|18th September 2009, 15:22||#151|
We woke up almost on time.
Not feeling that fresh. First night at 4100+ always takes it toll slightly.
But good tea and taste omellettes are the perfect remedy.
We tell our host that we will be back by 10pm, so better keep our room!
Around little past 8 its time to wake up the white elephant from the long slumber.
But its not easy. Maybe she has some sixth sense about whats in store for her, and she does not want to start.
First crank, sputter sputter die
Second crank, sputter sputter more sputter and then die.
Their crank, sputter sputter and then grrrr grrr grr.
Rpm does its wild morning fluctuations, instead of the 800-900 done in plains its 500-1500. And then it dies.
But the battle has been won. 4th crank, and then grrr grrr grr.
After letting her break peace at the little hamlet with the wild oscillations for 5 minutes its time to head for our next destination.
Can't call up home because BSNL keeps saying network busy. Last night I had to do route explaining for Wari La etc., to KSM-Vtec(Kaushik) over sms as the call did not last for more than 5 seconds.
Anways its 8:15 as we start our journey. Its Friday the 28th. Friday is the day to party, and today we will party for sure.
The road is good, well excellent, and very soon we are at the Pagal Nallah. Now lots of people had told me that the upper road has been made, and suman's travelogue even shows the route.
However for us the mountain has decided to fall on the bypass.
So its the same older route, through the thick of it.
Its morning, and the Nalah is still pagal.
However its just half a foot pagal, and slowly in 4L I crawl the elephant, taking care not to get the shoes damaged.
There is a taxi way of nalah also. Bang Bang clunk clunk zoom. But I am not a fan of this taxi way.
Slow and steady wins the race, and as expected, slowly we crawl out of the mess.
After the nalah its more bad road, and we get the first glimpse of the holy grail.
The time is little past 9
What a view? Eh?
a Close peek
Finally at the Phobran turn it was time to big goodbye to Pangong, for now.
Pangong had to wait, someone else was waiting, almost in a sinister way.
The road through model village phobran was a model. A delight to drive.
Soon we were heading in the wrong direction, and some ITBP guys stopped us.
We had come forward from the unmarked turn to the La.
They saw the permits and said "Mushkil hai nahi Jayegi". I told the guys its a 4x4.
Well at your own peril they said and sent us to the ITBP checkpost
Luckily it was just half a km back, and I alighted searching for the officer in charge.
There was some construction going on, and with some difficulty I found the office.
Asked permit Kahan dena hai. And the office remarks "here".
No questions, no dissuading nothing.
It was time to Go to the La
So on Friday the 28th, at 9:50am we started on the 20km long journey to
|18th September 2009, 16:03||#152|
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Note from the Team-BHP Support Team : Please use the "edit" button if posting within 20 minutes of the first post, instead of creating another back-to-back post.
Last edited by Dippy : 19th September 2009 at 17:49. Reason: See note in post
|18th September 2009, 16:32||#153|
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Its friday evening now and Tanveer is off for the week end so next instalment on Monday....
|18th September 2009, 16:32||#154|
The Name is La.. Marismik La
Now if there was a James Bond among the La's it would be this one.
Its called the highest motorable pass in the world. Note, I have not called it the highest motorable road. Because there is no road here.
Only tracks left by 4x4 stallions.
As per the GPS(which at that time was showing a HDOP if 1.0) and 11 satellites connectivity, thanks to the active external antenna, the altitide up there is 5602 meters. Quite a few short of the claimed 18600 feet.
However I would give it a benefit of doubt. GPS vertical accuracy decreases considerably when at such heights, and in all fairness, at K-Top with same HDOP I was seeing 59XX or something I think around 50 meters below this one.
anyways, without much ado, we started from the checkpost on the 20km long "drive" to the roof of the world.
We did not have to wait much for obstacles.
first up, a sharp dry rocky hairpin, the steepest I had ever seen . Steeper than the steepest on Wari La.
However the 4x4 made a short work of it.
After that it was time for some "plains" if you can call them so
A dirt track, tilted sideways with army tire patterned ruts
The track is dusty as opposed to sandy, and slippery. I decided to stick to 4x4 for better traction, as a sideway slip could mean cartwheels
The white elephant.
More than the offroading, it was the dust, which was coming in with a vengence.
Now at such high altitude, dust creates more breathing problem than normal.
It was more of a torture, and camera breaks were few and far in between
After the initial track, it was time for the plains. Here trucks make their tracks, and you choose one. Depending upon your luck or lack of it you get a bad one or a very bad one.
Do not mistake it for a high speed plain. Its rocky, with sharp rocks hiding beneath the sand, and at time there are easy looking inclines which cause lot of wheelspin even in 4x4 mode.
Our dusty elephant
The above pic was taken around 25 minutes from when we started from the checkpost, and we had not come even 10kms, such was the progress
The white elephant was however not the only beast up there. We saw the rare wild asses who roam the Changthang desert. No time for telephotoing today.
Here are 55mm pics
Soon the "plains" part started getting tougher, and and lots of rocks started dotting the track. At times the ruts were so deep that I feared damaging the underbody. So it was time to put one tire on the middle raised part of the track, all sharp rocks.
Time to hit lower gears, and crawl. The track at M.La changes with every truck that passes, and our luck was not very good in this regard.
Biggest fear was damaging the sidewall.
So camera tucked back, it was time to concentrate really hard. With my eyes preened, and wife looking out towards her side we gently moved forward inch by inch, and then came a section which made my knuckles white and and heart in my mouth.
