High Roads News Sticky , 2018

( 2017 sticky archived here )

SNOWFALL AROUND ZOJI LA , APRIL 20 : Srinagar-Leh out after Sonmarg.

ROHTANG LA , APRIL 19-20: night temperatures still just below zero , heavy snowfall

MANALI-KEYLONG OPENS – AGAIN..
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April 14th – The Tribune

SRINAGAR-LEH , APRIL 13TH : traffic resumes , single direction only.

SRINAGAR-LEH ROAD OUT APRIL 11TH beyond Sonmarg after landslide.
MANALI-KEYLONG TRAFFIC , single direction only on alternate days , starts April 6th. Followed by snowfall over the Rohtang on the 8th…
MANALI-LEH , APRIL 4TH : less than a kilometer of road to clear at Rohtang top

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Crossing the Zoji La , April 6th – The Tribune

SRINAGAR-LEH OFFICIALLY OPEN , APRIL 4TH.
KASHMIR , APRIL 3RD : internet restored in the Vale , but not the south. Strikes continues, including closed schools.
SOUTHERN KASHMIR , APRIL 2ND : second day of strike , internet services and train traffic shut down. 80+ wounded in widespread protests. Ten militants and four soldiers killed in the triggering event.
SRINAGAR-LEH CLEARED MARCH 31ST , opening next week : The Tribune quotes BRO official : “The necessary repair work and widening of the road is being carried out and it may be completed in the next few days”
Weather forecast coming week : mixed sun/cloudy , no rain or snow.
SRINAGAR-KARGIL ZANSKAR OPEN , March 25th – confirmed by Kargil admin

FIRST FRESH VEGGIES OVER THE ZOJI LA , MARCH 21ST : see the recent comment from Leh

MANALI-LEH, MARCH 22ND : snow over the Rohtang La , Kothi ( 10 cm ) and Keylong ( 15 cm ) .

SRINAGAR-LEH , MARCH 19TH : open road up to Sonmarg.

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MANALI-LEH ,MARCH 17TH : snowfall over the Rohtang La and Keylong

MANALI-LEH ROAD CLEARING STARTS , MARCH 12TH : kickoff prayers and starting the big machines. Ideal conditions for avalanches – rain down in Manali , snowing at Rohtang top and temperatures swinging just above/below freezing point.
SRINAGAR , MARCH 10TH : grenade attack against Kralkhud police station , no casualties.
J&K 10th : SASE issues low level avalanche for large high areas in Kashmir : Gulmarg , Kargil and more. More snow in next weeks forecast.
GULMARG ( J&K ) FEB 16TH : five skiers hit by avalanche , one dead
FEBRUARY 16TH : one way traffic to Srinagar from Jammu running
HIMACHAL WEATHER UPDATE , FEBRUARY 13TD : first major snowfall , no traffic beyond Solang on the Rohtang road. Six centimeters of snow in Manali, 35 at the Rohtang La, 27 in Kothi, Keylong 11. Light traffic running in Spiti – eight centimeters of snow in Kaza.

KASHMIR/LADAKH WEATHER UPDATE, FEBRUARY 13RD : SNOW AT LAST
Jammu-Srinagar road put for a second day. 23 centimeters in Srinagar, 40-ish in Pahalgam & Gulmarg.
KASHMIR WEATHER UPDATE, JANUARY 29TH : seven weeks long dry spell ends(?) with light rains in the Vale . Eight cm of snow in Gulmarg.

MANALI-LEH : road closed, rescue posts at Marhi & Koksar closed December . This marks the end of the rescue posts , as the Rohtang tunnel should be operational in 2018. The tunnel work is closed for the winter and the Bailey bridge disconnected , so Lahaulis can still only get out with helicopter for medical emergencies. Work resumes May.
SRINAGAR-LEH : closed since December 14th. Zoji La tunnel project approved , estimated building time seven years. This will be a massive undertaking , ending Ladakhs long winter isolation.

WEATHER UPDATE HIMACHAL/LADAKH/KASHMIR , JAN 11TH :

Solidly subzero : Leh now in the -3 to -13 range , Rohtang La -5 to -16 , Kargil down to -20 .

Nights only subzero : Srinagar + 10 to -3 ( banks of Dal Lake frozen a week ago ) , Shimla +13 down to zero , Manali +10 to +1 .

JAMMU&KASHMIR SECURITY UPDATES :
JAN 23RD : grenade attack against Baramullah police station , one wounded. Grenade attack against army vehicle in Pulwama , one civilian wounded.
JAN 20 TH : eight police wounded in grenade attack at Pulwama , 40 km from Srinagar.
JAN 11TH : Separatist leaders call for strike on Jan 13th after civilian death in connection to protests in Kulgam district.
JAN 6TH: Four police killed by IED in Sopore , 45 km from Srinagar.

JAN 1ST : Attack against CRPF Camp in Pulwama ( 30 kms from Srinagar ) ends : five soldiers , one militant dead.

