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Blog Garhwal Kinnaur Spiti valley Trekking

Crossing the Himalayas: From Leh To Kathmandu

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The 28-year-old French adventurer Eliott Schonfeld, winner of the GEO Adventure contest, crossed the Himalayan chains on foot and on horseback from August to December 2017. After four and a half months of trudging in trans-Himalaya, he gradually got rid of the modern comforts & paraphernalia. The aim was to replace the products of modern civilization with their natural alternatives adopted by the local communities of the Himalayas.

Drinking water from a mountain stream in Ladakhb
A return to nature. Drinking water from a mountain stream in Ladakh

My body is tossed in all directions as Rinpoche, a horse farm owner, maneuvers his 4×4 on the broken stone roads that crisscross the Ladakh range. My heart and head hurt like being caught in a vice. Going from Paris(with an elevation of 35 m) to the 3,500 meters of average altitude of this high desert plateau, it takes time and I think I am not yet acclimatized. But for now, it is not vertigo that worries me than the new world around me. 

August 10: Choosing The Horse in Ladakh 

I spent a few days in Leh, the regional capital of Ladakh Union Territory of India, to find someone to sell me a horse. I witnessed the Trans-Himalayan mountains up close.

Changthang Plains of Ladakh
Changthang Plains of Ladakh
A lady from Changthang plateau of Ladakh
A lady from Changthang plateau of Ladakh
A child playing with his father in Ladakh
A child playing with his father in Ladakh
Tso-Moriri Lake
Tso-Moriri Lake in Changthang plains of Ladakh
Stok village of Ladakh
The village at the end of the road. Stok village of Ladakh.
Ladakh is a magnificent high altitude cold desert… but very sparsely populated. Before clicking this image, I walked for weeks without meeting a single soul. Then, seeing the village of Stok – the green patch at the end of the gentle slope – I felt immensely joyful.

They are no longer on the horizon, but vertically, erected like a tangible wall, and too high, much too high. Why did I decide to tackle such monsters? For me, who had spent all my life at sea level should have started with the lower altitudes. After two hours of driving and deep contemplation, we reached the horse farm. I see a tent in the shape of a teepee, and all around, thirty horses grazing peacefully.

Ladakhi horse standing on meadows
My Ladakhi horse

The introductions were brief & the farm owner offered me a horse. The horse was white & not very big. Rinpoche helped me to saddle the horse, gave me some pieces of advice and the animal’s rope, then left me to my fate. 

In front of me, around 2,000 kilometers of trail awaits me to Nepal. I calculated that it would take me five months to get through it. Before I start, I decide to baptize my steed. He needs a name that is familiar & comforting in the midst of the unknown universe that I am about to explore. It’s decided, his name will be Robert. My Ladakhi horse would be called Robert.

Drinking water straight from a river in Ladakh
Drinking water straight from a river in Ladakh. We walk about 8 hours a day, so we are often thirsty.

September 4: Robert’s fall in Spiti valley

We had been progressing on high altitude trails for a month now. Robert never gave up. As for me, I ended up taking the plunge and felt at ease when we reached Spiti valley, a cold mountain desert in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the most perilous mountains since the beginning of the expedition. 

Base of Parang-La pass
Climbing towards Parang-La pass. I arrived at the base of the Parang La pass on the afternoon of August 28, 2017. In front of me was 5,600 meters, a high rock giant. I would have preferred to start the ascent after a good night’s sleep. Problem: It was impossible some grass at the base which was essential to allow Robert to sustain himself. So we had to climb, on sheets of ice melting. After skidding and sliding for four hours, we finally arrived safely at the top of the pass.
Climbing Parang-La pass
Climbing Parang-La pass with my horse
My horse reveling in abundant tufts of grass in Spiti valley
Robert reveling in abundant tufts of grass after descending from Parang-La pass. After descending from the top of the Parang La pass, Robert was able to revel in abundant tufts of grass, and I admired the breathtaking view. I was lost on the roof of the world. There was an ideal place to pitch the tent and get a good night’s sleep. The crossing of the Parang La pass also marked the end of Ladakh and entry into the state of Himachal Pradesh.

I crossed the Manirang pass(also spelled as Manerang) on one fine morning, a pass at an elevation of 5,590 meters. The landslides on this route are normal, and you have to remain focussed on each step. Four hours walking continuously… and an obstacle blocked our path — a gigantic rock was in the middle of the descending route. To move ahead, there was no choice except to climb over it.

We ventured on the rock surface and progressed a few meters when suddenly the rope that connects me to the horse yanks me back. Robert had lost his footing, he was sliding down the slope. Panicked, he struggles to get up, but that only accelerated his fall. My heart was racing. At this rate, it would fall permanently into the abyss and crash 20 meters below. I pulled the rope with all my might, but to no avail, I had to let go of the fear of being dragged myself into the void. 

But a miracle happened: Robert landed on a narrow ledge from where he can no longer move or risk falling into a deep gorge. I tried everything possible to get it out of there but with my 60 kilos weight did not make the cut. There was only one thing to do: descend to the last village I encountered, 20 kilometers before, and 1,000 meters of elevation drop. 

I reached there at night, exhausted and in tears. Watching me in distress, the villagers decided to organize a rescue mission. Two men, Tanzin and Karma, offered to accompany me with ropes.

After an exhausting return trip, we left for six hours of night climb. We arrived at the accident site, at 2am, I pointed my flashlight on the ledge, I scanned the light beam down the slope, expecting the worst. Robert was there, unharmed. He quietly turned his head towards me, with an air that seems to say: “But what have you done for the past ten hours?”

