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Karzok to Kibber Part III

Part III

The night passed off without any problem but it dawned overcast with chilly wind blowing. We now realised that this camping ground was very near to the snout of the glacier and we were at the starting point of the Pare chu river. The valley was quite narrow and the mountains rose on both sides. As far as we could see the slope on opposite side of the camp was rocky and steep. We did not have any idea of the further trail and into which direction the pass was located. Both the horsemen were working on the horses and were putting horseshoes as otherwise the horses would have slipped on ice over which we were to walk. The job completed, we wound up our camp as the sunlight reached the camp. The other horseman moved out towards Karzok alone and we five moved on our trail towards the pass. How hardy are these people who brave the cold wind and snow on a regular basis and move around these valleys all alone for which we look for guides and porters and claim big success when we reach our homes.

The trail immediately crossed over to the right bank of the river and moved towards the snout which was quite near. However, before we reached the snout we started climbing up the mountain side. The weather again packed up and sleet started to fall. The visibility was also reducing and the horses were moving ahead with some speed as horseman wanted to cross the pass at the earliest. The trail we were moving was still free of snow but was climbing up the mountain in zigzag fashion. The team members were moving at a bit distance from each other. I was walking last just behind Dewan who was a bit slow on the climbing trail, while Dorjee and Thapliyalji were moving with speed. Finally we reached the near top of the mountain when the trail straightened up and then climbed down a bit before moving towards the big glacier in front of us. Though the glacier's snout was quite small it was quite vast up here. The sleet was falling with speed and it was all hell up here. Difficult to look ahead into the wind. The temp. was quite down and the wind was adding to the difficulties. The trail finally climbed upto the edge of the glacier and immediately we encountered small crevasses. Whether they were really small or had got covered with the freshly falling snow was a point to be remembered and each crevasse was given its due and with care we started to move on the glacier. The horses had moved ahead quite a bit and Dorjee and Thapliyalji were walking some 50 metres behind them. I waited for Dewan to join me so that we covered the initial crevassed section together. Once Dewan was on the firm section I increased my speed so as to close the gap between the first group. Due to heavy snow fall the foot prints were vanishing from the trail very fast and we could have landed on some hidden crevasse. Soon I caught up with Dorjee and then with Thapliyalji. It was a big walk on the glacier and as we neared the ridge in front we turned right to climb up towards the pass. Still there was no sigh of the pass and we only hopped to reach it soon as we were not aware of the conditions on the other side of the pass. It was sure that we were quite near to the pass. I finally caught up with the horses which now turned directly into the snow slope. The horseman tied a rope around one of the horses and moved up to the top of a small step as we stopped a bit behind them. Behind us a carcass of a horse lay over the ice slope, an indication to the tragedy which had taken place at the very spot not in too distant past. The first horse climbed up with some help from the horseman and so did the next horse as the slope was still covered with some snow. However, all this moving about removed the snow from the slope and so we had hard ice in front of us. As the third horse tried to climb up this ice he slipped despite the horseman pulling it from front. Few more attempts and he could not climb the slope which became more slippery. Finally Thapliyalji climbed in front and the horseman came down to push the horse from behind. With all the pulling and pushing the horse finally climbed up the slope and we heaved a sigh of relief. However where was the pass and how far. The wind was now blowing at very high speed and it was cold. While all this was happening Dewan was reaching the turning point from where the diagonal climb up was beginning. Anyway since there was no problem between him and us we also climbed up the ice slope and lo we were only few meters from the pass and the prayer flags were fluttering in the gale force wind. We were at the Prang la and were relieved to have been able to reach the top. Immediate worry was the other side of the pass, but again to our relief there was no glacier on the other side and it was all barren and the trail moved down over black gravel as far as eyes could see. Immediately we took photos and waited on the leeward side viewing the vast glacier in front of us. In whiteout conditions and without a guide it can always creates problems. Dewan also joined us and we sat there for ten more minutes. As all were getting cold and we still had long walk in front of us, we moved down into Himachal leaving behind the great land of passes.

As we moved down from the pass over a small zigzagging trail, we got some relief from the wind and the cold. The trail was over loose and wet stones with not much problem walking over it. We lost site of the pass as we moved down the steep trail which moved on the left side of the valley. Finally we reached a flat section where we crossed over to the right of the valley and moved down into an open area. The flat sections here can be used for camping, however there was no water to be seen. May be it has some water point. The trail kept moving down and finally we reached a big camping ground, which we came to know was Borogen camping ground. Here also we did not see any water. We continued down through the ground and entered a narrow nala which was devoid of any water and this finally led to the trail on the right of the valley clinging to the mountain side. The descent was steep and as I was wondering about the teams climbing up to the pass from this side, a French man came in front followed by his son. This was his second try for the pass as he had to turn back the previous year as the donkeys were not able to cross the heavy snow on the pass. Wishing them all the best I moved further down the trail to encounter the three donkeys, one guide and two porters of the French man. A quick word and we were on our way, they slowly climbing up and I moving down. They were quite near to the camp site and we still had long time to reach the camp. At that time actually I did not know how much, but it turned out to be pretty long. I sat down to have water and also to eat something as we had been moving since morning and it was already past two in the afternoon. The trail climbed a bit and then again moved down The slope of the mountain was directly going down to the Parilungbi river, but the trail took the easy slopes which finally became zigzag as it moved down to the river. We reached the river bed which was coming from the glaciers on the right of the pass as we had climbed up. The trail was now moving on the left bank of the river and we were in the gorge. On both sides the mountains rose high up into the sky. The trail was moving a bit higher than the river and then it moved down to the river level. A newly built bridge came into site, however the trail was still moving straight along the left bank. Dewan crossed over to the other side and I continued on the left bank. After five minutes walk Dewan was on a good trail and I had reached the end of the trail. So I jumped over the boulders to reach the right bank and both of us continued walking in the gorge. The gorge was barren and not a single tree grew there. The trail suddenly took right turn and entered a side valley where two small trees stood as if to attract the trekkers on to the right path. The trail started to climb up. Slowly we were rising higher and higher out of the gorge and the various features were getting lower to us. However, the end of the trail was not in site and this climb was sapping our last remaining energies. As we climbed out of the gorge we expected to see our camp but alas it was not to be so. Though the top where the trail had moved out of the gorge was quite open there was no water. Slowly we followed the trail and then high up we saw our tent, which had been setup by Dorjee and Thapliyalji, who had moved fast after the pass. The tent seemed quite near but as we approached it we found there was no direct route to the tent and there was a narrow deep depression between us and the camp. So we slowly continued up the trail which went round the depression and finally we reached the tent and slumped in the horseman's tent. At this place there was hardly any sign of water and it was told that the water tickling out of the broken plastic bottle was the only water available. A cup of tea and the knowledge of knowing that we were quite near to our destination was enough to bring back the energy. The horseman left his horses for grazing as had been the practice on reaching a camp. Evening he went to look for the horses and could not see them anywhere and so he got very worried. He again went looking but could not find them and by dinner he came back to the camp, a worried man. There have been instances when the horses have gone back the way they had come. However, as we had climbed last out of the gorge we were very certain that they were somewhere up but horseman was not convinced. We had our food and retired for night. When we got up the next day there was no sigh of the horseman and Dorjee told us that he had left around four in the morning for the gorge to look for the horses. The thought of going down to the gorge and then climb up was enough to shake us up. Any way we prepared the breakfast and waited for him to come back.

Suddenly horses came in site above the camp and behind them was our horseman. Well on getting up he first went down all the way to the river and then walked upto the bridge and when he did not see the horses he climbed back to the camp and then went along the trail we were supposed to flow to Kibber. There in a small valley he found the three horses grazing and he brought them back to the camp all in similes. No complains, no aching muscles and after breakfast he was ready to move out. We had packed up our stuff and were ready to leave. The horseman did not fold his tent and only emptied it out leaving only the kerosene bottle we had given to him. Leaving his tent there we moved out onto the trail, as he was supposed to come back the same evening after dropping us at Kibber. The trail immediately climbed up but that was the only climb other than the final climb to the village. The Shilla peak loomed high into sky behind us as we left the camp and then the trail dropped down on the other side looking into a large valley far down. A truck went on the road halfway up the mountain on the other side of the valley, but we still had a lot of walking in front of us. Far away structure of a temple was shinning in sun light, but we had no idea then that it was our destination, the village of Kibber. The trail first moved parallel to the mountain side before it moved down all the way to the fields of the Dumla village. The trail did not enter the village but moved towards the direction of Kibber. The trail now moved along the left bank of a small stream and continued to go down. The stream finally met the river moving from our left side in the formidable looking gorge. We went across the river on a newly made bridge and immediately thereafter the climb out of the gorge started. Our sudden appearance disturbed a group of bharals and they rushed on to the cliff side seeking protection. We continued on our way and finally were out of the gorge and a small walk brought us to barren fields of the Kibber village. Few old houses at the end of the road leading to the village gave it a mystic look.

As we moved into the village the houses looked quite old but the presence of vehicles and a tractor gave different feeling to the place. The moment we moved over the ridge we realised that what we had been seeing were only few houses of the village and the majority of the village was on the other side of the ridge. The village was located in a horseshoe shape on the slopes of the mountain and on the other side there was a rise again, which provided it a secure look. We also realised that the fine road we had seen was not the main road and the main road was across the village on the other side. We moved there and unloaded the horses. The financial transactions with the horseman were completed and giving him all the leftover ration we said our farewell to him. He loaded the horses with his belongings turned back for the camp we had left in the morning, however this time he would be alone there, which did not bother him as much as it bothered us.

Now we waited there at the village looking for vehicle to take us to Kaza from where we were to take bus to Manali. However, there was no vehicle and the girl running one of the hotels told us that the chances of getting one were quite slim at that time of the day. However, there was nothing else to do other then waiting. So we ordered tea and noodles and sat there looking at the village and the dark clouds in the sky. Seating there for four hours before we got a vehicle for Kaza, I suddenly realised that I had not encountered a single dog. Well it came out that really there were no dogs in Kibber and also there are lots and lots of donkeys. Infact the place has more donkeys then the humans.

It was dark by the time we left Kibber and so could not see the mountain scene on the way to Kaza. The entry to Kaza was during load shedding and so we just moved into the nearest hotel for the few hours we had in that place. By three in the morning we were at the bus stand and by four thirty on the road moving towards Manali via the famous Spiti valley and crossing the Kunzum la and Rohtang la. So ended another visit to the mountains.

Karzok to Kibber via Prang la Photos Part I

Karzok to Kibber via Prang la Photos Part II

Karzok to Kibber via Prang la Trek


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Published on: 2008-03-23 (853 reads)

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