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Old 11th October 2009, 12:22   #271
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Its not about sane and safe driving. The terrain is such that your tyres, clutch and suspension components will take a hit come what may. Only thing is newer the car lesser the general damage.
Well, thats a new.
I can vouch after seeing the convoy drive done by all including you and hearing what damages were there for each car, I stand by what I meant by sane and safe driving. I am not in for a debate, this is what I saw in this drive and understood.

All components will have strain and with safe and sane driving you reduce the risk, but come what may is extrapolating and hyping the drive to the maximum.

Speaking about the terrain, yes Padhum had rubble roads, yes there were a few river crossings, there were some patchy surfaces, but 90% of the entire strecth on September 2009 was fine and manageable roads. Thanks to BRO. And being hills you go up and down at high altitudes.

Please let us not hype this drive beyond what is required!!

Last edited by laluks : 11th October 2009 at 12:33.
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Old 11th October 2009, 12:54   #272
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Originally Posted by laluks View Post
But HVK, Glenn had driven through this terrain for the first time in his driving life. His Scorpio did not have any issues other than the accelerator sensor problem (which based on my knowledge is not a problem due to the terrain). This proves that careful and sane driving helps.

I can only imagine what your car had gone through all these after reading through the damages, Why is yet another question.
Maybe I am inexperienced, insane and not used to driving cars. I thought my sharing my experience would help others in this forum, maybe I am wrong.
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Old 11th October 2009, 13:40   #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Maybe I am inexperienced, insane and not used to driving cars.
HVK, did I mean that? I have always respected your knowledge, and I can safely say, without your planning we would not have done this trip. This was just an observation. May be I am wrong -it could be that my style of driving and understanding is wrong.

Any ways let's go ahead with our travelogue.

The day 10 account is coming up soon. Its Tso Morriri for Day 10. Tso Morriri looked more beautiful than Pangong Tso.

Last edited by laluks : 11th October 2009 at 13:45.
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Old 11th October 2009, 16:50   #274
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Hvk,Lalu,MC,Joseph.wow what a travelogue this has been, awesome pictures and superb narattion from all your people.Lalu what a good description man, i mean this is not an easy task to do and you guys are doing is superbly, waiting to go through the left ones.
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Old 11th October 2009, 18:40   #275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vijaythacker View Post
Hvk,Lalu,MC,Joseph.wow what a travelogue this has been, awesome pictures and superb narattion from all your people.Lalu what a good description man, i mean this is not an easy task to do and you guys are doing is superbly, waiting to go through the left ones.

Thanks Vijay. The credit goes to HVK for a wonderful plan, which was finalised atleast two months before this trip. For me it was like join the party and enjoy it


And to collect some data to put up this travelogue to help others.

Last edited by laluks : 11th October 2009 at 18:44.
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Old 11th October 2009, 20:37   #276
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Day 10, September 21st, 2009
Tangtse - Changla - Sakti - Karu - Upshi - Mahe - Chumathang - Sumdo - Tso Kiagar -Tso Morriri


We started at 06:30AM. Two cars decided to stay back and have a late start. So today there were only four cars on the convoy. Idea is to reach Tso Morriri by 16:00PM for the best colours.

Roads till Chang La.
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We retraced the same roads till Sakti. We reached Changla by 07:30Am. We had some tea from the military outlet there. There were souveniors also for purchase here.

Chang La
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Saji is so happy, Here he is seen photographing the tea vendor??
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GK at the military canteen, Chang La
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Distances from Chang La towards Leh
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Distances from Chang La towards Pangong Tso
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The Scorpios at Chang La
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Snow clad mountain peaks as seen from Chang La
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We reached Sakti by 08:45AM and went further ahead to Karu on Leh road for filling diesel and came back to Sakthi for break fast. Had some omlettes and parathas here.

Double Meaning?
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Roads from Chang La till Sakti
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Old 11th October 2009, 20:41   #277
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
All components will have strain and with safe and sane driving you reduce the risk, but come what may is extrapolating and hyping the drive to the maximum.
Maybe Glenn was being an eco-driver?
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Old 11th October 2009, 22:22   #278
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Day 10, September 21st, 2009 Continued.

Karu - Upshi -Mahe - Chumathang


Sign board at Upshi
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Some views till Chumathang. The river along the road is Indus.
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Old 11th October 2009, 22:47   #279
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Day 10, September 21st, 2009 Continued

Chumathang Hot spring


We reached Chumathang Hot spring by 13:15PM. We could not believe what we saw. Indus flowing on one side and on its banks water is boiling. It smelt awful. Sulphur? Volcanic activity?

