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Old 15th January 2012, 20:32   #1561
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 19
30th August 2011
Tso Morriri

HVK Scorpio at Tso Morriri
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HVK at Tso Morriri
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Beautiful Tso Morriri - I love this lake more than Pangong Tso
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Snow Clad Mountains
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Karzok village
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Some panoramas
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Sun has already started to set and it was getting dark
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Old 15th January 2012, 20:38   #1562
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 19
30th August 2011
Tso Morriri

Beautiful Tso Morriri
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Old 15th January 2012, 20:44   #1563
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 19
30th August 2011
Tso Morriri

Some group pictures
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It was getting very cold and we all wanted to get back to our tents.

Hot but bland dinner
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Some great words
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Immediately after dinner I went to the tent and crashed. In 2009 the night here was a nightmare with me putting on two sweaters, jacket and three blankets to just ward of the chilling winds. Thankfully this time it wasn't that bad and fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed.
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Old 15th January 2012, 20:53   #1564
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

I will take a break till the other IPHE members catch up with their posts, pictures and views till 30th August. As I see Day 17, 18 and 19 have to be updated by the rest of IPHE team.

Day 20, 31st August the team will split with Baby Alto and Discovery Bolero heading to Leh, and HVK, BolBolero and Mumbai Roadsters heading to Sach pass only to be back together again at Pathankot later.

So till the log gets synchronised till 30th August, I shall write another log if time permits.
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Old 15th January 2012, 23:40   #1565
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Nice feast of pictures of the superlative kind complementing the expedition, the narration of which would not have been so exceptional without them. .
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Old 16th January 2012, 01:12   #1566
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Hi Laluks,
There have been photographs and then there have been photographs but those in the posts above are ..well for the want of better expression : superlative.

HVK,
I take back whatever I expressed last week regarding following the thread and am back for the ride hook, line and sinker. Guess the above snaps were the missing stimuli.
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Old 16th January 2012, 09:25   #1567
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
Nice feast of pictures of the superlative kind complementing the expedition, the narration of which would not have been so exceptional without them. .
Quote:
Originally Posted by khoj View Post
Hi Laluks,
There have been photographs and then there have been photographs but those in the posts above are ..well for the want of better expression : superlative.
Thank you rajeev and Khoj bhaiyya.

Quote:
Originally Posted by khoj View Post
HVK,
I take back whatever I expressed last week regarding following the thread and am back for the ride hook, line and sinker. Guess the above snaps were the missing stimuli.
I had a hunch that we were stalled, and hence went ahead with the posts and pictures. Hopefully we get more interesting with the logs from the other IPHE members. Thanks for the feedback.

To me the best part is yet to come - Day 21, the Sach pass drive. So keep reading
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Old 16th January 2012, 10:32   #1568
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Guys, we are into the 4th month of this thread. Somewhere I read there would be another expedition in 2012. Is there any progress on that? Are there any groups / pages created for discussions on the same?
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Old 16th January 2012, 10:39   #1569
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Guys, we are into the 4th month of this thread. Somewhere I read there would be another expedition in 2012. Is there any progress on that? Are there any groups / pages created for discussions on the same?
I guess the TL is running like one of those long 52-week soap operas, but I guess we are nearing the end of the trip. No new Ladakh trip is being planned at present.
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Old 16th January 2012, 10:53   #1570
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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I guess the TL is running like one of those long 52-week soap operas, but I guess we are nearing the end of the trip. No new Ladakh trip is being planned at present.
I am a bit disappointed. I was hoping to be a part of next one.

But thanks, with this thread I can still see Ladakh, although virtually .
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Old 16th January 2012, 11:54   #1571
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms
Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms
Aug 25, Kargil-Leh, 259 kms
Aug 26, Leh, 148 kms
Aug 27, 2011, Leh-Turtuk, 241 kms
Aug 28, 2011, Leh-Pangong Tso, 445 kms
Aug 29, 2011, Pangong-Hanle, 203 kms


Aug 30, 2011, Hanle-Tso Moriri, 188 kms

Open Toilet. Steaming Tea. Tales of winter in sub-zero temperatures. Starting trouble again. Gazing at the stars.......well, almost. Missing out Chumur. Temper & Tempers. Rendezvous with a Polish man. Lifts not in Swifts but in Alto. Festivals & Haggling. No Towels & soap, second-class citizenship. Shivering at sun down.

