A challenging pass-crossing from Har Ki Dun Valley to Yamunotri
There aren’t many treks that let one experience the raw grandeur of a Himalayan pass crossing. Connecting Har Ki Dun valley with Yamunotri, the Bali Pass is an exhilarating trail. It traverses the confluence of Tons and Ruinsara rivers, the undisturbed serenity of the Ruinsara Valley and the lush meadows of Devsu Thach.
Soon, greenery paves way for an alpine zone. At 16,207 ft, the Bali Pass offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the Bandarpoonch, Kalanag and Swargarohini peaks. This reward doesn’t come easy, as this trek is a difficult one, not suitable for beginners.
5 Highlights On The Bali Pass Trek
1. The ancient villages of Osla and Gangad take you back in time.
On day one, the ancient villages of Gangad and Osla strike a chord with unique village cultures and folklore. The ancient temples at Osla have riveting Himachali architecture that can keep you absorbed for a long time.
2.The alpine meadows of Devsu Thach in middle of the Ruinsara Forest are a grand surprise of the trek.
The setting of Dev Thach is picture perfect. A thriving meadow surrounded by tall trees with Swargarohini and Kalanag looming in the background makes for a perfect setting. It makes for a very tempting spot to camp.
3.The trail from Devsu Thach to Ruinsara Lake, meandering next to the Ruinsara River
This is a beautiful and tricky stretch. The valley is narrow and one can be excused for comparing it with Rishi Gorge from Nanda Devi Sanctuary, although it isn’t as difficult as the latter. The array of alpine flowers across the river bank is astonishing.
4. The Ruinsara Lake is a special glacial lake
Resting amidst beautiful mountain ranges of Swaragrohini, the lake is serene and calming. The meadows around are neat and untouched. One can experience a sense of tranquility all around the lakeside.
5. The challenging approach to Bali Pass
Like most Himalayan pass crossings, it is best done in either pre or post monsoon seasons. In the month of June and July, the higher regions of the pass are covered in snow while in post monsoon season, it is a drier, rockier approach. Trekkers who enjoy high altitude pass traverses will find themselves totally at home.
Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Sankri. Approx. 8 hour drive. The cab costs Rs.5,000 per vehicle, shared by 5 trekkers.
Day 2: Sankri to Taluka drive then Taluka to Chilurgad trek – 11 km trek
Day 3: Chilurgad to Devsu Thach – 6 km trek
Day 4: Devsu Thach to Ruinsara Tal – 10 km trek
Day 5: Ruinsara Tal to Thanga – 3 km trek
Day 6: Thanga to Advance Base Camp – 4.5 km trek
Day 7: Advance Base Camp to Lower Damini via Bali Pass- 16 km trek
Day 8: Lower Damini to Janakichatti to Dehradun – 6 km trek and then 8 hour drive.
Day 9: Buffer Day. If this day is used, trekkers will have to pay Rs 2100 +5% GST.
If the buffer day is used, you have to pay us Rs. 2,100 per day (INR) +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day. This depends completely on the weather conditions on the trek and the call will be taken by the trek leader.
You’ll be back in Dehradun by 8 pm. Please factor in the buffer day in your travel plans – book your onward journey from Dehradun only after 9 pm on Day 9.
. Detailed itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Sankri
- Altitude of Sankri: 6,398 ft
- Drive duration: 10-11 hours
Sankri is a charming village with a few dhabas and some shops. Stay at the GMVN guest house slightly up the road. Most trekkers get to Sankri in the evening, which is a good time to look out for the sun setting on the Greater Himalayan mountain ranges. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun, standing tall over the ridges beyond Sankri.
Day 2: Sankri to Chilurgad via Taluka
- Altitude: 6,398 ft to 8,159 ft
- Distance: 12 km drive, 11 km trek
- Duration: 1-hour drive, 7-8 hours trek
- GPS Coordinates of Chilurgad: N 31°06.720, E 078 °19.965
There is a road that connects Sankri with Taluka. This 12 kilometre-long journey may be covered by hiring a local jeep (subject to the condition of the road as this is a landslide-prone route, often closed during monsoon). The trail is almost a level-walk going through 10 to 11 mountain bends.
