...is a beautiful mountain retreat from the dust of Delhi, just outside the resort town of Manali. At 8500', it accesses peaks to 14,000' from the front door (that's a long day hike, but lots of ski turns!), and higher stuff with a few days' travel. Despite the low snow year there was plenty of good skiing, you just had to hike for it. And the mountain air has (almost) finally kicked the last of the lingering cough. Whew!
After a dayhike or two to acclimatize, Lin, Larry and I lugged our own gear up for a camping/skiing trip on Mt Patalsu. We set up camp in a beautiful a ski-in, ski-out location at 10,500' on dry leaves right next to the snow - nice to be fully out of civilization. Three days of skiing sun-softened spring snow tired out Balu the now-Delhi-based dog. She hasn't seen snow for a while!
The next trip was fully supported - carrying heavy loads is fine, but if someone else can do it... Four porters and a guide (Rinku) joined us for another 3-day camp on Brigu Peak, this time with a big tent and fresh veggies, dinner and tea provided. A rolling pin for the chapatti flatbread, iron handtool for digging platforms - these guys don't mess around. And they didn't use the backpack's shoulder straps - instead wrapped a wide strap around Lin's pack and carried it traditionally on their heads!
Lin and Larry headed back to Delhi while I stayed for a couple more days of skiing and socializing with new and old friends there. Sunil and Ravi and Khem and I skied/boarded Gulaba peak, up one of the most harrowing roads I've survived (and there are a lot here!), complete with one-hour delay because a frontloader was, well, reconstructing the road. It took a couple tries, but the Gypsy truck did make it out... A beautiful day with great people.
A mad dash to the bus following lunch with the same folks, and a trust-requiring 13-hour bus later, I landed back in Delhi in that dim orange sunrise that comes from so much dust in the air. Funny to stuff my skis in the back of an auto-rickshaw here...
Manali/Solang is growing on me, and I might have to find a way to spend more time there. I'm looking forward to skiing next winter, hopefully with more snow!