and secondary lighting to give you max. power

5) Keep windows rolled up; ask co-passenger to keep vigil on the mountain.

6) Maintain a steady hand on the steering; the slush will make you lose control.

7) Keep a backup of water, food and toilet paper; you might need to eat and take a dump somewhere in the mountains. People have been stuck for days together. Also, keep a torch.

8) Ensure that you keep 1 lane free for the oncoming traffic. Do NOT be the typical Indian; ensure that the vehicles can pass from the opposite side. You don't want a traffic jam in that situation.

9) Do not drive too close to the mountain or too close to the valley; try to be in the middle.

10) Heavy vehicles tend to leave their tyre marks; try driving on them. But do not do this if you're vehicle has a low GC; else the mud in the middle will scrape the bottom off.

11) When driving thru' a stream of water that's on the roads, accelerate hard and steer away from the current of water.

12) Use the low-beam; with all the dust, you'll be blinded.

13) Give right of way to those climbing; but not at the cost of your safety; stop at a distance from the oncoming vehicle if there's place. Proceed when the vehicle has passed.

14) HONK! at turns.

15) Make optimum use of engine braking; at max., engage the 3rd gear.

And the most important, be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS; you need to concentrate immensely on everything; the road, the mountain above, the valley below, the traffic behind and ahead.

Safe driving!

Last edited by libranof1987 : 15th August 2011 at 11:48.
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Old 15th August 2011, 20:49   #2
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Nice thread libran. . Let me add my 2 cents.

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
3) Zoom ahead

11) When driving thru' a stream of water that's on the roads, accelerate hard and steer away from the current of water.

4) Switch off all electricals : You need all the acceleration when you cross the land-slide site; so switch off the A/c, ICE and secondary lighting to give you max. power
Well, I think your point is to get away as quickly as possible, but for that, I would NOT advise using all the engine power.

The thing is you need to be consistently quick (not fast), and absolutely avoid any jerks or sudden acceleration. The soil will be loosely packed and any abrupt changes in power, WILL cause it to collapse more.

The best way, is to stop before hand, and plan your approach to the affected area. Maintain a good momentum, and keep it all the way. Choose a gear to drive in, and try to minimize gear changes.

While driving trough a stream of water, try not to accelerate.
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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
5) Keep windows rolled up; ask co-passenger to keep vigil on the mountain.
I'm skeptical about this. Reason is visibility, and quick escape in case the worst happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
15) Make optimum use of engine braking; at max., engage the 3rd gear.
Yes, but please try to avoid abrupt changes.

-------------------------------------------------------------
To add to the above points,
  • Deflate the tyres a couple of psi's more, for that added grip.
  • Make sure the spare tyre is fine.
  • Always leave some room to maneuver the car in case of unpredictable occurances.
  • Carry a portable first aid kit.
  • Have the wiper wash fluid, topped up.
  • New wiper blades
  • Try to follow the trail previously laid by traffic, the soil will be slightly more packed.
  • Have emergency numbers with you.

Last edited by dhanushs : 15th August 2011 at 21:07. Reason: Adding some more points
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Old 15th August 2011, 21:02   #3
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

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Originally Posted by dhanushs View Post
Nice thread libran. . Let me add my 2 cents.


Well, I think your point is to get away as quickly as possible, but for that, I would NOT advise using all the engine power.
What I meant was, getting out quick; doesn't necessarily mean, you use all the power! Point is - get out asap!

Quote:
I'm skeptical about this. Reason is visibility, and quick escape in case the worst happen.
Two reasons :

1) There is a chance loose gravel and stones will come your way; if you've the window down, you might get hit

2) The driver needs to concentrate on the road. If he sees something coming down, there's a good chance he'll get distracted and even panic. He needs to concentrate on the driving; the co-passenger can guide him. Trust me, first hand experience!
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Old 15th August 2011, 21:16   #4
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
What I meant was, getting out quick; doesn't necessarily mean, you use all the power! Point is - get out asap!
This (below) , and I thought you meant exactly that?
Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
4) Switch off all electricals : You need all the acceleration when you cross the land-slide site; so switch off the A/c, ICE and secondary lighting to give you max. power


Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
1) There is a chance loose gravel and stones will come your way; if you've the window down, you might get hit
You are right. Thats why I mentioned I was skeptical. Because one needs to evaluate the situation, and weigh the points, ie if avoiding debris is more required, or visibility and safe exit is.
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Old 15th August 2011, 23:04   #5
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

I have been around the Himalayas for many a days repeatedly (as a passenger not driver), been stuck at narrow passages due to rock slides and also seen some happening, and I would like to add the following.

1. A small rock tumbling down a slope can become a projectile or missile that picks up so much velocity/acceleration, it can veer into and smash into something you can't see below, killing or grievously injuring a cow or smashing through the roof a settlement half a kilometer down below. Remember The Himalayas are not just 2000ft like the mountains in western ghats or Sahayadris. A trivial four inch stone that has travelled 100mtrs down a slope will stun you senseless with the speed and deadliness at which it travels.

