Kuari Pass – The Best Himalayan Trek For Beginners
If you are stepping into Himalayas for the first time then Kuari Pass is the trek to do. It is almost crafted perfectly for the beginner.
To begin with, Kuari Pass is an easy-moderate trek, which makes it easy enough for someone starting out in the Himalayas. But more than anything else there are three things about the trek that stay with you.
Ancient Forest Trails
First, are the beautiful forests on this trek. These forests are very old. They are mostly of oak and rhododendrons. Somehow, the forests are laid out perfectly. It is never too thick, never too thin. Every time you walk through the forests, you can see into the distance, which gives you a sweeping view of the forests. This is what makes the forest spectacular. There is something else magical about the forests. Every now and then, you get out of the forests to a clearing or a meadow and then get back in. This interplay of two different kinds of landscapes is something to watch out for.
Secondly, the campsites. Undoubtedly, you must look out for them. While we have many treks in the Himalayas, there are very few treks with campsites with such spectacular settings. Trekking is not always about going from place to place. It is also about the camping experience. Be it the Chitrakantha campsite in the heart of the forest or the Khullara campsite with Mt Dronagiri rising int he background. This is where the Kuari pass trek really makes it superb for someone starting out in the Himalayas.
Mountain Views from the First Day
Finally, the mountain views. Even from the first day of the trek you get to see superb mountain views. Mt Nanda Devi, Dronagiri are right in front. As you go higher, more mountains reveal themselves. They span the horizon making it a spectacular show.
Even if you leave these aspects out, the Kuari Pass trek is a superb trek. The beautiful sights and challenges of the trek make it a trek to do – whether it is your first time to the Himalayas or not.
Whom is the trek meant for?
The Kuari Pass trek is perfect for anyone who loves views of the Indian Himalayan ranges. Right at the start of the trek, you see the classic north face of Nanda Devi from Auli. As you enter Gorson Bugyal, more peaks from Garhwal Himalayas open out in front of you – Dronagiri, Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Kamet, Mana, Hathi Ghoda forming a grand amphitheatre. This is an easy-moderate trek is a must for any mountain lover. Anyone above the age of 8 is fit to go for this trek.
Difficulty level and Preparation
The 4 day trek to Kuari Pass and back is graded as a moderate trek. Right at the start, you climb the ski slope of Auli which stretches for 1,500 ft. You feel the thin air right here. Over the next 2 days the climbs continue but a bit gentler than the Auli climb. Negotiating the trail requires you to have decent amounts of stamina and physical fitness. Click here to learn how to prepare and get fit for the trek.
On the final ascent to Kuari Pass, you come across a bridge which tends to have frozen ice for a 100 meter stretch. Negotiating this patch can be difficult on your own and this is where our staff come in to help you through it.
If you are trekking in winter, the cold is definitely something that adds to the difficulty. Carrying the prescribed layers of clothes can help you over come the cold.
What are the risks involved?
The Kuari Pass at 12,000 ft comes under the category of high altitude treks. While trekking at that altitude, there is always the risk of developing Acute Mountain Sickness. Trekkers need to embark on such an adventure only after educating themselves about AMS and its symptoms.
Winter treks can be a lot colder than what you expect. Inadequate layers can up the risk of sickness and even hypothermia. Do not compromise on the woolens you carry for the trek.
Finally, any trek in the Himalayas requires you to prepare physically for it. Ensure that you have worked out enough to meet our fitness criteria. A fit body is able to cope up with the rigors of the climb and climate while unprepared people find it a struggle. You will be putting yourself in grave danger at high altitudes if you do not physically prepare for the trek.
ATM points and Mobile connectivity
At Auli you’ll get signals for Idea, Vodafone, Airtel and BSNL phones. At Gorson Bugyal, BSNL, Airtel and Vodafone numbers generally work. Signal is intermittent in the mountains. Do not depend on it. Finish all your important calls at Auli. Please inform anxious family members about limited phone connectivity.
