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Old 21st June 2013, 22:44   #196
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Base Camp – Stok Kangri summit – Base Camp ...contd. from previous page.


Being solo has rarely been intimidating for me. But here with a guide, who is up and above and as I stop to take those numerous breaks, he would say we have to move, we are already late. I would start again but stop soon due to exhaustion. Also a bit of complacency has also creeping in. My main aim was to bicycle solo from Manali to Leh and this was just an additional thing that was added as the weather was still clear. So my main goal was done very successfully, and this trudge and effort for the last hours is beginning to bug me. I had different strategy out here compared to when cycling - biking solo along those inclines, I would hunker down, grip those handlebars with a choke hold and pedal with a resolution; here seeing my guide up above and telling me to hurry, it would be like this - I would say no more, enough is enough, will try again tomorrow and he would say we are almost there, there is no quitting, get on and move. This more or less continued for couple of hours till we came up to the final couple of hundred metres of ascent.



The last couple of hundred metres is a huge climb. The altitude is now almost 6000 mts above sea level.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit1.jpg


We keep our backpacks here, and I give the camera to Shareef. Even close to noon now, it is bitterly cold. Frozen droplets are formed on the woolen cap as the breath comes in and out.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit4.jpg




Ten or so steps and there is a minute of rest. The last 200 m incline will be the toughest. Clicked by Shareef, my guide, who has the camera now. I am done with clicking anything till I reach the top.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit5.jpg



And then the first view of the summit prayer flags, and it is about time! A surge of energy from somewhere deep down comes up, it gives that extra strength - but still it is some 100 m or so away. That distance at this altitude and incline will still push oneself to limit
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit2.jpg


Every last bit of strength is used up. The summit is near but it takes almost a hour, as the steep track goes up the ridge.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit6.jpg


Still more closer, almost there..
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit20.jpg



The last stretch will almost buckle up the knees, the trekking stick preventing me from falling flat on the face. All these pics taken by my guide, as just flat out concentrated on the climbing.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit7.jpg


Finally stumble on to the Stok Kangri summit at 6100+ m, at 11:46 am on October 8, 2012
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit11.jpg


Exhausted but exhilarated, this is huge for me. Standing on a Himalayan mountain summit for the first time in my life! Standing higher than the highest point on 5 of the 7 continents at 20,000+ feet
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit19.jpg


What more, miraculously one will get BSNL postpaid connection at that very top [the BSNL tower seen at Stok Palace most probably has a clean line of signal to the top]. I call home, talk to wife and kid, from the Stok Kangri summit, Shareef records it partially even - amazing experience again!

We were very late on the summit, close to 12 noon, on a 2nd week date of October. There were black clouds gathering at distance, ultra cold winds will soon pickup. In fact it is just about so clear at this late hour is itself a rarity. The views again endless, Shareef shows me the mountains as far as South towards the Karakoram range to the mountains all around the Zanskar and Indus region. Leh itself is seen as tiny speck.

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit10.jpg

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We hardly spend 10 minutes on the summit. The clouds were now threatening with a steady strong wind picking up. Shareef now frantically telling me no more time to spend, else we will be all but frozen tuna!


But then there is just enough time for one last hurray- both for Shareef, my guide, and me.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit15.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit9.jpg


Ascent is just half of the target accomplished , a careful descend starts now to the base camp to truly make this a successful summiting experience.
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contd...

Last edited by adc : 21st June 2013 at 23:02.
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Old 23rd June 2013, 14:05   #197
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Dude... !! What happened? Did you freeze up there?
Shake off that inertia. Up there Shareef, and down below - us "the non-sharifs". Everyone is asking you to hurry up on the descent.
Come on down a little faster please!
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Old 24th June 2013, 11:08   #198
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Base Camp – Stok Kangri summit – Base Camp ...contd

So summit done and by 10-15 mts after noon start a careful descent, chances of slips are more in a steep descent with the loose dirt and rocks.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base17.jpg


Descent though is of course much faster, and now approaching the glacier that was crossed in early dawn while going up.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base18.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base20.jpg


Crossing the glacier with Shareef leading the way, finding out a suitable route and looking out for hidden crevasses
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base3.jpg

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Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base6.jpg


As said before, the now defunct advanced base camp lies just above the glacier.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base7.jpg


We stop here for our packed food of bread and biscuits. Lie down flat for a prolonged rest, it had been a hectic day!!
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base8.jpg


