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Bridget's Bike Blog

Mad about cycling mad about our furry friends mad about green living

Day 3: Finally, Crossing Sach Pass (4400m)

Just over half way, another 14km would take me 3hrs to finally summit Sach!

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.

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.


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Chilly crossing


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! 

Day 4: The descent to Chamba
Day 2 - to the Sach Pass (Udaipur to Kilar)

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Comments 26

Guest - Ashwin S Kalasapur on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 21:52

Thank you. I have been very impatiently waiting for day 3 of your travelogue :-)

Sent from my iPad

Thank you. I have been very impatiently waiting for day 3 of your travelogue :-) Sent from my iPad
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 21:55

Thanks Ashwin, makes it seem even more worth it! We must meet when I am next in India!

Thanks Ashwin, makes it seem even more worth it! We must meet when I am next in India!
Guest - Catherine Ritchie on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 22:59

This is hectic cycling Bridget, nothing like what Ben and I experienced in Corsica :-) I'm starting to wonder whether I'd actually survive one of your epic trips!!

This is hectic cycling Bridget, nothing like what Ben and I experienced in Corsica :-) I'm starting to wonder whether I'd actually survive one of your epic trips!!
Guest - Mark_BC on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 23:20

Right on dude! Good to see it hasn't changed. I remember that waterfall. The descent down the other side was brutal cobble though, it seems they may have smoothed that out.

Right on dude! Good to see it hasn't changed. I remember that waterfall. The descent down the other side was brutal cobble though, it seems they may have smoothed that out.
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:06

Hey Mark, cool you can relive the ride, the brutal cobble is still there though ;-)

Hey Mark, cool you can relive the ride, the brutal cobble is still there though ;-)
Guest - Pia Sanchez on Thursday, 01 November 2012 01:00

Breathtaking Bridgi and Carlos!! :)

Breathtaking Bridgi and Carlos!! :)
Guest - Nikki Brighton on Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:00

Astonishing Bridg. I am amazed that you fit these fantastic adventures into your life with such ease. Lovely for the rest of us to enjoy vicariously. Good to see that Carlos is actually human! xxx

Astonishing Bridg. I am amazed that you fit these fantastic adventures into your life with such ease. Lovely for the rest of us to enjoy vicariously. Good to see that Carlos is actually human! xxx
Guest - TANK on Thursday, 22 November 2012 14:46

i am convinced...i will be joining you next year. the scenery is out of this world. wow

i am convinced...i will be joining you next year. the scenery is out of this world. wow
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Friday, 23 November 2012 10:31

Would love you to join us!!!!!!

Would love you to join us!!!!!!
Guest - Werner Mennen on Thursday, 22 November 2012 20:57

Bridget and Carlos: maximum respect to you both! Looks like Sach Pass is Kardula's nasty younger brother!

Bridget and Carlos: maximum respect to you both! Looks like Sach Pass is Kardula's nasty younger brother!
Guest - Sudipto DasGupta on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 19:37

This is amazing! I rode over the pass (from the South) last year and remember being so relieved that I had not chosen to approach it from the North. I also remember hands numb from braking on the descent and the rear wheel lifting off the ground (even with only rear panniers!). Starting after the Sun’s rays reached Satrundi, I reached Killar well after dark.

Congratulations and thanks for the great pictures.

This is amazing! I rode over the pass (from the South) last year and remember being so relieved that I had not chosen to approach it from the North. I also remember hands numb from braking on the descent and the rear wheel lifting off the ground (even with only rear panniers!). Starting after the Sun’s rays reached Satrundi, I reached Killar well after dark. Congratulations and thanks for the great pictures.
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:04

Fantastic you did the ride too - what you rode from the south,? no way! - that seemed MUCH harder to me!
Would love to see your pics and well done to you from tackling this one from the really really hard side!!

Fantastic you did the ride too - what you rode from the south,? no way! - that seemed MUCH harder to me! Would love to see your pics and well done to you from tackling this one from the really really hard side!!
Guest - Solo Traveler on Thursday, 29 November 2012 09:50

Wow!! Crossed Saach Pass on a Cycle :) Bravo!

Wow!! Crossed Saach Pass on a Cycle :) Bravo!
Guest - Nick McBain on Sunday, 09 December 2012 00:24

Well done Bridget, our group with Cass & Cara did this five years back while they were still blasting the route for larger vehicles to pass.

After a really sharp haircut in Killar (!) I joined the others in making our way to the dhabba at Bagatou (at the foot of the pass), ready for the next day.

Some of us made the last leg in the jeep! Pics are at https://picasaweb.google.com/117046503509730839676/PicsFromSachPassTripOctober07 .

Out There blog including other pics is at http://otbiking.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/sach-pass-2007-photos/ , brings back good memories, enjoy!

Nick McB

Well done Bridget, our group with Cass & Cara did this five years back while they were still blasting the route for larger vehicles to pass. After a really sharp haircut in Killar (!) I joined the others in making our way to the dhabba at Bagatou (at the foot of the pass), ready for the next day. Some of us made the last leg in the jeep! Pics are at https://picasaweb.google.com/117046503509730839676/PicsFromSachPassTripOctober07 . Out There blog including other pics is at http://otbiking.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/sach-pass-2007-photos/ , brings back good memories, enjoy! Nick McB
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Monday, 10 December 2012 10:04

Thanks Nick! Always enjoy checking out others pics to get a different perspective- an epic cycle indeed.Thanks for these links look forward to browsing

Thanks Nick! Always enjoy checking out others pics to get a different perspective- an epic cycle indeed.Thanks for these links look forward to browsing
Guest - jot on Monday, 18 February 2013 11:49

great info made by you try also track from kaza to manali via kunzum pass and rohtang

great info made by you try also track from kaza to manali via kunzum pass and rohtang
Guest - vijay on Sunday, 26 May 2013 19:55

gr8 ride,

gr8 ride,
Guest - Christian on Thursday, 25 July 2013 12:57

Hey Bridget

Thanks for the Sach Pass entries – I went over with Cass & Cara in 07 (and Nick above). Jeep supported tho' - not hardcore like you!

At the time I thought there was a real push to tarmac the whole route (like building the second bridge below Kilar), but really interesting to see how little has changed.

Great that you noted the names of the police/road builder kikds – that's a classy touch.

Happy cycling! Christian

Hey Bridget Thanks for the Sach Pass entries – I went over with Cass & Cara in 07 (and Nick above). Jeep supported tho' - not hardcore like you! At the time I thought there was a real push to tarmac the whole route (like building the second bridge below Kilar), but really interesting to see how little has changed. Great that you noted the names of the police/road builder kikds – that's a classy touch. Happy cycling! Christian
Guest - Bridget Ringdahl on Sunday, 04 August 2013 22:32

Hey Christian, i must say i was really chuffed to see how rough (and wild!) a route the sach pass is... considering all the road 'upgrading/building' thats going on, i also never expected it to be that hard... you should go back and re-ride it, certainly one of the most dramatic rides ever! happy pedalling too and if ever down south, we can show you some superb single-track, cheers

Hey Christian, i must say i was really chuffed to see how rough (and wild!) a route the sach pass is... considering all the road 'upgrading/building' thats going on, i also never expected it to be that hard... you should go back and re-ride it, certainly one of the most dramatic rides ever! happy pedalling too and if ever down south, we can show you some superb single-track, cheers
Guest - negi on Monday, 10 February 2014 18:44

Hi What bike did you use on your epic trip ? Could you tell us a little more about your kit?
Negi

Hi What bike did you use on your epic trip ? Could you tell us a little more about your kit? Negi
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