Otherwise called Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama, this trek is circumambulation(parikrama) around holy Kinnaur Kailash Range. Kinnaur Kailash is one of the 5 Kailash a Shiv Bhakt must-visit (others being Shrikhand Mahadev, Manimahesh Kailash, Adi Kailash, and Kailash Mansarovar).
Kinnaur Kailash itself has two important routes from the pilgrimage perspective. 1) Kinnaur Kailash Shivling – Which is around 4500M ASL, approachable in a 10 day period only in August. This is a state-sponsored Yatra.
2) Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama aka Charang-La pass which is around 5200 Meters, which this album is all about. This is a very difficult pass crossing in June snow and scree conditions.
It is said the spirits of the dead walk amidst Rangrik peak in the vicinity of Kinnaur Kailash peak. Kinnaur Kailash itself is winter abode to Lord Shiva who conducts darbar for a class of mythological people called Kinnaurs (one who is proficient in music in Hindu Mythology
And apart from the importance of Hinduism, this trek also provides an opportunity to visit the Charang Monastery one of the oldest Buddhist Monasteries in the Himalayas. Unlike the Male Lamas of Ladakh, this particular monastery is inhabited by Buddha Bikshinis (Female Buddha monks)
Charang La is probably tougher than any other treks and yatra‘s including Kailash itself. The reason being the remoteness of this trek, steepness of Charang-La pass and streams (Nala) to cross are at least 3. In the early season (June/July), snow will ease out boulder hopping, but pass itself will be under thick snow. I would easily reckon the day of CharangLa pass traverse (in June) is difficult than the day of Lamkagha pass traverse.
Since this expedition comes very close to the international border with Tibet, a written permit from SDM Reckong poo is a must and will be verified by Shurting and Charang ITBP. So plan this without fail. This is a unique trek that starts from a rocky desert-like environment and ends up in the absolute beauty of greenery at Chitkul. So in 5 days’ time, we can experience the change every day. And tents/provisions are a must for at least 3 days after Charang.
To do this trek, one has to take a Jeep Safari (I am not sure about the availability of Bus) from Reckong Peo to Thangi/Lumbar which will cost anywhere from Rs.2500 to 3000 and henceforth trek the next 5 days. This Jeep safari is along Reckong Poo-Pooh-Nako-Kaza (Spiti) highway which is in full grandeur on an ancient mountain system to the Himalayas. Geologists claim this to be the confluence of Himalayas, Dhauladar, and Zanskar mountain systems. Very rugged mountains and the moon-like landscape (read cold dry rocky dusty).
Lamkhaga Pass (5282m) (Chitkul to Harsil), May 2018 This Himalayan high pass divides Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh from Uttarakhand in India. We followed the following route: –Chitkul to Rani Kanda -Rani Kanda to Dhumti -Dhumti to Gundar -Gundar to Lamkhaga advance base camp (Kinnaur side) (One may break this climb till base camp 1 and next day to advance base camp…….we skipped) -Advance base camp to Upper Kyarkoti after crossing Lamkhaga pass (Again, you may camp at Lamkhaga pass base camp of Gangotri side followed by trek till Kyarkoti…….we decided to continue beyond base camp and camp at upper Kyarkoti) -Upper Kyarkoti to Kyarkoti -Kyarkoti to Gangnani -Gangnani to Harsilsn This is a remote pass and very few groups have finished this. Thus it could be a good option for all those who loves to visit the under-explored! Raacho Trekkers team did the first recce of the route from Kinnaur side in 2014.
Auden’s Col is a mountain pass, it is approachable from Gangotri and one can trek up to Kedarnath following Auden’s Col and Khatling glacier. Auden’s Col gets its name from J B Auden, a famous British geologist. He first explored the region in the year 1939. It connects the mountain peaks Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) and is at a height of around 5242m. Auden’s Col separates two glaciers on either side – Khatling glacier on the south and Jogin Bhamak on the north.
