Trekking in Ladakh with Allibert, July 8-29, 2004.
July 8. Paris-Dehli.
July 9. Dehli-Leh. Landing, with visual aids only, delayed 30 minutes by the airplane trying to find a gap in the cloud cover. Watched traditional dances in Leh's palace.
July 10. Sightseeing: Shey, Tikse, Skot. Hot weather, arid scenery, exotic monstaries. Getting used to the altitude.
July 11. First day trekking, from Likir to Sumdo, along with a Nepalese head sherpa and two other sherpas, a Ladakhi cook and his three helpers, and a horseman and his two helpers, plus sixteen pack horses. Camping in the middle of vast, mostly dry scenery.
July 12. Sumdo to Rizong monastery to Yangtang by a stream at the bottom of beautiful gorges. Oppressingly hot weather.
July 13. Yangtang to Ang to Tingsmogang. Three passes, arid scenery, primitive villages. Beautiful monastery, and a magnificent view of the valley from there.
July 14. Tingsmomang to Khalse. Boring. Some time walking along the dirt road by the Indus (fast flowing, wide, muddy) being passed by dusty army trucks. Camp in a dirty back yard full of apricot trees with tasty apricots.
July 15. Bus to Lamayuru, then trek to Prikiti La and Wanla. Village festival in Wanla. Camp in Wanla: the sky is clear, there is no moon. Star gazing. First bout of digestive problems, instantly cured by taking a pill.
July 16. Wanla to Hanupatta. A grand canyon. Incredible diversity of rock shapes and colors. Camp in Hanupatta: by a remote village, inaccessible by road. A sick woman asks for medicine. I give my sleeping mat to a happy ragged boy.
July 17. Hanupatta to the base of Sniugutse La. Yacks fighting.Camp: the altitude is higher, sleeping is more difficult.
July 18. Sniugutse La to the base of Chomo La. High altitude desert scenery. Overcast weather. First day when hiking requires an effort.
July 19. Base of Chomo La to base cam to altitude camp.
July 20. Tsomo Tang summit (6043m) and back to base camp. Left camp at 3am, got back at noon. All made it except Fred who had stomach flu. Favorable weather with almost no wind, although too cloudy to have a view very far out from the summit. Walked in darkness to the base of the glacier, then put on our harnesses, ropes, crampons, to walk up the glacier, gradually steeper and higher (almost no crevasses in sight), then a short scramble to the top in mixed terrain of rocks and snow. Summitted a little after 8am. Going back down, we had a bit a snow falling.
July 21. To Kanji. A short downhill hike. On a farm, prople making bricks from mud and butter from milk.
July 22. To the base of Kanji La. A hike up some deep spectacular gorges. Tracks of a snow leopard.
July 23. To Kanji La and Dibling. Second bout of digestive problems, cured by taking pills again, but preventing me from enjoying our seemingly interminable walk up to the pass of Kanji La. In the afternoon, we crossed the Dibling river using ropes and harnesses and later watched our pack horses cross as well. Western-like scenery.
July 24. To Rangdum monastery and Tashidongte. On a farm, people making yack cheese. Friendly monastery. Camping in a field of edelweiss flowers in beautiful, peaceful, green scenery. Clear night sky. End of the trek.
A typical day trekking: I share my tent with Annick. At 6am, I am woken up by a sherpa bringing me a cup of tea. A few minutes later, he brings me a basin with warm water with which to wash up. We then meet in the mess tent for a full breakfast before we start walking, leaving the staff to clear breakfast, pack up the tents, load the horses, etc. At lunch time, one of the sherpas brings us the lunches which he carried in his pack. We get to camp around 2 or 3pm, wait for the staff to set up the tents (sometimes we help a bit), give us a glass of lemonade. Take a nap, wash up or do laundry if there is a stream, have tea served in the mess tent, then meet there at 6:30pm for alcohol and saucisson before being served a full dinner at 7pm. Dinner usually consists of pappadums and a bowl of soup followed by four dishes: vegetables, one dish with rice, one with potatoes, maybe one with pasta; and some canned fruit for dessert. Lots of tea, and boiling water to refill our bottles. Talk mostly about mountaineering, anecdotes of mountain accidents, mountain equipment, French food, drink, buddhism. Retire to our tents around 8pm.
July 25. To Kargil hotel. 8 hours on the bus. Beautiful weather and views of famous peaks, disty unpaved narrow road. Hot showers in Kargil.
July 26. To Leh. 12 hours on the bus, one accident, one flat tire. Witnessed 5 accidents along the road. In two days, 20 hours on the bus to cover 300 kms! Comfortable hotel in Leh.
July 27. Leh-Dehli. Sightseeing (Humayun's temple). The Meridien hotel: luxury hotel in which we don't really fit.
July 28. Agra, Taj Mahal, Red Fort.
July 29. Dehli-Paris.
July 30. Third bout of digestive problems, accompanied by a high fever and cured by antibiotics.