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Auden’s Col Expedition & Khatling Glacier Trek Blog

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Patangini>Auden’s Col>Khatling Glacier Trek Expedition

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.

Auden's Col & Mayali pass trek route map
Auden’s Col & Mayali pass trek map

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.

Cloud Carpet. Gangotri National Park. Uttrakhand[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Cloud Carpet. Gangotri National Park. Uttrakhand
High meadows. Gangotri National Park[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
High meadows. Gangotri National Park
Near Bhoj Kharak campsite[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Near Bhoj Kharak campsite
Approaching Kedar kharak campsite[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Approaching Kedar Kharak campsite
En route Kedartal. Gangotri National Park.[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
En route Kedartal. Gangotri National Park.
First sightings - from left Bhrigupanth at 6772 m and ThalaySagar at 6904 m.[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
First sightings – from left Bhrigupanth at 6772 m and ThalaySagar at 6904 m
Manda range from Kedar Kharak campsite[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Manda range from Kedar Kharak campsite
Views from Kedar Kharak campsite[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Views from Kedar Kharak campsite
Approaching KedarTal. [Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Approaching KedarTal.
Kedartal and ThalyaSagar. Gangotri National Park.[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Kedartaal and ThalyaSagar. Gangotri National Park.
The magnificent Kedartal and Thalaysagar peak[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
The magnificent Kedartal and Thalaysagar peak
wonder what made this so smokey..[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Wonder what made this so smokey..
Contemplating by the Kedartal Lake. [Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Contemplating by the Kedartal Lake.
The day my shoes broke near Kedar Tal.[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
The day my shoes broke near Kedar Tal.
Manda range, Bhrighupant, Thalay Sagar. Gangotri National Park. [Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Manda range, Bhrighupant, Thalay Sagar.
Gangotri National Park.
Raacho Trekkers team member Rajeev on the way up to Patangini dhaar...the day Manish taught me the zig zag[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Raacho Trekkers team member Rajeev on the way up to Patangini dhaar…the day Manish taught me the zig zag
How many can you spot?[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
How many can you spot?
On Patangini dhaar 5085m[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
On Patangini Dhar 5085m
Vineet leading the expedition[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Vineet leading the expedition
Audens Col 5490 m[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Auden’s Col 5490 m.
Advance base camp before the Auden's col[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Advance base camp before the Auden’s col
The Gangotri range[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
The Gangotri range
The day after Auden's Col on Khatling glacier
The day after Auden’s Col on Khatling glacier
Somewhere along Khatling Glacier
Somewhere along Khatling Glacier
Endless Khatling Glacier
Endless Khatling Glacier
Waterfalls in the Bhilangana valley
Waterfalls in the Bhilangana valley
Green meadows of Bhilangana valley
The beautiful Bhilangana valley… full of wildlife and variety of birds species
Me, myself and the wild and tame creatures in Bhilangana valley.[Three passes trek : Audens-Mayali-Patangini Dhar]
Me, myself and the wild and tame creatures in Bhilangana valley
Last campsite in Bhilanganga valley
Last campsite. Bhilanganga valley
Old wooden house in Bhilangana valley of Uttarakhand
Houses of Bhilangana valley Uttrakhand
Painted house in Bhilangana valley
Houses in Bhilangana valley
A wild herb called Rubharb found in Bhilangana valley
Rubharb!!!! the original variety not wild but wild
Makeshift bridge over Bhilangana river
Makeshift Bridge over Bhilangana river
View from the Bhilangana campsite
View from the campsite.


Blog by Sridevi Nair

Categories
Auden's Col Blog Garhwal Mountaineering Trekking

Auden’s Col Trek : Via Khatling Glacier & Mayali Pass

Home » Auden's col

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.

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).

 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.

Gangotri to Auden’s col via Patangini Dhar

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]

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.

Climbing Auden's col [The three passes trek Auden's col - Mayali pass - Patangini Dhar]
Climbing Auden’s col
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
Mayali Pass, Uttrakhand, June 2017

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)
Auden's Col & Mayali pass trek route map
Auden’s Col & Mayali pass trek map

[The three passes trek ] photoblog by Anshul Chaurasia