The Three Passes Trek Of June 2018
It couldn’t have meant more than en route the three pass trek covering Patangini Dhar, Kedar Tal, Auden’s Col, and Khatling glacier (due to the fierce Bhilangna river in spate we couldn’t cross over to complete the last part of Mayali pass… and of which Auden’s Col I couldn’t cross without much help). But too much predictability and it’s no longer an adventure. And maybe that is why we throw ourselves to the elements to feel real, raw and alive. I’m glad I did.
All this wouldn’t have been possible without the expert organization of Raacho Trekkers. The coolest staff, the food was to die for (think mangoes and cake and pasta and thukpa at higher altitudes) and OMG did I mention the tents? We had a 2-inch foam mattress and it was like a real bed every night. I can’t do enough justice talking about our experienced dedicated leader Sonu Negi. Those who know him, know of his leadership, initiative, and knowledge of the terrain, wildlife, and what he is capable of those who don’t if you are to do a high Himalayan pass do it with Raacho trekkers – you will be in safe professional hands.
28th May: Reach Base Camp Chitkul by road from Shimla
Day #1 29th May: Chitkul (3435 meters) to Nagasthi – Rani Kanda (3700 meters) 10 km 5 hr trek.
Day #2 30th May: Rani Kanda to Dumti (4050 meters) – 9 km/5 hr trek.
Day #3 31st May: Dumti to Gundar (4450 meter) – 15km/7 hr trek
Day #4 1st June: Gundar (4400 mtrs) to Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp (4400 meters)
Day #5 2nd June: Lamkhaga Pass BC to Base Camp 2 (Kinnaur)
Day #6 3rd June: Lamkhaga Pass BC(Kinnaur) to Lamkhaga Pass BC (Gangotri Side) via Lamkhaga Pass (5282 mts/17320 ft) / 14432 ft) 11 km/6 – 7 hr trek
Day #7 4th June: Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp to Kyarkoti (3820 meter) – 16 km/7 – 8 hr trek
Day #8 5th June: Kyarkoti to Harsil (2400 meter) – 14 km/6-7 hr trek
CHANDIGARH- SHIMLA: Pahadi Hospitality at its best: All restaurants were closed by the time we reached Shimla. After searching for food nearby passport office without any vehicle(our driver had left after dropping us at the hotel) we failed to get one. It was 12 am, the hotel manager and his assistant had to specially prepare rice and dal for us from their own personal kitchen.
SHIMLA-KALPA Enchanting Kinnaur, Irritating hydro-projects, awesome curvy drive, and the humble driver: First of all, thank you Vikas for arranging the car. Will make sure to recommend him to my friends if needed at all in the future. Today’s journey began with Aloo paranthas and a glass of bournvita just on the outskirts of Shimla. While eating parathas, we never thought that we will be hating paranthas so much at the end of our journey and we still do while I type this, however you will come to know as the Tlog progresses. Weather was pleasant and eating fresh Narkanda cherries was surely a ‘cherry on top’ to add in this journey. The tea and the mischievous kids playing at Wangtoo tea house was fun. One layer of cloth comes out of the bag at this place.Brrrrr! Though we were driving on NER, the vistas were getting more beautiful. We reached Rakpa regency at Kalpa @10pm passing through muddy Karcham-Powari stretch to the beautiful dark town of Reckong Peo, through clouds and rains which got vanished later when we entered our room. The moonlit Kinner Kailash range was the most beautiful vista ever and the long tiring journey was totally worth it for this.
KALPA – Hike to CHAKKA KANDA (~4000mtr)- KALPA and drive to CHITKUL
Chakka is a small peak which lies behind and above Kalpa town. Though a small hike for a little bit more than 1000mtr, it is a very good place for acclimatization for all the trekkers/travelers in that region. Just below the peak, lies Chakka Kanda, a lake that is culturally important for Kinnauris. It takes 2 -3 hours to reach. We hired a car to Chitkul at 4 pm from Kalpa after descending down from Chakka Kanda.
Hotel in Kalpa: Rakpa Regency & Hotel in Chitkul: Shenshah/Shahenshah/Shen Sha or whatever you call it. Both the properties are run by Mr. Sandeep Karar. All the rooms were charged 1500 INR/room after immense bargaining in advance as we did not had any options left. The stay at Kalpa has to be the best for its hospitality and views.
