Lamkhaga pass trek is a 90 km long trail passing through remotest valleys of Kinnaur(lower & upper Baspa) & Garhwal. The 5300m high altitude pass is a classic crossover curtailing a 480km road distance between Chitkul village of Kinnaur & Harsil village of Gangotri to just around 90kms. It was first crossed by Marco Pallis in 1933. The trek is also known as Chitkul to Gangotri or Harsil to Chitkul trek.
Lamkhaga Pass Trek
There are two entry routes from Chitkul in Baspa valley into the Kyarkoti valley of Harsil. One on the south-western side of Lamkhaga is Chotakhaga pass, which is slightly lower in altitude than Lamkhaga pass. It is called Chotakhaga – an acronym for a shorter pass. ‘Chota’ means shorter & ‘Khaga’ means pass. It offers a shorter(route cut short by around 10 km) but grueling climb & strenuous traverse to Harsil. The route from Chotakhaga meets the Lamkhaga trail at the upper Kyarkoti valley.
Lamkhaga, on the other hand, is a long traverse. Lamkhaga here is an acronym for a long route pass. Lam for long & Khaga for Pass. It’s a 5300m high altitude mountain pass with a corniced ridge & near-vertical slopes both sides.
The pass is surrounded by Cirques and vast snowfields of Baspa glacier & Jalandhari Gad glacier of Uttarakhand. Jalandhari Gad is a right-side tributary of the Bhagirathi river. Lamkhaga, Nela pass, and Chunsakhaga pass lie on the same ridge.
Lamkhaga, Chotakhaga(Nela pass) descend into Kyarkoti valley along the Jalandhri Gad river whereas Chunsakhaga pass descends into Nelang(also pronounced as Nelong) valley along Chor Gad river near Indo-Tibet border. Due to border proximity, a trekking permit is mandatory for all these passes.
Till the Spring months(April & early May), the valley of upper Baspa of Kinnaur & Kyarkoti of Harsil remains thickly carpeted with snow and traversing the Baspa & Jalandhri Gad snowfields & glaciers get notoriously difficult. The trek is doable from the 3rd or 4th week of May month. The beautiful route takes you through some of the most remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, like the Jalandhari Gad valley that is covered with flowers, post-monsoon.
Which Lamkhaga trek?
The trek leading up to the Harsil in Gangotri Valley is one of the most popular treks starting from Chitkul. It is known by various names, which can be a little confusing.
To be clear, these:
- Chitkul – Gangotri Trek
- Chitkul Trek
- Chitkul – Harsil trek
- Harsil – Chitkul trek
…are all the same trek!
How Difficult Is Lamkhaga Pass Trek?
Though the difficulty level is a relative attribute, the following factors qualify Lamkhaga Pass for the most difficult trek in Himachal Pradesh.
- Near vertical incline from Lamkhaga snowfields to the pass summit.
- Long stretches of the glaciated route.
- Boulder-strewn zones
- More than 90km long trail
- Crossing high flowing ice-cold waters of Baspa river.
The rains during monsoon season in Harsil & Kyarkoti valley often cause unwanted delays in reaching the next campsite. Harsil is famous for Wilson’s Cottage that was built in 1864. Gangotri is a short drive from Harsil, while Chitkul is the last village in the Sangla valley. The Lamkhaga pass trek offers a panorama of diverse landscape that includes
- Ranikanda meadows
- Boulder-strewn terrain
- Baspa glacier zone
- Baspa Glacier Snout
- Meadows and small glacial lakes of Kyarkoti in Harsil valley.
What does Lamkhaga Pass Trek Cost?
Cost estimation is based on the number of factors like the group size, pick-up place(Chandigarh/Shimla), and add-ons needed(like backpack offloading, accommodation before and after the trek & drop off point(Dehradun/Delhi). The price typically range between 25K to 35K/head in INR. Drop an email to avail group & early bird offers.
