This account of Journey to Mana Pass is a story of conquering my own fears and doubts apart from stretching my physical limits and that of my bike to a new levels , unheard and unthought of . when you set out on a tough journey like this you prepare yourself not only to succeed but also for failure as the probability of failure is much higher than that of success. I knew very well that forces of nature cannot be mocked at, on the account of technology and machines, rather it has to be understood in all its aspect and rather negotiated with full humbleness and respect. Even Though i had completed a 3600 km ride from Delhi to Ladakh@ Kashmir Covering 16 high altitude mountain passes , out of which 8 were above 5000m and 2 passes done for the first time on bike in July the same year , i still had a gut feeling that negotiating to mana pass will be tougher than anything i had done earlier.
Setting out to ride solo to Mana Pass was a dream adventure ride and a challenge beyond logic . The Information available on the web and via other sources was scanty and one could make out that nobody has reached the TOP accept the Armed forces Guarding it. How much is known about it can be guaged from this fact that no one could tell me about the actual height of the Pass which to my surprise came out to be 5638m( 18774Ft).
Anyway Mana Pass emerged in my list of to do things around 1 ½ years back ,when i stared hearing about it from fellow bikers as the highest , the remotest and the toughest Pass to ride.
The Axis to Mana Pass Opens up every year by BRO in the Month of June/July much later than opening of Badrinath and Mana Village , depending upon the weather and snow levels hence it recommended that the expediton to this pass be planned post monsoon in the Month of September. The Pass remains open till the heavy snowfall starts in the first week of October every year , although snowfall keeps happening intermittently throughout the summers. Hence it is recommended that all riders planning for this Pass mustkeep in view the latest weather updates of this area. It is also adviced that This Pass should not be attempted a day after the snowfall or bad weather as the ground becomes slushy and the water levels dangerously increase in the streams on the way. So the Pass is to be attempted with a history of clear weather for 2-3 days.
Having Said this i will cover my Travellogue in three parts:-
- The Ride
- The Lessons Learnt
PLANNING: With Scanty information about the area ahead of MANA Village and tales of large Boulder ridden trails with numerous water crossings , i knew i had to plan for the unexpected and probably the worst of natures fury. I chose my equipment accordingly.
- High Ankle Gum Boots
- Skyroco Knee Guards
- Riding Jacket
- Water Resistant trousers
- Good Full face helmet
- Swiss Knife/ Multitool
- Water proof Zipper Bags
- Wind proof lighters x2
- Highpower LED Torch
- Googles with UV Protection
- Riding gloves with inners
- Sleeping bag
First Aid Box: Apart from regular medicines and first aid dressings , incl pain killers
- Diamox – for AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness)
- Nicardia – for HAPE( High altitude Pulmonery Edema)
- Portable Digital BP meter
Tool Kit : Apart from the OEM Toolkit That comes with the Bike
- Ring Spanners sizes( 8-22)
- Allen key set
- Puncture repair kit
- Foot pump
- 3 meters insulated copper wire
- Spark plugs
- Engine oil 500ml
- Clutch n brake levers and wires
- Spare fuses
- Extra nuts and bolts sizes(8-22)
- Headlight bulb.
- Chain links x2
- Extra thin Air Filter for more air intake which needs to replaced on moving up and ahead of 15,000ft altitude
- Chain Lube spray for frequent lubrication as the lubrication is washed off while crossing streams on the way.
- Paper map of the area.
- GPS With Offline Map as no network is available beyond Mana Village.
Documents Kit: Originals and 4 copies attested by Gazetted officers
- Driving Licence
- Insurance Certificate
- PUC Certificate
- Police Verification Certificate ( required for inner line Permit)
- Address Proof
Food Kit : Biking in inhospitable high altitude terrian will exhaust the body’s energy reserves hence keep drinking lots of water n eating high energy snacks frequently.
- Juices ( no carbonated drinks please)
- Cuppa Noodles
- Garlic Pills x3 to be taken 3 times a day during the trip as they are extremely helpful in acclimitisation.
- Fruits like Apple and oranges
It is advisable do the following training before any biker embarks on such mission.
- Treatment High Altitude Sickness and its treatment.
- Basic First Aid Training( applying dressing to injuries , splint bandages , managing traumas due to accidents, applying CPR)
- Tweeking the setting of your machines to adapt to performing better at High altitudes where oxygen levels are 1/3 of what is available at the plains leading to irregular combustion with much reduced torque and output from the engine. Hence Engine CC and BHP becomes a myth and machine which cannot adapt to the atmosphere here, however expensive and big often fail without a warning.
Having Done all this lets now study the route to the destination the Mana Pass TOP. Since the Map and route till Badrinath is well marked and widely available , i am discussing the alignment ahead of it till Mass Pass.
(B) THE RIDE:
My Journey started from New Delhi at 0500 AM on 20 september2015 from INDIA GATE after a short prayer service and i smoothly covered the distance of 400 km to GAUCHAR by 1700hrs after passing throughbeautiful terrain of RAJAJI NATIONAL RESERVE FOREST enroute and stayed there for the night. The weather packed up and it rained heavily and kept me guessing if i would be able to ride the next day, I kept my fingers crossed.