Hotel to Chakka Kanda Time taken: 2 1/2 hours Height gained: 800 meters. Just before lake, we stopped due to time restrictions.
Starting our day with super hot chai with amazing clouds in the sky. Parathas and Omelette were the only options for breakfast. It was an acclimatization day for all and we decided to start it by 11 am. Our guide and the support team reached at Chitkul at 5 pm. There were 8 porters and 1 cook along. They camped on the banks of river Baspa. Meanwhile, we unpacked and packed our rucksacks again just to make sure the weight is balanced accordingly that day.
Time taken: 2 hours Height Gained: 130mtr, towards Nagasthi ITBP and a small hill on the left.
Who was Marco Pallis and why Lamkhaga?
A Greek-British author and mountaineer who was famous for his writings on Tibetan Buddhism. He made the first ascent of Leo Pargial(6790m), one of the highest in Kinnaur Himal(not be confused with Reo Purgyal) starting from Harsil all the way via unexplored/climbed LAMKHAGA PASS and then into Sutlej-Spiti valley to climb the peak in 1933. Well, we are doing the right opposite to him what he did.
Can this trek done from both the sides?
Yes. It takes ~7 to 10 days from both sides depending on the weather.
What is the route? From Chitkul : Chitkul-Nagasthi-Ranikanda-Dumti-Nithal Thatch- Base camp(Baspa Glacier)-Advance base camp- Lamkhaga pass- Base camp(Harsil side)-Kyarkoti-Harsil
From Harsil : Harsil-Banswari nalla- Gangnani -Kyarkoti-Base camp(Sukha thal)-Advance base camp(aka Pass ke neeche)- Lamkhaga pass-Base camp(Chitkul side)-Dumti-Ranikanda or Chitkul. Personally, I feel the ascent from Harsil is more daunting. Continuous ascent! unlike gradual incline at many places from the Chitkul side. But both are equal in difficulty.
Do we need an Inner line Permit for this trek and from where to get it?
DC office in Reckong Peo for people starting from the Chitkul side.
DC office in Uttarkashi for people starting from the Harsil side.
Porters are easily available from Uttarkashi or Gangotri(UK) and Reckong Peo(HP) and NOT HARSIL OR CHITKUL.
Must Equipment: Ropes, Ice Axe, Gaiters, Alpine tents(neither t3, nor t2 please) and yes Microspikes will be helpful in the month of May-June. Altitude: I am still confused with its altitude. According to our altimeter(G-shock) which was well calibrated, showed up 5300metres on the pass. Old maps say 5284metres and some source says 5326metres. Best Time: There is no best time to visit higher regions, the weather takes a toll on any day/anytime. Still it is doable from Mid-May till Mid October. Grade: Difficult
TREK DAY 1.
Chitkul -Nagasthi(ITBP Checkpost) -Ranikanda.
A simple walk for 4 hours takes us to the beautiful Ranikanda camp site at 3700m which is situated just few metres away from Baspa river. Where we faced rain, a little headache, cold and dramatic sky. Had the most delicious Khichdi and the soup for the lunch and Roti- Sabji-Salad for the dinner.
TREK DAY 2.
Ranikanda – Lal Dhang – Dumti
8am:- AP’s struggle with rucksack weight and severe AMS.
It was a long hike that day going up to 4050m. Though the weather was clear, we had no trust in it either. Soon AP informed us he was having a mild headache but was okay to continue. But from the previous evening, it did not get any better, even after acclimatization walk up to 500ft nearby. He was walking slowly along with few members and porters. He gave up just before Lal Dhang at 10:30 am. His headache remained the same. VB who was walking along with him and me took his heavy rucksack, which he was carrying and in return gave his small camera bag to AP. Meanwhile, our guide Negi saw us from the edge, which was far away on Lal Dhank. He knew something was wrong and waited for us to cross the tricky part. Things were getting serious at that moment.
