TREK across the spine of the Himalaya
From Kyoto to Boroghen over Takling La (5274 m)( an alternative route to Parang la to reach the Pare chu valley):
START: To Kyoto by a good motorable road from Manali via Rhotang Pass (in the Pir Panjal Range) and Kunzum La (in the Himalaya). This road is usually open from late May till early November.
HINTS: Ponies can be had from Kyoto and also the near by villages of Hal, which is at the entrance of the ferocious Gyundi gorge, and Lossar. From late September till early November an attractive alternative could be by camping in Pangmo Maidan (4054 m) 10 kms before Kyoto and going down the striking loess pinnacles embedded with tottering boulders and crossing the clear green and shrunken Spiti river. From late August the temperatures start falling slightly every day. Late June to mid August the temperature is warm, snow line has receded uncovering ice near the passes, green grass is at every camp site and also in between, flowers bloom, but the rivers and streams are in flood and unfordable after 11.00 hrs.
Kyoto to Zaur Dung (4085 m). 4 hours.
It’s a short leisurely acclimatising walk preparing one for a tougher exertion the next day. Kyoto is on a wide plain on the let hand side of the Spiti river. The path traverses this plain till it ends at Zaur Dung. Water in plenty but though there are bushes it is advised to leave them for the shepherds and carry kerosene for cooking. In the evening there is a sharp wind but it dies down by night fall. The view encompasses Ratang tower (6170 m), Shigri Parbat (6526 m), Kangla Tarbo (6315 m) and several others. These stay with us and get bigger as we go up.
Zaur Dung to Chungar (4482 m). 6 to 8 hours depending on fitness and experience level.
Walk into the bowels of the Takling gorge and then climb a bit to cross it by natural bridge formed high above the foaming torrent by a boulder only 4 m in diameter. A little beyond here a pencil line path weaves to the right towards Lagurdasi Plain about 15 kms away, where till 50 years ago a horse fair used to be held for traders and sellers from Tibet and Lahoul and Spiti. Takling la and Parang la were routes frequently used then to bring these animals and other goods across. Early in the season, i.e. till mid June, there is often no path and it has to be fashioned by trekkers. The route weaves through many mud spires with pebbles, rocks and boulders embedded in them. The track is again smothered by scree slips and avalanche tongues- one of the thrills of an early season trek. After a steep climb to a “jungle” which consists of thorny tama bushes of about a metre high and evenly spaced at a distance of about 10 metres from each other. Yet cattle and sheep from the lower Spiti villages are brought here for grazing. Ahead is a one hour slightly rough traverse over difficult looking steep rock walls, but later in the season its easy as the narrow path has been repaired. Another steady climb over scree and then through tama bushes the camp site at Chungar is reached. Its high above the left bank of the Takling nala. The view is magnificent. Apart from the usual views of the peaks listed earlier and many more bare and steep mountain sides, bristling with colours from deep blue to ochre, loomed ahead above and around us. Several smooth and rough rock pinnacles towered above the camp their colours contrasting brazenly with the improbable 200 m wide band of creamish grey scree bordering their base.
The path peters out here. If camp site is reached early a few hours recce is advised.
Chungar to Takling Maidan (5030 m). 6 – 7 hours.
A yo yo like route this one. Fortunately, contrary to looks, it has only two short precarious stretches and these are beyond the Char Kula stream. Due north can be seen a pass that leads to the south west of Bara Lacha La. Descend 150 m or so to the snow covered glacial snout of Takling glacier, which also receives horrible-to-walk-on rubble from 5 smaller glaciers. Climb up the steep moraine scree of the widest and farthest glacier to the NNE. After an hour of struggle reach a shelf of 100 X 50 flat metres. Again the view is not surprisingly breath taking. The peaks of Ratang, Gyundi, Bara Shigri, the Baralacha La and close above us the grey, black and yellow granite pins and needles with their iced walls glinting in the setting sun mesmerised us into silence.
Takling maidan over Takling la (5274 m) to Takling Sumdoh (4800 m). 6 – 8 hours in early June when there is a lot of snow. Later in the season it will take less time.
The pass can’t be seen till one is just 50 metres away from it. From the camp it is only 90 minutes to the pass. On both sides of the pass are hanging glaciers but at a safe distance. 500 m away to the south of the pass is an another col of the same height with a glacier about 4 kms long below it. It is a beautiful pass, and as far as I know not climbed yet. Descent is through a long field of deep snow till mid June and thence onwards over a much shorter crevassed filled glacier. Reach the large plain made at the confluence of the Takn chu down which we have come and the stream emanating from Baralacha La. Camp at Takling Sumdoh. Sumdoh means at the foot of a mountain and that is why there are so many Sumdohs here. We leave rain bearing clouds behind. Clearer skies from here onwards. And, as is to be expected, brilliant views of peaks and innumerable passes. Ladakh, the land of passes is still a few days away, but directly ahead of us as the crow flies.
Takling Sumdoh to Thatang (Dutung) Sumdoh (4817 m). 5 hours.
Carry lots of water. For the numerous channels that are seen here disappear later on. It becomes then a thirsty march. While looking for water you will find ammonites and fossilized stones. Evidence that this area was under the sea some years ago. About 2 hours later the river bed narrows into a funnel that is about a kilometer wide. Its entrance marked by a stupendous soaring roack face at the base of a 6000 m + peak. Here the Takn chu resurfaces. This gorge is about 5-600 m long. Camp site is on the undulating right bank. Good view of rugged and fissured rock faces. Higher still capping this tortuous jumble of rock and gravity defying hanging ice fields were gentle summits of 6000 +. This site is about 3 kms away from Nyima Tik Tikki (Sumdoh) where the river from Parang la meets the Takn Chu to form Pare chu.
From here the route follows the better known route from Parang La to Narbu Sumdoh. ………………..