3 Renault Duster AWDs go on a 2 week winter road trip to Spiti valley

We were constantly driving on 3 to 4 inch of snow. The Dusters never missed a beat. They were sailing happily on the snow in auto mode. Even on deep snow, it was just a cakewalk for the car.

BHPian Samba recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

When I bought the Duster AWD in 2018, I had a couple of trips in mind. One was scaling Sandakphu & the other one was to enjoy the snow drive in winter Spiti.

Sandakphu was done and dusted in 2019 November.

I had been planning for Winter Spiti since 2020, but every year, due to some reason this trip would not materialise. I was adamant on completing this trip in Feb 2022, but again due to some situation had to postpone it.

I was hellbent, come what may this winter, I will head for a Winter Spiti in Feb 2023.

Planning started from late October. I was not much keen on going with the expedition teams where they take 20-30 cars in a convoy. Plus, I am the kind of guy who gets irritated when there is a team leader or a boss kind of figure, whose instructions I need to follow! Blame my genes for this, which came from my dad's side!

Did some research, and I was more than confident, that this trip can be pulled out without any support team.

From the beginning the plan was with three cars. Two Duster AWDs (mine & Bhpian mountain_deep's) and one Ford Freestyle which belonged to Bhpian Arghya_heart. But in November Bhpian DogNDamsel12 confirmed, she had certain commitments in Feb, so the trip needed to be shifted to January!

Further research showed that very less people visit Spiti in Jan. All the homestays were empty. But everyone warned, the weather can be pretty harsh in January and snowfall will be unpredictable. Okay! That's even more fun! We can get stuck in Kaza for few more days! Awesome! Let's plan in January!

But sadly Arghya & his wife had to opt out from the trip as they had a close wedding to attend in Jan.

But there is always a silver lining. My old friend Aritra aka Bhpian Aray wanted to join us with his family for this trip from Hyderabad in his Duster AWD.

Now the the research for hotels began. I was not ready to use the pits instead of a proper attached washroom in Kaza. I started calling many home-stays, but none were offering us an attached washroom.

Finally, I zeroed in on Jigme Homestay. They offered us generator backup, attached washroom (they said they would supply us water in buckets), bed warmers, room heaters and tandoors at the common seating place. So Kaza was sorted.

Had to fix Kalpa and the default choice was the Grand Shambala. They offer the best facility during the winters in Kalpa. I was not bothered about the stay options in Shimla and other places, as I knew there are plenty of good hotels.

Now as the hotels and homestays were sorted, we needed to prepare ourselves and our cars for this harsh weather.

One of the biggest advantage we had was Bhpian mountain_deep's parents joined us for this trip and both of them are doctors. That was a great assurance for all of us. They are avid trekkers too, so they guided us well on what to do and what not to do.

The preparation:

For us:

We visited Decathlon on a weekend.

Bought the following:

  • Water proof trek boots.
  • -18°C rated down feather jackets.
  • Warm Gloves.
  • Neck warmers.
  • Cottswool inner wears.
  • Woollen socks rated for -12°C.
  • Down feather pants rated for -18°C.

Apart from the above we carried:

  • Medicines.
  • Pulse oximeter.
  • Oxygen cans.
  • Flasks, so we can keep the drinking water warm. In plastic bottles the water freezes.
  • Moisturizers for harsh winters.
  • Loads of dry food.
  • Powerful led torch and led lights which can glow for 72 hours without charging.

Now for the cars:

The nearest Renault service station from Kaza is Solan (approx 450 km). So we knew, if anything goes wrong, we won't get any support & we are on our own.

In winters getting fuel might become dicey, so we bought 20L metal jerry cans with a good sealing and a Groz funnel to pour the fuel.

1/2 inch Taparia tool kit, few spanners, an OBD scanner. Incase anything goes wrong, I visited the Ranault workshop and prepared myself for doing some basic DIYS. If I cannot change a spare, I made sure I can guide a local mechanic to do so and we kept the necessary toolkit and spares with us. All our Dusters were serviced with some basic checkups 15 days prior to the trip.

We carried few spare fuel injectors too!

Among the other spares we had:

  • Timing belt (The old one).
  • Accessory belt (The old one).
  • Diesel filter (The old one).
  • Air filter.
  • Extra fuse.
  • Jump start cable.
  • M-seal.
  • Tyre inflator.
  • Tow ropes & D-Shackles..
  • Snow chains.
  • Extra mats for traction.
  • Coolant, engine oil, Brake oil for top ups.
  • Puncture repair kit.

The itinerary:

The plan was, I along with Bhpian DogNDamsel12 & Bhpian Mountain_deep will drive from Kolkata to Karnal in two Dusters. Bhpian Aray along with his family will join us somewhere on the Yamuna Expressway near Agra. Bhpian Mountain_deep's parents will fly to Delhi from Kolkata, and join us at Delhi/Karnal.

On the return leg Bhpian Mountain_deep will stay back at Gurgaon, as his office is in Gurgaon, and his parents will fly back to Kolkata. I along with Bhpian DogNDamsel12 will drive down to Kolkata & Bhpian Aray along with his family will drive back to Hyderabad.

  • 6th to 7th Jan 2023 Kolkata to Lucknow
  • 8th Jan 2023 Lucknow to Karnal
  • 9th Jan 2023 Karnal to Theog
  • 10th Jan 2023 Theog to Kalpa
  • 11th Jan 2023 Kalpa to Kaza
  • 12th Jan 2023 A drive on the road to Losar, Chicham bridge, Kibber, Kee Monastery
  • 13th Jan 2023 Langza, Komic & Hikkim
  • 14th Jan 2023 Kaza to Kalpa and visit Dhankar Monastery, Tabo Monastery & Nako lake on the way back
  • 15th Jan 2023 Kalpa to Chitkul & back to Kalpa
  • 16th Jan 2023 Kalpa to Shimla
  • 17th Jan 2023 Shimla to Greater Noida
  • 18th Jan 2023 Greater Noida to Lucknow
  • 19th Jan 2023 Lucknow to Dhanbad
  • 20th Jan 2023 Dhanbad to Kolkata

The introduction of the whole team & the cars:

The whole team:

Bhpian Aray aka Aritra Ray:

Rituparna Mazumdar, Aritra's wife:

Arish Ray aka Rion, who roasted us every-time we felt cold:

Dr. Dibyendu Mukherjee aka Bhpian Mountain_deep's dad:

Dr. Debarati Mukherjee aka Bhpian Mountain_deep's mom:

Bhpian Mountain_Deep aka Dyutimoy Mukherjee:

Bhpian DogNDamsel12 aka Sukanya Bhadra:

Yours truly:

The Duster family:

 The Duster which carried Bhpian Aray's family:

The Duster which carried Bhpian Mountain_deep's family:

The Duster which carried us:

And a couple of teaser pics:

And a couple of teaser videos.

Enough of preparations done, let the journey begin, but before that I want to thank Bhpian Turbonath, Bhpian PointZero & Abhisek Toto Lahiri for their valuable inputs to help me plan this trip!

Continue reading on BHPian Samba's road trip to Spiti with 3 Duster AWDs for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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