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How Lamkhaga Pass Trek Made Chitkul Worth Visiting?

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The Lamkhaga pass trekking is an amazing but exhausting experience. We trekked through beautiful villages, farm terraces, river streams, forests, and suspension bridges. Jaw-dropping views compensated for the boulder-strewn terrain & strenuous climb. 8 to 12 hours of trekking on average every day.

jalandhari gad valley landscape
Celebrating after reaching lower basecamp of Lamkhaga pass

Lamkhaga Pass

The route to the Lamkhaga Pass is exceptionally scenic with the bhojpatra forest, small glacial lakes and a mosaic of flowers(particularly pink rhododendron) adorning the lower Kyarkoti valley. The loose scree before the pass posed a challenge but at last, we were atop Lamkhaga pass that divides Garhwal from Kinnaur district of Himachal.

After a gap of 1 year, It is the mountain that has been calling me, and it’s time to answer said my heart this September. We, a team of 8 people decided to climb the Lamkhaga pass (Approx. 18000 ft.) one of the toughest, roughest and challenging terrain in Baspa Valley on Indo-Tibetan border that connects Chitkul village of Himachal Pradesh with Harsil in Uttarakhand. A journey of around 100Kms in 9 days at an altitude of above 12,000ft.

Chitkul mata temple
Chitkul mata temple

The Route/Itinerary

Lamkhaga pass route map
Lamkhaga Pass trek route map
  • Day 1: Shimla – Chitkul village
  • Day 2:Chitkul – Nagasthi –Rani Kanda
  • Day 3:Rani Kanda – Dumti
  • Day 4:Dumti – Gundar
  • Day 5:Gundar – Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp
  • Day 6:Lamkhaga Pass Base Camp – Basecamp II
  • Day 7:Basecamp II – Lamkhaga Pass – Basecamp III
  • Day 8:Basecamp III – Kyorkati
  • Day 9:Kyorkati – Harsil

Chitkul ,Baspa Valley

The Baspa Valley is one of the most delightful & picturesque valleys in Himachal Pradesh. Captain Conway once called Baspa “the most lovely of all the Himalayan valleys”. We couldn’t agree more.

Standing by the Baspa river below Chitkul village
Standing by the Baspa river below Chitkul village

The lower part is full of apple orchards, pine, fir trees and babbling brooks-higher up are excellent grazing grounds- everywhere there are rocks, boulders and snowy peaks within easy reach.

Trek Routes In Baspa Valley

The valley is connected to Garhwal region of Uttarakhand by some prominent passes(apart from Lamkhaga pass) like: 

  • Buran Pass: Sangla to Janglikh village in Pabbar valley, Rohru. 
  • Rupin Pass: Sangla to Dhaula in Uttarakhand
  • Khimloga pass: Chitkul village to Har-Ki-Dun valley, Uttarakhand
  • Borasu pass: Chitkul to Har-Ki-Dun valley

Climbing the mountains to embrace the challenge, to enjoy the air and behold the view has been my passion; it’s just not about the view which comes after the toughest climb that makes the Body, Mind & Soul fulfilled, but the happiness and growth that occurs while you are climbing it with your team.

Negotiating the boulder stretch
Negotiating the boulder stretch before reaching the pass base camp.

I have been an avid traveller/ trekker in the Himalayas and the last time I climbed was Pin Parvati ranges in 2017 and my lust for the Himalayas only grew year after year since my visit to Kailash in 2004. I call this a Lust because this seeking never gets fulfilled.

Living in a city is having a completely entangled life, not necessarily engaging or involving. The luxury of spending time with self is a challenge & we are always connected with the outside world but hardly get time to be with our own company in this mad race.

Flower of the lesser Himalaya
Flower of the lesser Himalaya

The mountain scenery is breathtaking, quaint villages are beautiful, living is stress-free & so it’s easy to see intense life and spunk in people’s eyes. Learning to embrace the moment is truly a humbling experience. As the Chinese proverb goes, be calm and take things as they come, The Journey clears the mind from the constant chatter; you are at peace with self and you get to see priorities, Goals & people in your life with whom u would like to spend time. It improves relationships & quality of life. It is said “A man with clarity reaches his goal sooner than the man with confidence”

Traversing the Dumti meadows
Traversing the Dumti meadows

Trekking or mountaineering is the only option where there are no chances of saying sorry. If you commit a mistake that too at 5K plus altitude, life would be the one saying sorry to you, anything can happen on the mountains, yet you keep the faith on mother nature and pursue your journey and enjoy every minute of it.

We pace our walk to catch our breath. However, if we walk too slow or stop too long in between, We might reach the tent after dark that too in biting cold weather.

This is equally real in our working life. Many years, we work hard to climb the corporate ladder. There are always a few resources, yet many things to accomplish in the organization. Those who stay positive, agile, and focus on the goals always succeed to the top. For them, the goal is purposeful Therefore, a purposeful goal inspires everyone to be agile and stay focused. Above all, to support one another in reaching the destination on time.

Tricolor at summit of Lamkhaga pass
Tricolor at summit of Lamkhaga pass

The journey also opens up conversations on various subjects from the world economy to how much pepper to be added in dal to make it ideal, it was physically exhausting and muscle numbing but the spirit to reach the top boosted the soul. Trekking means a travelling experience with thrilling excitement.