Places to see
Here’s a short itinerary of the Kuari Pass trek
|Day 1||Getting to base camp – Joshimath. The transport will be arranged from Haridwar Railway Station at 6.30 AM on Day 1.Cost of cab per person -Rs.1100/-|
|Day 2||Drive to Auli. Trek from Auli 8,600 ft to Padiyar camp 10,639 ft; 4.2 km, 4 hours|
|Day 3||Padiyar camp 10,639 ft to Tali 11,030 ft; 7.2 km, 4.5 hours|
|Day 4||Tali 11,030 ft to Kuari Pass 12,516 ft and back to Khullara 11,230 ft; 7.7 km, 6 hours|
|Day 5||Trek from Khullara 11,230 ft to Dhak 7,545 ft , then drive to Joshimath 6,696 ft;|
|Day 6||Drive from Joshimath to Haridwar. You will reach Haridwar between 6 PM and 7 PM.|
Day 1: From Haridwar to Joshimath
You’ll be leaving Haridwar at 6.30 am and driving to Joshimath. The drive is a beautiful one. You’ll reach Joshimath at around 6 pm. For more details about getting there, click here.
Day 2: Drive to Auli 45 mins. Trek Auli to Padiyar Camp
- Altitude: 8,600 ft to 10,639 ft
- Time taken: 3.5 – 4 hours, 4.2 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the hotels at Towers 8 and 10 of the ropeway, the latter being around mid way through the day’s trek
Today you drive from Joshimath to Auli. Do make quick stops here to watch the River Ganga dance her way beautifully to Rishikesh and Haridwar. The trek begins at Auli which is famous for its ski slopes. Auli also gives outstanding views of India’s highest summit Mt. Nanda Devi. The trail starts right at the Auli ski lift. Its a straight ascent as you pass the ski slope, the Cliff top Resort and further.
The 2,000 ft climb through Auli slope will take about 2.5 hours. The end of Auli brings you to a magical Oak forest. The Oak trees grow into the sky and the ground is strewn with fallen leaves. A beautiful trail winds through the trees climbing gently. About an hour into the forest you come to a small shrine. The camp for the day is not far from here. There are a couple of small streams near by. If you are mesmerized by the Oak forest, there is more to come. The forest opens into Gorson Bugyal – a far stretching high altitude meadow with high peaks towering from all around.
The early end of the trek is for two reasons. One is acclimatization. You have already climbed 2500 ft and it is imperative that you don’t climb any further for natural acclimatization. Second, you are almost at the edge of Gorson Bugyal. Experiencing Bugyal with its mountains in the evening sun is an experience in itself. The campsite at the fringe of Gorson Bugyal gives you lot of time to explore the Bugyal and experience the mountains for the rest of the day.
Day 3: Padiyar Camp to Tali
- Altitude: 10,639 ft to 11,030 ft
- Time taken: 4.5 hours, 7.2 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Padiyar since there is no water source on the trail today.
The days trek see’s you traversing Gorson Bugyal in its full width before the trail winds and enters the folds of the mountain. As you come out of the tree line, Mt Dronagiri comes up on to your left as the most prominent summit in the horizon. Dronagiri stays with you for most of the length of the trek. The initial 30 minutes of the walk at Gorson Bugyal is a climb. As you climb the mountain views start getting better. The mountains you saw from Auli also start appearing in the western horizon. Dronagiri and Nanda Devi stand prominently to your left.
The meadows spread out lush green lined by dense Oak forests in the edges below. In the later months of Autumn and winter, the green makes way for golden brown. Beautiful either ways. As you traverse left on the meadows, a valley starts appearing way below. The valley leads on to Dhak, Tapovan and further on to the Nanda Devi sanctuary.
Day 4: Tali to Kuari Pass and back to Khullara
- Altitude: 11,030 ft to 12,516 ft back to 11,230 ft
- Time taken: 5 to 6 hours, 7.7 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate; includes an ascent to Jhandi top
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find one source where you can refill your water bottles slightly ahead of the point where Curzon trail meets the trek.
The vast meadows of Khullara also give a great 270 degree view of Himalayan peaks. Observe Chaukhamba massifs at the far north, followed with Mana, Kamet, Abl Gamin, Hathi Parvat, all the way to Nanda Ghunti and Trishul. In between the views of Drunagiri, Changabang, Kalanka are prominent. A 5 minute of level walk will have you pass by the camping grounds of Khullara at your true left. This is a viable camping spot in summer season. In front you see the last section of Chitrakantha forest ridge joining all the way to a hill top known as Chitrakantha Top. A 20 minute level walk will have you enter a small forest section of Chitrakantha. The trail ascends from here forth with the forest cover at your true left. 10 to 15 minutes of steep moraine climb will have you reach the top of a cliff. From here one gets a bird eye view of Chitrakantha Top and Kuari Col. We will call this as Kuari View Point-1.
