This was 2008, when the big GFC hit and everyone was puckering their arseholes at work so the chair they were sitting on couldn’t be snatched from under them. But the number of fucks I gave about keeping my job could be counted on a blind man’s hands (so anywhere between 0 and 2, depending on how many hands the blind man had). The call of the wild was irresistible and I was answering it.
The name Ladakh literally means “Land of high passes”. And they’re not kidding. In a place the size of England, there is no bit of land that is below 3,500M. The highest peak is close to 8,000M. 4 of the 5 highest motorable roads in the world are in Ladakh, including the highest, over Marsimik Pass, at over 5700M. Located north of the main Himalayan range, Ladakh falls in a rain shadow and is deprived of the monsoonal rains that fall over most of the Himalayas. As a result, Ladakh is a high altitude desert. Due to its altitude, latitude and unique geography, Ladakh has extreme temperatures ranging from -30 to +40 degrees and is one of the coldest inhabited places on earth. It is also culturally fascinating, being at the cross roads of the Ancient Silk route, while the inhabitants have historically been traders and nomads.
So no, I didn’t become a buddhist monk but I did go again to visit a few years later. Then I immigrated to Australia and along came 2008. While most of the world was preoccupied with stock and property prices, I was sneakily dreaming of snow leopards.
I have been fascinated with Snow Leopards almost as long as I’ve been fascinated with Tibet.