Welcome to Delhi!
I'm in New Delhi, India, a place on the map that I had only been to once before and I am beyond excited for this trip. My last visit here was under very different circumstances. I had come to India just after the coordinated terror attacks at the Intercontinental Hotel to evaluate the risks of business continuity in a region that is so vastly different than the United States. I found it fascinating! Although, the project took a different turn, my curiosity about India as a country, culture and home to a variety amazing wonders, grew profoundly.
Since business was no longer taking me here, I set my sights on projects closer to home and in Australia, where quantifiable business existed in a more traditional sense that I was more familiar with, and India became a "long distance relationship" that I never really got to know. My line of work takes me to some incredible places but more often than not, I do not ever have the chance to really get out there and "explore" the actual places I travel to. Rather, I tour police academies, military bases and conference rooms. "Seen one, seem 'em all," is an understatement. India remained an enigma for me.
It wasn't until years later that a business contact, who kept up with me and my motorcycle travels and adventuring via Facebook, reached out with a barrage of questions to discover what exactly I was up to. I was surprised that not only was she interested in bikes, but she also owned a bike and regularly took it out on rides.
Our conversations became more frequent and she introduced me to a close friend of hers, who was putting together an amazing trek across India, culminating to a summit run to the Highest Road in the World.
Ok, you now have my attention!
India is the home of the Taj Mahal, snake charmers, vegetarian yoga gurus and carbon monoxide. I got a glimpse of that when I was there a few years ago, but the chance to travel to the highest road in the world… someone should have told me that sooner!
Ok, so here's the deal. There is a state in North Western India known as Kashmir, not to be confused with the fabric of a similar name (cashmere, as in sweater) but more like the namesake of the
that can be found in the soundtrack of my youth.
This region has its challenges with issues from its not so neighborly-neighbors of China and Pakistan whom both maintain a very high military presence. I'm told that 1/3 of the entire Indian army is deployed to patrol this very austere mountainous region in the Himalayas, and in order to move these guys around, the Indian Army has a vast network of roads that they, themselves, maintain and who are constantly waging war against the mountains themselves!
Our friends at Wikipedia are stealing a little thunder from
saying that the claims are boastful, but who cares! It's the highest road I have ever been on, and that's all that really matters, right? If there is a higher road somewhere, I'll go there next. Hopefully, with these chaps that I am about to meet.
Here are some key facts about Khardung La:
- According to the signboard on the top of the pass, it is 18380 feet high (5602 meters), although modern measurements state that is 17,582 ft. or 5,359 m. Pretty HIGH anyway!
- The La (pass in Tibetan) is used to carry supplies to the troops in Siachen Glacier, also known as the third pole of the world, disputed territory between India and Pakistan since 1984.
- Historically, these lands have been part of ancient caravan routes through which thousands of people and animals have been transporting goods and culture for centuries, playing a major role in war, trade, migration, religion, politics and cultural exchange.
- According to Wikipedia, loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets of snowmelt?! I say...
WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!