Raid de Himalaya 2011 – Satisfied with our performance so far, we continued on our journey to Manali. We tried sleeping on and off during the drive. There is one certain thing that I had learned up till now; which was to sleep and eat whenever available. Believe me; going with that mindset saved me a lot of headache later. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (most of the times) ..boy it was freedom.
Anyway we reached Manali 8 hours later, where we had hoped to get some proper food and sleep before leaving for the next destination :@. Although we couldn’t get any sleep but at least the food was god (No sir I did not misspell it. It was god not good) . We also freshened up, which was another thing that was badly needed. It was already 12:00 A.M. and yea you guessed it right, we had to leave for the next checkpoint of the raid (Raid-de-Himalaya). Actually we were already 1 hr. behind schedule as we were supposed to leave by 11 P.M. A mesmerizing view of 3 snow covered peaks shimmering in the full moon light was in front of us as soon as we started our journey from the hotel in Manali. The view got clearer and clearer with our slow and steady ascent towards Rohtang La (Rohtang Pass). The closer we got to the summit, the more mesmerizing it became. Although I was struggling to keep my eyes open due to lack of sleep but this view was more overpowering. My half open eyes were wide open when we reached Rohtang Pass. You wouldn’t believe how pumped up I became upon seeing the view from the top. I asked the driver to stop and rushed outside to capture that moment. At 13,054 Ft. I was running around without feeling a drop of breathlessness. There was no time to set up the tripod and I tried my best to get some memorable shots. I will now let the pictures do the talking.
We started our descent from Rohtang and this is the time when I slept like a log. At 4 A.M, I was woken up by some on-going discussions about us getting lost and being on the wrong route etc. but I just did not care, I slept like a log :). At that point I did not care, if we were lost or on the wrong route as long as were safe and going somewhere. It was after all Raid de Himalaya – small things like these are bound to happen. At 7 A.M when I finally woke up, we were stationary and at our checkpoint but unfortunately we were late by an hour and had missed the race leg! That’s it, we had lost our only chance of capturing the riders that day and the “day” had just begun. None of us was disappointed though; maybe it was this peaceful and beautiful location which was lifting our spirits. We were at Jispa, an extremely small village in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. One word “Stunning Location”. Now that we had time on our hands, here are some random shots that we took at Jispa. Our next stop was 336 KM away at Leh. Yes! The second leg of Raid de Himalaya was extremely long and tough both for the riders as well as the service crew. 473 KM through some of the highest motor-able mountain passes of the world and extreme altitude variations were to be covered in a single day.
We started from Jispa at around 11 A.M towards Leh. The major checkpoints on this route are Bara-lacha Pass → Sarchu → Pang → Tangla-la Pass → Moore Plains → Leh. Bara-lacha la also known as Bara-lacha Pass is at a height of about 16,000 ft. This pass connects Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh with Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir. The road was extremely good and we were cruising smoothly. Just then BAM! One of the rear tyre of our extremely loaded vehicle got punctured. Again, the location did not let us spoil our mood one bit and we happily unloaded the vehicle, changed the tyre and set off to climb Bara-lacha la. The landscape around us took a complete makeover as we approached the pass. It was dry, barren but offered beautiful vistas 360 degrees. Each turn greeted us with an even more beautiful view. Each mountain was carved differently and the patterns were unbelievable. Things were going pretty smoothly except for that one puncture and we crossed Bara-lacha la at around 2 P.M.
We had planned to reach Leh by 9 P.M but God had other plans for us…After all it was Raid-de-Himalaya [Stranded in Sarchu]