The Complete Guide To Patalsu Peak Trek
Manali has long been a hub for hardcore trekkers and mountaineers. After all, peaks like Friendship Peak, Shitidhar, Ladakhi and Hanuman Tibba just loom over the town, waiting to be climbed. Mountaineering institutes have established themselves here to feed this growing club of trekkers and mountaineers. Very close to these trekking expeditions, lies the Patalsu peak.
The Solang valley view from summit. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
In comparison, it looks like it is quite the modest trek. And yet, it is this accessibility to beginners that makes this summit trek special. The experience of a summit climb is such that you carry it in your heart for a long time. Patalsu trek is an easy-moderate trek that gives you the indescribable feeling you earn from a summit climb.
Starting out from Solang Nallah, the trail takes you all the way through meadows, alpine forests with inhabitants that would delight birders and ends with a summit climb. The summit offer panoramic views of the entire Kullu valley and Hanuman Tibba, Friendship Peak, etc. It is a perfect beginner's summit trek around Manali.
The Shagadung clearing in the Patalsu peak trek. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
Day 1: Arrival in Manali. Drive to Solang (7914 ft) and stay.
Day 2: Solang to Patalsu summit camp (10768 ft) - 6 km Trek
Day 3: Summit Camp(10768 ft) to Patalsu Summit (13,944 ft) and back to Patalsu Summit Camp(10768 ft) - 6 km Trek
Day 4: Summit Camp to Manali via Solang - 6 km Trek
Detailed Trail Information
Day 1: Arrival in Manali. Drive to Solang
Solang Nalla is the starting point of the trek. This is on the outskirts of Manali. Check the GPS Coordinates and choose a place closest to it. If you are beginning your trek from Day 1, reach Solang Nalla on Day 0. This allows time for acclimatization before you start. You also get to rest before you start trekking early next morning.
Solang Nallah is where this trek begins. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
Day 2: Solang to Patalsu summit camp
- Distance: 6 km
- Altitude: 7,914 ft to 10,768 ft
- Time Taken: 3-4 hours in dry conditions, 5-6 hours in dry conditions
Begin the trek by crossing Beas river. There's no bridge on it, so you might need to pulley bridge for this. This river originates 7-8 kms ahead of Solang. The beautiful Beas Kund trek goes till the source of this ancient river. On the other side of Beas, away from the chaotic tourist hub, lies a quaint village.
The first major clearing will arrive after a 4 km which is an alpine Buscher, known as Shagadurg. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
The people from this village did build a bridge on the river. But it got washed away due to the strong flow. So, we used a pulley bridge, almost 200 m in length, to cross it. Presently, a concrete bridge is under construction. It might get completed some time in 2020.
After the river crossing, climb up to reach the Solang village. The steep trail to the village is accompanied by apple orchards. Even though this trek is covers short distances, the steep trails test your endurance, especially in snow. This is why basic fitness is necessary.
The Solang village is tiny with a population of around 300 people. Its economy depends on tourists and apple orchards. It takes barely 5 minutes to cross the village and soon you cross over to the other side of the slope.
At all the times the Solang valley will be behind with the mountains of Bara Bangal dominating the skyline. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
After climbing for 500 meters you enter the alpine forests comprising of brown oaks, horse chestnut and spruce trees. This forest trail is punctuated with a few clearings. To get a sense of direction, remember that Solang valley will be behind you with the backdrop of Bara Bangal mountains.
After 4 km you arrive at the first major clearing. Some people call it Shagadurg. There is no water source here. But small groups may use this as a camping location if you are carrying enough water. In monsoons, this area blooms with colourful flowers.
After leaving Shagadung, again enter the thick forest . After 2 km you reach the tree line. Pitch your camp here. This is an open area and you can see the Patalsu summit from here. Here too, no water source is available.
The only limitation of this summit camp is non-availability of nearby water source. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
There is a perennial source of water 500 meters away from the campsite. Use a pipeline to draw water to your campsite. During winters the water source may completely freeze. Under a clear sky this camp is an ideal location for stargazing.
The Pir Panjal and Bara bangal ranges are visible from here. Interested birders may spot Oriental Turtle Dove, Common Hoopoe, Brown Fronted Woodpecker, Griffon Vulture. You may also spot the reptile composed of Himalayan Ground Skink.
Day 3: Base Camp to Patalsu Peak Summit and back to Base Camp
- Distance: 6 km
- Altitude: 10,768 ft to 13,944 ft to 10,768 ft
- Time taken: 4 - 5 hours
Start early on the summit day. Plan it in a way that you cover the 3 km and are on the summit as the sun rises. Do this by starting your trek 2 hours before the estimated sunrise.
This is a 3 km hike on an alpine meadow with a steep incline. Although it's just 3 km, the incline combined with low oxygen concentration in the atmosphere will tire you out. Carry two liters of water as there is no water source on the trail. Most of the climb is rigorous and there are just a couple of resting spaces enroute.
