High Roads News Sticky , 2018

( 2017 sticky archived here )

AUGUST 9TH : RAINS , FLASH FLOOD NEAR LEH : rains on the W side of the Indus seems to have taken the same path as in 2010 : destroyed houses and road near Sabu and Shey. No reported loss of life.

J&K SECURITY , JULY 8TH : expect tensions on second year mark of Burhan Wanis death.

LEH , JULY 7TH : Happy birthday , Dalai Lama ( on visit until end of month ) .

SRINAGAR , JUNE 1ST : one dead , one wounded after protests at the Jami Masjid. Two grenade attacks in S Kashmir , no casualties.
SRINAGAR-LEH , MAY 30TH : road blocked for a third after landslide

SRINAGAR , MAY 25TH : massive clashes at Jami Masjid after Friday prayers , 40-50 wounded , shots fired inside the mosque.

MANALI-LEH OPEN MAY 14TH in news stories – not officially confirmed on leh.nic.in yet

SRINAGAR , MAY 7TH : three cars with domestic tourists attacked by stone throwers on the outskirts of Srinagar. One dead.
PULWAMA (south J&K ) MAY 7TH : grenade attack against CRPF , one wounded.
WEATHER UPDATE MAY 7TH : heavy rains over the Rohtang , rain in Sonmarg & Kargil.

J&K SECURITY , MAY 6TH : five militants ( including professor from Kashmir University ) and five civilians killed in Shopian. Curfews , transport and internet restrictions in Srinagar.
SRINAGAR-LEH STILL OUT , APRIL 24TH
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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BAI Award 2018 : Yading Skyrun

No one is happier than me for the recent lack of candidates in this contest . But here we are , with a strong candidate for this years Bad Altitude Info Award. The Yading Skyrun has just kicked off , marketed as the ” worlds highest ” running contest. There are nice graphics in the form of maps and elevation profiles on the official site.

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And this is where the good news ends. This starts with getting to the event , choosing between the two obvious routes to Yading. One way is flying in to Shangri La , a few hundred meters lower than Lhasa , and take a long bus ride the next day. This could be seen as a good idea knowing that 2 % of soldiers flying in to Lhasa start to develop pulmonary edema , and a even larger group is incapacitated . The other option is flying in direct to Yading …which is the worlds highest airport at 4411 meters. That shouldn’t really be an option for any first comers to these altitudes , without prior acclimatization . The event organizer don’t give any input on this / in fact they literally never mention acclimatization. The plan here is at surreal distance from standard safety guidelines : a run from 4000 meters altitude to 5000 in a single day, without any required acclimatization first.

A given comparison here is the Ladakh Marathon that since seven years organize a similar run to the slightly higher Khardung La . They strongly recommend minimum five days of acclimatization in Leh at 3520 meters . The Everest Marathon , another 5000 plus run , organise the first five nights in the 2600 to 4000 meters range.

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