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near Lukung, Jammu and Kashmīr (India)
Following the south shore of Pangong lake we reached Merak, currently the last place accessible to foreigners. Namely, the track would go on to Chushul and then even join the roads to Tso Moriri, but the border with China is closed and all this world is inaccessible. The tent of the police checkpost is pitched at the E end of the village. Just for information, we did not meet any staff, probably because of the late hour, but of course we did not dare to trespass the point by a single meter!
The next morning we cycled back to our drop point, and in the afternoon we went on to Tangtse. It was already evening when at Durbuk we started the climb of the Chang La. At 5004 m, little below the Tsoltak military post, there is a tent serving as a little restaurant run by a yak shepherd living nearby. The tent was empty and so we used it as a shelter - this was approved by the shepherd the next morning!
At Tsoltak we were stopped by the military inviting us to rest for a tea. At the pass we had a meal in the comfortable cafeteria. Next we descended towards the Indus valley; below Zingral we abandoned the main road to turn right into the oasis of Sakti, where there is the start of the Wari la climb. The only accommodation in Sakti is provided by a guesthouse and by a camping. We chose the latter, located at the very fork between the Wari La and Chang La.roads. Waiting for dinner, we visited the surroundings of Chemrey gompa, a few kms down in the valley.
Photos: WORK IN PROGRESS!
For further information, below I quote the description that I gave to my 360° panorama "Towards Merak", http://www.panorama-photo.net/panorama.php?pid=18442
The first panorama of Pangong that I presented was taken very close to its W end - actually, better than end, beginning, since that is the only access for nearly all travellers.
Here we are already at the door of Merak, which is the last location accessible to foreigners. To visit Pangong, as any other location within 40 km from the very sensible border with China, you need to be equipped with an Inner Line Permit, which can be obtained only in Leh and lasts one week. But at Merak you have to stop, in spite of the permit. On some Internet page you read that guided groups of Indian citizens can push further, but on the place I did not have any confirmation and, moreover, conditions change remarkably from year to year, in accordance to the current political situation.
Since hope is said to be the last to die, with Edoardo we had investigated if there was some way to go on to Chushul, and then to undertake the long traverse to Tso Moriri. This would have required traversing several high passes, culminating in the 5420 m Kaksung La, and would have yielded a dream tour, joining the two dream lakes of the Indian Tibet.
This could not become reality, however, so we hat to invent on the fly an alternative dream tour, featuring the concatenation of Chang La, Wari La and Khardung La, each more of 5300 metres. Consequently, for us Merak became just a return trip at the beginning of the permit week. It was, however, an incredible experience in totally desert places with wonderful and always changing light.
The identification of the peaks in the mountain range south of the lake will be a difficult job. For now, I have simple reported Udeuschle heights. The pyramid rising from behind at 235° could be what on the Nelles Map is marked Meruk (sic), 6587 m. Google Earth gives, as culminating point of the range, a Kangju Peak, set at 6690 m by a climb with the mouse. Its east ridge should be the white one that disappears at 196°; Udeuschle already gives 6580 at that point.
At 126°, on a prominent point in shadow, you find a label saying "7 km to border post". it is a very isolated military installation, that can be spotted with Google Earth, and lies right before the area that on the Nelles Map is marked "under the administration of China - claimed by India".