Monday, October 23, 2006

Phugtal to Darcha

It took us another 5 days to complete our trek from Phugtal to Darcha. The highest point of the trek was Shingola (5094 mt). Kargayak was the last village before Shingola. This village at an altitude of about 4200 meters is believed to be the highest village in the Zanskar region of Himalayas.
Ascent to the base of the Shingola was pretty steep and prepared us good for the big climb to the shingola the next day. Ascent to Shingola was pretty moderate by Himalayan standards. But it is the high altitude along with cold weather and chilly winds that can act like a killer in the Zanskar.
At the end of the trek I was proud of everybody in the group as this trek was not only the test of their physical endurance but it also took the mental endurance to the next level. hmmmm ... well, I was also proud of myself for acclimatizing all the group members properly, taking care of the technical as well as logistical issues and finally leading the expedition successfully over the oh sooo high Shingola ;) ... this was for speaking modestly .... lols.

Resting at Testa Village after a strenous half-a-day of trekking.

Testa: Note the photovoltaic cells on rooftops of the village.

Family at Kuru: The family we stayed with in the Kuru Village. The people of the house did not speak Hindi or English or french for that matter ;) ... so the only way we could communicate with them was through gestures.

Prayer Flags

Sacred Engraving of "Om Mane Padme Hung" on the Mane wall.

Mane Wall: Budhists in this area engrave the stones with prayers and put them in a big heap, making a wall out them

Trekking: On our way to the village of Kargayak

Yak at Kargayak (I like the way it rhymes)

Meeting some interesting Chzech and Tibetan people working for an NGO at Kargayak.

Evening Beauty: We could view this peak from our room in the village.

Morning Glory: The same peak in the morning light.

Resting before the big ascent to the base of the Shingola.

Ascent: To the base of Shingola

Stream Crossing: Nat taking it easy and crossing the stream on the back of our horseman Tenzin.

Camping at the base of Shingola.

Resting at the end fo the day: Planning our strategy for the final ascent to Shingola in our horseman Tenzin's tent.

Hot Tea, well deserved after a hard day of hike.

At the base of Shingola: Pondering over the big next day.

The Mule and the Mountain

Star Trail @ the base camp of Shingola

Shingola (5094 meters) : Prayer flags at Shingola. Budhist people put the prayer flags at places where there is a lot of wind due to the belief that the wind will take thier prayers to Gods.
@ Shingola A trekker's sexy pose for my camera ;-)

Group photo at Shingola (5094 meters): Photo that makes me feel proud of all of my group members. I feel proud of my group's endurance (Physical as well as Mental) in tackling this high altitude pass.

Nathalie @ Shingola, watch the image in the funky shades.

Party at Darcha (3200 mts): Everybody was happy after finishing this 9 day trek, we celebrated the successful completion with an Old Monk (Rum from India) and some beer.

Bus Ride: Finally the Bus ride back to the good ole Manali ... I guess some of us were not happy that trek finished .... well the trek finished but the fond memroy remains.

Drive from Leh to Padum

The road from Leh to Padum is around 450 km and is usually covered in two days with an overnight stay in Kargil. The road condition from Leh to Kargil (230 km) is somewhat okay, but after that it is more of a rugged dirt track fit for mountain biking rather than for cars and SUVs. This stretch from Kargil onwards was probaly the bumpiest and dustiest stretch of the entire journey from Delhi to Padum/Raru.

On day 1 we had decided to drive all the way to Parkachik from Leh, but one of the group member was suffering from motion sickness by the time we reached Kargil, so we decided to stay overnight in Kargil only, which was'nt such a bright idea as it was a very big town, not really to the likings of the group members.

The road from Parkachik to Padum (140 km approx) was actually even more bumpier and dustier than the stretch from Kargil to Parkachik, but if you think about the altitude at which this road was built (average altitude of 3750 meters) and if you also consider the physiographic conditions in which this road was built, one should really have admiration for the people who built this road.

Prominent monasteries and ambient stops between Leh and Padam are Alchi, Lamayuru, Rungdum and Durung Durung Glacier. Penzila (4400 mt), is the solitary pass on the highway from Kargil to Padum (One enters the Zanskar Valley on crossing the Penzila). Durung Durung is a massive glacier close to Penzila.
For more dose about the journey from Leh to Padam, please Click Here to read up on Chris Feela's Blog.

Road to Kargil: One of the rare stretch where we had a straight road rather than winding road all the time

Concfluence: Confluence of the River Indus with River Zanskar at Nimoo.

Photo Time on the banks of River Indus: This is where Chris dropped the remains of the dread locks of his friend's hair into the river Indus.

River Indus

Moonscape: Terrain that resembled more like something on the moon, (shortly before Lamayuru 3800 mts).

Lamayuru: Monastery at Lamayuru

Lamayuru Village

Caravan: Caravan of army trucks near Fotu La (4100 mts), shortly after leaving Lamayuru.

Ladakhi Landscape

Dry Riverbed: The riverbed was sooo dry, I almost felt emotional for the dry river ;-)

Mt. Nun and Kun: These are the highest peaks of the region at an altitude of 7135 mt and 7070 mt respectively.

Indus View: Enjoying the view of river Indus.
Photo Credit: Nathalie

Check Post @ Parkachik in Suru Valley

Washroom(s): Ladakhi Stylee

Highway to Zanskar: The road from Kargil to Padum was more like a dirt road, but this road offers some spectacular views and is at an average altitude of 3750 meters

The long road: few kms before Rangdum

Lunch Time: @ Rangudm Express Restaurant and hotel in Rangdum.
Photo Credit: Nathalie

Chocolate Swirl: This mountain reminded me of the chocolate icecream big times.

Glacier Durung Durung: This is a massive glacier close to Penzila (4400 meters).

Group Shot: Shiny Happy People posing @ Durung Durung

Motion Sickness: Almost everybody experienced some sort of motion sickness on this long, bumpy and dusty ride from Kargil to Padum.

Dusty: Yes it was a dusty ride

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Here are some photos from the Paragliding trip near Sarsai, Manali. The Paragliding started at an altitude of 2500 meters and ended at 1600 meters approximately.

Photo Credit: Snowbird Adventures

1: Run off the cliff
Photo Credit: Snowbird Adventures

0: Take Off
Photo Credit: Snowbird Adventures

Enjoying the Ride

Way up in the sky is that a bird ?: No !! that is Nathalie.
If you look very carefully, you can see Nat's Paraglider in the top left corner of the photo.

Air Borne: Nathalie enjoying the paraglide, at this point I could hear her screams.

Landing: The chute landing few meters away from its supposed landing space where I was standing waiting to take the pictures.

The Chute, The Girl and The Guide who landed the paraglider.