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Old 24th March 2012, 22:41   #2026
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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HVK sir ji, when you got the permits to areas like Turtuk and Chushul done, were there any special considerations to be taken of? Are permits given to everybody who requests it or does it need some special jugaad or in your case a solid track record of driving experience ? Appreciate if you could shed some light on these aspects.
No, you will get the permit if you ask for it.
The permit application has 4 sectors marked in it - with all places - which you have to tick, so to say.
Issuing of permits has become a routine affair. But beware of travel agents, they will trump up stories of how some sectors you will not get permits, none of them true, and some stories are with vested interest to sell tents or rooms in specific places!
However, you may find it difficult to get permits for Fukche/Demchok because of Chinese incursions in the region.

To elaborate on places for the permits:

Nubra Valley - Khardung la, Panamik (limit), Turtuk (limit)

No need for Wari la, but good to mention

Pangong - Chang la, Pangong Lake, Merak, Chushul, Loma, Nyoma, Hanle

Chumathang - Hanle, Photila, Demchok, Fukche, Chumur

Tso Moriri - Mahe, Tso Moriri

No need for permits for Zanskar Valley
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Old 25th March 2012, 20:40   #2027
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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
Aug 31, 2011, Tso Moriri-Keylong, 375 kms


Sep 1, 2011, Keylong-Chamba, 341 kms




We left Sach Pass at 540 pm after a 5-minute halt.
We decided that we will target Chamba itself although we knew the task was not going to be easy. We decided to keep other stay options (Bhairavgarh, Tissa) on stand by. We had a long way to go, and the road down was supposed to be steeper, dirtier, tougher & maybe longer too than the road up! The biggest challenge was to drive through those waterfalls and down those “steps” in the darkness – and fog!

I have a very simple way of looking at such drives – the next destination first, the ultimate destination later. So it was Satrundi Check Post that was next on our oath (the equivalent of Bhagotu CP earlier) which was “just” 14 kms away – which in this road’s parlance meant at least an hour’s drive!

We had heard lots of things about this Satrundi CP. Since the Khillar-Chamba route is used by Kashmiri terrorists coming from Doda-Kishtwar region, the cops here took videos of every person crossing this point for some security reasons. Never heard of anything like this anywhere else in India! So we were resolved to look our very best – and not the weary souls that we were, after the beating that we had already taken the whole day.

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The road down was very much the same as the one we had come up, but we noted that it was far more steeper and some of the sharp hairpin turns were real benders. You have to take care not to brake since the tyres can slip on the loose gravel and skid – and there being no guard walls and things like that, you can reach the valley faster too! Having had some bad experiences with overheating wheel hubs from excessive braking, I was very gentle with my brake pedals and stuck to sedate second-gear speeds of 20-30 kmph, at times dropping down to the 10s.

In between, we came across a bull-dozer crew still at work at 605 pm – commendable in these inhospitable climes.

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More flowers too on the hill sides.

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We were descending rapidly – fall was 3000 feet in just 14 kms – and getting into the clouds. Heavy fog swirling all around us now, and although the sun had not yet set, it was totally dark and becoming impossible to make out which was the road. The first of the waterfalls had a nice culvert built under the road so there was no water crossing. In between, the stones on the road had to be physically kicked away by Lalu.

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635 pm – exactly 14 kms & 1 hour later - We suddenly saw a board kept across the road and there we were at the Satrundi Check Post. We would have missed this point but for this board since the entire place was enveloped in fog.

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The cops inside were shivering, smoking & were quite surprised to see me but extremely courteous. They did not shoot videos of any of us and waved us past with the cheerful word that the road was open 24 hours and the road would improve after Bhairavgarh.

HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)-ladakh-trip-327.jpg

Last edited by hvkumar : 25th March 2012 at 20:44.
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Old 26th March 2012, 14:37   #2028
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 21
1st September 2011
Key Long - Sach Pass - Chamba

We moved on from Sach Pass
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The wind blowing in the clouds
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Glaciers aplenty
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We saw some birds too
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continued...
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Old 26th March 2012, 14:52   #2029
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 21
1st September 2011
Key Long - Sach Pass - Chamba

Glaciers
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Ice Melt
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Some flowers too
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The Foggy Drive continues...
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continued...
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Old 26th March 2012, 16:20   #2030
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 21
1st September 2011
Key Long - Sach Pass - Chamba

We drove on
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Still working on for a better tomorrow - the one that connects the people here to the main arterial road networks, better trade, better prosperity... Three cheers to them.
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I demanded that I be let out of the Scorpio, the valley with the flowers needed its beauty to be enjoyed, but we were in a situation to exit at the earliest to travel as much as ahead in the faintest sunlight that was still available. HVK gave me a couple of minutes to capture the beauty, pressing me to get back into the scorpio all the time.

The beautiful greens and flowers - A pleasant surprise
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BolBolero amidst the beauty and leaving the fog behind
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I want to come back here one day with time to spend

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Old 26th March 2012, 16:36   #2031
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 21
1st September 2011
Key Long - Sach Pass - Chamba

I quickly got back on the scorpio

The fog was thickening
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Finally we reached the other checkpost by 18:45hours.
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It felt nice to see "Chamba shehar mein aapka swagat hai" (Welcome to Chamba town).
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Little did I know Chamba town was much much away from here


By 19:45 we dropped the Bulldozer driver to his town. I was wondering about his thoughts. I still feel he would have been thinking that he had never been back to his town after work so early


By 20:00hours Chamba was another 95Km away.
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continued...
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Old 26th March 2012, 17:34   #2032
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 21
1st September 2011
Key Long - Sach Pass - Chamba

Some Videos I have for the day


The roaring stream and the fantastic bridge dividing Lahaul and Pangi Valley




The foggy drive from Sach Pass









over to HVK for the story till Chamba
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Old 27th March 2012, 06:51   #2033
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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


Sep 1, 2011, Keylong-Chamba, 341 kms

630 pm, After leaving Satrundi Check Post




3500 mtrs at Satrundi, down almost 1000 from Sach Pass.
The bulldozer driver kept us regaled with anecdotes as we continued our drive, but for most of the time I was in deep concentration as I negotiated the sharp steep turns. With the Scorpio, I cannot afford to take any chances, one wrong pressure on the accelerator or brake pedal and the car can easily lose control in these steep slippery slopes.

Who says you have to be a brutish truck driver to do such roads? Check out the video, it shows me the driver as an intellectual given to deep thought and contemplation as I ponder over each new obstacle, shift my specs, glower out of the windscreen, rub the glass, frown, consult with my navigator, sulk, grimace, swear for the benefit of the bulldozer driver, grin & then move on.

Speeds of 15 kmph, enough to brake within micro seconds in case of an obstacle – like a boulder on the road since stones keep rolling down – or if I go off the road.

Heavy fog. Can barely see what resembles the road.
Road was slushy with lots of water running down to the valley all over.
Very bad in some places, but I simply drove the Scorpio as though it was a tank!
The Bolero was always close behind, there was no way we could get lost though!
I had to drive mostly without headlights, fog was reflecting lights back, killing visibility, and it was better to drive without them since I could trace the road through the silhouette of the cliff ahead.

What I would imagine the Wonderland of Alice in Wonderland to be like – waterfalls, hills, flowers, trees, bees, birds, deer & so on.....

Waterfalls!
Amazing....
More water on the road than in them too.
Where the falls come down there are huge pits which you can barely see in dark, so I have to navigate to the edge of road to get away.
There is one fall where there was water all over - and I note that my speed was 1 kmph, I have to search for the road under the water, take care not to fall into any of the pits, take a hot on the boulders or go over the edge. We cannot get off the car to do a reccee.
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Old 27th March 2012, 07:47   #2034
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Fantastic photographs in the thread and loved the ones in the last couple of post. Those roads look like they are going straight to heaven. It is very courageous of you guys to drive on such roads in weather like that.
How were you able to see the turns in the fog?
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Old 27th March 2012, 13:11   #2035
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Fantastic photographs in the thread and loved the ones in the last couple of post. Those roads look like they are going straight to heaven. It is very courageous of you guys to drive on such roads in weather like that.
How were you able to see the turns in the fog?
Yes, it was very difficult driving in that fog because the road itself was so ill-defined. Luckily, because of the cliffs, one could see the contours of the twisty road. I was driving at 10-20 kmph with my foot more on the brake pedal than the accelerator. Maybe my long experience driving in heavy fog of North India helped!
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Old 27th March 2012, 16:23   #2036
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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
Aug 31, 2011, Tso Moriri-Keylong, 375 kms