On the way, there are three major streams gushing down the road, almost submerging certain sections of the road. The hike is scenic, going past a series of wild roses, irises and bamboo, chestnut and deodar trees. Around 2 km before Taluka, there is a campsite beside a stream. Camp here in case there is not enough time to trek till Seema.
Taluka village is a small one, centred on concrete houses that look out of sync with the village architecture seen at Sankri, Osla, Gangad etc. There is a GMVN Guest House for accommodation. The dhaba food here is very basic.
From Taluka, next to Forest Guest House, the trail descends to the river valley of Supin and continues through a series of forests on your left as the river remains on your right. This shepherd trail goes along the river on a level walk. Around 10 minutes into the hike, you will see the first cemented bridge on a small stream. Another 15 minutes of level walk will have you reach another bridge, this time a wooden one. These two spots are conducive to fill up drinking water.
From here, walk by a series of gradual descends for 15 minutes, until you see a small clearing next to the river. This is an option for setting up an emergency camp if need be. Another 10-15 minutes later, you see a section where you climb down, meeting the Supin’s tributary that flows on your right side. Look for a wooden bridge that can be used in crossing this river, just below Datmir village.
After crossing the tributary, there is a short climb of less than a minute until you reach a camping ground. From here, facing the inside of the valley, locate two trails, one moving up and the other going straight ahead. Take the one that goes straight ahead.
The trail will now deteriorate, owing to a series of landslide-prone sections adjacent to the Supin River. Around 15 minutes of level walking later, you reach a land cleared by shepherds to setup temporary night shelters. The trail moves up with a series of gradual climbs followed with level walks. Around 10 minutes into the hike, look out for your first landslide-prone section. You may have to come down the river and cross the section that has caved in.
After 20 minutes of similar walking, spot a river crossing option via a wooden bridge over Supin River. Ignore it and proceed straight ahead. After five minutes, there will be the first section of steep incline trail in a zig-zag formation. This section will take about 15-20 minutes to cover. During the rainy season, expect this trail to be completely in covered in mud. The trail now will relax with a series of level walks till you see a big stream coming down the hill on your right, over a wooden bridge crossing.
The trail picks up a little altitude as you once again enter the forested cover with a series of ascents and level walks. After 30-40 minutes of easy walk, look for an old village setting across the river on your left. This is Gangad village. After another 20 minutes of level walk, take a diversion towards the right side, till you reach a dhaba next to a wooden bridge crossing.
Behind the dhaba is a small hut where locals use the momentum of water to run a mechanical turbine that grinds cereal into flour. Those who want to camp at Osla may cross a wooden bridge to get to the other side of the mountain, left of Supin River and then trek straight along the river till they reach Osla. To reach Seema, one has to trek straight up by remaining at the true right of the river, all the way till Seema. There are a few steep ascents but are not in continuity, as the trail relaxes giving certain sections of level walks.
The landscape and condition of terrain will remain like this for an hour and a half. Look for cemented houses built across a series of barley and wheat fields towards your right. The ground next to the cemented house is Chilurgad. One can camp here for the night as there is no spot available in Seema for camping.
Day 3: Chilurgad to Devsu Thach
- Altitude: 8,159 ft to 10,016 feet
- Distance: 6 km
- Duration: 4-5 hours
- GPS Coordinates for Devsu Thatch: N 31°07.442, E 078 °23.042
Start early in the morning, taking the trail going ahead from the campsite. Pass a cemented bridge and take the trail going ahead. Observe Osla wooden bridge towards your right over Supin River, which goes to Osla village. The trail is a well-defined levelled one, with few gradual ascents.
After 20 minutes of trekking, you will reach Seema. Pass a series of dhabas and GMVN and Forest Guest Houses in Seema. A 200 metre-long brisk walk will have you pass another bridge, crossing over River Supin. Do not cross over.
Take the trail going down, with River Supin on your left as you by-pass the bridge. Ensure you do not take the trail ascending from here. Note that from here onwards, the trail gradually ascends as you near the entry point of Ruinsara Valley. Pass by a series of streams and landslide zones.
