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September 1st, 2014

The strange things you see on the top of a Ladakhi mountain…

…no, no, it’s not another summit photo (though if you ask really, really nicely, I’d be more than happy to brag – whoops – I mean oblige)…

No, what I wanted to share with you was this totally unexpected poster:

The Ayatollah Khomeini himself, unless I am much mistaken. If anyone can read Urdu and translate what’s written, I’d be mighty grateful.

And don’t miss the prayer flags at the base of this poster.

Said it before, saying it again – there really is nowt so queer as folk…

August 31st, 2014

The view from the top…

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And THIS, my friends, is why one climbs…

All that effort. All that discomfort.

There are often moments of agony. In my case many moments of self-doubt. Even a few moments verging on panic and – yes, let’s say it – fear.

But then comes that moment of pure joy when you reach the summit, and gaze speechless at the panorama unfolding around you…

 

The view from Kangyatse II – looking pretty fabuloso…

 

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August 30th, 2014

Rules of the road in Ladakh…

When you are trekking in the wonderful Ladakhi hills, there are many things to contend with.

The extreme temperatures.

The altitude.

The harsh terrain.

The harsh sun.

The need to keep hydrated.

The need to walk slowly so as to acclimatise.

Oh, the list is endless, to be honest, but you know what?

No-one ever tells you to keep an eye open for traffic jams. Or for the other users of the paths, who will not always give way…

So here you go…you have been warned.

And pretty fabulous they all are, you have to agree…

 

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August 29th, 2014

A promise made…

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Late last month, just before I left for Ladakh, I mentioned in a blog post that I had 2 prayer flags for my putative 2 summits, courtesy of my friend Dr. Chauhan, our running guru and the inspiration behind La Ultra the High, one of the world’s toughest ultra marathons.

I met up with my La Ultra friends most nights in Leh – they were acclimatising, ditto me, so we would slowly wander the little streets of Leh, and eat dinner together every night. Then I set off to climb, and they continued acclimatising for one heck of a race.

[...]

Click to continue reading A promise made…

August 27th, 2014

Juley from Leh. Actually, let’s make that Juley from Delhi

Hello and “Juley”- the traditional Ladakhi greeting.

Nearly a month ago, I set off from Delhi for a trekking and climbing trip in Ladakh (in the Indian Himalayas) and the idea was that I would chitter-chatter to you dear people as we wended our way (is that the correct past participle, by the way?) from Delhi –> Chhachhrauli -> Jammu -> Srinagar -> Leh. I had my iPad, my mobile, my camera, and so I was sorted.

Or so I thought.

Connectivity, however, turned out to be one heck of a problem, and once in Leh itself, though free wifi [...]

Click to continue reading Juley from Leh. Actually, let’s make that Juley from Delhi

July 31st, 2014

Sleeping bag. Check. Hiking boots. Check. Prayer flags. Check

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“Tomorrow I start a month long journey to Chamser Kangri (inshallah) via Leh, the Markha Valley and all points north. I have packed and repacked my kit bag, and will re-re-pack today for the 3rd time…”

 

 

I wrote the above earlier this morning, before I went off for my last pre-climb physio session with the brilliant folks at B2F.

An hour later, I emerge having been pummelled to within an inch of my life and having said my goodbyes, I check my email and discover that the climbing permit for Chamser Kangri has been refused and that instead, [...]

Click to continue reading Sleeping bag. Check. Hiking boots. Check. Prayer flags. Check

July 29th, 2014

And why ever not?

This tantalising little gem was in my Sunday paper in Goa.

 

 

The use of the word “attempted” left the story inconclusive. Had almost an ominous sound to it.

Did he succeed?

How long did it take him to cycle 100km like this?

 

So, I googled it. As one does.

And he made it!

Azad Singh has, and I quote, “set a new record in the Limca Book of Records for cycling the farthest distance with a bottle of water balanced on his head.”

 

Utterly fab stuff.

 

[...]

Click to continue reading And why ever not?

July 29th, 2014

Photo of the day. A glimpse of Muslim Ladakh

Ladakh is overwhelmingly Buddhist (both literally and metaphorically) but in and around Leh there is a sizeable Muslim community.

On Eid, what better image to share with you, than these pretty little muppets we met on the road near Stok village?

They were walking home from school, and giggled shyly when I asked them in my funny Hindi if I could take their photo.

What you cannot see here, because I didn’t document it, was that as I was chatting to these little girls, a drop dead gorgeous young Ladakhi woman in tight leggings and T shirt who was out [...]

Click to continue reading Photo of the day. A glimpse of Muslim Ladakh

July 28th, 2014

Goa + a brand new car + new friends = great weekend, thank you very much

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I just spent the weekend in Goa.

Test driving a car. (Well, 2 cars, actually).

And meeting an amazing bunch of people.

And making some new friends.

And running on the beach at dawn – a great feeling after 12 weeks of ankle injury. Almost a tick on the bucket list moment.

And (for me, at least) making a big discovery. That this blogging that I enjoy so much need not be such a solo occupation.

Let me explain.

I am part of an online blogging community called blogadda.com who are very proactive in getting people to talk and interact [...]

Click to continue reading Goa + a brand new car + new friends = great weekend, thank you very much

July 28th, 2014

Round and about in Delhi. Literally.

I have been hitting the Delhi roads at dawn most mornings, in a last ditch effort to (a) break in my new boots and (b) to knock myself into some kind of shape for my big adventure, which kicks off next week. (Gulp.)

As I have mentioned here in a couple of recent blog posts, this city where I now live is a very different creature in the (relatively) quiet early hours of the day, from the aggressive, noisy later-in-the-day version.

Thus it is that at dawn I can happily potter across blissfully empty avenues that are otherwise hectically busy [...]

Click to continue reading Round and about in Delhi. Literally.

July 25th, 2014

Pomp and circumstance at dawn

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If ever proof were needed that it pays to get up bright and early in the mornings – especially in our cruel Delhi summers – then Wednesday morning provided exactly that proof.

Setting off bright and early (but oh so overdressed in this heat, with woolly socks & hiking boots) I went for a lovely 13km yomp through Lutyens Delhi.

And it was just one fabulous thing after another.

Early mornings are super special in a noisy, overcrowded city like Delhi – you have relative peace and quiet, and, oh joy of joys, there is space to walk along empty [...]

Click to continue reading Pomp and circumstance at dawn

July 24th, 2014

Photo of the day (& resolutely NOT thinking that a month from today…)

…but the truth of the matter is that I cannot in all honestly overlook the fact that a month from today will be – inshallah – summit day on Chamser Kangri.

Or Shamser Kangri, as I saw it on the fabulously detailed map of Ladakh at B2F, my valiant phsyios who are doing all they can to get me summit ready.

 

And now, before I start stressing, let’s move right along.

This fabulous view (below) was from last year’s ascent of Mentok Kangri, and was taken on the way up to our Base Camp.

How well

view full [...]

Click to continue reading Photo of the day (& resolutely NOT thinking that a month from today…)