Ladakh Journey | Rohtang Pass Failure

10

The Journey so far-

Day 2 | Manali – Rohtang Pass – Manali

It was 5.00 AM in the morning and sadly it was drizzling. I woke up and immediately went out to balcony to get the report on weather. As I stepped out, it was sad news, the roads were drenched out completely with water in them, Beas river flowing in full glory and a bed of dark clouds all over the Manali. It was as if it rained whole night in Manali which in turn meant the roads would be in real bad shape. :(… But we had no buffer day in the plan, we have to try and attempt crossing Rohtang today only else it would be less number of days in Ladakh. I immediately woke everyone and we were ready within next 40 minutes to leave Manali at 5.50 AM.

Drenched Roads Towards Rohtang Pass

Drenched Roads Towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain
Cloud cover en-route Rohtang Pass
Cloud Cover on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain

The drizzling was still on and we stocked the luggage and food inside car and off we went. In next 20 minutes we were on the same spot from where we returned in the night. As we crossed those narrow turns on the edges, the heart was pumping due to slipperiness and after around 200 Meters road was fine. We crossed Palchan, then Gulaba came and till now apart from few rough patches the drizzle had very little effect on our progress. Our dZire was holding on just good and drizzling was getting more and more as we continued to ascend. Suddenly, 😯 on a hair pin it was all slush with steep ascent :shock:…

We parked our car aside on the hair pin curve and watched the other vehicles pass by. The sumo touched the rocks below :shock:, I went low on confidence on how to manage it now in our dZire. The slush was deep and with ascent it meant even more tough crossing it. We were waiting and deciding our path when a bus came 😥 , which meant we have to move as there was not enough space to give it a pass. For the first time I was nervous and with the nerve getting more of me I opted out to negotiate it and gave keys to Deepak to cross it. I knew it theoretically that how it should be tackled but I also knew the fact that if underbelly will get hit, I will lose focus (being a new car for me) on carrying with momentum and I may jam the car right in the middle of slush. Deepak attempted to cross it and whoooo!!! it got stuck 😥 in the middle. Unfortunately, he gave the acceleration too much when stuck and right front wheel spun a lot in the slush and got some part burnt 🙁 … We immediately asked him to stop. Then, the driver in the bus suggested to push the car from behind so the it can get some traction and force to expiate the slush. We obliged to his suggestions, pushed it hard and in one go dZire was out of that slush. We parked it aside, thanked the driver, let the bus pass by and waited to get the tyres cool for about 15 minutes.

As the tyres cooled we were thinking of the way ahead and I had certainly in my mind the pictures where Oil Tanker got stuck, that place was steep uphill and with full on slush in one of the picture on net (perhaps one of the drawback of being updated, it eliminates instincts). But, we had no choice instead to carry on. We managed 2 KMs more and there we were, trucks down in the gorge, one standing tilted in deep slush track :shock:… This is it and it was the exact point which we were afraid. We parked our car aside and went down to see what we had our disposal and we were shocked to see what we need to cross now 😥 ….

Oil Tankers in the Gorge 😯

Oil Tankers fell in the Gorge on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain
Oil Tankers fell in the Gorge on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain

First negotiate the truck stuck in mud

Deep slush on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain

Do we need to cross all this on ascent? 😯

Deep slush on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain
Deep slush on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain
Deep slush on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali after rain

The truck that was stuck had only chance of recovery if the crane comes so it decided to overtake. As we were examining the path and area around, one monster truck overloaded to its capacity tried to surpass the stuck one. The truck tried it’s level best to reach the top and there brrrrr brrrr brrrr :cry:, it just refused to climb ahead right on the top. The driver pulled the brakes to the core but truck started to skid down in the deep slush present behind, the hearts were pumping to see what will happen and truck helper decided to jump out. He quickly picked a big rock and placed it behind the rear wheels. Now, the truck stopped from being toppled down into gorge 🙂 … However, it was not over yet… The truck tried to push and climb again but no luck again, it even tried harder but this time the front wheels were up in the air and again everyone’s heart was in mouth… everyone shouted and the driver released the pressure, the truck skids down again, this time till the rocks… The driver takes the truck downhill and now we had our path closed as well :cry:… I think if he pushed more, the axle would have broken. He kept cooling it and after giving three tries at least with lots of people pushing it from behind it finally manages to skimp ahead of the top point. The DRAMA ENDS…