Negi’s views on AP:- Returning back to Chitkul did not make any sense as it is already at 3450m. It would take 5 -6 hours to reach from where we stood and descending further till Sangla (2800m) after that was completely out of the question. Continuing all the way till Dumti, which is at 4050m is again a threatening act to do. But Dumti had an ITBP camp. It had medical facilities. It had oxygen tanks but nothing in Chitkul. The only struggle was that tough scary walk from Lal Dhang till Dumti for 4 hours in the worst weather with poor visibility, wind, snow, and drizzle along. On one side it was Baspa river which was invisible and ferociously flowing down below and on the other side falling tiny rocks and slippery slopes to negotiate. All team members were separated and were just following the broken trail. Negi was taking care of AP and was slowly walking far behind holding his hands.
We reached Dumti at 2:30 pm and along with Negi reached at 3:30 pm. But soon, he started hallucinating!
3:30pm: AP Hallucinations at Dumti
Our cook, Rathiji prepared “sheera“(they call it halwa) after a small darshan at Karu temple. We served a tiny portion to AP in the tent. It took him 20 minutes to gulp 2 serves. He did not know what he was eating, neither he was responding to anyone. His oxygen levels started deteriorating. We immediately took him to the ITBP camp which had medical facilities as I have mentioned above. We made him sit in one of the bunkers for the warmth, but soon he started dozing off. Meanwhile, we literally requested the medical personnel to give him supplementary oxygen as soon as possible. He was made to lay down by holding his hands on the medical bed. We played music in the background so that he won’t sleep which would turn out to be fatal in such conditions. It took 15 minutes for him to get back to normal, which stayed temporary.
Well, when we asked him how was he feeling? He did not remember how and what had happened. He did not remember anything, neither the “sheera” nor the supplementary oxygen. Every half an hour, he was given supplementary oxygen till 6:00 pm for 5 minutes and some medicines(NOT DIAMOX). Meanwhile, few members from our team had won the cricket game against the ITBP team.
AP was my tent mate. I kept on checking his oxygen levels throughout that cold night. Luckily he was OK the next morning but had to send back with one of the porters.
TREK DAY 3
Dumti-Nithal Thatch- Gundar
The day began with Parathas and Bhindi subzi for breakfast following with the small pooja at Karu temple. A walk by banks of River Baspa all the way till Gundar Camp at 4450m. It was an easy but long walk over rocks and slight height gain. We reached around 2:00 pm. SC fell in the water while crossing it just before the camp and while rescuing her, Nishchay fell too. Quite a tough moment for both of them.
By 3:30 pm, we hiked up 1000ft for acclimatization. Due to the weather, things got worse again. And it was again Parathas for lunch.
TREK DAY 4
Gundar to Immediate Camp( 2 hours before Baspa Glacier/Lamkhaga Base camp).
Probably the most beautiful morning we witnessed here. The night was just out of the world with millions of stars and the bright moon and the lit on high peaks, but it was freezing at the same time. It was difficult for me to remove the camera from the bag and tripod at that time. However, I would like to say that, those irregular nature calls in the middle of the night have given us a lot of positive opportunities to see the actual beauty through naked eyes. Words are less to describe, so does the camera.
We woke up at 4 am and had Chapatis for breakfast with Achar and papaya porridge. It had snowed a lot. The first step of the day was snow. There were pug marks of some kind of animals parallel to us. First, we presumed it to be snow leopards……LOL. But it may have been wild fox’s, we partially confirmed after immense discussion with each other. A few days after looking at the photographs, we thought that it would be some bird’s footsteps. Maybe!!!
We had to cross the Baspa stream that day. There was an icy and slippery layer on the stones. So balancing on top of stones and crossing would make us fall in the bone freezing water. It took us half an hour to cross it. But Karan fell in the water while helping out RS and she was all fine. It was a funny but frustrating situation. Snowfall increased as we move further when Negiji finally had to stop. Because going further in that bad weather and pitching tents on glacier camp would be dangerous. It took 2 hours for the porters who were behind us. Finally, at 1:00 pm, we pitched our tents with all the wet boots and wet bags.
TREK DAY 5
Immediate Camp – Baspa Glacier -Lamkhaga Base camp – Lamkhaga Advance Base Camp( aka Pass ke neeche)-5100m
We were already running behind the schedule( say 5 hours time). We started to climb at 4am. It was freezing and the weather was deteriorating again. Rathiji our cook, lead the team members, whereas our guide led the team of porters. In no meantime, all porters overtook us and waited on the snowy slopes.
