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Old 22nd October 2011, 14:23   #601
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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

We reached Tandi Petrol pump by 18:30hrs
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HVK lost in thoughts
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Scorpio at the pump
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The quick mandatory check on the machines
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HVK happy with the days drive till now.
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All obstacles cleared in day light, and got to fill fuel also on time. Now we need to just drive to Jispa

continued...
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Old 22nd October 2011, 14:26   #602
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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

While the team was at the petrol pump, I just wandered around tandi and took some pictures

Some pictures near Tandi
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continued...
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Old 22nd October 2011, 14:34   #603
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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

By 19:00hrs we were nearly 7 Km to KeyLong and 41Km to Jispa.
This sign board also shows Udaipur 45KM, which is the route to Sach Pass, which we will be taking on the return journey
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By the time we crossed KeyLong sun has almost set and left us with a glowing peak
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There was a long silence in the Scorpio. I believe everybody was thinking back about the day, introspecting every moment and learning and relearning the lessons we have learned today!


What a drive! What a day!

By 21:00 we reached Jispa and booked ourselves to Hotel Ibex and treated us to a great dinner.

We all crashed by 22:00hrs with a commitment of an early start by 05:30AM the next day.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 19:53   #604
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I do not have any pictures from now of the rescue mission, since I had to be with the tow rope, crossing the stream and connecting to the other three vehicles.
How on earth did you take Baby Alto and Swifts thru this? Did you give them wings or what? Seriously, would have loved to see how could you manage that. But as you say you were busy with the rope (maybe creating a ropeway for them...hehe).

My bro's account of non-existent roads is no surprise now seeing your snaps (I am yet to see his snaps as he could not get time out of work to upload anything yet).
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Old 22nd October 2011, 20:45   #605
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How on earth did you take Baby Alto and Swifts thru this? Did you give them wings or what? Seriously, would have loved to see how could you manage that. But as you say you were busy with the rope (maybe creating a ropeway for them...hehe).
As you can from the way the Bolero is dipping down into the gap between the boulders - and the water is also deep there - we decided to tow the small cars. We managed to avoid most of the pit by taking them right to the edge (on the right side). When they did get a little into it, the towing did the trick of lugging them out. As you can see, water crossings can be deceptive from the top, it is only when you do a survey, you realise the "pit-falls"!!

I was the first to take this crossing and the moment my front wheel fell in - and I managed to power myself out - I said this is not doable for small cars and hence, we decided rightaway not to risk them doing on their power.

Last edited by hvkumar : 22nd October 2011 at 20:47.
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Old 22nd October 2011, 21:54   #606
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Super thinking and action. When I saw this, I thought, this has to surely nose-dive the alto atleast with its internal under the bonnet soaked, even if one was to tow it across. Glad to see it really made it through unharmed. And hats off to your guys courageous work to go through it.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 08:35   #607
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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

10 days into the Ladakh trip, and we have still not left Himachal - that is what you must be thinking!

Everyone asks me, how many days does it take to reach Ladakh? What do I tell them - 2 days from Bombay to Delhi, 3 days from there via Manali or Srinagar to Leh? But now they can't figure it out when I say that I have not reached Ladakh even after 10 days of hard driving!!!

They also know that Ladakh is a very cold place - but we had to run our AC most of the time during day - can you figure that out?

Hotel Ibex at Jispa was probably one of the most expensive hotels we stayed in during the entire trip - I first stayed there during my 2004 trip and they continue to be inflexible in handing out any discounts. We had wanted to stay in the more friendly Padma Guest House nearby but the thought of spending a night in darkness (no power there, but Hotel Ibex was shining bright!) brought us to Hotel Ibex.

