Sach Pass 4390m 1/5 by Tripoto

Sach Pass 4390m

Sach Pass 4390m is higest mountain pass in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. It connects Chamba valleys and Pangi valleys.
8. Saach Pass, Himachal Pradesh
The destination- Sach Pass
Nidhi Sharma
Harsh Vardhan
It was about 2:30 by the time we were able to leave from Satrundi towards Sach pass, a good 7.5 hours after leaving from Kalatop earlier in the day. The official at the Satrundi check post had advised us not to proceed given this rough weather and suggested it would be better to wait it out. It was difficult for us to explain that this is what Kiyang had been waiting for! Skidding and sliding over a narrow climbing road towards Sach over fresh snowfall. I wouldn’t blame him if he thought we were totally insane! Knowing it was futile for him to convince us to stop from proceeding ahead, he mentioned that two bikers have gone ahead and that we should help them if needed. There were a couple of people planning Sach on the weekend apart from us on BCMTouring and I was hoping to meet someone familiar at the top. The fresh snowfall made the climb much more interesting than it would have been otherwise. The climb from Satrundi till Sach could be described as that between Marhi and Rohtang but much narrower, and a bit steeper. I would not personally call it a pretty climb but thanks to the fresh paint of white, it was a sight to behold. The vehicles coming from Sach towards us were loaded and piled with white powdery snow. Kiyang too had begun to pile up some snow, but the fall was much heavier above. I switched to 4H mode for a short while just to be sure that unwanted slippages do not occur. Gradually as we moved up, the clouds started to clear and the worst snowfall was over. It eventually laid a very small coat of about 3 inches, but it was enough to make things around look prettier. It must have taken us an hour to climb from Satrundi all the way to the top. The pass itself is narrower than what one typically expects from such high altitude passes. It had a storage/shelter kind of a structure and a temple just above. There was a good 6 inches layer at the pass itself and there were two bikes parked just beneath the temple. A thunderbird and a pulsar. These bikers must be the ones that the check-post guy had mentioned, and they must be from BCMT I guessed. They might have stopped and took shelter and must be waiting for the snow storm to pass by. However, no one was around to respond. I went up and looked near the temple, the shelter/shade too was empty with not a soul in sight. I hollered a couple of times, shouting out: Is there anyone out there, just nod if you can hear me... No one replied. My next assumption was that these must be some crazy guys, who had parked their bikes at the pass and were still left with the energy to climb further up towards some peak to experience snowfall. We were getting late to reach Killad ourselves and so we moved on. We had hardly moved 100 m when we saw two figures with helmets walking towards us. It had to be those bikers and this is where we met Sachin (bull_bola) for the first time. He was traveling with his cousin, Himanshu, towards Killad. Theirs was the most bizarre accident I’d ever heard in my life. Sachin’s cousin had somehow managed to lose the keys to his bike at the top of Sach pass. To add to their woes, the freshly laden snow was making the bikes slip like crazy compelling Sachin to leave his bike on the pass as well. They’d planned to go down by taking a lift in a truck and haul the lost key waali bike onto a pickup the next day. Sadly, the truck on which they’d taken lift was skidding wildly on the way down towards Killad, making them disembark immediately. Ours was the next vehicle they saw. Small world, isn’t it? Anyway, we were glad to give them a lift. The climb down from Sach towards Killad has to be more difficult by quite a margin as compared to the ascent we did. It was steep, it was narrow and it was a combination of loose gravel and mud. With a touch of fresh snow, the track was a bloody disaster to put it mildly. Thanks to 4x4 mode we were cruising without breaking a sweat, but the poor fully loaded trucks were having a hard time coping with these conditions. The descent is also more barren than the ascent. One can visibly take in the transition that happens from a green Chamba towards a barren Lahaul. These sudden transitions over passes have never failed to amaze me, whether it be that at Rohtang or this one at Sach. It took us a good 2.5 hours to get down from Sach all the way to the bridge over Chandrabhaga. The only bridge between Chamba and Lahaul, quite strategic if you ask me. Travel time was well spent taking in the vistas around us, negotiating a mixture of wet mud and gravel over steep inclines and chatting. There have not been many occasions when fellow travelers have joined us in the cabin of Kiyang for a drive. More often than not, Kiyang finds on its back seat locals asking for lifts, so this was a different experience, and a nice one at that. Himanshu was more or less quiet as he was yet to recover from the shock of Sach pass and the bitter cold. I don’t think he was aware of the treacherous journey he was about to delve into. Sachin is one of the few travellers I envy in terms of dropping everything and going off on a holiday. It has been 4 months since our Sach pass trip and we've managed only a 4 day ride to Rishikesh and a weekend ride to Lansdowne whereas Mr. Gupta has managed quite a few, the latest one being a skiing 2 weeks bloody vacation in Gulmarg, grrrrr... Sachin had shared with us that the primary reason for him to shift to Delhi was to travel more and I see him living up to the promise he had made to himself. Our ordeal was not over yet, what we'd hope hoped for was to crash into a hotel as soon we touched Killad and rest. However, fate had decided to make us work hard in order to achieve that. It was 7:30 by the clock when we entered Killad, it was dark and it was raining cats and dogs. The village wore a deserted look already, but then most villages in the high Himalayas do sleep early. It was pretty cold too, but thanks to the fully operational heater we were quite comfortable inside the car. Our first task was to search for a room and we headed straight into the direction of the PWD rest house. Upon reaching there, we were informed by the caretaker that a senior minister of the HP govt was visiting the day after and he could not possibly give us two rooms. However, he had one room available. For Aarti and me, it was plain and simple decision - give the room to the two boys, as they had to fetch their bikes the next day and had to stay at Killad, while we move further ahead to Chery. However, Sachin would have none of it. He insisted that we take the room and that he and his cousin would find accommodation at one of the hotels in the village. Sachin, if you are reading this, thanks a lot buddy, we were too tired to drive off to Chery. Honestly . We quickly buzzed off to the village to grab some food, while Sachin searched for a hotel. All of the hotels were jam packed with visitors from out of town ‘in honour’ of the visiting dignitary. We decided to plead with the PWD guy again after dinner. Plead he did, Sachin, and pleaded quite nicely, because the next thing we know is that the caretaker had a change of heart and relented to give Sachin and his cousin a room for the night. It was well past 10 pm when we hit the sack. It had been a long day and a well deserved sleep was in order.