Around 30 minutes into the hike, you will cross a series of huge boulders as you enter Ruinsara Forest. The trail from here ascends sharply over the boulders. Leaving the river below you, climb up briskly as you near the point from where the trail takes a right. This is the point from where you will be able to see Osla village behind you for the last time, as you enter the Ruinsara Valley.
Another 30 minutes of a level walk later, you will enter the meadows of Devsu Thach. Follow the trail going from the centre of the meadow surrounded by tall trees all around. Devsu Thach is approximately 2 km in length and is a delightful walk.
On your left, observe Har Ki Dun Valley, below which is the confluence of Har Ki Dun and Ruinsara rivers. Walk for another 15 minutes till you reach the last section of the pasture land.
Day 4: Devsu Thach to Ruinsara Tal
- Altitude: 10,016 ft to 11,450 ft
- Distance: 10 km
- Duration: 4-5 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Ruinsara Tal: N 31° 04.831, E 78° 27.499
From Devsu Thatch, look for a forest trail descending sharply towards the Ruinsara river below. The descent is rapid and steep. Around 15 minutes and 100 meters of careful descent later, you reach a wooden bridge that crosses over River Ruinsara. Observe the Ruinsara Valley towards your right. Cross the bridge and take the trail going inside the valley, with the river on your right.
The next 45 minutes of the trail is a series of level and gradual ascents over boulders and patches of pasture land next to the river. Observe a cemented hut ahead of you. This is a good spot of camping or taking a break for lunch.
The condition of the trail deteriorates rapidly from here forth as you trek towards the interiors of the valley. Pass through three mountain bends, after which you’ll pass through a series of landslide zones. The trails have been completely or partially broken in these sections. Take great care in crossing these sections.
Depending upon the conditions, one may have to use ropes for crossing over the broken bends. These sections are consistent for another hour and a half till you reach a waterfall at your left side. Descend down the trail and pass the waterfall section. Once crossed, the trail again ascends sharply as you leave the last bend and enter a series of meadows covered with glacial snow and scree. Walk over this ridge carefully.
In a few minutes, you’ll come across a vast meadow with birch forests forming a background. The Untigad campsite is another 30 minutes’ walk from here. There is a small river-crossing over a tributary of Ruinsara here. The crossing is fairly simple. Once crossed, walk straight and re-join the trail that is next to River Ruinsara. Look for a makeshift bridge over the river. The ground towards the left of this bridge is Untigad.
From here a 45 min hike takes you to Ruinsara Tal. The trail to the lake goes inside the birch forest towards the true left of the river. Ensure you do not meander towards the right. Once you leave the forest behind, cross a boulder zone till you see a hut on your right ahead. Walk towards the hut. Observe Ruinsara Lake below you towards the left. The lake is surrounded by meadows where one can camp. Swargarohini ranges are behind the mountain ridge next to the lake and are not visible from here.
Day 5: Ruinsara Tal and further to Thanga
- Altitude: Approximately 12,000 ft
- Distance: 3 km
- Duration: 3 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Ruinsara Tal: N 31° 04.831, E 78° 27.499
The day starts with a 10 minute descent to reach the riverbed. Once at the river cross it by making human chain . Mind you, the water would be ice cold.
Some rest, therefore is a must to warm-up your body. And also to prepare yourself for next 40-50 minutes of steep ascent. Once at the top, take another breather.
Have some water while gazing at the mountains full of rhododendrons to you right. While the river, you crossed earlier gushes down. Also look out for some more view of Swargarohini 2 and 3.
From here it is another hour of hike to the campsite. You will reach the campsite by 11:30 after that you will have whole day to relax your muscles and mind so that you can be ready for the next two most difficult days of this trek.
Day 6: Thanga to Advanced base camp via Odari (Bali Pass Base Camp)
- Altitude of Odari: 13,287 ft, ABC: 15,154 ft
- Distance: 5 km
- Duration: 5-6 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Bali Pass A.B.C: N 31°02.482, E 078 °26.837
Today is a light day with a promise of great views of the entire Ruinsara and Kyarkoti Valley. Cross the bridge from your campsite and take the landslide-prone trail on your left. The mountain ridge is completely broken as you ascend through a maze of boulders. It takes 20 minutes to cross this till you reach the level ground and are able to see a tributary of Ruinsara River passing on your left.
