Saturday, September 01, 2012

Trekking : Padum to Lamayuru - Day 3

Trekking from Omachu to Hanumala base camp.
Our third day of trekking proved to be not only the toughest day, but also the longest day of trekking. With the exception of few (and short) breaks for snacks and water, we walked non-stop for 12 hours.

One thing I had learned over the past 3 days was that, the combination of searing heat and the prospect of ascending steep mountains did not agree with my son at all. Since we would start our 3rd day with a steep climb (which we were supposed to do the previous evening), I decided to start off early.

I set the alarm at 5:00 a.m., and made sure our daybags were packed and ready before we went to sleep. My objective was to start off only with Shawn and complete the climb to Snertse before the sun came up. Roy would follow a bit later, and the horses and guide would take their own time to join us.

Rickety bridge over the Omachu river.
We set off from the camp at around 5:30 a.m. The sun was not up, so it was nice and cool. Shawn seemed determined to prove that he could do better than the previous day. Our pace was brisk.

Ascending towards Snertse.
We could see the camping area down below, and fellow trekkers slowly emerging from their tents, and getting ready to start their trek. Most of them were going in the other direction. i.e. heading towards Padum.

The sun was up, but luckily, there was a nice blanket of clouds providing us with natural shade.

It's a cloudy day - which is good for trekking.
It was a tough 500 meter climb, most of it ascending straight up. I had expected it to take us around 2-3 hours to complete the climb. Imagine my surprise when I saw that we reached the top of the pass in just 90 minutes.

Top of Snertse pass.
At the top of the pass, there is a small path going to the edge of the mountain. It looks quite scary,

Path on top of Snertse pass leading to the edge.
I decided to walk to the edge. With steep drops on both side, it is like walking a tight-rope. Definitely not recommended if you are afraid of heights, but the view from the edge is breath-taking. You can see the zig-zag path heading towards Padum (which we climbed down the previous evening).

My original plan was that we would stop in Snertse, in case we got very tired after the climb. But it was only 8:00 in the morning, and the thick clouds were providing nice shade. After making sure that Shawn was feeling okay, we decided to head to the next camping point (Hanumala base camp). We were told by the locals that it takes 7 hours to reach there, and there would be no steep climbing.

Gradual climb from Snertse to Hanumala peak.
The climb from Snertse to the top of Hanumala peak follows a slow-running stream, and the ascent is very gradual. We had to criss-cross the stream a number of times, in order to stay on the easy side of the trek. It's a long trek to the top of the peak (around 4 hours). We had to take a number of breaks but luckily for us, the clouds were still holding up. Every now and then, we had to climb a short distance, and then back down to the stream.

The trek goes up and down following the stream.
Lookng back towards Snertse
Still a long way to reach the peak
A muddy glacier.
As we climbed higher and higher, we came across these muddy glaciers, still not fully melted. The stream goes under the glaciers and it seems like the glacier is about to crumble any minute.

Our support team.
Eventually, our support team caught up with us just as we were about the reach the top of Hanumala peak. They were pleasantly surprised at the progress we had made, and congratulated Shawn on his achievement. According to them, it was now just a matter of climbing a short distance to the top, and then it is downhill all the way.

Nearing the top of Hanumala
4800 meters above sea level.
View from top of Hanumala (looking towards Snertse)
This is the highest we have every climbed till date. At 4800 meters above sea-level, the view from the peak is amazing.

Chorten being built.
At the top of the peak, locals were building a new chorten to mark the highest point on the trail. Once it is completed, trekkers and locals will use this to hang prayer flags.

View of Lingshed from top of Hanumala.
On the other side of the peak, we could clearly see the village of Lingshed, and the steep path heading off towards Shinge-la. Even though it looks so close, we were not going to make it to Lingshed today. Our plan was to setup our tent at the bottom of Hanumala, and then reach Lingshed the following evening.

Descending towards Hanumala base-camp.
It was downhill all the way now, and I gave a sigh of relief, because Shawn would have no problem climbing down. In fact, he relishes it - because this is where he can show off to Roy, who gets scared of descents.

Steep descent.
I had to constantly remind Shawn to be careful because some of the path is really steep and slippery. For those who are trekking the other side (Lamayuru to Padum), this is the toughest mountain to climb.

The path from base-camp to Lindshed.
Up ahead of us, we could see the rather treacherous looking path from base camp to Lingshed. It is not a long climb (around 300 meters), but it cuts straight up to the top of the mountain. It is something we would have to mentally prepare to tackle the next day.

Reaching base camp of Hanumala.
It was getting late, as we finally reached our destination.

Base camp
Our support team had already reached the camping area and setup the camp for us. After 12 hours of walking, our whole body was in pain. We just entered the tent and hit the bed.


Anonymous said...

I came in to check out Day 4 onwards.. but I guess its a hard task to put together a post and edit pics. But your photography is truly wonderful. I just saw your pics on Flikr... stuff dropping in wster. So excellent. I hope there is some tutorial online it would be worth a try. A.Dias

Cajie said...

Thanks. For the stuff dropping in water, I did create a tutorial for it.