Auden’s Col is a pass that connects Rudugaira Valley (Gangotri) to the Bhilangna Valley (Kedarnath). The itinerary & route of Auden’s Col trek includes 3 passes and the infamous Khatling glacier. The Col (saddle-shaped pass joining two surrounding peaks) connects Jogin I (6465 m) and Gangotri III peak(6580 m).
Auden’s Col Trek
The pass is located at an elevation of approximately 5400 meters above sea level. It also connects two glaciers on the opposite side. The Khatling Glacier is the first, and the Jogin I glacier is the second.
Auden’s Col trek begins from Gangotri and one can follow Auden’s Col and Khatling Glacier route to reach Kedarnath. The name of the Auden’s Col comes from J. B. Auden (brother of Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden), who first crossed it for the first time in 1939-40.
Auden’s Col: The 3 Pass Trek Expedition In Uttarakhand
The summit is at 5490m altitude and it connects the ridge coming from Gangotri III (6580m) peak on the north-west and the ridge coming from Jogin I (6465m) on the east and also binds a glacier coming from Jogin I on the north side of Rudugaira valley, and infamous Khatling glacier on the south side of Bhilangna valley.
One can read more about the 3-Pass Trek on the blog written by Neelima Vallangi. Anshul Chourasia and Sridevi Nair have also written a blog about Auden’s Col trek of June 2017 and Auden’s Col Trek expedition of 2018.
Rudraganga stream or Rudragairu (gairu means deep) or Rudugaira Gad (a small stream is English interpretation of Gad) drains Rudugaira glacier and eventually flows into the Bhagirathi river near Gangotri, and Bhilangna river originates from Khatling glacier and meets the Bhagirathi near Old Tehri in Garhwal region.
Auden’s Col Trek Permit
A permit is mandated by the local administration of Uttarkashi for all trek and adventure operators. Entry into Gangotri National Park is allowed only if one has a copy of the entry permit authorized by the office of the director of Gangotri National Park at Uttarkashi. Our Auden’s Col trek cost includes charges incurred to obtain the permits.
Auden’s Col Trek Route
First, we would take a side trip to visit Kedartal at a height of 4,780 meters. Then we would climb atop Patangani Dhar (4,900 meters) to get down into Rudragaira valley which provides access to Auden’s Col. Auden’s Col at 5490 meters above the sea level, is nestled between Gangotri and Jogin mountain ranges.
We can manage to cross Auden’s Col and Khatling glacier in a single stretch. Thereafter, we’ll descend to Chowki campsite the next day.
From Chowki we would take a left turn upwards and reach Mayali Pass (5,050 meters) in the next two days, and then camp next to Vasuki Tal. From there we would descend to the Kedarnath shrine and get back into civilization.
What is Col?
The word ‘Col’ is a geographical term for a saddle-like depression in a ridge between two peaks.
Auden’s Col lies between Gangotri III (6537m) & Jogin I (6465m) and the crossing is one of the finest high altitude treks in the Indian Himalayas.
How Much Does Auden’s Col Trek Cost?
Auden’s Col trek price starts from 55,000 INR. The final price will be determined by factors such as group size, pick-up location (Dehradun or Uttarkashi), departure date (pre-monsoon in June or post-monsoon in September), and add-ons such as backpack offloading, gear (crampons and gaiters), hotel accommodations before and after the trek, and drop-off location (Rishikesh or Haridwar). Drop an email to avail group & early birds’ offer.
Auden’s Col trek cost inclusion
- All arrangements for overnight stays during the trip.
- Camping, Climbing, and Communication(two-way radios) gear.
- All food expenses.
- Food will usually consist of morning breakfast, lunch, evening high tea, and dinner.
- All food will be vegetarian.
- Trained & certified guides who have long experience of trekking & climbing high altitude Himalayan terrains & in handling emergency situations.
- Local guides and support staff with in-depth knowledge about the terrain, trekking trails & routes.
- One luggage per person will be carried & transported by the porters.
- Inner line permits(ILP) and other permit arrangements en route will be arranged by the operator.
- All stays and lodging on a twin sharing basis shall be provided.
The valleys of Garhwal and Kumaon border China and Nepal and are the most famous for their holy shrines including Gangotri — the source of India’s most sacred River Ganga.