Look for a suitable spot for the river crossing. It is advisable to start early so that the depth of water is not high. There is no makeshift bridge and one may have to boulder hop across this tributary. A rope can be handy as well, though not necessary. Once you’ve crossed, take the trail going straight towards the snow moraine that lies ahead, keeping Ruinsara River on the left.
Treat yourself to the beautiful Swargarohini ranges that are completely visible for the first time. You’ll see the first patches of snow in the meadows ahead. Cross over these meadows and move to the right side of the valley as you start gaining considerable altitude. The steepness of the climb gradually increases as you enter the snow line. The snow is slippery here and a micro spike/crampon is very handy in this section.
The route to Odari swerves to the right. You now enter a funnel valley. In an hour or two (depending upon the pace of the ascent), you will reach the top of the first ridge. From here, you can see a small snow ridge. Behind that ridge are the ice fields of Odari.
The views of Kyarkoti towards the left and Swargarohini massif behind you are outstanding. The trek from here to the B.C. is another 20-30 minutes of gradual ascent over slippery snow. Observe a level ice field with a few semi-frozen small glacial ponds in between. This is Bali Base Camp. Look for level ground for pitching the tents. In the month of June and July tents will be pitched on hard snow.
If one wants to trek further, one can proceed ahead to the Advance Base Camp of Bali, which is another 2-3 hours on a snow ridge away.
Today is a short day but involves a steep climb as you gain nearly 2000 ft of altitude in a 1.5 km distance.
Start very early in the morning, preferably around 4 or 5 am. One can start much earlier, depending upon prevailing weather conditions. Micro-spikes are required for today. There is also a section where ropes need to be fixed. Carry plenty of water as there are no water points for a long section of the trek.
Looking ahead, observe a series of five snow ridges that need to be traversed. Bali Pass summit is not visible from this section for the moment. It takes around 30-45 minutes to climb to the top of the third snow ridge as you gain an altitude of 200 meters.
From this spot, you will be able to see a snow ridgeline that connects to a steep climb over a series of snow ridges. The initial walk is a gradual walk over a level ridge. There is a huge accumulation of snow all around. It is wise to remain on top of the ridge and climb up via that route. No ropes are required here.
These sections are not technical but are long and tiring. After an hour or two (depending upon your pace) you will reach the top of the fifth ridge. From here, you can see Bali Pass Col towards your left ahead. Below the pass is the camping spot of A.B.C. Walk towards the left side, crossing as many as three snow dunes to reach the spot, from where the true ascent of Bali Col begins.
Day 7: Bali Pass Advanced Base Camp to Bali Pass and further to Lower Damini
- Altitude: 15,147 ft to 16,207 feet to 11,076 feet
- Distance: 14 km
- Duration: 9-10 hours
- GPS Coordinates of Bali Pass: N 31°01.909, E 078 °26.392
- GPS Coordinates of Lower Damini: N 30°59.919, E 078 °27.218
The climb to Bali Pass is steep and you might require an expert guide to find the route. There are no crevasses here, but there’s a lot of snow. An ice axe is useful here, to ensure sure footing. It is advisable not to take a straight line ascent route. Making scissor-bend trails is more practical.
The climb can take anything from 45 minutes to one and a half hours. As you reach the top of the mountain col, you will be able to see the Yamunotri side of the valley for the first time.
The Bali Pass summit is another 10 minutes of ascent towards the connecting ridge on your left. The last climb is again steep, but doable. The summit of Bali pass has enough space for a large group of 30-40 people to assemble.
Once you’re reached the Bali Pass summit, enjoy a clear 360-degree view of the Ruinsara and Yamuntori side. One can see Bandarpoonch (White peak) and Kalanag (Black Peak) and also the logical route to Saptarishikund.
Look down towards the Yamunotri side for a connecting snow ridge that descends. This is from where you will descend. Fixed ropes need to be placed in the initial 60-70 metres. Care must be taken while descending. The second section of descent can be done by merely sliding down towards the A.B.C. site on the Yamunotri side.
