To be honest this picture sums up our journey through the Himalaya, India one of most populated country in the world has vast swathes of land which is totally uninhabited and beset by roads on knife edge with sharp curves. The meaning of all this…is that you are all alone and amongst one of the most beautiful but harsh environment in the world.
Our journey began in Delhi, in the summer of 2015, we three explorers living in three different continents decided to embark on this voyage to drive across the Northern Himalayas. We had no clue what to expect only slight information that these will be the toughest piece of tarmac (or lack of) we may have encountered in our lifetime. It was the middle of monsoons, almost the worst part of the year to be anywhere in India let alone in the Himalayas. From the get go we were told not to venture out during this ṭime, and that we would encounter landslides, flashfloods, cloudbursts and what not…which are a common occurring even when its not the monsoon season. For us a good case scenario was that we will get stuck somewhere in the middle of the mountains with no help, worst case – we will noṭ make it back in one piece! We were told at every passing km of the way to head back, that only a few miles ahead there were roads destroyed by flashfloods and landslides and it will be impossible to cross them in this situation, that way ahead is closed.
All we had was a happy attitude and a positive mindset. We were certain on our goal that we were here to conquer these roads. However, Many people turned back! But for us moving forwards was the only option whatever the mountain might want to throw at us. 1000 miles later , we encountered this majestic but ominous cloud formation, we knew this is what people had warned us about. Driving into it, would mean being under unabating rain and a high possibility of being swept by a river. At this point we really had two choices either wait at our position and let the storm system pass by us or drive through it as quickly as possible..both options had its own risks staying there would have meant there was a chance of water from the upstream sweeping us away! While driving through the storm meant tackling a highly erratic monsoonal rainfall in the mountains. There was no back up no vehicle, no other traveler but us, no one to help us. Here we took a calculated risk to drive through it as quickly as possible before the storm became impossible to pass. What turned out for us, was an undefinable experience…we managed to drive quick through the storm eventually passing it with an hour long of nerve wracking jitters. All three of us were alert and on look out for slight movements of rock slides. It was teamwork at its best! We negotiated obstacles, prevented our car from breaking down in dying light while keeping our car inches away from the edge of the cliffs.
One thing I learned from this experience, the less you hear from people the better! whatever people might say to you that something is impossible and its suicidal…and what not…I feel until you don’t get there yourself in that situation you can’t know for sure whether its doable or not…a lot of it is just stories and heresy, this doesn’t mean that we disrespect the climate of the mountains but only that we have estimated those risks beforehand. Honestly it’s better off if you have less knowledge about certain things as that prevents fear of panic for people with less experience. Positive thinking and a clear mindset was the trick that achieved success for us on that particular day and made us achieve our goal conquering the highest passes of the Himalayas!