Friday, August 27, 2010
LADAKH DIARY 3 - JOURNEY TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD !!!!
After a hectic gompa hopping in Leh – similar to beach hopping in Goa and pandal hopping during Durga pooja in Calcutta :-) - we were getting ready for the journey of our life to the highest motorable pass in the world – Khardung La ( La in Tibetan means “Mountain pass”). Zigmet – our driver – was to come at 8 AM and we were ready after a quick breakfast of cereal and omelette.
The road to Khardung La was a steep climb. It is at a short distance from Leh and hence the climb is steep as you climb from 11,000 feet to 18,500 feet. The road is excellent as the Border roads organisation maintains this diligently. Khardung La is an important army base as the troops and supplies to Siachin is routed through this pass.
A steady climb over winding road gave us a panoramic view of Leh town below with Stok Kangri peak in the back ground. A stream below had created lush green fields with houses around it. I am not sure of the fate of these houses after the floods. An isolated gompa on a small hill provided an enchanting picture as we climbed up.
The road condition started to worsen and the last few KMs were really bad. We asked the border roads team about this and they said that this stretch was avalanche prone during winter! We could see tonnes of snow on either sides of the road and could well imagine the scene during winter!
As we came closer to the pass, the dark brown terrain suddenly gave way to a mix and match of snow and brown. On reaching Khardung La, all we could see around us was snow! Hurray! We were on top of the world! On the highest motorable road in the world!
We could not stay there for more than 10 minutes. The rarified atmosphere really hits you hard. You feel tired after few steps. Hats off to the armed forces personnel who not only stay here but work in these hostile environs. The road then descends into Nubra valley, which we could not visit. Nubra is supposed to be the place where you find sand dunes and two humped camels. It is also called as “Valley of flowers”. Possibly we will do that in next visit.
The drive though short provided us the glimpse what mountaineers undergo when they climb those heights. Snow, wind, lack of oxygen makes life miserable at these heights. The drive back was again comfortable and we were back in the evening to our hotel.
Posted by Poorna and Brinda at 8:35 AM