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Chaddar Trek & ILP/PAP : New Regulations 2018/19

Flying in last to Leh in January I met a lot of tourists heading for the Chaddar trek , with minimal awareness of AMS and rushed itineraries. Interesting medical experiment. Leh Council has apparently grown tired of the resulting high workload at the Sonam Norbu Hospital.

* from this season a check up at the hospital is recommended
before setting out , with a health declaration to be filled in first.

* from next season this check up will be mandatory on day three after arriving Leh.

* foreigners will be required to show proof of travel insurance when applying for PAP/ILP permits for Pangong Tso , Nubra etc.

High Altitude Poodle

In Sweden the word poodle is used in two ways. One way is the dog , the other is linked to when you have to give up an earlier strong position. In public. The expression came from a press conference in 2002 with a minister that had the bravery , or  at least  strategical insight , to realise that the only way out was to recant  and act humble. It was described by a journalist as a ” full poodle , all four paws in  the air , asking for forgiveness” . The expression ( ” att göra en pudel ” ) stuck.

 

In Britain today the National Health Service is in the very slow,  discreet process of making a poodle re their guidelines on fluid intake & prevention of altitude sickness.

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2008

“Minimum 4-6 liters per day”

This was the NHS  standard recommendation from the turn of the millenium – for any altitude , any activity . One group that would be  puzzled by this advice was historically  aware climbers , familiar with the new concepts that took Hillary & Tenzing to the top of Mt Everest : the fluid rations were around three liters per day.

Another group were those who had attended the altitude health lecture run by in Pheriche ( alt. 4200-ish ) on the Everest trek , by by the docs from Himalayan Rescue Association. Then and now they talked about avoiding both de- and overhydration , and a base recommendation of around three liters of fluids per day.

 

 

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2014

“Plenty of fluids”

In 2014 NHS changed course , for reasons unkown  , by going to ” drink plenty of fluids”.

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2017

“Drink enough”

Now who could argue with that ? The Scots , as in the Scottish NHS Fit for Travel site , sought a new quarrrel with the sassenach and allied with Himalayan Rescue Association etc : maintain a good intake , and avoid an excessive one.

The stakes involved , and the reason why for example the Himalayan Rescue Association and the Institute for Altitude Medicine warns against talking about fluid intake with no upper limit , is best described by one of the proponents of a high fluid intake.

Enter  Dr Stephen Bezruchka , with a short chilling remark in Altitude Illness – Prevention & Treatment” :

“Like any advice it can be overdone and people have died from drinking too much water.”

 

 

HIGH ROADS NEWS STICKY , 2017

( 2016 sticky archived , see the sticky category)

( Ice stupa  project at Phey , January 30th – follow the project at icestupa.org and #icestupa at instagram )image

JANUARY 1st , 2017 : Historic second , Srinagar-Leh still open in January . First time was last year.

January 4th : Srinagar-Leh closes .

Srinagar-Leh , Manali-Leh Staus March 31st :

Manali-Leh : BRO working their way up towards the 3000 meter level from Manali , beyond Gulaba. Open road between Keylong and Darcha .

Srinagar-Leh , April 12th : open road up to Sonmarg.

Night and day temperatures above the four  thousand meter level dancing just above/below zero : interesting times ( read : high avalanche risk ) ahead.

Manali-Leh , April 16th ( source : The Tribune ) ,  south side : road cleared up to Rani Nullah , a few kilometers from Rohtang top.

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North side : open road Gramphu-Keylong-Darcha , team two working their way to Rohtang top.

MANALI-LEH , APRIL 20TH : Temperature now  above zero day  night at Rohtang top ,  tourists warned as Beas river water levels raising rapidly , snow rapidly disappearing below three thousand meters.

MANALI-LEH , APRIL 23RD : the first crossings over the Rohatang La has been made -on foot . One kilometer of remains to be cleared , BRO confident on opening the pass for traffic within the next days. Temperatures  dipping below zero again at night , so snow melting will slow down.

MANALI-LEH , LADAKH APRIL 25TH : big landslide takes out Manali-Leh below Marhi , at the three thousand meter level . Snowfall in Leh again.

MANALI-KEYLONG OPEN FOR LIGHT TRAFFIC , APRIL 27TH : confirmed by Keylong admin.

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First cars to Keylong , 2017 , near Gramphu ( north side of the Rohtang La ) , April 27th The Tribune

MANALI-LEH , APRIL 30TH : snowfall in Marhi ( 15 cm ) , Rohtang ( 30 cm ) and Keylong ( 5 cm )

MANALI-LEH , MAY 4TH : south side of the Rohtang La blocked after avalanche at Rani Nullah and landslide near Beas Nullah.

SRINAGAR-LEH , MAY 7TH : ZOJI LA CLEARED  , BRO hopes to have the road fullt open by end of  the week. Weather forecast coming days talks of à mix of sunny and cloudy days , no rain or snow. Nights at the Zoji and Fotu La just at the freezing point.

SRINAGAR-LEH , MAY 8TH : FIRST HAND CONFIRMATION FROM LEH , FIRST FRESH VEGGIES ARRIVE ( see comments section) . Road still shown as closed at official Leh site .