Pictures does not show much. You can only see smoke.
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Check the video, you can see natures wonder!!


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Old 11th October 2009, 23:54   #280
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Day 10, September 21st, 2009 Continued

Chumathang Hot spring -Sumdo - Namshang La - Tso Kiagar


Some views till Tso Kiagar. We reached Tso Kiagar by 15:00PM.

Indus River flowing.
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Some sceneries
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At 14:00PM we were 60Km away from Tso Morriri.
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The roads till Tso Kiagar
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Sheeps
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Kinkey Horse
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Mountain goats??
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Old 12th October 2009, 00:31   #281
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
If anyone tells you that cars take to Ladakhi terrain easily, then they must be kidding. One of the inevitable consequences of my 3 drives to Ladakh are the big fat maintenance bills during and after the trip. I took big hits on suspension components this trip too and my overall damage was - broken coil springs, broken leaf springs, broken shock absorbers, frayed rubbers in link roads and balancing roads. That apart, the car got mauled on other components - a ruptured brake pipe, cracked main belt and totally worn-out brake pads (changed just before the trip). Not to mention all the underbody nuts that were loose and the severe wear-out of the tyres - although the Yokos were great, and did not suffer even a single cut or abrasion during the trip (and not a single puncture).
HV, one thing I have noticed is that 2WD vehicles take bigger hit, esp due to places like pagal nallah. For example, due to high level of water and stones, the taxis were storming in at high speed, and punishing the undercarriage and suspension.
From my log you will come ot know that inspite of speed some got stuck, and then had to be pushed out, wheels spinning.
And this is the story at places like Wari La climb from Nubra side, and other water crossings too.
I could easily put my safari in 4L ratio at such places, and slowly crawl at 5kmph.
Infact even at marisimik la, due to this technique the only part which got a hit was the running boards.
With a 2WD at ladakh, you are bound to come across a river crossing which you have to do at speed and this will cause some damage.
Regarding brake pads, I guess its driving technique. MY safari still runs original brake pads, she has done 28000kms, and for Ladakh trip exactly 3950kms out of the 5000 were done in the mountains.
Before this trip she did Manali in May(Till Rohtang), and some other small hill trips.
Inspite of all this, the brake pads have good life left in them, and the service guy told me that there is slim change that they will be replaced at 45000, he thinks 50,000-55000 is the replacement time.

I guess you do not use engine braking much. Even I did not use it much initially, and those were my indica days. I had to replace brake pads every 15000kms due to this.

With the safari, I always downshift if I feel that the she is accelerating downhill on the higher gear.
Another technique I use to control speed is brake tap. Tap the brakes instead of keeping them pressed while slowing down.
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Old 12th October 2009, 00:34   #282
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The change in vegetation is just amazing. One day you wake in the greens and the next day its in brown !

Folks,

My previous question on adapting to Leh driving conditions, was to check my own convictions. I can do medium range ghat sections. Having heard you all I am now doubly convinced its not for me

I can only enjoy these snaps. Lets not deviate on this direction. Please do continue with this fantastic story !
(But yes, its a good info to know)

Last edited by ampere : 12th October 2009 at 00:35.
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Old 12th October 2009, 00:55   #283
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
HV, one thing I have noticed is that 2WD vehicles take bigger hit, esp due to places like pagal nallah. For example, due to high level of water and stones, the taxis were storming in at high speed, and punishing the undercarriage and suspension.
From my log you will come ot know that inspite of speed some got stuck, and then had to be pushed out, wheels spinning.
And this is the story at places like Wari La climb from Nubra side, and other water crossings too.
I could easily put my safari in 4L ratio at such places, and slowly crawl at 5kmph.
Infact even at marisimik la, due to this technique the only part which got a hit was the running boards.
With a 2WD at ladakh, you are bound to come across a river crossing which you have to do at speed and this will cause some damage.
Regarding brake pads, I guess its driving technique. MY safari still runs original brake pads, she has done 28000kms, and for Ladakh trip exactly 3950kms out of the 5000 were done in the mountains.
Before this trip she did Manali in May(Till Rohtang), and some other small hill trips.
Inspite of all this, the brake pads have good life left in them, and the service guy told me that there is slim change that they will be replaced at 45000, he thinks 50,000-55000 is the replacement time.

Another technique I use to control speed is brake tap. Tap the brakes instead of keeping them pressed while slowing down.
Tanveer, that is good insight, I entirely agree with you.

My car appears to have had some imbalance in the suspension, which contributed to multiple suspension problems - one cause triggering off a series of other problems. The maximum damage the car took was in the Zanskar Valley. I broke my number plate, damaged the running board badly also.

