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

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

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

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 was 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.

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 )

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Third Highest Airport

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End of my 2015 tour in Kham , driving past worlds third highest airport serving Kangding @ 4280 meters . Looks like a interesting landing , with the four thousand meter long runway ending as a ramp . Think cutting of the top of a cone , and flipping it to extend the flat surface.

 

Kangding town  is forty  klicks away and seventeen hundred meters lower : flat real estate is scarce in these parts.

High Roads News Sticky , 2016

( 2015 sticky archived , see the sticky category)

January 4th : Srinagar-Leh closes.

JANUARY 1st , 2017 : Historic first , Srinagar-Leh still open .

MANALI-LEH UPDATE , NOVEMBER 2 : Manali-Leh now show as closed on the official Leh site , leh.nic.in , after first heavy snowfall traps Manali day tourists at the Rohtang La. Temperatures at top still dancing just above/below zero , permanent snow build up uncertain. See also this post on the October 15th rumor.

Manali-Leh , Manali-Kaza update , October 12th : first snow over the Rohtang & Kunzum La , night temperatures just below zero at four thousand meters.

J&K security update ( see also post below ) , October 2 : Baramulla army base under attack , two attackers and one soldier dead at first reports.

October 1st : all curfews lifted .

September 30th : partial curfew in Srinagar to prevent the announced protests at Lal Chowk. Protest schedule prolonged to October 6th.

September 17th : massive protests in Srinagar after eleven year old found shot dead.

September 16th : Reinforcements : Two more batallions arrive in Kashmir.

September 13th : two dead ( Shopian & Bandipor ) , one hundred plus wounded as Eid starts. Widespread curfews.

September 7th : Kulgam school on fire as CRPF breaks up protest rally , ninety wounded.

September 3rd : one dead , seventy wounded .

September 2 : 18 year old drowns in Jhelum river , Srinagar, while being chased by CRPF .

August 31st : one dead , 150 wounded and a parliament members house torched as remaining curfews ( but not downtown Srinagar ) are lifted . Strike extended to September 8th.

August 30 : seventy wounded in clashes over J&K.

August 29th/day 52 : curfews lifted in most of Kashmir, separatists calls for continued strike until September 1st. Ninety wounded in clashes at the end of the day.

August 21st / day 44 : sixtyseventh fatality : teargas shell kills protester in Srinagar.

August 20th : partial restoration of phone services , mobile internet still out . Oil tankers on new strike , citing numerous attacks against vehicles and drivers , cutting fuel deliveries – including to security forces.

August 15th : CRPF battalion commander killed , eight soldiers wounded in Srinagar on Indepedence Day .

August 10th , reinforcements : CRPF sends in 85 more companies to J&K

August 6th : three dead , 360 wounded in clashes on Friday and Saturday.

Telluride , August 4th : World Conference on Wilderness & Mountain Medicine ( joint conference of International Society for Mountain Medicine and Wilderness Medical Society ) ends – stand by for exciting news ..

J&K security update , August 4th : partial curfew in Srinagar, and Anantnag , Baramullah etc.

July 29th : 100+ wounded in J&K clashes.

July 27th : renewed curfew in Srinagar.

July 26th : curfew lifted all over Kashmir , except Anatnag in the south. Fourteen wounded , one dead . Protesters and police in Srinagar exchange teargas and stones.

July 20th : twelfth day of curfew . Printed newspapers re-appearing tomorrow. Oil tankers on eight day of strike , refusing to supply the Vale and Ladakh after attacks on vehicles & drivers.

July 17th : Delhi sends reinforcements , twenty CRPF companies , i.e. 2500+ men.

July 15th : curfew extended over the weekend , now in all ten Kashmiri districts . Total casualties now 40 dead , 1500+ wounded.

July 11th : Amarnath yantra resumes under heavy security measures. Fifteen police wounded in Srinagar grenade attack.

July 10th : major unrest after the killing of militant leader. Civilians attacking police stations ( and tossing one police car in to Jhelum river , one drowned ) , police attacking ambulances , and more. Twenty dead , and a lot more wounded.Partial curfew in Srinagar.

June 25th : second attack in a month on police/Army convoy on Jammu-Srinagar road in Pampore : eight CRPF police killed , twentytwo wounded. Armored personell carriers transfered from Chattisgarh region.

Himachal weather , June 9th : fourth day of rain , more to come the next days . Max temperatures between 31 degrees ( Dharamsala ) 25 ( Shimla & Kalpa) , twenty-ish in Keylong.

Srinagar-Leh , June 8th : landslide near Sonmarg takes out the road , BRO at work clearing it.

