(What? No Three!?)
Yes, September 2nd 2005. The JNU Mountaineering Club was on its way to Himachal Pradesh, the eternal land of snow capped
peaks. Representing the club, five members in all were waved off by loyal members of club. Their hearts wanted them to go
with us but had other deadlines to meet.
Starting from New Delhi ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminus), the team reached Reckong Peo, the District Head Quarters of
Kinnaur next day. Although Kinnaur is notably famous for the sacred Kinner kailash massif and the Baspa valley. We were heading
towards Upper Kinnaur, the remote region east of Reckong Peo. Unfrequented Mountain trails criss cross kinnaur, offering challenging
climbs over high altitude passes. Straddling the mighty river Sutlej, which rises on the southern slopes of Mount Kailash,
Kinnaur has for centuries been a major Trans-Himalayan corridor. We followed the epic, old Hindustan Tibet road through the
remote hamlets of Upper Kinnaur past Shi Asu to the Ropa Valley.
The trek began from the village of Ropa. A day before, the team stopped over for the local Phukachi festival which takes
place during the harvest season. The trail then took us to Rangbar, passing through breathtaking scenery. This challenging
route across the great Himalayan range from Ropa valley via Manirang Pass is a dramatic approach to the Spiti Valley.
We left civilization behind in the last village of our trail, Ropa. We were lucky to see two Shepards in Rangbar and
Pamchung. We then followed our way a trail that took us through narrow deep gorges and beautiful virgin valleys. After an
arduous day of ascending and descending, we reached and set up camp close to a grazing ground Sumdo.
To reach the Base camp of the Pass, Rankali we started off from Pamchung early. The trail was hard to follow in places,
and nonexistent in some. Nevertheless, the trail offened breathtaking views of a crevassed glacier. Reaching Rankali and as
we proceeded a little ahead, glaciers loomed on all sides.
On 5th day of our trek, 10th September, we started off in the wee hours of the morning prepared for the day long trek
to the Manirang Pass (5600m). We reached the pass after eight hours of climbing two icefalls roped up in a cordee.The moment
we started to descend,we entered Spiti . The Spiti valley was absolutely breathtaking and has massive, enormous mountains
when compared to the Ropa valley. We were the only civilian team to have climbed the pass from the Ropa valley into the Spiti
valley in this year. Definitely, the highest vintage point, the Club has made in the last couple of years.
The other side of the pass is down a glacier and the boulder-clay required some scrambling on 11th September, we started
on a trail that climbs down to a side valley only to follow a lateral moraine up to a gad near Sapona after which we cross
through Spiti valley filled with blue grey mountain peaks. The final patch is a steep descent to reach the village Mane. After
this, a Jeepable track runs southeast to Kaza.
We then were off to Kaza in a Jeep.on the way, we stopped at Dhankar (3890m) monastery overlooking the convergence of
Pin and Spiti Rivers. Built nearly 1000 years ago, it was once the capital of Spiti.
From Kaza, we reached Tabo Monastery which houses multi hued murals and stucco sculptures. It’s one of worlds
richest Buddhist Art Treasures, also where the current Dalai Lama plans to retire. We stopped at Kibber, the highest village
in the world with motorable road and electricity, way back, we visited the Kye Monastery ,the oldest and largest in Spiti.
Finally we reached Manali passing through the beautiful Kunzum La (4551m) and Rohthang Pass (3900m). Before we packed
our bags to delhi, visited the Hadimba Temple, Manali standing at the head of Beas valley. (Contributed By: Sukanya Natrajan)