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Old 20th October 2011, 10:01   #556
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by codelust View Post
The place where the Alto broke down is way too familiar to me. We crossed that area at around 6 PM and went down a bit further to the water crossing, figured it was way too deep and had at least another 5 more to go before Gramphoo, so turned around and went back to the Chhota Dhara Rest House.



At the water crossings I would wade across the water most times feeling for depth and quite often we'd fill some of the nastier gashes with rock. Sometimes it lost us a lot of time at each of the bad crossings, but it kept us safe. I'll do that route again, but not in a Swift.
Yes, time of the day has a lot to do with water crossings. Typically, on a hot day, most of these water crossings are not motorable because of the snow melt that makes them too deep and rapid. We crossed the water crossing (pictured in the video) at 12 noon on a cloudy day which meant that we have not seen the worst of it. The depth of the water was not much, but since the
bottom was uneven thanks to some large boulders, we could not gun the petrol cars with full power else we risked hitting their underbody badly. For the diesel Scorpio and Bolero, it was relatively easy because we could use their low-end grunt effectively and take the crossing at slower speeds without losing on power.

Surveying such places is very critical and at every such crossing, slushy or boulder-strewn stretch, the lead car used to stop, caution the smaller cars behind, survey the surface, adjust boulders, etc before signalling them forward. There were many such stretches, which explains our super-slow speeds this day on the Kaza-Jispa sector. Needless to say, almost the entire sector was driven in first and second gears, needs a lot of patience.

Despite everything, the fun is in driving in a small car........what say, KSM-vTec, you and I have driven these sectors in both small cars and SUVs - isn't it a great feeling to steer a small car through such foul and forbidding terrain?

Last edited by hvkumar : 20th October 2011 at 10:02.
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Old 20th October 2011, 10:22   #557
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Looks like I do have to do some catching up to do here. More or less my last update post. (i'd be following the travelogue till the end)

18th August 2011.
Since yesterday evening I had been in touch with many family members who were concerned about our well being. Most of the family members were in touch with either Army officials in Dalhousie or with office of Minister of Road and transport in HP. The information we were getting was quite negative. Some said it might take 3-4 days to open and some said, roads after Gramphoo till Keylong was very bad, might take a week to open. HVK asked me to call a hotel owner in Keylong and he confirmed he had traffic coming in from Leh Side and some people coming in from Manali also. So we were kind of sure that if the road to gramphoo from kaza opens we will be through to Leh.

Alas my family members were getting sticky on this and everyone wanted me to return. My cousin Pawan (who was with me in Kaza) was asked not to travel any further with me, if I decide to move further. After about 50 phone calls, heated arguments on 18th August 8:45 am, I decided to return home.

(btw.. all this started because a couple of members from IPHE2011 decided to air our plight on facebook which was read by many of my family members, who were tracking us there. Statements like -"Struck in kaza for last 3 days, no way ahead due to landslides and no way backwards due to heavy rains and slush").

I told the team members about our return plan and VB (who was supposed to accompany us only till Chitkul originally) and AP swift (BM and CV) also decided to return with us. It was about 9:15 am when we started our journey back home. We all topped fuel at Kaza and set ourselves a target of reaching Rampur by late night. It was a swift run downhill most of the times, with AP swift following our Innova closely.

We crossed Tabo and reached Sumdo checkpost by 11:15 am. There were a huge number of foreign tourists waiting to be registered, we somehow managed the police people to get our vehicle numbers registered in their notebooks quickly and left. We reached Malling Nullah at about 12:15 pm. As we were getting ready to get down and carefully maneuver our cars through the water crossing a fully loaded Qualis came and drove though without any trouble. Oops ! Pawan had already crossed the strem when we saw this happening, VB didn't get down and the innova managed to cross it easily, so did the swift. We set ourselves a target of reaching Puh by 1:30 pm. We crossed Puh at 1:10 pm, only to find the road blocked by BRO. We waited for almost 30 minutes for the road to clear.

We reached Spello at about 2:30 pm and were all hungry. This was the first place we saw enroute which had many restaurants. Almost all taxi's were stopping here for refreshments. We had a nice heavy lunch and left at about 3:20 pm. We reached Powari at about 4:15 pm. The roads from Spello to Powari had significantly degraded due to heavy rains since we traveled on them 4 days ago.
The roads from Powari till Chooling were again very bad, a lot of slush. We were also stopped at a couple of places for 10-15 minutes due to road construction activities. We kept going at a good pace and reached Jeori at about 7:15 pm. This was our well deserved break from driving and it was getting dark, did help us to calm our nerves.

