Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 Upper Zanskar Traverse

Continuing from our traverse over the Kang La, we moved into Ladakh for a resupply and celebratory libations. After a night in Padum, we said good bye to Chris and Kathryn; and now we were three. We launched from the village of Dorzong, Tashi's childhood home, where we stopped for a visit before beginning the day's miles. A few photos illustrate some of his family, others had travelled to the local monastery to give alms.

The view from Dorzong down the Tsarap Chu valley, leading to central Zanskar.

Saying our goodbyes after tea, biscuits, and chang; we embarked on the trail. Moving along the Tsarap river for the next two days; we reached the confluence of the Kargyak river and the Tsarap. Images below.

Ancient trails. Petroglyphs from this section of trail indicate it is at least 1400 years old (6th century).

Locals walk to a neighboring village, it's voting day and quite an occasion. When Zanskari's come together to vote, they make a day of it, with tea, lunch, and gift exchange. When they vote, it is for a party, as opposed to an individual. Beautiful country.

Trailside petroglyphs from the 6th century. Ladakh has a large collection of this particular style. In particular, the Indus valley collection is the longest stretching collection in the world, spanning the course of the river for over 100 miles. Take note of the ibex glyph on the top left corner. Believed to be part of the original Bon - cho religion of early Ladakhi inhabitants, a pantheistic and shamanistic faith.

Arriving in the village of Purne, we took a day from our traverse to make a side trip up the Tsarap Chu to visit the legendary Phugtal Gonpa. Some monks say it was built in the 6th century, others say in the first century. Do note the cave at its apex, containing a spring said to give eternal life (positive reincarnation).
Back on the trail, we travelled up the Kargyak Chu to Kargyak, passing through the village of Testha. Images below highlight the trip.

A yak caravan moves to its summer high camp for grazing.
A traditional Ladakhi home in Testha, animal fodder stored on the roof for drying.
A local boy stops trailside for a photograph. Notice the protective emblems around his neck, given by a local lama.

Trekker Fred Mauren moves past a wall of chortens near Testha.

Arriving in Kargyak after a big day, we camped in the grass by the river; resting to the sound of the river.

From Kargyak, we travelled to our high camp for the Shingo La, our final pass to complete a double traverse of the Himalaya. We rose at 3 am, crossed the Himalaya at 9 am, and slept in a grassy meadow in Lahaul that evening. We celebrated our success and luck with beer chilled in the stream flowing through camp. On to the next adventure, new 6000 meter peaks of Tsomoriri! Stay tuned in August for a report on our adventure this month. link to adventure: .