India (July-August 2018): Zanskar to Paddar across Umasi La (5300m) - 1/3

banner-orange

Return to main India 2018 webpage

 

This second leg of the trek starts at the Zongkhul gompa (3700m) located 22km northwest of Padum in the valley of the Malung Togpo (river). It first follows this valley in the southwest direction, then turns to the south to ascend the glacier north-east of Umasi La. After crossing the steep pass it follows a long glacier to reach the valley of the Bujwas river, then the valley of the Bhuma river. The Bhuma valley leads to the small town of Gulabgarh. Located at the confluence of the Bhuma river with the larger Chenab river, Gulabgarh is connected by road to Kishtwar and Jammu on the west and to Keylong and Manali on the east. The trek ends at the start of a road a few kilometers before reaching Gulabgarh. The last two days of the trek share the path with an important pilgrimage, the Machel Mata, to a shrine dedicated to the Goddess Durga. This shrine is located in the village of Machel on the Bhuma river, next to WP #72 in the Google Earth views below. This month-long annual pilgrimage, which started on June 25, 2018, was still ongoing during my trek. It attracted over 100,000 pilgrims in the month-long period.

 

Location map:

nw-india

 

Google Earth views:

umasi-la-google-earth

umasi-la-1

Entire leg.

Part 1/3 of leg.

 

[Reminder: Click here (kmz file) and open the downloaded file in Google Earth to access the GPS waypoints (numbered 1 to 49 for the first leg and 50 to 78 for the second leg) that I recorded during the trek: red pins for starts, orange for finishes, green for camps, brown for passes, and yellow for other waypoints. Only WP #61 (Umasi La) was not GPS-recorded, but entered manually.]

 

Day 1 of second leg of trek:

 

Looking back at the Zongkhul gompa (visible below the center of the photo), where we had spent the night, soon after leaving.

DSC00837

 

The valley of the Malung Togpo ahead of us.

DSC00840

 

Further up.

DSC00845

 

A look down toward the gompa (no longer visible).

DSC00846

 

A natural ″bridge″ (actually, a stack of large fallen boulders) across the Malung Togpo, which allowed us to switch from the river′s left side to its right side.

DSC00847

 

DSC00848

 

The ″bridge″ seen from the other side.

DSC00852

 

View upward with the Malung glacier in the background.

DSC00854

 

Three members of the team had walked much faster and had already set up our large yellow tent at the first camp of the leg (WP #55).

DSC00856

 

Zooms on the Malung glacier from the camp at two different times of the afternoon.

DSC00857

 

DSC00863

 

Spiky peaks above the camp.

DSC00859

 

DSC00868

 

DSC00871

 

Day 2:

 

Soon after leaving the camp we started ascending the southern slope of the Malung Togpo valley to reach a smaller side valley leading to the glacier below Umasi La.

DSC00878

 

DSC00883

 

Views of the Malung Togpo valley during the ascent.

DSC00887

 

DSC00885

 

Entering the side valley.

DSC00888

 

Good rest along the way. From left to right: Falkays (hidden), Angchuk, Rinchen, Tundup (sitting in the back), Stenzing and Laskhap.

DSC00889

 

Path and narrow bridge made of stacked rocks across the valley′s river.

DSC00894

 

DSC00896

DSC00897

 

Unusually clear stream.

DSC00898

 

View down toward the Malung Togpo valley soon before reaching our second camp.

DSC00916

 

We set our second camp (WP #60) on a last piece of flat sandy terrain below the moraine of the glacier.

DSC00911

 

Flowers near our camp.

DSC00915

 

Another view of the camp.

DSC00914

 

Other photos of the camp′s surroundings.

DSC00908

 

DSC00924

 

DSC00923

 

DSC00925

 

DSC00918

 

Day 3 (until reaching Umasi La):

 

Beautiful sunrise over the mountain range located on the northern side of the Malung Togpo valley

DSC00927

 

We had planned to cross Umasi La on that day. Here, Rinchen leads the way. He had brought from his village a long wood stick to string prayer flags at the pass.

DSC00929

 

Soon the glacier came into view and we started hiking on ice (until the base of Umasi La).

DSC00931

 

DSC00934

DSC00936

 

DSC00939

 

DSC00945

 

DSC00943

 

DSC00947

 

DSC00952

 

DSC00951

 

The pass is a narrow breach between rock cliffs. Its ascent from the glacier is not very long but quite steep, especially near the top.

DSC00956-annotated

 

Views of surrounding peaks from the glacier before reaching the base of the ascent.

DSC00962

 

DSC00963

 

A view toward the pass from the base of the ascent.

DSC00964

 

Views during the ascent.

DSC00971

 

DSC00969

 

From left to right: Tundup, Stenzing, and Laskhap (resting).

DSC00973

 

Rinchen, Falkays and Angchuk watching me reaching the pass.

DSC00975

 

The ascent slope seen from the pass.

DSC00974

 

DSC00987

 

Views on the other side of the pass. Soon we will travel on the large glacier in the first photo below to reach the valley on the right-hand side.

DSC00978

 

DSC00990

 

Stringing prayer flags using the long wood stick that Rinchen had carried up to the pass.

DSC00979

 

DSC00980

 

Celebrating the achievement.

DSC00984

DSC00983

 

To directly access part 2/3 of the Umasi La crossing, click here.

 

banner-orange

Return to main India 2018 webpage