VB wanted to reach Shimla today and I also wanted to reach Delhi as soon as possible. CV and BM decided to follow us till they can drive and then hopefully take a hotel room around Shimla. We restarted our journey after a few discussions. The traffic was now getting thicker and overtaking apple overloaded trucks wasn't easy.
While we were about 15 kms from Narkanda, I got a call from SPK. He told us that he has crossed to gramphoo and suggested us not to try that section. I asked him to call LaluKS and HVK, as we were on our way back home. We reached Kufri at about 11:30 pm.
From Kufri till Chail the road was covered with fog and the gears came down to second gear. We reached Chail at about 12:10 am. Chail to Kandaghat was very heavy rain, here VB took over the steering wheel from me. I got of to a quicknap and when I woke up after 20-25 minutes, I realized we were on some wrong road. We missed a turn after Sadhupul. we took a U turn and went on the right way towards Kandaghat. Soon I was back at the steering and Vb was guiding us through the best route from Shimla to Panchkula.

We tried looking for a hotel room for CV and BM around Dharampur, however all the hotels we checked were full. We decided to push till Panchkula. reached Panchkula at around 3:00 am. It was raining heavily. VB's brother had come to pick him and we said Good-Bye to each other. CV and BM took a turn after half a km towards Dehradun and we (Pawan and I) were on our way to Faridabad. We didnt have dinner, so we stopped at a dhaba just before Karnal to get 3 Roti's each. at 5:30 am I dropped Pawan in his village in Sonipat. I reached home in Faridabad at about 6:45 am. BM and CV also reached Dehradun at about 8 am.

It was a test of our nerves to drive all the way from Kaza to Faridabad within 22 hours. CV and BM did a terrific job in following us closely all through the return journey in a swift, driving for the first trip in the Himalayas. Kudos to their driving skills.

It was definitely disappointing not be a part of the IPHE team anymore. I was still tracking the teams progress as much as I could. Even on the way back we were discussing between CV, BM and myself if we should all try going to Leh Via Srinagar, all of us agreed at one point or the other, but it was not to be this time. Hoping for another trip next year !
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Old 20th October 2011, 10:46   #558
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by akaush View Post
Since yesterday evening I had been in touch with many family members who were concerned about our well being. Most of the family members were in touch with either Army officials in Dalhousie or with office of Minister of Road and transport in HP. The information we were getting was quite negative. Some said it might take 3-4 days to open and some said, roads after Gramphoo till Keylong was very bad, might take a week to open. HVK asked me to call a hotel owner in Keylong and he confirmed he had traffic coming in from Leh Side and some people coming in from Manali also. So we were kind of sure that if the road to gramphoo from kaza opens we will be through to Leh.
In typical conservative fashion, we were being assaulted with words of caution not to attempt the Kaza-Gramphoo road, but we took it all with a pinch of salt and did it quite successfully without damage to body and soul. The hotel in Keylong was our key source of info on the Gramphoo-Keylong road which was also supposed to be "closed". The moment he reported that cars were coming through from Manali side, we knew that part was fully open. This was one information tool which we used successfully during this trip on some occasions - instead of breaking our head trying to get info at the base were were stationed, we called up the next base and ascertained road conditions there. Never ask a local taxi driver or hotel guy, their knowledge may be limited to the road immediately ahead - and often, local taxi drivers talk very negatively because they look at you as a motorists who is depriving them of business!

Quote:
(btw.. all this started because a couple of members from IPHE2011 decided to air our plight on facebook which was read by many of my family members, who were tracking us there. Statements like -"Struck in kaza for last 3 days, no way ahead due to landslides and no way backwards due to heavy rains and slush").
Being connected through mobile to the outside world - sometimes, as it happened in Kaza - was also detrimental since we had to listen to lot of well-wishers who meant well but uhmmmmm........if we had such a risk-averse temperament, we should not have been driving to such places in the first place, isn't it?

We had a FB group going, besides personal FB messages on the walls, which were great sources of info for those connected to various members of the team, but as akaush mentioned, it also created a little panic.

