We woke well before dawn in order to reach our goal before the day was out. The pass we sought to summit, towering above us at over 17,000ft above sea-level, was known as "Rotang La," which roughly translates to "piles of dead bodies" in Tibetan. As we started up the road in the pre-dawn gloom, we saw things we would only later come to understand. Every few miles there was a rack of brightly colored snow onesies, in every color from purple to green to orange zebra stripes. Perplexed, we pressed on.
It quickly became clear we would not reach the summit anytime soon. It was only a few kilometers to the top, but already there was standstill traffic leading as far down the winding mountain road as could be seen. We spent the next few hours imagining what horrors must have occurred at the summit to cause this much traffic. With the speeds these narrow roads were taken, it was not hard to imagine rolling a car right off a cliff. Or maybe it was snow leopards?
After hours of inching forward, repeatedly turning down children walking up and down the road selling fake saffron and real corn, we made it into the clouds. The view of the valley was no longer visible, but we were sure there must be something at the summit to warrant such a traffic odyssey.
Hours later, when we finally did reach the pass, what we saw was beyond what we had imagined. Through the thick fog we could just barely make out a small patch of snow, grey from soot and trash. On the snow were families of people from the Indian province of Punjab, who all had vacation on this particular week. They had retrofitted rocking chairs into makeshift sleds and were whooping with joy at seeing snow for the first time. Everyone was wearing the snow suits we had seen earlier. The contrast of the grey moonscape and this garish apparel was truly otherworldly. We did not stop long, this patch of dirty snow was not our destination, unlike apparently everyone else.
Continuing our trek, we rolled through the pass and began our descent into the opposite valley, which was entirely absent of traffic. Where this Tibetan traffic was caused by the exposure to snow, you can stop traffic with exposure to these awesome Summit Socks.