10th July, 2008.
Route: Jispa – Darcha – Baralach la – Sarchu.
Distance Covered: 90 km.
The break at hotel IBEX, Jispa, at Rs1200 per room was the costliest stay of our tour, but we all felt it was worth and welcome break. With 2 nights rest at an approximate altitude of 13200 feet, everybody got enough time to get acclimatized with the altitude. Later we were not to have any issues with mountain sickness.
We started from Jispa at around 7.30 am. The days aim was to drive till Sarchu which is 90kms from Jispa. We could have driven till Pang but many people suggested staying at Sarchu as Pang is at a higher altitude (~16000ft) and hence more chances of mountain sickness. The road from Jispa to Sarchu is Ok; there are few stretches of bad road. After crossing double bridge at Darcha, where we checked up air pressure in bike tyres, continuing further reached at ‘Dipak Tal’, a lake at an altitude of 14500-15000ft. The water in the lake was crystal clear. The mercury started dipping, it started getting cold. Spend some time at Dipak Tal, and then continued further.
We crossed ‘Transit Camp’ at Patsio. Landscape suddenly changed, grainy and sandy mountains took place of rocky mountains. It was as if somebody has dumped heaps of sand at this place. Somewhere here it started drizzling. It was cold already and this drizzle dipped the temperatures even further and to add it became cloudy.
The ascent to Baralach La, the second mountain pass after Rohtang La is in good condition. The roads are well tarred. The snow appeared first time along the sides of the road. As we were ascending it became more and more colder. The woolen gloves were not able to keep the cold out and the ongoing drizzle rendered them useless. Somewhere during the ascent I changed gloves and wore leather ones. Even they were not able to keep the cold out but were little better than the woolens.
Baralach La is covered by 12 snow clad mountain peaks. Foggy condition, clouds and drizzle made sure that we never saw 12 peaks at one shot. Once in a while we used to see one or two mountain peaks. Took some snaps, the cold conditions did not allow us to stay for long at Baralach La. The fingers were almost frozen it was painful to change gears.
The descent from Baralach La brings one to Bharatpur, where we stopped for lunch in a circular tent. Further journey to Sarchu was uneventful. Accommodation at Sarchu is collection of tensts. There are luxurious tents and a shared non-luxurious tents. Few tents even have attached toilets.
The military is really helpful all along this route to Leh. At sarchu checkpost they helped us get an accommodation. We had an evening to spend at this beautiful location. The extra stay at Jispa really helped as nobody had problems as far as mountain sickness went. I had slight headache, while Sudhakar and Shantanu had the best nights sleep till now.