Raid De Himalaya

This was my 3rd Raid De Himalaya as an official – not as a participant. As officials, our duties lie mainly in ensuring that the rally stages get done smoothly, block roads for the rally, stay put at major points on the rally route to record participant timings and relay them to the next placed officials, help incase of emergencies & accidents, flag off the participants and taking times at the end of a stage. This usually involves waking up at deathly hours like 12am, 1am and moving towards the route of the rally to make sure we are there and well prepared well before the rally is flagged off for that particular day.

And as the name suggests – Raid De Himalaya takes place in the Himalayas. And is not called the ‘Highest Rally in the World’ & ‘Toughest Rally in India’ in vain. For starters it takes places in areas where very few humans manage to reach for tourism purposes – due to the sheer lack of roads, oxygen and warm fuzzy temperatures. The lack of roads means that the officials also have to drive on rubble dirt and rocks for the most part in convoys at ungodly hours (I’ll keep saying it because I’m still not used to it myself). We carry drinking water, food, oxygen cylinders etc in all our cars including water for potty because if you think you’ll find a toilet to go poo in at 16,000 feet at -10 degrees celsius between 2 remote villages in ladakh in India, you clearly live in a fantasy world.

Anyway, enough about that. The 2 reasons why I love putting myself through this are 1) The views. You won’t find these views anywhere else in India (maybe even the world). As far as the eye can see, at that elevation, with that lack of oxygen, during that odd hour – it truly is a unique experience. You never want to take your eyes off those views. 2) The company. I’m not exactly sure what it is but the Raid brings together a lot of like-minded folks or maybe it’s the pain of waking up at 12am to drive on non-existant roads in the middle of nowere while you’re almost completely asleep that brings people together. Who knows. But i’ve spent mostly really great times with some really great guys on the Raid – it’s not easy to find such people in a big city like Delhi (or maybe I just don’t put in the effort because I know i’ll have to go through a lot of shit before I find someone even remotely worth my time).

So I’m sharing with you a photo-story of my time at this year’s Raid De Himalaya and the fantastic places that we were at. And the views that we were blessed enough to come across.

At Chattru. We spent the night here and had a post here too. Slept in the car here.

The handsomest boy in all of Chattru!

I spent about 15 minutes out trying to get pics of the stars. I couldn’t make it beyond 15 minutes because it was about -3 here and I wasn’t wearing gloves. But I do love this pic. The green light in the bottom right is a freak truck headlight that got caught. If you look long enough in the centre, you’ll also spot the snow on the mountain top.

The same mountain from a slightly different angle during the day.

View of the valley across from Koksar which is a popular spot for us to stop and eat Mutton-Chawal.

Driving at night towards Debring to reach before the sunrise. Those lights in the distance are of our convoy.

The rescue and surveillance copter for the rally. This was after the day’s leg of the rally was done and we were driving towards Leh.

Frozen streams in dry land.

After crossing Tanglang La

This was from our post short of Umba La from where you get a fantastic view of Dras that is the second coldest inhabited place in the world due to the intense cold. The lowest temperature recorded here was -60 degrees celsius.

Taking a short break from all the driving before reaching Kargil.

Suru river in the Zanskar Valley. It was my first time here and I was truly overwhelmed with the place. I remember crying a little at the views (but that could also be because of my pms-ing)

Driving back to Kargil from Zanskar. The drive is 5-6 hours non stop with no traffic.

The Zanskar Valley

A glacier across the valley

Another pretty valley/village that we crossed short of Kargil.

Next day we drove from Kargil to Dras and beyond. This was taken at our post near Dras before sunrise. We had already been here for atleast a couple of hours before this.

Driving after Pang

This cute structure comes at the Kangla Jal Bridge between Pang & Sarchu

A view point we stopped at before starting driving down the Gata Loops. Also peed here.

Played around, lots of off-roading, driving in the river – upstream and down stream.

Baralacha is at 16,040 feet. It’s gorgeous! This is the view from just short of Baralacha top.

This is the smallest I have seen Suraj Taal at. It used to be massive 4 or more years back. What a pity!

Taking a shortcut while climbing down Baralacha. I’m monkeying around in severe lack of oxygen. I didn’t last very long. Did this for about 2 minutes and was back in the car.

A stunning view of Jispa on our drive towards Rohtang Pass. We were being followed but quite a serious looming storm behind us (can you see the clouds descending into the valley?)

I have so many pics and I have shared only 1-2% of what we experienced. But I can’t possibly share it all. Perhaps another blog post to share some other special pics. Hope you liked these!
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