Thursday, 19 June 2014

We made it!!

Greg and I completed the trek - just over 35km, across 5 days, at between 3500 and 3900m, in the magnificent Himalayan landscape of Ladakh. The trip exceeded every hope and expectation. The scenery was achingly beautiful and ever changing. The people of Ladakh took us into their communities and homes with great warmth. Our group gelled wonderfully, sharing moments of great emotion and forming friendships and memories that will last a life time. And though the trek was punishing at times, Greg and I both held up very well. We achieved our dream and all of us felt privileged to take part in something that felt very, very special.

The film and photo journal are going through post production and will be released around early August, I hope. Here are a few photos to whet the appetite.  These were taken by our mountain leader Alan Ward - stunning photos that show he is a man of many talents! But if you think these are good, just wait tip you sees what the film crew produce!  

Arriving in Leh with Viv, my therapist. We both felt the effects of the 3500m altitude - a slow first day!
Day 2 - a practice run, down the steep slope from Tsemo Gompa, Leh

Tsemo Gompa

Day 3 - we visited Stok, an hour's drive from Leh, and stumbled upon the village archery competition.

The road out of Leh (in the valley in the distance) towards the Nubra Valley, where we spent two more days acclimatising
Its a long, steep, winding 8 hour journey..

…with very little space..

… and no room for error
the road is part of the old Silk Route, which was once part of the "route to market" for Johnnie Walker! Here's Alan Ward, our mountain leader, with a photo op with our sponsor!!
the pass, Khardung La, is the highest motor able road in the world (open just a few months of the year)

Greg and me, at the top!

Its worth the journey…. Hundar in the Nubra Valley….

… where Angie, Viv, Greg and I took a camel ride across the sand dunes!

Diskit Gompa, one on the many spectacular monasteries perched precariously on the mountain sides

the trek…. in the most breathtakingly beautiful, awe inspiring landscape imaginable 

the group descending from one of the high passes, with Rigzin Tsewang,  our local guide, ahead of the ponies.  Rigzin took great care of us - thanks my friend!

Celebrating reaching one of the 4 high passes, with Mike Rogers our film director and Scott Woodward, our photographer

This is the big climb on the 5th day. To give the photo some scale, I've circled Mike and Scott in the middle ground and two French trekkers towards the top of the climb. From where Mike and Scott are, we descended the valley, to about 3500m and then climbed to the pass at just under 3900m

The climb took me around 1 hour. It was exhausting and exhilerating at the same time. Here I'm approaching the last swtch back before the final climb to the high pass. Just a few meters ahead from here, I found a rock to sit on to rest and enjoy the views. My words can't do the view justice, nor really describe my emotion - I found myself sitting there with pure joy and deep gratitude. This quote came to mind "He who stands upon the highest mountains laughs at any misfortune, real or imaginary". I laughed out loud!!! 

Greg and I complete the final stretch of this gruelling climb to the final high pass, topping out at 3850m. The path was not only long and steep but also very narrow and, in parts, very unstable under foot. It was a huge test for me....and I had the luxury of doing it forwards, using my walking poles and arms to support my legs. Greg climbed this sideways, using his arms only. That's when I really understood the immense physical and mental strength of my friend. Awesome!
at the finish line - after 35km, a moment of celebration, followed soon after by a lot of emotion
after the trek we took another 8 hour, high mountain pass trip to Pangong Lake, a 128km lake much of which is in China

…and yet again we were left speechless by the raw beauty

our last night by Pangong Lake, with a bonfire and Johnnie Walker to stave off the cold!