The trail descents briefly with Kuari pass at your true right and the mountain ridge at your true left. The trail takes a U turn and ascends rapidly up the mountain ridge for 15 minutes of hike. The trail momentarily relaxes with a 10 minute level walk. You now enter a birch forest with Chitrakantha Top in front of you. A gradual climb for 30 minutes will have you reach the base of Chitrakantha Top. The rock face needs to be traversed from the right side. Follow the defined trail which takes a steep climb all the way to the top of Chitrakantha Hill. Another 15 to 2o minute of steep climb will have you reach Chitrakantha Top.
From Chitrakantha top one gets a panoramic 360 degree view. One can even trace Chandrashilla peak and the forests of Chopta region. Looking ahead towards Pangarchulla Peak, the trail descends to a lower ridge which connects to Lord Curzon Trail coming from Tapovan. After descending down to the lower ridge, walk for 20 minutes till you reach the base of another ridge top. From here the trail climbs up and swirls towards your right side. The ridge walk is spectacular with views from both sides.
The view of Dronagiri, Changabang and Kalanka peaks are impressive from this point. The ridge walk is rather long and takes around 40 to 50 minutes to cover. Another section of Birch Tree can be seen towards the left side of the ridge. Look out for a Shepherd Hut without a roof on the way ahead. This is the point where the trail from Tapovan from below the left ridge converges. You have joined the historic Lord Curzon Trail coming from your true left below.
From this point the Lord Curzon trail meanders towards the right side. The walk is easy but can have huge accumulation of snow. A 15 minute hike in snow will have you reach the base of Pangarchulla Peak. The Lord Curzon trail proceeds towards the right side all the way to an unfinished Bridge above a frozen stream. Crossing the stream can be tricky and dangerous. It is advisable to rope in your team or have a snow passage made via ice axe. Once this gully is crossed, the trail climbs up all the way to a col known as Puli Dhar.
The traverse to Puli Dhar from here requires crossing 3 ridges. The climb up to Puli Col may take anything from 30 to 45 minutes. Once at the top of the ridge, marvel the view towards Dronagiri, Changabang peak. Observe Pangarchulla Base camp below you and a logical trail to Kuari Pass at the backside.
Puli Col is the highest logical point on the way of Lord Curzon Trail. The trail descends 350 feet to reach Kuari Pass. The descent is a 20 minute walk along the left side of the ridge. Cross two mountain bends and the third logical bend in the mountain ridge is a logical Col.
This is Kuari Pass. One can descend down from Kuari Pass and trek for 3 days to reach a road-head at Ghat. A true Lord Curzon trail starts from Tapovan, goes past Kuari Pass and passes meadows of Sutoli, Jhangi and Ramni and ends at Ghat. However, the best views on the Kuari Pass trek are on the Auli, Gorson Bugyal side of the pass.
The return hike to Khullara campsite is via tracing the same route taken to reach Kuari Pass up to the ridge above Khullara. The trail descends rapidly over a stony section. It may take 1 to 1.5 hours to reach Khullara campsite from Kuari Pass. Ensure you return back from Kuari Pass by the afternoon to avoid bad weather.
Day 5: Khullara to Dhak. Drive back to Joshimath
- Altitude: 11,230 ft to 7545 ft to 6696 ft
- Time Taken: 5 hrs, 8 km + 40 minute drive to Joshimath
- Trek gradient: Easy descent
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will be able to refill your water bottles at a couple of villages along the trail.
For today’s trek, you leave the expanse of Khullara and enter the shadowy forest trail that takes you all the way to Dhak. As you enter the forest, most of the mountains around are blocked out by the canopy of leaves. Hathi Ghoda Parvat occasionally peeps out from between the large trunks.
For the first ten minutes tall pine trees surround you. As you go deeper, the forest becomes denser and oak trees pop up around you. Continue on the trail as it twists and turns through the forest till you reach the first clearing. This is your first break point. It takes about an hour and a half to reach here.