Bewildered, released from an immense weight, I exploded with laughter and went to hug my trek partner. I’ll never know how he got out of there alone, getting away with a few scratches. As for me, I had walked 60 kilometers, 20 hours straight, with 3,500 meters of cumulative elevation… for nothing! Whatever. Considering the relief I felt, it was worth it.

September 27: Waking Up From Oblivion In Kinnaur

But what took me? How can I be so stupid? I’m going to cross the roof of the world and I’m not carrying a pair of gloves… As I climb the frozen mountain range(Kinnaur Kailash range) that separates me from the pass of Charang-Chitkul pass or Charang La, I curse myself out loud. I’m paying for being thick-skinned. Because I was using my bare hands to climb, I no longer felt my fingers. Of course, I did not take crampons or ice axes either and I had to kick in the ice to create required traction.

Glued against the wall, I assessed my progress. It took me some hours to climb just 200 meters from a vertically packed ice slope. I told myself that I did well to sell my little Robert to a horse breeder a few days earlier. No matter how well he showed his talent as a tightrope walker, he could never have climbed such a thing. I finally reached my goal, at 5,300 meters above sea level, I was at Charang-La pass. 

Climbing the steep Charang-Chitkul pass
Climbing the steep Charang-La pass

As I caught my breath, I observed the thick layer of snow covering the ground. I was not the only one to have successfully climbed that day. Pugmarks of a snow leopard, all fresh, dotted the ridge before disappearing on the other side. Amazed, I touched the imprints of paws’ of the grey ghost, so beautiful, so pure. Then I scanned the surroundings, hoping to catch a glimpse— not a single soul found in sight. I hoped I didn’t scare him off. The Himalayan grey ghost lurks, I can feel it. Even invisible, he accompanies me. 

Pugmarks of a snow leopard near Charang-Chitkul pass
Pugmarks of a snow leopard near Charang-La pass

October 1, 2017: Going Incognito in Baspa valley

I had been walking very close to the Indo-Tibetan border for three weeks now. I had absolutely no permission to venture in these troubled terrains. Because of the territorial conflicts between India and China, the region is tightly controlled. Tourists and Indians are required to obtain permits to do any activity on the border areas. Traveling alone is prohibited. 

I managed to sneak through the last military posts by walking during the night. It seemed to be playing a cat and mouse game with the Indian army patrols. More than the detours that I was forced to make, the anxiety of getting caught made every step more painful.

According to my maps and the villagers of Chitkul, the route is restricted up to the Lamkhaga pass (5,280 meters).  After crossing Lamkhaga pass, I would be back in the free zone. The weather was perfect, the sky was of a serene azure color. I was walking at a leisurely pace, at a distance, I saw two silhouettes. Two trekkers, bags on their backs, were heading in my direction.

As I was about to greet them, my head spun. They were not trekkers, but soldiers. They were not two, others were behind them. I ran towards a big boulder. A minute later, I heard the sounds of the boots of the first patrolmen, around 20 meters from me, in camouflage dress, weapons on the back. It was the Indian Tibetan Border Police(ITBP), the sentinel of the Himalayas. 

I curled up as much as possible in my hiding place. Getting caught here would be fatal, I was aware of it. I was trekking without due authorization, with a satellite phone and a camera. I could never make them swallow that I was unaware of the restricted area. I would have ended up in prison. I was trying to calm down. The march of the soldiers continued. Twenty or thirty men had already passed.  When will it stop, damn it? It was like the whole army of the subcontinent was hidden in these mountains.

After a while, silence fell. I stood still for another fifteen minutes, then got out of my hole. At a distance, the Indian army men went up the valley and trekked to the exact place where I had planned to pitch my tent. I realized that this situation, which could have turned serious, has become a godsend for me — the army men had mapped a track in the deep snow, which made my ascent infinitely easier. One soldier even dropped food just before the summit: caramels & a packet of noodles. The army mend does it to lighten the load and use it on their return journey. 

Summit of the Lamkhaga pass(5280m)
Summit of the Lamkhaga pass(5280m). The pass forms a drainage divide between the Baspa valley of Kinnaur & the Harsil valley of Uttarakhand.
snowfields below Lamkhaga pass
Immaculate beauty of Lamkhaga snowfields. Jalandhari Gad glacier of Harsil valley. This soft white coat is not only pleasant for the eyes, it marked for my a return into the unrestricted zone. For several weeks, I had been traveling along the Indo-Tibetan border. An area prohibited to tourists unless accompanied by a permit authorized by the Indian government. From now on, our adventurer will no longer need to play hide and seek with the military patrols of the region. Phew!
A nomadic man near Harsil village.
A nomadic man I met near Harsil. I met this Indian nomad as I was walking towards the village of Harsil, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Oddly, there was only this gentleman and his son, I do not know where the rest of his family was.
Himalayan goats near Harsil
Himalayan goats near Harsil. These are the biggest goats I had ever seen! This herd of extraordinary herbivores belonging to the Indian nomad, I decided to help him milk them. A nice way to thank him for his hospitality.

October 20, 2017: Paradise found in Nepal  

On my raft, I assume myself for Tarzan. The langurs &  the white and black monkeys that populate the jungles of the middle Himalayas, jump from tree to tree while I raft on the Mahakali, river marking the border between India and Nepal. 

