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Old 12th July 2015, 21:26   #1
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Default Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

A GATEWAY TO LAND BEYOND CIVILIZATION

Pangi valley is approachable through Sach pass located at a height of about 4414 mts (14,477 feet) from the sea level, and through Cheni pass located at a height of 4385 mts (14,382 feet) above the sea level. Out of the above two, Sach pass is most frequented by the local people, officials serving in Pangi and also by shepherds. Cheni pass is mainly used by the shepherds and some of the local people living in Mindhal, Kulal and Rei villages from where this pass is near. Both passes link Pangi valley with Churah area of Chamba district. Though people have to walk more distance while crossing Sach pass yet it is comparatively easier.

While crossing any pass extreme care and caution is required. A person has to climb steep mountain slopes over snow at a height much above the zone of vegetation. Air is thinner and one can have breathing problems due to lack of oxygen. Every step is a ritual. Normally people cross in groups. Travellers continue their ascent in silence listening to their heart beats as the surroundings are so majestic and overwhelming that one feels guilty of breaking the sublime silence. At times one hears the sound of a falling rock, an avalanche or the roaring of high velocity winds. The travellers carry on with deep faith and reverence till they reach the top where there is a small temple. According to the locals, Bhagwati, the presiding deity, disapproves of any noise within her domain. Travellers offer prayers and rest a while on the top before starting the other part of the journey. The scenery is sublime and limitless charm beholds the eye at the top. The vision extends unto the rivers of the plains towards south. A view is also obtained of Pangi valley from these passes. Snowy pinnacles around the pass add mystique and awe-inspiring dimension to this spectacle.
(Courtesy : http://www.sachpass.in/SachPass.php)

The Plan
A team of ten cyclists got together for the cycling expedition to Sach Pass. Initially we planned to undertake the expedition in the month of May. But as it appeared that the snow level would be too high to attempt scaling the peak. The problem was further aggravated by late melting of snow this year. Finally, first week of June was selected for the cycling trip.

Team
We were a team of 10 cyclist enthusiasts.

Route
Pathankot-Banikhet-Tissa-Satrundi-Sach Pass (Total 550 Kms both ways)

Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow-satl-sach-pass.png

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Duration
1-6 June 2015 (including the return journey. Although the advisories clearly mention the best period of visit to be September. The pass itself does not open before last week of July.

Our Machines
Firefox
One back up vehicle
Equipment and Administration
Cycling apparel to include the jerseys, shorts, gloves
Headgear
Goggles
Water bottles
To be carried in the back up vehicle
Rucksack for personal kit (to be carried in the back up vehicle)
Light tents for night stay
Cooking utensils, rations and stoves
Cycle spares and repairing kits

The Trip
Day 1 (01 June 15) : Pathankot to Banikhet-93 Kms
Day 2 (02 June 15) : Banikhet to Tissa- 76 Kms
Day 3 (03 June 15) : Tissa-Satrundi-65 Kms
Day 4 (04 June 15) : Satrundi to Sach Pass-23 Kms
Day 5 & Day 6 (05-06 June 15) : Return to Pathankot
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Old 12th July 2015, 22:02   #2
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Default re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Some teasers of the route we traversed...

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Last edited by TaureanBull : 12th July 2015 at 22:18.
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Old 14th July 2015, 11:41   #3
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Default Scaling Sach Pass in Deep Snow

The reports of pass being covered in snow poured in but we decided to press on with our trip. The expectations of difficulty, uncertainty and challenges got our adrenaline running high.
We had started cycling for the first time a few months back. The cycles were bought from Firefox outlet at Hauz Khas who gave us a nice discount. So all of us were pretty noob and required lots of practice to develop the “cycling muscles”. During the preparatory time, we cycled to local areas for 40-50 kms regularly. We also trained ourselves in basic repairs and adjustments of our machines.

Due to our proximity to the location a reconnaissance trip was organized in mid May for two days. The route was seen and accommodation booked at Tissa. The reconnaissance Some of the photographs of the reconnaissance trip which appeared very promising-

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The Pass

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Route to the Pass was being Cleared by PWD

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The pass was covered with snow however it was expected that the pass would be cleared of snow by the time of our trip. What would lie in store for us will be seen subsequently. The initial stretch of two days upto Tissa was to be covered under the hot scorching sun and the subsequent route was gradually cooler. Sach pass was expected to be at near zero temperature.

Last edited by TaureanBull : 14th July 2015 at 11:56.
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Old 14th July 2015, 12:01   #4
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Default Scaling Sach Pass in Deep Snow

Day 1 (01 June 15) : Pathankot to Banikhet-93 Kms

We all started off at 7 AM on 01 June as per schedule to our destination. The route does not have much to talk about. The sun was pretty harsh and we had to make take frequent breaks to keep ourselves hydrated. There was not much elevation gain and we comfortably made it to Banikhet by late afternoon.

