We exited our jeep taxi at the end of cleared snow about a third of the way towards the pass. The Indian Army’s road crew had begun the multi-month task of clearing snow off the road over Rohtang Pass, a critical connector north to the contested state of Kashmir. The road is a remarkable feat of engineering as just this south side gains about 5500’ in twenty-five miles of steep eroded switchbacks. Here at about mile nine, we began our manpowered ascent marching past the road crew’s morning blessing ritual. We were unsure if they were blessing the heavy equipment that they hoped would cut through meters of wind-packed snow or blessing themselves that they may live through another day of high altitude work in avalanche-prone areas where spring weather can change to winter in minutes. Soon we were off the road with skins on, making our way through the thinning trees towards the alpine.