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Old 2nd February 2012, 22:28   #1696
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Default HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Slightly

But couldn't resist. Heartiest congratulations laluks sir on becoming a distinguished Bhpian!!!
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Old 2nd February 2012, 22:31   #1697
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

That is THE topic Bolbolero. Hearty congrats laluks on being accorded the D-Bhpian status.
Way to go. Will be good to see the 5 stars next to your avatar henceforth.
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Old 2nd February 2012, 23:23   #1698
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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


Aug 31, 2011, Tso Moriri-Keylong, 375 kms


....continued from the account of the Tso Moriri-Debring drive

After the good byes to IPHE-Team B which was going off to Leh, we the IPHE-Team A started off from Debring after a 30-minute break, at 1015 am. But not before Jeep Captain was generous enough to part with his remaining stock of diesel so that the HVK Scorpio could get some extra fuel to make it to Tandi, which was over 250 kms away.

More Plains - we already had a torrid time on the onward journey with Anku's Swift getting stuck in the loose sand. And we were wary about what this return drive would bring. The problem with More Plains is that they have decided to lay a proper road. In earlier times, when there was no road, it was fun to drive on the well-trodden paths made by other vehicles before you, but now with the incomplete road, there were several detours and each vehicle was making its own path - good if you are a truck or a 4WD vehicle, treacherous if you are not. Needless to say, there is no signage or guidance as to which route to take. One reason why this Debring-Pang sector (through More Plains) is to be avoided after dark since you cannot see your way through.

Of the 40 kms through the More Plains at a steady 4,700 metres MSL, over 50% of the distance the road is still being built and we had to go off the road. It was miserably hot, dusty and we had to run the AC for both reasons.

I was in the lead and I had to constantly remember that what "road" is good for a Scorpio is not necessarily good for a Swift. Therefore, every time I chose a path or track, I had to caution the Swifts following behind to follow or detour onto firmer ground. At one place, I had gone through a very narrow section lined with construction ballast before I found that it was just not wide enough for my car, and I had to reverse some 200-300 metres, getting the Scorpio's sides battered, bashed and what not.

I guess we were all in high spirits, which is one even KSM-vTEC with his Swift dared those exploits which you have seen in the Lalu photos already. In the photo below, you can see that I have already dredged the loose sands and reached the other side and realised that the Bolero and Swifts could get stuck. So I scrambled out of my seat and furiously signalled to the following cars to avoid this stretch and find a safer one. But too late, the BolBolero Bolero had already powered its way through in style. Who says the Bolero has no power - the punch it delivered there will put many larger machines to shame.



But then I was taken aback when KSM-vTEC decided to go for it and follow the Scorpio & Bolero on the same churned-up sand track and give his max power to levitate (???) the Swift through, startling all of us - and showering me with sand all over! But luckily, the other Swift decided not to be as daring as KSM-vTEC and found a safer way across.

Once we reached the newly-built good roads, it was a race to Pang, with my Scorpio crossing 120 kmph speeds, the engine running with full power despite the rarefied atmosphere. Needless to say, but there are no small vehicles on this route - only trucks, Sumos, pick ups, other SUVs & a stray Tempo Traveller. And the Swifts were the only small cars in the horizon.

It was relief to stop over just before Pang and take this break. We are all exulting at having made it without mishap through the More Plains.


After registering at the Pang check post at 1215 pm, BolBolero & I searched for distilled water for my Scorpio's battery, and the former even went into the army camp to find out if they had any, but we were unsuccessful. We did not want to stop over for lunch at Pang since we were in a hurry to move on, so we proceeded into the most beautiful Pang-Sarchu sector in the Leh-Manali road. But it was hot, we were also weary of repeating the same section that we had gone through in the onward journey and each of us started driving at his own pace, with my Scorpio taking a handsome lead over the others.

BTW, there is a tyre puncture shop at Pang now.

Kanglajal had even less water than when we went through and coincidentally we crossed that point at the same time both going and returning!

At Lachulung la, 1 hour later at 115 pm, we chit-chatted with truck drivers who had come across Rohtang pass from Manali and they were unhappy that thanks to the mess there, what used to take a few hours earlier is now taking as long as 4 days! They also confirmed our own newswires that very few vehicles were coming through via Rohtang Pass because heavy rains in the past 2-3 days had wrecked the road further and it could not be classified even as a 4WD track, that is how bad it was. Thanks to this problem, we hardly encountered any traffic from the other side, not even the familiar trucks carrying cargoes of food, fuel and other essentials to Leh to stock up for the coming winter season.

The Scorpio reached Sarchu at 300 pm, driving at breakneck pace. We decided to take a lunch break because I was happy that we were at least 1 hour ahead of scheduled time and could comfortably pace the remaining Sarchu-Keylong sector before dark (and of course, we had had nothing to eat or drink all day!). For me, Sarchu is a crucial milestone because it is a make-or-break situation, I would not cross the Baralachala after 5 pm, being wary of high altitude drive issues & risks of break downs so close to sun down.