After some time, start back towards our base camp, it is less than an hour from here,
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base10.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base11.jpg


But not before a celebratory snap
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base12.jpg


and a last look at Stok Kangri for the day, late evening of October 8, 2012
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base13.jpg


Finally approaching base camp just before dusk, normally it takes around 3-5 hours to descend from the summit. The dome tents of those students can be seen. They had spent the day acclimatizing and would be going as far possible towards the summit early morning tomorrow. Again, one can only but admire their spirit and will power.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base15.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-summit-base16.jpg


A very eventful day comes to a close and what a memorable day for me. Absolutely tired, as such a quick dinner follows and soon we were into our sleeping bags, which hardly prevented the bitter cold and wind that is natural at 16k feet in the month of Oct.

Tomorrow, a normal start for a long descending trek all the way to Stok village where Mr Qayoom will be waiting for the short drive to Leh.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 24th June 2013 at 11:14.
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Old 24th June 2013, 12:31   #199
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Excellent adc. By far the best travelogue that I have read anywhere
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Old 25th June 2013, 01:30   #200
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Stok Kangri Base camp [16300 ft] – Mankorma - Stok village - Leh [11560 ft]


October 9, 2012 - Today is the return trek all the way back to Stok village and then the short drive back to Leh.


A foreign tourist who had in the previous night suffered from AMS, thought it was prudent to return back and not press ahead. He also thus accompanied us back to base camp. As he was not okay, we took frequent breaks in between.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh1.jpg


A view of Stok Kangri as we near Mankorma.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh2.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh3.jpg


At the Mankorma tent camp, they would be now closing down within a day or two. A short food and rest break was done here while on return.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh4.jpg


After Mankorma, the trek turns left as we enter the red valley of jagged rocks and cliffs
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As we near Stok village, the greenery is back
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh26.jpg

The river has to be crossed quite a few times as we near the village and being later in the day, the volume of water had also increased.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh28.jpg



Finally almost at Stok Village, thus bringing an end to this fantastic summit trek from October 6 to 9 of year 2012
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh30.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-stok-kangri-base-leh32.jpg




Our car was waiting and with a short drive from Stok village with that magnificent of Stok Palace of 1825, back to Leh hotel by late evening. A call back to Asmita about the safe return; she was the nodal point from where everyone got my status/update.





This also bring to an end to Part II of this journey. This magnificent travel is now drawing to a close. But then it is time to be back on the bicycle again! It is time to head off to Khardung la top now at 18,380 feet. This will be a day trip, i.e., an early morning start and will return back to Leh by late evening enjoying that big downhill. The best thing though - no panniers and thus no more of all that insane luggage weight. There is a day and night difference between a unladen and a fully loaded cycle. Absolutely still fit and okay, bicycling to Khardung la somehow did not bug me much - may be of what I had all been through these days and have come to expect and accept the strain or may be that great feeling that it is just the cycle weight and no extra luggage weight. I was just worried that the weather remain okay for a few more days, in this 2nd week of October, 2012



contd...

Last edited by adc : 25th June 2013 at 01:59.
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Old 26th June 2013, 13:29   #201
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Leh - Khardung la -Leh


Back in the hotel yesterday [October 9, 2012] night and again a good rest with a hot bath after those 3 nights of Stok Kangri, the last day of my stay in Leh is today itself - October 10, 2012.

But then what a hectic day it is! The Khardung la permit is done as I was in Stok, so it is back to bicycling solo again the very next day to the top. Moreover, I have been long enough on this travel, it is about time to go back home too! - the mid October Puja holidays will start soon for both wife and kid.

Thus today itself the plan was that when I come back from this day trip to Khardung la, to checkout of the hotel, pack the bicycle as best I can do, take the night nonstop sumo or Traveller bus with the cycle on top for that huge cannonball run of 16 hours to Manali. Any day this route can close as we are now in the 2nd week of October, as such the start date of the bus or sumo return journey was crammed into this day itself. Thus a ticket was also done the previous night, much thanks to Mr Qayoom.


