Caught in a Blizzard on the Har Ki Dun Trek

On any Himalayan trek, one is made abundantly aware of the raw power and sheer force of Nature. However, on my latest trek to Har Ki Dun, I learnt first-hand what the phrase “vagaries of Nature” meant!

​It was a pleasant sunny afternoon when we reached the Har Ki Dun campsite right at the foot of Mt Swargarohini. The valley exuded so much peace and serenity. I was very happy that Indiahikes has two days at this camp in the itinerary! We felt so at home in the camp that we played cricket for a couple of hours. The trek leaders and kitchen staff joined in too!

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Playing cricket in the Har Ki Dun Valley. PC: Saraf Prashanth

There was a stream right next to our cricket “pitch.” Whenever the batsman hit the ball into the stream, the poor soul fielding on that side had to retrieve the ball from the freezing waters of the stream. All fellow trekkers will be familiar with the painful experience of dipping their hand in the cold waters of these mountain streams!

Being from Bangalore, I have the habit of checking the weather daily. The forecast for that night was mild snowfall. This was the first time most of us, including me, would be experiencing snowfall. We were looking forward to it excitedly. Finally, true to the forecast, at 7.30 pm it started snowing. One of our trek mates was so delighted she sent up a prayer that it should never stop. That night we all thanked our stars for letting us experience a snow fall. 

har ki dun - indiahikes - winter trek
Waking up in the morning to this view was a treat to the eyes! PC: Saraf Prashanth

The next morning, we woke up and stepped out of our tents to a visual treat. There was snow all around. We couldn’t contain our excitement. We were like kids in a candy shop, playing with snow and acting silly.

But turns out, the weather gods took my trek mate’s prayer seriously. We were stopped short. 

The weather took a turn for the worse. A heavy blizzard set in and we were forced to retreat into our tents. We had to continually push out the insides of our tent to clear the snow that gathered on our tents.

Through the day, we hoped the weather would clear. But even until evening, there was no sign of the dark grey clouds moving away. The condition did not improve. That’s when our Trek Leader decided to evacuate us from the Har Ki Dun valley. We had to be moved to a safer place.

Without allowing panic to take hold of the situation, all trekkers were directed to get their essentials and bags packed. It was 8 pm when we started our night trek to the new camping spot. We were to be moved to a government guest house that was being constructed about half a kilometre from Har Ki Dun campsite.

We wore our headlamps and followed our Trek Leader in knee deep snow. The kitchen staff who doubled up as porters in the absence of mules helped carry everyone’s sleeping bags and other gear to the new location. We were thankful to the team who helped us even though it wasn’t their job.

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Our trek leader evacuated us to a safer place that night. PC: Saraf Prashanth

It was a long and restless night as no one knew how the weather conditions would play out the next day. All of us slept late hoping for the snowstorm to die down. Quite a change from praying for the snow fall to never stop!

The next morning our Trek Leader sent an Assistant Trek Leader to assess the situation at the Har Ki Dun campsite and tell us about the feasibility of getting to safer ground. He gave us a green signal in about an hour. We reached Har Ki Dun valley to find all our tents submerged in snow. What happened on the camp looked scary. It was a relief knowing that we were evacuated to a safer place at the right time.

Trekking in the Himalayas- Har Ki Dun-Indiahikes
The state of the kicthen tent! PC: Saraf Prashanth

The kitchen staff amazed us again by providing breakfast and packed lunch in such weather conditions.

Finally, after walking through knee deep snow, we reached lower grounds where conditions were more favourable. We were comforted by clear grounds with warm sunlight and dust. 

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Wading through knee-deep snow down from Har Ki Dun Valley

The immediate thought that came to mind was – “That is enough snow to experience for one lifetime!!”

But now that I think of it, I want to experience it all over again!

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Saraf Prashanth

Saraf Prashanth

Prashanth is an IC designer by profession in a semiconductor firm in Bangalore. He developed a love for the mountains and outdoors during his college years. In his college years, he did a lot of treks in Western Ghats. After post-graduation, he did his first Himalayan trek: Chadar. His first trek with Indiahikes was as a volunteer for the IIM program. He was truly mesmerized by the Green Trails Intiative. It made him realise trekking was not just about the adventure or thrill of summiting a peak. It is also a way of giving back to the mountains by educating fellow trekkers and locals about the importance of maintaining the sanctity of those places.

4 thoughts on “Caught in a Blizzard on the Har Ki Dun Trek

  1. When did you guys go? [Year and month]

    It was a great experience, however bad it may be, but what you mentioned at the end is the main thing. When we get back to our common affairs, it is the trek and its memory that keeps us going and looking for another one.

    1. I think this was the batch started on April 1st(Nature took a chance of making “April fool” by snowing in Summer). We were lucky enough to visit the valley on just next day of it, since we were part of Har-ki-dun batch started on April 2nd. It was really a very good experience.

  2. Which month was this?

    I am going to Har ki Doon trek on 13th May. Will it be snowing like this? I dont think so ?

    Does anyone know if it will rain that time in May or will there be real need of Warm Clothes?

    Manish

    1. Hi Manish, it is not likely to snow this much in May. But you will surely need at least 3 layers of warm clothes. It might rain on a day or two, but nothing to hamper your trek

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