Once down, observe snowfields descending on your right. There are multiple routes that one can take to descend from here. Moving down on soft snow can be done swiftly. After 15 minutes, you will reach the last point of the A.B.C. ridge. From here, there is another sharp descent down to base camp. Let an experienced team member find a best possible descent route from here. You will cross a few boulders over snow. Once this section is crossed, one can slide down till the B.C. From here, move briskly as you lose altitude. Another 30 minutes of brisk descent later, you will be required to traverse to the right side of the mountain ridge till you reach the pinnacle.
From here, you will be able to see the upper and lower Damini forest ridge below you. The descent from here is tricky, especially if there is snow. If the accumulation of snow is large, you may need to place ropes. The trails here are nonexistent and one has to descend sharply over huge boulders and snow. Look for land clearing 500 meters below you. This section is like a maze and the team must do this with extreme caution. It may take an hour or two to cross this section safely.
Once you enter the upper forest of Damini, rejoin a well-laid trail that now descends rapidly. There is no water source at Upper Damini camping ground anymore. Hence, it is advisable to trek down to lower catchment area inside the forest. The trek down is another 2-3 km, till you reach a small camping spot next to a stream. You have now reached lower Damini camping spot. (One can also camp at the Base Camp location in the Yamunotri side of Bali Col, depending upon weather conditions.)
Day 8: Lower Damini to Janakichatti and back to Dehradun
- Altitude: 11,076 ft to 10,797 ft
- Distance: 6 km trek
- Duration: 1-hour trek, followed by 8-hour drive
Today is an easy day. Take the trail descending the lower Damini forest. The trail is well-defined and after 30 minutes of a steep descent, you will connect with the old Yamunotri trail. Here you’ll have to make a detour if you want to visit the Yamunotri temple. Otherwise, take a right and follow the trail that descends and connects with the new Yamunotri to Janakichatti pilgrim trail.
The trail from here is cemented and one can reach Janakchatti in a couple of hours. From Janakchatti, board a bus or a shared jeep to Dehradun or Barkot.
How to get to the basecamp – Sankri
Delhi → Dehradun → Sankri
The Bali Pass trek starts from Sankri, 186 km from Dehradun.
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Sankri. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway Station on Day 1. It costs Rs.5,500 per cab one way. This is not included in the fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
- 12055 DDN Jan Shatabdi – 15.20 – 21.10 (reach the previous night)
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Yamunotri → Dehradun→ Delhi
The Bali Pass treks ends at Yamunotri. From Yamunotri, you’ll be driving all the way to Dehradun. It takes 8-9 hours to drive back to Dehradun. Indiahikes organises this transport for a fare of Rs.5,500 per cab. This is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid to the driver directly. You will reach Dehradun by 8.00 pm.
If you are travelling further from Dehradun, keep a couple of hours as buffer time in case of delay. Book your onward travel from Dehradun post 9.00 pm. If you are travelling to Delhi, you can choose to go back by Mussoorie Express (21.20) or Nanda Devi Express (23.30).
If you want to get to the base camp by yourself
There are direct buses from Dehradun to Sankri. They leave at 6.00 am, 7 am and 8 am respectively from Dehradun Railway station.
If you are reaching Dehradun late, you can take a bus to Purola/Naugaon and then a connecting bus to Sankri. The last bus leaves from Dehradun Railway Station at 12.00 noon. If you reach Purola late, you can stay there overnight.
If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. First, head to Mussoorie, then move down to Yamuna Bridge via Kempty falls. Then follow the Yamuna on your left until you reach Damta and further on to Naugaon. Cross the Yamuna at Naugaon and head towards Purola. The route immediately turns scenic, with pine trees overlooking the road.
At Purola break for lunch. From Purola, the route gets mesmerising with the road climbing up and descending through thick pine forests until you get to Mori along the Tons River. 5 km out of Purola try to locate the south face of the Kedarkantha peak on your left. The highest peak, it is not difficult to spot.
From Mori, follow the Tons to Naitwar, again through some breathtaking mountain scenery. At Naitwar, the road branches off to the right along the Supin, until you get to Sankri an hour later.
