December 29-30 2009
Awake early, call around to to find a car to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, phone seems very unreliable and have no luck, we all decide to go to (3) the YMCA to get breakfast, then I talk to RAMA tours about a ride to Agra, Rick and I decide to do it, ride is a 4+hr race, bad traffic, weaving in and out of traffic, not very fun, but did get to see more of the country (4), Taj Mahal, amazing (5)(6)(7)(8)(9), Red Fort (10), also, painful ride back, sleep in and out, racetrack and traffic jams, get back to Hotel 55 a little after 10p and get ready for flight to Leh tomorrow, bed, wake up at 2a and feel like shit from car ride, feel better by the time we take the taxi to the airport, flying over the Karakoram as I write this (11), land in Leh (12), dang, very cold, but feel real good, meet Stanzin for the ride to his house (13), meet his family and some of the others staying there, sister cooks us breakfast, Ryan said everyone was very kind and I'm impressed, take a 3hr knap and wake up and feel like SHIT, nasty headache, no appetite, and maybe or maybe not related, "epic battles in the outhouse", this continued all day on the 31st also.
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January 1 2010
Went to the hospital, not feeling well due to altitude, got O2 for about 30min which seemed to cure me, also some antibiotics, one of which was a shot administered to shoulder, had to take off shirt for nurses to get access, nurses weirded out because they'd never seen someone so big and hairy, felt much better after O2 and my appetite returned, which made Stanzin's parents happy.
January 2 2010
Feeling well enough to go for a car ride, headed east out of Leh (14)(15) and visited Hemis, Shey, and Thiksey Monasteries (16)-(21), Himank road builders put up funny safety signs along the way, now that I'm feeling better, we'll probably leave on the forth for the trek.
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January 3 2010
Another long road trip, this time west, to Lamayuru (23)(24)(25)(26), rough, 3hr each way car ride, some very hairy sections of road (22), lousy weather, hit a dog with the car, passed the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar Rivers (27).
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January 4 2010 trek start
Almost had to postpone because of the snow, but we're good to go, drive around town to pick up people and last minute supplies (28), head west out of Leh and take the new road that skirts the Zanskar River, almost end up in the river when the taxi gets loose, but luckily it hit the mountain instead of the dropoff, first to the Himank settlement (29)(30) then to where the road ends, where I was the coldest I've ever been in my life, to start the trek on the ice (31), stayed in a tent for the night, pretty cold, but my bag kept me warm (32). My sleeping bag, a Mountain Hardware, saved my ass and I have used them on other trips and will continue to use them. I used First Ascent clothing through the northern India conditions and would recommend them.
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January 5 and onward
Damn, why do I have to take shits at 4 in the morning every morning? Ice not in good shape on second day, so lots of climbing on the canyon walls. As we get closer to and into Zanskar, the ice gets better. Nights, and a short explanation of the day, follows. If a place is the description, we rented a room in a person's house for the night.
1-tent (N33deg57'41.6" E77deg12'54.8" except opposite side of river)
2-cave pretty long day, lots of canyon climbing, as stated above
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3-cave short day, porters worried about not having wood if went further, fires everywhere in the cave, loads of smoke
4-Nyrak (N33deg53'13.9" E76deg54'46.8") very, very cold, wind always into face, ice formed on Ryan's eyelashes (41), bridge used when trekking in the summer (44)(45)
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5-Hanamur (N33deg43'8.0" E76deg52'14.9") wind in face again, very cold, ice in good shape, saw snow leopard tracks (50), village of Hanamur, plus the house to my back (51)
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6-Zangla (N33deg39'33.4" E76deg59'2.7") short day, lunch stop before Zangla (52)
7-Zangla (N33deg39'33.4" E76deg59'2.7") day ride to Padum, lunch at Sunum's (53), long walk uphill (54), dough and yak meat, pretty good, almost entire taxi gets drunk on Army issue rum on the ride back, yelling and singing, decide to stop to see the Stondey Monastery (57)-(63), a 1000ft climb from road level, least touristy monastery so far, awesome view, give us tea and salty, descend back to the taxi, cold, cold, cold, head back, have to take one of the pull outs so a vehicle travelling the opposite way can pass, we get stuck, everybody pushes and freezes, ice is forming on all interiors of the windows, driver using an old CD to scrap it off so he can see, long snow trail walk back to room; the girl that lives at the house (64).
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8-Hanamur (N33deg43'8.0" E76deg52'14.9") quick walk back to Hanamur, took the road this time, which climbed well above the river, so we had to descend all the way to the river to cross (65)
9-Lingshed (N33deg53'42.7" E76deg49'21.4") longest day yet, around 10hr, the first half is following the Zanskar River back, while at about half way, we branched off and followed a small creek, which leads to the very isolated village of Lingshed. While still following the Zanskar, at about the point where the Himank guys were working, we came across Jaime McGuinness, who said that about 2km of ice had sunk and water was now overflowing it and it was not possible to cross without major wading. I was thinking that we were going to have to head back to Hanamur. We went ahead and had a look and it was now worse than stuff that we crossed on the second day. Just a little canyon climbing and we made it through no problem. Not real sure where he was getting his information from, but he was wrong. An interesting comment that he did have was that that morning was -33degC. We made Lingshed right around knightfall.
10-Lingshed(N33deg53'42.7" E76deg49'21.4") stayed in Lingshed and visited the monastery and school.
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11-Nyrak (N33deg53'13.9" E76deg54'46.8") short trek to Nyrak from Lingshed, cool views on the Lingshed trail (80)(81), more paw prints, once we got to the guest house in Nyrak, we climbed up the trail to the village (82), made satellite phone call (83) and visited Nema's friend, drinking, heading back, fucking freezing outside
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12-tent (N33deg55'14.5" E77deg5'13.3") decent trek for our first night back in the tent, originally I was really dreading it due to the cold, but it wasn't bad at all, must be getting used to the cold.
13-tent (N33deg57'41.6" E77deg12'54.8") Stanzin's funny morning face (86), ice was pretty bad today, which meant lots of canyon climbing (87)(88), another tent night for the last, kinda looking forward to it.
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January 17 2010
The last day, a short trek from camp to the beginning of the road, more ibex on the trip back, party at Nema's tonight.
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January 18 2010
Walk into Leh and watch a little of the annual Army vs locals hockey game, stand in line at the ATM for the third and last time, party at Stanzin's tonight, he says he's going to cook, but his sister does, everybody drinks too fast, decide we need more alcohol, so go out and visit two bars, come back, eat, good meal (thanks Anew, wish I could have told you), bed
January 19 2010
Left Leh in the morning for the flight back to Delhi. Didn't have the best experience staying at the YMCA, despite what we've heard. Had round two dinner at the YMCA buffet (first at Pizza Hut), where I took a big bite of what I thought was a green bean and quickly drank a liter of water.
January 20 2010
Left the YMCA in the morning to go to Old Delhi to visit the Jama Masjid and Red Fort. Flight left in the afternoon for Dubai, the airport with the largest duty free "mall" I've ever seen.
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some of Stanzin's photos:
some of Ryan's photos:
Some of Rick's photos: