Sunday, November 15, 2015

From the Indus to the Nubra Valley across Lasermo La - Part I

Phyang to Hundar Trek 

South Col Expeditions trekked this route in September 2015. This is the detailed trek notes of the route.

September 3 2015
I was ready by 7 am and had an early breakfast at the German Bakery. I suddenly remembered that we had forgotten to buy the soup so I went to the provision store opposite the hotel and picked up eighteen packets. South Col had a big group this time eleven trekkers! We went to Hotel Omasila to collect the group and then reached Phyang around 10 am.

We found a spanking new monastery there in the typical modern style - the old one next to it was closed for renovation.

We started walking from opposite the Phyang school at around 10 20 am. The walk was on the motorable road as landslides had wrecked the old walking trail to Phyang Phu. In about 45 minutes we reached a T junction which said Mountain Madness camp 4 km (obviously no relation to Scott Fischer’s company!). We took the left fork and in about an hour from there reached a spot where a landslide had broken the road completely. We went down to the river following a steep path next to a chorten and then had to make another steep climb back to the road clambering over boulders. The road continued to climb steadily and eventually reached the village of Nurudok around 1 15 pm where we stopped for lunch.

Our progress was not very good and Stanzin our sirdar was not keen to carry on to Phyang Phu which he said was still three hours away. There is a camping ground half an hour ahead of the village and we decided to camp there. Reaching the camp we found a fast flowing stream which we had to cross.

We walked up and down across boulders looking for a suitable crossing. Finally Karuna ventured across and slipped into the water. We then decided to take off our boots and cross. The rocks were extremely slippery and somehow using a trekking pole as support from the other side we managed to make it. These heroics took us the better part of one hour and we reached the camp close to 4 30 pm.

Tomorrow we would have a longer day as we needed to make up the two hours lost today. The camp site has a good view of the valley and Stok Kangri peak.
Phyang School to T junction 45 min; T junction to landslide spot 1 hour ; Landslide spot to Nurudok village 1 hr 15 min;  Nurudok  village to Nurudok camp 30 min without river crossing with river crossing 1 hr.

Leh  3519 m - 34 9 57 N - 77 35 2 E; Phyang 3500m - 34 11 8 N - 77 29 10 E; Nurudok Village 4037m - 34 13 37 N - 77 30 54 E; Nurudok Camp site 4149m - 34 14 12 N - 77 31 22 E

September 4 2015
The night sky was studded with stars and we saw the Milky Way quite clearly which I photographed with our tents in the foreground. The night was also not very cold and I slept quite well in the new Mountainsmith Morrison tent.

 I was up quite early and was ready to depart at 7 am. We had breakfast and left around 8 15 am.  Within a few minutes of walking we saw a Tibetan gazelle sprint across the trail and gained a hilltop and watched us intently from the top. We followed the trail on the right bank of the river but had been informed that we would have to cross the river. We came down to the river again and spent around 30 minutes trying to find a crossing point but in vain. Stanzin then decided that we would walk all the way upstream and then cross. The trail on the right bank was nonexistent in parts and we had a hard time trying to get across boulders. We climbed around 4000 metres at 12 15 pm and reached a spot where two streams met and we were able to cross one of the streams without getting into the water.  We then stopped by a beautiful grassy flat next to the river and lazed in the sun for about 20 minutes. It was an idyllic spot ideal for a camp site for a small group. As we waited there we saw all our ponies coming down the left bank of the river on the high trail. They had crossed the river at the camp and had taken the high route avoiding all the boulder crossing. They crossed the shallow stream and started climbing up the opposite hill following a rough trail.

 We decided to follow them in the hope of finding the main trail to the pass. We were rewarded as after the climb and 15 minutes further on we found the trail with a sign on a rock saying "Way to Nubra”. Enthused at finally having found the trail we carried on for another half hour before stopping for lunch at around 1 10 pm on a grassy meadow. We must have been around 4400 metres around 500 metres above our last camp. We left around 1. 45pm and the trail continued to climb up the valley. In parts there was landslide debris and we had to take detours to cross and come back to the main trail.   The going had also slowed down as our group of five was now tired and also feeling the effect of the altitude. The trail crossed some moraine debris and then entered a grassy meadow where we found our horses grazing. The camp must be nearby. Suddenly looking down I spotted two Bharal coming down the hillside at tremendous speed. They literally flew across the river and climbed up the other hillside and joined a herd of around twenty animals that were grazing high up among the rocks merging beautifully with the hillside.
Lasermo south base camp 4910m - 34 16 50 N - 77 30 10 E

.....To be continued next week at



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