Open Toilet: Need one say more? Do not expect your standard 3000 rupee-a-day-per-head homestay in Hanle. Who says, only high BP & asthmatics have problems visiting Ladakh, those with arthritic knees, you have a problem here in Hanle.

Steaming Tea: Were the flasks more fascinating or the warmth of the tea within more crucial - that is a question we will find difficult to answer. Rs 350 a head may be steep for the kind of homestay we spent the night, but we were quite happy with our little contribution to this remote "local economy" which lives off traditional livelihoods and a trickle of tourists who dare come here during 3-4 months during the summer.

Tales of roads & winter in sub-zero temperatures: The cop was very articulate, and he regaled us with tales of how cold the place is during winter, the snowfall (or rather the lack of it), etc. Hanle is surely one of the most inhopsitable places to be in during winter, but the road from Leh is mostly open. Apparently, you can also go to Pangong the way we came during winter. However, nearby places like Chumur are totally cut off for 2-3 months. We had the company of a ITBP guard who served in these parts and hailed from a village near Chumur, he was going to Leh and hitched a lift with us from Hanle till Mahe check post that morning. Lots of tit-bits about the region, he assured us that we could come to Hanle in the deepest winter.

Starting trouble again: By now I realised that something was wrong with the Scorpio battery. I had checked it before the drive (in Bombay), but unwittingly although load tests, etc was carried out, the distilled water levels were not checked. And we found that the water levels in a few of the plates was very very low, the answer to why I was unable to start the Scorpio every morning. That is a tip for all to be extraordinarily careful when preparing your car for a Ladakh trip and not leave a single plate uncovered! By now, the jump start drill was perfected by the team and my Scorpio was again started with the help of batteries of BolBolero/ Jeep Captain (sorry, guys, my log book does not have the detail of who did it here!). None of the other cars had any starting trouble since Hanle was not very cold that night. I guess it is understood by all that in a place like Hanle where you find it difficult to get Drinking Water, asking around for Distilled Water is a futile exercise.

Gazing at the stars.......well, almost: Hanle Observatory/Telescope is the primary reason why we came to Hanle. We were unsure about how we would go about the visit to the Observatory. Going inside at night was out of question since the telescope would be in operation and no one would be allowed inside. The previous night, everyone was so tired that no one had the energy levels to go gaze at the starry sky! I am sure that must have been a grand spectacle - I don't think any of us thought of that, we were all more concerned with snuggling into one corner of the super-tiny rooms that we shared, 5 in one room and 7 in the other, I think. This day, start was scheduled late because the Observatory opened at only 9 am. We were there sharp 9 - "woke" up the guys there (they had already been informed by base camp about our visit, thanks to the early morning sortie of Lalu/ J C) and we were taken on a fabulous conducted tour around the Telescope, where each sensor/ component was explained and the sky roofs opened and closed. After that, a small movie in the control room which was hardly a 20x20 feet sized room, not the kind of Star Wars room one may have imagined it to be. The people who run this Telescope are all merely there for the physical presence part of it and tend to some routine maintenance - the actual operation of the telescope and observations are carried out from Bangalore control centre. In the local control room, we were also shown some images captured by the Telescope. Truly a sky-lifting experience.

Missing out Chumur: That was the biggest disappointment of the trip. My original schedule envisaged our route to be Hanle-Chumur-Kyun Tso-Tso Moriri, a rugged route that means lots of offroading and excitement. Moreover, the Chumur Gompa has this ancient mummy (of a lama) and witch's severed hand, etc. Chumur is also right on the China border. Kyun Tso is one of those lonely lakes in the region, and now they are building a "proper" "dirt" road connecting Hanle with Tso Moriri, along the border, so to say. Local enquiries revealed that the 90 kms from hanle to Chumur was at least 5 hours+ of hard driving, the "road" was terrible and except for the Scorpio & the Boleros, the others could not definitely make it. And since we had 2 Swifts & 1 Alto, we knew we could not make it through that route as a full IPHE team (and I had already taken a permit for this sector too). Moreover, we had already scheduled a rendezvous with TS at Mahe Check Post (not on the above route) between 10-12, and we could not obviously skip him. This decision to go direct to Tso M without going via Chumur was the saddest decision of this trip, but that also gives me one more reason to return to Ladakh later!!! You can go to Chumur from Hanle and then to Kyun Tso. There is a separate road from Nyoma (Hanle-Loma-Nyoma-Mahe-Tso M) side also. Contractor Patel Engg. is building the new road from Chumur to Tso M which joins the road coming from Mahe just before you reach Kazok/ Tso M.