Rafting in turquoise waters of Mahakali River
Rafting in Mahakali River. After the high peaks, the rapids. I traveled 200 kilometers on the Mahakali River. A trip made on a raft which I built himself using pieces of wood and some tubes.

I started my descent a week ago, letting myself be carried by the currents. I still had 200 kilometers to sail to Banbassa, the Nepalese border post. I finally landed in Nepal on a riverbank.  I started my exploration deep into the forest, where I came across natural pools, large holes in the polished rock filled with turquoise water, and linked together by the pearled necklace of the waterfalls. Paradise, I tell you.

Turquoise waters of Mahakali river
Turquoise waters of Mahakali river
 Sun rises over the Nepalese jungle near the Makhali river
The sun rises over the Nepalese jungle near the Makhali river

I loved to explore, like a tracker, for the traces of wildlife that swarmed around me. Here, a wavy line on the ground indicated the passage of a snake. There, handprints, tiny feet: probably a bunch of macaques. Farther on, between the trunks, the gigantic web of a Nephila Pilipes, a spider with long legs, capable of capturing small bats in its nets. 

Nothing makes me happier than blending in such wilderness. I certainly feel very small, vulnerable amidst nature. But the feeling of this insignificance, instead of frightening me, releases me. It teaches me not to make humans the measure of everything anymore.

Rafting in Mahakali river of Nepal
Rafting in Mahakali river of Nepal
A raft on Mahakali river banks
The Naked Explorer & his raft on Mahakali river banks. It was the simplest device that went down the Mahakali river, stopping regularly on deserted beaches. 
Perfect places to pitch the tent and observe the traces of monkeys … or tigers!
Natural pools in Nepal
Natural pools

What terrifies me would be an entirely “civilized” world, where the city, the road, and the cement would have thrown their grip on everything. And where a man would only meet himself. That’s what I was thinking, lying on a bed of palm leaves, by the fire. A string of green dots lit up in the warm air. The fireflies had started their ballet of stars, while hundreds of little beings, carpeted in the trees, were singing the big night concert. That evening, I slept well.

November 10, 2017: Meeting the people of Rautes: The Last Nomadic tribe of Nepal 

Before I started this expedition, I had a dream: to meet the Rautes. This nomadic tribe, whose name means “kings of the forest”, lives in the remote jungles of western Nepal. These are hunter-gatherers who track down the monkey and feed on wild fruits and tubers. 

After ten days of research & miles & miles going around in circles, I was on the verge of giving up when luck struck me. From the top of the hill that I had just climbed, there was indeed one of their encampments that I discovered at the bottom of the valley. Shelters, made of branches and foliage. Under one of them, a man was cleaning peppers. A woman came back from the forest with some trunks under her arm, and a  teenager who was cutting something out of a large piece of wood.

Children of Raute tribe bathing & playing by a stream
Children of Raute tribe bathing & playing by a stream

The children, who were playing in the river, finally noticed my presence. Intrigued – I must have appeared to them as an extraterrestrial – they surrounded me. It provoked the adults, who looked suspicious and started talking. They were very small, dressed in a light dress that revealed parts of their body. They finally lead me to the royal tent – because the Routes have kings. A man even more naked than the others came out and stared at me straight in the eyes. I greeted him in a solemn way, then shook his hand, impressed. It is the first time that I shake the hand of a king. It is also the first time that I have seen royal testicles. What a day!

Children of Raute tribe of Nepal
Innocent children of Raute tribe of Nepal
A Raute tribe couple harvesting the wheat crop
A tribe couple harvesting the wheat crop. These two villagers I met near the Rautes camp were harvesting wheat without machines, they use the oxen to crush it, and the wind to separate the grain from the chaff.
Raute tribes' camps
Raute tribes’ camps
An old Route tribe man with a child
An old Route tribe man

December 6, 2017: The Final Offload

I left the wood and stone hut that I built for the night and extinguished the brazier ignited by friction. Handmade bag on the back, goat skin on the shoulders, the bamboo fire starter, on one hand, I feel metamorphosed. I had set myself a challenge: replace all of my Western things with their natural counterparts. Not only did I manage to take it up, but in addition, I absolutely did not have the impression that it is limiting. On the contrary, I felt more free, independent. I learned to settle for the basic & minimum, to build what I needed to survive.

Terraced fields of wheat in Nepal
Terraced fields of wheat in Nepal. Terracing allows the Nepalese to practice agriculture on the steep slopes of the mountains.
A Nepali lady & her wooden pipe.
A Nepali lady & her wooden pipe. In this photo, it is not Captain Haddock, but a Nepali woman. I met her in the Dailekh district, in the western region of the country. The venerable lady was taking a break to smoke tobacco packed in an artisanal pipe.