As you rest and soak in the sun, keep your ears pricked for the the faint sound of a gushing stream. This is your water source. It is a bit of a deviation from your path. Take a left and trek downhill to the stream to replenish your water stock. Climb back up to the clearing and continue on the trail.
The trail from here on is rocky and is hard on your knees. In about one hour you reach another clearing with a large boulder. This could be your next rest stop. It is the saving grace for your knees and ankles. From here, you spot your first sign of civilisation in four days. Ahead of you, on the far away mountain sits the village of Kharcho, with Mt Dronagiri as the backdrop. Stretch, hydrate and rejuvenate for the rest of your downhill journey.
As you walk ahead, enjoy the view of Mt Dronagiri in all its beauty. This is the best view of the mountain.
Soon you will see a village that looks very similar to Kharcho, this is Kharchi. In another hour and a half, you will see more signs of civilisation. The trail overhangs a school, playground and a few houses. You will come to a bridge over a waterfall. This is your lunch stop. Be courteous to the villagers and give way to them and their cattle.
From this bridge, it takes another hour to reach the road. You see vehicles navigating the road bends. There is a tea shop here. This is Dhak. There are a few homes here. Your trek ends here.
From Dhak, take a vehicle back to Joshimath. It takes around 45 minutes to reach Joshimath. Stay at Joshimath for the night. There are several lodges as Joshimath caters to several tourists.
If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, we’ll organise transport to Joshimath and organise stay there. The next day you travel to Haridwar.
How to get fit for the Kuari Pass trek
The Kuari Pass trek is classified as a trek of moderate difficulty. You start the trek at 8,800 ft and reach a highest point of 12,516 ft, gaining an altitude of 3,759 feet in three days. In addition to this substantial altitude gain, you will cover a total trekking distance of 20 km. This requires decent fitness levels.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 4 km in 30 minutes.
On the Kuari Pass trek, you cover a total trekking distance of 20 km. The secret to covering this distance comfortably lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 25-30 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. The first day from Auli to Gorson Bugyal involves climbing over 2,500 ft. To accomplish this, you will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and works towards reaching your target in 3 weeks. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
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. 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’s a guide to help you get fit for the trek in 4 weeks.
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 take on the Kuari Pass trek
- Trekking shoes: For this ten day long trek you need trekking shoes with good grip that won’t wear out. You can watch this video to help choose the right trekking shoes. You can get Forclaz 600 from Decathlon.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Three warm layers: You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woollen and one padded jacket) for this trek.
- 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.
- Two collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. Again, wear one and carry one.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. These are more important in the winter months. There will be snow at the upper campsites. So carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is intense at higher altitudes and a sun cap is absolutely essential to keep your face and neck safe from sun burns.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woolen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woolen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste).If you plan to use wet wipes or sanitary napkins on the trek, make sure you carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and 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.
- One water bottle: 1 litre
- One thermos flask: 1 litre
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine are life-saving medicines. You MUST carry them with you.
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- 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.
Trek fee: Rs. 8,950/-*
*Service tax at 9% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping- 3 per tent)
- All meals – vegetarian (starting from dinner at Auli on Day 1 and ending with dinner at Joshimath on Day 5)
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport to and from the base camp (Haridwar to Auli and back)
- Food during transit to and from the base camp
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1000. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus service tax of 9%.. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- Stay at Haridwar on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at email@example.com. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under:
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid.
2. The trek fee includes all cost of the trek from the start at Auli base camp to the end at Joshimath
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Haridwar railway station at 6:30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Auli in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Haridwar to Auli and return from Joshimath to Haridwar can be arranged by us at an extra cost. A shared vehicle costs approximately Rs. 5500 one way. Participants are expected to share the cost likewise. The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack carrying: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges – Rs. 1000/- plus service tax of 9%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus service tax of 9%. Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
6. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult. In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
11. Safety Protocol:
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with Indiahikes trek leaders.
c. This is a high altitude trek with rough, rocky and snowy terrain. It is important that you are a fit and confident walker in mountain terrain, able to manage ascents and descents by yourself within a reasonable time. Indiahikes reserves the right to turn around a trekker if in the opinion of our trek leader they are unable to complete the itinerary without requiring exclusive assistance. Please realistically self-assess your fitness and suitability for this trek before registering.
