Saturday 28th July. Chatsang, Pobe La to Nimaling

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During the night the rain turns to snow and we have to keep pushing snow off the tent roof. By morning we have about 4” of wet snow. The mess tent has collapsed, the horses are leaping and chasing round the camp. The skies are still full and dark but we can make out hill tops in the valley below. We start late following a faiint trail that zigzags up the hill to the north west. As we rise we get dramatic views back to camp. The sky and yesterday’s glacier are the same colour, the glacier appears to be part of the sky. We warm up as we trudge up a narrow path on the side of what seems like a wet slag heap before a slanting path across a broad rounded summit leads to the uninspiring Pobe La. We add a khatag to the sparse prayer flags but it’s cold again, there’s no reason to linger and we start the long descent to Nimaling. Graham goes ahead, I have backache and take my time. 

Nimaling is a popular camping site, there are single tents, tents in twos and threes and in small clusters. The large semi permanent parachute tent sells tea, biscuits and beer. We’ve pitched near smooth brown boulders. A few feet away a Ladakhi man is cooking inside his tent when the central pole, balanced on a rock, colllapses and the tent down falls around him. Amazingly the tent doeasn’t catch fire and we help him restore stability. We climb the hill above camp towards Kang Yatse and meet a Frenchman who’s two friends are going up tomorrow without him. Even though we walk some distance we’re still unable to see the lower slopes of KY, nonetheless what we can see is formidable. In the opposite direction, on the opposite side of the Nimaling pasture, we have clear views of the Kongmaru La, the classic exit route at the end of the Markha Valley trek. 

Back at camp, goats, backlit by the low sun, are crossing the stream and heading slowly to higher ground. We’re at 4700m and even before the sun disappears it’s getting cold. We attempt to discuss our plans while looking at the map balanced on the table but Stenzin and the crew have been to the chang stall and the discussion is getting dafter and more irritating by the minute. Eventually we establish an itinerary of the next week’s routes and campsites which seems to add up. We draw up the plan on a sheet of paper but Stenzin promptly loses it.

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