Never underestimate the Himalayas

September 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm 2 comments

Our next three days were a sage lesson in knowing your place in the world and never underestimating the Himalayas.

Tso Kar to Pang across the Morei Plains.

Our day leaving Tso Kar looked on paper to be an absolute doddle. All up about 45 km, mostly on gentle downhill slope and from what we had been told mostly blacktop. Oh how the arrogance of ignorance can bring you unstuck.

We were so confident that this was going to be an easy day that we didn’t get away till well after 9 after a leisurely amble up to the local Gompa, an overly large breakfast and a long chats with the WWF gang. We set off in high spirits and even though we had to battle through deep sand for the first two hours by the time we reached the highway we really thought that day was almost over. The road was black, the weather cool, the km marker telling us only 37 km to go. How could anything go wrong? Our false sense of security was futher hightened when we met a pair of french cyyclists going the other way who assured us that it was an easy run into Pang. Amazing how going the other way can make you oblivious to a horrendous, howling, headwind.

As midday came and went , it began to dawn on us that there were more and more roadworks on this road and the wind was picking up. After about 1, things went downhill fast. With ever km done the road got worse and worse, the skies started to darken and the wind began to howl.

What’s a sandstorm doing in the Himalayas?

It was about this time that we noticed the sky in the distance taking on a very peculiar shade of yellowy, grey.

Riding into a Sandstorm, not the easy day we thought

Riding into a Sandstorm, not the easy day we thought

Not ten minutes later and we realised that a massive sandstorm was coming our way and there was no where we could go to get out of it. Its a strange thing to ride into a sandstorm. Firstly, even though we were pedalling for our lives , DOWNHILL, we were still only going about 3km an hour. At one stage i genuinely thought that Eri was in danger of being thrown from the bike or worse beacause the winds were so strong. Unfortunately my command of the English language is insufficient to truly convey what it was like but suffice to say none of us will forget that hour anytime soon.

Where’s the road?

Sandstorm safely through, although quite shaken, our next little challenge on the Morei plains, was the apparent disappearance of anything resembling a usable road. It had seemed strange  that for an hour or more we had seen trucks of all sizes and shades diverting off the road and go screaming across the open plain, kicking up plumes of dust hundreds of metres long. In the interestof safety we had been sticking to the road but at about 3 in the afternoon the road finally ran out, the wind picked up again and the rain began.

It was decision time and after much discussion and a little bit of choosing new gods and praying to them, we ventured out onto the plains. At first the going was tough,  the ground was soft and getting softer with the rain, but about 1 km onto the plains were saved form the soft ground by bone crunching rutted tracks that we had to follow for the next 5 km. This was turning into one of those days, where you head goes down, you keep your own councel and you wonder what the hell you are doing out here. It took over 2 hours to cover the last 8 km’s on the Morei plain and when we finally got across, the freezing 5 km descent into the tent village of Pang was a blessed relief. Despite Amanda getting a puncture 100m from the finish line.

Our salbrious tent hotel in Pang

Our salbrious tent hotel in Pang

No ex-army parachute that had been converted into a makeshift tent had ever looked so good, no mice running around in the kitchen had never looked so welcoming and no dodgy 2 minute noddles had ever tasted so good.

Our easy little day had turned into an exhausting, at times frightening adventure, but at least offered a nice little primer to challenges of the up coming days.

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Tso kar – one of the most beautiful places on earth A morning with Everest

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. steph  |  September 11, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Whoa, scary stuff. What would a sandstorm do if you were caught in it? Sandpaper on the eyeballs?

    Take care, you lot, xx

    Reply
  • 2. craig  |  September 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Memories of the Road to Ayacucho… Why are you doing this to yourselves again?? Im loving hearing it from the (moderate) safety of Brixton, though..

    Reply

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