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Exploring the Great Divide
Pang/Tso Moriri - Rupshu "Ice field" - 6000m peaks - Chandra Tal - Manali
**With the stopping of Manali to Delhi flights I am reworking this itinerary.**
This is a trek is roughly equivalent to a Ladakh to Spiti via the Parang La trek, instead we pioneer an alternative adventurous route, climb a few 6000m peaks en route and end at Chandra Tal (Moon Lake). This is true remote area exploring, building on previous explorations of the region, and a wild wilderness route that in part has probably never been trekked previously.
This is a journey of peaceful, panoramic camps, on a route that we are not likely to meet other trekkers (except possibly in the beginning). One 6000m peak is straightforward although we may use a rope for crevasses, the other peak - let's see, and there are plenty more around. Although little-trekked, we are already familiar with this Rupshu "ice field" as it is sometimes called by pilots, a starkly beautiful, barren area without ice when we go, late season. It is an area of coloured and textured rocks, with more variety that expected as we traverse from real Ladakh over forbidding ranges to Spiti to the delightful Chandra Tal (lake). This great wilderness means it is also the hideaway of kiang, foxes, wolves and perhaps even snow leopard.
This is a journey, we are trekking with our fully self-contained horse caravan in a rhythm untouched by the always-on daily stress. After a nourishing breakfast we trek, sometimes in huge valleys, sometimes over windy passes, having a simple but delicious lunch and then set up camp when we find that perfect spot, with running water. Afternoon tea, with snacks leads to time to relax or explore, and a hearty dinner and an evening of kicking back, and fitful sleep. This is the trekking life, join us.
Following, some photos from yesteryear of part of our route.
Our delightful camp near Pang
Matthias and Helen cross the river again (and again, and again)
Why this trek? Certainly our time in Leh and Manali is cultural, and with our local crew but ultimately this is a truly great wilderness trek. Put your tent where you want, sleep under the stars, freedom!
Why not start at Tso Moriri? I debated this but, while the lake is gorgeous, the trek around is surprisingly tough, and without altitude gain so that our first peak may be too quick, too high. Beginning at Pang gives more variety, better acclimatization, however, we could start at Tso Moriri instead if the lake is really important to you, the same number of days, logistics, no problem.
Why not the Parang La? We have trekked this a number of times and it is a used route but it involves taking horses/mules on a real glacier (!) over a 5780m pass. The horses slide a round a bit and there is a small risk of falling in a crevasse if off-route, and it is often cloudy up there. So we want to see if a new route makes more sense for trekkers.
Real exploring, how come? All other trekking companies focus on the bottom line, and research an area for the purpose of developing a new standard, set itinerary, one that has marketing appeal. We are inspired just to explore for exploration's sake, and we can because we are not bottom-line focused and have a team that loves doing this too, are unafraid of the concept. Local horsemen mostly don't like the risky unknown, guides neither, with having to work out camps, deal with clients who want to know how many hours walk it will be. For our exploratory route there are ways out if ourselves and the horse team get stuck, but we have never had to turn back previously. Our explorations add up to greater than the sum too, witness our GHT explorations in Nepal.
In our own way we are making history and now with cameras with GPS etc, we can share our knowledge more effectively.
Why Project Himalaya? We really care and offer amazing service in every detail, our trek service is better (or at minimum equal) to any other company so that you can just turn up with the right gear and enjoy.
WE have had a slow ongoing affair with the region.
2006 update: this turned into an attempt on Kang Yatze. Serious about it, we had everything set up and it rained records, we were about the only people that didn't abandon our trek, even if we didn't have a chance to summit.
2004 Caravan 6000 exploratory with Eric, Brian & Andriya: we climbed the sharks fin, my 2nd to last of the 6000m Mentok peaks and branched off an already minor route to cross the Rupshu ice field - we now know some of its secrets. We didn't find the "unknown" peak. Leaving, we 'made' passes, including the disused 5300m Takling La.
2003 Caravan 6666 exploration with Richard and Nicola: we climbed five (!) 6000m peaks, including the devilish 6666m, some Mentoks and spied this "unknown" peak again (below), and some of the mysterious "Rupshu ice field", as pilots call it.
2002 Caravan Explorer 6000: from Pang we pioneered our classic Caravan HIGH route - the lowest passes were around 5700m, the highest was 6000m and of course a couple of us peaked over 6000m. September was cold!
2001 Caravan 6666: in retrospect it was this 39 day trek that started my fascination with the region. We eyed many peaks (climbed on later trips) and, lacking nerve for 6666, climbed 6622. An all time classic trek.
This photo has haunted me since 2003, finally we will climb this peak!