The line-up at Baralacha la

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Everyone was eager to get out of their rooms and be on their way - here was the big day, we were finally going to reach Leh tonight! Such was the sense of anticipation and excitement as we departed from Jispa at 555 am. During our pre-departure briefing session, we discussed the 4 high passes of 5000 metres & thereabouts that we would have to cross today, and no one forgot to pop in their Diamox tablets and check their bottles of water. This is also the most scenic part of the drive to Leh as we transited from the green valley of Lahaul to the high altitude, wilderness and barrenness of Ladakh.

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Within 10 minutes, we were signing the register at the Darcha Check Post, from where the steep ascent starts. There was now a bridge across the Bhaga River - on the last occasion, we had to wade through the water - and we were amazed to see some fabulous tarred roads. The drive for the next 100 minutes was fast and smooth, but we were stopped in our tracks by the beautiful Suraj Tal just before the Baralacha la. It was cold, we were breathing out fog and despite a punk in the white HR 26 Scorpio driving like a nut, our spirits soared as we enjoyed 16,500 feet, the highest we had come so far in the trip.

Suraj Tal

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As we descended from Baralacha la, the roads continued to be great and there was decent truck traffic. The luxury tent camps started appearing one after the other some 8 kms before Sarchu proper, all of them were empty despite it being peak season. At 4,400 metres height, they are the only place where you can stay in comfortably after Jispa till Leh. It is a popular overnight stay destination for those coming from Manali to Leh, being the half-way point, but I can assure you that even the sturdiest stands a good chance of getting hit by AMS symptoms at these rarefied heights. The ravines around Sarchu were something which had all the lensmen running, and I saw Lalu take out that "bazooka" lens of his, as he zoomed in and got some shots of horses and villagers far across the ravines and the Tsarap chu river.

Sarchu

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Sarchu! A big-time destination on the map in the Manali/Kaza-Leh road. All of 10 tea tents and a check post, not to forget the few army & BRO barracks! This is a temporary camp which closes down in mid-October, only to reopen in summer, so inhospitable the place is during winter. But this was summer day time and we reached out to our sun-block creams for protection against the UV radiation.

Sarchu has a puncture shop. It has one liquour shop. One can buy "black" diesel here, but "black" petrol is a rarity. The handful of tea shops here also double up as dorms charging anywhere from Rs 50-150 a bed, no attached toilets of course! Sorry, no toilets, please!! Many who are going to Ladakh for the first time think Sarchu is some big-time "Sonmarg" or "Ooty" and enthusiastically pencil in an extra day of stay in Sarchu - I gently tell them that Sarchu is the kind of place where you shiver inside your tents, suffer headaches and pray that time moved faster so that you can get the hell out of the place.

A refreshing cuppa tea and 30 minutes later, we were off again at 950 am, but not before signing in one more regiter at the check post in Sarchu. Sarchu is also the end of Himachal and the beginning of the J&K border. After crossing the Twing Twing Bridge, we were all looking out eagerly to check out if there was really any intoxicating fluids flowing under the Brandy & Whisky Nullahs.

It was disappointing to see the murky muddy water flowing in the Tsarap chu where we have seen such beautiful blue waters on previous visits. But our spirits soared as we started the climb up the Gata Loops.

Driving up the Gata Loops - from 4200 mtrs to 4600 mtrs in 10 kms on 21 levels of steep road - is fun, especially now that it is a fantastic road and not the mud track that it was a few years ago. One has to be careful of the empty trucks that hurtle down - and sometimes off the cliff too - at high speed. What was terrible was those "take-offs" as the road suddenly fell into a trough with the risk of the car also landing down into the roads below! I think you can get photos of max 8 levels of road from a few points. 4WD vehicles have greater fun on the Gata Loops as several "short"-cuts have been scraped out of the hill-sides and you can virtually drive the car down in a straight line almost at steep gradients - definitely not for those with a poor head for heights, like going down one of the roller coasters in an amusement park.