Temper & Tempers: Leaf spring metal Temper. HVK's Temper & others Tempers. If you think that long drives in large teams are all a bed of roses and lessons in camaraderie, think again. Being cooped up in cars all day and huddling together in cramped rooms all night, with occasional food & water and lots of photo ops: that also means more anguish, disappointment, rage, etc etc. That morning, I had 2 problems. First, the welded leaf spring. I had to drive carefully over rough surfaces since the vehicle tended to bounce around in a disconcerting manner since the springy action was almost dead in the left side where I had welded the broken pieces at the Leh workshop. Second was a new problem with a noisy belt pulley which indicated that it was close to failure, so that whenever the vehicle ran at a certain rpm, the pulley was wailing like a banshee. The only way I could control the noise - and presumably arrest the imminent failure/ break down of that crucial part which controls my brakes, cooling fan & alternator charging the battery. So I was highly strung up, worried about the springs & the pulley, and I guess I drove faster than normal, not a nice thing if you are a co-passenger who wants to photograph all those lovely photos you have already seen. So by the time we reached the Mahe check post, the Spring metal Temper had made Tempers frayed, but all the angst & anguish was quickly doused over a cup of tea and what else, Maggi & Omlettes!!!!

Rendezvous with a Polish man: When we said good bye to TS at Merak Village exactly 24 hours ago, neither of us were sure if he could make it in time anti-clockwise to meet us on time at the Mahe check post. I had committed to TS that we will set meeting time between 10-12, and I was driving fast to get to the point on time which we did, in typical Indian efficiency, reach at 1205 pm!! (Blame the Hanle Observatory which opened only at 9 am!!!). No signs of TS. The tea shop guy had not seen any foreigner roaming around. The register at the check post did not have any record of a lone foreigner reaching or passing it. But yes, the Leh-Nyoma bus was scheduled to arrive any time now, that bus was the most likely form of transport that TS should have taken. For a couple of hours, we ourselves levitated back to the '60s or '70s when travel was uncertain, telecommunications non-existent and time stood still. The girls waiting at the check post had been waiting - so they said - for a lift to Tso M last 2 days without success. They were prepared to wait longer. Thus, after the short drive we had from Hanle this morning, we all settled down to have tea & omlettes & Maggi at the sole tea shop attached to the check post, with the friendly check post keeper peeping in from time to time and we ourselves peering anxiously at the horizon for any sight or sound of any bus or Sumo taxi appearing over the horizon. And it did - and a little after 1 pm, the JKSRTC bus did arrive with TS in it!!!! What a reunion it was, almost as though we were long-lost brothers, one in the Indian Punjab, the other from the Pakistan Punjab! How did TS get here on time as anticipated? YOu recall we had fixed him up in a Bolero Pick-up from Merak village? He got dropped in Lukung. There, he convinced one of the taxi drivers (Xylo from Leh to Pangong & back) - which was at the same tent camp we had stayed the previous night - to give him a lift in the last seat. He took that Xylo, photographing some Mormots on the way too, and got dropped off at Karu on the Leh-Mahe road late in the evening. From there, he took another passing vehicle to Upshi where he found himself some cheap room to stay the night. This morning, he had got onto the JKSRTC bus and after the bus had made countless long stops, he was finally here in the Mahe check post.

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Lifts not in Swifts but in Alto: The ITBP guard got off at the Mahe check post since he wanted to go on to Leh. An animal doctor got into JC's car and regaled them with lots of stories about the animals, beasts, fauna & other 4-legged and 2-legged creatures in this region (these were related to us later). We got in 2 of the girls who had been waiting in vain for the last 2 days for some lift to take them 60 kms from Mahe to Tso M. They promptly curled up and went off to sleep, to wake up only when we reached the destination, Karzok village. I understand they were nurses in a hospital. Another damsel got onto the Baby Alto and that transformed it into a Handsome "dashing" Alto, as Lalu has described. From being a straggler trailing everyone, the Baby grew up in seconds and started daring every other car on the road!

