The three passes trek blog [ Auden’s Col – Mayali Pass – Patangini Dhar ]

Auden’s Col – Mayali Pass – Patangini Dhar [The three passes trek ] photo blog by Anshul Chaurasia

Auden’s Col is a mountain pass that connects Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) and is reportedly situated at a height of around 5400m. It also binds two glaciers on the opposite sides. One is Khatling glacier and the other one looks like the glacier belonging to Jogin I. Auden’s Col is approachable from Gangotri and one can trek up to Kedarnath following Auden’s Col and Khatling glacier. The pass is named after John Bicknell Auden of the Geological Survey of India, who first discovered it in 1935 and crossed it in 1939. Mr. Harish Kapadia and Mr. Romesh Bhattacharjee from the Himalayan Club repeated Auden’s explorations in the late eighties. Normally pass and the Khatling glacier is heavily infested with crevasses. However, we crossed the pass in early June and encountered few crevasses due to heavy snow cover. To read more about the expedition, please read this blog written by Neelima Vallangi on National Geographic Traveler. Sridevi Nair has also written a brief account of Auden’s col trek expedition 2018.

In between the Gangotri III and Jogin I, lies this amazingly beautiful pass which hides the crevasse-ridden Khatling glacier on its other side that one requires to cross while getting down. We crossed this as a part of tri-pass-route (Patangani Dhar-Auden’s Col-Mayali Pass).

Expedition’s highlights

  • Auden: John Bicknell Auden, brother of the famous poet Auden, was a Geographical Survey officer. He discovered the Col in 1935 and finally crossed it in 1939.
  • Col: the lowest point of a ridge or saddle between two peaks, typically providing a pass from one side of a mountain range to another.
  • Auden’s Col is one of the toughest and most challenging treks in the western Himalayas and definitely the most treacherous pass in the Garhwal Himalayas.
  • It’s not a popular trek due to its level of difficulty.
  • The Col is at a height of 5490 m – 18,000 feet. (That’s high).
  • The terrain is strenuous and the trail passes through moraines, narrow cliffs, Boulders, and difficult ridges.
  • The pass links two glaciers on the opposite sides, viz Khatling glacier and Jogin I glacier. The pass and the Khatling glacier are heavily infested with crevasses.
Sudershan Parvat, Garhwal Himalayas
Sudershan Parvat
A male Bharal ( Himalayan blue sheep )
A male Bharal (Himalayan blue sheep)
The sun sets over Mandakini range
The sun sets over Mandakini range
Kedar Tal ( Gangotri National Park )
Onwards to Kedar Tal (Gangotri National Park)

Kedartal lake

It is a snow-fed lake surrounded by Thalay Sagar (6,904m), Meru (6,672m), Bhrigupanth (6,772m) and other Gangotri group of peaks, and is the source of Kedar Ganga, which in Hindu mythology is considered to be Shiva’s contribution to Bhagirathi. Kedartal is 17 km from Gangotri. The route involves a steep rocky climb along the narrow Kedar Ganga gorge for 8 Km to Bhojkharak. From there it is 4km to the next available flat area for camping at Kedarkharak, and a further 5 km to Kedartal. The route passes through scenic Himalayan birch forests but is made hazardous in places by falling rocks, high altitude, and segments of steep ascent. Kedar Ganga originates from Kedartal and meets the Ganges in Gangotri.

Bhrigupanth - Thalay Sagar - Jogin towering over Kedar Tal
Bhrigupanth – Thalay Sagar – Jogin towering over Kedar Tal

 

 

Mandakini peak [ Gangotri National Park ]
Mandakini peak [ Gangotri National Park ]
Thalay Sagar peak (6904m) [ Gangotri National Park ]
Thalay Sagar peak (6904m) [ Gangotri National Park ]
 

Thalay Sagar peak (6904m) [ Gangotri National Park ]
Thalay Sagar peak (6904m) [ Gangotri National Park ]
Bhrigupanth and Thalay Sagar [ Gangotri National Park ]
Bhrigupanth and Thalay Sagar [ Gangotri National Park ]
Kedartal lake [Thalaysagar peak visible in the background] - Auden's col trek
Kedartal lake [Thalaysagar peak visible in the background]
Climbing Auden's col [The three passes trek Auden's col - Mayali pass - Patangini Dhar]
Climbing Auden’s col
After crossing Auden’s col, there are two exit options. The first one is to exit through Masar Tal – Mayali pass – Vasuki  Tal to Kedarnath. The other is to exit through the trek route which is from Tambakund, Kharsoli, Gangi to Village Guttu. Village Guttu is a day’s journey from Haridwar or Rishikesh.

The Auden's col blog
The Auden’s col
Huge icefalls near Khatling Glacier [Auden's col trek]
Huge icefalls near Khatling Glacier
Auden's col snowfield
Climbing Auden’s col
Sheer vastness of the Khatling Glacier [Auden's col trek]
The Sheer vastness of the Khatling Glacier
Mayali Glacier
Tiny humans on Mayali Glacier
Descending Mayali Glacier
Descending Mayali Glacier

Masar top, Enroute Mayali pass [Auden's col trek]
Masar top, Enroute Mayali pass

Most beautiful minefield - Khatling glacier | Auden's col
Known for its notoriety as being highly crevasse infested and taking a couple of days to cross after getting down the treacherous Auden’s Col (5300m). Doing it in June, somehow we got exceptional weather and totally snow-covered glacier which meant we couldn’t know where the crevasses were (those are fully visible in post monsoons). We just followed our local guide’s footsteps and crossed it in 4-5 hours straight. Khatling glacier, Uttrakhand. June’17
Mayali Glacier below Mayali pass | Auden's col trek
Our guide told us that had come here three times before. The first time when he came 10-12 years back the glacier used to start right away from the point where you see us standing (in this pic) till it joined the surrounding mountains. But now it has receded as much as the black line you can see somewhat in the middle. It has left a glacial pool (uncrossable as it breaks) which makes the crossing much difficult as one needs to skirt across the moraine field on the right hugging the slopes and then join the glacier after it receded point.
Maybe with the rate of global warming, this glacier might only be in photos over the next 10-12 years.
Mayali Pass, Uttrakhand, June 2017

Itinerary :

Day 0: Reach Gangotri (2940m), acclimatization trek, visit the temple

Day 1: Trek to Bhoj Kharak (3415m)

Day 2: Trek to Kedar Kharak (4315m)

Day 3: Trek to Kedar Tal (4760m) and back to Kedar Kharak

Day 4: Trek to Patangini Dhar base campsite (4540m)

Day 5: Cross Patangini Dhar (5085m) and reach Dhabba Camp Site (4685m) in Rudugaira valley

Day 6: Trek to Rudugaira / Auden’s Col Advanced Base Camp (4975m)

Day 7: Cross Auden’s Col (5490m), trek on Khatling and reach Khatling campsite (4970m)

Day 8: Trek rest of the Khatling, cross waterfall area (4300m) and reach Khatling Base camp (3765m)

Day 9: Cross Bhilangna river (3480m), and reach Chowki campsite (3630m)

Day 10: Trek to Masar Tal (4550m)

Day 11: Trek to Masar Top (4695m), Cross Mayali Pass (4990m) and camp (4335m) near Vasuki Tal

Day 12: Trek Vashuki Tal (4210m), trek to Vashuki Top (4480m), and descend to Kedarnath (3530m)
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