If I had been told a few years ago that I would be able to manage on my own in nature (and what nature!), I would not have believed it. After three days of a final ascent through the rocky peaks of the Dolpo region, in northern Nepal, I finally reached the Phoksundo

Dolpo Shey Phoksundo lake of Nepal
Dolpo Shey Phoksundo lake of Nepal

Phoksundo is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen: an aquamarine crescent moon set like a relic in the galaxy of the Himalayan mountains. I sat in front of this splendor and allowed myself all the time it takes to soak up this moment. I felt good and would have gladly stayed there for days to meditate … if only I could. But the first snowflakes began to fall. Winter was coming. I was thinking about going back, going back to college, and going on with my life. Once again in Paris

Undulating ranges of the lower Himalayas of Nepal
Undulating ranges of the lower Himalayas of Nepal
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Blog Garhwal Mountaineering Trekking

Lamkhaga Pass Trek – May 2018 Expedition Blog

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Chitkul to Gangotri/Harsil Trek

Lamkhaga Pass (5282m) (Chitkul to Harsil), May 2018
This Himalayan high pass divides Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh from Uttarakhand in India. We followed the following route:
Chitkul to Rani Kanda
-Rani Kanda to Dhumti
-Dhumti to Gundar
-Gundar to Lamkhaga advance base camp (Kinnaur side) (One may break this climb till base camp 1 and next day to advance base camp…….we skipped)
-Advance base camp to Upper Kyarkoti after crossing Lamkhaga pass (Again, you may camp at Lamkhaga pass base camp of Gangotri side followed by trek till Kyarkoti…….we decided to continue beyond base camp and camp at upper Kyarkoti)
-Upper Kyarkoti to Kyarkoti
-Kyarkoti to Gangnani
-Gangnani to Harsilsn
This is a remote pass and very few groups have finished this. Thus it could be a good option for all those who loves to visit the under-explored! Raacho Trekkers team did the first recce of the route from Kinnaur side in 2014.

First day camping at Ranikanda near Chitkul[Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
First day camping at Ranikanda near Chitkul
View of Baspa glacier snout[Lamkhaga pass trek]
View of Baspa glacier snout
Huge icicles near Baspa glacier ice cave[Lamkhaga pass trek]
Huge icicles near Baspa glacier ice cave
Baspa glacier ice cave [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Baspa glacier ice cave [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Baspa glacier ice cave [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Baspa glacier ice cave [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Climbing up to the Lamkhaga pass base camp
Climbing up to the Lamkhaga pass base camp
Lamkhaga pass base camp [Lamkhaga 2018]
Lamkhaga pass base camp
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background.[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Baspa Glacier. Chotakhaga pass is visible in the background.[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
View from base camp [Lamkhaga pass 2018]
View from base camp
Water pumped out off the glacier beneath the tent......trying to reset the tents [Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Water pumped out off the glacier beneath the tent……trying to reset the tents [Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Trying to dig out some water from beneath the glacier at advance base camp[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Trying to dig out some water from beneath the glacier at advance base camp[Lamkhaga pass 2018]
Climbing Lamkhaga pass [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Climbing Lamkhaga pass
Lamkhaga pass top
Lamkhaga pass top
View of Uttrakhand side glacier
View of Uttrakhand side glacier
Jalandri Gad amphitheater [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Jalandri Gad amphitheater [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Jalandri Gad stream making way through the glacier [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Jalandri Gad stream making way through the glacier
Descending into the Jalandri Gad valley [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Descending into the Jalandri Gad valley [Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Origin of Jalandri gad stream. Jalandri Gad is a right bank tributary of Bhagirathi river
Origin of Jalandri gad stream. Jalandri Gad is a right bank tributary of Bhagirathi river
The ridge[Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
The ridge
Upper Kyarkoti... Jalandhari gad valley[Lamkhaga pass trek]
Upper Kyarkoti… Jalandhari gad valley
Meadows of Kyarkoti. Harsil valley Uttrakhand[Lamkhaga pass trek 2018]
Meadows of Kyarkoti. Harsil valley Uttrakhand

Blog by Upasana Ray

Categories
Auden's Col Blog Garhwal

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
Blog Chitkul village Kinnaur Trekking

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 Homestay Kalpa Winter in Kinnaur

Kalpa & Charang Snow Hikes | Winter in Kinnaur

Home » Trekking

After a long delay, finally posting pics of our winter trip to Kinnaur — i.e. Kalpa(Chini village), Charang Village & the Charang Rangrik Monastery. Charang village is the last village on the Indo-China Border. The last ITBP post is located in this village.

Winter in Kinnaur 

For the city folks, the village offers a complete escape from the busy city life. No network coverage — bosses can’t call you. For a comfort trip seeker, I will recommend Charang only during summers. In winters, with the temperature plunging to about -15 ºC & heavy snowfall blocking all the roadways for weeks — the place is either for the brave hearts or for ignorants like us. 

Hikes around Chini village of Kalpa valley

We reached Reckong Peo early in the morning and headed for a beautiful Chini village in Kalpa. We strolled there for an hour or two and visited Kalpa Buddhist monastery and newly built Narayanas temple. We spent the rest of the day at a friend’s place in Reckong Peo and took rest after 12 hrs enduring journey in the Chandigarh-Reckong Peo HRTC bus.