Therefore please remember to be careful never to allow rocks to tumble down because of your driving or actions. Always move a rock obstructing you path very carefully so that it will not slip down the slope and launch itself into a deadly projectile - now or later tomorrow.

--Ragul

Last edited by Ragul : 15th August 2011 at 23:07.
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Old 16th August 2011, 13:20   #6
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

To elaborate on point 10, always let few heavy vehicles/ buses, trucks to go first, they will settle the loose mud and leave a firm wide track behind.

Now drive on those tracks.
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Old 16th August 2011, 17:58   #7
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Lovely thread Libranof1987, enjoyed every bit of your valuable inputs on the Land Slide topic. Good to see experiences being shared by everyone for the benefit of others. Thanks to all others contributing towards this thread. Can you also put up a writeup about the best way to drive in Slush. In case someone gets struck in Slush, instead of panicking, what are the best possible things a person can do to get out of the muck and slush.
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Old 16th August 2011, 18:39   #8
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragul View Post
A small rock tumbling down a slope can become a projectile or missile that picks up so much velocity/acceleration, it can veer into and smash into something you can't see below, killing or grievously injuring a cow or smashing through the roof a settlement half a kilometer down below.
Very much true. Last year on my visit to Sangla (in Kinnaur, HP), I had seen that a small rock fell and completely smashed the rear of a small passenger car, a hatchback belonging to a local. Fortunately no one was injured, although the car was badly damaged. But the the road was cleared promptly by a few men wearing military uniforms with the help of bulldozers.
Regards,
Rahul Biswas
Calcutta
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Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-185.jpg  

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Old 16th August 2011, 18:52   #9
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

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Originally Posted by traveloholic View Post
Can you also put up a writeup about the best way to drive in Slush. In case someone gets struck in Slush, instead of panicking, what are the best possible things a person can do to get out of the muck and slush.
1) You need a very steady hand on the steering to guide it out of the slush; else the tyres will slide.
2) Generally, once heavy vehicles have passed thru' the slush, they leave behind the tyre marks. It is advisable to drive over them.

However, if you're vehicle has a low GC, the mud that piles up in the centre (of the 2 tyres) might just scrape the belly.

3) Rev the engine hard
4) If you are stuck, don't panic; drive away from the valley with a steady hand and good acceleration.
5) If you're still stuck, check if there's any stones falling down. If not, you'll need someone to pull you out or try getting the tyres out.

From what I've heard, at some places in the Shivaliks/Himalayas, the bulldozers are fitted with a rope which pulls vehicles stuck in slush.

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Originally Posted by rahul4640 View Post
I had seen that a small rock fell and completely smashed the rear of a small passenger car, a hatchback belonging to a local.
Yep, the velocity can be disastrous.

Quote:
But the the road was cleared promptly by a few men wearing military uniforms with the help of bulldozers.
The guys in uniform in Uttaranchal are Border Road Organization or Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
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Old 16th August 2011, 19:02   #10
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Excellent thread. I have been through a land slide when i was also visiting the very same area, Hemkunt Saheb. The road to there is the same as the Valley of flowers and we had to stay at the spot for over half a day as the excavators could not reach the place. This place is very prone to land slides. But i was not driving, i was in a convoy of Luxury buses. I find this very interesting that someone has started a thread on the dos and donts of being on the road during/after a land slide.
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Old 19th August 2011, 11:05   #11
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Btw, we all honk liberally while driving thru' the mountains which have a generous supply of blinding turns.

Isn't the chance of rock loosening and hence there being a land-slide very high due to the vibrations of vehicles esp. heavy vehicles and their honking?
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Old 25th August 2011, 17:51   #12
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

Very nice thread !

Reminded me of the numerous landslides I had crossed on my many Himalayan drives

The key to successful landslide crossing is: Do Not Panic ! The moment you get tensed, you'll tend to hesitate, which may lead to inadvertent driving mistakes.
Also always remember NOT to spin the driven wheels!
Feed in the power gradually, so that maximum traction can be maintained under the circumstances as any wheelspin will only drag you off your chosen line - typically towards the gorge side, as most landslide hit roads drop cambers away sharply towards the gorge.
No sudden braking either - just caress the middle pedal to control velocity - because a potential wheel lock-up will spell disaster. (I'm assuming non-ABS cars)

Attaching a few pictures of a 1.5km long landslide hit portion which me and wifey crossed in a 5 year old, 100,000kms plus driven Indica
This was in Sikkim, in May 2011. Overnight rains had made matters worse. You can see the slush which was like sodden clay. The Indy however took to it bravely pottered on, the diesel's torque pulling us out slowly but surely - and wonder of wonders she didn't scrape her undercarriage at all

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc_0229.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-csc_0208.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc_0204.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-03052011317.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc_0606.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc_0604.jpg

Driving through a Landslide (including slush)-dsc_0078.jpg
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Old 27th August 2011, 17:23   #13
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

great points...my 2 cents

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
1) You need a very steady hand on the steering to guide it out of the slush; else the tyres will slide.
2) Generally, once heavy vehicles have passed thru' the slush, they leave behind the tyre marks. It is advisable to drive over them.

