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Old 21st March 2023, 01:02   #1
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A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679328028075.jpg

The Prologue

Like every petrolhead worth his name, I've always wanted to do a driving trip of Spiti. Been in NCR 11 years, and every year the first driving destinations that springs to mind is Spiti. One logic behind buying an SUV (replacing a sedan) was that a high GC car will do better in Spiti. But one doesn't always get what he wants. Most of the years were spent deliberating on Spiti and then choosing an easier destination which would require less time and effort. The 2 times our plans did get finalized (meaning itinerary was done, hotels were contacted for bookings, cars were being prepped) in one instance a team member had a family tragedy, and the second time lockdown happened. Honestly after 11 years the idea of Spiti had been relegated to "will happen if it has to happen".

And I didn't even know a trip like Winter Spiti existed. My previous knowledge was that Spiti roads shut down in October and open in June. Completely oblivious to the fact that it is a border area and people live there, so logistics need to be maintained year round for both civilians and the armed forces.

So it was a surprise, one day in December, when Bhpian Altocumulus told me (over a random telephone call) that he was planning to do Winter Spiti this year and would like me to join him. To satisfy my curiosity, he sent me an e-brochure and videos from an expedition company that organizes Winter Spiti journeys. And was I hooked! The videos showed 4wd/awd SUVs driving through piled up snow, in a surrounding that looked like a winter wonderland. The only requirements to join were a 4wd vehicle, a week of leave and your own clothing. Every other logistical support - whether it be rescue equipment for the vehicle or emergency medical aid - would be taken care of. This was like a guided tour of Spiti at its most non-populated and beautiful avatar. Why not?

So after the fastest "yes" in the history of mankind, we started to research and discuss. No debate on choice of vehicle, since the only 4wd vehicle between us was Altocumulus' (henceforth he'll be referred to as Sugata, I'd rather call my friend by his real name than a cloud formation) Jeep Compass 4X4 S(O) AT. This was a brand new, shining baby with less than 5K kms on the clock. There would be plenty of clothing and medication to buy because temperatures would be the lowest we've ever been in. Plenty of supplies for the car, because whatever the expedition company promises to supply, its better to carry stuff you own and trust.

The following is a comprehensive list of clothing (all sourced from Decathlon, no one else gives you this quality for this price):
  1. Down Jackets rated to -20 degrees C
  2. Woolen inners (both upper and lower)
  3. Ski Gloves
  4. Neck Warmers
  5. Woolen Socks rated to -12 degrees C
  6. Waterproof Ice Trekking Boots
  7. Waterproof warm Trekking pants rated to -18 degrees C
  8. Woolen Caps
  9. (Polarized sunglasses are a must wear given the intensity of the sun and the reflection off ice, but those we already had)

The precautional stuff we bought:
  1. Oxygen Cylinders
  2. Oxymeter
  3. Diamox tablets
  4. Deriphyllin Tablets
  5. SPF 50 sunscreen

The initial advance was paid to the expedition company, and we were waiting for the trip to start in the first week of March. Not a care in the world. In the meantime Bhpian Turbonath published his winter spiti travelogue, replete with wonderful drone shots. He had done this trip in November with the same expedition company, so gave us a fair idea of what to expect on the trip and the accomodation & other logistics. He did also come on a call with us.

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...onderland.html (36 Thars and a Winter Wonderland)

Days passed, and we stocked up on all the Winter Spiti videos and advice we could find on Youtube. Leaves were approved, families were informed, we might just have started tomorrow if asked. Another very helpful (and fantastic) travelogue popped up as Samba wrote his masterpiece:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...now-drive.html (Sailed through Winter Spiti in three Duster AWDs : Snow Drive)

By the last week of February, I was getting restless. I kept asking Sugata why the expedition guys were not sending us their essentials list, by when do we have to send the balance payment etc. Then, on 28th February Sugata called. The expedition guys were cancelling the trip as a large group (supposed to form 3/4 of the convoy) had cancelled. Spiti apparently was less snowed out than March of other years. There was no sense going with just a couple of cars.

I paused for a moment as the magnitude of the news hit. Then we blurted out together - "Let's just do it without the expedition guys. We're trained, experienced drivers. The vehicle is new and in top notch condition. We'll see what can go wrong and deal with it". To this day I thank Sugata for this. If he had not shown the same, instant spirit, the trip wouldn't have happened.

So like real matured adults, we called up Samba and pleaded with him to help us . Tum hi ho bandhu, sakha tum hi - full emotional works. And boy, did Samba help! That call lasted late into the evening. All accommodation information and contacts were given on the call, and (like a drowning man clutching on to straws) I called and booked every hotel/homestay the same evening. Samba gave us a ready reckoner of what to expect on the road, where to take what precautions (his mental memory is like a map) so by the night we had done a mental tour of Spiti. I prepared the itinerary, which was as follows:

4 Mar 23 - Noida to Theog (421 kms)
5 Mar 23 - Theog to Kalpa (190 kms)
6 Mar 23 - Kalpa to Kaza (217 kms)
7 Mar 23 - Local sightseeing in Kaza - Kee Monastery, Chicham Bridge, Kibbar, Lossar
8 Mar 23 - Local sightseeing In Kaza - Langza, Komic and Hikkim
9 Mar 23 - Kaza to Rakchham via Dhankar, Gue and Nako Lake
10 Mar 23 - Rakchham to Shimla (via Chitkul)
11 Mar 23 - Shimla to Delhi

By the next day, we had arranged all the stuff we planned to take for the car. Specifically:
  1. Snow chains
  2. A spare tube
  3. Puncture repair kit
  4. A 20L army spec jerrycan for extra fuel
  5. A Groz Fuel funnel (given that the compass' fuel filling mechanism is tricky, in the spring-loaded sense of the word)
  6. Tow rope and shackles
  7. Jumpstarter kit
  8. Jumper cables (one can never be too careful, what if the battery in the jumpstarter kit didn't work?)
  9. A bottle of cheap Vodka to put in the windshield washer (since the water was likely to freeze)

So Winter Spiti was happening. Expedition company or not.

