Bik­ing the Hi­malayas in win­ter

Bik­ing in the Hi­malayas in win­ter

Adventure - - Contents - Text by Claude Bal­siger

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.

Pho­tos by Martin Bis­sig

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