Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trekking : Padum to Lamayuru - Day 2

Trekking from Hanumil to Snertse.
We were warned by our guide that today would be a tough day, as we had to scale 2 mountain passes to reach our destination in Snertse.

Up till now, I had relied on my iPhone to search for information about the trek route. But now we were in an area, where there was no cell phone reception. I was cursing myself for not carrying a printed copy of the trek route. The GPS device was giving me accurate data about our current location, elevation, and distance covered from the last point - but I had no means of cross-referencing this data with the trek route. This meant that I had absolutely no idea how far, or how high we had to walk to reach our destination. If I had this data, I could have prepared myself both physically and mentally. Without this data, I had to rely on whatever Trashi (our guide) was telling us - and truth be told, he was not the most encouraging guide I have come across.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trekking : Padum to Lamayuru - Day 1

Trekking from Pishu to Hanumil
To start our Padum to Lamayuru trek, we checked out from our hotel in Padum, and loaded our trekking gear in a jeep that would drive us to Pishu. It was still dark outside, but we wanted to reach Pishu early, so that we could start the trek before the sun comes out in full force and makes trekking difficult.

The distance from Padum to Pishu is about 30 kilometers. Some people still trek on this route (making a pit stop in Karsha, which is on the way to Pishu). I don't like trekking on motorable roads, as it seems pointless, hence our decision to start our trek from Pishu.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Karsha Gompa, Zanskar (Ladakh).

Karsha Gompa (Monastery) in Zanskar, Ladadkh
The population of Ladakh is predominantly buddhist, and this is reflected in the landscape of the region - which is dotted with Gompas (monasteries). Most of these Gompas are imposing structures, built high on the  mountain side. The Karsha Gompa is one such imposing structures.

The village of Karsha lies 14 kilometers from Padum (which was supposed to the be starting point of our Padum-Lamayuru trek). However, we were unable to find any horseman in Padum, willing to take his horses on the difficult route we had selected. Some locals suggested that we might get lucky in Karsha. There is a motorable road from Padum to Karsha and the local jeeps charge a steep amount of Rs. 1,500/- for the return journey. Since we were already in the mood for trekking, we decided to pack our daybag with some water and snacks, and trek all the way to Karsha.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Understanding 36 mega-pixels.

I purchased the Nikon D800 more than 1 month back, and I have been really enjoying the amazing detail and colors that this camera produces.

One of the key features of the camera is its massive 36 mega-pixel full frame sensor. It is capable of capturing detail that even our eyes cannot pick up.

To understand what I mean, look at the picture below.

100% crop of a 36-megapixel image. D800 with 70-200 f2.8 VR
This is a picture of my daughter's eye. She was standing on the beach. You can clearly see the sunset and the waves, as well as my silhouette, as I stood in front of her with my camera.

This is the actual picture.

It doesn't get any more impressive than this.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Padum to Lamayuru Trek.

Padum-Lamayuru trekking route (data generated by by GPS Logger)
The Padum to Lamayuru trek has to be one of the most challenging treks in India. Cutting through the remote Zanskar region in Ladakh, the trek goes through several high mountains passes (some reaching as high as 5000 meters). It is a fantastic trekking option if you:

  1. Are physically fit.
  2. Not scared of heights.
  3. Do not suffer suffer from HAS (High Altitude Sickness).

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

World's Most Dangerous Road - The Zoji-La

The Zogi Pass (Zogi-La)
According to this CNN article, The Zogi Pass (or the Zogi-La as it is known in Kashmir), is the 5th most dangerous road in the world.

I disagree. It should be atleast number 3. The 2 other roads mentioned as more dangerous are not really that dangerous. At no. 3 is "The Highway of Death" in Iraq. Well, that's not really a dangerous road. It was just something that got bombed during the Iraq war. And the road listed at no. 2 (The Road of Death, Bolivia) is no longer an active road as there is an alternative road available for travellers there.

The Zogi-la, on the other hand, is part of National Highway 1 linking Srinagar to Leh (Ladakh), and is the lifeline connecting these 2 places in north India.

During our recent trekking trip to Ladakh, we were forced to travel on this road as there was no other alternative. My first reaction when we hit the road was "WTF?". My brothers reaction was a bit more practical - but more on that later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Trek that almost never happened.

Padum-Lamayuru Trek.
After nearly a year of planning, we finally selected our Ladakh trek (Padum to Lamayuru), and traveled to Srinagar to commence our trek. However, the entire trip seemed like a series of misadventures, designed to ensure that we do not go ahead with our trekking plans. If we managed to do this trek, it was because of sheer determination, and a huge dose of luck.

1. The lost suitcase: When we landed in Srinagar, we found that our suitcase (containing key trekking equipment) was missing. Without the suitcase, it would be extremely difficult to proceed with the trek. Besides the trekking equipment, it also contained the Nikon D3200 camera, which I was carrying for a friend, and the money from the camera would be used to partly fund the trek.

After submitting the lost luggage report, we had to wait patiently for 1 day till Air-India located our suitcase in Delhi, and had it transferred to Srinagar. It also meant we were already 1 day behind schedule.

The Lost Suitcase.