By: Piotr “zdan” Zdanecki / http://borntoroam.pl
Location: Stok Kangri, Ladakh – INDIA
Also featured in Issue#19 | Jan 2014
It has been one of those rainy evenings in autumn, that the best thing you can do is browsing the internet. I have been looking for a place on our planet where mountains are very high and till that moment no one dared to shred paths lying there on a mountain bike. Once I have seen Ladakh on photos, it was love at first sight.
Finally, after few months of preparations, in August 2013 the flight from Poland to India landed in Delhi. We were in the team of three –MarcinKleszcz, KlaudiuszDuda and PiotrZdanecki (me). Since our trip was supposed to be a low budget, we decided to get to the Leh in Ladakh by land, via famous Manali-Leh Highway, instead of taking plane from Delhi. Even though we were totally exhausted after arrival to Leh, it was worth it! The road passes through the wild and vast Himalayas, crossing few passes including those above 5000m. We had also a chance to get more familiar with the Indians and their lifestyle which is so different from ours, Europeans. The whole travel from Delhi to Leh took us about 36 hours in a row.
We spent about two days in Leh before taking our bikes to the mountains. We visited the magnificent Leh Palace; got some necessary acclimatization, bought few things and then we were ready to conquer the Himalayas!
Our first target was the Sengge La. Since there was a possibility to get a ride by car to the top of the pass we used it. When the car reached the top of it and left us there alone we were so astonished. The sun was slowly going down and scenery was so breathtaking. Only us and spectacular mountains! We took few photos and descended back to the valley. Fortunately, there was a river so we could have set a camp. After the sunset, the darker it was getting, the more stars appeared on the night sky. We have never seen so many stars. Oh, and there was even a milky way visible!
The next day, which was a little bit cloudy we spent on climbing to the Yogma La. Due to the lack of acclimatization it took us 7 hours to reach the top of it. Nevertheless, the scenery was mind-blowing, we felt like we were on the moon. But the clue of that day was a path going down from the pass. The narrow singletrack, we were so stoked on it! We did not manage to reach the valley the same day, so we had set camp before the night came. The day after we continued going down and then started to climb towards the third pass – Nyguitse La. Unfortunately, the weather was getting worse – rain and snowfall were coming – so we decided spend a night in the half on the climb to the pass. In the morning we packed up our things and followed the path to the pass. This time also we were not disappointed – once again great view and amazing, very long singletrack right to the Kanji village. We spent a night in Kanji and then came back to Leh.
In the next days we visited the region of Stok Kangri. While we were pushing our bikes towards the Ganda La I have noticed great looking ridge calmly coming down to the valley, where we had our basecamp. It looked quite promising, so after we reached the Ganda La, we turned left and followed the ridge to the unnamed peak from where we started for what we came here for – freeride! There was no path, only we, our bikes and ridge. That what was looking easy from the valley, it was looking quite differently behind the handlebars. Quite narrow ridge and steep scree pumped a lot of adrenaline to our bodies. Once we were back to our tent, we were pretty happy. It was really cool experience, to ride in such terrain. Later, we climbed and shredded Stok La, where we found countless number of switchbacks.
In total, we spent 24 days in India. Most of the time took travelling so only a week could have been devoted for pure riding. Anyway, it was great time for all of us. We met great people, especially the owner of Tukcha Road Guesthouse, who was extremely helpful and nice for us. Landscapes offered by the Himalayas were amazingly astonishing, green trees in Leh surrounded by the desert, and 6000m peaks covered with snow. Moon-like sceneries and rocks in colors that we have never seen before. By the time, I am writing these words, I am thinking about coming back there, to Ladakh.
We would like to thank our sponsors for the support without them our trip would not be possible to accomplish:
Wkreceni.pl, Urge bike products, Garmin, PowerBar, AkademiaGórniczo-Hutnicza, Santa Cruz, GoPro.