On reaching the top of the mountain, I could feel that both my heart and lungs were pushing their best, the panoramic view of the majestic Kinnaur & Garhwal Himalayas, mesmerized and sunk me. I was excited with tears in my eyes but equally calm, as a kid, I always looked up the blue sky and wished for wings to fly up to the mountains. I Believe I can fly… I live in that moment every time I climb the Himalayas. Nothing like being on top of the world.

Change is an unpredictable journey, experiencing the predictable and expecting little unpredictable ones always spice’s up the journey. It’s not only on the climb to the Himalayas but also for life.
Travel teaches as much as or sometimes more than a teacher, Travelling shouldn’t be just a tour, it should be a tale. When I reflect upon the journey I realize, be comfortable with the discomfort to reach new heights. Embrace the present & sometimes, it is perfectly okay to get bruised.

Blog by: Senthil Kumar Rajendran

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Lamkhaga Pass Trek Expedition blog

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Lamkhaga Pass Trek log | In The Footsteps Of Marco Pallis

Chitkul-Gangotri Trek

[Chitkul: The last village of Kinnaur, Himachal to Harsil via Lamkhaga Pass (5284mtr)] [MAY – June 2015 ]

TREK ITINERARY :

28th May: Reach Base Camp Chitkul by road from Shimla

Trek Starts:

  • 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

DAY1:

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.

DAY2:

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.

Near Chaura Check post [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Near Chaura Check post
Boundary gate of Kinnaur district [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Boundary gate of Kinnaur district
View across Satluj valley [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
View across Satluj valley
Tranda Dhank kinnaur [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
The construction of the Hindustan Tibet road in Himachal Pradesh began in 1850. The 637 Km road from Firozpur, Punjab to Shipki-La is also known as National Highway No. 5. It passes through the foothills of Shivalik Ranges, Shimla, Kingal and then runs along the river Satluj and thereafter passes through Rampur, Powari, and Pooh. From Khab to Sumdo, the road runs along the river Spiti. From Kalka to Wangtu, the 335 Km stretch is under the control of the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department. While from Wangtu to Korik, it is under the Border Roads Organisation. This road has been featured on the National Geographic Channel as ‘The World’s Deadliest Roads’.
Tranda Dhank, Hindustan Tibet road Kinnaur.
National Highway 5 [Chaura - Bhabanagar stretch , Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
National Highway 5 [Chaura – Bhabanagar stretch]
Satluj river choked by numerous Hydro electric project built on the river [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Satluj river choked by numerous Hydroelectric project built on the river
Places in Kinnaur and their altitude [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Places in Kinnaur and their altitude

DAY3

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.

Night Landscape , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Night Landscape, Kalpa
Night Landscape view of Kinner Kailash range , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Night Landscape view of Kinner Kailash range, Kalpa
That Morning , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
That Morning, Kalpa
Chaka meadows can be seen from our hotel, Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Chaka meadows can be seen from our hotel, Kalpa
Chaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Chaka stream, en route Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Walking along Chaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Walking along Chaka stream, en route Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Chaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Chaka stream, en route Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Walking along Chaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Walking along Chaka stream, en route Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Pebbled path , en route Chaka meadows trek [Lamkhaga pass trek 2015]
Pebbled path, en route Chaka meadows trek
Chaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga passChaka stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015] trek expedition 2015]
Chaka stream, en route Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Chaka meadows , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Somewhere above ~500 metres is the last house enroute , Chaka meadows trek [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015 ]
Somewhere above ~500 meters is the last house enroute, Chaka meadows trek
View from the hotel room , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
View from the hotel room, Kalpa
View from the hotel room , Kalpa [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
View from the hotel room, Kalpa
The hotel where we stayed at Kalpa , [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The hotel where we stayed at Kalpa
The weather that night in Chitkul was luckily clear , Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The weather that night in Chitkul was luckily clear, Chitkul

DAY 4

CHITKUL Village.

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.

Camping by the Baspa river , Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Camping by the Baspa river, Chitkul
That morning at Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
That morning at Chitkul
Dhaula peak locally called aka P6465m. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Dhaula peak locally called aka P6465m.
A home in the Himalaya [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
A home in the Himalaya
[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The route to Kinnaur Kailash Circuit trek goes through these house all the way up to the glaciers visible in background.
Indigenous livestock , Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Indigenous livestock, Chitkul
Chitkul Landscapes , Baspa valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Chitkul Landscapes, Baspa valley
Kitchen in the woods , Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Kitchen in the woods, Chitkul
Kinnauri Sheepdog, Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Kinnauri Sheepdog(Hapsu) at Chitkul
Hiking around Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Hiking around Chitkul
Hiking around Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Hiking around Chitkul
An evening in Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Sunny day at Chitkul
An evening in Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
One of many mountain stream flowing through the Chitkul Village
An evening in Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Another serene evening in Chitkul
That night in Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
That night in Chitkul

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.