What are the risks on the Kuari Pass Trek?
The Kuari Pass trek is a moderate, high altitude trek. With every high altitude trek comes the risk of altitude sickness. At Indiahikes, we pay utmost importance to safety of trekkers. While we do our bit to ensure a trekker’s life is safe, we also expect any trekker who is enrolling with us to know what could go wrong, and if it does, how to tackle it.
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.
But we strongly advocate the statement, “Prevention is better than cure.” Right from the time you decide to register for a 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
A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually. 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 introduced an eligibility criteria for the Kuari Pass trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Kuari Pass trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof.
2. Breaking the ascent at Gorson Bugyal
The general rule to follow for acclimatisation is not to have your camps have more than 1,000 ft of altitude gain each day. This becomes a difficult rule to follow in Indian Himalayas when the mountains climb so quickly.
In Kuari Pass, the trek starts with a daunting 2,500 ft ascent from Auli’s ski lift (around 8,800 ft) to the fringe of Gorson Bugyal (10,500 ft). We break the ascent at the beginning of Gorson Bugyal to allow natural acclimatisation instead of going all the way up to Talli or further to Chitrakantha. It is imperative you don’t climb further than Gorson Bugyal.
3.Monitoring health on a trek
On the Kuari 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. Any abnormal reading will be paid special attention to and action will be taken immediately.
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. It contains details of what symptoms he should look out for and what action he should take during emergencies. These Health Cards will be taken back at the end of the trek.
4. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will also 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.
5. High Altitude Trek Equipment
Kuari Pass will have a lot of snow in December. People often slip and fall on snowy or icy terrain. Individuals who travel to altitude may have noticed that even the smallest cut or wound takes longer to heal the higher the altitude. Reasons for this are increasing stress hormones and lower overall oxygen delivery to the tissues. Wounds tend to get infected more easily as well. Keeping your wounds clean and covered will prevent infection.
Often applying a triple antibiotic ointment regularly will keep the wound from overly drying and aid in healing. Wound healing becomes an issue only at very high altitudes, over 14,000 ft or so.
To avoid falling/slipping 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.
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.
6. 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 need to know if you’re going on the Kuari Pass trek
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 altitude.
First thing you should know is that Kuari Pass is a High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 12,500 ft. So it comes with its fair share of risks – altitude sickness,cold, and and daunting ascents.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is one of the biggest dangers on a high altitude trek . AMS occurs when your body isn’t acclimatising to its surroundings. It can accelerate very rapidly, so it is important to identify the symptoms as soon as you see them. Since Kuari Pass is largely an open meadow trek, it can get very cold and windy. If your body is not able to tackle the cold, it could accelerate any symptom of AMS you were already having. Before you read further, watch this video to understand the symptoms of AMS.
Where on the Kuari Pass trek is AMS likely to affect you
Over a year of conducting Kuari Pass trek, we have noticed there are two camps on Kuari Pass trek where AMS is most likely to affect you. One is the Chitrakantha camp on Day 3. Although we have broken the first day’s ascent at Gorson Bugyal to allow your body to acclimatise naturally, Chitrakantha is still a camp where you have to watch for signs of altitude sickness. It is important you recognise your symptoms early.
The next is Khullara – the camp after the Kuari Pass assault. This happens when your body has not acclimatised to the altitude of Kuari Pass. Most trekkers take this camp lightly, believing the highest altitude they could have reached is behind them. So don’t let your guard down, keep an eye out for any symptoms.
What to do if you feel 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 video below to understand how to treat and prevent AMS. The information in this video is rare to find. With this knowledge, you can probably save your own life or another’s trekkers life.
As a first step, your trek leader will run you through the Triple One Test – One Disprin, One litre of water and One hour of rest. If you’re suffering from dehydration, this will solve the problem and you will be fine in one hour. If the symptoms don’t go away, then he’ll begin to treat you for AMS, perhaps with a course of Diamox. If you’re already on a course of Diamox, your trek leader is likely to increase the dosage.
