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Old 18th August 2011, 19:40   #1
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Default Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

Every year bikers across the country wait for the month of June for what is called the ultimate biking Nirvana. The Manali-Leh highway opens in the month of June and bikers across the country head to Ladakh for what is considered to be the best scenic routes to ride in the world. I was one among them planning for months to experience this Nirvana. With months of detailed planning, getting leaves sanctioned, convincing the family about the safety, the plan soon started taking shape.

Despite planning the trip thoroughly, seeking experts advice on how to avoid AMS, having read out all possible travelogues on Leh, this trip was an experience of all the things that could possibly go wrong & an adventure gone awry..

Details to follow soon. few pics to start with..
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Old 18th August 2011, 22:41   #2
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Default Day 1 Manali-Keylong

We were a group of 7 with 4 who planned to rent bikes from Manali and the other 3 planned to travel in a hired Innova. My initial plans of joining the bikers went for a toss as I didn’t have the necessary approvals from the home ministry. With no other option left, I had to join the group travelling by Innova.

The plan was to start early to beat the mad rush at Rohtang. But not all plans work out they way they were supposed to be. A delayed start at 6 am ensured that we got stuck in a long & never moving traffic jam few kms before Rohtang. While the bikers were lucky to make their way through. The three of us in Innova were stuck for 6 long hours in the traffic jam.

Rohtang which means “valley of corpses” proved it is what it is..4 landslides in matter of few hours, a truck carrying Tar fell victim to one of these landslides. The BRO as efficient as ever, were doing their best to clear the landslides and regulate the traffic in these conditions. Constant Heavy downpour only added to the misery and worsened the road conditions even further. Crazy cabbies trying to overtake one another on the narrow stretches & blocking the oncoming traffic only added woes to the present conditions.

Few pics of the “Mela” at Rohtang
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Old 18th August 2011, 22:49   #3
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Default Traffic jam @ 13k feet

The slush & snow being cleared @ Rohtang
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Old 19th August 2011, 11:53   #4
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

That is too much of slush, did the vehicles make it through? Looks like one more super awesome travelouge is cooking! Keep 'em coming.

OT: August is the season of heartache. All the bikers and northies head to LeH/ladakh and post pics. We here at the south sit and gap.
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Old 19th August 2011, 14:27   #5
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

Quote:
Originally Posted by sachinj12 View Post
That is too much of slush, did the vehicles make it through? Looks like one more super awesome travelouge is cooking! Keep 'em coming.

OT: August is the season of heartache. All the bikers and northies head to LeH/ladakh and post pics. We here at the south sit and gap.
Thanks Sachin. Yes, the vehicles did make it through the slush after it was cleared by those heavy bulldozers. Bikers especially were struggling to make their way through the heavy slush.

And, I am a southie too from Hyderabad. This trip finally happened after years of planning and I just cant wait to head back to the mountains again !

Some more pics of the terrain, landslides and scenery enroute to Keylong.
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Old 19th August 2011, 20:57   #6
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Default the mighty Rohtang La & the road to Keylong

After starting at 6 am from Manali, we reached Rohtang La at about 2 pm in the noon. It was still wet and the sight at Rohtang did not make for a pretty picture. Rohtang was a scene of utter chaos. Vehicles parked haphazardly, Garbage overflowing, litter scattered everywhere & at some parts the acute stench was chasing everybody away.
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Rohtang La (La - high pass) is located at the height of 13050 Fts and is breath takingly beautiful at its highest road point. It was almost surreal to see a majestic mountain range behind the pass which was our introduction to Mighty Greater Himalayan Range. Our journey was just about to begin…

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From here on, it was continuous descend to Koksar which marked our entry to Lahaul Valley. We had the company of river Chandra flowing right next to us throughout. At one stretch the river current was so strong that it washed away a good part of the road.

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It took some skill from our driver and help from fellow travelers to cross this stretch. The road made its way through the mountain pass with a jaw dropping scenery. Sometimes it was a heavy downpour and that reinforced the point that we would not stay in Leh for too long as we have to return the same route.
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Many vehicles struggled to make some of the climbs. We found numerous abandoned vehicles along the way, mainly trucks. We finally reached Keylong at 6 pm to find that our biker friends had reached much earlier than we anticipated. Our accommodation was booked at Nalwa guest house. Keylong is a super place. Nestled in a picturesque valley with the awesome scene of the surrounding snow covered mountains and crystal clear blue sky. We got a room with an awesome view of the mountains. One of the walks from the central bus stand offered an incredible view along the valley. The clouds over the distant mountains occasionally cleared to reveal a picture postcard view to die for.
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With the temperatures dipping we found it difficult to venture out and brave the cold with 3 layers of thermals and jackets, but found few mountain folk walking around in flip flops and T shirts.