Positioned at the very center of the great Himalayan chain, Garhwal and Kumaon contain a host of 7,000-meter peaks such as Nanda Devi, Kamet, and Trishul, and sub-7,000-meter expedition peaks such as the stunning Shivling, as well as over 250 peaks above 5500 meters.
The Garhwal Himalayas are characterized by unsurpassed mountain scenery with soaring ridges, deep valleys, and huge glaciers and this trek takes us right into the heart of the Garhwal Himalayas.
Auden’s Col Trek Itinerary
Kedar Kharak is one of the most beautiful campsites of the 3 Passes Trek i.e. Patangini Dhar, Auden’s Col & Mayali Pass.
This camp-site serves as a basecamp site for two magnificent treks of Gangotri National Park:
- Kedartal (4614 meters) trek.
- Patangini Dhar (5085 meters) trek.
With magnificent views of Brigupanth Peak, Thalay Sagar peak and other surrounding peaks at Gangotri National Park, this campsite will become a memorable lifetime experience for any adventure seekers for sure!
- Day 0: Reach Gangotri (2940 m). Acclimatization trek, visit the temple.
- Day #1: Trek to Bhoj Kharak (3415 m).
- Day #2: Trek to Kedar Kharak (4270 m).
- Day #3: Trek to Kedar Tal (4760 m) and back to Kedar Kharak.
- Day #4: Trek to Patangini Dhar base campsite (4540 m).
- Day #5: Cross Patangini Dhar (5085 m) and reach Dhabba Camp Site (4685 m) in Rudugaira valley.
- Day #6: Trek to Rudugaira / Auden’s Col Advanced Base Camp (4975 m).
- Day #7: Cross Auden’s Col (5490 m), trek on Khatling, and reach Khatling Glacier campsite (4970 m).
- Day #8: Trek the rest of the Khatling Glacier, cross the waterfall area (4300 m), and reach Khatling Base camp (3765 m).
- Day #9: Cross Bhilangna river (3480 m), and reach Chowki campsite (3630 m).
- Day #10: Trek to Masar Tal (4550 m).
- Day #11: Trek to Masar Top (4695 m), Cross Mayali Pass (4990 m) and camp (4335 m) near Vasuki Tal.
- Day #12: Trek Vasuki Tal (4210 m), trek to Vasuki Top (4480 m), and descend to Kedarnath (3530 m).
- Day #13: Buffer day. It is mandatory to have this extra day as any bad weather or rain will delay your pass crossing. In case we use the buffer day, the trekkers would have to pay extra.
NOTE: Trekkers must reach the base camp of the trek (i.e. Gangotri town) at their own expense and everyone should keep two buffer days in an unforeseeable event (Heavy rain/snow or landslips etc.).
Khatling — one of the most notoriously difficult glaciers to negotiate in the western Himalayas of Uttarakhand.
The landform is strikingly similar to the Khumbu Icefalls of the Everest region.
Captured this surreal landscape while walking on Khatling Glacier during the noon hours of June 10th, 2018. Location: Khatling Glacier, Gangotri National Park, Uttarakhand, India
Criterion for Auden’s Col & Mayali pass trek.
You must have done at least one high altitude trek before. Those who do not have the requisite trek experience of high altitude passes should not apply.
You must be physically fit to do the 12-day Himalayan trek. The trek leads you up to 18,000 feet high Col of Auden’s and through deep crevasses of Khatling glacier. At this altitude the air is thin and the rigors of the mountain can grind you down. You must give yourself enough time to prepare yourself for the trek.
NOTE: Trekkers are required to bring a medical certificate deeming them fit for high-altitude trekking at the start of the trek.
Backpack carrying: A porter will carry your backpack, please do not bring extra items but only the essentials needed for high altitude trek. Besides detailed planning, taking care of all the logistics, food, and good equipment, packing a backpack efficiently and carrying essential things play a key role in the success of an expedition.
Auden’s Col trek bare essentials
- A pair of good quality waterproof trekking boots.
- Three pairs of socks.
- Two pairs of waterproof hiking pants.
- A pair of shorts
- Two pairs of fleece jumpers.
- Two pairs of thermal tops and bottoms
- One down jacket.
- Headgear (1 beanie/skull cap, 1 buff, and 1 trekking cap).
- A pair of thick gloves
- Personal hygiene essentials (alcohol-based gel, hand sanitizer, soap, towels, toilet paper, baby wipes, etc.)
- UV-block sunglasses.
- First aid kit.
- Water purifier and filtration bottle.