Anyway an early start definitely today, Oct 10, 2012, by 7:30 am; cold definitely but a somewhat clear day to start with. There is an absolute marked difference in effort between cycling with and without luggage, and today this being a day trip, just a few cakes and biscuits, along with that Stok Kangri jacket was taken in the rear panniers. The plan was to have a great Maggi food and coffee and tea at that K la cafe before it closes down by late noon.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la25.jpg


The incline almost start from the hotel towards the diversion of Khardungla Nubra road from Leh town.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la26.jpg


It is around 40 km from here, so it is something like 80 km to and for. The calculation - uphill journey with my photo breaks should take around 7 hours or so, spend some 20-30 mts up there, and take the big downhill all the way to the hotel doorstep. I just hoped the weather remains okay late afternoon at the K la top and later on for that cannonball night drive towards Manali.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la27.jpg


Early morning, not much people around as I climb up above Leh outskirts. An elderly lady as I stopped for a few pictures of Leh in that early morning.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la28.jpg

Shanti Stupa, early morning as seen.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la29.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la31.jpg


It is all incline but surface is good and after doing all the cycling from Manali and that brutal trek of Stok in 4 days, and plus with no luggage weight - I was quite okay with it!!
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la30.jpg



A early morning jogger/runner on the K la road, near Leh outskirts!
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la32.jpg



Shanti Stupa again as I gain height.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la33.jpg


Cycling solo again, take a break here -for a self-image pointing towards Khardung la top.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la34.jpg

and also of the cycle around a switchback, some 15 km now up from Leh.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la36.jpg

The bicycle ride continues as at distance the Leh town can still be seen on the switchbacks.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la37.jpg


Pass the Siachen Toggler's Gate rock
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la39.jpg


The incline is of course big, but then as said with no panniers- I was quite okay with it and was maintaining my estimated time even with the photo breaks. The only factor that was worrying is that weather holds, as there a bit more cloud cover today and more so near the high mountains surrounding the K la top.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la40.jpg


By around noon, South Pullu, some 24 km from Leh comes into view. Permit will be shown here and it is some 15 km from here to the K la top now.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la41.jpg


contd...

Last edited by adc : 26th June 2013 at 13:48.
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Old 26th June 2013, 23:10   #202
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Leh - South Pullu - Khardung la -Leh ...contd.

So, at around noon, at South Pullu checkpoint at 16,000+ feet. Show the permit paper, and ask them about how long the cafe is open at the top - till around around 2 to 3 pm, but still unsure as if there is bad weather on top, they may close even earlier. There comes first concern, I will be just about reaching around 2-230 if I continue like this, and I need the cafe to be open for a quick "lunch" of maggi and some tea. The few biscuits and cakes were finished up long time back.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la2.jpg


Around that time this Qualis comes up, with cycles on top and tourists inside. They get down over here, the driver says that the weather on top is not good, and they begin the downhill ride back to Leh from here. This kind of bike ride is quite popular among tourists in Leh; people come up the incline with cycles on top of SUVs and then enjoy the super downhill back to Leh. Not bad!
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la32.jpg


The road seen going up from South Pullu. Though this side the weather was holding okay..
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la1.jpg



.. it did not look quite good up there on the Khardung la, and I have around 14 km to go with and estimated 2 hrs journey time.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la33.jpg



The good tarmac that was there from Leh till South Pullu is now gone and it is a more of a beaten track now. Though it was nothing like Tanglang la and more so with no pannier/luggage weight, it did not bother much. Only thing, as in any track, there is that odd chance of a puncture.
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Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la5.jpg



Not much photographs any more as I wanted to reach by 2:30 or before to the top. At around 2 pm and with less than 2 km or so to go, I come up to this very affable BRO official from Panthankot. A brief introduction, he tells me that road work going on about a km ahead, not one but two, and that I may have to wait. On hearing this hurriedly I bade him goodbye and just hoped that I can go by those two blocks with my cycle. It is bitter cold in this 2nd week of October, and the moment I stopped cycling, started to shiver.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la4.jpg


And indeed, comes up that first bottleneck, just around less than a km to go. As I still move ahead, a group of army truck is just about allowed to go, and the dozers start to work again. Dang! I was just late by some few minutes over here, else would have crossed as the Army trucks were being passed.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la6.jpg


Inevitably thus, here I am so close to the K la top, some just 300-400 metres or so, at around 2:30 pm, standing out in the open in this cold, cold weather. People of trucks and cars could shutter up inside, but with the exertion of cycling gone, was really shivering in the cold, plus on top of that super hungry. I just hoped that the cafe remains open for that hot tea/coffee and Maggi.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la34.jpg


contd...

Last edited by adc : 26th June 2013 at 23:16.
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Old 27th June 2013, 14:54   #203
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Leh - South Pullu - Khardung la -Leh ...contd.

