Day 9/15 – Leh to Khardung La and back – 150 kms – 12:30 PM to 6 PM
We got up late taking enough time to rest. Khardung La was the only place on the itinerary for the day and it was easily reachable in a couple of hours. We spent the morning time fixing Apar’s bike and getting it ready to ride. By noon, we were all good to start our ride to Khardung La, which was the World’s highest motorable road.
We had a lot of traffic from Leh and the road wasn’t very deserted. We had to stop by the first army camp, to produce the permit and finish the formalities. The officer there collected our original permit, telling us that we wouldn’t be requiring that any longer. Moving on from there, we slowly started seeing ice and snow, but weren’t feeling very cold as the sun was out there without any clouds, and the wind was much lesser compared to any of the other passes. The road however remained the same way, quite rough and unruly.
The ascent lasted for a couple of hours, at the end of which we found ourselves at the topmost point, marked by a couple of buildings and gathered tourists. The altitude on the board read 18.400 ft. I looked at my GPS, which read 13,600 ft. I was astonished at the difference in the reading. Generally the GPS varied about 30 to 40 ft. from the actual height marked on the Passes. But on this one, there was a difference of 800 ft,, that made me think otherwise. Discussing with my pals, we almost suspected that the actual road was somewhere else under the control of the army and the point we were standing in was just marked for the purpose of tourists. We couldn’t prove the point; we were almost sure about it based on our gut feeling.
We congratulated each other for having accomplished the feat and were finally happy that our big dream had finally come true. We stood by a lot of the boards there to click pictures. We parked the bikes in front of one to take a couple of snaps, ‘on top of the world’.
On the other side of the mountain, from where we stood, we saw a few tall peaks and snow-capped mountains. Heading that way would have taken us to the Nubra Valley. This place was initially on our itinerary, but had to remove it due to the time we had to spend on fixing the bikes. We had to head back from there to reach Leh before it would get dark.
At Leh, we headed to the hotel and started packing all our stuff. The next day, we were starting our return leg from Leh via Kargil, Srinagar and Jammu. We settled all our bills the previous night itself so that we could quickly leave the next day.