4 Mar 23 - Noida to Theog

Thanks to a hectic work-week before, both of us woke up late. By the time we congregated and managed to start, we were 3 hours behind schedule. Anyway this was the longest drive and a day of reaching the mountains, no other activity planned. Breakfast was had at Amrik Sukhdev, Sugata's first visit and my millionth.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679367503960.jpg

The freshly detailed Compass in the parking. (In a subsequent post readers will be informed about a man who has car-detailing OCD ,and how another man tolerated the psycho)

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The drive up to Shimla was uneventful, though since we started late we got the worst of local traffic everywhere. We had lunch at Solan, and stopped for tea just before Shimla. This is the compass gleaming in the rays of the setting sun.

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Theog was reached at about 8.15 in the night. A full 10 hour drive. The room at the Hotel Exotica Crest was more comfortable than expected and the food was delicious. We were half deliberating that the trip schedule be pushed one day ahead and we rest here for a day just to wash off the accumulated office stress. But better sense prevailed, and we quickly slept off.

5 Mar 23 - Theog to Kalpa

I woke up early, and spent some time taking pics of the hotel and surroundings.

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The valley view.

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The private bungalows inside the hotel premises. This area also came with a (sort of) infinity pool. Though on that day the pool was closed.

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The magnificent Taj Property at Theog, visible from a distance.

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This is Rancho, the resident canine. While past visitors like Turbonath and DognDamsel had heaped praise about how friendly he was, the guy apparently didn't like me very much. So after posing for one photo..

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And allowing one little headscratch..

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He went and hid under a truck.

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The compass waiting impatiently at the parking. "Yeah right, we've come all this way to photograph hotels and pet dogs" it seems to say.

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We started around 10 after breakfast, and hit Narkanda in no time. Sugata stopped to refuel at this pump with a magnificent view of the valley. At that time I thought it was the most beautifully located petrol pump I had ever seen. I was to be proved wrong the very next day.

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The pump guy told us it had snowed a week back in Narkanda. We saw traces of snow by the road side and got excited like little kids.

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Narkanda and the upper parts of Shimla district have their own beautiful views.

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Except a few broken stretches like this, NH5 is a butter smooth highway. And the Compass handles with a precision that will put sedans to shame.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5213.jpg

At one bridge between 2 mountains, we come across a sight that makes us stop. See the pic below. In the left is a mountain waterfall, in the right are three brand new Mahindra cars (with temp registrations) which were parked under the waterfall in turns. The point of the exercise didn't seem like a wash, but to test the sunroofs of the scorpio-Ns. Sugata remarks at this point that this is probably the same waterfall which the youtuber tested his Scorpio-N under. the negative publicity was so much that Mahindra had to do their own test (in the same waterfall) to prove the build quality of the scorpio. Are we seeing the local dealer replicating the test with his stock here?

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5216.jpg

Seeing us the Mahindras scamper. By the time we get close there's just one local guy is washing his alto.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5217.jpg

I turn around to photograph the bridge, and find Sugata photographing..

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The compass!

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We continue on the butter smooth highway. Our first glimpse of Kinnar Kailash range.

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At this point we are entering Kinnaur district. Sugata reminds me this is only the man-made entry gate. The famous natural "entry" to Kinnaur is minutes away.

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And after a brief stretch of bad road...

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Like a huge skull with its mouth open, we come across the natural entry into Kinnaur.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5226.jpg

The monster looks menacing the closer we get.

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A video of the Compass making it through the mouth of the monster.



It is not entirely wrong to say "mouth", because the next 500 mtrs of road is carved by actually cutting through a single monolith. Magnificent engineering.

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The road opens up, and we realize the scenery has changed.

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This is rockier, less green terrain.

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A picture postcard of NH5.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5235.jpg

(Continued)

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 16:17.
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Old 22nd March 2023, 07:50   #2
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

The weather has started getting foggy and cold, so we stop for a coffee break. The Compass measuring up against a rock wall.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5239.jpg

The first glimpse of Kinnar Kailash as we approach Karcham.

A note here. Karcham is the point from where 2 diversion roads lead to 2 mountains. One goes to Kalpa via Rekong Peo. The other goes to Chitkul via Sangla, Baspa and Rakchham. If you ever plan a Spiti trip like this, use Kalpa as your onward journey stop and Rakchham/Sangla/Chitkul as your return stop (like we did). Or vice versa.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5242.jpg

So we drive into Rekong Peo and (through an extremely steep ascent) into Kalpa. Kalpa town is almost entirely shut down, with the HPTDC and most hotels closed. We check into the Grand Shambala Kalpa hotel.

A personal note about why I didn't like the hotel.
  1. The Grand Shambala Kalpa isn't half as impressive as it looks in the pics (gallery link below).
  2. For the size/quality of the rooms the tariff is highway robbery.
  3. It is a laterally narrow, vertically expanded building, so getting to your rooms involves climbing a lot of steep stairs.
  4. Food is bad.

https://thegrandshambala.com/shambala-gallery/

And what I liked about the hotel (in ascending order):
  1. The service, they are always eager to please.
  2. They manage to provide piped hot and cold water even in sub-zero temperatures.
  3. The networking, since all expedition companies have their stickers pasted on the front door and all of them bring their guests here. So any given evening go down to the food hall and you'll find onward Spiti travelers being told stories by returning Spiti travelers. Also if you don't know where to go from here one of the expedition guys will accomodate in your team.
  4. Most importantly, the views of Kinnar Kailash. I've stayed in many a resort in North Bengal & Sikkim, and been told the Kanchendzonga is just a "stone's throw" away. Seeing Kinnar Kailash from the GSK I just realized what stone's throw means.