Our Simple Machines

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Downslope...

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Upslope...

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Super upslope...

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Last edited by TaureanBull : 14th July 2015 at 12:13.
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Old 14th July 2015, 12:46   #5
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Default Scaling Sach Pass in Deep Snow

Day 2 (02 June 15) : Banikhet to Tissa- 76 Kms

After a comfortable night halt we started at 6:30 AM on 02 Jun with our destination as Tissa. As we progressed the roads became narrow with poor surfacing. However, the surroundings became pleasant with more greenery and beautiful landscapes.

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Closer...

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Farther...

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Looks like its adventure time now..

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Old 14th July 2015, 19:07   #6
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Default re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Day 3 (03 June 15) : Tissa-Satrundi-65 Kms

It was our penultimate day. The distance was lesser than other two days but there was a steady elevation gain. The weather was also getting cooler and the chill could be felt. Our bodies felt energetic inspite of fatigue. We pedaled faster and harder as if the cycles would start flying and we would reach there in few minutes. But its always the hard toil which makes the success sweet. The route was again covered by late afternoon. The aim of the trip was also the sightseeing. Therefore, the distances were not planned at the extremes. Also, it was our first trip.

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Like Minded People Enroute

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It was a Rainy Day! But does that matter?

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Bad Roads

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Trekking Times without our Machines

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Obligatory

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Mesmerizing

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Sach Pass in Sight - So near yet so Far

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We had nice time in the evening sitting together with a camp fire. However, soon the celebratory mood as the local contact confirmed that as it was raining downhill, there was snowfall on the pass. Even the next day heavy snowfall is expected. So, we had gone back from the reconnaissance day when we expected the route to pass would be mostly clear. There was even more snow since then. Even it was not sure if we would be permitted to go ahead from the check post.

So we slept - dejected and apprehensive!

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Old 14th July 2015, 19:44   #7
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Default re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Day 4 (04 June 15) : Satrundi to Sach Pass-23 Kms

Where there is will there is way. A simple and old saying but always relevant.

Our contact had informed us about a guide who can take us to the Sach Pass through the treacherous route. He suggested if the cyclists would like to scale the heights on feet. Hmmm. Scale the height –Yess! Without our machines-No!

So, we made an optimistic plan of cycling upto 7 kms short of the pass. After that it was thick snow and cycling was not feasible. Therefore, we planned that we would carry our machines on our shoulders as they had carried us thus far. I guess that was a fair deal. The men and their machines can not part till the scale the final destination.

We started moving towards the pass at 5AM in morning on 04 June with drizzles and cold wind. The climb was steep and going was very slow. We were approaching 4000m where the body efficiency reduces drastically. Within a couple of hours we reached where the role was to change. We, led by the guide, left the road with cycles on our shoulders. The snow was thick and going was slow. There was snowfall which reduced the visibility.

In an act of grit and determination, we reached the peak at about 11 AM. The famous sign board of Sach Pass lied buried under us beneath several feet of snow. It was a moment of satisfaction and sense of achievement.

On our Way

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Break time

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Descending is always so much fun - Sliding down with bikes

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Last edited by TaureanBull : 14th July 2015 at 19:47.
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Old 14th July 2015, 21:54   #8
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Default re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 15th July 2015, 02:50   #9
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Default re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Amazingly good. Cycling at Sach pass is very admirable. Keep it up.
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Old 15th July 2015, 12:40   #10
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Brilliant stuff TaureanBull. Cycling / climbing in such inhospitable terrain is no mean feat! I have to envy your fitness levels. Don't think I'll ever manage to complete such an expedition successfully.

Brilliant pictures as well. The countryside is enticing indeed.

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Old 15th July 2015, 13:57   #11
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Wow that is quite a feat Lt.Col. Take a bow !

I have been dreaming of doing Sach Pass on my motorcycle but the very thought of riding over those rocky roads itself gives me the shudders. Your team doing such a feat in such inhospitable climate definitely deserves all the applause. Being a cyclist, I can totally understand the effort and practice that has gone behind this incredible experience. Thank You for inspiring us !

Rated a truly well deserved 5 stars !
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Old 15th July 2015, 14:52   #12
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

It was difficult enough in the car...doing it cycles amazing. Great pictures.
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Old 15th July 2015, 14:58   #13
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Wow. I am speechless. The pictures look brilliant and it definitely is a courageous effort to go cycling on this route. Well done!
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Old 15th July 2015, 15:00   #14
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Brilliant and what an inspiring thread.

Amazing pictures.
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Old 15th July 2015, 17:26   #15
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Default Re: Cycling expedition to Sach Pass in deep snow

Lovely pics! I enjoy going off road in my 2012 Montra Rock MTB- but this takes cycling to a new level!

'Hope more and more people are encouraged to take up cycling!

Lovely pics- and commendable job indeed!
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