How to prepare for the Bali Pass trek
Bali Pass is a Difficult trek. Every day, you cover around 7-8 km on an average and gain a good amount of altitude. Over 5 days, you climb from 5,100 ft to a highest point of 16,207 ft. You gain 10,000 ft over five days of trekking. If you want to do this trek comfortably and enjoy all the surprises it offers, you will need to prepare well.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 70 minutes before the start of the trek
The Bali Pass trek requires a good amount of endurance and stamina. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 25 km in 60 minutes.
How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?
Record your run on an app like Nike Run or Strava. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.
Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.
Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.
Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek — one of you covering 5km in less than 30 mins along with your picture and the other with splits of your run.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover in high altitude carrying your backpacks. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here is a chart that you can follow to get fit for your trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
On this page, you will find
Useful videos to help you with your gear
1. Trekking shoes: The Bali Pass trek has different kinds of terrain. A majority of the trail is alpine, with rocks, loose soil and boulders. So its imperative that you have a good pair of trekking shoes. So ensure you wear a good pair of shoes.
2. Backpack (30-40 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. But enough to keep you warm.
1. Four warm layers: The highest altitude you reach in this trek is 16,207 ft and the climate may require you to have more warm clothes. You will need at least three warm layers (two light layers such as fleece and woollen and one padded jacket) for this trek. In non winter months, two warm layers should suffice.
2. Two trek pants: Two pairs of pants should suffice for this trek. Wear one pair and carry an extra pair just in case it rains. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
3. Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry two. Let one of these be a dry fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day.
4. Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow closer to the lake, so carry a pair of sunglasses.
2. Suncap: The sun is more hard at high altitudes, which is why a sun cap is mandatory.
3. Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woollen hand gloves which is water resistant.
4. Balaclava or a woollen cap
5. Socks (3 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
6. Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
7. Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. We do not like biodegradable wet wipes because they take a long time to decompose in the mountains. Use toilet paper instead.
- Sanitary waste: Make sure you bring your used sanitary napkins back to the city with you. Carry a zip lock bag to put used napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery:Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. We do not allow biodegradable or disposable cutlery on our treks.
- Two water bottles: 1 liter each.
- Plastic covers: While packing, use Ziploc covers to compartmentalization of things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes. You also need ziploc packets to keep soiled sanitary napkins if you use them on the trek.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 1 Strip
- Dexamethasone – 1 strip
- Crocin – 10 tablets
- Avomine (optional, in case of motion sickness)- 1 Strip
- Combiflam- Half Strip
- Muscle relaxant – Half Strip
- Digene – Half Strip
- Avil – 1 strip
- ORS – 6 packs
- Knee Cap (If you are prone to knee injury)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.) – It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek. Since Sankri will have limited facilities to photocopy, do not leave this till the end.
- Medical Certificate (first part to be filled by a doctor and second part by the trekker) – Download PDF
- Disclaimer form (to be filled by the trekker) – Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
Rent gear from Indiahikes
How safe is the Bali Pass trek?
The Bali Pass trek is a difficult one. The most difficult part of the trek is the crossing of the pass itself. There’s usually excessive snow pre-monsoon, and the ridge is narrow. You also climb to 1,207 ft, which is very high altitude. There are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness though the trail is designed such that your body has enough time to acclimatise to the surroundings.
If you have registered for this trek, then here is some information that you must know in order to have a safe trek. At Indiahikes, we believe that as long as you are well-informed and well-prepared, you can survive easily at high altitudes.
What Indiahikes does to ensure your safety
Our philosophy is simple. We ingrain safety aspects in the people we work with, in the processes that we follow, and in the equipment we carry. All our trek leaders are trained repeatedly on safety issues and protocols. Most issues are resolved with their intervention.