We entered the first dhaba which promised us anything other than Maggi or Omlette and we were treated to a royal feast of rotis, sabjis, etc. No prizes for guessing that the steady diet of Maggi had got to our nerves! Very friendly dhaba, they also sell dorm space for Rs 100-150.

It took quite some time for the rest of the team to arrive in bits & pieces and everyone was glum and silent - we had now left Ladakh behind and entered Himachal Pradesh decisively on our way back to the plains.

We searched around for distilled water, did not get it. But we managed to buy 20 litres of diesel which BolBoero & I split to refill our respective cars. The "black" guys did not have petrol. But don't bank of getting diesel every time, sometimes they sell you, some times they refuse.

After a very satisfying lunch, we were off at 345 pm, registered at the Check Post and started on the long climb up to Baralacha la. The luxury tent camps - none of the 7 - had any guests. And I did not see any coming all the way to Keylong. So now you know why I keep telling all that they need not worry about any advance bookings.

Climb to Baralachala was a breeze, and the HVK Scorpio were up there at 445 pm, but the others were nowhere to be seen! Lalu & I whiled away some time gazing at the waters of the Suraj Tal awaiting the rest of the team to catch up. One of the best things about Baralacha la is the superb roads descending to the Darcha/Keylong side and I must say this was one of the most enjoyable drives and I must admit flooring the pedal to the metal and used the widened tarred roads to the maximum. After all, you must agree that we had been deprived of tarmac for the last 10 days or so!

12 kms from Suraj Tal are the nasty water crossings of Zing Zing bar. Even a week before our departure for Ladakh, I had been reading with alarm that these crossings had caused havoc on this route, with raging currents from the snow melt washing away the bridge and the road and making it impossible for any vehicle to cross the section when the waters ran over 2 feet deep in the latter part of the day. But luckily, it was tamed before we left Bombay. We did not face its fury during the onward journey and now it looked its most benign on the return journey. Unfortunately, I don't think we have any photos of those 2 water crossings to show you.

What is the problem with these army chappies at the Patseo Army camp? They stop us civilians from going straight down the road and make us turn off the road and off-road on some very bumpy surfaces for some 200 mtrs or so. What are they sacred of?


Darcha - I remember that in the 2009 trip, we had to wade through the water and river bed because one of the bridges was broken. Even now, trucks swim across, but luckily they have rebuilt the bridge for light vehicles to use. The same year, one of our friends got stranded on the other side because he was late and at 730 pm, you can imagine what is the flow of water at the end of a very sunny day.

The check post folks at Darcha, 615 pm, were very relaxed and waved us through cheerfully. I could imagine why - there was absolutely no traffic either way: surprisingly, very few trucks and absolutely no tourist traffic. That is the toll Rohtang Pass extracts - looks like as long as Rohtang Pass holds out, Ladakh is safe from tourists

Both Padma Guest House & Hotel Ibex did not have any tourists - and they are the only 2 hotels in Jispa, which is one of the 2 most popular overnight stop-over points (the other being Sarchu) on the Manali-Leh road.


It was indeed a relief to rest ones glazed and tired eyes on this greenery of the Lahaul Valley after getting bleached in the stark bright browns, reds & yellows of the Ladakh desert. So much of water everywhere, with all of it merging into the Rivr Bhaga which was running along side the road.



I can say I was quite happy with the pace we had made today now that we were almost at our destination. I sped down the narrow roads, eager to reach Keylong ASAP so that I could go search for that elusive bottle of distilled water and at 700 pm, just as the last garage in Keylong town was about to down its shutters, I got the last bottle at the only place which had a bottle of distilled water! After drinking it in greedily, the Exide Express battery in my Scorpio worked its magic and the engine roared to life at the first crank!

Next high-priority task was to rush to the petrol pump at Tandi which was 10 kms down from Keylong towards Manali which we knew closed formally at 7 pm but was always informally open till 8 during the season. We were all there at 730 pm, refilling our tanks. You remember our last petrol pump was 900 kms ago, and that too just because we were smart enough to take that detour to Karu and refuel on our way from Turtuk to Pangong. For a change, we did not fill up our cans because we knew that the next petrol pump on our route was under 300 kms away only (in Chamba).

I love the HPTDC Hotel Chandra Bhaga in Keylong. It has a fantastic location perched atop a high hill overlooking the town but more importantly facing some high mountains which receive the first rays of the rising sun. Good car parking. Spacious rooms. Nice ambience. Friendly staff. Reasonable tariffs. And very very quiet. Yes, there are cheaper hotels near by like the Hotel Rupchen which offer you rooms at one-third the price, or cheaper inside the town, but I don't think I would settle for anything else but the HPTDC.