We reached Lamkhaga Base Camp at 7 am for a short hungry break of dry fruits and water, as it was not easy to digest Parathas early in the morning. We took some rest and started climbing on a 50-degree incline with deep snow. Plan of the day was to reach the Advance Base camp, just below the pass which was 7 hours far from where we were standing on that snowy conditions. We managed to cover it without much headache. Few people were too fast on snow, while others were the opposite of that. Finally, microspikes came into use. There were many steep patches which itself was a task to negotiate, but we managed somehow. We reached at 2 pm. It was a task to beat the soft snow of 2ft, so that our tent could easily be pitched on hard snow. That day, one porter suffered from Hypothermia and he went mute. He was shifted to the kitchen tent as soon as the tent was ready and was made to rest near the cooking stove for the warmth. We gave him the warmee self-heating pouch. He felt okay later after gulping hot soup and hot water. So white-out conditions, freezing wind, Porter’s health, Highest Camp at 5100m, wet sleeping bags, frozen tents, snow melted “yuckk” water, etc. made it totally worth.
TREK DAY – 6 (LAMKHAGA PASS)
Plan: Advance Base camp to Lamkhaga Pass to Lamkhaga base camp( Harsil side) What did we do? : Advance Base camp to Lamkhaga Pass to Lamkhaga base camp(Harsil side) to Kyarkoti
When we woke up at 6 in the morning, it was all white-out outside. Soon, we started discussing on to pass the cross or not. After a lot of arguments, we planned to go ahead. Waiting back did not make any sense. Descending to Chitkul was against our wishes. It was just a matter of 3 hours of the climb to the pass and it descended all the way down to Kyarkoti – Gangnani – Harsil. If anything worse happens within these 3 hours, nobody had an idea to escape it, except our guide Negi. He was confident about it and he leads us in a Pro way. We stood at the top at 9:00 am on 3rd June.
Looking towards HP unnamed peaks as seen from Abc at 5120m at 530am.
Negi ji had made a zigzag route to the top, due to soft snow and the light was bright. In a meanwhile, a huge layer of ice like a mini avalanche came on our way and took Aditya down a few meters on the slope. Luckily he arrested himself on the gentle slopes and began climbing much faster. It was a horrifying scene when it happened. Somehow we all reached at 9 am on the top.
The pass is located at one of the greatest water source region which divides two great rivers, where one flows into the Arabian sea and other in Bay of Bengal. All we could see is tears of joy in each and every member. It started snowing heavily from the Garhwal side and it was bright in the Kinnaur side. Realising, who was the culprit behind bad weather, we started our deadly descend soon.
The glissading was fun and risky too. Few members had many rolls, with the bags falling on one side and trekking poles to the others. The weather deteriorated and it was white out. This time, it did not stop for the next 8 hours of daunting descent. There was a huge gap of distance among members, a few of us were climbing down slowly with INFINITE no. of falls and breaking trekking sticks. The plan was to descend until the snowline. We reached Upper Kyarkoti, passing through Sukha Tal at 5:30 pm and threw our bags aside our tents.
That evening, our porters went hunting some of the juniper bushes/woods for a bonfire. They excelled in getting a large bunch of wet junipers and some wet trunk of the unknown tree which was lying down on high slopes. There was an excitement within the team on the accomplishment of the trek. We sipped many teas that evening, as most of the things were wet and ferocious bonfire by the side. I was the last one to sleep after taking a few night shots of heaven, Kyarkoti. In fact, all the nights at every camp have been beautiful for us, but this place beats all. As soon as I entered my sleeping and locked the chains of the tent, there was a scratching sound outside the tent. As if, someone/thing is scratching with hands on the outer layer of the tent. Initially, I thought someone was doing mischief among us, but everyone had slept by that time. I woke up and I switched on my tent light, no sounds! Again, I did not bother to wake up my tent mates as they all were snoring too loud. The sound of scratching continued for 2-3 hours that night and that was my last sleepless night of the entire journey.
