Driving the Toyota Fortuner in snow on the final day of Toyota River Drive
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Driving the Toyota Fortuner in snow on the final day of Toyota River Drive

Suvrat Kothari

Driving the Toyota Fortuner in snow on the final day of Toyota River Drive

The time had come. After staying the night in the freezing temperatures of Uttarkashi, we were headed to Gangotri the next morning. We left early at 7 a.m while temperatures were hovering around -2 degrees celcius. It made us skeptical about our journey ahead. We had to climb further into the Himalayas with our Toyota Fortuner, in order to reach as close as possible to either Mukhba or Gangotri.

The heater in the Fortuner kept us from freezing and in no time we became indifferent to the outside cold, relying on the Fortuner’s heating for the remainder of the drive. We’ve driven the SUV on seamless highways and we’ve taken it off-roading as well. But now it was time to drive it in snow! Our climb started about 20km ahead of Uttarkashi. And the further we went, the views started getting better with intimidating mountains covered in thick snow and the crystal clear water of the Bhagirathi flowing through the valley. The roads too were covered in snow.

We put the Fortuner in the 4H mode (4WD high) for max torque distribution on all the wheels and left the traction control switched on. Thereon the Fortuner just kept surprising us. The Yokohama rubber provided adequate grip and the heft of the SUV was infact helping us attain more traction. On very few occasions did the Fortuner encounter wheelspin. It just kept going with poise and authority. We even helped a few idiots who brought their front wheel drive hatchbacks onto the snow covered Uttarkashi-Gangotri road, by towing their cars with the help of the Fortuner.

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So did we reach our destination? No, sadly we could drive only till Harsil, about 20km from Gangotri as the roads ahead of Harsil were closed due to heavy snowfall the previous night. There’s an Indian Army base in Harsil and we were extremely lucky to have a conversation with them. Intrigued by our drive they even offered us tea. One of the Jawans was from Solapur in Maharashtra and had served in Siachen a couple of years ago.

Just a few hours before we reached the army base, the Jawans had spotted a snow leopard right near the entry check post where we parked our SUV. And to our adventure and adrenaline driven minds, a shot of our go-anywhere beast with the snow leopard on the banks of the Bhagirathi would have been a great way to end our drive. Nonetheless no regrets.

Evo India