I guess we checked into the hotel by 815 pm, and it was indeed a very pleasant hot water bath for each one of us - we had not taken a bath since we had left Leh on 27th - and today was the 31st! It was also a day when we could safely download our photos and GPS tracks & videos into our laptops since for the last 3 days, we had continously been above 14-15,000 feet - at Pangong, Hanle & Tso Moriri! It was only thanks to the extra flash memories that we had carried that we could store so much. And yes, in case I forget, we had mobile connectivity after 4 days too. FB updates! My GPS tracker device started sending pulses again to its MMI server too! And some of the team had their first shave in almost a week.

Some friendly persuasive skills from SSj helped and the dinner menu was enlarged from simple dal-chaval to chickens, sabjis & what not! It was one happy team that went to sleep that night.

Not without dreams of course......our friend Glenn and Saji (sj_koova) had met us at Chitkul fresh from their mortifying experience driving through the Sach Pass and their words echoed again & again - you have to be a loonie to do the Keylong-Sach Pass-Chamba road - but that was our goal the next day!
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Old 2nd February 2012, 23:29   #1699
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Congrats laluks saar for becoming a DBHPian.
well deserved!
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Old 3rd February 2012, 06:45   #1700
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BolBolero View Post
Slightly

But couldn't resist. Heartiest congratulations laluks sir on becoming a distinguished Bhpian!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
That is THE topic Bolbolero. Hearty congrats laluks on being accorded the D-Bhpian status.
Way to go. Will be good to see the 5 stars next to your avatar henceforth.
Quote:
Originally Posted by no_enthu_da View Post
Congrats laluks saar for becoming a DBHPian.
well deserved!
Thank you guys for the wishes.
It is indeed a great feeling to be amongst the huge TBHP community, and thanks again for the great support.

Cheers.
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Old 3rd February 2012, 09:13   #1701
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Log Book of HVK Scorpio for Aug 31, 2011
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HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-log-book-d20.jpg  

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Old 3rd February 2012, 11:04   #1702
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Thank you guys for the wishes.
It is indeed a great feeling to be amongst the huge TBHP community, and thanks again for the great support.

Cheers.
Sorry for going but I feel this is important.

Hello Laluks,

Congratulations for becoming D-TBHPian. Indeed this is very well deserved & we now hope to experience best from you.

Thanks,
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Old 3rd February 2012, 11:51   #1703
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

HVK Scorpio Car Cam video of the Tso Moriri-Debring route, Aug 31, 2011


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Old 3rd February 2012, 12:04   #1704
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Hearty Congrats laluks on attaining the coveted five stars. You deserved this.
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Old 3rd February 2012, 15:28   #1705
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HVK Car Cam captures the action in the sandy terrain of the More Plains between Debring & Pang




Don't miss seeing the bicylists in 1:07-1:12 and the sector where the Swift was driven through the deep sand in 4:30-5:00
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Old 4th February 2012, 01:19   #1706
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Kya chottey bhai bahut 'chamak' rahe ho! Badhaiyaan !
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Old 4th February 2012, 03:41   #1707
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Ive been following this thread since day 1. This is no doubt an epic travelouge.

This thread reminds me of the famous saying "It is not the destinastion so much as the journey."

Beautiful.
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Old 4th February 2012, 06:21   #1708
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

This has got to be one of the most extensive and detailed TL to Leh ever on Team BHP, at least i haven't come across something similar.

I am yet to read through the pages, finished a few, the pictures are awesome and the pleasure of seeing HVK in pictures, priceless.
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Old 4th February 2012, 10:57   #1709
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A few pieces of additional info about the Hanle-Tso M route:

1. As you know, there are no petrol pumps anywhere in this region, but we did hear that "black" diesel is available in Nyoma. We were promised a "contact" for buying some (when we left Leh), but we could never get the guy who is supposed to be selling it. I think you should be able to get some fuel in Nyoma (Hanle-Loma-Nyoma-Mahe-Tso Moriri).

2. We were mystified when we saw what looked like a petrol pump in Nyoma, which was not the Army's! We asked around, no one could tell us what this one was., except that civilians cannot buy any fuel there. Does anyone know?

3. Had we wanted to go to Chumur, Kyun Tso, we could have taken the Hanle-Chumur route to Kyun Tso, which is also connected to Nidar-Nyoma. We did not because of the very bad condition of the track to Chumur itself which would not have been possible for the Swifts & Alto to drive on.

4. I had been told that there are some places to stay at Nyoma, but I did not find anything resembling a lodge or hotel, not even a restaurant. I guess, like in Hanle, there must be some rustic homestays in Nyoma too. Therefore, you may well remember that between Hanle & Tso M, there are no places to stay till you reach Karzok on the banks of the Tso M.
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Old 4th February 2012, 22:15   #1710
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

HVK Scorpio Car Cam video of the Pang-Sarchu route, Aug 31, 2011


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