View of Snow covered Pangi village from Kalpa village of Kinnaur
View of Snow covered Pangi village from Kalpa
Unnamed peak on Kinner - Kailash mountain range[Winter in Kinnaur]
Unnamed peak on Kinner – Kailash mountain range
Newly renovated Kalpa Narayanas temple
Newly renovated Kalpa Narayanas temple
View of the valley , Kalpa , Kinnaur
View of the Kalpa valley Kinnaur
Roof of the Kalpa temple & Kinnaur Kailash peak (6050 m) in background
Roof of the Kalpa temple & Kinner Kailash peak (6050 m) in background
Snow covered Chini village of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Chini village of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Chini temple of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Chini temple Of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Unnamed peak on Kinner Kailash mountain range
Unnamed peak on Kinner Kailash mountain range
Snowy mountain tops above Barang village in Kinnaur
Snowy mountain tops above Barang village of Kinnaur
Jorkanden peak & adjoining peaks on Kinner Kailash Mountain range
Jorkanden peak and adjoining peaks on Kinner Kailash Mountain range
Hiking in deep snow near Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Hiking to Kalpa football ground, Kinnaur
Snowball fighting on Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Snowball fighting in Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Winter landscape of Chini village of Kalpa in Kinnaur
Magnificent Chini village of Kalpa, Kinnaur
Raldang peak overlooking Chini village of Kalpa.
Chini village Kalpa , Raldang peak (5425 m) visible in background
Snow covered fields of locals from Chini village of Kalpa
Snow covered fields of locals from Chini village of Kalpa
Hiking on snow near Kalpa football ground in Kinnaur
Snow hikes near Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Snowy Raldang peak of Kinner - Kailash mountain range in Kinnaur
Raldang peak (5425 m ) of Kinner – Kailash mountain range, Kinnaur
Icy road en route Kalpa village of  Kinnaur
Road to Kalpa valley of Kinnaur
Strolling in snow in Kalpa football ground
Strolling around Kalpa
Snowballing in Kalpa football ground of Kinnaur
Snowballing and Killing time in Kalpa valley of Kinnaur

Reckong Peo to Akpa Check post bus ride & Long walks along the NH-05

Now coming to our next day’s experience I consider this as an achievement. Trekking on steep slopes for 20 km on snow for 8 hrs continuously. With no one to your rescue walking endlessly with those baby steps on snow…having no idea that we will be alive in the next 1 hr or not. We missed the early morning Reckong Peo – Thangi bus and had to take another bus which dropped us near Akpa check post around noon. We started walking along the highway, reached Moorang around 1 PM and took a taxi to Lambar ( the last motorable stop) in winters.  

National Higway 5 en route Moorang village of Kinnaur
World’s most treacherous road, National Higway 05, en route Moorang, Kinnaur
Walking on NH 5 near Moorang village of Kinnaur
Walking the Himalayas , near Moorang bridge , Kinnaur
Moorang village of Kinnaur
Village with a buddhist monastery & many chorten – Moorang
Slippery road near Moorang village of Kinnaur on NH 05
Slippery road near Moorang on National Highaway 05
A bridge on Satluj river connecting
Moorang bridge , Tidong valley , Kinnaur

Moorang bridge, Tidong valley, Kinnaur

Moorang to Thangi village taxi ride & the long hike to Charang village

We started the trek from Lambar at around 3 PM and reached Charang at about 11 pm. In the 20 km stretch, there were only three of us walking continuously. Because in that extreme weather a comma means full stop. If you stop you will freeze within minutes. At about 5 pm there was complete darkness…and even a slight sound nearby will flash images of a snow leopard or wild bears in your mind. Trekking in the night without a torch..the only thing to our rescue was the moonlight and the marks of the steps of the ITBP jawans on the snow…which kept us hopeful that we are heading in the right direction. Each one of us was having plenty of dry fruits but none of us was having the energy to stop & take those out of the bag. We were three friends Pawan Ranta, Amandeep Dhiman & myself. There is one ITBP post on the way to Charang which served as a base camp to the post at Charang. Thereafter traveling for about 14 km we got some warm water to drink. That warm water was like ‘amrit‘ and we thought that “ab hum bach jayyenge“. We stayed there for 15 to 20 minutes & then about 8 pm we started our trek to Charang with new hope & determination…but then again after traveling for about 1 km, we were regretting that why we didn’t stop there & request those ITBP jawans to allow us to stay there till morning. Now again, we were at the mercy of the mountains. We were not able to even speak….we were just moving & moving. During the complete trek, I was reciting God’s name and was hurling abuses & curses at Pawan who gave the idea of that trek. After traveling for another 6 km, there in the dark near the entrance of the Charang Village, were Sonu bhai, our savior standing there in the dark waiting for us. Sonu bhai took our backpacks and gave us new hope. And again we said ” Ab to lagata hai bach gaye“. Sonu bhai offered us shelter in their house offered food & saved our lives.  Raante credit goes to you also. We sat near the bukhara and ate food thanking God for keeping us alive. I started chanting my daily mantras thanking God.

The trails to Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]
Snowy trails to Charang village of Kinnaur
In Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]
In Charang, Kinnaur
View of last ITBP check post and Rangrik Tungma monastery , Kinnaur
Halting place, en route Rangrik Tungma monastery, Charang Kinnaur

Waiting for the sunshine , Charang Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Waiting for the sunshine, Charang Kinnaur [Winter 2015]Trail to Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

The trail to Rangrik Tungma monastery, Charang, Kinnaur Charang village , Tidong valley , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Charang village , Tidong valley , KinnaurHiking to Rangrik Tungma Monastery , Charang [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Hiking to Rangrik Tungma Monastery , Charang Dogs in Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Dogs in Charang , KinnaurPrayer flags in Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Prayer flags in Rangrik Tungma monastery , Charang , Kinnaur Chorten , a Buddhist stupa , Charang Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Chorten , a Buddhist stupa , Charang Kinnaur Charang snowscape , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Charang snowscape , Kinnaur Prayer flags , Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Prayer flags , Charang , Kinnaur Searching for network in Charang , Kinnaur[Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Searching for network in Charang , Kinnaur

The next dawn gave us a new hope & we visited the Rangrik Monastery and offered prayers and visited the last ITBP post on the Indo China border.

