Indian Himalayan Grand Traverse - Day 15 - Parang La base camp

Second full day in the Parang Chu and another wonderful one.  Essentially the same flat bottomed valley, huge cliffs on either side, occasional snow topped summits and, until late afternoon at least, perfect weather.  It's amazing how quickly you can get used to something.
Climbing the moraine
As usual the best walking is early in the morning when the light is at its best.  Today we had a small climb up onto some light gravelly moraine which almost crossed the valley.  Dwarf like bushes had spread across the surface all perfectly spaced from each.  Great views from the top back down the valley and last night's campsite.

Charging across the moraine with its little bushes

Totally uneventful morning - just perfect walking.
Looking back down the Parang Chu
Eventually, shortly after lunch, and after rounding a final corner - we can see the end of the Parang Chu and the glacier on the Parang La.  From the distance the Parang La, which we have to cross tomorrow, looks reassuringly small, but it's from a distance.
End of the Parang Chu with the Parang La on the right

The glacier on the Parang La is one of semi-circular series of glacier remnants which stretch across the horizon ahead of us and which not so long ago (I guess) would have stretched right down the Parang Chu.  Today the melt-water from all of them was congregating in a river just in front of us which had to be crossed before the approach to base camp.  The amount of water in it seemed a bit of a surprise to Dilip but we all got across without incident, joined at the last minute by the Belarusians who had been wandering up and down the bank before accepting that they would have to follow us and take their boots off.

The afternoon rush of melt-water meant another scramble across the moraine on a narrow path before finally arriving at the Parang La base camp which sits about a 100 metres below the glacier.

There was a steady wind blowing down the valley towards a very dark sky and an obvious storm to our East.  Common sense said that the wind should keep it away but it was getting closer and within an hour the wind, rain, hail and thunder and lightening had started.  Pemtuk was soon in action securing all tents, and we lay in our sleeping bags at 5,100m feeling somewhat apprehensive.  It was a huge storm, much bigger than the one we had experienced when we first entered the Parang Chu, with a couple of spectacular simultaneous thunder/lightening crashes.  It lasted about two hours but the weather didn't look particularly settled once it had finished.

Over dinner Dilip briefed us about the crossing of the Parang La and the glacier.  This is clearly a stressful time for him.  If we get held up at base camp for 24 hours we can still get out over the glacier but it would mean a very tough 12 hour walk,at high altitude, not something anyone would relish.  The late afternoon storm and the uncertain weather have added to the tension.

I have my own little bit of tension.  Christine and I have been wearing our trusty Inov8 lightweight trainers rather than the boots recommended by Exodus.  We have definitely been right for 95% of the time but I'm not so sure about how it will be when we cross the glacier - particularly at 5 o'clock in the morning.  It's not the grip on the ice I'm worried about - it's the cold, and Christine feels the cold.

Update on the Belarusians.  The man has climbed Everest and Cho Oyu so I guess he is entitled to walk around with his shirt off.

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