Bye bye Chitkul [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Bye bye Chitkul
Camping at Ranikanda , Trekking Day 1 [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Camping at Ranikanda, Trekking Day 1
View of upper Baspa Valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
View of upper Baspa Valley
Reaching Ranikanda , View of upper Baspa Valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Reaching Ranikanda, View of upper Baspa Valley
Reaching Ranikanda , View of upper Baspa Valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Reaching Ranikanda , View of upper Baspa Valley
Camping at Ranikanda meadows , View of upper Baspa Valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Camping at Ranikanda meadows, View of upper Baspa Valley
Camping at Ranikanda meadows [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Camping at Ranikanda meadows
Teatime , Camping at Ranikanda [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Teatime , Camping at Ranikanda
Camping at Ranikanda [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Camping at Ranikanda
Mangsu sub-range in Great Himalayan range. Charang village is situated behind this, Camping at Ranikanda [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Mangsu sub-range in the Great Himalayan range. Charang village is situated behind this, Camping at Ranikanda
Cook serving warm water , Camping at Ranikanda [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Cook serving warm water , Camping at Ranikanda

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!

That morning! Ranikanda meadows [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
That morning! Ranikanda meadows
Kitchen tent can be seen far away in middle. Mangsu Charang range behind. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Kitchen tent can be seen far away in the middle. Mangsu – Charang range behind.
Baspa river, near Ranikanda ITBP post. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Baspa river, near Ranikanda ITBP post.
2 team members can be seen here. A wide horizontal angle image could have worked here to show the actual steepness of terrain. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
2 team members can be seen here. A wide horizontal angle image could have worked here to show the actual steepness of the terrain.
Well, I hope I did good with 18-55mm here ?[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Well, I hope I did well with 18-55mm here?
Our porter Gopal at work. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Our porter Gopal at work.
Our guide Negi waiting for us. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Our guide Negi waiting for us.
VB & Gopal helping AP. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
VB & Gopal helping AP.
Taking a breath [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Taking a breath
Views of upper Baspa valley [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Views of upper Baspa valley

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.

Playing cricket at 4050 meter altitude [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Playing cricket at 4050-meter altitude
Always maintain distance, so that snoring sounds wont clash [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Always maintain distance, so that snoring sounds won’t clash
Cricket field of Dumti ITBP camps [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Cricket field of Dumti ITBP camps
We remember them everyday for the courage and for their hospitality [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
We remember them every day for the courage and for their hospitality
A peak arise just towards the back of ITBP camp. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
A peak arises just towards the back of the ITBP camp.
Night was the only time, when sky used to open up [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The night was the only time when sky used to open up.
Our strength [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Sturdy porters..Our strength

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.

Dumti expanse [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Dumti expanse
Dumti - Nithal Thach expanse [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Dumti – Nithal Thach expanse
Nithal Thach meadows [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Nithal Thach meadows
Thola peak as seen from Dumti.... From the ITBP loo to be precise [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Thola peak as seen from Dumti…. From the ITBP loo to be precise
Boulder stretch en route Gundar [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Boulder stretch en route Gundar
Balancing act! [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Balancing act!
Hiking nearby while the camp was being set up [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Hiking nearby while the camp was being set up
Waiting for the sunshine [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Waiting for the sunshine.
Hiking nearby while the camp was being set up [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Hiking nearby while the camp was being set up.
Baspa Glacier in the background. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Baspa Glacier in the background.
Towards Tibet [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Towards Tibet
Nithal Thatch grounds and ITBP post is just to the right. The time when we started enjoying the vistas around, snowfall began..[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Nithal Thatch grounds and ITBP post is just to the right.
The time when we started enjoying the vistas around, the snowfall began.
Utro Utro Niche!!!!!.....The actual trek begins from here. The poor visibility and weather follows us all the way till Kyarktoti for next 3 days. [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Utro Utro Niche! (Come…Come down fast!)The actual trek begins from here. The poor visibility and weather follow us all the way till Kyarktoti for the next 3 days.
Snowfall at Nithal Thach , [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Snowfall at Nithal Thach.
Nischay doing some Jugaad with his wet boots... tough times ahead [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Nishchay doing some Jugaad with his wet boots… tough times ahead.

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.

To the East of Nithal Thach camp [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
To the East of Nithal Thach camp.
To the North of Nithal Thach Camp [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
To the North of Nithal Thach Camp.
To the South of Nithal thach camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
To the South of Nithal thach campsite.
And us in the center of Nithal Thach Camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
And us in the center of Nithal Thach Campsite.
And us in the center of Nithal Thach Camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
And us in the center of Nithal Thach Campsite.
Our guide mending the way [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Our guide mending the way.
Rashmi had brought Kasim's old shoes on her trek. She managed to cross the pass successfully with it.[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Rashmi had brought Kasim’s old shoes on her trek. She managed to cross the pass successfully with it.
Looks more like trekking poles marks... lol, BUT IT'S NOT.[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Looks more like trekking poles marks… lol, BUT IT’S NOT.
Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Gundar camp site.
Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Gundar campsite.
Looking back towards Gundar.[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Looking back towards Gundar.
The views around Gundar .[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The views around Gundar.
Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Gundar campsite.
In the evening, things used to get normal.[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
In the evening, things used to get normal.
This was the situation, where we decided not to move further.[Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
This was the situation, where we decided not to move further.
Waiting for the storm to subside , Gundar [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Waiting for the storm to subside, Gundar
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar campsite
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar campsite.
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar campsite.
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar camp site [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
In the evening, things used to get normal. Gundar campsite.

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.