The view from saddle. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
At the beginning of the trek, the Patalsu peak is visible right in front of you. But there are other mountains in the same ridge. Keep your eye on the ridge and keep walking towards the depression. This depression on the ridge is called a saddle. If you deviate, you may end up approaching Patalsu peak from a steeper section. It is much more difficult to summit from that side.
From the saddle, you witness a panoramic view of Kullu, Rohtang, Beas and Solang valley. It is a blissful sight, totally worth the effort.
The view of Kullu valley from Patalsu peak. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
Turn right towards South West from the saddle. You will come across some elevated points on the ridge that might look like the summit. But, they're not. The third elevated point is covered with loose boulders. This is the summit. From here you see the mighty Hanuman Tibba. The grandeur is humbling. It makes you bow down with respect.
When you are facing the Kullu Valley, Bhrigu Lake, Mt. Indrasan, Deo Tibba of Dhauladhar will be at your left. Rohtang along with Beas Valley, Shitidhar, Friendship peak, Seven Sisters and Tentu pass will be behind you. To your right is the Solang Valley and the adjoining Bara Bangal Ranges.
Once you reach the saddle, you will get a panoramic view of Kullu, Rohtang, Beas and Solang valley. It is a magnificent sight. Picture by Ravi Ranjan
Spend some time here. Then descend through the same trail to the base camp. Rest at this camp.
Day 4: Base Camp to Manali via Solang
- Distance: 6 km trek + 13 km drive
- Altitude: 10,768 ft to 7,914 ft
On the last day of this trek, retrace your route back to Solang Village. Drive back to Manali.
How To Reach The Base Of The Trek
Delhi → Manali → Solang
The Patalsu Peak trek starts from Solang Nallah, which is around 13 km from Manali. There are about 5 local buses that go to Solang. The first one leaves Manali at 8 am.
Getting to Manali
Manali is well connected to Delhi. If you take an overnight bus from Delhi, it will take you 12-14 hours to reach Manali. Tickets can be booked online at www.redbus.in or www.hrtc.gov.in. Choose government buses such as HPTDC and HRTC as they usually run on schedule.
Note: Since Delhi-Manali is a long journey, most private buses leave Delhi between 5.00 pm and 6.00 pm. The last government bus leaves at 8.30 pm from ISBT Kashmiri Gate.
Solang → Manali → Delhi
The Patalsu Peak trek ends at Solang. There might be difficulty in getting local transport back. However, you can try to hire a taxi.
There is no network connectivity on this trek. Be sure to make all your phone calls before the trek. The last point of all network is Solang.
There is an ATM at Solang. However, we would advise you to withdraw cash at Manali.
Manali. Although Solang has dispensaries for basic first aid.
How To Get Fit For The Trek
The Patalsu Peak trek is classified as an easy-moderate trek. You start from an altitude of 7,914 ft at Solang Valley and you reach the highest point of 13,944 ft at the Patalsu Peak.
This means you gain around 6,030 ft over just three days of trekking! This can make the trek quite demanding.
So here are the 3 areas that you must work on.
This trek requires a good amount of cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging every day. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. In order to be prepared for 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
-->Target completing 5 km in 45 minutes when you begin.
--> Gradually increase your pace by running 4 times a week and bring it down to 5 km in 40 mins.
-->If you are 45 years or above, try to cover 5 km in less than 47 minutes.
If you are somebody who prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 20 km in 60 minutes.
Here is a guide to help you get fit for the 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.
What To Pack For The Trek
- Trekking shoes: The summit day is rigorous and it needs sturdy trekking shoes. Watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Five Warm Layers: It will be cold at the higher altitudes so make sure you have at least five layers of warm clothes to protect yourself. This includes full sleeve tee shirt, thermals, fleece, sweater and jacket.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Mandatory): Carry thermals to wear at night because the temperature drops considerably.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. So they are required only if you expect snow on the trek.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh at high altitudes so wear a cap to protect your face and neck.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, windproof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): You will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks on summit day.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. 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 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox - 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)
Nearby Places To Visit
The trek ends effectively ends in Manali, a hub of tourists, travellers and mountaineers alike. Manali is a town that often acts as a transit point for a further journey into the mountains - either as base camp of multiple treks or rest point to a longer journey to Spiti/ Ladakh. Therefore, it is extremely traveller friendly.
There are couple places of interest that you can go to.
Hadimba, a demon, was known to be Pandav brother, Bhim's wife when he was exiled in the forest. She is revered as a local goddess. Her temple , right in the centre of Manali, is worth a visit. The wooden temple looks untouched by the world in all the 400 years it had been standing.
Temples, ancient castles, solitude and locals proudly donning their traditional clothes and going about their business is Naggar for you. Once a capital for Kullu, this town has a lot to offer. Apart from Naggar Castle and Roerich Muesem, Naggar has unique temples to offer. A walk around town can be extremely rewarding.
Gulaba, the base camp for Bhrigu Lake trek, falls on the way to Rohtang. A quiet hamlet that is often buzzing with tourists. In winters, these very slopes are open for skiing!
Documented by Ravi Ranjan
Author - Aswati Anand