Quote:
t was definitely disappointing not be a part of the IPHE team anymore. I was still tracking the teams progress as much as I could. Even on the way back we were discussing between CV, BM and myself if we should all try going to Leh Via Srinagar, all of us agreed at one point or the other, but it was not to be this time. Hoping for another trip next year !
The disappointment was equally ours! Do you realise had you brought your family along, as you were planning to at one stage, the the trip stats would have read as: Oldest Member: 81 years, Youngest: 15 months!!!!!
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Old 20th October 2011, 11:30   #559
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Despite everything, the fun is in driving in a small car........what say, KSM-vTec, you and I have driven these sectors in both small cars and SUVs - isn't it a great feeling to steer a small car through such foul and forbidding terrain?
I completely agree with that Sir! It gives you a great sense of accomplishment for sure and helps you sharpen you driving skills!

Driving skills can be worked upon over time and learning from others experience can/must be done.

But above all it is a true test of patience and mental strength!

Patience because you will have to put much more effort in covering the distance as compared to an SUV. Each time you face a obstacle (rock, water, slush etc) you will need to get off the car and do it on foot first to be sure the hatchback can take it. You may also need to ask the passengers to do it on foot to avoid under body damage.

Mental strength because you need to be ready to face any sort of hardships/dangers/risks that may arise due to damage that may stop you from moving any further. On a regular highway which we have all drive on enough you are still ok, this matters even more in sections like Kaza-Gramphoo and on days like this (just after a major landslide and days of disconnect) because there is no support/connectivity and mother nature is angry.

If any of the above are absent even for a second one would end up taking rash/foolish/immature decisions and put himself into trouble.

In the coming post few days from now we will get a chance to see how things go right/wrong when the 2 Swifts are put into a real bad situation....watch this space for more!!!

Last edited by KSM-Vtec : 20th October 2011 at 11:31.
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Old 20th October 2011, 12:08   #560
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
In the coming post few days from now we will get a chance to see how things go right/wrong when the 2 Swifts are put into a real bad situation....watch this space for more!!!
Ahh! trailers are no more allowed in this thread , surely watching this space for what happened to the hatchbacks!!
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Old 20th October 2011, 13:06   #561
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Surely the most eventful day of the trip. (Ofcourse untill the day)
Did not quite know what to expect from the rest of the day as the hatchbacks were told not to attempt by the team in the Bolero 4x4. Staying positive and expect the best is all what we could do.
As being mentioned here again and again and again, team effort made it possible. Doing the mentioned day of driving without assistance of the IPHE team would have been a nightmare.

Some heroics of the day
- Lalus entering the freezing cold water numerous times for towing of cars was a mean feat. I could only understand that bit as i and YP had to cross the stream to reach the cars on the otherside once they crossed.
- KSM, AP, HVK and Nobin demonstrated some tough driving skills out of the stream.

So much still to come.
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Old 20th October 2011, 15:48   #562
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Despite everything, the fun is in driving in a small car........what say, KSM-vTec, you and I have driven these sectors in both small cars and SUVs - isn't it a great feeling to steer a small car through such foul and forbidding terrain?
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSM-Vtec View Post
But above all it is a true test of patience and mental strength!
Absolutely agree with both of you. The feeling of accomplishment is huge and it tests your skills to the maximum. I had done DEL-LEH-DEL solo in the Swift in 2009 and this year we had fueled last (petrol) at Reckong Peo. At Kaza the Swift was already well under half-tank and having no spare fuel in the car we had to do a crazy economy run over Kunzum into Tandi. So I fully get the sense of adventure in it.

That said, it also leaves you with two problems:

1. You are worried about the vehicle almost all the time, which results in not being able to take in the place for what it is.

2. Your ability to cover distances gets significantly compromised in a small vehicle. This played havoc with our plans in Leh as we lost way too much time in Spiti.

I guess it is a matter of having my fill more than anything else. Anyway, enough OT, back to the main serving
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Old 20th October 2011, 16:14   #563
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Refuelling of the cars is an important part of the trip planning process, something we will discuss at length later too.