Rangrik Rang assumed -6553m after checking out Leomann maps. [Lamhaga pass expedition]
Rangrik Rang assumed -6553m after checking out Leomann maps.
Near Baspa glacier snout [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Near Baspa glacier snout
Near Baspa glacier snout [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Near Baspa glacier snout
Close up of Rangrik Rang -6553m [Lamkhaga pass expedition]
Close up of Rangrik Rang -6553m
Lamkhaga gully [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Lamkhaga gully
Inside Baspa Glacier snout. Looks so small, but it was too scary and large to even stand here and click. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Inside Baspa Glacier snout. Looks so small, but it was too scary and large to even stand here and click.
Baspa glacier snout [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Baspa glacier snout
Baspa glacier snout [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Baspa glacier snout
Baspa glacier [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Baspa glacier. The origin of Baspa river.
Baspa glacier snout [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Baspa glacier snout
Climbing the Lamkhaga gradient [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Climbing the Lamkhaga gradient
Start of the climb [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Start of the climb
Climbing the Lamkhaga gradient [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Climbing the Lamkhaga gradient.
Climbing up to the advance base camp [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Climbing up to the advance base camp

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.

You climb up and again you go down several times. That was really hectic to be frank. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
You climb up and again you go down several times. That was really hectic to be frank.
going down.. [Lamkhaga pass expedition]
going down…..
Climbing up.. Sonu mending Rashmi's shoe[Lamkhaga pass expedition]
Climbing up.. Sonu mending Rashmi’s shoe
Lamkhaga traverse [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Lamkhaga traverse
Chotkhaga Pass (left) - Unnamed pass(middle)- Lamkhaga Ridge Pass(Right) Lamkhaga cannot be seen untill you reach its base, its so remote. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Chotkhaga Pass (left) – Unnamed pass(middle)- Lamkhaga Ridge Pass(Right)
Lamkhaga cannot be seen untill you reach its base, its so remote.
Near the advance base camp [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Near the advance base camp

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. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]Looking towards HP unnamed peaks as seen from Abc at 5120m at 530am.

P5810m [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
P5810m
Pitching the tent in raging snow storm [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
Pitching the tent in raging snow storm
After 7am, shot from Digicam. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
After 7am, shot from Digicam.
Chotkhaga Hidden behind. [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Chotkhaga Hidden behind.
Walking towards the pass [Lamkhaga trek expedition 2015]
Walking towards the pass
Lamkhaga glacier [Lamkhaga pass expedition 2015]
Lamkhaga glacier
The traverse [Lamkhaga pass trek expedition 2015]
The Lamkhaga traverse
The glacier [Lamhaga pass trek]
The glacier
View of Kinnaur - Garhwal range [Lamkhaga pass trek 2015]
View of Kinnaur – Garhwal range
Unnamed peak on Kinnaur - Garhwal range [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Unnamed peak on Kinnaur – Garhwal range
If you see exactly in the middle, there is a cornice. That is gateway to Harsil [Lamkhaga pass trek 2015]
If you see exactly in the middle, there is a cornice. That is the gateway to Harsil

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.

Unnamed Kinnaur peaks, some slightly above 6000m. You can see our kitchen tent(peach color) to the left hand side down. [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Unnamed Kinnaur peaks, some slightly above 6000m. You can see our kitchen tent(peach color) to the left-hand side down.
Sonu negi opening the route [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Sonu negi opening the route
Looking up to the pass [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Looking up to the pass
Small avalanche [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Small avalanche
This is how the border looks at 5285m, A thin wall between Kinnaur-Garhwal - LAMKHAGA PASS
This is how the border looks at 5285m, A thin wall between Kinnaur-Garhwal – LAMKHAGA PASS
Waiting for rest of the team [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Waiting for the rest of the team
Tiding the prayer flags on Lamkhaga pass [Lamkhaga pass trek 2015]
Trek leader Sonu Negi tiding the prayer flags on Lamkhaga pass
“We don't live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means, and that is what life is for.” ―George Mallory [Lamkhaga pass trek]
“We don’t live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means, and that is what life is for.”
―George Mallory
Welcome to the land of gods- Devbhoomi and huge snowfield looking towards Garhwal side. [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Welcome to the land of gods- Devbhoomi and huge snowfield looking towards Garhwal side.

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.

Descending down the pass [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Descending down the pass
Glissading the slope [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Glissading the slope
Glissading the slope [Lamkhaga pass trek]
I hope the readers here can make out, what we faced.
Lamkhaga pass trek
Waiting for the storm to subside
Upper Kyarkoti(Jalandhari Gad valley ~~~4000mtr) [ Lamkhaga pass trek ]
The end of snow line at Upper Kyarkoti(Jalandhari Gad valley ~~~4000mtr)
Glissading the slope [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Glisadding down the slope
Glissading the slope [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Camping at Kyarkoti [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Camping at Kyarkoti

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.

This has to be best alpine tents (though bit heavy) on high altitudes. [Lamkhaga pass trek]
This has to be best alpine tents (though bit heavy) on high altitudes.
Definition of Relaxation is this! [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Definition of Relaxation is this!
Burning juniper shrubs [Lamkhaga pass trek]
Burning juniper shrubs
This is a shortcut to Chotkhaga Pass but very technical. NO! you actually cant see the Chotkhaga Ridge from here but this is the route.[Lamkhaga pass trek]
This is a shortcut to Chotkhaga Pass but very technical. NO! you actually cant see the Chotkhaga Ridge from here but this is the route.
It was full moon, my 18-55mm lens could only do this much. [Lamkhaga pass trek]
It was a full moon, my 18-55mm lens could only do this much.