And on that note:

Views from the room

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5247.jpg

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5252.jpg

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Views from the garden

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Views from the library on the top floor (most impressive).

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214906951.jpg

This 270 degree video will blow your mind.



That evening we met Shibu Varghese (Jeep Captain)at the dining hall. Just as Samba had done 2 months ago. He was wearing the same t-shirt. Shibu was taking a group along for winter spiti, his 4th journey this year.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962584.jpg

After dinner, I stepped out into the courtyard, and saw a sight I will never forget. It was a full-moon night, and Kinnar Kailash was bathed in moonlight.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214906693.jpg

After picking up my jaw from the floor, I called Sugata who was as stunned. We managed these pics from the iphone camera.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214906753.jpg

Anyway it was pretty late and -7 degrees outside, so the best thing was to retire to the comfort of the bed so we could depart early the next day. Spiti, here we come.


6 Mar 23 - Kalpa to Kaza

We are the last to wake up, so while we're having breakfast the others are about to leave. I come down to the parking lot to find Shibu's Isuzu Dmax, a Scorpio N and Innova all mud-splattered, yet our Compass shining like a black diamond. It turns out Sugata took time out, in the sub-zero temperature morning, to clean up the car!

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214907067.jpg

We load the stuff into the car and take one last look at the magnificent Kinnar Kailash.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962466.jpg

And very soon we have descended and back on NH505. The latter is smooth blacktop, entirely maintained by the BRO.

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Considering this is the kind of terrain they had to contend with while building the road, hat's off!

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Kinnar Kailash gives us a fleeting peek and wishes us godspeed.

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The sun bears down with its full might as we traverse this smooth road with rocky walls.

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Shadows and light intermingle.

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A grim reminder that the road is as dangerous as it is beautiful.

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Crossing this bridge takes us into Pooh area.

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The rocks here are a strange shade of aquamarine. I don't know why, I'm not a geologist. But they are wonderful to look at.

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After crossing Pooh town we approach the army base at Pooh.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5270.jpg

And here, exactly 70 kms from Kalpa, we stop to refuel in the most scenic fuel pump I've seen my entire life.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5272.jpg

The nation wants to know why Pooh fuel pump can't be renamed to Whoo-hoo fuel pump, because that's the sound that escapes your mouth when you get off the car here and look around.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962356.jpg

What a place!

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962243.jpg

The soldiers in those barracks wake up to that view every morning!

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The Khab Sangam Bridge that takes you on to a different mountain, on a road carved through another monolith (akin to the Kinnaur gate) and then the Ka Loops start. Here I wrestled the steering from Sugata's hands.

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The Ka loops are a series of loops that make you ascend a very steep road very quickly and terminate at Nako. They are so smooth and so tight, the bikers must have a field day here. And the views are to die for.

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Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are.

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The BRO is at work repairing the road after the winters. At the very top of the Ka loops - just before Nako - we are stopped by this truck carrying water and rations for the workers. There is no space to pass. The driver signals to us, wait 5 minutes please.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5281.jpg

5 minutes? Given the view, how about the entire day today and tomorrow?

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5282.jpg

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 16:19.
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Old 25th March 2023, 21:05   #3
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

So there we were at the top of Ka loops, merrily enjoying the scenery with no hurry in the world. Finally the truck driver motions to us that he's done, and backs up a little to let us pass. Now we're on the way to Nako.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962143.jpg

We do not stop at Nako, that is for the return journey. We head straight for the dreaded Malling Nala.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5284.jpg

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Thankfully all demons from January are exorcised. While there were BRO men with flags standing at both corners (watching for rocks) the road was smooth and the glacier itself was dormant.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5285.jpg

Post Malling Nala, the road gets really really bad. Its evident the ice from winter has washed away the entire top surface, and BRO cranes/dozers/road rollers and men are hard at work repairing the entire stretch. We make painfully slow, dusty progress.

And it is here that I discover Sugata's car-detailing OCD has a wilder, more evil cousin. Its called "I-must-mother-my-car OCD" or "IMMMCO". As I try my best to negotiate the non-existent terrain, Sugata sits in the passenger seat like he's got a proctoscope up his netherlands, wincing every time the car falls into a pothole or drives through a dusty area. He occasionally blurts out that I should be more careful, that the last pothole could be avoided, and so on. It is disconcerting, to say the least. My pleas that the Jeep Compass is built tougher than he thinks don't get much recognition.

Also IMMMCO doesn't allow the patient to concentrate on photography. Which is why the DSLR/iphone was kept aside and I have no pics to show you from Malling to Sumdo check post, near which the road got better.

We were stopped at Sumdo check post and details noted down.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209962085.jpg

Post Sumdo the road was in average condition till Tabo. So IMMMCO continued and I have no pics. Till the time we decided to visit the 1200 year old Tabo Monastery and bring you these pics.

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A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209961869.jpg

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It was late afternoon, we were extremely hungry and all the restaurants in Tabo seemed closed. Luckily we found one dhaba which made us mutton momos and maggi. A godsend.

Post lunch Sugata took the wheel. The road from Tabo to Kaza again was really bad - again melting ice had taken away the top layer. Also it got dark really fast and we were left negotiating unknown terrain in sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully the Compass' powerful LED lights and excellent suspension made sure we didn't have too much trouble.

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At about 7.30 we reached Jigme Homestay in Kaza, our refuge for the next 3 days. Temperatures were already around -13. We had early dinner and went to sleep. We did manage to capture this one pic of the Frozen Kaza river and the mountain opposite in the moonlight (last night was full moon night, remember?).