Festivals & Haggling: The local gompa festival was on in Karzok, the village on the banks of the Tso Moriri Lake, the usual dances and all that stuff with dragons which you can scare young kids with. Anyway, we were not interested in all that, but the Festival had attracted some foreign tourists in a village which otherwise had more sheep grazing in the pasture than human beings. I & Lalu had stayed in the NOmadic Life tent camp during the 2009 trip and KSM-vTEC was a smart bargainer, we talked down the rates to something more reasonable. The hotel lady keeper was not amused that she was outsmarted in the haggling deal......

No Towels & soap, second-class citizenship: .....so the not-so-amused hotel lady keeper decided to treat us "Indians" like they were a bad dream just because we got ourselves a good rate for the tents (and maybe the foreigners were stupid enough to pay 3-5 times more because they were conned by some smart travel agents!). And also had that fascination for "Foreign" tourists and did not appear to like "Indian" tourists, haven't we seen this before? So we ask for towels - sorry, no towels. Soap - sorry, no soap. Dinner time - we will tell you after our "clients" have finished theirs. Hey, we are supposed to be your "clients"/ customers too and not some measly American tourists alone, we protested. At the dinner table, we had to point out that what they were giving us was not the same that others were getting, and that started another squabble and bad vibes. Overall, it was a very bad experience and I would NOT recommend the NOmadic Life Camps at Karzok to anyone else - too high tariffs, hostility & unacceptable partisan attitudes against Indians. And this resort is "recognised" by the Govt of J&K, which runs of our money and not American! Please pass the word around - and there are other tent camps and cheaper homestays in Karzok, don't worry.

Shivering at sun down: It was cold, very cold. You can make that out from all those scarfs wrapped around heads & shoulders, noses & mouths. Of course, no star gazing here at nights too.

...to be continued
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Old 16th January 2012, 12:41   #1572
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HVK Scorpio
Aug 12, Bombay-Behror, 1402 kms
Aug 13, Behror-Rampur, 692 kms
Aug 14, Rampur-Chitkul, 144 kms
Aug 15, Chitkul-Pooh, 207 kms
Aug 16, Pooh-Kaza, 178 kms
Aug 17-19, Kaza, 291 kms
Aug 20, Kaza-Jispa, 236 kms
Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms
Aug 22, Leh-Kargil, 343 kms
Aug 23, Kargil-Padum, 248 kms
Aug 24, Padum-Kargil, 275 kms
Aug 25, Kargil-Leh, 259 kms
Aug 26, Leh, 148 kms
Aug 27, 2011, Leh-Turtuk, 241 kms
Aug 28, 2011, Leh-Pangong Tso, 445 kms
Aug 29, 2011, Pangong-Hanle, 203 kms


Aug 30, 2011, Hanle-Tso Moriri, 188 kms

In the morning, after our ablutions, we left the homestay at Hanle and headed for the Hanle Observatory/ Telescope at 9 am and we were taken around the place by friendly staff. The Observatory itself is perched on a tall hill affording spectacular views of the valley around including the village, with the base camp having more "observatory" stuff too. On coming down the hill, we missed the way and instinctively started off on the road to Chumur by mistake, which anyway was our originally-planed route but which was dropped because the small cars couldn't probably make it and also because we had to pick up TS on the way to Tso M at the Mahe check post. We corrected course and set off for Loma.

Having left Hanle at around 10 am, we crossed the Loma check post at 1100 where the friendly ITBF security waved us through as we took the road to Leh. THat is a lovely rad, both in condition as well as in landscapes. I believe that some airfield is already there or being constructed at Nyoma, the next "village". What looked like a petrol pump turned out to be a few moments of joy, since it was not open or dispensing fuel. I was in a hurry to reach the Mahe check post where we had promised to pick up TS, but not before we gazed unhappily at the Nyoma-Kyun Tso road which is surely one of those must-drive roads, which we had to skip this trip.

We reached Mahe check post at 1210 pm a little late, but TS had not yet reached and we took a chance to wait for the bus to reach which it did an hour later with TS on board. Leaving from Mahe, we had 4 people joining us on the drive till Karzok, the village on the banks of the Tso Moriri - and the only one where you can stay or camp out at.