A blog by Rohit Bhat

Categories
Blog Kinnaur Sangla valley Trek Blog Trekking

Baspa River Crossings:Nithal Campsite to Baspa glacier

Home » Lamkhaga pass

Baspa River originates near the Indo-Tibetan and Himachal-Uttarakhand border. The valley of Baspa is named after this river. It is also known as the Sangla Valley – one of the most scenic valleys in the Himachal Pradesh. The Chung Sakhago Pass lies at the head of the valley. Baspa river is fed by the perennial Chung Sakhago glacier and shares the catchment area with a tributary of the Bhagirathi river, Uttarakhand.

Baspa River Crossings

From Nithal Thach to Baspa glacier

After a cakewalk on the first two days, we geared up for adventurous things lying ahead for us. With extreme cold conditions leading to dry skin, some wheatish faces in our group had started changing to white faces coated with layers of sunscreens by the start of day 3.

Baspa river | Lamkhaga pass trek
Coated with the layers of sunscreen

After a 2km walk from our campsite, we arrived at the Karu Devta temple. Karu Devta is the presiding deity of Dumti. A small Shivling and Karu devta is present in this temple.

Karu devta temple – The presiding diety of Dumti| Lamkhaga pass trek
Karu devta temple – The presiding diety of Dumti

Happy ji was telling us that even ITBP had been following the traditions and practices of locals to offer a prasad in this temple every morning before starting to cook for that day. He added that if any villager is taking his goat or sheep beyond this point, the villager would sacrifice one of his goats/sheep here before proceeding further.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Offering prayers at the Karu Devta temple

The trail beyond Dumti had given us some wallpaper views, however, the reality hit me as we stepped into the rocky trails. A mild pain had started in my ankle after we crossed the flat surfaces and started walking into the rock patches. However, it was very mild pain and I was confident of finishing off the day’s walk and was hoping for late-night magic for much steeper ascents waiting for us near the Lamkhaga pass trek.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Stepping into the rocky trails

We came across herds of thick-skinned cows chilling out and grazing in the valleys of snow-capped peaks. The cows that had been left near Nagasthi had traveled to this point.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Time to relax after a long walk

Happy ji was telling us that the thick-skinned cows cannot survive the slightly hot weather after winters, hence it’s left to graze on its own in the high hills for 3 to 4 months.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Thick skinned cows chilling out in the valleys of snow capped peaks

He added that the villagers manage their living with one cow for a few months till the winter and would go on search of the herd during the beginning of winter. It was interesting to hear from him that no wild animals roamed in this part of Kinnaur and the herd of cows left to graze here would usually be found in its full count by the villagers.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Some serious discussion about the village life & cattle while waiting for the team to regroup

We were also joined in the trail by ITBP jawans who had to camp at Nithal tach. The ITBP jawans were reminding us every now and then to hydrate ourselves, protect ourselves with the monkeys’ caps instead of exposing our ears to the heavy winds of these hills in our yet another long walk along the river. And, there started the second round of conversations with ITBP jawans.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Juice, conversations, and selfies with ITBP Jawans

From current affairs to experience in the Indian army, we had talked about almost everything that had flashed into our minds then. Then the conversation drifted to Gundar Nala crossing that lay ahead of Nithal Tach. ITBP jawans passed us some energy drinks to us and we had stopped for a short break. The commander of Dumti started describing how the ITBP personnel crosses the Gundar Nala if the situation demands them to do so. He said every time when someone in ITBP needed to reach Gundar, they would apply mustard oil all over their body, walk through the super cold waters and then cross it as the water level may sometimes even reach their shoulders.

Porters of Lamkhaga team(Raacho Trekkers) marching towards Nithal
Porters of Lamkhaga team(Raacho Trekkers) marching towards Nithal

With our trek happening in the last week of May, he added that we might just get a little lucky as water levels may not be that high in May. Having had a long break here, it was time to move ahead.

Yamrang peaks – The beginning of the Indo-Tibet border | Lamkhaga pass trek
Yamrang peaks – The beginning of the Indo-Tibet border

After a walk of a few minutes, the Yamrang peaks were just in front of us. After an uneven patch, we had finally come down to the valley and the flat river beds greeted us. Time just flew away as we walked along the river bed hearing out the adventures of few ITBP jawans.

Lamkhaga pass trek
Soaking up the sight and enjoying every moment in the valley
Snow time near Nithal Thach
Snow time near Nithal Thach

It started to snow as we were just a few minutes behind Nithal. Few of us moving in the mountain trail with ITBP could see the dwarfed figures of the rest of our trek group crossing the Dumti meadows from a slightly higher inclination. Nature keeps reminding us that humans and their problems are so tiny in front of Mother Nature. However, despite our tiny size, we, humans continue to use too many of our natural resources at an alarming pace ignoring the warning signs from every other natural disaster.

Team Lamkhaga of Raacho Trekkers walking along the Nithal nadi
Team Lamkhaga of Raacho Trekkers walking along the Nithal nadi

Cheerfully schlepping our groceries, tents and sleeping bags, few porters got past us in the mild snow as they had to rush through and set up the campsite before the weather becomes worse.