Our fixed departures for 2020 is scheduled for May 25th, September 1st, and September 15th. We can arrange a customized trek if the dates are not suiting your plan.
|Difficulty level:||Moderate to Challenging|
|Best Time To Trek:||May to September.|
|Trek Distance:||Around 90Kms|
Brief Itinerary of Lamkhaga Pass
- Day #1: Shimla – Chitkul village
- Day #2: Chitkul – Nagasthi –Rani Kanda
- Day #3: Acclimatization day
- Day #4: Rani Kanda – Dumti
- Day #5: Dumti – Gundar
- Day #6: Gundar – Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp
- Day #7: Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp – Basecamp II
- Day #8: Basecamp II – Lamkhaga Pass – Basecamp III
- Day #9: Basecamp III – Kyorkati
- Day #10: Kyorkati – Harsil
This 10-day Lamkhaga trek itinerary commences from the beautiful village of Chitkul in Sangla or Baspa valley of Kinnaur, Himachal & ends at Harsil (Gangotri region, Uttarakhand) through some of the remote regions, usually not accessible for the civilians.
Day 01: Shimla – Chitkul
Reception at Shimla, have breakfast and drive to Chitkul via Kufri and Narkanda. Reach Sangla village by late afternoon. Explore the Baspa valley and have dinner at Chitkul. Overnight stay in Chitkul in guest house/ village homestay.
Day 02: Chitkul – Nagasthi – Rani Kanda
Chitkul is the last village in Baspa valley and is located on the true right bank of the river. The valley of Sangla is 26 km from Chitkul and is very beautiful and one of the best in Kinnaur. We start the trek from Chitkul and trek up to Rani Kanda. Dinner and overnight stay in tents in Rani Kanda.
Day 03: Acclimatization day
Today we take rest in Rani Kanda and acclimatize ourselves. We can relax and explore the surroundings.
Day 04: Rani Kanda – Dumti
Today we trek through and cascading waterfalls and flowery meadows to reach Dumti. Dinner and overnight stay in tents in Dumti.
Day 05: Dumti – Gundar
Start the day from Dumti and trek up to Gundar. We follow the Baspa River all along and cross several small streams along the way to reach Gundar.
Day 06: Gundar – Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp
It could be a tough day depending upon the snow conditions and so an early start is recommended. The climb is steep and may require some technical gear. Dinner and overnight stay in tents at the base camp.
Day 07: Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp – Base camp II (Kinnaur)
Today we trek from the base camp to the base camp II on the Kinnaur side. The climb is steep and on snow. We start early because at times it might take longer than expected.
Day 08: Base camp II (Kinnaur) – Lamkhaga Pass – Base camp III (Gangotri)
Today we start our final ascent to the Lamkhaga Pass and we cross the mountain pass and get over to the base camp on the Gangotri side. The climb is steep and might require technical gear.
Day 09: Base camp III (Gangotri) – Kyorkati
Today we descend down from the base camp to Kyorkati at the mouth of the glacier which is a meadow. We pitch our tents here and camp for the night.
Day 10: Kyorkati – Harsil
The final leg of the trek is through very beautiful and through thick forests, numerous waterfalls, and unnamed streams. We finally reach Harsil and rest for the night in the village homestays or tents. The next morning we depart for Uttarkashi.
- All arrangements for overnight stays during the trip.
- Camping & Climbing 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 in handling emergency situations.
- Local guides and workers with in-depth knowledge about the local area.
- One luggage per person will be transported by us.
- Inner line permits and arrangements en route will be arranged by the operator.
- All stays and lodging on a twin sharing basis shall be provided.
Lamkhaga Pass Intermediate Camp-site (4650 Mtr) – Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh)
Lamkhaga Pass Intermediate camp-site is a very high altitude camp-site with views of 3 passes of Jalandhari Gad Valley – Chhotkhaga Pass, Dudhiyan Pass & Lamkhaga Pass, Huge snowfields & Extremely scenic snow slopes of Kinnaur valley.