May 23rd : Manali-Leh OPEN

May 23rd : Supreme Court decides on appeal against the NGT regulations at the Rohtang La : no changes , new hearing in two weeks . Taxi union demanded a fivefold increase in allowed traffic , with the ..odd argument that hydro electric power plants generates far more pollution (!).

Rohtang La open for day tours , May 21th

Rohtang La daytours , May 18th : traffic now allowed up to Marhi – with sad ,isolated patches of snow.

May 3rd : really , really official – leh.nic.in roadmarker now shows Srinagar-Leh as open.

May 1st : mangoes in Leh , in a mail from Phey school : “..trucks came too on 1 May and we’re eating mangoes in Ladakh! Hooray!”

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( The Tribune , May 1st – Amin War )

SRINAGAR-LEH OPENS ON APRIL 30 : it’s official in todays ( April 28th ) news , and the weather forecast looks good.

SRINAGAR-LEH UPDATE , APRIL 25th : Zoji La cleared , BRO expects to have the road fully open ” within a few days ” .

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( Zoji La inspection , April 25th – from Ladakh News Service group , Facebook )

MANALI-LEH UPDATE , APRIL 24th : snowfall over the Rohtang , both sides : five centimeters of snow down in Keylong. 350 persons trapped for eight hours near the pass on Sunday , until BRO managed to clear it agagain.

Srinagar , April 15th : fifth civilian death on Friday in the widepread protests in the Vale. Srinagar under partial curfew , including shutdown of internet .

April 10th : 6.8 earthquake in Afghanistan rocks Srinagar, Shimla , Kullu… no word on casualties yet.

MANALI-LEH UPDATE , APRIL 7th : Rohtang La cleared but not open for traffic yet ,according to BRO. Mixed clouds and snowfall in the weekend in the weather forecast.

SRINAGAR-LEH UPDATE , APRIL 1st : BRO has cleared the road up to ten kilometers from the Zoji La pass. Nights still ( barely) subzero at the pass & in Leh.

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KASHMIR WEATHER UPDATE , MARCH 17th : heavy rains over the Pir Panjal , roads blocked. Thirty centimeters of snow in Sonmarg . More snow over the Zoji la on the Srinagar-Leh road.

HIMACHAL WEATHER UPDATE , MARCH 17th : 45 centimeters of snow in Pangi Valley. More snow over the Rohtang . Daytime temperatures barely above zero daytime in Keylong , below zero both night and daytime above four thousand ( i.e. The Rohtang La before Keylong , and nearly all the way between Keylong and Leh ) . More snow coming in this weekends weather forecast .

HIMACHAL WEATHER UPDATE , MARCH 7th : heavy snowfalls and avalanche warnings in the high passes : 90 cm at the Rohtang La , 35 cm down in Keylong . Snow turning in to sleet and rain in the lower reaches.

HIMACHAL WEATHER UPDATE , MARCH 7th : heavy snowfall over the Rohtang & Kunzum La , 30 cm in Keylong .

Srinagar-Leh update , March 1st : BRO at work from Sonmarg towards the Zoji La , snow levels between one and three meters. First guess from BRO : work completed up to Leh by the end of the month – this would be nearly two weeks earlier than the record in 2013 . NB : they have been wrong before , many times .

Himachal weather update, February 20th : heavy snowfall above 3000 meters , half meter over the Rohtang La , Kunzum La and Saach pass . Twentyfive cm in Keylong.

Himachal weather update , February : moderate to heavy snowfall in Shimla and over the Rohtang La on the 8 & 14th.

Himachal weather update , January 7th : 30 centimeters of snow at the Rohtang La , 15 centimeters in Keylong , also breaking the long warm spell in Shimla.

January 30th : BRO starts clearing the road from Manali towards the Rohtang , earliest ever.

January 4th :

LADAKH : SNOWLOCKED since December 21st , 2015 : Srinagar-Leh closed , and from the Manali end BRO retreats from Marhi ( south side of the Rohtang La ) and Koksar (north) . No fresh veggies in Leh for a couple of months..

NEPAL FUEL CRISIS/EMBARGO : you can get in by land , the usual route via Gorakhpur and Sunauli. Flights run with the airlines that can refuel before landing in Ktm . Little drama for tourists , apart from some price raises.

NEPAL-TIBET : Friendship Highway between Kathmandu and Lhasa still not open after the 2015 earthquakes.

PAKISTAN-XINJIANG/CHINA : Karakoram Highway closed as usual , opening ( earliest ) 1st week April.

SIKKIM-CHINA : Nathu La closed for the winter , and still not an option either for Indian nationals or angrezis.