Day /Date– Monday, 27th June
Journey – Leh-Khardungla Top-Leh
Distance – 90 kms
Road Condition – Superb considering we were climbing highest motor able pass on planet.
Since all our permits were sorted by the guest house owner at very reasonable commission, hence we had no tension at all. In the morning we had a leisurely breakfast at the Guest house itself. The cook there was actually very good, working 50-50 by splitting time between Goa and Leh. Our typical breakfast @ Guest house included pan cakes, omelets and parathas followed by amazing cuppa of Tea. Farzin wanted to change his Engine oil in the morning since there was lot of leakage and the obvious worry was engine seizing. I also got the air-filter and spark plug changed because my Electra wasn’t giving very optimum performance.
Since our bikes were all fine tuned for Khardung-la we started our ascent for the world highest motor-able pass. I wasn’t keeping very high hopes about the road conditions after my encounter with Zoji-la. Typical climb to Khardung-la top (18380 ft) from leh (11500 ft) takes about 1 hr 30 min to 1 hr 45 min. Farzin and I looked at each other and acknowledged that this is going to give a good kick. Farzin hinted to take it slow and try to take some pauses en-route to acclimatize and drink loads of water during the ascent.
Considering most of passes have bad roads this one turned out to be an expressway. The number of river streams was like 2-3. Mikhil &Pravin led the route and took some stops for clicking pictures. We made it to the top in little less than 2 hrs and the feeling really was top the world. The view on the top were phenomenal from the highest view point of the region 18380ft. We clicked pictures near the milestones. Farzin complained that he isn’t feeling very great after. It was about 1:30 PM we decided to have the Maggie and black tea @ world highest café which had a whole lot of history behind it.
Farzin as usual even though not feeling very well had the most of the Maggie soup. It was already about 45 mins we spent at such an altitude and before AMS starts kicking in we decided to start out descend. We met few cyclist also (mostly foreigners) who took an interesting push-bike decent where (Jeeps takes you up, gravity takes you down. Few of these guys were descending @ >60kmph and I was unable to overtake these cyclists on my Motorbike. That’s what I call thrill of life, just scared with the fact that if you miscalculate your breaking, there is only one way ride down for life.
M&P took some shots of these guys and I was going conservative on my fuel as I had already hit reserve mode. I barely had gas left for 25 kms on this low oxygen terrain. The bike started showing signs of missing a thump about 6 kms before Guest house. I slowed down further and farzin tagged along with me to give company. We reached Moon light Guest house @ 4PM and somehow were super tired after just 5 hrs of biking. We all crashed on our beds for a power sleep of 2 hrs.
As always I take too much tension so I got up at about 5:30 and decided to leave for Airport road for getting my bike fixed. I went to Tashi mechanic and he tried to fix the missing problem, this time he totally messed up with the carburetor setting. I was now super pissed with the way bike was performing. I had to give in extra throttle to ascend on simple inclines. I tried to venture out on other mechanic on Airport road and all answers were no since it was dawn and there was no electricity. I decided to meet renowned mechanic Mohan again and expressed that I have urgent need (guess all guys that would come to him will have urgency due to tight time schedules we plan). He opened up my spark plug and boom it was dead. The bike was still not picking up after putting in new spark plug. He opened up complete carburetor assembly in the light my mobile phone torch. He changed the fuel intake scale and said this is the reason my sparkplugs are blowing up. He also suggested that once I reach Manali get the setting to the original setting as this will reduce the fuel intake to engine which corresponds to the oxygen intake at height above 10k. Finally I had a breath of relief and reached guest-house back with a happy mood. Farzin wasn’t feeling very great due to throat infection he had fever. I re-assured Farzin if he isn’t well tomorrow I am okay to spend one more day @ Leh. We had Pizzas for dinner at a nice café in the night and super tried we all crashed down @ 11:00 PM.