So, continuing from the above post, somewhat before 2:30 pm I was stuck some just 400 m or so from the K la top, as this road clearing job went on. Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la35.jpg


Over 20 minutes pass by, standing in cold now, it is seems like an eternity. Yet it is just one switchback to the top. It is now close to 3 pm, the shop must have almost closed, then plus I have to go back to the hotel, pack the bicycle - which is a big pain by itself, and pack the bags also and then checkout of the hotel as I take the night bus from Leh to Manali. Again, I say to myself, should have hurried up a little more and not stopped much for all those photo breaks.


Stuck also in the queue were two trucks, one of them just beside where I was standing and shivering. The driver most probably takes pity on me or whatever, asks me to where I am going, saying that it would be snowing quite a lot towards Nubra side and doubted if I would make it till there.

However, on knowing that I was going to the top and would return back he looked a little assured, but doubted whether the cafe would remain open. Still after this there was another road block just a few meters above this. The driver then says to get up, will drop me to K la as it is going to snow soon and definitely sees me shivering.

Anyway by this time I had enough of standing. My reasoning and thought process started: have done enough, the Manali Leh journey, the Stok exertion and everywhere. Here I was just standing, super hungry and cold, and literally have almost reached the top, but would have to stand more as there is another road block just near the top.

And also in this off season journey I had seen more of trucks and horses, to give an idea of my next mode of transportation to Leh from Manali. Take the offer, keep my cycle at the back, and hop into his cabin - more so now interested on how he drives and the gear changes. Plus a huge drop in temperature for me as I get the cabin warmth of the truck.


After sometime, we were cleared to go.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la9.jpg

but just a few meters ahead only to get stuck in another road clearing work going on, the K la top tower can be seen from here some less than 200 or so metres away. Some another 15 or so minutes again spent here waiting, the chances of seeing the canteen open quite slim now. Very very hungry now, all those cakes and biscuits over long back.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la10.jpg


The truck driver drops me here, in actual it is just around 2 or 3 mt journey from where I was stuck and it took an hour for all those two roadblocks. The best of all, I just catch the canteen open as they were closing. The canteen guy seeing my cycle standing outside, knew that I cannot be refused - a hot maggi and a cup of tea follows. Thanks to him again for accommodating me as he was closing.


Park the bicycle at the cafe..
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la14.jpg

and first have a hot cup of black tea.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la36.jpg


No one else in the canteen as it was just being closed. In fact I was only tourist out there at 3:30 pm on K la top, Oct 10, 2012
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la11.jpg


Ladakh is lesser known without knowing this name: Colonel Chewang Rinchen, the youngest MVC recipient. A search in google will list out quite a few amazing links about this brave soldier.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la13.jpg


The Maggi meal done, it was not time for those pics above K la top, but then also see the souvenir shop too is open and about to close.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la17.jpg


Head off there, the jawan amusingly giving me enough time for this image. Also bought a cap and a wooden memento.
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Translation sign board at that souvenir shop
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Light snow flakes have started falling, it was close to 4 pm now at 18,000 ft on 2nd week of Oct. But then not before some quick images. Never would have thought that I would be getting Khardung la top all by myself, alone and with not a single tourist around.

The canteen and the souvenir shop has closed down, but I had asked the jawan of the shop as to where their dome tents are, so that if stuck due to more snowfall would go off to that side and spend the night there.


At Khardung la top, the final moment of this travel! This stupendous journey now is at its end.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la39.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la38.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la.jpg


At 4 pm, I start on my downhill journey to Leh. Snowflakes are falling now. Enough of work still left: I have to reach safely back to the hotel, pack the cycle and bags, and check out of the hotel, take the night bus to Manali.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la40.jpg



contd..

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2013 at 15:20.
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Old 27th June 2013, 15:57   #204
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Adc da,

I was waiting for the Stok Kangri bit and it has been absolutely refreshing to read your first-hand account of your maggie-soup-fueled trek up the difficult hill. Congrats once again.

I might head that way soon, so just wanted to ask you if you used a specific agency in advance? Or just picked up one from Leh? Any recommendations?

Thanks once again.
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Old 27th June 2013, 17:28   #205
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Leh - South Pullu - Khardung la -Leh ...contd.


It is 40 km of pure downhill and without a single turn of a pedal, the first 15 km or so till South Pullu is the beaten track and then it is all tarmac all the way down to the my hotel doorstep.

