The flight to Leh from Delhi was a bit protracted because when the plane arrived over the airport there it couldn't land due to weather or some problem with the airport. So we circled overhead for about 30-45 minutes waiting for conditions to improve. The nice thing about this was we kept getting a 360 degree panorama of the Karakoram all the way from K2 to Sasser Kangri II. It was exciting to keep seeing our soon to be climbing objective poking its head above the clouds. We were not able to land so we had to go back to Delhi where they refueled and we went back and landed this time without a hitch.
|Karakoram from the air - K2 is in the upper left corner - Sasser Kangri II is just out of the picture on the right|
In Leh we rested on July 6th and walked around town. Leh is an interesting mix of Muslim but mostly Tibetal Buddhism culture. In the photo you can see the town mosque with the monastery in the background.
On the 7th we visited some monasteries. I believe the two we visited were built in around the 16th century and have been well preserved. Much of their longevity is due to the very dry high desert climate that keeps things from rotting. I don't think these buildings would have lasted 100 years in my home climate in the Pacific Northwest.
At one of the monasteries some Indian workers were doing a photo shoot that seemed like an odd juxtaposition of cultures. But then given that Buddhism seems to be a religion that is open to all sorts of activities, everyone there was curious and no one seemed to mind.
Inside a couple of the monasteries there were beautiful golden statues of the Buddha.
Today we will drive over the Kardung La to the Nubra Valley where we will stay for two days. I've included a couple of pictures from 2009 along the drive.
We will likely stay at this guest house again in the Nubra valley that is run by a very nice Tibetan family.
On July 9th we will begin our three day trek to base camp. The first day climbs 3000 feet up a hillside to where we will traverse along a steep hillside above the gorge below. This first day is a difficult and treacherous walk and we need to take good care of ourselves and our porters who are very heavily laden. Again I've attached some photos from our 2009 attempt that shows some of the terrain along the steep traverse above the gorge on the first day.
I will not have internet access after today when I leave Leh, so my next blog posts on our expedition will be in late August or early September. Watch for some new posts then!