Posts Tagged ‘Leh’


Today the skeleton felt strong. With only minimal luggage, the slopes were a breeze and the kilometres to the highest motorable pass in the world zipped by. Only on the way down did I realise just how high we had climbed – over 2000m into the beautiful Ladakhi heavens.

Coming down from Khardung La

Coming down from Khardung La

Jessica and I left at 7, mentally prepared for 40km of climbing. China was invading, it seemed. Whole squadrons of army trucks were climbing the pass. Squadrons of tourist taxis were also plying the roads, and the standard Indian men on motorbikes.

And then there was the skeleton and Jessica.

Jessica climbing Khardung La

Jessica climbing Khardung La

This day was the finale of the trip. This day was the biggest climb to the highest place. We had both cycled so much in the highest mountains in the world. Now was the icing on the cake.

My energy music – Infected Mushroom – pushed me up. In fact, it gave me too much energy, I went too fast, laughed with joy too much, and had to stop to recover my breath. I realised I could do this, but I didn’t have a lot of buffer. My body had made enough haemoglobin, but I wasn’t fit for Mt Everest – yet.

The top of the pass was one big traffic jam. A squadron of army trucks was returning, and there wasn’t enough room for everyone. I (and hundreds of others) stood in the exhaust as the jam was resolved.

Traffic jam near the top

Traffic jam near the top

I arrived at the top, cheered Jessica on from the prayer flags and gompas above the road, and then we went into ‘one of the highest canteens in the world’ as it started to hail.

Jessica arrives at the top

Jessica arrives at the top

In fact, just next to the ‘one of the highest canteens in the world’ was the highest. It was about 20 feet along the road, and a whole 398 feet higher, according to the sign. There were also two miraculous neighbouring signs at these two key altitudes.

Khardung La summit. Not sure of the altitude though.

Khardung La summit. Not sure of the altitude though.

Khardung La

Khardung La

The way down was nothing short of spectacular. The rain stopped, and the evening sun bathed the whole valley in a soft, yellow light. After the 10km before the pass were rattled down, it was a smooth, bitumen road, and a beautiful and incredibly long decent into Leh.

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

The way down from Khardung La

We passed a guy who had walked from Germany in one year. Pretty quick..

This guy walked from Germany.

This guy walked from Germany.

Arriving in Leh, we were starving. The skeleton ate 3 main courses.

Gompa above Leh

Gompa above Leh


We are climbing Khardung La tomorrow. Terrain is no boundary. We are going to bash on regardless.

Bash on regardless

Bash on regardless

It was an uneventful return to Leh. We got our permit and ate a lot (again). I don’t want to stay a skeleton. 🙂


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 café 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