At 4 pm, definitely late, start on the downhill to Leh. Cloud cover is much more now and with that slight snowflake rain going on.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh3.jpg


The good thing though, the far downhill side was still clear.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh5.jpg


But I do keep a watch towards the K la side clouds, which is now completely covered.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh8.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh4.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh6.jpg



Almost the last pic for now, as the camera is bagged. The main aim is to go downhill as fast as possible and enjoy it too, make it to Leh in 2 to 2.5 hrs before evening light goes off.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh7.jpg


South Pullu was all deserted and the check point was locked up too, so did not bother to stop over there. As said, though it was all cloudy on top, it was clear towards Leh. Enjoyed a fantastic downhill at a good speed, again glad I had invested in hydraulic discs for pinpoint braking for some of those iffy moments.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh9.jpg

Sweeping into Leh just before dusk.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh14.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh11.jpg


Have a last look at the K la top too as I enter outskirts of Leh.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh10.jpg



And finally crossing the signboard again enter into Leh, some 11 hrs since start of the journey. It is past 6 pm now.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh13.jpg


Back to hotel by around 6:30 pm. There's not much time to rest though and to think about all the past fantastic experiences. I have to duct tape and pack up the cycle as best I can, pack my bags too, freshen up, have dinner and check out of the hotel to take the night bus to Manali at 11 pm.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-khardung-la-leh2.jpg



That then ends the Part III of the travel. The bicycle and trek journey has ended.

But then a new experience now awaits me, the part IV of this travel - a cannonball run of 500 km or 16 hours on a Sumo or Traveller bus, crossing all those high passes of Tanglang la, Lachung la and Nakee la at night, to be near Sarchu by day break to continue still and be at Manali by 7 pm or so. I just hoped the weather remains okay. These are the last few days of road travel as the highway would close any day now.

The snow at Khardung la and Nubra side means that there would be snow over at other passes - but whether to start on the journey or not, on this off of off-season day of October 10, 2012, is a decision that has to be taken by the Sumo taxi and Traveller bus drivers. For now, I would have to report to the Leh bus stand with the cycle in tow by 10:30 pm.



contd...

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 28th June 2013 at 17:17. Reason: Removing alcohol related image and text.
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Old 27th June 2013, 17:52   #206
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

Quote:
Originally Posted by johy View Post
Adc da,I might head that way soon, so just wanted to ask you if you used a specific agency in advance? Or just picked up one from Leh? Any recommendations?
The agency that I used and mentioned in the report is www.altitudeadventure.in run by Mr Abdul Qayoom, a Ladakhi.

Now there is at least some 15-30% price difference between an trekking agent based in city to that of a local agent. Moreover, no travel company can by itself conduct a trek or travel in Ladakh - they have to use the services of a local travel agent i.e., someone from Ladakh. This I came to know from the Zanskar Chadar trek and thus for this journey used Mr Qayoom's services - to cut off other intermediate agents and thus save a bit on trek fees.

So, you can use his services, or use someone from Ladakh itself - you will get much better rates if you take a local agent. The caveat -- they are less known outside of Leh and as such hard to get their credentials verified. As for me, Qayoom was known long before as I had met him by chance at Hunder, Nubra in our Oct 2010 travel.

Still I would say then, use a local agency from Ladakh, quite a few are well known too.

Last edited by adc : 27th June 2013 at 18:18.
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Old 27th June 2013, 18:12   #207
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Default Re: Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit

All these while i had been quietly enjoying your pictures and writeup and constantly trying to relate with the events which you narrated in person which was mind blowing.

Excellent log once again.
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Old 28th June 2013, 14:10   #208
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Leh - Sarchu - Manali [nonstop bus ride of 500 km/16 hrs]


As said, the night itself after completing the K la top ride, I leave for Manali. The bus ticket was already done and I have to report with my cycle at 10:30 pm to the bus stand. A convoy of Sumos and Travellers start on this one heck of a nonstop journey, and more so as it would absolutely desolate in this late 2nd week of October 2012.



October 10, 2012, at 10:30 pm, at the bus stand, with the cycle on top of the Traveller. A front tyre change before start was necessitated due to suspected puncture,
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We had a convoy of around 3 Force Traveller bus and 4 Sumos. Around 11 pm, we departed from Leh bus stand but finally picking up people from outskirts of Leh like Choglamsar and Upshi, the actual journey started around midnight.


