Andrew Stranovsky Photography | Landslides
Copper Mountain, ColoradoCopper Mountain, Colorado

Landslides

March 17, 2017

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongDzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa Dzong and ValleyTrongsa Dzong and ValleyViews of the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan. You can see a landslide blocking the road in the distance.

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Next morning, attempted a few more shots of the valley and Dzong.  We learned at breakfast that the landslide that we had experienced a few days ago turned out to be much bigger than expected.  The highway was still closed.  People had been stuck in the east for around 4 days.  Tour groups were running around trying to figure out how to rent emergency helicopters (only two in the country) to get back to the airport.  We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to do, so we took a few more pictures of the town and Dzong before heading over to the Yankhel resort for coffee and lunch.  Lots of uncertainty for the afternoon, as guides from many groups were trying to figure out what to do.  The country was essentially cut in half.

At around 4 pm, we got the notification that the road had opened up and that they were starting to let cars through.  It was going to be a long and bumpy ride.  Several hours later, as traffic inched towards the cleared blockage, we saw large crowds gathered on the side of the road through the pitch black, and even saw one construction worker being helped by four others limp down the highway, injured from falling rocks.  Evidently they were letting only small cars through, but Yonten managed to persuade the government official supervising the crossing to let us try to get our bus across.  As we all got off the bus and took a look at the steep muddy incline we had to get past, I don’t know what worried me more.  The fact that our bus stood no chance of making it up this hill, or the fact that the rocks above the cleared blockage seemed to be only being held back by the three flashlight beams constantly monitoring them for any potential signs of more slippage.

Our driver didn’t even come close the first two tries, but on the third with the crowds cheering and dozens helping to push the bus over the last 10 feet, it miraculously made it past the hill, and we all sprinted after it, as if worried that if we didn’t hurry it would somehow get stuck or turned around again.  Thanks to Rene Sorensen for taking a few of these pics!  I was too terrified of the 2000 foot roadside cliffs we were running alongside to even think about taking my camera out.

After hours and hours of bumpy roads, we finally made it to Hotel Lobesa at around 4 am in Punakha.  Huge rooms, hot water, and a comfortable bed.  We praised our driver, and we all agreed to sleep in the next morning.  I attempted to fall asleep, but was still too excited from the events earlier so I planned for an early morning breakfast in a few hours.

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