prem .. First Biker on Marsimek La
"Saab Gypsy bhi jab ruk jaati hai to to hum logon ko dhakka lagana padta hai,
motorcycle to nahi jayegi, aap log baaki Leh - Ladakh ghoom lo, khardungla ja ke aao, Marsimek la mein kya hai ? waise bhi bahut sensitive post hai aur jaane ke liye road bhi nahi hai....... "
Marsimek La ...the tempting highest motorable (motorable?) pass in the world, 18634 FT of naked glory, how can we just leave the region unexplored ?? when it's just 22kms away,and had got the permission from D.C.after much persuasion.
On 30th June 2004,sitting at ITBP's 22nd BN Phobran post and having tea with Inspector B.P.Singh and the staff there were so many things running into our minds. even Gypsies had a hard time while climbing this sounded very challenging.
We decided to proceed.
WE : Rahul,Anil,parikshit,Sanjay and wify,Gireesh,Pradeep,Divesh and Me.
The Leh - Ladakh bound riders from Mumbai,Delhi and Bangalore.and yes, this was the
first big ride of all the boys.and, after doing numerous passes like JALORI(the Toughest), ROHTANG, BARALACHA LA, NAKEELA, LACHLUNG LA, TANGLANG LA(most beautiful), CHANG LA(the mightiest), KHARDUNG LA(the Easiest), the spirit of riding was high and the numerous stories about Marsimek la, also known as merciless la was overwhelming.
I decided to lead and asked Rahul to trail.
Inspector B.P.Singh was very courteous and he explained the routes one more time to us, his special warning was never to take the right hand side tracks as that could lead us into chinese territory. The ride to Marsimek La top is 22 kms of dirt track, gravel track, mud track, boulder track,dust track, sand track and anything in between, sometimes when you're riding you have to balance your body against the steep climbs on dirt tracks , any mistake and you're sliding down for a good 6-7 meteres and if you use you disk brakes and the bike is not in straight position you are screwed. but when you're enthusiastic upto that crazy limits you just forget these things or simply prefer to ignore them.
After about 14 -16 kms which took a considerable one hour, the load on the engine was obvious I decided to stop for a while and wait for my friends, after about 20 minutes when I realized no one is coming then the fear hit me. The usual questions of a solo rider started pounding. what do I want to get from this ride ? what do i want to prove ? why am I here at the first place ?
In this terrain the oxygen is very less , I did not see any greenary there. I consider myself a good rider and after doing Jalori Pass which is again 8-9 kms of steep climb and you have to negotiate the climb mostly in the first gear or occasionally 2nd if you're blessed with a good machine, the confidence was high, but here I was really nervous.
I decided to move further and wait for my friends at my next halt, just managed to do a few kms more and when the engine started rattling I was forced to stop again. After about ten minutes i spotted a moving black spot which after some time turned into Rahul and Anil,then Pradeep appeared , Man I was so relived. we waited for some more time and Sanjay turned up with his wife as pillon on his black T'bird, as he stopped to allow his bike to cool down a bit we spotted another moving spot and it was gireesh. Suddenly the ride was looking promising again.
But the Thunderbirds and other bikes simply refused to move an inch from there... that sparked this big disscussion among us about stupidity. we all agreed that there is a very fine line between being crazy or a genius.considering our present condition we were more on the crazy side.
I decided to leave the luggage and stuff behind to make the bike abit lighter. I got down from my bike and started pushing it Pradeep also helped to give it the required momentum and I took off. Again 2 kms and the engine died, I wanted to change the clutch plates, rejet the carburettor and remove the air filter but the terrain wouldn't allowed me to do so as i was huffing and puffing like a crazy dog.
I just managed to loosen the carburettor's hose and again proceeded further. Marsimek la was teaching me new lessons with every meter I was riding and there were times when I found more than one dirt track,sometimes three or even four as the bigger army vehicles make thier own way and usually whenever they discover any shortcut they abandon the older ones,as a biker it's really tough to take the short cut cause they are usually very steep climbs, but you can not be sure about them unless you're trapped in one.so you have to use your own navigation skills.
I saw the 2nd last post of ITBP of Lungkar and felt the renewed enthusiasm. by this time my mind was made up,either by hook or crook i'm going to make it. It was really difficuilt to say which was tougher ? the road,the climb or the decision. again I started the bike,pushed along to get it rolling and jumped over the saddle and with a loud Jai Bholenath I proceeded...the bike was sounding crazy by this time and I thought I'm going to have a piston seizure or a blown crank bush any time but I know my baby and her capabilitis, she has never let me down and that was enough to boost my confidence to take my chances, plus the very fact that no body has ever made it on the Bullet was compelling me to make it to the top.
I took the last left turn and i saw the last post of ITBP and the blood rushed one more time and this time I knew nothing can stop me now...took the last hairpin bend and there was this black stone structure which the inspector told us is on Marsmik la top. with all the adrenalin pumping in veins I zoomed ahead and there it was .....
For the moment I was fixed , not knowing what to expect .... looked around .... no great surroundings like Tanglang La, Chang La or Khardung La.. only naked mountains, rocks and stones of every size and shapes, ice and deep isolated vallies.......... deserted mountains ... somewhat eerie.
There is a milestone like small marble plate engraved with '' This highest road in the world was constructed by B coy of 1st BN ITBP under the supervision of 'shri Sonam Palzor' coy commander The Everester in the year 1983.''
and at a distance of about 6 feet there was this big slab of grey stone with faded engraving ' Chak - De' MARSIMEK - LA, world's highest motorable pass, ALT- 5590 MTS (18634 ft) const by 6 FD COY 236 E/R CHAK DE and at the bottom again CHAK DE.
There's a small temple of Lord Shiva, the 'Chak - De' mandir, and next to it was a pile of rocks as a formation to hold prayer flags which were fading ... and that's when it hit me .....I just sat there and lost control over my emotions all I know I was just crying.... Took out my trusted Nikon F801s for some photographs, managed to click mine as well with the help of timer.
Looked around, wanting to memorise everything in sight, tried to look at the chinese posts, but couldn't see anything besides some huts like structures at a distance very similar to what you see at chusul area, remembering the warning not to go any further I decided to descend. Here another thought gripped me, climbing was tough, what about getting down ?? the lose black stone boulders were really challenging just before the pass which were on the steep u-pin bend.
When I tried to move the bike from the stand it fell and it took me forever to bring the bike in the standing position, somehow I managed to do so and again sat on the ground huffing and puffing.
Started the journey back and after about one km I met Rahul and Anil, who were genuinely trying to get the bike to the top.
The road was now open. I wished them luck and decided to descend so that I could meet the rest of the gang, they were quite anxious and wanted to do it but the machines refused again and we started towards the base camp.
This was my experience of being the first rider to conquer Marsimek La on a Bullet.
P.S. If I can do it so can you and trust me, Leh/Ladakh is a bikers delight.
HAPPY N SAFE RIDING
prem' The Predator.