The High Road: Lachulung La



The run down from Tanglang La was fast and furious. The Southern side of the pass was dust and rocks. Much of the road was almost non existent and provided a bumpy mountain trail that threatened to rattle a bicycle to pieces.
After the almighty slog to reach the pass it was an opportunity to release energy and freewheel down. It was dangerous and exciting. It would be easy to take a spill. I tried to avoid using my brakes and overheating the ‘kool stop’ salmon MTB pads which had served me so well during the trip. A biggish rock leapt up and caught my right shin. My aluminium fuel carrier jumped out of its fitting beneath the cycle frame and suffered a huge dent. Lastly a fixture on my rear carrier came loose but it held together until the mudguard slipped. I was forced to make a ‘pitstop’ to replace the lost Allen bolt and Joachim caught up. It was all great fun.
During the descent it was possible to view the remains of some old buildings and a series of crumbling chortens in the valley. However it all looked long abandoned and as if from a different age.
The valley stretched out into wide plains with high mountains providing distant surroundings. These were the More Plains. It was a barren ‘alien’ desert with very little vegetation and stretched as far the eye could see.
A collection of roadside dhabas created a welcome oasis. One provided tea and a thali for lunch. Once the worst of the sun had passed we bought supplies and set off again through the More plains.

Nomads herded goats and yaks across the plains. I stopped at an encampment and asked to pitch our tents. I was shown an area between their own tents away from the goats. At several tents men sat shearing goats. The goats, with their legs tied together, did not mind being clipped. However the softest wool on the belly of goats was pulled from them using a large comb. The goats cried like babies!

We set off the next morning following another chilly night with the plan to reach the ‘parachute’ camp at Pang (4,600m). The road stretched out ahead for miles and miles..and miles.


Finally a wide river curved below and led quickly to Pang and lunch. The ride down into Pang was in itself quite thrilling.

At Pang I met and chatted to a French couple cycling to Leh. After the usual thali for lunch I cooled my legs in the river behind the dhaba.


The scenery after Pang changed quite dramatically. The road led through tight turns past rocky outcrops and chasms cut by fast flowing rivers. By late afternoon we encountered one such river that flooded the road. Motorcyclists were having some difficulty crossing with their machines.
I waded across and considered possible options. Given the time I thought it wise to stop, make camp and tackle the river early the next day when the water level had dropped. I also had to replace my front inner tube as it had developed a slow leak resulting from a thorn embedded in the tyre. It was only the second puncture since my trip had begun. All credit to the Schwalbe XR tyres.


Early the next day I climbed up to a cave in the rock face. I gingerly clamoured over a thick sheet of ice and admired the icicles that had formed from dripping water and created little ice mountains on the ground beneath.
The river had become a stream. I ferried my front panniers across before walking the bike to the other side. Together we set off again. The scenery was incredible. Finally, and climbing once again, the landscape opened out with large drifts of snow pulling us towards the Lachulung Pass.


The Lachalung Pass at 5,065 metres marked the second major pass of four including the Nakee La. The weather had held up well and the ride had been a dream.


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