Location: Goba Guest House
We continue to focus on acclimatisation. On Saturday evening we had agreed that we will go above 17000 feet (5000 metres+). Most of the runners went towards Khardung La which is about 17,800 feet. Khardung La is a popular tourist destination and makes the tall claim of being the ‘highest motorable pass in the world’. If I recall correctly from last year the sign also puts it at over 18000 which I think is a little exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is probably the biggest tourist attraction around here because you can drive to it! Large groups do motorcycle riders, cyclists along with army and other trucks make it a busy place. Too busy for my liking! So Ankush, Kieron, Danish and me decided to head to Wari La, which is the second peak on the La Ultra course and is far less crowded.
We rented a taxi and left around 9:45 am with packed sandwiches for lunch. We drove past Thiksey (famous Monastery), Serthi and Karu villages. Lot of road damage on this stretch due to rains last week and earth movers are busy trying to get the roads restored.
We drove up to a spot where we set up Wari La base camp for the runners around 15,300 feet and spent a half hour there just to ensure that we did not have too much adverse effect due to the altitude. Breathing is so different and one almost feels lightheaded. The La Ultra course makes a steep climb from base camp to Wari La top over 12 kms. We drove further up from base camp and walked the last 2 kms to the top. The difference between 15000 ft and 17500 ft is amazing! We spent about 20 minutes at the top and walked back for a couple of kms before climbing back into the taxi. By this time I was already experiencing a slight headache.
We ate our sandwiches at base camp spot at a little chai stall (tea shop) and washed it down with ‘tea’. This tea was really watery and sweet and we discovered that it was made with goat milk. Kieron and Danish (who is Kashmiri) drank a version that had salt instead of sugar.
We got back around 4:45 pm and chilled out rest of the evening at Goba chatting and playing cards.
I am sharing couple few pictures here to give you a feel of Wari La. I tried the panoramic feature of my phone for the first time. I hope you get a sense of the remoteness, gradient and beauty of Wari La – it can truly take your worries away or cause you many!