Let me tell you it is an experience by itself, that cannot be explained fully. The whole Leh town is sleeping, numbing cold outside, snowed out roads, the headlights barely illuminating the road ahead as a group of buses and sumos hurtle towards the cold mountain passes.

Dead tired I was after all the hectic day, soon doze off but trying to remain a little awake trying to imagine and see how Tanglang la would look like at 2 am on a snowed out and windy October night.


On and off I dozed off, only to look out of the window to the black piercing night and a glimpse of the driver, full of concentration yet relaxed as a soft local song played through the speakers.


October 11, 2012: Morning break at around Lachung la after Pang.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali9.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali10.jpg


And the convoy moved on towards Sarchu.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali11.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali8.jpg


The Nakee la yellow sign stone.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali20.jpg


The way we moved, inside the Force Traveller bus.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali19.jpg



And then one forced stop, another puncture of our Traveller, now the rear right tyre. All Sumos and buses halt - the convoy goes together, stops together in this absolute desolate road. No one is left behind on their own.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali25.jpg


Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali24.jpg




This gives me the opportunity to go out of the bus, see the brilliant surroundings and also to check whether the cycle is okay on top. Super cold, the camera fogging up, so some fast pictures.
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Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali1.jpg




That arch after Nakeela and before Gata loops.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali4.jpg


Puncture repaired, drivers chipped in for a fast change. It is time to move again, towards Whisky Nala, Gata loops and then a brief scheduled halt at Sarchu for breakfast.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali22.jpg



contd..

Last edited by adc : 28th June 2013 at 14:18.
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Old 28th June 2013, 15:40   #209
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Leh - Sarchu - Manali [500 km/16 hrs] contd...


The white barren cold landscape of Oct 11, 2012 but then was zapped to see that Whisky Nala tent still there, a flood memories of that eventful day from Sarchu to here, comes back, the shelter and food that the owner couple provided and shared. This image should have been in the previous post, before the puncture happened.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali13.jpg


Puncture repaired, and top of the Gata loops comes up.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali23.jpg


Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali29.jpg


Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali5.jpg

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Gata loops crossed, Sarchu almost reached, for a brief halt for breakfast.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali15.jpg

contd..

Last edited by adc : 28th June 2013 at 15:55.
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Old 28th June 2013, 16:26   #210
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Leh - Sarchu - Manali [500 km/16 hrs] contd...

Sarchu reached at around 9 am. Snow this side was less and later even absent. To say again, in relation to cold barren lands of Whisky Nala and Nakeela/Lachung la, Sarchu is a temperate area!
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali30.jpg


I do though pity Mountain Knight, the cycle, out there exposed to elements though it may be getting brilliant 360 views! A little of a concern too - that it has somehow shifted on to the side now, though it was tied well.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali31.jpg



Breakfast and brief halt done, now on towards Killing Sarai and beyond.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali33.jpg

Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali32.jpg



Suraj Tal again, after crossing Baralacha la.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali25.jpg



Past 3 pm, crossing Darcha-Jispa area.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali27.jpg


By around 6 pm, we have started on the climb to Rhotang, the last pass to cross before we descend on to Manali to end this heck of a non-stop journey.
Extreme Expedition - Bicycling Manali-TsoKar-Leh-Khardungla & Stok Kangri summit trek-leh-manali28.jpg


All those days that I have toiled and strained by cycle on this road now passes by in hours. As I see those places again, it is kind of a flashback at high rewind speed and still many of those past incidents become vivid again.


Reach around 8 pm or so at Manali. First, I go up to the driver to say these exact words "fantastic driving", tired that he was after almost 20 hrs or so, he still gleamed and smiled back, we parted with a handshake! Collect my bags and cycle from the top, head off towards my hotel - where I had kept my bigger bags and had also dropped some of the items like the tripod before starting.


Entering the hotel, the staff at the first sight of me just stare, as if seeing a ghost of myself. They had all but given up hope of me coming back to take those things, it has been now some 20 days they last saw me go out struggling with an overloaded bicycle in the hopes of reaching Leh! Anyway we all of course soon recover, and what more I am given a warm welcome - the owner says my night dinner is on the hotel!!


Dinner done, I soon fall asleep. A taxi has been fixed for tomorrow's journey to Kalka for 12312 Kalka-Howrah mail. It is more than about time to go home, too long have been on the road alone.


contd...

Last edited by adc : 28th June 2013 at 16:43.
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