With ice on the tent tops and dewdrops on noses, it had been a cold night in camp and a shock to the system for some who hadn’t slept that well. Some of the cars had faired a similar way and refused to fire up in the morning frost.
Thankfully, Rudi Friedrichs and Fritz Kozka and their Land Rover Defenders were on hand to give some vehicles a tow start and the Wilkinson’s Alvis, Collins’ Mk2 Jaguar and the Lawson’s XK150 were only too glad of the help.
The cold wasn’t the only thing causing tension in the air as the crews knew they had a tough day ahead, the toughest of the whole event, with every kilometre ahead off-road.
As we left camp, we started the drive across the valley, which was vast at around 50 miles wide, and made you realise just how big Tibet really is. To give an idea of scale, Tibet is six times the size of France and therefore much bigger than most people comprehend.
Our first summit of the day took us to 4779m along a new zigzag road that was being developed. The dust on the road was like talcum powder and caused issues for Haslam’s Jaguar. Sweeps Gary Pickard and Gary Oliver cleaned the fuel and air filter and got them on the way again.
Our descent took us to the famous salt lakes, or to give it its official name, Drabyer Tsakha. Sitting at 4400m, we drove two thirds of the way around the Salt Lakes where workers are evaporating Himalayan salts for export.
As we climbed again to 5150m, the further west we went, the rougher the terrain became. Soon our crews were faced with their toughest challenge – Ka-La or Boulder Pass, a series of around eight steep switchbacks on gravel with boulders either side, hence its name.
Once again the rally crews pulled together with Rudi Friedrichs’ Land Rover Defender and Mark Molyneux’s Toyota Landcruiser towing those who couldn’t manage he climb on their own. Those crews who couldn’t tow helped in other ways with Sam Gill picking up the more vicious looking rocks from the road, while other co-drivers opted to lighten the load by walking up the pass.
There were a few crews who made it to the top under their own steam – the Wilkinson’s Alvis, the Lawson’s Jaguar XK150 and the Reddington’s Nash Roadster all arrived at the summit unaided.
From Boulder Pass it was on to the campsite that was situated next to Rinchen Shubtso, a huge lake in the valley, where snow was still sitting hence the colder evening temperatures.
As the crews arrived into camp, it was ‘all hands on deck’ to help set up tents and make sure they were fully kitted out with sleep mats and sleeping bags for those who were late arriving including the sweeps.
The Collins’ Jaguar Mk2 arrived late to camp after more fuel problems and was given a raucous welcome by the other crews.
Sadly, Phillip and Yvonne Haslam’s Jaguar XK120 arrived on a flatbed truck with a suspected axel fracture. The Sweeps refused to count it out though and have worked out a plan to get it to a workshop in a nearby town to see if all is as bad as it seems.
Tonight’s camp boasted a new hospitality suite after the previous marquee was destroyed by the fierce winds. Once fairy lights had been hung by Sam Gill, and bottles of gin, beer, whiskey and vodka flowed, and the chocolates got brought out, no one was quite so worried about the cold.
The temperatures made have been low, but the camaraderie and rally spirit couldn’t have been higher!