Manali-Leh : Perfect Timing

Arrived in Manali yesterday , with a half meter of snow being dumped on the Rothang La during my bus ride from Delhi. News talk of a number of vehicles ( figures strating from sixty ) being trapped in the pass , and snow cutters now working their way up. Had some fresh snow thrown at me from Gulaba , the highest open point this morning ( i.e. 3000 meters ) .

Also mentioned in the news : Srinagar-Leh also closing the same day (!) , snowfall in Kalpa (13 cm ) and Keylong ( 18 cm) , Saach Pass ( more than a meter ) and over the Kunzum La , closing the Manali-Kaza route on a second point.

UPDATE : BRO talks of having the road cleared within two days , according to a official quoted by Himvani.

UPDATE , OCTOBER 26th : Srinagar-Leh has been posted as open today , and I’m heading for Leh tomorrow morning from Manali.

Baralacha La : Massive Avalanche

American cyclist Jewel Edward seems to be the first casualty of the June misweather in Lahaul . Apparently he became separated from the rest of the group in what is described as snowstorm , and died near Chattru after having crossed the Kunzum La pass. Along the same route students and teachers were finally airlifted out from Batal , where they had been forced to take shelter more than a week ago. Evacs were done to Koksar – Rothang to Keylong is open.

Later in the week 1300 sheep and goats were killed in one fell swoop by a massive avalanche near the Baralacha La , but the shepherders managed to stay out of harms way.
Higher up in the pass a number of truck drivers are more or less contentedly munching away at their provisions , after being stranded about a week.

Weather forecasts promises a final day of rain & snow on the 18th in Lahaul & Ladakh, to be followed by two clear sunny days .

Saach Pass opened on the , after being closed since December.

UPDATE , JUNE 20TH : Mixed weather forecast from Leh , Lahaul forecast says rain four out of the five coming days. There is a rumor of the road being open for light vehicles : third hand report from a single poster on a forum , no vehicles seen coming in to either Manali or Leh … and now , a couple of hours later there is confirmation from Manali : first bikers from Leh have arrived.

Fresh Snow

Manali , Saturday - Tribune photograph
This weekend meant snow at last , in Kinnaur , Lahaul and Manali, maxing out in Keylong : sixteen centimeters of snow. In lower regions it came down as rain , feeding both irrigation and the the starving hydel power plants that have been been down to fifty per cent of normal capacity after the long dry winter. Kalpa in Kinnaur was coldest at -2.5 degrees , and had less snow : snow is a warm weather phenomenom.

The Manali-Leh road was closed for lighter vehicles from Kothi , at the 2500 meter level , with snow falling all the way up to the Rothang pass the BRO had to call it a day early in the afternoon.

Chamba region also reported heavy (no numbers given ) snowfall , probably affecting the clearing of Saach Pass.

UPDATE 25/3 : Two more feet of snow around the Rothang and Marhi , work to resume when the weather gets better. Road open to Gulaba (with eight inches of fresh snow, BRO crew just short of the Rothang.

High Politics : Saach Pass Opens For Elections

A winter with low snow levels and the upcoming elections means that the opening of Saach Pass may be preponed (lovely Hinglish expression) before June :

“Though the highway is officially opened for vehicular traffic in the first week of June every year, now with the announcement of election schedule efforts would be made to reopen the highway in advance before the prescribed date so that transportation services could be resumed,”

Swedish trekker henko went over the pass last year in July (photo below) , and mentions snow stiil being cleared from the road. Haven´t been able to pin down the actual opening date.

Saach Pass

Saach Pass reopens

Chamba, July 1
The highest road from Chamba to Killar crossing over the Saach Pass situated at an altitude of 4413 metres linking the Pangi tribal valley with Chamba was reopened for vehicular traffic on Friday, Jagdev Singh Pathania, resident commissioner of Pangi, told The Tribune over the phone.

Pathania said the pass overlooking the snowy Pir Panjal ranges of Jammu and Kashmir was closed for traffic due to snowfall in November last year. — OC