Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Indus Valley

The next day, we're on wheels again, heading towards Leh via the Indus Valley. We put the bikes at the back of a pick-up so as to avoid the first 20kms of gravel and rocks outside Korzok that we already had to undergo on the way there.

We need 2 days to reach Leh (69 + 104 kms) , and it's now good tarmac, quite relaxing. The only pass (Namshang La, 4,900m) seems easy as we are now well-acclimatized to the altitude.



Then we start the long descent along the Indus, which is far from being downhill all the way...



Arriving in Leh, back to civilisation and pollution...


Monday, July 27, 2009

Mentok - Goal 6000m

One of the goals of this trip is to climb up Mentok, a 6000m peak accessible from Korzok, hence we are going to be able to use - at last - all the kit we're been carrying around since the beginning (ice axe, crampons, harness, rope etc). We set off for 2 days of adventure. We find a perfect camping spot around 5,300m, with water nearby. Early start in the morning (3 am) for the final climb. We reach the 6,017m of the main pass around 7. Small snack at the top before walking down to the tent for a well-deserved nap. Back to Korzok in the late afternoon for a comforting and fortifying dal bat (rice and dal). We are tired, but glad to have reached the 6000m. Tomorrow, we're back on the road.




Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tso Khar - Tso Moriri

Permits in hand, we head back to Tso Khar. We wake up early to go get the 4.30am bus to Keylong. A 6 hr bus ride and a 2 hr walk later, we are back at the dabha. We retrieve the bikes and decide to move on. This break may have made us lose 2 days, but it has also pepped us up thanks to meals of lasagna, tandoori chicken with chips and salad, and banana pancakes! So we set off for new adventures in top shape despite the short night.

The first kms of tarmac right after Tso Khar are quickly ancient history. Follow 2 days of sand, washboard and stones (with some short respite near Namshang La which is paved), and 2 passes around 4,900m before we reach Korzok.

The tricycle still causes a sensation, as always,
especially among nomades on the High Plateaus.

Unusual encounter

The best tested technique in sand :
towing the trike
with a strap tied to the front boom!

Tipping over on sandy banking.
Should have paid more attention to the incline of the road.

We stay 1 1/2 days in Korzok for the festival which attracts all sorts of nomads (tourists and locals alike...):

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forced break

Quick message from Leh where we are forced to a 48 hr halt. After much hesitation, we left our bikes at Tso Khar to come and get the necessary permit to enter the "inner-line zone" (border area with China). The checkpoint being just before our final destination (the village of Korzok, by Tso Moriri lake), we don't quite fancy being turned back a few hundred meters from our goal, and having to cycle several days on rough road to get back to Leh. So we go for the legal way.

Keylong - Tso Khar

Day 1 : Keylong - Darcha

Short day, trying to acclimatize to the altitude. Rainy weather and fairly muddy road:

Day 2 : Darcha - Zing Zing Bar

The sky has finally cleared up and we cycle along the Bhaga river before the climb up Baralacha La, our 1st big pass (almost 5,000m).

First stream to ford:

Starting the climb up Baralacha La:

Beautiful tarmac where we had found some real rough road last summer, but it doesn't last long (up to ZingZing Bar)

Taking a break above Zing Zing bar

Camping spot

Day 3 : Zing Zing Bar - Baralacha La - Sarchu Plains

Climbing up Baralacha La :

Salutary rest:

Last few kms up to the pass on beautiful tarmac:

Passage between 2 massive snow-walls:

Last picture break before the summit:

Reaching the pass :

Going downhill, we are slowed down by some obstacles on the way:

Beautiful landscapes

Great camping in the Plains

Tests of videos :

I fixed a a compact camera (Panasonic Lumix LX3) onto the seat of the tricycle on a ball head and tried to film the road going down Baralacha La. The videos are too big to be uploaded on blogspot, so here are the links :

Day 4 : Sarchu Plains - Gata Loops

Early start (as usual) in a beautiful morning light:

Stop in Sarchu, the tricycle is very popular, as always:

"If you are married, divorce speed" (hum, double meaning here...):

Some bit of bad road:

Climbing up the des Gata Loops amidst the trucks, bad timing:

Nice camping spot once more:

Day 5 : Gata Loops - Nakee La - Lachalung La - Pang

Photos and story coming soon...
Here is already a video :

Day 6 : Pang - Morey Plains - Tso Khar

Mini-video made from 8 images

Waouh, that'swhat I call sand:

Some washing and servicing after a hard day!