Biking the Himalayas in winter
Biking in the Himalayas in winter
There are just two ways to reach the snowbound Zanskar valley in the Indian Himalayas in winter: over the frozen Zanskar river or the snow covered high passes. Claude Balsiger and Martin Bissig took both routes on their expedition; across the ice to reach the valley and over the passes to get back out. How bad can it feel to fulfill one's dream? For me, it feels bitterly cold. Breathing heavily with my head hung down, I'm standing next to my bike. Mountain biking at minus twenty degrees works surprisingly well. But when a bitingly cold wind is added, then nothing works. My friend, Tundup, catches up with me, he has cared for me since Day One. "You have to keep moving, or you'll get too cold, my friend," he says to me, pulls up the scarf and moves on. I mount the bike and start to pedal. The ice crunches under my wheels and I continue up the river. I was first here six years ago; I was looking for single tracks in the summer and met Tundup. Even in the early days of our friendship, he wanted to persuade me to do this winter adventure, ride a mountain bike down frozen rivers to the Zanskartal. This is how my dream to cross the Himalayas in winter with a bike and skis developed. Now I stand in the middle of this icy dream. We want to cross the Himalayan mountain range in four weeks, on a bike, on foot and on skis. We start in North India, in the town of Leh, then I cycle almost 300 miles on frozen rivers through a gorge to the end of the Zanskar valley. From there we ski southwards and hope to reach our goal, the Indian town of Manali, within four weeks.