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214906634.jpg



7 March - Kee Monastery, Chicham Bridge, Kibbar, Lossar

We woke up to a wonderful, bright morning. We had not heeded a lot of warnings - like have Diamox 48 hours before reaching Kaza, stay at Tabo for a day to acclimatize etc - and acted on our good sense. It was rewarded as neither of us was having any trouble breathing or otherwise.

This was the outside view of our homestay that morning.

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For a cheap rate, we had a big room with 2 double beds to ourselves (pic courtesy Samba).

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And an attached bathroom (pic courtesy Samba). Though running water was not available as round-the-clock sub-zero temperatures in Spiti ensure that water lines stay frozen from December to May.

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The dining hall in the ground floor (pic courtesy Samba). In winter they install a massive contraption called a "rocket stove" in the middle of the hall. It is a stainless steel structure with a chimney that goes through the roof and runs on firewood. Boils water in large kettles and exudes enough heat to keep the room toasty all the time. We had all our meals here.

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The frozen Spiti river and the mountain from our courtyard.

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All the winter gear is on and we pose for pics. Sugata strikes a sombre pose in black.

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While I ass around and introduce our audience to the mountain.

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Post breakfast, we are on our way. First stop Kee Monastery.

I will take a 5 min breather and bore you guys with a geology lesson. In the Mesozoic era the continents as we know them today hadn't been formed. The mega-continent Gondwanaland existed on a Mega-sea called the Tethys sea. The Himalayas were under the sea at that time. About 66 million years ago when the continental shift happened, the Himalayas rose from the sea and became the world's highest mountain mass. This is why in most of the Himalayas - and particularly in Spiti and Ladakh because these are high-altitude deserts with no binding soil - you will find fossil rock. The color and consistency of the top soil you see on the mountains of Spiti and Ladakh are due to the fact that they carry fossils from the mesozoic era. Mind-boggling, isn't it?

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And we get right back into our drive where this left turn indicates the road to Kee Monastery.

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That town across the village is Rangrik, where we are supposed to be later in the day.

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Ice meets fossil rock.

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And we meet Kee village first enroute to the monastery.

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Just a lone man minding his own business.

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The road climbs.

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I used to think only busy city-folk relegate their elderly to old-age homes.

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Kee Monastery welcomes you.

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The first shot of the monastery.

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We park and discover that the climb to the monastery is through hard ice. The Decathlon trekking boots provide stellar performance in carrying us up.

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Cross through those gates, o weary traveler, and find peace.

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Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 16:21.
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Old 25th March 2023, 22:05   #4
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

The director's residence (to the right of the gate) is a cement and mortar building.

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Unlike the old monastery, which is a mud structure on rocks.

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Sugata waits for me at the top of the stairs.

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While I marvel at the view from the top.

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Anyway once we enter the main monastery we are told that prayers are in session. We are welcome to see, but shoes must be off. Being not devout and lazy at the same time means we decide against the massive effort of taking off those trekking shoes, descend and quietly make our way out of the monastery. Next stop Kibber.

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En route to kibber, something jumps out on the road and both us and the taxi in the pic come to a screeching halt. It is an adult Ibex. You can see its hindquarters in the left of the screen.

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Then we look right to see first a child

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Then the whole family. They were grazing up there and about to cross the road. Probably the vehicles stopped them.

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"Come on, they're only tourists" seems to yell Papa Ibex. So we resume our journey and let them resume their own.

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We had gone to Kibber with high hopes. Apparently this year the sighting of the elusive snow leopard has been unusually high. So a group of professional wildlife photographers had arrived in Kaza (staying in another homestay) and they were camping every day in Kibber wildlife sanctuary. Sugata and I discussed let's go to Kibber and see if we can find a guide for ourselves.

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This is Kibber village.

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We park right in the middle of the village. It is disconcerting to not see anyone around. Reminds me of those abandoned villages in wild west movies that the cowboys ride through.

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Not a soul in sight.

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Where is everyone?

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We see a couple of old men peering at us from very high up. Zoom in and see the balcony below the topmost building in the centre of the photo.

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So we leave. Thanks but no thanks.

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This muddy road takes us to our next stop.

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Chicham bridge.

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Quite a sight it is, the bridge.

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Yours truly strikes a pose at the bridge.

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While Lord Sugata prefers to drive over it.



Being the time of the year it is, the tributary (over which Chicham Bridge is built) was frozen. There were some random food trucks at the other side. Only the egg shaped thing was open. We had maggi and coffee here.

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This road leads to Chicham village, and onward to Lossar. But both the village and the Lossar route are closed. So we'll go back to Kaza and take the main road to Lossar via Rakchham.

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Hippie meets Jeepy.

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Just as we're about to leave, we hear a commotion of voices and music drowning out the silence. We cross the bridge and come across the college-student-trip way of killing yourselves.

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This is the water body over which Chicham bridge passes. The road takes a curve here so it was easy to photograph all that frozen water.

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We are back on the road towards Kaza.

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The straight road goes back to Kaza, the bridge on the right leads to Rangrik (and consequently Lossar).

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And we take the bridge.

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Rangrik is the largest village in Lahaul Spiti district with a population of 900 people. The approach road to Rangrik is 3 km straight, which is why in 2016 an airport was proposed to be built here. What you see in the right of your screen is a 2.5MW solar power project - the first of its kind in Lahaul Spiti district - which is owned by HPSEBL but currently closed.

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We approach Rangrik. There is also a source of natural spring water near Rangrik which functions the year round. In winter, when water pipes freeze in Kaza and the villages, all of Spiti comes to Rangrik to collect water.

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Last edited by predatorwheelz : 26th March 2023 at 11:08.
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Old 26th March 2023, 12:38   #5
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

There are actually people living in Rangrik and moving around. I know the sentence sounds excessive, but if you visited Spiti in winter (or seen the previous post) you'd know what I'm talking about.

