A Snapshot of Our Work

Final altitude: 12,139 feet
Highest altitude: 14,951 feet

Today marked the beginning of our last days here in the Himalayas. We started to make our way out of Kaza in what was supposed to be a four-hour journey but turned into an eight-hour one.

We were originally scheduled to have a clinic in a nunnery on the way to Chhatru, but Ravi canceled this because of concern for the weather. There was a high likelihood of encountering landslides, etc., that could block the path our journey if we left between 1-2 p.m., because of snow fall higher in the mountains over the previous days.

We left first thing in the morning and immediately started ascending up to 14,931 meters (Kunzum Pass), which was the highest point we had been during our entire trip. We noticed it was cold and wet up there, but managed to take a few photos.

The roads throughout the trip were mostly dirt and unpaved, but today brought several more challenges. In the gallery below you will find photos of the roads immediately leaving Kunzum Pass.

Then we encountered our first problem. I noticed it first when I looked to the right and saw there was dirt falling off the side of the mountain, but it was a constant stream of dirt.

As we advanced and slowed, I realized this was my first landslide! Fortunately no one was hurt, but we were sitting ducks. Mud continued to stream down the rock face onto the road, bringing large rocks with it. We sat for one hour, which turned into two hours, as we tried to come up with a way forward.

No one had cell service. Our team was split into two and we had no idea what was going to happen next. Were we going to turn back and camp in the biting cold? At this point, no one really had much to eat and it was now 2 p.m. and we had already been in the car for six hours.

Some of those ahead of us, including some motorcyclists, opted to go around the mudslides but it was not easy. We finally took this option and I have some pretty remarkable videos of this, compiled in the gallery below.

Afterward, we had a quick bite to eat in the rain and soldiered on. We only had 17 km to go, but we had no idea what was ahead.

Given the nonstop rain, we knew that we had challenges, but this one was even more interesting. We came to a point where we were next to a raging river and then we noticed the road itself had become a raging river. One of the vans got stuck, but our kitchen truck came to the rescue.

There were literally seven or eight people trying in vain to get the van unstuck (all of them braving the frigid ankle-deep water to do so) but the kitchen truck and a piece of rope got the job done.

The video in the gallery shows our vehicles truly doing some amazing “off roading” in order to get us safely to our next camp site, which we finally reached around 7 p.m. Granted we were back in pit toilets covered by the blue tents, but this was surely better than traversing rivers in our vehicles.

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