Right from the time you decide to register for the trek till the last day of the trek, these safety procedures will be running in the background. We have listed a few of them below:
1. Fitness criteria before registration
Over years of organising high altitude treks, we have found that safety issues thrive amongst those who are unfit and unprepared for the trek. So we have an eligibility criteria for the Bali Pass trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Bali Pass trek has to meet the fitness requirements. We ask you for proof of your fitness and guide you to get fit enough for the trek.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Bali Pass trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
Every trekker will be given a Health Card at the beginning of the trek. The Health Card is issued to monitor the trekker’s daily health, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will be carrying a full-fledged high altitude medical kit. This will include basic medicines and specific medicines catering to altitude sickness – Diamox, Dexamethasone (tablets and injections) and Nifedipine. Your Trek Leader will also be carrying a portable oxygen cylinder throughout the trek. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking on snowy terrain, Indiahikes will provide you with micro-spikes to attach to your shoes. This will give you good traction on hard snow. To avoid snow from entering your shoes, Indiahikes will provide you with gaiters that you can put on over your shoes. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
All our sleeping bags and tents are custom-made for high altitude. If it is cold outside, it will be around 10 degrees warmer inside the tent. The sleeping bags can withstand temperatures up to -10 degree Celsius.
5. Being hydrated and well nourished on the trek
You need to drink a minimum of 4 litres of water every day during the trek to ensure that you’re well hydrated. De-hydration on a trek can make you lose energy very quickly and intensify the effects of AMS. Your trek leader will brief you about the amount of water that you need to carry with you at the start of each day as well as water sources on the trail.
We provide trekkers with nutritious meals to ensure that they are energized to complete the trail each day. Apart from this, snacks or packed lunch is provided wherever the trail before a meal break is likely to be long. Make sure that you do not skip any meal as this can lead to serious health emergencies on high altitudes.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Bali Pass trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
On the Bali Pass trek, the trail is designed such that your body has enough time to acclimatise to the surroundings. So probabilities of Acute Mountain Sickness are low, even though you hit a maximum altitude of 15,380 ft.
However, at the Odari Thatch camp or the Advanced Base Camp, AMS can hit anyone since these are all at very high altitudes. Hence, it is imperative that you take necessary precautions.
At any campsite, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you identify any symptom of AMS. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to a lower campsite.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and medicines for the most part, the symptoms must be recognised before it can go to advanced stages – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).
HAPE and HACE are critical conditions that can be fatal within hours.And they can occur without AMS preceding them. So it’s doubly important to recognise any symptoms and nip them in the bud.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have symptoms of AMS?
If you feel any symptoms of AMS on the trek, you must report to the Trek Leader immediately. Do not wait till the end of the day’s trek. Do not try to handle it yourself either. Our Trek Leaders are well-trained and experienced to handle any cases and they will be the decision makers in any such cases.
Watch the below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
Exit points on the Bali Pass trek
The closest exit on this trek is at the base camp, Taluka, where there is a road head. After crossing the pass, the closest exit is at Janki Chatti in Yamunotri. Evacuation can take time, even 1-2 days, especially from high camps. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
Depending on where in the trek a medical emergency occurs, there are different hospitals that you can access. On the Sankri side, Purola has the closest hospital. Towards the end of the trek, your best option would be to reach Yamunotri, where you will find a seasonal hospital.
Why you should personally know about the risks and precautions of high altitude treks
If ever you find yourself alone at high altitude, either while trekking independently or with another organisation, there are some life -saving steps you can take. Firstly, you should be able to recognise symptoms of altitude sickness. So acquaint yourself with the symptoms.
Secondly, there might be instances when you have to administer medicines to yourself or to a fellow trekker. There are three life-saving medicines that we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
Acute Mountain Sickness — Good reads
If you’re of the opinion that fit people don’t get AMS, please get rid of that notion right away. AMS can affect anyone without paying heed to their fitness and prior experience at high altitude! Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker.
For more detailed information about Acute Mountain Sickness, you can download and study the manual below.
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Bali Pass – Ruinsara Tal
- There are 18 participants in a batch
- We usually overbook by 3 to bring down the total participants after cancellations to between 16-18. Rate of cancellation is usually between 4-5 in a batch.
- On cancellation the next participant on our waitlist is immediately sent an auto notification to confirm their participation.
- Chances of waitlist getting confirmed is 80% if registration is done about 45 days prior to trek start date. 70% between 30-45 days. 50% if less than 30 days.
- Batches that are 'full' have crossed their waitlist limit. Further slots are unlikely.