The Truck Drama…

Oil Tankers stuck in mud on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali
Oil Tankers stuck in mud on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali
Oil Tankers stuck in mud on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali

Meanwhile a big jam had accumulated there and we were stuck too, luckily we could sneak in as we were right in front, whenever we wanted to move. We decided to watch few cars tackling this stretch. Ever car that came got stuck at the same point and the rocks were hitting the under bellies of Sedan and Hatchbacks… some needed to be pushed to rise ahead. We were having a sedan too and seeing the whole drama we were also confident of making it at least by pushing the car from behind… After about an hour and half being stuck there, we decided to move… We signaled Deepak and he got the car till the middle without any problems whatsoever. We were running aside on the pavement to lend some help immediately, if required. He forgets the points where underbellies of other cars were hitting and he got the hit too and the car stopped right in the middle. We immediately jumped in the slush to push it from behind and with two three pushes we were through as well. Hurray!!! 😀 …

The Truck Stuck in the Mud Got Rescued…

Oil Tankers stuck in mud on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali

Traffic Behind Increasing…

Oil Tankers stuck in mud on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali

Gossh… The trip is not going to be easy that is for sure now… If our family sees it, they will say we have gone insane but I feel we had. The misery was not over yesterday, it will hang on today as well… We were feeling short of breath so we rested and watched others topple and cross that stretch in one way or other similar to us :D… We took and deep breath and said we are not alone here 😀 … Now, it’s time for enquiry about road further ahead. First as the weather cleared we saw big queues of traffic Jam far ahead near Rohtang. One truck was coming down with few taxis as well and we stopped one of them to enquire. The driver said jam will last more than 5-6 hours so they are coming back. It starts well before Marhi and continues till Rani Nalla most probably, he added. He further advised not to attempt the road in this car (dZire) as it rained too much last night and our car will not make it at all. Now, we started to have butterflies in our stomachs as a Himachali is not advising to venture ahead, there must be something seriously wrong with the road. Now, we had a quite discussion and we said let’s give it a try anyway’s 😉 …

We marched ahead and as we crossed the half curve on the hill we found three back to back similar stretches. There was an instance when one driver wanted to get passed us and almost thrashed the back of his truck in our car. We had to shout on him to stop and get it saved. That moment was gone out of the three we needed to push in just one this time. However, as we went ahead and enquired the road condition ahead by one of the trucks coming down, he said : “You will kill this car, if you take it ahead :shock:. After Marhi, the slush is as deep as 18 inches and there is no chance that you would make it through. Half of our truck tyres were floating into it 😯 and it require skills to cross those hefty silt stretches, which we certainly lacked.” The big fat dream of drive to Ladakh was finding its way into gutter :cry:… We also trekked uphill to see how much more the road condition was like the same and found that the road was much like the same with patches on almost every ascend of the curve. We stood there and enquired from few others who confirmed the fact that there was almost 18 inches high slush and our car cannot negotiate it at all. Now surely the dream was fading or perhaps have gone away. We looked at each other faces and decided that we don’t want to kill the car 😀 … We decided to move back to Manali and look for taxi at least to complete the trip 😥 …

View from above…

Views on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali

View of Rohtang Pass…

View of Rohtang Pass

Oops..thats me and friend Neeraj..stuck but still smiling :)…

Dheeraj Sharma and friend Neeraj on the way towards Rohtang Pass from Manali

The downhill drive had couple of breaks too due to some film shooting going on somewhere in the woods and people breaking the queue. But, overall driving down on those slush stretches was far easier than climb, I believe due to traction of front wheels. (I saw an episode of Perilous Journey where the ascent was so steep that he had to climb that in reverse due to 4X2 power transmission) I had that in mind too while climbing but never tried :mrgreen:

We reached Palchan and decided to rest at Solang Valley. We took the turn and reached Solang. There we tried few hotels but found the prices to be quite high as compared to what we got last night in Manali. Also, we wanted to have parking for our car now and save money, as hiring the taxi meant doubling the budget :D. So, we decided against the acclimatization and headed Manali again 🙁