Lamkhaga pass trek expedition
Porters, the overlooked guardian angels of a mountain expedition

Camping in high hills, far far away from the human habitation and yet experiencing the luxury of tasty cooked food and some good sleep in thick sleeping bags/tents is an inevitable dream without the support of the porters, who carry heavy loads of groceries and other items just for a few hundred rupees a day. The physical support provided by the porters to fulfill the dreams of a few trekkers despite the challenging weather conditions is often overlooked. They are the indisputable guardian angels of a mountain expedition.

Moderate snow showers in Nithal ITBP campsite [Lamkhaga pass trek]]
Moderate snow showers in Nithal ITBP campsite
Our trek group had our lunch amidst the mild snow in Nithal, while Sonu Negi ji was helping the porters cross the river beyond Nithal. It was the same sight that the commander of Dumti had described us. From the top, we could see the porters removing their layers and crossing the river with the luggage on top of their heads.

Heading towards the Gundar nala[Lamkhaga pass trek]
Heading towards the Gundar nala
Just after the snow intensified, the commander of Dumti came to us and announced that they have worked out a jugaad for us to cross the river. As he had to immediately head back to Dumti, we bid him goodbye with some final handshakes and wondered what was in store at the river crossing.

Baspa river trek
The river crossings from Nithal to Gundar
Baspa river chitkul
Crossing bridge over Gundar stream ( Tributary of Baspa river )

Luckily, the water levels in the spot chosen for us to cross the Gundar nala wasn’t that high as we had imagined. After hopping through a stretch of rocks and crossing a proper bridge, we were standing in front of the two more water crossing points.

Baspa river trek
Our time to cross the gundar nala with ITBP ladders

Water was flowing in its full force. Happy ji and some more support staff brought a ladder and positioned it for us to cross the river. We realized this was the jugaad that the commander of Dumti had mentioned to us back in Nithal.

With the ladder in its position, it was time for an initial load test. Happy ji and a support staff hopped and jumped crazily over the ladder to check if it could withstand our weight. Chetan Phalke from our group captured a small part of Happy ji’s crazy hoping to reach the other side.

Then, it was our time to cross the river with the ladders. With the first one done with ease, we had one more water crossing lying ahead.

There hasn’t been a day that has passed without me lamenting to people on my inability to put on weight despite my hearty appetite. However, my less weight proves to be a great blessing when it comes to climbing or jumping over boulders and rocks. This time a river crossing with a ladder was done and dusted with ease :)

Gundar Campsite - Lamkhaga pass
Campsite at Gundar

After the river crossing and some slow walk along with the uneven patches, we finally arrived at the Gundar campsite. The ankle pain had intensified on the third day and reduced my pace. After campfire and a tasty dinner, it was time to hit the bed.

Gundar - Lamkhaga pass
Clear skies in Gundar on day 4

In every walk of nature, we receive far more than what we seek. We have blessed with some mesmerizing views of snow-peaked mountains as we hopped over some more rocks to cross the rivers.

Baspa river Chitkul
More and more river crossings beyond Gundar

The trails had turned uneven after Nithal and we came to a screeching halt near the Baspa river crossing, about 2 km from Gundar. We had to cross the river to get to the other side and about 3 feet of water was flowing in its full force. A walk in the super cold water was on the cards.

Baspa river trek- Baspa glacier
Group near the Baspa glacier
Baspa river trek
The majestic Baspa glacier snout. Baspa river that flows through Sangla valley originates from here. Baspa is a left-side tributary of the Satluj river.

First Gautham ji and Kohinoor removed off some of their layers and went to the other side. Then, Happy and Rajeev along with three of us held each other’s hands and we formed a chain and crossed the river. Thanks to the lovely capture by Gautham ji (view video in above FB post), this memory (me, Chetan and Hiren crossing Baspa river) is as fresh as it just happened yesterday.

Towards basecamp of Lamkhaga pass
Inching closer to the lower basecamp of Lamkhaga pass
Rajeev giving us demo on how to slide down in snow in Lamkhaga lower basecamp
Rajeev giving us demostration on how to slide down in the snow in Lamkhaga lower base camp

After some hiking beyond the Baspa glacier, we had finally reached the lower basecamp of Lamkhaga pass by 12 noon.

After a long halt of lunch and some tutorials from Happy and Rajeev on snow sliding, we moved further ahead. With a major part of the day still left, it was indeed a sensible decision to skip camping in the lower basecamp and go further ahead. The path beyond Baspa glacier has been steep and the path ahead wasn’t going to be an easy hike.

The trails beyond the Lamkhaga lower basecamp
The trails beyond the Lamkhaga lower basecamp

With the legs washing off my pain killers, my legs literally went on a toss walking over the rocks and uneven surface. The treacherous uphill climb was like adding fuel to fire to an exhausted and injured ankle.

Lamkhaga base camp
The zombie walk beyond lower base camp

But I wasn’t the only one doing the zombie walk. Almost the entire group had become tired few meters up. It was like a never-ending hike.

Climb to Lamkhaga lower base camp
The never-ending hike beyond Lamkhaga lower base camp. Image credits: Aditya Prabakarn

All of us in the group had become completely exhausted. We were counting our steps and taking a break after every 30 to 50 steps. We had been walking, and walking.. and walking.. but the campsite was nowhere near sight. The thought of hiking up with an injured ankle is always easier said than done. With ankle pain turning deadly with every step, I was unsure if I could even make it to the campsite and just hoped I don’t crash or faint somewhere in the snow.

