Monday, July 13, 2009

At the top of the world, everything is falling down.

Gomuranjan in Zanskar

What can I tell you about the Himalayas that you don't already know? The Himalayas are falling down. At an astonishing rate. In the time we were there we saw 5 or 6 avalanches and landslides. We heard a few more at night from the illusory safety of our tents. If the mountains continue to grow, they grow faster than they fall down, which you imagine is an astonishing feat when you see the rubble that litters the Zanskar valley.

We walked into the Zanskar valley over the Shingo-La pass after having started from Palamo, near Darcha. When we reached Kargiyak a tiny village in the valley, we stopped, stayed a day and then we walked back. It was all accomplished in 9 days. No part of the walk was lower than 4000 m above sea-level and the pass was just over 5000m. It took a while to get used to so little oxygen, it took even longer to get used to the weight of the packs. I never did get used to it, I got helped a lot. The dust made me stumble all the time. The dust got everywhere. I've decided I hate snow, particularly sun-melted, soft snow, but really all snow.

But the pain was always forgotten when we pitched camp and when I looked around. I forgot a lot, my mind stopped whirring. I was tempted, no matter how briefly, to go live in Kargiyak and teach in the Sun school there. I found myself partial to mountain men. I fell in love a few times, facilely. I laughed at myself what I hoped was enough. A lot of things that would normally have been mundane, felt magical. Although I was exhausted with the traveling and the contingent living by the end, I would gladly resume now. Eat, walk, pitch camp, eat, relax, eat, sleep, resume- it's a pleasant rhythm to live by. It helps that where I am now feels equally adrift and contingent.

Lots of things happened, exciting, strange, bizarre, even mundane, as they do when you walk through strange places that are almost inaccessible to the world outside. I'll might tell you sometime. Here are a few images in place of the words.

Zho/Dzo in Kargiyak

A lake at the top of the Shingo-La pass

Walking to Khi

Walking to Khi

Gompa in Kargiyak


Arun said...

Ah.. there is lot of snow at Shingo la and the lake looks pretty.

Was there last year, and what a sight Gumburanjan is!

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Sangeeth said...

Wow great collections of images and good article.Thanks for sharing.

Digital Photography Classes said... have a very nice blog here. Awesome pictures with great content. From where you do get your content? I`m planning to start a blog of my own.

Natasha said...

I'm not sure how to answer that! Most of the photographs are mine. And the text is about things I think about.

Anyway, good luck with your blog!