My first motorcycle trip to Himalayas

Continued from the previous page...

17th October 2004 Manali - Rohtang Pass

After spending fourteen hour on my bike, I had a wonderful night sleep in the cozy double bed. When I woke up in the morning, it dawned to me how beautiful this place was.

Beas river was flowing in front of the hotel and in the distance I could see snow covered hills.

hotel kalinga in manali

When I spoke with hotel manager regarding the route to Rohtang pass, he told me that Rohtang pass had received snow fall two days back and only yesterday army was able to clear the pass for army vehicles. He was not sure if the pass would be opened today for private vehicles!

This was some thing that I had not imagined and there was nothing left, except riding till Marhi and checking if the pass was open or not. But first on the list was to purchase gloves, since it was going to be colder then last night.

By 8:30am I left the hotel and started riding towards Manali's main market, unfortunately for me none of the shops were open. And according to the locals they will only open after and hour or so. I was in no mood to wait for an hour and decided to ride on, hopping I would find gloves somewhere along the way.

The beauty of Himalayas just can not be compared with anything else and I was enjoying every bit of the ride.

road to rohtang

snow covered peaks

after gulaba

It was beautiful yet cold and due to the lack of gloves I was having a hard time. A local saw me taking pictures and came to me and told me, that a km from here there was black ice on the road. I had heard about black ice but never seen it, let alone rode a bike over it and it did scare me a bit. But I decided to move on, soon enough came to the turn which was badly broken up and was quite wet.

But I had to cross it no matter what I moved along cautiously, until my bikes rear wheel got stuck in small pothole which was covered with black ice. Trying to power out of the pothole was futile since the rear wheel was getting no traction and whole place was covered with black ice, which made putting foot down and balancing even harder. Couple of feet from the oblivion I was stuck in the pothole with no one to help me.

After five minutes of doing burnouts on the ice, finally the ice gave way to a bit of tarmac, enough to give the rear wheel traction to pull out of the pothole. The incident left me shaken yet unharmed and I rode on to Marhi. however the more altitude I climbed the colder I got.

Finally I managed to reach Marhi, 10000ft above sea level this was this final stop over before the mighty Rohtang La at 13050ft. I decided to take a break at Marhi and stopped in front of the Sagu Valley Cafe. when I got of the bike my hands were frozen and putting the bike on stand was a chore. I went inside the cafe and ordered a cup of coffee, but it was only after drinking two cups that I got some relief. After resting for half an hour I decided it was time to head to Rohtang, when I went outside there was a traffic jam. Every one was waiting for the permission from the BRO officials, I decided to skip the traffic jam and after a bit of maneuvering I was at the front. when the BRO people saw me and my motorcycle, they said to me a motorcycle should be able to make it and told me to proceed to Rohtang while holding back rest of the traffic!

Road to Rohtang La was a lot steeper then what I had encountered enroute to Marhi, however the road were in fairly descent condition. The whole experience looked surreal, with snow all around me I was riding through an empty road to Rohtang La. But it was not going to be smooth sailing, there were patches of black ice on the road and one such patch was covering a pothole is such a way that the pothole looked fairly small, but when my bike tyre went over it a gush of water came out and drenched my feet's. The water was so cold that it felt like needles were piercing my legs!

Around 6-7kms before Rohtang I came across Rani Nallah (glacier point), not only was the whole ascent covered with black ice, the steep turn was covered with snow and black ice. At this moment I didn't had the guts to continue and deep down I knew if I make it across the ascent, a safe descent at this place would be out of my capability. It was time to take a harsh decision and I decided to return just 6kms from Rohtang pass!

After descending for a km or so, I decided to take a break and click a few photos

snow covered himachal

road to rohtang pass

road to rohtang pass

view of the road below

With a heavy heart I started my descent, with a promise to myself to come back and conquer Rohtang pass soon.

By 2pm I was back in my hotel and decided to do some sight seeing, ended up shopping in the main market and afterwards went for a small ride till Nagar. Afterwards I decided to visit Hadimba temple.

hadimba temple manali

When I came back to my hotel room, I felt kind of depressed for chickening out and not riding up to Rohtang pass. At that moment my phone rang, it was a call from Salil. He had called me to ask, if I was serious about going to Manali! When I told him where I was, I could sense a bit of disappointment in his voice.

At that moment I asked him, if he was interested in riding to back to Manali in November and sure enough I got a positive reply from him. With plans made for coming back to Manali and Rohtang pass in November, I was able to go to sleep.

Next day when I was leaving Manali I was feeling sad and disappointed, but at the same time I knew that I'll be back!