The Big Bailout

I’ve quit. Just like that.

Call it what you will: I blinked, I bailed, I chickened out, …

I had planned three days in Chamba, to rest and to get supplies for the trip over the hill. Which is how I feel right now – over the hill.

Thanks to the Iravati Hotel having wifi (against all expectations), I had time to do more research on Sach Pass. Research that I should have done before leaving Canada. I found the gps for a ride from Killar to Bairagarh ( The ride showed 7300m of downhill. That’s 7300m of uphill, in the direction I planned. Bairagarh itself is about 1200m above so, assuming there is no downhill between Chamba and Bairagarh, I’d have about 8500m of uphill (and 120km) to cover, with Bairagarh being the only place with accommodation.

Then I considered my progress so far. The best day was about 30km, with 600m of vertical. That was half a day. Day 4, from Banikhet to Chamba was almost 50km but a lot of that was downhill – and that day felt like my limit. What could I expect on the way over Sach Pass? Maybe 1000m of vertical per day? Up to 3000m, that is, when acclimatisation to altitude should cut that to 300m per day to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) with the attendant risk of pulmonary or cerebral oedema.

This has been an expensive exercise in self-delusion.

There isn’t any other objective I have in India at the moment, nothing I could choose to salvage my ride. I could repeat (or try to) my previous trip through Spiti. Beautiful, yes, but I just feel like heading home and readjusting mentally. It will be tough to come to terms with this setback but it feels the right thing to do.

A Skype call home and Bev rebooked my flights. I’ll have a couple of weeks with my mother in London, then back to Canada for a few weeks with Bev before work starts again in September. Time, I hope, to get a few medical things sorted out: a cardiac stress test that I didn’t have time for before departing from Canada, a CPAP machine to control my recently confirmed severe sleep apnea, and as much as I can learn about modifying my diet to manage without a gall bladder.

I arranged a taxi back to Delhi, a long nervous day in the crazy flow of Indian traffic. I had four days to wait in Delhi before my flight. I didn’t venture far from my hotel room except to eat; it was very hot. I read and watched some TV. Even managed to get through an episode of ‘Big bang theory.’

Now, I’m back in London. Tail between my legs.

One Comment

  1. Some say risk nothing, try only for the sure thing,
    Others say nothing gambled nothing gained,
    Go all out for your dream.
    Life can be lived either way, but for me,
    I’d rather try and fail, than never try at all, you see.

    William F. O’Brien

Leave a Reply