After a long delay, finally posting pics of our winter trip to Kalpa, Charang Village & the Charang Rangrik Monastery. Charang village is the last village on the Indo-China Border. The last ITBP post is located in this village.
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Winter in Kinnaur
For the city folks, the village offers a complete escape from the busy city life. No network coverage — bosses can’t call you. For a comfort trip seeker, I will recommend Charang only during summers. In winters, with the temperature plunging to about -15 ºC & heavy snowfall blocking all the roadways for weeks — the place is either for the brave hearts or for ignorants like us.
Hikes around Chini village of Kalpa valley
We reached Reckong Peo early in the morning and headed for a beautiful Chini village in Kalpa. We strolled there for an hour or two and visited Kalpa Buddhist monastery and newly built Narayanas temple. We spent the rest of the day at a friend’s place in Reckong Peo and took rest after 12 hrs enduring journey in the Chandigarh-Reckong Peo HRTC bus.
Reckong Peo to Akpa Check post bus ride & Long walks along the NH-05
Now coming to our next day’s experience I consider this as an achievement. Trekking on steep slopes for 20 km on snow for 8 hrs continuously. With no one to your rescue walking endlessly with those baby steps on snow…having no idea that we will be alive in the next 1 hr or not. We missed the early morning Reckong Peo – Thangi bus and had to take another bus which dropped us near Akpa check post around noon. We started walking along the highway, reached Moorang around 1 PM and took a taxi to Lambar ( the last motorable stop) in winters.
Moorang bridge, Tidong valley, Kinnaur
Moorang to Thangi village taxi ride & the long hike to Charang village
We started the trek from Lambar at around 3 PM and reached Charang at about 11 pm. In the 20 km stretch, there were only three of us walking continuously. Because in that extreme weather a comma means full stop. If you stop you will freeze within minutes. At about 5 pm there was complete darkness…and even a slight sound nearby will flash images of a snow leopard or wild bears in your mind. Trekking in the night without a torch..the only thing to our rescue was the moonlight and the marks of the steps of the ITBP jawans on the snow…which kept us hopeful that we are heading in the right direction. Each one of us was having plenty of dry fruits but none of us was having the energy to stop & take those out of the bag. We were three friends Pawan Ranta, Amandeep Dhiman & myself. There is one ITBP post on the way to Charang which served as a base camp to the post at Charang. Thereafter traveling for about 14 km we got some warm water to drink. That warm water was like ‘amrit‘ and we thought that “ab hum bach jayyenge“. We stayed there for 15 to 20 minutes & then about 8 pm we started our trek to Charang with new hope & determination…but then again after traveling for about 1 km, we were regretting that why we didn’t stop there & request those ITBP jawans to allow us to stay there till morning. Now again, we were at the mercy of the mountains. We were not able to even speak….we were just moving & moving. During the complete trek, I was reciting God’s name and was hurling abuses & curses at Pawan who gave the idea of that trek. After traveling for another 6 km, there in the dark near the entrance of the Charang Village, were Sonu bhai, our savior standing there in the dark waiting for us. Sonu bhai took our backpacks and gave us new hope. And again we said ” Ab to lagata hai bach gaye“. Sonu bhai offered us shelter in their house offered food & saved our lives. Raante credit goes to you also. We sat near the bukhara and ate food thanking God for keeping us alive. I started chanting my daily mantras thanking God.
In the western Himalayas, bordering along with Tibet and Garhwal, the Baspa valley—also called Sangla valley—of Kinnaur has been open to visitors since the early 90s. The valley got its name from the Baspa river which originates from Chung Sakhago pass and meanders for around 30 km before meeting Satluj on its left bank near Karcham.
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Baspa valley, Kinnaur:
Unlike the Spiti valley and Hangrang region of Kinnaur, the Baspa valley is green paradise in largely barren mountains. Baspa valley or Sangla valley is known for fruit-laden orchards, cedar covered slopes and flower crusted meadows. Bhojpatra tree is abundantly found in the Chitkul region.
A land of blue skies, buzzing Baspa river, soaring peaks, deep valleys, apple orchards, and syncretic culture — Baspa valley a place for people who are seeking genuine peace and soul-calming solitude far, far from the madding crowd.