After reaching Manali we knew now the full day would be a waste so why not first fix the taxi and then booze up. We parked our car in front of taxi stand office and were analyzing how we need to go ahead with the plan. We were left with only 3 days in Ladakh now 😥 and had to cover Nubra Valley as well as Pangong Tso Lake. We discussed the plan had some biscuits inside the car as we skipped the breakfast in a failed attempt to cross Rohtang. Meanwhile, we were disturbed by the traffic police who asked us to leave the place as we cannot park the car at that place. But HP numbers were parked everywhere :mad:… Anyhow story of every poor tourist there and we were forced to park the car near the Beas bridge…

It was decided that we are continuing with the tour now and it was time to book the right economic taxi. We enquired first from the Tour and Travel shops on mall road. Best price we got Rs 13500 for a drop to Ladakh in a private hired Sumo. For the second option they offered best was Rs 1450 per seat (Rs 5800) in a shared taxi carrying 10 people which will start 1.00 AM in the night and reach Leh at 6 PM in the night. A packed seating nonstop cannon ball run through treacherous roads, high altitudes without any acclimatization and skipping all the beauty, hang on :mad:. I was totally against it and continued to show my disagreement even being abused a lot by my fellow colleagues 😛 . After a fight a private taxi with one night stop was the agreement now among us.

Now, it was turn to go to Taxi Stand, bargain hard and get the driver with taxi on our own. The effect was favorable, immediate and quick :). We got the deal for a private Sumo in Rs 10,500 with one night stop at Keylong / Sarchu. The second option they offered which we already declined was at Rs 1100 per seat for cannon ball run. The third option was private Sumo with Cannon ball run at Rs 9500. The choice was obvious and after checking the tyres condition, we finalized the deal at Rs 10,500 with a night stop at Keylong so as to acclimatize a little. We asked Biru (driver’s uncle) to come to hotel and take advance Rs 2000. Our driver’s name was Ravi and I must tell you that he proved to be a real skilled gem of a driver :mrgreen:

Now the taxi was fixed so we were free on mind for tomorrow and it was confirmed that we would be visiting Ladakh this year for sure. I shall tell you that last year our plan couldn’t materialize due to my engagement :). Already it was 3.00 PM and we didn’t have any food apart from biscuits since morning. Having done too much exertion that too without food, we were tired. The best thing we did was we kept ourselves hydrated by drinking the ORS water in quick but small successions. It was now time for the booze and food. We went to Chopsticks at Manali, Mall road and ordered food and beer there. We had food like hungry dogs and finished it as soon as it arrived. But, beer did something and at least for me it initiated the headache which remained for next day as well. It was over on food and we headed to the same hotel River View, near Beas bridge on Naggar road.

First step was to visit the manager and ask about the parking for next 5 days :). If he agrees and the room is still there at Rs 800 for four of us then we will take it immediately. To our luck he agreed for a safe parking in their branch hotel named, Chichago Holiday Inn, a few 100 Meters odd ahead on the same lane. Chichago hotel had bigger space then River view and appeared much safer. Meanwhile, when I was asking for parking and room stuff, my two travel mates went into the hotel aside (Just before River Hotel, name I forgot) and found the family suite at Rs 1000 to be very, very comfortable than what we had last night. But, I had already confirmed in the River View and didn’t found courteous to leave now. So, I told them firmly that we will not leave this Hotel now as they should have told me not to finalize things before checking that hotel. Well as expected with some frustrated sounds and words from them the story ended.

Biru came within half an hour to take the advance and share the number of our driver Ravi. He called and asked Ravi to be at our hotel on time at 5.00 AM in the morning. At around 5.00 PM, we went to sleep and this was very much the day for us. We had the dinner and coffee later in the night in the Hotel itself and this time the service was much faster than previous day. Finally, again with some dreams in our minds we went to a good night sleep to complete the day and set for early morning departure to Keylong.

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

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10 Comments

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  6. yogesh sharma on

    last photo

    he he

    u trying to say somthing next 2 u 😉

    "bus karo bhai lagi padhi hai"

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