High in the Himalayas: The adventure begins
Andi Wittmann & Guido Tschugg arrive in the Himalayas and take their first ride out on Indian soil.
The Red Bull Bike channel’s Arne Reh sets out on an adventure of a lifetime. This is the story behind filming for episode one.
End of June, meeting point: Munich Airport. Photographer Carlos Blanchard, Filmer Martin Hanisch, two wheel rockets Andi Wittmann and Guido Tschugg and me. The following 60 hours are fast, exciting, and pretty much push us to our limits. Flight to New Delhi – check. Meet and greet with Vinay Menon, maybe the only at least half professional Mountain Biker and Vineet Sharma, founder of the first MTB magazine in India and our guide for the trip – check.
Driving from New Delhi to Solang via a short stop in Chandigarh to meet the entire bike scene – all four of them. 24 uncomfortable hours bring us to the winter sports centre of India and after 3 hours of sleep we assemble our bikes and shuttle up the mountain on one of India’s two cable cars. The gondola is pretty new, French fabricated. But around the cable car station nothing reminds me of a modern French ski resort. A tandem paraglider shoots over the crowd, picking up the next victim as soon as they’ve wrapped up the antique equipment. Blown up balloons with people inside rush down the mountains – full throttle into the crowds of Indian tourists. Up on top we enjoy the view on some six thousand meter high mountains, being on about 3000 meters ourselves. This is just the beginning of an amazing freeride trip, High in the Indian Himalayas.
High in the Himalayas: On the other side
Andi Wittmann & Guido Tschugg arrive in the Himalayas and take a ride out on mountain soil.
Pain digs his way through to my consciousness. A dull hammer knocks from inside at my temples and wakes me up again. Obviously I try to turn around and find a better position to fall asleep, but after a thirty minute battle I give up. My nose is stuffed, the dry air tortures my throat. I want to go home. But let´s start were we ended up last time. Attentive readers might have noticed that I wrote under the first episode that we were 60 pretty intense hours into our trip and really attentive readers might have noticed that 60 hours hadn’t past over after the first episode.
So, after the first day and honestly just one beer each in Solang we had about three hours of sleep before leaving the place at 3am in the direction of dry unshredded soil. The Rohtang Pass is known for being one of the most deadly roads on planet earth. Also because of the traffic that we wanted to avoid. By the way, Rohtang unfortunately means ‘the land of the dead’ – good luck.
The pass also devides the humid and green parts of the Himalaya and the dry high altitude valleys. This is why we came here. We pretty much stayed consistently over 4000 meter and after another 12 hour ride over roads that sometimes reminded me more of singletrack we arrive at our camp in Sarchu, an army controlled area inside the centre point of nowhere, to use the well known words of Cam McCaul.
Falling asleep was not easy, even now there is finally time to really sleep after meeting some 60 hours ago at the Munich airport. Coming to this altitude and not having the time to proper acclimatise costs some pain. The morning after is described in the beginning and I’m still proud that we took some pictures the same day worthy of being shown.
High in the Himalayas: Leh and the final climb
The imposing mountains of Kashmir greet Andi Wittmann & Guido Tschugg on their last trip stop.
We wake up in Sarchu, we seem to be getting used to the high altitude now or maybe the pain in the head just gets familiar. We pack our stuff and ride on to the final destination: Leh, the capital of Jammu/Kashmir and the former kingdom of Ladakh.
After a memorable drive through the highest mountain pass in the world and a stop to take in some photograph shots with the bike, we arrive in Leh at night.
The next morning the sight of the endless mountains around us greets us. It is a truly remarkable sight and we can’t believe our luck that we are the first to really explore this freeride terrain. The area must play a future role in freeride mountain biking!
Text & Videos: redbull