Manali-Leh Highway 2013: Rhotang Pass (4000m) to Baralacha-la (4980)

Quaint Old Manali and Doongri village, mark the start of once more of the legendary Manali-Leh highway.
Quaint Old Manali and Doongri village, mark the start of the legendary Manali-Leh highway. Although my 5th time along this 600km epic route it never ceases to leave me in awe and amazement.
Our friends and tour partner Ravi Thakur with his wife Rekha and little Reva, Aba-le and Abi-le at home.
Our friends and tour partner Ravi Thakur with his wife Rekha and little Reva, Aba-le and Abi-le at home.
Little Reva like all himalayan babies has been potty trained since birth and never wears a nappy! Hard to believe but i witnessed this little 8mth old show me her impressive training myself - Yay for Himalayan moms!
Little Reva like all himalayan babies has been’ potty’ trained since birth and never wears a nappy! Hard to believe, but I witnessed this little 8mth show her amazing ability to wee when prompted – Yay for Himalayan moms and their sustainable choice!
And then the cycling began up the 60km  Rhotang pass climb.... Richard and Colleen making good headway.
And then the cycling began up the 60km Rhotang pass climb…. Richard and Colleen making good headway.
We shared our first campsite with about 30 young lamas (young monks) who were paying tribute to one of their monks who had died recently on the pass.
We shared our first campsite with about 30 young lamas (young monks) who were paying tribute to one of their lamas who had died recently on this notoriously perilous pass.
Of course a few dog friends are obligatory on these trip. 'Marhi' camp dog gets a pat from Cliff and scrambled egg and toast from me.
Of course a few dog friends are obligatory on these trips. ‘Marhi’ camp dog gets a pat from Cliff and scrambled egg and toast from me.
The passing Tata truck. Hold you breathe and hang on, that's what I do and I think Colleen did the same.
The passing Tata truck. Hold you breathe and hang onto your bike. That’s what I do, and I think Colleen did the same.
Goaties on their way up as we hurtle down the 20km descent on the other side.
Goaties on their way up as we hurtle down the 20km descent on the other side.
Following the Chandra river to the Baralacha-la pass.
Following the Chandra river to the Baralacha-la pass.
At a rest stop en route we met cycle tourers Cat (US), Niels (Belgium) and Tim (UK) all on their own journeys. We teamed up for the rest of the way and enjoyed the company of these 3 intrepid explorers.
At a rest stop en route we met cycle tourers Cat (US), Niels (Belgium) and Tim (UK) all on their own journeys. We teamed up for the rest of the way and enjoyed the company of these 3 intrepid explorers.
Slowly we edged along the winding highway into the rain-shadow of the himalayas.
Slowly we edged along the winding highway into the rain-shadow of the himalayas.
Paul and Carlos marvel at the hanging glaciers which typify this section of the route.
Paul and Carlos marvel at the hanging glaciers which typify this section of the route.
One of my favourite campsites. Most of the summer flowers were over this year, however these pinks were still colouring the mountain slopes shades of mauve.
One of my favourite campsites. Most of the summer flowers were over, however these pinks were still colouring the mountain slopes shades of mauve.
The Baralacha-la pass is a 28km climb from Patseo and although now completely tarred comparing with the gravel i cycled up 5 years ago, still feels as hard.
The Baralacha-la pass is a 28km climb from Patseo and although now completely tarred, comparing with the gravel we cycled up 5 years ago,  it still feels really hard.
Baralacha-la (4980m)This year I decided to fly the Eco-Schools flag on every high pass I cycled over. It is also seemed auspicious as India had just become the 52nd country to join this International programme!
Baralacha-la (4980m). This year I decided to fly the Eco-Schools flag on every high pass I cycled over. It is also seemed auspicious as India had just become the 52nd country to join this International programme!
Beautiful Baralacha-la
Beautiful Baralacha-la
The rewards are sweet: when you go up you must come down. Sandra and my most favourite green, purple, red and orange moutains (coming down Baralacha-la)
The rewards are sweet: when you go up you must come down. Sandra and my most favourite green, purple, red and orange moutains (coming down Baralacha-la).
Bicylce blips on the landscape
Bicycle blips on the landscape
More rewards - superb campsites with beers included - Paul, Graham and Cliff soaking up more than just the landscape!
More rewards – superb campsites with beers included – Paul, Graham and Cliff soaking up more than just the landscape!
Sarchu plains at 4300m.
Sarchu plains at 4300m.

Bridget Ringdahl

Pedaling has been natural to me since the tender age of three. Cycling is practical, fun, it gets you to the corner café, across countries, continents, keeps you fit and is by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly transport option around, being virtually carbon neutral.

I live in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal which is great cycling country, within 10 minutes I can be bouncing along some of the finest single tracks in the province.

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