The yellow shutters you see to the right of the screen are shops. 2 of them - a Dhaba and a provision store, were open.

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The nice looking tall building is a homestay and in front of it another shop selling dairy products. Both functional.

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Meet Mr Yak Nicholson, local stud and sweetheart of the cows. He sniggers at us "Yak yak, these idiots have come to Spiti in winter" and walks off. We yell back in Gujarati "Haan haan, we love Yak-ni-pulao too".

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Post Rangrik the road is covered on both sides with 2 feet of soft snow. Sugata decides enough is enough. If the snow won't come on the road, we will go off it. So we do. Some lovely pics are the result.

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Our black boy looks striking in white.

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About half an hour of fooling around in snow later, we are back on the road. This village is called Hull. Again not a human in sight and completely shut down.

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After Hull we see a Himalayan Red Fox crossing the road. The car's engine makes it scamper across the snow, and by the time we get out the cameras it is far away.

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And after Hull the road transforms into a wonderland of snow. 3ft high ice walls on both sides, black ice in stretches (especially a crest into the rocks where no sunlight reaches, we will cover that soon) narrow pockmarked road and not a single car in sight. Since I'm driving, Sugata's IMMMCO sets in. He keeps the SLR aside and keeps analyzing which pothole could have been avoided, where the lip of the bumper brushed the ice wall etc. So no pics.

To his credit he let's me drive all the way to Lossar.

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It is getting dark by the time we reach Lossar. We see (yet another) village with everything shut down, and I'm quite tired of IMMMCO so I hand over the wheel to Sugata. Now the readers will have pics.

It is 5 PM by the time we start for Kaza.

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Just in case you decide to do winter Spiti by helicopter and have to visit Lossar.

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Chichong is the first village after Lossar.

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The presence of snow on barren rock makes the scenery beautiful. The complete lack of humans or traffic makes it hauntingly so.

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We are literally driving through a narrow road, with fields of ice on both sides and a frozen river metres away. I sincerely wish we had a drone, so I could bring the magnitude of the landscape to you.

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A little village called Kiamo. No humans in sight.

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A bigger village called Hansa.

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Houses in Spiti villages are generally made of mud or stone.

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The very impressive veterinary hospital in Hansa.

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If you zoom into the pic you'll see the gate to the Chicham-Kibber road on the left. This was the alternative route I talked about in the last post (at Chicham bridge). Unfortunately BRO hasn't cleared it and that route is under 3 feet of snow.

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The place where the road goes over & across the Spiti river.

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The red iron bridge makes for nice contrast in a field of white.

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Between the bridge and Hull the snow is at its deepest, the road narrowest and black ice frequently present.

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Be ready for the bumpers to brush with snow if your vehicle veers on black ice.

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The Yeti King's palace on the edge of the mountain.

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Yes that is the road ahead.

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A pic for Jeep to use in their compass brochure.

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And a wider angle to give you an idea of the area we were crossing

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By the time we reach Sumling it has become too dark to photograph anything.

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I keep the camera aside, and lean my head on the headrest. This has been a memorable and exhausting day. The memories of driving in this sea of ice, I will carry with me till I'm alive.

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 26th March 2023 at 19:33.
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Old 26th March 2023, 14:21   #6
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

8 Mar 23 - Komic, Hikkim and Langza

We wake up and go about getting ready in a very relaxed manner. The memories from yesterday's drive are still fresh in our heads. Today the sightseeing is limited to 3 places close by.

We leave after breakfast and get on the road to Langza.

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Unlike the Rangrik-Lossar route which is low lying and flat (thus giving the impression of a field of white when it snows), this mountain is rocky with frequent ridges and curves. It is precisely this terrain where the elusive snow leopard thrives.

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Very soon we drive through what seems like a freshly cut road out of a glacier or something. There is hardly any traffic, so we slow down and start counting pugmarks on the snow. Flat square ones would be ibex or mountain goats, because they have hooves. The one's with nails would be the claws of the snow leopard.

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The scenic beauty is to die for.

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At one curve we stop and relieve ourselves. Then Sugata starts adjusting some stuff in the car.

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We do silly things like photographing ourselves.

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When this Innova (coming from Langza) passes us by and someone yells out my name from the car!

Wow. 2 days in Spiti and people already know me?

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It turns out to be a couple from Mumbai who we made friends with in Kalpa. They were originally supposed to go to Theog, but (hearing all the Spiti stories from us and Jeep Captain) had come over to Kaza on a whim. Good people and great photograph.

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We say goodbyes and continue towards Langza. That stone is at a fork on the road where the straight road goes to Langza, the one on the right to Hikkim.

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Langza village looms into view.

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This man is a resident of Langza village. Since there is no supply of water in winter, local villagers load these donkeys (this breed is actually called Spiti Donkey) with 4 15L jerrycans and travel across the ice to Rangrik and back. Those 60 litres form the entire family's water supply for the next few days. The land might be beautiful, but life is certainly not easy.

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We reach Langza. At the monastery we find the children playing Holi (it was Holi in North India that day). They are intelligent and well-behaved kids, and they run towards us shouting Holi hai! I felt sad that I wasn't carrying any chocolates or biscuits to distribute to the kids.

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But they did accept my request of a group pic and doing "Holi Hai" together.

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We drive down to the giant Buddha statue. There is no one here when we reached.

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The compass sneaking up on Buddha makes a great shot, no?

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A pan-shot of the view Budhha looks out into.

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My record with dogs has been bad on this trip. Met this little fellow sniffing around. But when I called and reached out to him...

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...He ran off

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The only cafe open was at the base of the statue. He called us and treated us to Sea Buckthorn tea (the liquid you see in the photos). Sea Buckthorn is a shrub that grows in dry, arid areas. The orange berries have tremendous nutritional value, and are used in a wide variety of food and medicine including anti-ageing, skin treatment and dietary supplements.