At almost 5500 above sea level I was looking a a climb, the likes of which I had not seen even in the NIOC OTRS.
The road went straight up the hill.
No gung ho here, it was full of big sharp jagged rocks.
Time to pray....
So with transmission in 4L gear 1st at 5kmph we started crawling, rock by rock.
It was like a multiple choice question paper
1. Do you like to rip out your undercarriage or.
2. Do you like to hit the running boards
The choice was obvious, slowly and slowly the foot guard became like a rock slider, as the white elephant crawled, shaking badly, slipping.
Many times the wheel would siddenly spin, and the rock would fly and hit the body with a loud clang!
We crawled and crawled, and the incline became steeper.
Where was the damn la?
With engine humming at 3000rpm, and fans roaring it was an ordeal. This was the highway to hell, and then it happened.
I felt sudden loss of power and the service light lit up.
The temp guage was 1mm above the half mark, and the ECU had decided engine should be put in limp mode.
So at 5500 meters above sea level on a 30 degree rocky incline, I pulled the handbrake, and shut down the engine,. and propped open the bonnet.
The fans were roaring, but the coolant was slightly boiling. I could make that much out in the recirculation bottle.
So we had not lost coolant, its just that running 3000rpm continuously on 4L for so long at this altitude had taken its toll.
The la had defeated us, we would have to turn back.....?
|18th September 2009, 16:34||#155|
So its a busy weekend.
And due to my back which still hurts I will not be able to make it for trail blazing if the pain is still there on sunday morning.
So I will do a lot of posting on the weekend. Promise
|18th September 2009, 16:48||#156|
Where Eagles Dare.........
But I cannot reverse here. So time to scout forward on foot while she cools.
The fans were roaring, and with engine off the temp would come down soon.
I start walking upwards. Its steep, and I am normally aspirated.
20 steps later I discover two things. One that my lungs will burst, and two, that the La is barely a couple of kms away atmost with just one more steep climb.
So its time to move on.
I start the engine. It has cooled down.
In first gear we start off. Progess is slower as I decided to restrict her to 22-2300rpm max as thats the torque sweet spot.
the number of rocks increase and every now and then there is a clang as the foot boards hit a boulder.
Looks like a heavy army convoy has gone forward recently. the ruts are deep and trecherous.
Funny strange little squirrel rat like animals scurry across. No not mormots. They are smaller, and I have never seen their pics anywhere.
Meanwhile the white elephant grunts, the turbo screams as it tries to suck in the oxygen which is not there, and the fans roar. In city you never notice this, but up here with not a soul in sight it sounds like world war 3.
Without knowing I pray silently. This can make an atheist see God. I am clutching the steering so tight that my palms are sweating.
Not a word is spoken, We are silent, scared, but moving up. The numbers roll slowly across the GPS
5598..5599...5600.. and then 5604... We are at the top.
The La is here. Marismik La
I prop open the bonnet for cooling. Its pic time
My hands are shaking, and we can barely stand!
The steed, all set to go back
The time is 11:11. It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to cover this hellish journey.
What are we supposed to feel after conquering the La. Elated? Happy?
I dunno, all I feel is what a waste. There is nothing here, even the La stone is faded.
7kms ahead lies the first checkpost, and then 25kms later its another checkpost and then china.
But we cannot go to China. We do not have visa. And even if we had one I doubt we will be allowed to go to China from here.
anyways much better things are awaiting, and its time to head back.
Hopefully the return journey will not be so much of a torture.
So with the 8th pass of our journey done, its time to head back.........
Last edited by tsk1979 : 18th September 2009 at 17:01.
|18th September 2009, 16:53||#157|
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Thanked: 274 Times
|18th September 2009, 17:02||#159|
|18th September 2009, 17:12||#160|
To the Sea
From the mountain or was time for the deep blue sea.
We descended back on the same trail, and it was 15 minutes later that we cleared the steep sections.
This is the hellish trail, not the steeper section, but the easier one.
Wild As.ses far away
The trail again
Wild elephant with Wild Asses, what a combination
IT was around noon when we reached the plains, the trail was ending, but not the dust.
The last shot at the La trail
Finally past noon, we are at heaven. Though we visited hell first to get here!
Coming up next : This
|18th September 2009, 18:53||#162|
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London & Rohtak
Thanked: 18 Times
Again, wonderful pics once again.
Looks like next few days are going to be fun in Office as with help of T-BHP, its easy to pass time.
Earlier it was Suman's travelogue which helped for days and now its yours.
Thanks a lot guys.
But on the hindsight, i strongly feel the urge to take a few weeks off and visit Leh-Laddakh, as some of the pics look totally screensaver material specially the ones involving Plains+blue sky.
I cannot even anticipate how some mere mortal like me will feel after seeing this in person.
|18th September 2009, 21:31||#163|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thanked: 30 Times
The travelogue is awesome and thanks to it I for sure am doing it the next year. In fact I am supposed to be there for a trek (stok kangri) tomorrow but couldn't get off today thanks to low leaves (new job).
|18th September 2009, 22:15||#164|
|18th September 2009, 22:40||#165|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Mostly Mumbai
Thanked: 1,448 Times
Tanveer, this is a wonderful account of M.La. I didnt know its that tough, especially after two Bangy blokes did it in their gypsies and their pics looked quite do-able.
Nevertheless, very nice pics. Are you allowed to drive to the check point you mentioned that is 7 kms from M.La?? Having gone this far, I would love to visit the bravehearts who live there.