During the Delhi-Kaza-Jispa run, there are huge gaps between fuel stations - e.g. none after Powari till Kaza (over 220 kms) and between Kaza & Tandi (nearly 200 kms). Therefore, it is important that you top up at the earliest available fuel pump, never mind the quality which may also be bad in these parts (I hear they add kerosene in diesel to aid combustion, although I think lot of kerosene is available from army "sources" for adulteration!). Since you are driving in lower gears lot of the time, do not expect optimal FE, but you may be surprised that your car is giving you better fuel efficiency that what you would expect in such conditions.
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Old 20th October 2011, 16:55   #564
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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Originally Posted by akaush View Post

Alas my family members were getting sticky on this and everyone wanted me to return. My cousin Pawan (who was with me in Kaza) was asked not to travel any further with me, if I decide to move further. After about 50 phone calls, heated arguments on 18th August 8:45 am, I decided to return home.

I reached home in Faridabad at about 6:45 am. BM and CV also reached Dehradun at about 8 am.

It was a test of our nerves to drive all the way from Kaza to Faridabad within 22 hours. CV and BM did a terrific job in following us closely all through the return journey in a swift, driving for the first trip in the Himalayas. Kudos to their driving skills.
Good detailed and very lively narration akaush. Family's anxiety was understandable. And what a great run you and AP swift had! Driving whole night in foggy and heavy rains! And that too after a full days drive on those tough terrains isn't a mean feat!! Your mental fitness and concentration must have been top class to do that..

Last edited by LongDrive lover : 20th October 2011 at 16:59.
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Old 20th October 2011, 19:18   #565
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Atlast, I could read the entire log at a single shot. Very lively thread. Swift crossing the river was scary. Could some one elaborate why small cars need to be towed instead of driving through? I have heard my friend drive his Swift in heavy flooding with water level as high as the bonnet.

There was a photo of Italian cyclist that JeepCaptain was to explain about, can we hear the cyclist story as well? Cycling all the way must be more challenging and would be great to hear that story.

Thanks to all for spending their valuable time in composing this"Truly Amazing" thread.
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Old 20th October 2011, 20:38   #566
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 09
20th August 2011
Kaaza - Jispa

Every one got up excited and was ready as planned by 05:00AM. The drive certainly was going to be uncertain, the scary feeling in mind was strong. We are at the comforts of Kaaza till today. A nice place to sleep, mobile connectivity, good choice of food - the way forward was uncertain. What if something happens? What if we get stuck?

But that thoughts made the drive exciting moment by moment.

By 05:30 AM the convoy started. A new team, few members gone and Mumbai Roadsters in. Well the excitement just began.

The road from Kaaza
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In an hour we got our first water crossing. Since it was early in the morning water was less and we could drive through.

HVK Scorpio clearing the stream
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Baby Alto does it happily
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Swifty just feels at home
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Discovery Bolero takes me across the stream (Photo by TS)
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At this time we never knew it was just the warm up for the obstacles ahead.

Views of snow capped mountains
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A few Kilometers before Lossar
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We reached Lossar Check post by 07:30AM
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NJ striking a pose
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HVK gave the check post guys a scare by declaring the road open, and we want to proceed.

continued...
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Old 20th October 2011, 20:53   #567
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 09
20th August 2011
Kaaza - Jispa

While the formalities at the check post was being done I just wandered around there.

Lossar Check post
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Altitude of Lossar
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Distance forward
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The miles we munched till Lossar
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Lossar Doggy Begs TS not to go forward
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TS consoles the doggy
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I had to console him too
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HVK attaches his snow goggles

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HVK very happy at the days progress till now

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By 07:45Am we started towards Kunzum La from Lossar

continued...
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Old 20th October 2011, 21:01   #568
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Day 09
20th August 2011
Kaaz
a - Jispa

Views en route Lossar Kunzum La - Snow capped mountains
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Just before the climb to Kunzum La we regrouped and briefed the course of action
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Altitude just before the climb
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continued...
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Old 20th October 2011, 21:32   #569
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Day 09
20th August 2011
Kaaz
a - Jispa

The climb to Kunzum La
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HVK Scorpio
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Views of the river flowing below
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continued..
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Old 20th October 2011, 21:40   #570
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

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I completely agree with that Sir! It gives you a great sense of accomplishment for sure and helps you sharpen you driving skills!
That it certainly does! Moving up through cars as I have done over the years, from M800 to Scorpio 4wd, I've realized that travelling alone in a small car in the Himalayas does expose one to great risks - and finally switching over to a 4wd SUV gives one an immense sense of empowerment.
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