For all the hype, the tea tasted like boiled orange juice. Just saying.

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While leaving, we came across a group of 4 bikes from Gurgaon. All Hondas. An Africa Twin, a CB500X and 2 Hness. The CB500X owner introduced himself as Deep Ranjan Sachan, a youtuber. I've pasted a link to his video (of that day). You can see the whole thing to get an idea of the terrain, if my pics fall short. Or you can scroll to the 17.00 minute mark which shows them at Langza, me and the Compass.



We say goodbye to the kids and bikers, and head off towards Komic.

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More and more snow.

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And Komic, the highest village connected by motorable road in the world, looms into view.

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Here too, everything is closed. That's ok. We are now used to the idea of seeing an entire village closed. I focus on the beautiful monastery building instead.

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Sugata warns me that the entire climb (to the monastery) is covered with ice. But I rely on the decathlon boots and climb up. The view of the village from top.

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A pan-shot of the entire frontage of the monastery.

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A village with just 114 people has its own primary school.

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I don't know what's more stunning. The contents of the board or the scenery behind it.

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Sugata files his entry into the next Jeep Compass brochure.

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And we file our entries into each others' biographies. Whoever becomes famous first.

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Photos done, we say good bye to Komic and head to Hikkim. Our last destination of the day, and of Spiti.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5401.jpg

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 13:32.
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Old 26th March 2023, 22:03   #7
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

The road is really bad, basically just untarred dirt. The car pitches and bounces around. I enjoy Sugata's IMMMCO fighting with Sugata the driver.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_5402.jpg

That's it, that's the post office building. It is closed on account of Holi.

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But the shop opposite is open. They not only serve tea and maggi, but also post cards and stamps. We buy the latter and send out post cards to some people. Though no one has received them.

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We photograph the compass with the building for posterity.

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And myself.

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On the way back we cross this spot with a perfect aerial view of Kaza.

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Zoom makes for better detail.

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Unique carvings on the rock wall due to centuries of erosion.

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The road remains this pile of dirt all the way till we reach the highway back to Kaza.

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One last pic of ice meets fossil rock.

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We reach Kaza. We're famished, and frankly sick of having maggi and the bland Indian food the homestay was serving us. So we ask around and are directed to Poonam Dhaba in main Kaza market.

Almost every house here has one or more dogs, and they're furry healthy creatures.

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Poonam Dhaba is owned by a Nepali Genteman and the food is delicious. He is pretty knowledgeable about mythology, as was evident from his telling another local about how the festivals of Holi and Holika Dahan originated.

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We are served fried mutton momos and Thukpa with steamed momos inside it (called Mothuk). Gulps at food are interspersed with interesting conversation with the owner.

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We spend the rest of the day curled up inside the blanket in the homestay. The trip has been emotionally overwhelming, but there is one more day to go.

Till reaching Kaza we were undecided where to halt for the return leg. Sugata wanted to visit Chitkul because he had heard it was beautiful, and he wanted to visit Bharat ki aakhri chai ki dukan. Samba told us its better to stay in Rakchham than Chitkul because there are more options. So we decided on Rakchham.

We didn't explore options in Rakchham much. Called up a well-known hotel there who asked for a certain amount of money for the night but said running water was not available. Then called up a budget option (called Rakchham Homes) who sent us an attractive video of the room and surroundings. The rate was cheap and there was no running water either, so we decided on Rakchham homes. Not a good idea.

9 Mar 23 - Kaza to Rakchham

It is a bright, beautiful and lest I say hot day when we decide to leave Kaza. We refuel at the highest fuel pump in the world. They only accept cash.

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Only one attendant handling all the dispensers. Chaos.

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We make slow but sure progress out of Kaza and cross Tabo in expected time. The weather gets pretty warm after Tabo. Though we had included Dhankar in our return leg, we decide to skip that in the interest of time. But we are going to Giu for sure. I really want to see how a 15th century monk's body has been preserved without any embalment, just due to the cold weather.

If you're coming from Tabo, the turn-off to Giu monastery comes about 8 kms before Sumdo checkpost. From this point it is another 8 km drive to the monastery. The gate marks the entry to the Giu road.

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The road surface is good for the first 1 km.

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Then gets progressively worse until its a dirt track.

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We enter Giu village. Here a funny thing happens. We are stopped at one point and asked for Rs 30 per head by an employee of the monastery trust. We pay. He then says "Sir, when you leave the monastery, make sure you bolt the door. Otherwise wild animals may enter the sanctum."

We: What do you mean bolt the door? Aren't there any security guards/attendants there?

Him: No sir, I'm the only employee on duty. The monastery is all yours to see. But please do what I told.

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So within 1 km we arrive at the Giu monastery. Spectacularly located on top of a hill. The white room to the left of the screen houses the body of Sangha Tenzin.

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The original mud monastery was destroyed in the earthquake of 1975. What stands now is a cement building with very ornate (dare I say loud) decoration, very different from the ones we saw in Spiti.

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The decorated door is locked shut. So we cannot enter the main monastery.

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Essential reading about Sangha Tenzin before you see him in the err, mummy.

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It is an eery feeling to be in this silence with Sangha Tenzin. We pay our respects and bolt the door on our way out.

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The fantastic location makes for great photos of the compass.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679214905597.jpg

And yours truly.

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We resume our journey from Giu. Sumdo, the road from hell before Maling Nala and Maling Nala itself are crossed in due time before Nako.

We visit Nako Lake, which looks spectacular in the semi-frozen state.

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We make steady progress from Nako to Karchham, but it is already dark by the time we start our climb to Rakchham. The road is very very bad (you'll see in the next post) and it is past 8 PM when we reach our homestay. It is -5 degrees outside, and Rakchham Homes doesn't offer a heater. We pile up the blankets and go to sleep.

