Cycling To The Himalaya

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Adventure lover Deepak Jhalani talks about his five days of bliss, hardship, and humility in our series of Weekend Adventure with Zippo.

Our desire to cycle in the Himalaya led us to an adventure of a lifetime. In August 2012, my three friends and I set out to conquer the Himalayan range on our bicycles. Before heading to Leh, we purchased our cycle gear and researched a challenging route. We chose to do a self-supported cycling trip, without any motorised support. We wanted to do the trip on our own strength and live off the land—homestays and food on the way. Our aim was to test ourselves, mentally and physically. And in the five days that we cycled from Leh, we were challenged every bit.

Our journey began with a flight from Delhi to Leh. We packed only essentials and bikes in the luggage. After spending three days in Leh for acclimatisation, we started cycling from Hunder in Nubra Valley of Ladakh. Our trip took us across the 17,500-ft-high Warila Pass towards Pangong lake.

The toughest part of our trip was on Day Two when we had to reschedule our climb because it was excruciating. But after that we never looked back. We carried our luggage ourselves mostly. But we did get assistance from a local yak herder and we stayed at his yak tent at the base of Warila Pass at 16,500 ft. Our scariest moment was when we reached Warila Pass with a hailstorm following us at dusk. Not only did the fast-changing climatic conditions test us, in the hailstorm we had to locate the yak tent. That day we had only one meal as that is all we could find.

Food was easily available to us on the way but it was hard to keep up with what we were eating. Add to that the strength required to maintain a consistent speed at high altitude. But as we headed along the way, our resolve became stronger. The thought of returning mid-way never occurred. And it was all worth it when we reached Pangong lake. It was the moment that made us feel alive. We had heard of its beauty but we were overwhelmed by what lay in front of us. In that moment, the mighty Himalaya and the great lake humbled us. Now, we can’t wait to be on the road again… under the starry night… looking for another humbling experience.