The Wayfarer Diaries: The Unforgiving Spiti Winds

01-02-2017, 0855 hours, Shego, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India: 

To make sure that we reach Rampur today itself, we have hired an additional local cab. This is because we don’t have any equipment (e.g. shovels, chains etc). and in case we get stuck on our way back, moving in a convoy is safer as we can help each other out of the problem and move forward.

With the first light,  we left Kaza for our journey after thanking everybody at Sakya Homestay, who have been very supportive and helpful to us at all times. But after traveling just a few odd kilometres, we reached Shego and our car’s engine stalled. The diesel in the fuel lines had frozen because of the cold winds that had double the effect with the car in motion. It was so cold that the water vapour in the air exhaled by us froze on the moustache and beard as we were pushing the car aside to leave some passing space for the other vehicles which were going to Rekong Peo today.

We then tried to thaw the frozen diesel in the fuel lines by burning a piece of cloth underneath the car. In the meantime, Mr. Sanjay Mehta went to one of the nearby houses to get some hot water to pour over the injectors and other parts of the engine where direct fire could not be applied. After waiting for an hour, the sun rays finally came up at the place where the car had halted. The cars hood had been left open so that the sunlight could directly hit the engine and help in melting the frozen diesel in the fuel pipes and injectors.

After sometime, Mr. Mehta showed up with a jug filled with hot water, followed by a local person carrying a thermos and a few steel glasses. Mr. Mehta introduced all of us to this local named Mr. Bheem, who then greeted us and offered us tea. He knew Mr. Sanjay Mehta (who is a frequent visitor to Spiti) pretty well and as Mr. Bheem also drives a cab, their relationship was but quite obvious. Mr. Mehta then took the car’s wrench, wrapped a cloth at one end, poured diesel over it and lit it. He then got under the car and applied direct heat to the pipes that carry diesel from the fuel tank to the engine keeping in mind to continuously move the wrench to and fro so that the pipes didn’t get overheated at a certain point only. On the other hand Mr. Bheem poured hot water over the pump and the pipes visible near the engine. After a few minutes the fuel pump which earlier was lighter to push, became tighter as the diesel started pumping again.

Mr. Sanjay is now back in his driver’s seat and as soon as he cranked the engine, the car has finally started. We are ready to proceed but before leaving, we thanked Mr. Bheem for helping us out and also for bringing us tea from his home to warm us up in the freezing weather.

The unforgiving Spiti winds 03

The view down the valley with the mist settled on Spiti river as the sunshine hits the road; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal

The unforgiving Spiti winds 02

The view of the mountains at Shego as the sun rises; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal


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