Brake pads - I am a very "braky" driver by habit, and I find the Scorpio's engine braking and deceleration very poor and my risk mitigation impulses force me to slam brakes more than required, but I feel safer that way. I normally wear out my brake pads 30,000 kms or so in normal driving conditions, but this time my wear-out may have been magnified because my disc is also totally worn out (I have already changed my wheel disc at 1L kms), and maybe the unevenesss and slimness of the disc was also affecting brake pad life.

Yes, I also seldom hold down the brakes continuously and keep tapping them for better control and longer life.

After Wari la, I also faced another problem of hub caps coming off (on the left wheel) and loosening on the right wheel for reasons I could never understand (maybe hit stone syndrome) and the grease spilled out quite generously. On post-trip examination, I find that the grease is totally watery.

I guess the high speed-high altitude combo extracted its toll on the car. After all, a Scorpio which has completed 2,10,000 kms in 4.5 years has definitely taken a lot of beating and cannot be compared with a sprighty 50,000 kms old car. Most would have written off such a car long ago, but I am quite happy that my Scorpio has performed in an outstanding manner during the trip. I am also extremely fussy about the state of the car and I check the car several times during the day (and at the end of every day) while on any long trip and resolve problems immediately - the most common carricature of me on my trips is my feet sticking out of the underside of the car!

BTW, this is the second car I have driven to Ladakh which was over 2,000,000 kms old - on my second trip to Ladakh in 2004 my Matiz had already clocked 2.35 lakh kms, and it too took a solid beating (and also in 2003, when there were no roads in Ladakh, unlike the luxurious roads that we have today) I am rather surprised at all this criticism about my inability to handle cars or my insane driving techniques in the forum! Just because I dare to drive my car anywhere in India and subject it to horrific driving conditions?
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Old 12th October 2009, 01:06   #284
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Day 10, September 21st, 2009 Continued

Tso Kiagar - Tso Morriri



Tso Kiagar is the small one before you reach the bigger Tso Morriri.
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From Tso Kiagar the road trials are tricky and you have to drive generally with a sense of direction. Further loose sand and gravel can be sometimes troublesome. The videos will show what I meant. Hence it is a must that this be done during day light at all costs.



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Old 12th October 2009, 01:37   #285
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MY TAKE ON Day 10, September 21, 2009, Tangtse-Karu-Upshi-Mahe-Sumdo-Karzok/Tso Moriri, 273 kms

No laptops, no petrol pumps, no clean toilets – these were uppermost in our minds that morning as we prepared to leave Tangtse. At such high altitudes (Tangtse was almost 4,000 metres high), it was too dangerous to operate laptops since hard disks are prone to failure. The nearest petrol pump was 87 kms away, and we were already 633 kms from Leh on our full tanks + extra cans of fuel.. Well, sadly, the Dothguling Guest House in Tangtse was woefully inadequate with shared toilets, no hot water and poor service. In fact, everyone was looking forward to the well-maintained public toilets at Chang la which we were to cross an hour from now!

There was a slight change in plans for 2 of the cars – maybe Anirudh Basu and Doc Mandar wanted to sleep a little longer, they decided to go directly to Tso Kar skipping Tso Moriri, which was our target destination for the day. Therefore, it was only 4 cars which set off from Tangtse at 630 am. It was lovely in the early morning at Chang la, 730 am, and we savoured steaming cups of black tea. We crossed Sakti at 840 pm (Sakti is the junction from where the road to Wari La – the way we had come the previous day – branches off), and reached Karu (Leh-Upshi road) at 900 am. After satisfying the cars appetites – Karu has a petrol pump (3 kms on the road towards Leh), which saves us the trouble of returning to Leh for refueling – and carrying extra stocks (since we faced the prospect of a 565 km run to the next petrol pump at Tandi), we went on to do pet pooja – whetting our appetites with some delicious fluffy omlettes and aloo parathas ,made us all feel great, and after getting back to our laptops (back to the lowly 3000s!), we were all happily cackling away in our mobile phones – the first contact with other civilizations after leaving Leh 2 days ago.

It was a very satisfied gang that departed from Karu 1 hour later and headed east. At Upshi, the road bifurcates into two, the right fork crossing the River Indus and heading for Manali via Tanglang la, Debring and Pang to Sarchu and Manali, and the left one to our destination. Upshi itself is a tea shop town, and we did not see any guest houses or petrol pumps. The police check post ahead was manned by a cheerful constable who shared with us winter tales of how the “rapids” River Indus freezes and they walk it towards Leh on the ice, avoiding the road which is snow-laden. Needs lots of stamina and determination to face such ordeals! You need permits to go on this road and this is where they are checked. Upshi marks the beginning of the Chumathang Valley and the road we are on goes deep inside the Valley to the border with China and some exciting places like Chushul (far bank of the Pangong Lake), Loma, Nyoma (where they are building a new airfield) and Hanle (the location of the highest radio telescope in the world), apart from Tso Moriri. Much as we would have loved to explore the Chumathang Valley, it was not for us this time the black holes of the Universe!

