Ladakh

Markha valley and ascent of Stok Kangri - August 2006

 

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Day 10 - Rescue and return to Leh

 

As promised the raft arrives at around 8.00, is put in the water and crosses over to our side without difficulties. Being clients of Rimo we are in the first batch to cross and Gompal (he is the man who took us down on the Indus river a few days ago, a very experienced rafter) manages extremely well. We didn't even get wet.

The raft is then carried up river and crosses back two more times in order to evacuate the rest of the people and staff stranded. Then a few of them head back down river in the raft, a much easier option (if you are a very experienced rafter) as the road is blocked 6km down river and such a raft is very heavy to carry a long way by hand.

Luckily the river level has dropped a little bit and it is possible to pass bags by cable box (it seems that 30 kg will just clear the water). Everybody is very relieved to be almost back to civilisation.

We still need to walk for a good hour in order to get beyond the landslide blocking the road and this is where our vehicles are waiting.

There is also a small settlement of driftwood gatherers. I had been observing them in the past couple of days working on the other side of the river. Wood is such a precious commodity in Ladakh (a desert that badly needs fuel during the bitterly cold winters) that people stand by the edge of major rivers such as the Zanskar and try to catch passing driftwood with poles. They then collect it and sell it to whole sellers who transport it to the towns.

After an hour's drive, we need to stop again because the main road joining Leh to Kashmir is blocked at Phyang (14km from Leh). A bridge was washed away by the floods during the night (unfortunately some people who were sleeping nearby drowned as well). The army is already at work but we can only pass on foot on a metal beam that has been put across.

Another change of vehicles and we are in Leh! Where it is raining again.

Right now, we need to wait and see what will be possible and not in the next few days. The situation today is that all roads into and out of Leh are cut off. There is also no electricity because the hydro-electric power plant is all silted up and will probably take weeks to get fixed.

 

 

Day 11 - Waiting in Leh for the situation to settle

 

We still want to go to the summit Stok Kangri but right now we need to wait and see how the situation will develop. The trip through the Markha valley is definitely out (and will be for the weeks to come). Maybe the direct route to the summit (from the village of Stok to Stok base camp and beyond) will be feasible. Right now we need to wait for people to return via this route (there are a couple of groups trying to go up to Stok Kangri right now) to see if it is an option.

With all roads closed we have no option than wait in Leh. The weather is grey with occasional drizzle.

 

 

Getting people into the raft

 

Starting to cross

 

 
 

Halfway across

 

 

On the Zanskar river

 

 

Hitting a rapid

 

 

Driftwood collection is a local industry

 

 

Driftwood collection is a local industry

 

 
Driftwood collection is a local industry

 

 

Back on the main road above the Indus river

 

 

The main road to Leh is blocked by a broken bridge

 

 

Broken bridge

 

 
You can still pass on foot on a metal beam that was put in place by the army

 

 
 

Returning to Chilling without horses

 

 

 

 

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Finally back in Leh