This campsite is a new camp-site altogether because Raacho Trekkers never camped in this campsite before, either they camp at Lamkhaga Pass Base or Advanced camp-sites before attempting Pass. Since our team is full of energy & able to trek at a good pace on the 4th day, we went a little ahead of 2 Kms. from Lamkhaga Pass Base camp-site where we supposed to camp. This camp-site comes between Lamkhaga Pass Base & Advanced camp-site from the Kinnaur side.
As per the trek crew, Chhotkhaga & Dudhiyan Pass were almost impossible to cross since it’s difficult terrain.
Lamkhaga Pass Trek Route Maps
FAQs About Lamkhaga Pass Trek
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 an medical emergency the porters & guides will carry you to a lower altitude and will contact the rescue authority.
When it comes to packing for a trek in an efficient way so that you have maximum flexibility with minimum weight, we advise trekkers to pack only what it essentially needed. Packing things that are not required will overburden porters & mules and hamper the probability of competing a high altitude trek like Lamkhaga.
Clothing & Gear
- 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.
- Flip-flops or river shoes
- First Aid.
- Sanitary pads/ Tampons.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Quick-drying towel.
- Water Bottle.
- Photo-ID( Passport/Driving License/Voter ID/Aadhar).
- Fitness certificate.
Many people believe that they need immense physical strength to complete a trek like Lamkhaga, which is not necessarily true. Athletic strength is essential, but mental strength is equally important. Anyone with average physical strength and high mental strength can complete a trek like Lamkhaga pass.
Cardio (aerobic) exercises, like hiking, cycling, swimming, will help you achieve strength before the start of your journey. One crucial thing to remember is that trekking is not a race, so you need to keep up with ample breaks and acclimatization.
The best time to trek Lamkhaga is from May to September (barring the monsoon period). During the spring season (May month), wildflowers, including pink rhododendrons, bloom in the Kyarkoti Valley in Uttarakhand. Clear skies and stable conditions underscore the Lamkhaga pass trek during spring months.
The autumn month of September is renowned for its calming climate and favorable temperatures. Autumn month is a perfect time for night or dawn/dusk photography. Monsoon and winters are usually avoided because of the risks and difficulties presented by Garhwal and Kinnaur Himalayas.
The key to preventing altitude sickness is to acclimatize properly. In high altitude areas, you should not gain more than 600-800 m of altitude. We advise you to take things easy and not to trek in a hurry.
Regular hydration of at least 5 liters of water a day is a must. Diamox (acetazolamide) is not recommended. Diamox simply tricks the body into breathing faster (by increasing the blood Ph slightly) and in fact avoids symptoms. Acclimatization is the only treatment for high altitude sickness. Take medication only if it is recommended by your doctor.
Throughout the trek, numerous mountain streams of the Baspa Valley & Kyarkoti and the glaciers of Baspa & Jalandhari Gad are the main source of drinking water and cooking water. Mountain stream water & snowmelt water is perfectly safe to drink, although there may be issues with silt mixed water on rainy days. We filter water through the natural sedimentation process. We also recommend that hikers bring a filter fitted water bottle.
The trekking hours are not fixed. The prevailing weather conditions, terrain and walking pace of the group 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 beautiful Baspa and Kyarkoti regions.
There will be toilet tents. Our team digs a hole in the ground and then erects a toilet tent around it for privacy. We brief our guides to erect the toilet tent away from water sources and mountain streams, and on departure the next morning the hole will be filled and covered with dirt. We recommend that you always keep a roll of toilet paper and a hand sanitizer in your daypack.
Our trek leader is going to carry a first aid kit. We recommend that you bring a small personal kit of your own to deal with any bruises, scrapes or blisters that you may pick up along the way. The more difficult a trek is, the more exhaustive your personal first aid kit should be.
The rule of thumb is to use several thin layers rather than just one or two thick layers. It helps you to peel or strip layers depending on the current weather conditions and the time of day. Use a fabric that soaks moisture away from your skin and dries quickly. Your outer layer should be fully wind and waterproof. We recommend that you wear good quality thermals, woolen socks, and a waterproof jacket. A windproof outer layer is essential to fight wind chills. Choose a thermal base-layer with fabric that sucks sweat away from your skin. You need to cover your hands and feet with high-quality gloves and socks, also a hat to cover your head and a balaclava to shield your face from snowy winds of Lamkhaga snowfields.