The fort of Kamru is another landmark in Baspa valley. As Gandhi once remarked that ‘the soul of India lies in its villages’— villages like Chitkul, Rackcham, Sangla, Kamru and Chansu are the soul of Baspa valley.
The lush green valley, snow-capped mountains of Kinnaur-Garhwal region and melodically flowing Baspa river are the hallmark of Baspa valley. There are many trekking routes that lead to or end up in the Baspa Valley. Some of the prominent ones are the following.
It is a fairly remote trek and is now regarded as the classic route from Gangotri to Kinnaur, which was first crossed by Marco Pallis in 1933. The trek is also known as Chitkul to Gangotri trek or Harsil to Chitkul trek. It trek can be done from either side. The beautiful route takes you through some of the most remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, like the Jalandhari valley that is covered with flowers post monsoon. The snow in the early season could impede your progress. Harsil is famous for Wilson’s Cottage built in 1864. Gangotri is a short drive from Harsil, while Chitkul is the last village in the Baspa valley
Borasu Pass at a height of 5450 meters (17880 feet) above sea level is a high mountain pass connecting the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and is located at the border of the two states. This trek goes through the famous Har-ki-Dun valley and we witness the beautiful glacial lakes of MorindaTaal and Zhupkia Glacier. The trail for this trek passes through a glacier, narrow ridges, vertical show slopes, meadows, and boulders. Overall a very adventurous experience not to mention the unforgettable views of the mountains.
Mount Kinner Kailash is located in Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. The trail provides a panoramic view of the whole range of Kinner Kailash mountain peaks. This region is located on the Indo-Tibet border and gives a wonderful introduction to the confluence of Hinduism and Buddhism. The landscape of the area varies from the lush green scenic valley of Sangla Valley to the snow-clad mountains of the Kinner ranges. This trek is packed not only with some of the best views of the mountains but also provides an insight into the rich history of trade, religion, and diverse ethnic groups, the experience of which leaves one enchanted.
5. Khimloga pass trek
It is a trade route mostly frequented by Sheppard from either side of Baspa of Supin valley of Uttrakhand.
6. Rupin pass trek
Rupin Pass is a high altitude pass across the Himalaya mountain range in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It lies on a traditional shepherd and hiking route which starts from Dhaula in Uttarakhand and ends in Sangla in Himachal Pradesh. The path itself is located across mostly uninhabited areas in the Himalayan ranges at an elevation of 15,250 ft (4,650M) above sea level
7. Yamrang la pass (5570 m) & Gugairang La
These two passes connect Baspa valley to Tibet.
Easy to moderate trails in Baspa valley:
1. Karcham to Barua
Karcham is a small town on National Highway 5 at the confluence of the Satluj and Baspa river. The trail passes through Sapni village (Visit to snake god temple is recommended) and ends up a Brua Village.
2.Brua to Chansu trail
After a gradual descend one needs to negotiate Brua Nallah and then Climb up to Chansu village.
3. Sangla to Kamru fort trail
Kamru village was the capital of the erstwhile principality of Bushahr. The Kamru Fort, a 15-minute walk from the Sangla town, houses quintessential wood-and-stone buildings with curved, peaked roofs. On the way up is the Badrinath Temple, a classic example of Kinnauri religious syncretism with both Hindu and Buddhist shrines. There are several folklores associated with it and according to one legend, there are crores of devi- devta residing inside the fort. Entry inside the fort is restricted – only into the courtyard in front of it – but the views of the surrounding mountains are good, anyway.
Sangla serves as a base to hike to nearby villages like Kamru, Batseri, Rackham, and Chitkul. It offers an uninhibited rendezvous with nature — walks, treks and strolling in narrow alleys of Himalayan hamlets, lively bonfires by the river. If you’re an angling enthusiast, the swirling current of the Baspa is home to both the Rainbow and Brown Trout.
Chaka meadows are mountain meadows high above Kalpa village of Kinnaur. It is a hike recommended for the ones in tireless twenties who have just started their trekking journey or for the people ones in late forties a time when knees begin to protest against the gradient and you start appreciating the least challenging of the mountain trails.