It is an exciting route, all along the banks of the River Indus, which is rushing down towards Leh on its long westward journey from Tibet. Spectacular rock formations, dangerous river-rafting waters, multi-hued vegetation and lots of army trucks on their way from somewhere in the eastern region to somewhere in the western region. Saying goodbye to the friendly policeman at Upshi at 1100 am, we speed through picturesque small villages of Likchey, Himya, Gayk, Kiari, Nurnis, Keshar, Kidmang and Chumathang. It is a long drive to Mahe (115 kms, 3.10 hrs), and mostly flat country, with the road slowly rising with the river. It was probably the laziest drive we ever had the entire trip, the heat of the day intense enough to put you to sleep. The road is narrow and the oncoming army convoys get the right of way – on one occasion, I backed away, hit the cliff’s rock face and broke my tail lamps.

At Mahe, we say goodbye to the “China road” – leading to the border and out of bounds for civilians – and also look back wistfully one last view of the River Indus as we cross the bailey bridge and drive into a small valley bursting with bright red flowers. The climb starts and rapidly reaches Sumdo, which is the junction where you turn off for Karzok. The road continues to be good – and we see some antelope, deer, goats, horses here – and we go into steep ascent to an unnamed “la”, and gasp as we see the Tso Moriri glimmering down below – a 3 pm spectacle that took our breath away. But this was not yet the full thing, we had to go on to the far bank to the village of Karzok, since there are no villages, hotels or camp sites on this side of the lake. What followed was 28 kms of sheer dirt track burrowing deep into the mountains that border the Lake – our team got a little desperate at this stage, worried why the road was going away from the Lake – but we also burst into some flat plains and did some lovely OTR driving here, each making his own road – not for any thrill of it but to avoid the huge dust storms the car ahead was causing in its wake! Lots of bone rattles and swears later, we were down to the water’s edge at the small village of Karzok, which nestles on the banks of the Lake.

It is interesting, the altitude profile for this day:
12,964 ft – Tangtse, 630 am
17,654 ft – Chang la, 730 am, 40 kms
11,026 ft – Karu, 900 am, 44 kms
11,231 ft – Upshi, 1100 am, 21 kms
13,580 ft – Mahe, 210 pm, 114 kms
14,296 ft – Sumdo, 225 pm, 12 kms
15,937 ft – Unknown pass, 255 pm, 14 kms
14,902 ft – Tso Moriri Lake, at Karzok, 352 pm, 28 kms

Karzok has a clutch of small budget hotels and expensive camps. We bargained hard at one of the camps, but did not get the rate we wanted. We finally landed up in the Nomadic Life tent camp and some tough bargaining later (thanks to Vishal Bakhshi), we got ourselves tents at Rs 800 apiece (normal rates Rs 2000 +). Needless to say, this is the beauty of the off-season, the resorts are empty and you can haggle away to your heart’s content, and come out a great deal-maker!

Sooner we checked into the tents, we rushed off to enjoy the Tso Moriri in the little day light that was left (it was already 415 pm then). Tso Moriri is an incredibly beautiful lake rivaling the Pangong Tso, and I liked it immensely because it was totally unspoilt and surrounded by some solid snow-clad mountain ranges unlike Pangong where the surrounding hills were barren and bereft of any snow at this time of the year. The yellowing fields around the Lake at Karzok contrasted magnificently with the varying blue shades of the twilight hour and the whites, reds, browns and purples of the peaks towering above. We tracked the sunset as it lit up the craggy face of the mountains, casting a golden glow and the sky itself was a study in contrast. It was altogether a satisfied team that retired to the tents, braving a strong wind blowing across the Lake and bringing with it the chill of the dead.

The tents themselves were cosy – no toilets attached – and one had to brave the cold to walk across to the common toilet. Take a bath, You must be joking - we are quite content buried under the 2-3 layers of sweaters and jackets, and in no mood to undress! Over hot bowls of soup and steaming chowmein, we befriended an intrepid couple (English, I thought) – the guy is visiting after 21 years (last came in 1988) and it was quite a tale on the difficulties and dislocation of travelling in Ladakh in those days – what a man! We sweatered our cars to combat the bitter cold and retired for the night.

Kumar
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