After a nice dinner, it was time for bed as the plan was to start early the next day, cross Sarchu and Pang (to avoid the dreaded AMS ) and reach Leh at any cost. But not all plans work as planned.. little did we know what was in store for us…
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Last edited by GTO : 21st August 2011 at 18:04. Reason: STRICTLY no references to alcohol on this forum please
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Old 19th August 2011, 22:08   #7
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Default Day 2-Keylong –Jispa- Patsio- sarchu

That night I had difficulty sleeping, the next morning I woke up to a mild headache, tingling and numb feeling on all my fingers. I went to check on my friends to see how they were doing. 2 bikers from the 4 member gang travelling with us had similar symptoms. One of them decided not to head any further and rest for the day at Keylong and head back to Manali the next day. The other guy chose to dump the vehicle at Nalwa guest house, join the group in Innova heading to leh and pick up the bike on the way back to Manali.

Well, this didn’t look like a good start. We read a lot on AMS, precautions on how to avoid it. But you only know what it feels like once you experience it. We all took Diamox as a precautionary measure, bid our friend goodbye and started on our way to Sarchu. The next pit stop for the day.

Why halt at Sarchu when u have AMS symptoms ?? well, I think that’s another symptom of AMS..we made the most obvious mistake, not using our brains to avoid Sarchu or Pang and head directly to Leh. Anyways, the route from Keylong to Sarchu was probably the best experience of the entire trip.

The Road climbs up steadily after Keylong, the beautiful Bhaga river runs all the way through. Some stretches of the road was what can be called a proper NH highway while some stretches of the road gave us some bone jarring rides.

A Buddhist temple near Jispa

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But who cares about the road conditions. We were all lost and spellbound in the scenic beauty that surrounded us on all sides. Clear blue skies, majestic snow clad mountains in the horizon, clear blue skies interrupted by the majestic carvings of nature. It was beauty beyond imagination

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Old 22nd August 2011, 15:58   #8
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Default Sarchu- Where it all came to an end !!

On the way to Sarchu, we crossed Baralachala La at a height of 16,500 feet. Majestic, jagged mountains rose all around us through the journey. I had never imagined that the beauty of bare, stony, cold mountains could take my breath away. But they did, in more ways than

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We decided to halt for the day at Sarchu in one of the tented accommodations. It was 5 pm the in the evening and the temperatures began to Dip, It was cold and chilly and with 3 layers of warm clothing and thick blankets, the cold was still unbearable. Altitude sickness hit in the form of a slight headache, which quickly accelerated into nausea and vomiting. I was quickly rushed to the army transit camp at Sarchu, thought my oxygen levels and BP were all normal, The Doctor on duty took pity on my situation and offered accommodation & food at their transit camp.

Through the night, I gasped for air and the biting cold actually made my bones ache. I questioned my sanity for this adventure; I wanted to be home, safe in my bed. That morning we were told that the temperature last night was -3 degrees, it really felt as it was much worse than that.

The next morning, still exhausted from the lack of sleep, I sat outside the tents, grateful for the warm sun on my back and looked at the unrelenting mountains. This was a tough decision to take. After having come so far and so close to Leh, I was asking myself the question, should I go back ? or push myself and make it to Leh ?

After speaking to my friends and as advised by the doctor at the Army transit camp, we thought it’s good to go back and not head to Leh as we had to cross Pang which was at a much higher altitude than Sarchu.

There is nothing great to share about the rest of the Journey. It was very disappointing & we were all sad that the trip had come to an abrupt end, we were so close and still couldn’t make it to Leh.

But as someone rightly said, It’s not the destination but the journey that matters. This adventure was definitely a great learning experience. I was lucky to experience the beauty of the Himalayas, to have seen the majestic mountains and experience the nature in its real state.
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Old 22nd August 2011, 16:43   #9
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

Very Touching TL. Beautiful Pics.

Anyways, what was your analysis, i mean what would have been a better strategy to evade AMS. Will kids say 8-10 years would be able to tackle this.
Please do share your thoughts on this. It will be of immense use to people like me who are dreaming to make this wonderful trip .

Better luck next time
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Old 22nd August 2011, 17:59   #10
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

Quote:
Originally Posted by Night_Hawk View Post
Very Touching TL. Beautiful Pics.

Anyways, what was your analysis, i mean what would have been a better strategy to evade AMS. Will kids say 8-10 years would be able to tackle this.
Please do share your thoughts on this. It will be of immense use to people like me who are dreaming to make this wonderful trip .

Better luck next time
Thanks Night Hawk..

AMS can affect even the fittest of the individuals. As for precautions you can take, drink a lot of water. Dehydration can make the effects of altitude worse. There is a medication called Diamox, that can help alleviate the symptoms of AMS, but the only real treatment is to descend to lower altitudes.

I suggest its better to fly to Leh than travel by road with kids. Below is a travelogue by Mayank, he recently did this trip with his 5 yr old daughter. Below is the link to his travelogue..

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-daughter.html (On roof of the world with < 5 year old daughter)
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Old 22nd August 2011, 18:15   #11
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Default Re: Leh-Ladakh June 2011- Big plans gone awry, but an adventure nonetheless

From acclimatization point of view it is better to do Srinagar-kargil-Leh-Sarchu-Manali rather then Manali-Sarchu-Leh. This way the ascend is very gradual and the body gets used to the conditions. Lot less likely to be hit by the AMS.
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