Arriving at DEL, I spent time at all four ATMs. Three failed to dispense cash in a number of interesting ways, while the fourth fortunately worked, although at 10 000 Rs per time Filip arrived shortly after me, and after buying a SIM card we managed to get in touch with our driver and headed off to the foothillls. After 2 h in a complete grid lock, things eased up to normal traffic jam for another hour. Then we were on the country side. Flat, hot, and populated. Upon reaching the hills, we regretted not spending the night in Kalka and taking the historic narrow gauge scenic railway from there to Shimla the next day.
This summer we opted for a shorter trip, as we were not sure how Ingrid and the -2 month old baby would handle cycling (it went just fine).
Continuing on our tradition of the worst weather you can find, we chose the Faroe Islands. According to a man we met on a boat, the Brits called the islands the “land of maybe” during WWII, due to the unpredictable weather. They delivered from day 1, when the pilot announced that we would maybe be landing. It was a very bumpy and shaky approach, and with the runway not too far below, he decided this was not possible, and veered off. After 15 min the weather had improved enough, and this time he managed to slam the plane rather firmly onto the tarmac.
After assembling the bikes, we were allowed to store the empty boxes for free at the airport (thanks!) and set off to Mulafossur, which is one of the most photographed waterfalls (and scenes in general) on the islands. There we found a little café, which was closed, but they did not mind two late guests.
Leaving Mulafossur, we cycled to a camping site not far from the airport. Wild camping is not allowed (due to the sheep?), so we stayed at camping sites throughout the trip. They were all really cheap and most of them luxurious with a modern kitchen, living room area, clean modern bath rooms and internet connections.
Next morning we woke 05:30 AM to catch the bus through a long subsea tunnel, which we were not keen on. Then we cycled through really horrendous weather the rest of the day. Part of the day, we were on a small winding road in the mountains with (what could have been) nice views. It was still very enjoyable to be out cycling, and we found more than one café along the way. In the evening we arrived at Gjogv, where we had a local buffet dinner (mostly food from the sea, and lamb).
With minds set on bad weather, it came as a surprise that the rest of the trip provided mostly sunshine (although some wind). A local hiking guide told us that this was the best weather they had so far this year (perhaps in several years).
We cycled out to the tip of Kalsoy and hiked out to a scenic light house. The next day we made another excursion to Vidareidi. The road out was very scenic, but involved two long one-lane unlit tunnels, with small pockets every few hundred meters. Each time there was a light at either end, we had to hurry to the next pocket and squeeze in while the car or truck passed. This made the going really slow, but we made it through.
The last day of the trip, we spent in Torshavn, which is the capital. It was the obly place where we saw real trees. There were also really nice cafés, where we sat most most days, drinking coffee, and a locally brewed, and rather tasty, beer.
We met three cycle tourers while on the islands. One of them had spent a week, the two others three. Our conclusion from talking to them was that one week is adequate. While the scenery is fantastic, it all looks rather the same, and so you reach saturation (both in terms of scenery and rain) rather fast. We never got to a point where we got bored, but did not feel that we had to stress about in order not to miss out on something either.
It has been a busy spring, and the blog has been down-prioritized in favor of work, and of course playing in the outdoors. Apart from everyday maintenance training, the two nicest events have been the annual training camp with CK Lunedi on Mallorca in April
and long rides (and runs!) around Skåne
Soon, however, it is time to depart for Faroe Islands, followed by touring in Ladakh/Kashmir/India. I’ll promise to post some pictures and texts once back…
This year, again, we decided to spend time around easter in the Norwegian backcountry. We flew to Ålesund and rented a car, driving out to the Sunnmøre alps.
Weather was fantastic, almost a bit too fantastic. In fact, the snow line was way up in the mountains, making for hour long bush-whacking approaches in shoes, with skis and boots on the pack. The snow was really good, however. Pow up higher, and corn/slush further down.
Ingrid was unfortunately sick with a nasty cold, so the days consisted in quick solo tours before lunch, and excursions to the archipelago together in the afternoon. The days were long, so there was no rush.
Last little mini-adventure was in the Rockies with my wife. We started out in southern BC and skied the slack- and backcountry around Rossland. Then we drove north to one of our favorite places for backcountry touring: Roger’s pass in Glacier NP (where we spent a season earlier).
This year, we were extremely lucky with the snow pack, which was unusually stable, allowing for some long tours up the Asulkan valley. Combined with stable weather, we ended up spending a lot of time in Roger’s pass. The two most memorable days were probably the trips up Ursa Minor and Young Peak, on which we turned below the summit due to a complete whiteout.
On a completely different note – and inline with the main purpose of this blog – a plan for biking this summer is taking form. The venue will be Kashmir and Ladakh, most probably a cycle from Srinagar to Shimla via Leh and the Spiti valley. Really looking forward to get back to Srinagar and to cycle some Himalayan passes 🙂
I’ve been busy with bits of everything, but finally found a few minutes to write up blog posts.