Auden’s Col & Mayali Pass trek FAQs
Our guides are certified and have been trekking the Himalayas for decades(all are local guides). They are well equipped and well versed with the terrain, the route, the people, the Himalayan wildlife and its culture. We were featured in the National Geographic Traveler magazine for the 3 passes expedition(i.e. Patangini – Auden’s Col – Mayali pass) of June 2017.
How will the Raacho Trekkers’ team deal with an emergency kind of situation during the Auden’s Col expedition
The guides and porters are adequately trained and skilled in handling emergencies. You will get immediate first aid and all necessary help if required. In case of a medical emergency, the porters & guides will carry you to a lower altitude and will contact the rescue authority by satellite phone.
The packing list for Auden’s Col trek are as follows:
- Trekking pants and jackets.
- Rainproof pants and jackets.
- Thermals underwear.
- A pair of gloves.
- Short-sleeved trekking shirts.
- Long-sleeved trekking shirts.
- Woolen cap/ beanies.
- Insulating jackets.
- fleece-lined jacket.
- Lightweight Sweaters.
- Trekking boots.
- First Aid.
- Sanitary pads/ Tampons.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Water Bottle.
- Photo-ID( Passport/Driving License/Voter ID/Aadhar).
- Fitness certificate.
- Trekking Permit
Many people assume that they need to have athletic strength to complete a trek like Auden’s Col, which is not completely true. The athletic strength is needed but mental strength matters equally. Anyone with average physical strength and strong mental strength can negotiate the long stretches of Auden’s Col/Khatling glacier and complete the Auden’s Col trek.
To boost the physical strength, cardio (aerobic) exercises, including hiking, cycling, swimming, can help you gain fitness before the start of your trek. One important thing to consider is that the treks are not a race, so you need to maintain a gentle pace with sufficient breaks and acclimatization.
The best time for trekking Auden’s Col trek is from May(from 4th week) to September(barring monsoon period). During the spring season(in May & June month), wildflowers, including pink rhododendrons, Bhrama Kamal bloom in Gangotri valley in Uttarakhand. The clear skies and stable weather is the major attraction of the trek.
The autumn month of September is famous for its soothing climate and favorable temperatures. The Autumn month is good for the night or dawn/dusk photography. The monsoon and the winters are generally avoided because of the risks and the challenges posed by the Gangotri group of mountains.
During the trek, numerous mountain streams originating from Gangotri glaciers(like Kedar Ganga, Bhilangana, and Vasuki Ganga etc.) are the main source of drinking water and water for cooking. Mountain stream water & snowmelt water is perfectly safe to drink though the problem of silt mixed water may arise during the rainy days. We filter water through a sedimentation process. We also recommend trekkers to carry a water bottle fitted with a filter. You can get filter-fitted bottles easily in the market.
While trekking it is extremely important to stay hydrated. During the trekking on sunny days, you will be thirsty more often. You can add hydration salts or glucose to the drinking water that keeps you healthy while improving the taste of the water.
The trekking hours are not fixed. The prevailing weather conditions, terrain and walking pace will determine the daily trekking hours. In general, we plan the trek for five to six hours of daily walking on average. In a group trekking expedition, it is essential for us to gauge every individual’s stamina level and plan our journey ahead accordingly. Starting the trek early is key to avoiding the midday heat and arriving at your destination early. This leaves with enough time to rest, acclimatize, and explore the Gangotri Nationa Park region.
There will be toilet tents. Our crew will dig a hole in the ground then erect a toilet tent around it for privacy. We brief our guides to locate the toilet tent away from water sources and on departure the next morning the hole will be filled and covered with earth. We recommend you always keep a roll of toilet paper & a hand sanitizer in your day pack.
The rule of thumb is to use several thin layers rather than just one or two thick layers. This allows you to peel layers off or put them on depending on the weather and the time of day. For your base-layer choose a fabric that soaks moisture away from your skin and dries quickly. Your outer layer should be fully wind and rainproof. We recommend you carry good quality thermals, woolen socks & a waterproof jacket. A windproof outer layer is essential to combat wind-chill(essential for altitudes like Auden’s and Mayali). Choose a thermal base-layer and fabrics that wick sweat away from your skin to avoid getting wet and cold. You need to protect your hands and feet with high-quality thermal gloves and socks, also a hat to protect your head and a balaclava to protect your face.