Know the altitudes:

Chitkul Village 3450m  Gundar 4050m
Lamkhaga lower basecamp 4400m

Blog by Sandhya Sourirajan

Categories
Blog Chitkul village Kinnaur Trek Blog Trekking

Lamkhaga Pass Trek Expedition – Chitkul to Dumti

Home » Lamkhaga pass

Chitkul to Dumti Trek blog

Lamkhaga Pass Trek: Day 1 & 2  

It was 20th May 2017, and as per schedule 10 of us were to start for the Lamkhaga pass trek from Chitkul village in the morning after our breakfast. Even before the beginning of the Lamkhaga pass trek, I had got an adventurous start for the trek in Chitkul.

The awesome trio from Raacho Trekkers, who made the Lamkhaga Pass trek a memorable trip for each one of us in the group. Sonu Negi (Trek Lead), Happy Negi (Leader/Sweeper), Rajeev Negi (Leader/Sweeper). Image credits: Gautam Baliga (www.bgbaligatraveldiary.com)
The awesome trio from Raacho Trekkers, who made the Lamkhaga Pass trek a memorable trip for each one of us in the group. Sonu Negi (Trek Lead), Happy Negi (Leader/Sweeper), Rajeev Negi (Leader/Sweeper). Image credits: Gautam Baliga (www.bgbaligatraveldiary.com)

Back in our room early morning that day, Gautam ji and Aashish had motivated me not to quit the trek in haste and that they would try to support me and keep me moving throughout the trek. Thanks to the encouragement provided by all my 9 fellow trekkers and some timely medical help from Kohinoor Indrani (the engineer turned pharmacist in our group), I was finally able to make up my mind and go ahead with the trek with a crepe bandage & painkillers.

Briefing by Sonu Negi in Chitkul. Image credits: Kohinoor
Briefing by Sonu Negi in Chitkul. Image credits: Kohinoor

Though I was trying to appear normal, I could hardly take a few steps. A nervous Sonu Negi ji, who had discussed the condition of my leg multiple times with Gautham ji, was hoping that all goes well throughout the trek. After a briefing by Sonu Negi ji following our breakfast, we started hiking up and within a few minutes, Chitkul was out of sight.

The fairly flat walk in the jeep trail along a frisky Baspa river

 

The fairly flat walk in the jeep trail along a frisky Baspa river

We followed the frisky Baspa river in our gradual ascent beyond Chitkul along a fairly flat walk in the jeep trail to ITBP checkpost.

We ambled past the pine trees and the cedar trees to get the feel of nature
We ambled past the pine trees and the cedar trees to get the feel of nature

With the exception of the few army vehicles and cowherds passing by, there were hardly any tourists in the trail beyond Chitkul. 4 km from Chitkul, we were greeted by well-built army personnel from Himachal with a huge moustache. We had reached the Nagasthi check-post and halted there for a few minutes to show our permits to move further.

The crooked and the winding trails lead to the most amazing views
The crooked and the winding trails lead to the most amazing views

The Himachali general who had served 15+ years was astonished to notice a woman trekker in the group of 22. He happily shared his views on how many women have started scaling the challenging peaks like Everest and are becoming on par with men in most of the fields. He shook hands with all of us to meet again in Dumti the next day. Sometimes the mere company of our jawans and a few pats from them are enough to recharge us to continue further.

We moved along the meandering paths watching the thick skinned cows that were left to graze in the valleys. Image credits: Aditya Prabakaran
We moved along the meandering paths watching the thick-skinned cows that were left to graze in the valleys. Image credits: Aditya Prabakaran

The so-called Indo-Tibet border starts from Nagasthi and extends for 100+ km along with the Yamrang ranges. Civilians are not allowed beyond this point. Due to security reasons, photography is not allowed nearby ITBP checkpoints or in the army camp zone.

Approaching Nagasthi ITBP checkpost
Approaching Nagasthi ITBP checkpost

Kohinoor, who carried the heaviest bag amongst all of us with a lot of medicines & homemade food for the entire group, gave some generous amount of the tasty homemade rotis to our group and the army personnel there. The homemade food would have been a great change for the ITBP jawans, who survive on the packed food most of the times. After a short rest in Nagasthi, we moved towards Ranikanda.

Day 1 campsite in Ranikanda at 3700m
Day 1 campsite in Ranikanda at 3700m

A couple of hours beyond Nagasthi, we were greeted by our porters who passed on some snacks and an energy drink. And after an hour’s walk, we were finally in Ranikanda, welcomed with some hot lunch to feast into.

River crossing in Ranikanda campsite.
River crossing in Ranikanda campsite.

After a short rest in our tents, few of them suggested an acclimatization hike, and so 9 of us started ascending up a nearby hill. It was a steep ascent of 100 metres and it took close to 45 minutes to reach the top. After Aashish, who had diverted to the other side of the stream finally reached the top, it was time for the group pics.

Nearing the stream after a steep hike
Nearing the stream after a steep hike

There is no more rewarding feeling than being among the first few to reach and explore a destination that others haven’t yet had the pleasure of witnessing. After enjoying the virgin beauty of the valley from the top and some chit-chats for an hour, it was time to descend down.