This fall, the tradition of combining work in China with spending time in the Nepali Himalayas, continued. While previous years have been focused on running, this year, I went with my new friend Filip, who I met last winter in Kashmir.
Filip had cut off his long hair and gotten new 70ies hippie glasses. As a consequence, I spent an hour looking for him at the airport (although, he was in front of me all the time).
We hired a jeep with Suabry Besi as destination. This is the same place I started out last year. Then I crossed the Ganesh Himal district of Dading to the west, this time we were heading for Langtang and Helambu, to the east. We made it to Dunche, where we got stopped by the police. Our driver said the road was blocked. Thinking it was probably a scam, in order to get us into one of the lodges at Dunche rather than carry on, we asked why, and got the answer ‘rock fall’. Fair enough, but we wanted to see this rock fall, as we would have to cross it on foot next day. The ‘rock’ was in fact a big truck, that had gone through the shoulder, and was now balancing on one side, considering whether to plunge into the abyss or not.
Fair enough, we spent the night at a shabby place in Dunche. Next morning, we hiked pass the blockade, and hitched a ride on the roof of an already full jeep.
The driver did the best he could to get us off that roof, throwing his vehicle down the switchbacks down to Syabru.
After lunch in Syabru, and seeing a helicopter fly in with the corpse of another, seemingly brand new but somewhat warped, helicopter, we set off. Rather than following the river valley, we pushed on up toward Sherpa Gaon, where we stopped to take in the view, from a bench in the sun, before heading down to Llama Hotel.
From there, we moved on along the valley, and arrived in what used to be Langtang, by lunch next day. Now it was just a rumble of moraine, left behind by the landslide which took away the whole village following the second 2015 earthquake. Some new housed were being constructed a bit upvalley, but it was not a very cheerful place, so we pushed on to reach Kyangin Gompa, later the same afternoon. There we checked in to a tea house, which claimed they had warm water, but as it turned out did not. Our overall impression of the place was poor, and thanks to Filip, we relocated the next day.
After an early start, we hiked up some of the hills behind Kyangin. We were a little confused by the map we had, but in the end it did not matter much, as the view was just fantastic.
After spending some time sitting on a rock, reading a book, and enjoying the thin air, we headed back down to the village, and visited the swiss cheese factory. Actually, it was the new swiss cheese factory, as the original one had been damaged by the earth quake. The manager told us that production was on hold, while waiting for government funding to rebuild the factory, but had some yak cheese to sell us anyway, which we found rather delicious. We were also told that there was a strong cheese making tradition in the valley, introduced by the swiss after WW2. I haven’t looked into the background of this, but have noticed it in other parts of Nepal too. For instance, there is a whole district dedicated to cheese in the foothills of the Khumbu.
The last day in Langtang, we started out by hiking up valley for a few hours, before turning and starting our descent. It would have been nice to spend more time, but I did not know how long the hike back to Kathmandu would take us. Going downhill was a lot faster, and we spent the night at the Llama Hotel once again. From there we crossed the river, and started up the brutal hill past Thulu, where we stopped for lunch. After a whole day of uphill, Filip felt tired and suggested we stop at a small chack on a ridge we had just made it to. I was a bit sceptic at first, but it turned out to be the nicest place we had stayed during the entire trip. It was managed by a young Tibetan couple. They were really nice, had a patio with a fantastic view and cooked the best thukpa soup I have had, to date.
The uphill continued all of the following day, and eventually took us to the sakred lakes at Gosainkunda. It was nice and all, but more touristy, and since it was end of season, only one – rather overfull – lodge was open. We took a plunge in the lake (I chickened out, but Filip did actually put himself underwater), then called it a day.
The plan for next day was to scramble up a 5000 m peak overlooking the lakes. We somehow missed the trail, and realized too late. Instead we made a really long push. Getting down to lower altitude also meant hotter climate, and we were rather tired by the time we arrived at the pass, which took us into Helambu. To the south was a sea of clouds, and we sat down for a while drinking tea, which we bought from an old man who lived in a corrugated tin box on top of the pass.
After a nights sleep, the hike continued over ridges overlooking cloudy valleys, covered in rhododendron forest, and with the whole central and eastern Himalayan line-up as a backdrop to the right. I never thought that Helabu would be as fantastic as it was.
Soon we were down among rice paddies and dirt tracks. Before arriving n the Kathmandu valley, we made a detour over Shivapuri peak, then hiked down the infinite downhill. Walking into town from the north is quite an experience. First we made it through farmland, then a district dedicated to breeding pigs, then fish, finally chicken. At the end of all that, there were factories where paper was manufactured old school-style, one sheet at a time. After the paper factory, we got absorbed into the chaotic city life of Kathmandu, crossed the ever polluted Bagmati river, survived getting across the ring road, and made it all the way back to our quite accommodation, tucked away at a convenient distance from Lazimpat and Thamel.
Hopefully, I’ll be adding some more pictures, once I get them from Filip 🙂