However, if you're vehicle has a low GC, the mud that piles up in the centre (of the 2 tyres) might just scrape the belly.

3) Rev the engine hard
4) If you are stuck, don't panic; drive away from the valley with a steady hand and good acceleration.
5) If you're still stuck, check if there's any stones falling down. If not, you'll need someone to pull you out or try getting the tyres out.

From what I've heard, at some places in the Shivaliks/Himalayas, the bulldozers are fitted with a rope which pulls vehicles stuck in slush.



Yep, the velocity can be disastrous.



The guys in uniform in Uttaranchal are Border Road Organization or Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
1. in slush you have to avoid too much power/revvs or else tyres will over spin and reduce grip, in such a case the car may slide one way which can be corrected by counter-steering. heavy gear should also be avoided, best is 2'nd gear in my experience which gives balance between power and speed. try not stopping in the middle of the slush. stop and examine the patch of road before covering it. look to keep you tyres towards solid soil or atleast where there is more soil than water.
2. blindly following tyre marks of heavy vehicles can land you in a big ditch sometimes.
3. try using half-clutch to get out of sticky situations if you are revv-happy
4. true, never panic. it will never help
5. if rocks falling is not an immediate issue, bulldozers should be a last resort as you are bound to damage the vehicle. try placing small branches/leaves of trees below the tyres for extra grip. stones can be tricky as they can quickly bounce and hit the underside or worse someone standing beside the car.

also if the stretch of land in front of you is loose and sliding(especially if it is raining as well) it is adivsable to send one person ahead on foot as scout to direct you. make sure the scout is in a safe position before you start tacking the stretch.


Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Btw, we all honk liberally while driving thru' the mountains which have a generous supply of blinding turns.

Isn't the chance of rock loosening and hence there being a land-slide very high due to the vibrations of vehicles esp. heavy vehicles and their honking?
i doubt that this will be an issue.
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Old 28th August 2011, 20:19   #14
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

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also if the stretch of land in front of you is loose and sliding(especially if it is raining as well) it is adivsable to send one person ahead on foot as scout to direct you. make sure the scout is in a safe position before you start tacking the stretch.
+1 to that

Having driven through himalayan roads battered by landslides in the monsoons for the last 5 years - I feel each of the points below made by everyone is very relevant.

Another few of minor points I would like to add,
1) Ensure your tyres have good amount of tread left in them and inflated correctly before tackling any himalayan roads specially in the monsoon.
2) Always go in a convoy (preferably in the middle). - you don't want to be the leader i.e. being an example for others - and you don't want to be left behind fending for yourself i.e. being an example to yourself.
3) Before taking a road, ask the locals (preferably the local taxi-wallahs) - what is the condition of the road and if there are better alternatives.
4) Ensure your fuel tank is above half-way mark. You never know for sure if you would be able to reach the next petrol pump according to plan.

nJoy the mountains.

Last edited by joybhowmik : 28th August 2011 at 20:20. Reason: more clarity
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Old 28th August 2011, 21:34   #15
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Default Re: Driving through a Land-slide

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+1 to that

Another few of minor points I would like to add,
1) Ensure your tyres have good amount of tread left in them and inflated correctly before tackling any himalayan roads specially in the monsoon.
2) Always go in a convoy (preferably in the middle). - you don't want to be the leader i.e. being an example for others - and you don't want to be left behind fending for yourself i.e. being an example to yourself.
3) Before taking a road, ask the locals (preferably the local taxi-wallahs) - what is the condition of the road and if there are better alternatives.
4) Ensure your fuel tank is above half-way mark. You never know for sure if you would be able to reach the next petrol pump according to plan.

nJoy the mountains.
+1
staying in a convoy is advisable, especially having some local cars always helps. if you are having problems in keeping up, you can ask a local driver to stick with you, in most cases, they will oblige . leading should almost always be done by a vehicle accustomed to the particular terrain

yup, always have more fuel than you need. you never know when you get stuck and need it for heating yourself.

by the way, the mountains should be avoided during the monsoon/winters, especially by new adventurers. having spent almost all my life living here, i can say "you don't mess with the mountains". some mountains ranges are worse than others. and a good idea can be got from what kind of ranges you are passing. e.g. after crossing rohtang, if you go towards chadertaal, you will notice that the mountains are rocky but disintegrating, suggesting lot of rocks will fall down from time to time. but if you look at rohtang itself, it is composed of more soil and less rocky suggesting more slush and landslide where a whole section of landmass may suddenly come down or worse escape from beneath you.

I guess thats why we have so many gods here. I always start such journeys with a prayer but then thats just me.
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