The Ibex sightings after Puga Sumdo excited the whole team and after spending some time photographing them, we crossed the 4,850 mtrs high Namshang la to sight the beautiful Tso Kiagar Lake which many mistake to be the "real" thing (Tso M). Perhaps it was the light of the day, but I have seen some prettier colours in the Tso Kiagar before. I believe it is the Tso Kiagar that we saw on Aug 21 (on our way from Jispa to Leh) from atop the Tanglang la. The Tanglang la is very close by, just across the mountains as the bird flies, but over at least 4 hours journey by road.

The road which was decent till then now becomes just a series of tyre tracks on a flat plateau for the next 10 kms or so, where we sped at the maximum speeds possible (crossing 120 kmph in my Scorpio, no one here to preach speed limits!). For those who are new to this place, you will be bewildered where to go - all I can say is that follow existing tyre tracks, else keep driving on the flat plateau straight down - away from the Tso Kiagar - till it runs out and descends into a road with half the mountainside tumbling down and lots of gravel biting into your tyres. You steer by common sense that the Tso M is around the mountains that divide it from the Tso Kiagar.

We cross the small fork where the "road" to Chumur branches off - Patel Engg is "building" it, the Sumos are already using it, and that is reserved for our next trip. No prizes for guessing, but we were the only vehicles in the entire sector from Mahe onwards barring a foreign tourist-filled Innova. No mobile connectivity either.

We finally reached the Karzok check post just outside the Karzok village, the only place where you can stay or camp out in on the banks of the Tso M Lake. Before that, we had driven on the banks of the Lake for almost 8 kms. It was warm and dusty all the way.

The security guy at the Karzok check post turned out to be a native of Ichalkaranji (in south Maharashtra) and he got excited when he saw one of the names in our permit - whose home town was also Ichalkaranji! (That was SC who was supposed to be with us on this trip, but did not finally make it). We reached the check post at 345 pm well before my deadline so that we had enough day light left to photograph the Lake.

Leaving all the cars parked at the entry to the small village, KSM-vTEC and I went to the Nomadic Life Camp and negotiated some fine rates for the entire team to stay in 2-bed tents - without toilets.

After checking in, we all went off to the end of the road at a hill top overlooking the Lake and watched the setting sun cast a golden glow on the peaks around the Tso M. Some of the team went down to the water's edge. It was bitter cold especially when the wind blew.

That night, we had dinner at the Camp and retired to bed early.

Another point to be noted is that this was the straight third day when we could not use laptops - because we had stayed sequentially at Pangon, Hanle & Tso M, all of them being too high altitude to let a laptop operate safely. So we were downloading photos, GPS coordinates, etc in extra flash memories we had especially carried for this situation.
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Old 16th January 2012, 13:56   #1573
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LOG BOOK OF HVK SCORPIO, Aug 30, 2011, Hanle-Tso Moriri, 188 kms
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Old 16th January 2012, 15:02   #1574
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
HVK Scorpio Starting trouble again: By now I realised that something was wrong with the Scorpio battery. the distilled water levels were not checked. And we found that the water levels in a few of the plates was very very low, the answer to why I was unable to start the Scorpio every morning. That is a tip for all to be extraordinarily careful when preparing your car for a Ladakh trip and not leave a single plate uncovered! I guess it is understood by all that in a place like Hanle where you find it difficult to get Drinking Water, asking around for Distilled Water is a futile exercise.
This is the general problem. In the guise of the maintenance free tag the water level of batteries are not checked by many service stations evem A.S.S.and the battery generally result in a similar situation. Running the vehicle with low levels can further cause harm. Generally once the levels are topped up the battery limbs back to normalcy.
Is it OK to use spring water instead of distilled water?
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Old 16th January 2012, 15:41   #1575
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
This is the general problem. In the guise of the maintenance free tag the water level of batteries are not checked by many service stations evem A.S.S.and the battery generally result in a similar situation. Running the vehicle with low levels can further cause harm. Generally once the levels are topped up the battery limbs back to normalcy.
Is it OK to use spring water instead of distilled water?
I do my own maintenance for batteries (and other things in the car too), and when I had the battery checked at my friendly battery dealer, I overlooked the distilled water part. I don't think you can use ordinary water.
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