“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate…
For people like us from the plains, who are used to hot weather and pleasant winters snow is but exotic, its like something we yearn for, we look forward to seeing, touching, feeling atleast once in our lives. We look forward to going to the Himalaya’s once, above all the thing that is most on our minds is to see snow, atleast for the first time, we have never seen it, we are not sure how we will react, how it will feel and what all naughty things we will do. On my first trip to the Himalaya’s the first sign of snow from miles away on the road to Manali, we stopped and started taking pictures although it was so far and yet, we gushed excitedly, look snow!
When finally we did touch snow it was like carved ice, cold, very cold, making the hand numb-er than it already was whilst we were on our way to Rohtang Pass. As we slowly soaked the feeling of being there and actually having millions of tons of snow all around us began the fun of playing with it, making a ball and throwing it at someone, my son, my wife, my mom we all were having our first experience of snow! It was fun, like a young 10 year old I was rolling on the ground, my 60 year old mom was carving snow filling her hands and flinging it at us! We would marvel at the snow, blow air from the mouth that we could see and actually for a while we didn’t feel cold.
I am sure you can imagine how excitement overpowers your feelings and you don’t even feel cold! We had all seen snow, on another trip my wife and son experienced a snow fall, I sadly was not a part of that trip. Then came this trip to Leh, in December, on our journey back from Nubra to Leh during our ascent to the Khardungla Pass the weather as they said it was bad and we were going to get snow.
Snowfall!? Hang on, there was one person in the jeep who was not at all dreading it, he was looking forward to it! Then it slowly came, we could see flakes on the glass of the windshield, it was 4.30 pm, we were late, we had to cross Khardungla soon and get to Leh before it got really dark. So they wouldn’t stop to enjoy the snow, the Kashmiri driver, our guide from Nubra all said lets not waste time and lets do what is safe. I obliged, sitting on the window, I would roll down the glass from time to time, try to catch some flakes, marvel and sigh! Phew!
Eventually, at one bend, the Innova wouldn’t climb, it would slide, that was scary I must admit, it didn’t look like the car was under control. The temperature must have been I am quite sure less than -30 degree celsius and it was decided the car tyre needs to be applied with chains. Everyone eventually got out, no points for guessing who was the first one out! I had to feel the snow, falling on my face! Whilst most of the people were busy getting the chains on the tyre, a herculean task I tell you, I was busy absorbing my first snow fall, soaking it all in, clicking pictures and just dwelling in the moment. A cigarette came out and I smoked to glory!
Brrrr…. eventually the cold bit through bringing me back to reality, the toes inside the shoes and two pairs of soaks seemed to have gone numb, I couldn’t feel them. The other hard working parties had successfully applied chain to one tyre but it seemed the chain on the other tyre was just not long enough, the fingers so numb and trying to pull iron in such weather was no mean a job! It just wasn’t happening and everyone was freezing, it was almost 5pm now. Our guide fired the driver for not having proper chains and not putting them on earlier when he asked him to do so eventually said we must return.
Khardungla was just about 10 kms away, we had to go back 125 kms and yet, that was the smart thing to do, go back and come back again the next day. In high altitudes, sensibility and not bravado is what makes you survive. We all returned, I must admit not at sadly, but actually pretty thrilled about the fact that we got stuck in a snow storm, braved it and actually came back to tell the tale! 🙂 For us it was an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives!
Here are a few more pictures from that day in the Snow at an altitude of approx 15000 feet in -30 degrees celsius 😀 😀 😀 and folks those smiles are warm I can assure you that! 😀