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 16:28.
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Old 27th March 2023, 00:46   #8
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Our homestay in Rakchham. Trust me, really basic and really avoidable.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209958741.jpg

We start our journey to Chitkul, which is only 12 kms away.

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The canopy of coniferous trees is a welcome break from the arid desert that was Spiti. But the road surface is really bad and keeps us bouncing.

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At one point we take a turn and come across this spectacular view.

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Only a pan-shot can justify the entire view.

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The entry to Chitkul.

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Unlike Spiti, where we would see maybe one car per hour, Chitkul is really really crowded. And more tourist buses were arriving by the minute.

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Quite a town considering it is a border area. In summer this must be as crowded as Kasol or Mcleodganj.

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We cross the town/village of Chitkul and keep going as far as the road would allow.

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The view keeps getting better and better.

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First comes the gate to the forest sanctuary.

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Then comes the ITBP barrier which tells us that (for civilians) it is truly the end of the road.

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So we turn back and see Chitkul from the other side of the road.

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Sugata visits the place he has dreamed of.

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While I capture this cute local family out for a stroll, puppy and all.

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The views from the Dhaba are very nice too.

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There are ski classes going on in those slopes, which we knew because the owner of Rakchham Homes is one of the instructors.

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So after spending an hour lazing around and taking in all the sights, we depart for Shimla. We cross Sangla.

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We cross the JSW Hydel power station in Baspa.

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The road is pathetic all the way to Karcham.

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That gate signals the end of the road and our return to the NH505 in Karcham.

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From Karcham we make fast progress to Shimla. The sights we witnessed are still fresh in our minds, and both of us are happy that the trip was succesful.

We encounter huge local traffic at Rampur Bushahr, and (nearly at 4 PM) find lunch at this hotel & restaurant about 4 kms outside Rampur. The food is good and rates are very reasonable.

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Finally we enter our hotel (HPTDC Hotel Holiday Home) in Shimla at 7 PM. It is my hotel of choice in Shimla because its really close to the mall lift and offers its own parking. We take a luxurious shower, and have dinner at the Cafe Sol, Combermere in the Upper Mall. After 8 days of dal-sabzi-chawal and momo-thukpa, the Penne Carbonara and Chicken Mexican Steak are a welcome break.

Tomorrow we return to Noida. That's it. Thanks for reading through this far.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209958447.jpg

__________________________________________________ ______________________________________


The Epilogue


The Jeep Compass

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To say I was impressed with the compass would be an understatement. The engine makes crazy power and the 8 speed automatic is more than able a match for it. Especially in the hills the GB always found the right gear, and the progress we could make thanks to the engine's grunt and nimble handling was unbelievable.

The car started in first crank every morning in Kaza. That is saying something considering all the horror stories we had read about diesel vehicles in sub-zero Spiti.

I was bowled by the features this car has. Especially coming from driving a 90's engineered SUV which doesn't even have a touchscreen.

First up, memory seats. I am 6'2" and fat, Sugata is 5'9" and as lean as they come. Consequently they required 2 very different driving positions. Pressing 1 or 2 buttons every time we switched seats, and the seats adjusting to our perfect driving position was a delight.

Second, the amount of feedback this car provides. Most modern cars provide navigation and TPMS. This one had a full range of adjustment to vehicle dynamics, and gave real time feedback (see below pic) on different temperatures when we drove.

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-1679209958793.jpg

Any dislikes? Yes, 2 specifically. First, all models of the compass (except the Trailhawk) come with a sort of wind deflector below the body to aid aerodynamics. When you're driving on rough roads, this thing keeps brushing the ground. This happened at least 25-30 times in the trip. Very disconcerting to be driving an SUV and be concerned about the underbody brushing.

Second, (like the XUV500) this SUV has a tendency to pitch violently from side to side when all 4 wheels are at different heights. This spoils the otherwise serene passenger experience you get thanks to the zero noise inside the cabin and almost 0 body roll on smooth roads.

The team-mate

Disclaimer first. Without Sugata this trip would not have happened. As said before, I didn't even know Spiti is doable in winter. Sugata not only planned the trip, but also chose me as the team-mate. So thank you my friend.

The car-detailing OCD was amusing. Sugata just cannot stand the sight of a dirty car. He cleaned the car the night we reached Theog (it was about 9 degrees in the night). He cleaned it the morning in Kalpa (it was just below zero). He was also trying to clean the car in -12 degrees the night we reached Kaza, only to be dissuaded by the homestay staff and Samba. They correctly predicted that he had climbed a great altitude without being acclimatized, and more effort would only lead to nosebleed or altitude sickness. So the poor guy stopped.

The IMMCO was equally amusing. It is sacrilege to be a petrolhead and not have mechanical empathy. But to take your car for subzero adventure, and be worried about slight damage to the paint or underbody means don't take your car. And to his credit he never asked me to stop driving, so I presume most of the exclamations were talking to himself! The only downside to IMMCO is he was too pre-occupied to take pics, so I don't have pics of some of the key routes - The Sumdo to Kaza stretch for example.

Jokes apart, it was a great trip where 2 friends enjoyed their hearts out.

Should you choose an expedition company to do winter spiti?

No, no and no. As Samba and co have shown, even in peak winter all you require is proper winter gear, rescue equipment and some common sense where driving is concerned. Though I would recommend, just to ensure you don't get stuck, take at least 2 vehicles in the group.

Our total cost for the trip including fuel came to 70pct of what the expedition company was charging us without fuel! Another round for the bean counters.

Vote of Thanks

Biggest thanks to Samba, who fixed up our trip in one evening, and who called us everyday to take progress reports. Now he's been following up with me for the travelogue.

Also thanks to Turbonath, for his very helpful travelogue and the time he took out for speaking with us.