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(Lamkhaga trek route has a long snowfield stretch). Many people prefer walking on the glaciers without crampons.
This is a rather personal preference. Many people swear by them, particularly on treks with long ascents(like Baspa river glacier snout to Lamkhaga pass summit) and descents, others consider that they get in the way and prefer to manage without them. If you have weak hips, knees or ankles, trekking poles can be effective in reducing the strain.
There is no other way to train for Himlayan altitude than to slowly acclimatize. Our Lamkhaga pass trek itinerary has been carefully planned to allow for gradual acclimatization (at Chitkul and Ranikanda). Altitude sickness can impact the fittest trekkers as easily as the less fit. If you’re on a trek, the main advice is to keep your fluid intake up to stay hydrated. Diamox (acetazolamide) is not recommended. Diamox simply tricks the body into breathing faster (by increasing the blood Ph slightly). It actually covers the symptoms. The best treatment for high altitude sickness is acclimatization or descent to a lower altitude.
During the trek, your luggage is carried by a porter or a mule, and all you need to carry is what you need during the day, such as a bottle of water, camera, extra clothes, sun-cream, and a small personal first aid kit. We recommend a daypack of 15 to 30 liters for Lamkhaga pass trek.
There no definitive training regime that suits everyone because people have different fitness levels. A workout plan may work great for some and may not work for others. The best way to train for the Lamkhaga trek is to spend plenty of time walking and jogging for at least a month. Aerobic exercise training always helps, but there’s no substitute for simply walking & trotting for several hours at a stretch. It’s also a good opportunity to test out all your trekking gear, clothes and shoes – to make sure everything is comfortable and works well.
It’s not really a problem. You can walk at your own pace almost all the time because we have enough guides to support trekkers of all speeds. Occasionally, for safety reasons, the leader of the trek may pull the group together (e.g. in bad weather or in a difficult section of the trek, including crossing the Nithal Thach stream crossing section and the Lamkhaga base camp to Jalandhari Gad stretch) but in general, the group can string out and everyone finds their own comfortable walking pace.
The evaluation of your personal health is very subjective. Your fitness level is also set against the difficulty level of the trekking route, which includes different factors such as the number of walking hours per day, the total number of days, the duration and complexity of the descent, the terrain, the altitude, and the weather conditions. You need to have previous high altitude trekking experience to match the difficulty level of Lamkhaga. Without being physically and mentally fit, one can not climb Lamkhaga pass or for that matter any pass or a peak.
By Road: A few ordinary (non-AC) Himachal State Transport (HRTC)buses depart late at night from the ISBT Kashmiri Gate. You can take a straight bus from Delhi to Sangla that leaves at 10 p.m. from Kashmiri Gate and drops you off at Sangla the next day at around 3:30 p.m.
The last bus from Sangla to Chitkul departs at 4:30 p.m. and takes almost an hour to cover a distance of 18 kilometers between Sangla and Chitkul. You can also hitchhike quite effortlessly on this route, or you can also get a taxi. You can also take a more comfortable route by taking a Volvo or AC bus to Shimla and taking a 7 or 8 AM ordinary bus from ISBT Tutikandi Shimla to Sangla.
By Air: Nearest Airport is Jubbarhatti, Shimla. Air India’s weekly flight departs from Delhi airport at 7:50 AM.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Shimla. The following is the departure schedule from Kalka.
|Train Name & Number||Departure from Kalka||Duration||Arrival at Shimla|
|Kalka Shimla Special/52445||07:00||5h 55m||12:55|
|Kalka Shimla Passenger/52457||03:30||5h 25m||08:55|
|Himalayan Queen/52455||12:10||5h 20m||17:30|
|Kalka Simla Express/52453||06:20||5h 15m||11:35|
|Shivalik DLX Express/52451||05:45||4h 50m||10:35|
|Him Darshan Express/52459||07:00||5h 55m||12:55|