Walking with the wind , returning from Charang , Kinnaur [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]
Walking with the wind, returning from Charang, Kinnaur [Winter 2015]
Singing stream , Tidong [Winter in Kinnaur 2015]

Singing stream, Tidong [Winter Kinnaur 2015]Walking along Tidong stream while returning back from Charang , Kinnaur [winter 2015]

Walking along Tidong stream while returning from Charang, Kinnaur [winter 2015]

Oh! I have written such a long story…I know many of you won’t read but I know that many more will read. The story is to keep my memories on records.

Blog by: Saurabh Tiwari

Categories
Blog Kalpa Winter in Kinnaur

Chaka Meadows Hike – The Kalpa Trek

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Chaka meadows are mountain meadows high above Kalpa village of Kinnaur. It is a hike recommended for the ones in tireless twenties who have just started their trekking journey or for the people ones in late forties a time when knees begin to protest against the gradient and you start appreciating the least challenging of the mountain trails.

Wild himalayan flowers. Enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Hidden deep beneath the winter snow, mountain flowers begin to grow. Who will wake when lilies bloom? Who will appear when spring is finally here? Wild Himalayan flowers. Enroute Chaka meadows

Kalpa To Chaka Trek

The Chaka(also spelled as Chakka) is the quintessential Himalayan mountain meadow — some people call it Chaka peak but there is no peak as such — located at an altitude of around 3800m above sea level.

The route

The trails start from a point on Kalpa Roghi road near charming Kalpa (Chini village) which is around 10 km from district headquarter, Reckong Peo.  One doesn’t need any prior trekking experience but a sound pair of lungs. I would say it’s a modest trek with great returns. The hike is steep though. We started hiking from a trail near the hotel Rakpa Regency which leads to Chaka Meadows. Early morning start is advised because it gets quite arduous when the sun starts hitting on the face and suddenly you start feeling the backpack load.

Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Wildflower en route Chaka meadows

A good trek is not measured just by the physical coordinates of cool heights attained and scenic ridges traversed. Perhaps more crucial is the inner satisfaction that derives from walking with companions who stay agreeable under testing conditions and whose sympathies remain as a warm afterglow. The marvelous sunrise from the Kinner Kailash mountain, breathtaking views of the mountain range and beautiful views of Kalpa village are major highlights of the hike.

Sitting by the stream , en route Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Sitting by the stream, en route Chaka meadows
Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Chaka meadows, Kalpa
Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur,
Wild flower enroute Chaka meadows
Traditional house , enroute Chaka meadows , Kalpa , kinnaur
The vintage home. It is a storehouse used in summers only during the sowing season. In winter people descend to their homes in Chini village.

Distance from Kalpa

The trail is around 3 kilometers long and it runs along a stream. It passes through fields of Chini villagers and Cedar forest below the meadows.  It’s a day hike and one can comfortably descend back to the Kalpa – Roghi road in the evening.

Small foot bridge , En route Chaka meadows , Kalpa , Kinnaur
A small footbridge , En route Chaka meadows

Chaka-Kalpa Trek During Winter

Winter offers some of the prettiest, most serene trail adventures you can ever hope to have. Cleary sky, little or no crowd and snow-laden peaks are some of the perks that come with a winter hike.  Unlike in summers when you need to start early in the morning, one can start to hike in late morning in winters.  Hiking in winters has its inherent dangers. So one is advised to carry good gear and dress in layers.

Views from Chaka meadwos , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Views from Chaka meadows
Raldang peak framed! Enroute Chaka meadows trek , Kalpa , Kinnaur
Framing Raldang peak
Hiking along the stream, Chaka meadows trek, Kalpa , Kinnaur
Hiking along the stream
Frozen stream , en route Chaka meadows trek
Frozen in time and space
Chaka meadows Kalpa | Kinnaur in winters
Snow covered fields of Chaka meadows. These fields remain under the snow for 4-5 months. In summers people of Chini and surrounding villages of Kalpa climb up to their fields in Chaka Kanda and live here for 2-3 months. Imagine working in these fields in such beautiful surroundings.
Ice covered stream | Chaka meadows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Ice-covered stream
Walking besides the singing stream | Chaka meadows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Walking beside the singing stream
Winter snowscape , en route Chaka medows Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Winter snowscape, en route Chaka meadows Kalpa
Chaka meadows trail , Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
There is no other trail that has such amazing views of the Kinnaur Kailash mountain range.
Chaka meadows trail, Kalpa
Chaka meadows hike, Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
Her majesty , Mt Raldang (5499m) | Chaka meadows hike Kalpa | Winter in Kinnaur
Her majesty , Mt Raldang (5499m)
Singing stream. Chaka meadows hike Kalpa. | Winter in Kinnaur
“Sometimes you have to turn back and follow your own footprints to find the right path!”

Blog by Pawan Ranta

Categories
Uncategorized

Trek essentials and how to pack a backpack efficiently

How to pack a backpack efficiently?

Besides staying fit and keeping the moral high it is also important to know what things one need to carry how to pack a backpack efficiently.Believe me, A backpack packed efficiently can work wonders.After you have decided to buy a backpack depending upon its size , durability , ergonomics and comfort, the next job will be packing it well. Proper weight distribution in your backpack is what could make the difference between comfort and serious back pain. The most important thing is how it feels after lifting the backpack onto the your back. Following is the picture of general methodology that I follow while packing the backpack.