Next Morning The weather cleared up and i could start at 0800 AM for my next stop JOSHIMATH which was 95 Km ahead. I reached my destination at 1500 hours. Passing through numerous big and small landslide areas. Next day i worked on my permissions at Joshimath and had to stay there an extra day as they were hesitant to give permission as i was a solo rider but finally it was managed and i moved ahead.
On 23rdSeptember I moved from Joshimath and saw massive landslides enroute although the distance to be covered was merely 40 km but i got delayed by a few hours and reached MANA VILLAGE by 3.00PM . Immediately after taking bath i went to pay homage to Lord BADRIVISHAL at his Temple at Badrinath Dham. Even Without Prior reservation, with the Lords Kripa , i attended all four types of aartis and his sahtra naam Jaap. I was overwelhmed by the divinity of the place and was feeling completely blessed. After coming back i was feeling very positive and my gut feeling told me that i would surely succeed in my journey. The Weather had been bad with fresh snow fall at the pass on the previous day as per reports so after reching my room i thoroughly prepared to brace the nature apart from the terrain in my journey ahead. All extra load was shed at the room.
|Passing Through Rajaji National Park||Somewhere between Rishikesh and Joshimath|
|Stuck at Mudslide Enroute Badrinath||Another landsilde enroute Badrinath|
|Shallow Water crossing on the way||Finally at Mana -The Last IndianVillage|
Next morning on 24thSeptember , the weather Gods showed mercy and i witnessed a clear sunrise . At 06:00AM i Left Mana Village for my attempt for the Pass. First Five kms had patches of broken road but ahead of Musapani it was all gravel and i steadily started gaining altitude. After 17 Km i Reached GHASTOLI wher i saw the Magical words written by white bricks on the ground made my spirits goeven higher ” SARE JAHAN SE ACHHA HINDOSTAN HAMARAN”.
|Beautiful route on way to Musapani||Beautiful valley near Ghastoli|
After taking a short snacks break there i started for my next destination RATTAKONA. After 8.6 Km ahead i faced my first major water obstacle in the form of Chamrao Nallah. I manged to cross it as i had reached in the early part of the day. Its a high water volume water crossing and BRO was working to construct a diversion for water and a RCC bridge over it with great difficulty. After 9 km i reached RATTA KONA which is at an altitude of 15200 feet in the beautiful SARASWATI VALLEY. Conditions there were very windy. After a 15 mins break and making necessary adjustments in my bike , i started ahead. The route now started to become from bad to worse with the size of boulders increasing with every kilometre and after 7 kms when i reached Jagraon Nallah the route was covered with such large boulders that i took nearly 40 mins to cross and cover 500meters . I was becoming extremely tired and exhausted and the challange was becoming larger by each passing km .
After JAGRAON NALLAH the route rose sharply for the next 7 kms to Mana Pass. 4 Km ahead there were four sharp inclined hair pin bends which were full of slippery and slushy mud apart from boulders , while negociating one of them , my bike slipped and i fell down wiith my leg stuck below my bike. I prayed and kept waiting for help till a passing by Army Petrol helped me over. With great difficulty my bike started after i completely removed the air filter. But then all of these guys cheered me and wished me luck and with stars in my eyes i started again.
Enroute i passed a muddy water lake at 17500 feetwhich the locals called RAKSHAS TAL and then 1 KM ahead at 17950 feet to my right was a beautiful fresh water aquamarine lake called DEO TAL , the origin of legendery Saraswati river . The water of this lake has many medicinal qualities and the water level remains constant throughout the year in this lake.
Without stopping i kept moving ahead as i was running against the time of 12:00 am given to me to reach the TOP of the pass as affter that the Indian Authorities dont allow any one to approach the PASS . The route ahead was a trail full of sharp flakey stones . The accent was difficult and i was constantly driving in first gear to keep up the RPM to generate the required torque. I Had to resort to the walk through and and paddle on techniques to negociate various sharp inclined areas.i took frequent breaks to drink fluids , to finally hit the zero point at 18774 ft at 1215hrs. The feeling of reching the top of the pass was awsome and beyond words. I bowed my head to my lord in reverance and kissed my bike and thanked both to have pushed me here at such great heights.
|Looking back at DEO TAL after climbing ahead||Finally at The Destination|
All i can say in the end is that this is Journey every adventure seeking biker must undertake to experience the unexplainable. This journey started with doubts and lots of ifs and buts and ended with achieving unparalleled success in creating a record of first solo rider to reach Mana Pass at Top The Highest Motorable Pass in the World . ALL THE BEST AND THANKS FOR READING.
(C) LESSONS LEARNT: This ride too taught me some lesson that added on my experience as a adventure rider. They are as given Below:-
(i) Riding skills are more important than the machine for rding in exreme altitude.
(ii) Weather forecast cannot be ignored and are the single most important factor in determining diffficulty and succes of such rides.
(iii) Spending some time with the local people and gathering additional information always help in better preparation and planning.
(iv) Follow the rules of acclimatisation and high altitude sickness management srictly. Any violation in adherence has unforgiving repercussions. Eg No drinking and smoking while acclimatisation strictly means no and so on. There is a very good saying for supporting this it says ” DONT BE GAMA IN THE LAND OF LAMA”
(v) Preparation and planning never goes a waste.
(VI) Last but the Most important Prayers and blessings are your most dear friends helping you out of all problems, crisis and hopeless situations rather miraculously.