The most amazing views come after the hardest climbs
The most amazing views come after the hardest climbs

We descended amidst some really heavy winds. At least, I was not the last one to get down this time. Niren who had ascended so quickly was telling me that descents were his weakness. The hot soup waiting for us in our dining tent was our motivation to rush back to the campsite.
With some more time left for the dinner, Kohinoor got his pulse oximeter and we were having some fun time testing it out and measuring the oxygen levels of all of us. It showed my reading as 87, so Kohinoor suggested to take a deep breath and take the reading once again. This time it reduced further. Since everything was appearing normal, we didn’t bother much about it. After this incident, the oximeter was packed up and never taken out for the rest of the trek.

Bird’s eye view of our Ranikanda campsite
Bird’s eye view of our Ranikanda campsite

After some hot paranthas with Govardhan ghee for dinner, it was time to settle down in our own tents. Aditya, who was particularly looking for a tent with people who don’t snore, slept with Gautham & Aashish. Aditya had to quit his Lamkhaga pass trek in Dumti (in 2015) due to altitude sickness, however, he finished off the 2017 Lamkhaga pass without any issues. His brisk walk on all the seven days is probably attributed to his sound sleep and his tent partners. Now, we know that the choice of tent partners also impacts the completion of an expedition. Jokes apart, the rock-solid determination of each of the ten trekkers in the team and favourable weather conditions played a major role in the successful completion of this trek.

One of the beautiful memories of Lamkhaga Pass trek was sharing the trails with the ITBP jawans, who were setting up their checkposts for that season
One of the beautiful memories of Lamkhaga Pass trek was sharing the trails with the ITBP jawans, who were setting up their checkposts for that season

After a good breakfast in the morning, we started our trek around 8 am. After the oximeter readings, Vivek had suggested me to have 4 to 5 litres of water for proper acclimatization and the aftereffects of drinking loads of water were showing up while walking along the trails. We could see the ITBP jawans, the communication engineers and the mule herders making their way to Dumti to set up their checkpoints.

Wonderful company of the ITBP in the walk from Ranikanda to Nithaltach
Wonderful company of the ITBP in the walk from Ranikanda to Nithaltach

The walk with ITBP jawans made me realize how thankful we Indians are, to have a defence force, who give up their families and a comfortable life to guard our borders, while we sleep peacefully. Though the Tibet border beyond Chitkul is considered a friendly border without interruptions, the high altitude and the unpredictable weather conditions don’t add up to an easy daily routine.

Ranikanda to Nithaltach – A walk to remember. Image credits: Kohinoor
Ranikanda to Nithaltach – A walk to remember. Image credits: Kohinoor

The ITBP jawans walking with 40kg backpacks and heavy rifles heard out from us on why a frustrating city job requires a long break in mountains, and we got to hear from them on how badly they miss their families, the tasty home food and the luxuries of city life. They thanked us for the tasty homemade food provided by our team (obviously the credit goes to Kohinoor) and invited some of us for having Chole bature for dinner in Dumti campsite. We realized that walking the entire stretch of 14kms with ITBP is a tough row to hoe. With some handshakes to meet soon in Dumti, the forces moved ahead at a fast pace.

A long power nap while waiting for our porters to bring the camp equipments
A long power nap while waiting for our porters to bring the camp equipments

At regular intervals, Happy Negi ji kept reminding us to slow down as he felt all of us were going at a rapid pace. After some sauntering and enjoying our walk along the meandering paths, we stopped for our lunch a few minutes before the Dumti campsite.

Since the porters were behind, we had to wait for them to get past us with the tents. After reaching Dumti, we were told that the tea would be served only after offering prayers to the Karu Devta temple, about 2.5 ahead of the Dumti campsite. As the ritual goes, cooking in Dumti campsite starts only after offering the cooked prasad to the Karu Devta, and for years together, ITBP has been following the tradition introduced by the locals. Happy Negi ji, Baliga and few others went to the Karu Devta temple for the prayers as we settled down in the campsite.

A thin blanket of snow covered the campsite just a few minutes after we settled into our tents
A thin blanket of snow covered the campsite just a few minutes after we settled into our tents

Mild snow showers started as we were sipping the hot tea in our dining tent and we rushed back to our tents to give space for the porters and support staff in the dining tent. The snow continued for about an hour. When I came out of my single person tent at 7pm in the evening, a thin blanket of snow had covered the campsite and the views were amazing.

The amazing view of the Dumti campsite at 7pm in the evening
The amazing view of the Dumti campsite at 7pm in the evening

The conversations of the Pune group were the only sounds that could be heard in the silent and the peaceful Dumti campsite. With a long time left for dinner, I joined them for some intense card games. Abhinav, the master strategist was winning most of the games and he gave us little chance for us do work out our tricks. Finally, with Happy Negi ji calling us for our dinner, it was time to wrap up our game.

The game of theen patti at 12,000 feet
The game of theen patti at 12,000 feet

After a tasty dinner, Sonu Negi updated us that after two days of easy walk, we might be greeted with rocky terrain and some challenging river crossing the next day. It was evident from his briefing that some adventures were waiting for us on day 3.

Know the altitudes:
Chitkul – 3435m
Nagasthi – 3480m
Ranikanda – 3700m
Dumti – 4050m

A blog by Sandhya Sourirajan