How-to-Pack-a-Backpack
How-to-Pack-a-Backpack

Trek essentials :

  • Backpack (70-90 liter) for multi days treks.
  • Trekking Boots – High ankle support boots.
  • Trek Gaiter – To prevent snow/moisture seeping inside the boot.
  • Trekking Pole
  • Down Jacket – Thick, windproof material, fleece and feather based recommended.
  • Trek Pants – (at least 3 Trek Pants), no Jeans. Synthetic, Quick Dry fabric based Trek Pants are ideal.
  • Full sleeve woolen/fleece – (at least 2)
  • Full sleeve T-Shirts – (at least 4)
  • Thermal Inner – (for Lower body recommended/ upper is optional)
  • Balaclava
  • Sunglasses – Is a must for snow trek. UV rated ones.
  • Handgloves
  • Socks – (3 pair of woolen and 4 pairs of cotton socks)
  • Waterbottle – (2 water bottle, each 1 liter). Avoid plastic drinking bottles.
  • Toiletries (Sunscreen – SPF 60+, moisturizer, light towel, lip balm/chap stick, small soap, toilet paper, wet tissue)
  • Headlamp/LED Torch
  • Energy bars/dry fruits
  • Medicine Kit

 

 

 

Categories
Auden's Col Blog Garhwal Mountaineering Trekking

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

Home » Trekking

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

Categories
Kinnaur Trek Blog Trekking

Pin-Bhabha pass trek

Pin-Bhabha Pass

Bhabha pass is located between the Kinnaur and Pin valley of Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. From the beginning of the trek to the end, one experiences wildly vivid landscapes, people, languages, and religions.

Pin valley,Spiti to Bhaba valley crossover

Bhabha Pass Trek can be done in either direction, from the Mud village of Spiti and from Kafnu village of Bhabha valley, Kinnaur.  Normally it takes 4-5 days to reach the Mud village under normal weather conditions. Bhabha Pass connects two contrasting valleys of Kinnaur and Spiti. Lush green meadows of Bhabha valley transforms into barren moonscapes of the Pin valley of Spiti region.

Kara lake, Bhaba valley , Kinnaur
Kara lake, Bhaba valley , Kinnaur
Bhabha valley , Kinnaur
Bhabha valley, Kinnaur
enroute Bhabha pass , Bhabha pass trek
En route Bhabha pass, Bhabha pass trek
Crossing Kara stream , enroute Bhabha pass trek
Crossing Kara stream, en route Bhabha pass trek

Highlights Of  Pin Bhabha Trek:

  • Moonscapes of  Spiti valley.
  • Kara stream crossing.
  • Pin river.
  • Mulling Meadows
  • High altitude mountains.

Pin-Bhabha Pass Itinerary:

Day 1: Kafnu to Mulling (2,400 m to 3,200 m)

Approx. Trekking time: 6-7 hours,

Trek gradient:  Easy walk on a moderate slope.

Day 2: Mulling to Kara(3,200 m to 3,500 m)

 Approx. trekking time:  5-6 hours

 Trek gradient: Moderate.

Day 3: Trek from Kara to Phustirang (3,500 m  to 3950 m)

 Approx. trekking time:  4-5 hours

 Trek gradient: Moderate to tough

Day 4: Phutsirang to Mangrungse over Pin Bhaba Pass  (4,107 m  to  4,900 m Bhabha pass  to  4,100 m Mangrungse)

Approx. trekking time:  8-9 hours

 Trek gradient: Difficult.  Ascent to the pass followed by a gradual descent.

Day 5: Trek from Mangrungse to Baldhar (4,100 m to 3850 m)

Approx. trekking time:  3-4 hours

Trek gradient: Moderate

Day 6: Baldhar to Mudh (3850 m to 3700m)

Approx. trekking time:  3-4 hours

Trek gradient: Easy

Getting there:

Kafnu: Kafnu is situated in the Kinnaur district. It is around 201 km from Shimla. Drive on NH 22 from Shimla will take you to Kafnu via Rampur & Wangtoo.

Distance from Shimla to Kafnu: 201 Kms.

Mud village: Mud village is situated in the Spiti valley of Lahaul & Spiti district. First, reach Manali then take a drive to Kaza which is 201 Kms. from Manali. From Kaza, Book sumo & reach Mud village.

Distance from Manali to Kaza: 201 Kms.

Distance from Kaza to Mud village: Around 50 to 60 Kms.

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Kinner Kailash Parikrama Trek in Winter

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Kinnaur-Kailash Parikrama Trek

Blog by Micah Hanson

“How will you know the way, the weather is bad, there is a lot of snow,” the senior officer said. “I’ve hiked all over the Himalayas, I hiked the Pin-Paravati pass in a snowstorm,” I retorted.  “Ok, I’ll give you permission if you write a statement that you take responsibility for your safety.”   And that’s how I got the permission to hike the Kinnaur Kailash Parikarma on my own.

Although the Kinner Kailash circuit route is a traditional pilgrimage route around the sacred mountain of Kinnaur Kailash, technically foreigners are either supposed to have a group of four or be guided.

I got off to a bit of a slow start jumping on a bus to Lambar where I would start the trek with a bus driver who loved taking his time, stopping the bus, and shaking hands with everyone he knew.  Then he decided he really didn’t want to finish the route so he turned around about 4 km before Thangi and 10 km before Lambar village under the pretext that there was a landslide blocking the road ahead. 

There was no landslide, so much for my theory that bus drivers in India are the only government employees who do their jobs the way they are supposed to be done.  Maybe this guy had previously been a postal worker, for whatever reason he dumped me and the other passengers alongside the road.  I walked for about 15 minutes before managing to get a ride in a jeep to Lambar with some of the other locals from the bus.  After a lunch of rice and dhal in Lambar, I headed off a bit later than I would have liked. 

