Barefoot In the head

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Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

High on thin air

Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas is a place that is quite ethereal. It is mostly above the "treeline" at 13,000 feet. There is very little oxygen as a result. When you get to Leh, the only city with an airport, you have to be in bed for 24 hours to adjust to the altitude and lack of oxygen.

About four hours away from Leh is a valley called Nubra. To get there you have to cross the Changla Pass at 17,800 feet. It is a rather disorienting experience, literally.

The mountains in Ladakh are the colour of their minerals, there are no trees to hold the soil. Green mountains of chromium, yellow mountains of sulfur(?) , red mountains of sulfur. It is so hard to describe.

Also about 4 hours away from Leh is the Pangong Lake, 145 kilometers long. One third of the lake is in India and the rest in China. No one knows how deep this lake is. We do know how high it is, though. 13,000 feet.

To get to Pangong you have to cross the Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world. It takes you up to 18,400 feet and still the Himalayas soar above your head.

Temperatures in the winter go down to minus 50 celcius.

This could be the closest you can get to Mars, on Earth.


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