Repeat photography: photo on left taken by German alpinist, Dieter Kirch, in 1980; photo on right taken by Christopher Rubey, 2013.
Land of High Passes (Work In Progress)
Ladakh, which in Ladaki means literally "Land of High Passes", is the northern-most region of India within the state of Jammu & Kashmir, nestled between the Kundun and Himalayan mountain ranges and between the contested borders of China and Pakistan.
Of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent, Ladaki people originated from nomadic cultures that still exist today. At an average of 3,500 meters (or 11,500 feet) the arid landscape can reach extremely hot temperatures in the summers, and become inhospitably cold in the winters, reaching lows of -35 °C. The region is also subject to the clashing climates of the summer monsoon from the Indian subcontinent and the cold air from the neighboring Tibetan plateau, creating higher air pressure and convective currents, making the area susceptible to mass storms and floods. Ladakh is becoming more and more an area of interest for the scientific community, particularly those involved with environmental studies, as the region is much more susceptible to the effects of global climate change than others.
In August of 2010, much of the Ladaki region suffered a catastrophic storm event known as the "cloudburst", which in the middle of the night wiped out several villages, taking many lives with it. The reconstruction process has been fast in some parts, yet slow in others. But ultimately, it is evident that the area of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir have dramatically been changed in its course of development and how it responds to larger issues such as urban sprawl, energy and water shortages, and greater global climate change.