Getting there: arrived Delhi from Pune, and got the pre-booked Volvo HRTC from ISBT at 2100 hrs. Reached Shimla at 0450 old terminal, and immediately took the local shuttle bus to the New ISBT Shimla 15 minutes away.
Got the Delhi-Reckong Peo bus at 0600 hrs and left at 0630 from Shimla. Got a little delayed due to the landslide near Karcham, and changed buses at Karcham at 1700 hrs, getting the Reckong Peo – Sangla bus, reaching Sangla valley at 1800 hrs.
This should normally take 10 hrs. Took the bus at 1200 next day to base camp Chitkul altitude. 3455mtr. Met up with the team there. The next 4 days were done walking the Baspa Valley, with slight height gains daily.
Day #1: Nagasti to Ranikanda
Departure at 0900 hrs. An easy flat walk to Nagasti, for the initial registering at the ITBP post. Permits and paperwork had been done prior to departure, got to camp near Rani Kanda at 1330. Tents were pitched in a meadow with flowers and a water point nearby. 3700mtr. 10 km.
Departure at 8AM, another lovely day, great weather, slight climbs, reaching Dumti at 1300 hours, and camped next to the ITBP post in a large camp ground. Nights began to get Cold. Altitude, 4050mtr and distance covered 9 km.
Dumti to Gundar at 4700 meters
Traversed 15 kilometres over rock slides, while having the Baspa river all the way with us. Stopped near Nithal Thach for a while, then crossed the bridge and later arrived at Gundar camp at about 1400 hours.
Gundar to Lamkhaga base camp.
We hoped there would be a snow bridge at the valley end, from the right bank we were on, to the left bank to ascend to the base camp, no luck!
We finally had to cross over the Baspa Glacier, a tough climb over rocky up/downs, strictly keeping to the track shown by Dara Singh Negi, our guide from Chitkul. Descended and waited up for the whole gang to regroup.
The ponies, carrying mainly provisions, were sent back, and the remaining load shared out among the 9 porters. Then began the climbs through steep rock patches and over snow, to the base camp. Just a few flattened out spaces amid rocks, with the snow and streams right alongside. Nights were now 0 degrees at 16200 feet altitude.
The BIG day. Began with a steep climb through scree/rubble to the bench to for a long walk through vast snowfields. Checked my photos.
Finally, I got to the Pass at 1230. The staff went ahead and cut steps in the ice/snow, up the steep 30-inch path to the top. But the gang was mostly too tired to even attempt this scary climb and opted to take the designated Rest Day right there on the snowfield.
Tents were pitched there, and clean snow got to the kitchen for hot soup and the evening meal !!
Had a moderate snowstorm that evening, but the tents held and that night camping on the snow temps close to minus 8 degree Celsius were recorded.
Waited till 0930 hours for the snow to soften, and crossed the last snowfield to do the great ascent to the top of Lamkhaga Pass. 17300 feet Surprisingly the Pass is only about 20 feet broad at the top.
Celebrations and congratulations all around, and looking down the Harsil side, all we saw was a sea of snowfields sloping down, so…so we sat on our backsides and slid down quite a bit.
Then a white-out and Dara Singh showed why he was such a good guide. He manoeuvred through the white-out, without any hesitation. At one stage coming upon some rocks I asked if he recognized them, what rocks ?? He replied, there are usually no rocks to be seen when I cross, he said! But unfailingly we reached the first plain patch, right where the down trail began…some miracle!
A long walk along the sheer spine, till at 1530 hours found a water point and clear place, and the tents went up.
Blog by: Austin D’Rozario