Monday, October 10, 2005

Lonely at the top

.. but a lot of company along the way : eagles, yaks, really! large marmots, a family group of very elegant Ladakhi deers : light grey on the outside,white belly and inner leggings, chock black tail stump.. and the ever present yellowbeaked ravens (thanks for the binoculars, dad !) .
I manage to tag along an elderly Ladakhi gentleman in goncha and huge sunglasses up to around 4900 , where he gently lets me off : maybe you should take it slower; he signs "yams , yams" : take smaller steps. He obviously has mastered the secrets a long time ago : walks very slowly but never ever stops.
The map can't really prepare you for the reality of Digar La, the most un-la-like la (pass) I've ever seen . A long ,huge, curving valley climbing ... until it ends in a sharp curved ridge. Boulders and stones that first appears as gravel in sharp slope up to the solid ridge , with a small notch crossed by prayer flags : the pass(age) . Hairpin bend thru the notch , where the trail slopes down in an equally crazy angle. Like walkin up to the rim of a moon crater. The thin air turns me in to an atlas of respiratory distress symtom; like everyone else : William Moorecroft notes the same in his passage 1822 and adds in awe " even the yaks were affected .. and needed frequent breaks". Hard , cold wind lashing into me the last hundred meters; grateful for the staff.

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