But not before a local advised me that not to go over the Charang La, “too much snow” he said.  “So I keep hearing,” I replied as I walk off towards the Charang La.

My map showed Charang village (my attempted destination for the day) on the north side of the river so when a bridge went to the south side of the river I stayed on the north bank about a half-hour later I passed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police checkpoint which was on the opposite side of the river. 

The men at the check post told me I had to cross the knee-deep ice-cold river to sign in.   I said they could bring the book to me but I didn’t want to walk through the icy river.  I showed my permission across the river.  After a semi audible discussion across the rushing river, one of the officers crossed to my side, a man from Meru who spoke the best English of the lot.  It turned out I was on the wrong side of the river heading to a village I wasn’t supposed to go to. 

I reluctantly crossed the river to the side of the camp.  By the time I finished tea with the officers and signed in it was about a half-hour away from darkness.  I decided I didn’t have enough time to make it to Charang.  They invited me to stay at camp for the night, an accommodation that included a nice hot meal and several glasses of whiskey and water.

Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Charang , Kinnaur
Mud & Stone houses of Charang. Kinnaur in winters.
Charang , Kinnaur
Sonu’s mother and daughter Archu

The following day I visited the friendly and picturesque village of Charang.  After an hour of looking around and some tea with the locals, I headed over the ridge above town up the steep-sided valley towards the Charang La.   The valley widened as I approached the snow line.  It was mid-afternoon and I decided to camp just before the snow line knowing the snowfields would be difficult to cross in the heat of the afternoon.  I found a small patch of grass and a nearby spring suitable for the purpose and pitched my tent.

Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Trail leading up towards the Charang La
The trail leading up towards the Charang La
View up the valley towards the Charang La
View up the valley towards the Charang La
Lalanti stream , enroute Charang - La
Lalanti stream, en route Charang – La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Upper Lalanti traverse , Enroute Charang - La
Upper Lalanti traverse, Enroute Charang – La
Hiking towards the Charang La
Hiking towards the Charang La

Early the next morning I headed out across the snow towards the pass.  I got my first view of the “pass” known as the Charang La.  I had heard the pass was difficult but this wasn’t a pass it was a cliff.  A steep snow-covered slope leads up to a notch between the mountains. 

I reached the base of the pass before noon.  Any path that had existed was completely obscured by the snow.   I decided it would be best to attempt the pass the following morning, but hiking up the steep snow-covered slope with my full pack would be extremely difficult.  I set up camp on the snow beneath the pass. I figured if I carved out a path in the afternoon it would firm up overnight making the climb much easier the following morning.  It took me two hours to climb the pass making footholds along the way.

Small lake beneath the Charang La
A small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
A small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
Small lake beneath the Charang La
The Charang La traverse
The Charang La traverse
My campsite on the snow beneath the Charang La
My campsite on the snow beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The Charang - La Climb
The Charang – La Climb
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
The steep snow slope leading beneath the Charang La
5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
View from the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La
The Baspa valley view from Charang - La
The Baspa valley view from Charang – La

While the view was great, my campsite was less than ideal, it was a cold night sleeping on snow at around 5,000 m.  Furthermore, there was no water at my campsite, but lots of snow which take a surprisingly long time to melt even in the bright sun. What water I had managed to melt was frozen by the morning.  A bigger problem was that it had entered in my shoes.  They were frozen solid and I couldn’t get my feet into them.  I had to delay my start until they had thawed out enough from the morning sun so that I could at least put them on. 

The footholds that I had made the previous day made the hike over the pass much easier.  I reached the top in about an hour loaded down with all of my gear.  I couldn’t have asked for clearer weather to enjoy the view atop the 5,266 m (17,275 ft) Charang La over the snow-covered landscape.  I spent a good hour enjoying the fruits of my effort before descending the steep slope down to the pleasant village of Chitkul four hours away.

Chitkul village fort
Chitkul fort
Ornate spout at Chitkul village
Ornate spout, Chitkul
Old fort at Chitkul
Old fort, Chitkul
Wooden grain store of people of Chitkul.
‘Urch’ – A wooden grain storage container. Almost every family has one in Chitkul and rest of the Kinnaur.
A wooden house in Chitkul village
A wooden charming house in Chitkul
A wooden temple wind chimes in Chitkul
Wooden wind chimes adorning a temple in Chitkul
View from above Chitkul
View from above Chitkul
A man from Chitkul village carrying sack of grass.
A man from Chitkul carrying a sack of grass.
A lady from Chitkul village working in her Olga fields.
A lady from Chitkul working in the Ogla(a kind of grain) fields.
People of Chitkul village
People of Chitkul
Chitkul lady carrying a child on her back
Chitkul lady carrying a child on her back
An old man from Chitkul village
An old man from Chitkul
Mountains at the head of the Baspa Valley
Mountains at the head of the Baspa Valley
Thola peak overlooking Chitkul village
Thola peak overlooking Chitkul village of Baspa Valley, Kinnaur
View from above Chitkul village
View from above Chitkul

The village of Chitkul is an idyllic place at the end of the road that winds its way up the Baspa Valley.  I would have stayed longer than the two days I spent there had I not left most of my things back in Kalpa.  In the interest of reducing weight for the trek, I had only one set of clothes with me, a set of clothes that I was anxious to change out of after 4 days of trekking.  But as it was I had time to explore the village a bit and hike up above the village before catching a bus back to Kalpa.