Lastly, thanks to all the people who had the patience to read this far. To end with a common term (where Spiti and Ladakh are concerned) which I've hitherto avoided using, JULLEY!

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 28th March 2023 at 16:30.
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Old 28th March 2023, 16:52   #9
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing predatorwheelz!

Lovely travelogue and photos, refreshed the memories of an amazing trip to this place we did many years back!

Though I tried my best but could not stop myself from posting a few of my favourite photos from that trip

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-img_20170527_192149.jpeg

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Old 28th March 2023, 17:45   #10
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Whenever I read such threads it is a split reaction inside my mind - sheer happiness of seeing and reading anecdotes from such a great trip, and the foreboding depression knowing I have to get back to the drudgery of my immediate reality in a few minutes.

Spiti, like all destinations is getting more crowded with each passing year, and it looks like to get the pristine and raw feel of the place one needs to visit there in the winter months. The wildlife sightings sets the winter Spiti trip apart - even if the other factors are not considered.

Sad that you could not charm your way through our canine friends hearts this time around - maybe they could not smell the fur baby sitting in your heart, but hundreds of kilometers away through all the winterwear

Hope you are still planning on losing a couple of wheels, maybe we can do this again - with IMMMCO as the mother figure lurking at the back of the pack!


Mandatory photo replugs follow
A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-spiti1.jpg

A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-spiti2.jpg

Last edited by cr4nkshaft : 28th March 2023 at 18:03.
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Old 28th March 2023, 18:32   #11
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Such travelogues should never be allowed during last week of March, that too on Tuesday! It made me realise again how badly I miss such trips! The night shots are really tempting and those gave me enough impetus to plan a winter spiti in next session.

I am glad that you guys did the trip, especially Sugata, who has shielded his car from dust particles all these years. He sounded concerned yet excited when we spoke just before this trip.

Jeep compass looked ravishing in those beautiful snow capped surroundings. However the car looks so fresh in all the clicks, the paint surface must have felt enchanted, receiving the daily dose of dust till they were allowed to rest on the surface.

We need to meet soon for more behind the scene experiences, over various platters of meat.
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Old 28th March 2023, 19:00   #12
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Lovely travelogue Aniket da! The beautiful photos coupled with your fluid narrating style made for quite a refreshing need in the middle of week. Wishing you your own 4x4 soon, so that you can keep on returning to the magical snow-filled mountains, over and over again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
The Ka loops are a series of loops that make you ascend a very steep road very quickly and terminate at Nako. They are so smooth and so tight, the bikers must have a field day here. And the views are to die for.
Let's do it, then!

Last edited by boniver : 28th March 2023 at 19:01.
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Old 28th March 2023, 19:51   #13
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Took me an hour and a half to read the whole travelogue. I could visualize the whole trip kilometer by Kilometer! Splendid captures along with a brilliant narration. Rated 5*.

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
So like real matured adults, we called up Samba and pleaded with him to help us . Tum hi ho bandhu, sakha tum hi - full emotional works. And boy, did Samba help! That call lasted late into the evening. All accommodation information and contacts were given on the call, and (like a drowning man clutching on to straws) I called and booked every hotel/homestay the same evening. Samba gave us a ready reckoner of what to expect on the road, where to take what precautions (his mental memory is like a map) so by the night we had done a mental tour of Spiti.
Mention not! It was a pleasure to help friends like you & Sugata, specially when both of you planned for this trip for such a long time. I very well know how the sadness kicks in, if such a trip gets cancelled. I wholeheartedly wanted both of you to complete this trip. And you guys have completed the trip in a seamless way. Hats off to both of you.

Will wait to read Sugata's reply, & specially his take as an owner of the new Compass, though you have beautifully covered that part too.

Sharing a couple of pics from our winter Spiti trip in Jan. (These two pics are among my personal favorites.)
Both were clicked at the parking of Jigme homestay, Kaza.

Pic Courtesy- Bhpian DogNDamsel12

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A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?-snow-2.jpg

Last edited by Samba : 28th March 2023 at 19:56.
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Old 29th March 2023, 11:47   #14
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

It's a sumptuous travelogue indeed. Congratulations, on completing such a marvelous expedition which is a dream for numerous travel enthusiasts! Hat' off to you and Suguata for embarking on such an awe-inspiring journey and for sharing such an enthralling experience with us. Not to mention cleaning a car in a sub-zero temperature, morning is one hell of a task!

Hope to hear some more exciting stories soon!

Last edited by apollo_1999 : 29th March 2023 at 11:49.
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Old 29th March 2023, 14:08   #15
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Re: A Jeep Compass takes 2 regular dudes to Winter Spiti - Who needs expedition companies?

Great write up Aniket and thanks for taking out the time to pen down the amazing experience we had !!! I for one donot have the patience for doing so, but am great at delegating.

Truth be said, like we discussed, pictures no matter how great they are doesn’t do justice to the actual beauty of this place.

Let me start by adding a few pics from my side.

Shots taken from the Grand Shambala Attic and Patio

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The petrol pump at Pooh

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Some shots at the Tabo Helipad, while Aniket was 'Hangrily' waiting for his Momos.

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A frozen waterfall enroute

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Kaza at night lit by the moon

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The Rocket Stove at Jigme Home Stay. This place is a definite recommendation for anyone visiting Kaza.

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This is Mr. Jigme himself. Super smart kid !!!

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Kaza, this is what you wake up to when you look outside the window

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The Predator himself

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Little did they know I actually cleaned the car

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The Tibetan Fox, supposedly a rare spotting

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Enroute to Losar

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At Langsa, sneaking up on the Buddha

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At Komic, while waiting for Aniket to finish is shoot

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At Gue Monastery. This is by far my favorite pic of the JC.

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Continued...

Last edited by Altocumulus : 29th March 2023 at 14:22.
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