SRINAGAR-LEH , MAY 11TH : road now officially open at leh.nic.in

MANALI-LEH , MAY 21TH : fresh refills of snow over the Rohtang and Baralacha La last two days . BRO now sceptical on their earlier prediction to open the road on the 25th.

ROHTANG LA OPEN FOR DAY TRIPS , MAY 24TH

MANALI-LEH OPENS , JUNE 7TH : first HRTC buses sent off from Keylong.

KUNZUM LA OPENS , JUNE 12TH: HRTC buses now running to/from Kaza to Manali & Keylong

J&K  SECURITY UPDATE , JULY : seven dead and nineteen wounded in attack on pilgrim bus on the Srinagar-Jammu road , July 10th

HIMACHAL MONSOON , AUGUST 13TH : landslide takes out 200 meters of Manali-Mando road , two buses and houses. Around forty dead.

 

J&K SECURITY , AUGUST 15TH : Indepence day in the Vale under the usual curfew conditions , limited traffic and internet. Four wounded in grenade attack fifteen kilometers from Srinagar.

J&K SECURITY , SEPTEMBER 7TH : one dead , fifteen wounded in grenade attack at Jehangir Chowk , Srinagar.

J&K SECURITY , OCTOBER 3RD : Srinagar airport in lockdown mode for five hours while the adjoining BSF base is under attack. All three militants killed after ten hours.

 

MANALI-LEH UPDATE ,  OCTOBER 22ND : Rohtang La now subzero at night. Daytime below +10 .

LADAKH/J&K/HIMACHAL WEATHER UPDATE , DECEMBER 10-13TH :
Heavy snowfall closes Jammu-Srinagar-Leh road , half of Srinagar flights cancelled.
Thirty centimeters of snow in Keylong etc in Lahaul , BRO put clearing of the Rohtang La on hold in anticipation of the coming heavy snowfall.

SRINAGAR-LEH UPDATE , DECEMBER 14TH : road officially closed at leh.nic.in

NEPAL-TIBET/CHINA  : Kathmandu-Lhasa road still not open for foreigners.

PAKISTAN-XINJIANG/CHINA : road expected to open (earliest) April 1st.

2016 Rumor Mill : The “Official” Closure of Manali-Leh Road

A news story nearly a week ago in The Times Of India claims that Manali-Leh has closed officially for the winter . And that it does so every year on October 15th.

A few reality check questions :

1. Every year , October 15th : this is easily debunked by reading what Times of India has written themselves earlier  . Prime example from 2011 :

MANALI: The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has decided to keep the strategically-important Manali-Leh highway open till November 30 this year. Earlier, the highway used to be closed officially after October 31 every year.

2. Official source : the first hand source here would be the Border Roads Organisation , which is responsible for keeping the road open. BRO isn’t mentioned , and their website doesn’t do updates on road status. The official Leh site has a roadmarker , and it shows both roads as open. The source quoted in the TOI story is a police official saying that the Sarchu check post has been abandoned . This is à bit odd , since it’s a Lahauli policeman talking about Sarchu : not only a different district , but a different state ( Himachal Pradesh vs Jammu & Kashmir ) .

3. Is the road actually blocked ? Neither the policeman or the journalist suggest this. They talk of possible imminent snowfall.

4. The Rohtang La pass receives the brunt of the snowfall , closes first, and is still  very much open . First light snowfall was on the 12th , now long gone : nights barely below zero at the top , and nearly ten degrees plus daytime. Open road both to Keylong and ( over the Kunzum La ) Kaza according to Keylong admin.

In in one or two years there will be a different dynamic after the opening of the Rohtang tunnel , bypassing the actual pass.

Updates in the news sticky on top ( http://korta.nu/sticky )

 

Update , November 2 : Manali-Leh closes , the official word from leh.nic.in

 

 

 

 

Srinagar, day 41

Thursday , August 18th : yet another ambulance arrives at SMHS  , Srinagars main hospital. Last in line to the emergency room is the ambulance driver , who has managed to complete the run with shotgun wounds in his hand from a roadblock. The frustration of the docs  in Srinagar has now reached the point where they have started to leak X-ray pics to the press , pics that are gruesome enough to make laymen pause.

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The theory behind CPRFs armament and strategy is  that their pellet shotguns  are non-lethal when aimed below the knees. In actual practice they have had a devastating effect all too often from the abdomen and up , shown on a near daily basis on the front page pictures since July 8th. Punctured lungs , abdominal bleedings and , the icon of 2016 : the permanently blinded. Last estimate was 400+ with severe eye injuries to one or both eyes.

Little reason to believe in any immediate changes for the better , with announced plans for continued strikes and protest marches over the weekend.

The tourist perspective checklist :

* flights to Srinagar : airlines offered full refunds for tickets at least up to the 16th.

* Jammu-Srinagar road is  open again, out first two weeks

* travel insurances are basically void during curfews etc – check the  official travel advisory back home.

* Srinagar-Leh road is open , see the updates at http://korta.nu/sticky