At 16250 feet, Nakila is the second high pass of the day. Thereafter the road plunges down to the bottom of the Valley 600 feet below and crosses a river and climbs up again all the way back 1000 feet to the next high pass. Everyone was in high spirits - DB was heard remarking that the Govt should build a long high bridge across the Valley to avoid this roll down-climb up road, and KSM-vTEC was cheeky enough to think that his Swift could cross the river through loose gravel and then climb up on a dirt road that was a "short-cut" too! Luckily, I was saved from a heart attack when I saw KSM-vTEC suddenly remember that he was not driving a Maruti GYpsy any more, it was only a Swift!

Taking to truckers en route we were reminded that Rohtang Pass - near Manali - which was far lower but has been the most troublesome of passes this year - they faced delays of 4-5 days waiting to cross it thanks to the slush, land slides and traffic jams, and they were quite happy to be in the high places here. For them, this 4-month trip sorties to and fro Leh - to ship supplies to the army and the rest of the population - was a bonanza and they tried to maximise as many trips as possible despite the harsh terrain inflicting lots of damage to their trucks.

Lachulung la - almost 16,700 feet - higher than the other two. By now, were surrounded on all sides by mountains although we are at considerable height ourselves. MOuntain sides change colour and texture as we move forward into what is popularly referred to as "McKenna's" country. The road cracks up as we snuggle in through steep rock faces and for some time even the sun disappears as the shadows deepen. The Kanglajal crossing is a pale shadow of its fiery self, many have shuddered at the thought of steering your car through the raging current on a hot day in the late hours of the day.

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You see the continental collision effect clearly here - as we did when we went to Tashi Ganga in Spiti Valley (which is on the other side of the high mountains, as the crow flies) - with mountains of different colours and hues, with different rock strata halfway up, and so on, indicating some major mix-up appears to have happened here as land masses have collided with each other.

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Pang - the next "large town" after Sarchu is a slightly larger army camp, has a puncture shop too, and maybe "black" diesel. The customary few tea shops - with their dorm accommodation - and the check post too. Yet another inhospitable place, like Sarchu night temperatures by September can dip to (-) 10-15 C and winters below (-) 30+ C. It was 1 pm, everyone was hungry, but we resolutely decided to go on since we had to cross the Tanglang Pass fast.

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After a steep climb, we are on More Plains, the high-altitude plateau 4800 mtrs high and nearly 40 kms long. But what is happening - where were all the trails made by 4WD SUVs through the loose desert sands which raised dust from the wheels of cars and hung in the air? Some of the most glamorous photos of Ladakh were those of vehicles enveloped in dust. BUt now they have started building some pucca roads (were we dismayed???!!!) through the More Plains and I am sure they will be done by next year although many stretches are looking good.

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This region is under snow 7 months a year and I will be surprised if anything resembling a road will be left next summer when the snow melts! What fun we had as we hurtled at speeds of 100 kmph+ in the finished and half-finished roads! With full AC on to cool us from the midday heat and keep the dust out. Suddenly, the road ends as some culvert is being built and you are banished into the sands where we chase a few tyre tracks hoping that the ground will hold firm.........will it, that is what I will tell you later....

All photos here are from the albums of TS and KSM-vTec
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Last edited by hvkumar : 23rd October 2011 at 08:45.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 09:34   #608
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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.....continued


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Now, how did this happen? That is our Swift stuck with the sand holding it mid-air! That is More Plains for you.

In the More Plains, where the roads do not exist, the surface looks deceptively firm but is not - the track used to suddenly deteriorate and when I felt the vehicle sinking, we had to maintain momentum, I used to gun the Scorpio through in first or second most of these places, luckily did not get stuck. Nearing Debring, the Swift was following my Scorpio, almost blindly in the dust trail which makes it impossible to see anything else for the next 2-3 minutes, and the car following sometimes bites the dust.

The other cars re-routed themselves onto harder surfaces and escaped the same fate - one way of finding the better route may be to wait for a pick-up truck to come along so you can tail him through a safer route - but this is also not infallible because the heavier vehicles leave big rut marks on the sand where a small car can easily sink like our Swift did - it simply got stuck inside the mounds of sand.

