Wed 23 July Photoksar to Marling over the Singge La
A lot of goat activity this morning: goats making their way up the valley, goats coming through the camp, goats peering into tents; as we make our way past the stupa more goats are coming down the valley. The path gradually rises past terraces and onto brown hillsides deeply furrowed with dried stream beds. Steady, gentle inclines, Dzos grazing on the hillside; Photoksar recedes into the distance. Two female cyclists pass by in the opposite direction. By 10 o’clock we’re sitting by the three cairns, mani wall and flags on top of the sandy ridge of the Bumitske La. We drop down again and the day is spent up and down easy gradients following the long valley; low scrubby plants, few interesting features. A spot of horse riding keeps us entertained. By midday, at 4350 metres, we arrive at a tea tent below the Singge La manned by an old Tibetan with a large jade earring. Noodle soup and delicious clove tea. A French group come down off the pass heavily clad in Gortex jackets, claiming snow on the summit. To the right of the pass is the black mass of the Lion’s Head mountain - to understand the name you have to realise that the lion’s open jaws are facing vertically up towards the sky. The grey overcast sky is breaking up, the tea tent is a nice place to relax and we’re in no hurry to set off towards the pass. 

Another spot of horse riding then we start up the grey-black zig zag path up to the pass. The summit of which is delightful, wide and sandy with a white painted chorten and spectacular views north and south. Sun, no wind, a thin line of snow just below the summit. Bev, Graham, myself, Stanzin and Kisang and our two seemingly very happy horses. Quiet and peaceful. 5015 metres according to maps and guide books; frustratingly only 4958 according to our gps. Again, we take our time before a very steep 500 metre descent to a godforsaken, small, stony quarry-like camp at Marling, 4466 metres. The camp is covered in rocks and rubble and is no more than a widening of the path - but it’s the only flat patch around. We’re opposite a deep sand coloured ravine, vertical outcrops grow like spines out of smooth brown scree. There are pockets of snow in high crevasses. As we sit in the entrance of the tent, the setting sun colours the mountain tops pale gold against the darkening blue sky. A high camp and a cold night.



Zanskar - Photoksar to Marling over the Singge La