It was time to start moving forward again with the challenge of getting over the Kunzum La. The ‘advertised’ opening date is 15 June but because of a big winter they were looking at a much later opening date. We talked to motorcyclists who had been to the pass and back and they complained of very bad roads and not being able to carry on over.
Kaza had started feeling like home and we had dinner our last night with the only foreigner who lives there most of the year -a woman called Jo from CHCH who is very involved in primary education in the town. It was nice to be able to cook a meal in her little house and hear her tales of life in such a region. She is a very inspirational person.
It was a day and a bit up to Losar alongside the shrinking Spiti river. The weather on the morning of our crossing wasn’t as good as we wanted but we headed off. To our surprise the road was much better than we had been led to believe and it was great to reach the chorten and prayer flagged summit. Some hail, but mostly sun and lots of wind so we rugged up for the descent.
To balance the books the descent was way worse than we expected. All but the last 200m had been cleared but the road was very rough, very wet and a few sections required walking. Would hate to do in reverse. We were expecting to camp at the tiny summer settlement of Batal at the bottom of the hill so we were hugely surprised to get to the dhaba with accommodation and the friendly Tibetan couple that run it. They had come in with supplies on ponies/foot 11 days ago and were waiting for the road to open and for their business to crank up. They were proud of the certificates on the wall that were awarded to them for looking after 80 people for 9 days one June when 5 foot of snow fell and everyone was stranded.
We had a comfortable night but Alan had trouble sleeping because of the stories from some walkers who were also staying at Batal of steep snow slopes and drop offs to the river to negotiate on the way down the valley…