Sep 1, 2011, Keylong-Chamba, 341 kms



Darkness set in.
The fog became denser and denser as we descended – we were already at 3300 mtrs and coming down fast. In between, round the curves, visibility used to improve as we went into some parts of the Valley where it was less.
I could see nothing. Lalu could see nothing. We were virtually driving blind.
If I flashed the headlights, it came back at me making things worse.
So I drove without them. It was dark, but alt least I could make out something even in the dark, when lights were turned on, I could only see the while wall hitting back at me.
I am quite a experienced guy with fog but here margin for error was half a feet.
You cannot distinguish between the dirt of the road and the dirt of the ditch and the valley.
You have to simply drive on on what you think is the flat surface - avoid the left where the ditches were flowing with water and rocky and pits, and the right which was the valley
Speeds 10-15 kmph
Lalu & I were quite tense, exchanging Qs on whether I could see and whether he could see! Talk of the blind man leading another blind man
And the bull-dozer driver looked more and more amused.
Nonetheless, we were all pretty cheerful, exchanging lots of banter.

As we started coming down, the vegetation started. Maybe good for visibility, but the road surface deteriorated because that meant lots of slush and mud on the road.
I am sure this part is prettier than the ascent since we started seeing lots of coniferous trees indictaing thickly forested slopes, unlike the rain-shadow nature of Pangi Valley which seems to be be cloistered and shut off

I guess BolBolero was luckier - to be following my tail lights - but I was scared stiff of him breathing so heavily down my back, so I think I had to tell him to keep a little more distance since I did not want a collision if I braked or slowed down suddenly, which was happening often.
My car was definitely the most uncomfortable place to be in, so much of braking and swerves, but none of us noticed, we were straining our every nerve to trace the "road", or rather groping around for the road.

From time to time, we sought the inspiration of the bulldozer driver who kept saying impossible things like, “3 more hours to go to Bharavgarh..” when we needed to go only some 20-30 kms or so....not very inspiring, so we stopped asking!

I scraped the car badly on some of the turns, missing judgement on the cliff wall
(you should see the state of my running boards)
The only noise inside the car was the harsh grating sound of the muddy water on the road abrasing the undercarriage, as we trawled through sheets of water not even seeing anything
From time to time, the water splashing above the headlights indicated how deep the water was.
A little after 7, a Bolero pick up actually crossed us from the opposite direction, going up!

705 pm – the fog was lessening, there was still a lot of twilight left, but with the darkness enveloping us and roads becoming more and more slushy.
These were the kind of roads you will not drive on unless you are totally insane.

I was marvelling at my Scorpio's Yokos tyres, the way it was handling wet roads, a change from expelling water in the monsoon rains of Bombay.
Some occasions,I almost skid out of control slithering down the slope, but the car just caught its balance just in time.

By 710 pm, we were down to 3,000 mtrs, and still quite some distance to Bhairavgarh.......
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Old 27th March 2012, 17:42   #2037
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Fog lamps too are ineffective in such climate?
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Old 27th March 2012, 21:04   #2038
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Fog lamps too are ineffective in such climate?
I have never found fog lamps effective, hence I have never had them in my car. I do not even have extra lights apart from the stock headlamps.
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Old 28th March 2012, 10:01   #2039
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

There is not much difference, unless you have the authentic bright YELLOW fog lamps. Which we rarely install considering our cars run in the city most of the time.

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I have never found fog lamps effective, hence I have never had them in my car. I do not even have extra lights apart from the stock headlamps.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunney View Post
Fog lamps too are ineffective in such climate?

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 28th March 2012 at 10:02.
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Old 28th March 2012, 10:13   #2040
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There is not much difference, unless you have the authentic bright YELLOW fog lamps. Which we rarely install considering our cars run in the city most of the time.
Some knowledge for me.
Was seriously decided to fix fog lamps prior to my drive to Uttarkhand, mostly same route.
But when you experienced advise no use, at those foggy highs, where it is supposed to be useful: dont like to waste few 1000s.
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