This is the toughest and most epic pass I have ever cycled. Although not as high as many of the other himalayan passes, Sach is steep! So steep that in many instances I resorted to pushing. It took me 7hrs30 to cycle 32km of up from 2200m to 44oom, (although the total days ride was actually 8hr30 (58km) taking into account the first 11km were downhill and then the 14km descent to the police check point over the other side). While it was supremely tough it was also utterly stunning, and therefore will remain one of my favourites.
Just over half way, another 14km would take me 3hrs to finally summit Sach!
Shortly after our staple breakfast, a parantha and omlette, we dropped for 11km down from Killar to meet the and cross over the Chandrabhagga. Its hard to photograph steepness but this photo gives some sense of the gradient we were about to grind our way up.
The pass is a relatively new road built just over 10 years ago which has shortened the distance from Killar to Chamba (the main town in the area) by about 500km! The pass is open from June to mid October
Peeking over the edge: bits of the road on the left and the right.
Optical illusion – this wasn’t really flat!
Me the spot on the way to the top.
Have never been able to keep up with Carlos, always bringing up the rear.
A roadworker’s goatie to greet me. I worried for him as I suspect he became supper at some point.
A rare moment – Carlos pushing.
My struggle is lightened by meeting of pretty school girls, Priya and Sunita who were living in the roadworkers camp with their families. The eagerly clambered up the slopes to get a photo of us with their cell phones.
The roadworkers camp below – Priya, Sunita and brother.
Passing frozen snowdrifts that gave me the feeling of cycling through a fridge.
More spectacular road frequently interrupted by cascading waterfalls.
Another 12km to go.
My turn. Numbing glacial water.
Worth a few more pics. Ice-scapes that us South Africans don’t see many of.
Chipping away at the kilometres, I was glad to be distracted by carpets of Himalayan flowers like these yellow buttercups.
Buttercups and unknown pinks, its high time I got an ID book.
Later to discover that the flowers were even better on the other side of the pass.
One of my favourites: the bobbly yellows.
Loosing daylight, I still had another 3km to go
The end is nigh, a glimpse of the summit (the little notch). From here to the top ,still took another hour!
Forced smile, but actually quite happy as really, very nearly at the top!
7h30 after setting off I arrive at the 4400m top, with a small welcoming committee, Carlos and the cab drivers who were busy fixing a puncture.
With dwindling daylight and appalling road surface we headed for the police check point some 14km down our only hope of finding a place to stay (we had no tent).
Astounding views, the pass descends an incredible 130km over 3400m to Chamba at just under 1000m, certainly the longest downhill I have ever descended.
The police check point was no more than a couple of shelters and a disheveled shack that could barely pass as a dhabba. The shack ‘dhabba’ owner was also far from friendly, so clearly sleeping there was hardly an optioin. With no sunlight or energy to continue further to the first village, another 25km away, the young and friendly policemen, Kritik and Guldeep realised that we were in a pickle. Despite their rules of not allowing anyone to stay in their camp, they welcomed us and even had 2 free beds to spare with satellite TV and dinner included (and they didn’t even snore!)
I couldn’t have asked for a better spot – warm and toasty after an awesome day and safe in the hands of some super friendly policemen! Thanks guys!