This happened before Debring and I guess we lost an hour getting the SWift out. Again, the Bolero was the saviour. All of us dug the Swift out and when the towing from the front failed, we tried towing it out from the rear-side, which ultimately worked. I guess the bumpers of the Swift almost came off, but there was no damage to any vitals.

Debring - the junction where you turn off to Tso Kar & Tso Moriri.

The climb up to Tanglang la (5350 metres), the highest pass on this road, was on pretty broken down dirt tracks but we were rewarded with clear views when we reached the summit at 425 pm for the customary group photo shots. One can see the entire expanse of the region and I think it is the Tso Kar that you see from here.

It is one long descent from here on as we crossed villages of Rumtse, Sasoma, Gya, Lato & Miru on our way to Upshi - surprised? Yes, now we are entering the Indus Valley which is well inhabited and has many small Buddhist villages - prayer flags, gompas and chortens all over. The mountains around offer awesome spectacles mainly because they are so different from each other as you could see from the colours of their rocks and physical formations. We were setting a good pace on these lovely roads but suddenly you have broken down sections that can cause some anxiety. The team was very hungry - no one had a thing to eat all day - and we eventually reached Upshi at 650 pm for a well-deserved break. But before that, we were blessed with the first sighting of the River Indus which comes in from China/Tibet and goes on to POK/Pakistan.

Upshi is also the junction for the road going to Hanle. There is a check post here too, but we were waved past. There are a few tea shops, one of them where we had a small meal, even as the sun set and the headlights came on as we left Upshi at 720 pm. Upshi to Leh is flat road on the banks of the River Indus and roads are fast and we faced absolutely no traffic.

We finally entered Leh at 815 pm, and KSM-vTEC found us rooms in the Santhi Guest House at the foot of the famous Santhi Stupa. We never make advance bookings in any hotel and this strategy always ensures we get the best rates everywhere.

Santhi Guest House, Chanspa, Leh, 01982-253084
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Old 23rd October 2011, 12:21   #609
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[b]
That's impossible, torturous for swift and alto
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Old 23rd October 2011, 12:23   #610
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That's impossible, torturous for swift and alto
This down slope is where the Alto got hit. But the Swifts made it OK although they took hits in the bumper, bottom, etc. It needed a lot of "spotting" and careful driving.This spot is just after the Chota Dara camp.

Last edited by hvkumar : 23rd October 2011 at 12:36.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 12:34   #611
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
We finally entered Leh at 815 pm, and KSM-vTEC found us rooms in the Santhi Guest House at the foot of the famous Santhi Stupa. We never make advance bookings in any hotel and this strategy always ensures we get the best rates everywhere.

Santhi Guest House, Chanspa, Leh, 01982-253084
Shanti GH is my favorite, talked to Tsering (owner) few days back. Both Tsering and Dolkar (her wife) are very hard working and very friendly.

I am in touch with Tsering for my winter attempt to leh this January


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This down slope is where the Alto got hot. But the Swifts made it OK although they took hits in the bumper, bottom, etc. It needed a lot of "spotting" and careful driving.This spot is just after the Chota Dara camp.
I agree, this spot need some serious recce and spotting

Last edited by rkbharat : 23rd October 2011 at 12:35.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 13:50   #612
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Jispa - Leh - 21st Aug 2011

Some pics from my side...part 1/3

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Old 23rd October 2011, 14:06   #613
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Jispa - Leh - 21st Aug - Pics - Part 2/3

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Old 23rd October 2011, 14:18   #614
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Default Re: HumbLeh'd II (Indo Polish Himalayan Expedition to Ladakh & Himachal Pradesh)

Jispa - Leh - 21st Aug - Pics - Part 3/3

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Old 23rd October 2011, 16:54   #615
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HVK Scorpio
Log Book of Aug 21, Jispa-Leh, 374 kms


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GPS Tracks, Altitude Map, from no_enthu_da's Android phone:

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