When I got up this morning, I expected to be sleeping in Leh this evening. A sudden decision to be on the move with the New Zealander Jessica saw us climb and descend in the heat through barren, rocky landscape to end in a Sesspool.

Jessica climbing in the sun

Jessica climbing in the sun

Jessica wanted to go over 100km to a place called Lamayuru and then meander on back in 2 days, doing a few side trips. My friend Mark had said that there was a lot of climbing on the first day, and.. There was a lot of long climbs in the very hot landscape. We didn’t make it over 100km. We made it just over 60 before retiring in a nice cafĂ© and eating a lot.

Drahtesel in the sun

Drahtesel in the sun

The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers

The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers

We spent the late afternoon visiting an old Buddhist cave, and the evening talking.


The road catapulted down a narrow canyon of earth red rock, the sedimentary layers pushing to the sky at 45 degrees. Bursts of green grass and yellow flowers around the villages. That was the small side valley I passed down. The Indus valley was one long military base.

The valley heading towards the Indus

The valley heading towards the Indus

Excuse the weather. It was grey. It rained a bit. Not inviting for any detours to monasteries and the like, so I pushed on straight to Leh.

There I met Jessica again, who I had met with Thomas back on day 1. She’s leaving Leh in a week too, and were cobbling some plans together.

Leh has also been a big feed. And not on rice and lentils.

Getting some calories in

Getting some calories in


‘I’ll take a selfie with you. One minute.’ Then someone else, and another. Phones thrust into my face from all sides. Meanwhile, the wind was blowing the cold hail through my thin jacket. I retired to the warm food hut. My own selfie by myself would have to wait. The trials and tribulations at the top of the second highest road in the world.

Taglang La

Taglang La

Today was the day of the cyclists. I spent a lovely breakfast and 17km ride with the German couple Jane and Daniel. I spent about 5km with two Spanish guys before we split up – my pace being too slow. And I met an American cyclist on the way down.

Taglung La felt like a real pass. The climb went on and on, and the weather was wild – changing it’s mind every couple of minutes. Tailwind. Headwind. Sun. Hail. Thunder.

Approaching Taglang La

Approaching Taglang La

Just before the top, the wind tried it’s best to blow me off the mountain, and it started hailing on cue as I arrived at the top.

Taglang La

Taglang La

The way down was spectacular (even if the photos weren’t). After skirting the side of the mountain a bit, the road dived down to a small stream way below through a bunch of sharp switchbacks on a bright red mountain slope. The hurricane wind was mostly a tailwind, except on some switchbacks, where I pedalled to move downwards.

The road down from Taglang La

The road down from Taglang La

Once I reached the stream at the bottom, I flew, blown by the very strong wind. Travelling between 40 and 50 kmh, I had my first glimpse of Ladakh. Villages with sudden bursts of green and yellow, and gompas everywhere. The weather sucked, so I stopped at Lato to experience this beautiful valley in the sun tomorrow.

The river at the base of Taglang La

The river at the base of Taglang La

The greenery of Ladakh

The greenery of Ladakh


The bike stood there on the dry lake in the scorching sun. Around the bike were circles of tyre tracks from some motorbike enthusiast. Taking a photo of the scene every 5 seconds was the GoPro. Finally shade came, I packed up, left, and it started to hail.

Salt lake

Salt lake

Today was hot with a tailwind – except when it was hailing or raining with a strong headwind. The weather can change at the drop of a hat on these high altitude plains, and it did, numerous times.

This morning I climbed out of the canyon that Pang finds itself in, to be met with an amazing view of both the canyon and the beautiful More Plains.

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Above Pang

Rolling along, I took many photos as I watched wild horses roaming in the distance.

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

More Plains

My intention was to stay at Tso Kar lake, which was a 17km detour from the main road.

Towards Two Kar

Towards Two Kar

I never really found the lake. There were mounds of grass, and hillocks of sand, but no big expanse on water.

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

Tso Kar lake

There were, however, 2 German cyclists who are cycling from the other direction. We spent most of the evening together, exchanging stories.


Today I woke fresh and well. I cycled up the Gata Loops (21 hairpin bends) and over the Nakeela Pass. The top of the next pass was in view. It was early and so I pushed on. My first 5000+m pass and oodles of amazing views.

The view down from Lachung La

The view down from Lachung La

My theory about my sickness yesterday is that my water filter contains evil bacteria. I ate almost nothing and what I did eat went straight through me. My body couldn’t get any protein to make new haemoglobin, hence the new round of altitude sickness. I’m now well fed, and free of gastro, and no headache at all. All ready to attack the double pass of Nakeela and Lachung La.

The road followed the river, with one stunning view being replaced by the next around every corner.

Leaving Sarchu

Leaving Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

Road from Sarchu

The Gata Loops at the start of the Nakeela Pass saw a few traffic jams as the road is only wide enough for one car.

Climbing the Gata Loops

Climbing the Gata Loops

Finally I passed the Nakeela Pass, only to see the pitiful Whisky Nalah straddling a dry creek bed just below.

Nakeela La

Nakeela La

The disappointment of Whiskey Nala with Lachung La in the background

The disappointment of Whiskey Nala with Lachung La in the background

I couldn’t stay here, and there was time, so I climbed the Lachung La and descended an extremely beautiful but bumpy road into Pang.

Lachung La

Lachung La

View down from Lachung La

View down from Lachung La

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Towards Pang

Day 15. Sarchu (4289m)

Posted: August 4, 2018 in Cycling, India
Tags: , ,

Today was a rest day. First the problem was diahorrea. Some rehydration salts helped a bit. Later in the day I developed a headache. It was really worth staying put today.

Sarchu

Sarchu

I am surprised about the headache. I’ve been at this altitude for days. Anyway, I’ll reevaluate things tomorrow.


This evening I finally took the antibiotics. I feel very weak and have diahorrea. Still, I made it over a 4850m pass. I think a rest day may be on the cards tomorrow.

Baralacha Pass

Baralacha Pass

I slept badly last night. I just couldn’t get warm. I also couldn’t bring myself to eat much. This all lead to a snail-paced crawl up the mountain.

It was beautiful climbing into snowy regions. There was a beautiful mountain lake near the top and amazing views at every turn.

Descending the Baralacha Pass

Descending the Baralacha Pass

Lake at the top of the Baralacha Pass

Lake at the top of the Baralacha Pass

I stopped in the tent village down from the pass and hung between awake and asleep. I forced down some food and continued down the valley on a road that was sometimes prestine and sometimes very bumpy.

Valley below the Baralacha Pass

Valley below the Baralacha Pass

Valley on the way to Sarchu

Valley on the way to Sarchu