If you have no prior experience of walking long stretches on glaciers, you should bring crampons. Crampons fitted trekking boots help you get past the snow with ease. Many people prefer walking on the glaciers without crampons. Auden’s Col trek route has a long glacier stretch that is riddled with crevasses and moraines. We recommend crampons for such terrain.
You need good quality Gore-Tex boots with decent grip and secure ankle support. Your boots must be fully waterproof and at higher altitudes(like Auden’s Col basecamp & Khatling glacier snowfields) we recommend boots with trekking gaiters for crossing Auden’s Col snowfields.
This is very much personal preference. Some people swear by them, especially on treks with long and steep ascents and descents(like the ascent to Patangini Dhar, descent from Auden’s Col and Mayali pass), others find they get in the way and prefer to manage without. If you have weak hips, knees or ankles they are an effective way to reduce the strain.
There’s no other way to prepare for altitude than to acclimatize slowly. Our trek itineraries have been carefully planned to allow for gradual acclimatization (at Bhoj Kharak and Kedar Kharak). Altitude sickness can affect the fittest trekkers just as easily as the less fit. Once on the trek, the main recommendation is to keep your fluid intake up and stay hydrated. We don’t recommend Diamox(acetazolamide). Diamox actually tricks your body into breathing faster (by changing the Ph of your blood slightly) so it actually prevents the symptoms. The best cure for high altitude sickness is acclimatization.
During the trek, your luggage is carried & transported by porter & mules so all you need to carry is what you need during the day, for example water bottle, camera, extra clothing, sun-cream, and a small personal first aid kit. We recommend a 15 to 25-liter day pack for Auden’s Col trek
The best way to train for the Auden’s Col trek is to spend plenty of time beforehand simply walking & jogging. Aerobic training at the gym helps too, but there’s no substitute for simply walking & trotting for several hours at a stretch. It’s also a good opportunity to check out all your trekking equipment, clothing, and footwear – to make sure it’s all comfortable and works OK.
It really isn’t a problem. You can walk at your own pace nearly all the time, as we have enough guides to escort walkers of all speeds. Occasionally for safety reasons the trek leader might pull the group together (eg. in bad weather or on a tricky section of the trek route like ascending and descending Auden’s Col, Crossing crevasses over Khatling glacier, Crossing the makeshift bridge over Bhilangana river, and climbing up to the Mayali pas. In general, the group can string out and everyone finds their own comfortable walking pace.
Assessing your personal fitness is quite subjective. Your fitness level is often pitted against the level of difficulty of a trek route that includes various factors like the number of hours of walking each day, the total number of days, how long and how difficult is the ascent of descent stretch, terrain, altitude, and likely weather conditions. Auden’s Col conflated with Mayali pass is a 12/13-day trek riddled with long glacier stretches, crevasses, rock falling zones, and moraines. To match the difficulty level of Auden’s Col trek you need to have previous high altitude trekking experience. One cannot climb a pass or peak without being physically and mentally fit.
The route traverses through the valley of Rudugaira to Auden’s Col and ends at the village of Ghuttu, and for the 3-pass expedition, It’ll be conflated with the Mayali Pass to go all the way to Kedarnath. It is also possible to cross only Auden’s Col by starting the trek at Gangotri and exiting at Guttu(i.e. Mayali pass would be skipped). Another trail in the valley between the valleys of Gangotri and Rudugaira will lead us to Kedar Tal. Kedar Tal offers magnificent views of the Thalay Sagar and Bhrigupanth peaks. In the first part, the route would take us to Kedar Tal, and then we cross over from Kedar Ganga (Kedar Ganga is a tributary of the Bhagirathi River) to Rudugaira Valley through a pass called Patangini Dhar. In the second part, we will cross Auden’s Col and trek over Khatling glacier to the origin of the Bhilangna river. In the last part, we will switch over to the Mayali Pass trail to reach Kedarnath.
Bhoj Kharak, Kedar Kharak, and trail to Kedar Tal. The trail is steep uphill including numerous switchbacks through the birch forest. The birch trees are referred to as Bhoj trees in the local dialect and so the first campsite inside the Bhoj forest is named Bhoj Kharak.
Any trek is doable without a guide:
- If you know the route(or you know how to read maps and use GPS)
- You have complete climbing and camping gear.
- You have extensive experience of trekking in the Himalayas.
Even if you meet the above conditions there are still certain caveats that make a trek like Auden’s Col treacherously dicey.