The cycling in Spiti Valley drew me to this westerly corner of the the Indian Himalayas, each account I read overflowing with superlatives. The only ones I can offer are: breathtaking and magical.

Each twist and turn offer an ever changing horizon, gone is the harsh light and arid almost moonscape like conditions of Upper Kinnaur. The Spiti valley is no less arid, in fact its classed as a high altitude desert but as the late afternoon light begins to cast shadows on the hills it begins to draw out a new palette of colours in the hills.

Sometinh

Harsh, sun bleached browns, give way to softer browns and greens as the valley widens, the road traverses high above the river Spiti.

Road above the Spiti

Dirt road riding

By Hurling the river valley opens up to reveal a wider glacial river valley, winches and pulleys spanning across this wide expanse with small settlements scattered in and amongst. Fire wood is left to dry beside the road as villagers make preparations for winter.

Widening glaical valleyThe road to Losar

Tabo monastery reveals the significance of this valley with paintings inside the Buddhist gompa dating back over 1000 years. Meditation caves perched high up on the hillside, the road frequently passing chortens. What little traffic there is dutifully performs a clockwise kora around each of them.

Chorten

Road around chorten

Kaza acts as a base for me to explore the hills above the state capital but the few days I spend are punctuated with unsettled weather, power cuts and evenings spent by candle light. Each day reveals snow advancing down the valley a clear sign to leave if I’m to make it further north.

Approaching Kaza

Candle Light Editing

Leaving Kaza the road switches banks of the Spiti, a new perspective offered as views reach up to Ki Gompa and Kibber. The warm temperatures give way to a chillier feel as I ride into storm clouds and head winds things feel more autumnal.

Autumnal Feel

The villages of Rangrik and Hull, are perched high up above the Spiti on flat topped glacial moraines, offering small scale grazing and farming.  Frequently the road descends steeply to cross a tributary of the Spiti only to climb steeply back up the other side.

Fields on the glacial plane

Leaving Losar the snow line is visibly lower than previous days and perfectly frames the ceremonial gate as I leave.

Losar Ceremonial Gate

The ride up to Kunzum La (4500 metres) passes easily as I cross grey and pink rivers contributing to this valleys intense colours and wild desolate feel.

Valley Walls

Interesting Colours

Reaching the top of Kunzum La storm clouds brew, time for some quick photos before a rough and chilly descent down the other side.

Kunzum La

4500 metres

10 Comments

  1. Nic
    11/10/2013

    Looks ace, my kids have been impressed with the outwash plains, scree slopes and stunning corries, the gorges as well as the fluvial valleys. Loved the altimeter shot, well high up dog. Keep well, have a great experience, enjoy your time out of the maelstrom that is westernised life 🙂

    Reply
  2. oliver
    16/10/2013

    Amazing shots, really stunning views! Keep it up and enjoy every second!

    Reply
  3. claire
    16/10/2013

    Great writing Mikey dawg! Faves are shot 8 & 9, the sky blue river snaking through the mountains and then technology by candelight, liking the irony.

    Reply
  4. Tobes
    17/10/2013

    Mikey lad…were you going grey before you left?! Anyway, some sweet photos right there- awesome looking place! The cameraman is doing a great – I’d keep him with you. Keep on trucking!!

    Reply
    • Mike
      17/10/2013

      Hmm I’m afraid the camera doesn’t lie, I just hide it well! Aye camera man is a good one, he’ll do for the moment.

  5. Ashley Crowther
    23/10/2013

    Mate, so much nostalgia..!!! Love it!

    Reply
  6. Mark Baxendale
    17/11/2013

    Hi Mike, just checked out your blogs after Nic told me about them last night.Man what an adventure!
    Take it easy….but take it x

    Reply
  7. dave morgan
    14/03/2015

    Rediscovered your site after a bit of a hiatus. Lovely pics and adventures. I was through Spiti last summer though my trip was a little different; it was a bit tough for a 61 year old overweight desk jockey. But, with a new trohloff. I had to give it a go. Carried way too much stuff, on the bike and around my middle, and the Khardum La was more hike-a-bike than ride, but every moment was a blast. A bit of Yorkshire-stubborn helped me out. Looking forward to catching up on the rest of your adventures. How much are you carrying with the two Carradice and frame bag?

    Reply
    • Mike
      16/03/2015

      Dave

      The Himalayas are an amazing part of the world, glad to hear you have some fond memories.

      The two Carradice bags are pretty capacious combined with the framebag, I can carrying everything I need for touring. Tent, sleeping system, stove and a couple of days worth of food. I will post a packing list in due course so you can get an idea of what I am carrying.

  8. San
    26/04/2015

    looks brilliant and sound great 🙂

    Reply

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