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Kalpa To Chaka Trek
The Chaka(also spelled as Chakka) is the quintessential Himalayan mountain meadow — some people call it Chaka peak but there is no peak as such — located at an altitude of around 3800m above sea level.
The trails start from a point on Kalpa Roghi road near charming Kalpa (Chini village) which is around 10 km from district headquarter, Reckong Peo. One doesn’t need any prior trekking experience but a sound pair of lungs. I would say it’s a modest trek with great returns. The hike is steep though. We started hiking from a trail near the hotel Rakpa Regency which leads to Chaka Meadows. Early morning start is advised because it gets quite arduous when the sun starts hitting on the face and suddenly you start feeling the backpack load.
A good trek is not measured just by the physical coordinates of cool heights attained and scenic ridges traversed. Perhaps more crucial is the inner satisfaction that derives from walking with companions who stay agreeable under testing conditions and whose sympathies remain as a warm afterglow. The marvelous sunrise from the Kinner Kailash mountain, breathtaking views of the mountain range and beautiful views of Kalpa village are major highlights of the hike.
Distance from Kalpa
The trail is around 3 kilometers long and it runs along a stream. It passes through fields of Chini villagers and Cedar forest below the meadows. It’s a day hike and one can comfortably descend back to the Kalpa – Roghi road in the evening.
Chaka-Kalpa Trek During Winter
Winter offers some of the prettiest, most serene trail adventures you can ever hope to have. Cleary sky, little or no crowd and snow-laden peaks are some of the perks that come with a winter hike. Unlike in summers when you need to start early in the morning, one can start to hike in late morning in winters. Hiking in winters has its inherent dangers. So one is advised to carry good gear and dress in layers.
Besides staying fit and keeping the moral high it is also important to know what things one need to carry how to pack a backpack efficiently.Believe me, A backpack packed efficiently can work wonders.After you have decided to buy a backpack depending upon its size , durability , ergonomics and comfort, the next job will be packing it well. Proper weight distribution in your backpack is what could make the difference between comfort and serious back pain. The most important thing is how it feels after lifting the backpack onto the your back. Following is the picture of general methodology that I follow while packing the backpack.
Trek essentials :
Backpack (70-90 liter) for multi days treks.
Trekking Boots – High ankle support boots.
Trek Gaiter – To prevent snow/moisture seeping inside the boot.
Auden’s Col is a pass in the Gangotri Group of mountains that connects Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) and is reportedly situated at an altitude 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.
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Auden’s Col Trek Expedition: A photoblog
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).
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.
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.
Gangotri to Auden’s col via Patangini Dhar
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.
Mandakini peak [ Gangotri National Park ]
Auden’s col to Kedarnath via Khatling Glacier & Mayali pass
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.
Our guide told us that he 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.
Auden’s Col Trek Itinerary:
Day 0: Reached Gangotri (2940m), acclimatization day, visit the temple
Day #1: Trekked to Bhoj Kharak (3415m)
Day #2: Trekked to Kedar Kharak (4315m)
Day #3: Trekked to Kedar Tal (4760m) and back to Kedar Kharak
Day #4: Trekked to Patangini Dhar base campsite (4540m)
Day #5: Crossed Patangini Dhar (5085m) and reached Dhabba Camp Site (4685m) in Rudugaira valley
Day #6: Trekked to Rudugaira / Auden’s Col Advanced Base Camp (4975m)
Day #7: Crossed Auden’s Col (5490m), trekked on Khatling and reached Khatling campsite (4970m)
Day #8: Trekked rest of the Khatling, crossed waterfall area (4300m) and reached Khatling Base camp (3765m)
Day #9: Crossed Bhilangna river (3480m), and reached Chowki campsite (3630m)
Day #10: Trekked to Masar Tal (4550m)
Day #11: Trekked to Masar Top (4695m), Crossed Mayali Pass (4990m) and camp (4335m) near Vasuki Tal
Day 12: Trekked Vasuki Tal (4210m), trek to Vasuki Top (4480m), and descended to Kedarnath (3530m)
[The three passes trek ] photoblog by Anshul Chaurasia