The increased dosage of Diamox usually takes care of the Acute Mountain Sickness. If you’re not at your 100% at the end of Day, then again, report to your Trek Leader. He will make you descend to Dhak or Auli – depending on which side of the pass you are on. Descent is the most effective cure for AMS.
If Diamox alone doesn’t work, he might administer Dex or Nifedipine, or perhaps oxygen, depending on the circumstances.
While AMS can be treated with 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.
Exit points on Kuari Pass trek
Kuari Pass has easy exit points. Every exit point on this trek is a rapid descent so you lose all the altitude you gained. From Chitrakantha, you can descend all the way down to Auli. From Khullara, you can descend to Dhak village. Joshimath, the nearest town, is a 45 minute drive from Dhak.
Joshimath has the closest hospital. Joshimath is a 45 minute drive from Dhak and an hour’s drive from Auli.
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.
If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
The video below will help you understand what medicines to administer when and how much. Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about HAPE and HACE. Here, you can learn about the advanced symptoms are and how to tackle them.
It is a myth that fit and experienced people are not affected by Acute Mountain Sickness
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.
In the second article of his three-part series on safety, Arjun Majumdar writes about a worrying trend that is spreading in the Indian trekking community.Read More
Trek With Swathi
Trek With Swathi
Trek With Swathi
Trek With Swathi
Trek With Swathi
Trek With Swathi
How to get to the basecamp – Joshimath
Delhi → Haridwar → Joshimath
Haridwar is well connected to Delhi. You can either take an overnight train (Nanda Devi Express) and reach Haridwar by 5 am, or you can take a train the previous day (Jan Shatabdi) from Delhi and halt overnight at Haridwar.
In case there are no train tickets available, you can travel by bus from Delhi to Haridwar. You’ll have to book this transport online. You can try the ISBT(Inter state bus terminus) services or www.redbus.in.
Transport is organised from the Haridwar railway station at 6.30 am. So please ensure you are in Haridwar by 6 am on Day 1. Indiahikes can have the cab organised for Rs 5,800 (Bolero, seats 5 people), Rs 9,000 (Tempo Traveller, seats 8-10 people). This amount is not included in the fee and is to be shared among trekkers. Joshimath is 223 km from Haridwar. You will reach Joshimath by 6 pm.
Joshimath → Haridwar → Delhi
The trek ends at Joshimath. The drive back to Haridwar from Joshimath takes around 7 hours. The transport is not included in the trek fee and will cost Rs 5,500(Bolero) or Rs 9,000 (Tempo). This will have to be shared by trekkers. You will reach Haridwar at 6 or 7 pm. You can take a train back to Delhi (Mussoorie Express/Nanda Devi Express) the same night, post 8 pm.
If you’re travelling out of Delhi the next day, make sure you keep enough buffer time, keeping in mind any kind of delay of the train.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“We were shifted from the Har ki Dun batch and honestly, had our apprehensions. Kuari pass was shorter and situated in a different part of the Himalayas. All our worries started to subside as soon as we met the trek leader and guides at the base camp in Joshimath. We were lucky to have a clear weather and thus, had an eyeful of Mt. Nanda Devi, Mt. Trishul, Mt. Hathi Ghoda, Mt. Chaukhamba to name a few. My favourite campsite was Chitrakantha where we camped inside the brown oak forests along with another batch of trekkers. We went to see the sunset the same evening and like all the other trekkers I was spell bound to see the majestic colours of the sun being reflecting on the giant mountains. I will never forget the stories that Mukesh and Sukhdev bhaiya told us over soup. Their enthusiasm and desire to keep us happy, no matter what, was commendable. We were an accidental batch, and finally, quite happy about it.” –Nandini Kumar, batch of December 2016
“I loved every bit of the trek, the route, the group, the Trek leaders and the guides. The entire kitchen and support staff was extremely caring and selfless in the services provided. The food on the trek was delicious and to provide a variety of menu up in the mountains in sub zero temperature is commendable.” –Madhumathi Sanjay, batch of November 2016
“Indiahikes offers the best of all I have seen in other groups! I must admit it that for the first time in my life I did something which took me out of my comfort zone. Not only this trek helped me to learn a lot of things but also helped me to inculcate discipline in my life.”-Abhishek Jain, batch of May 2016
“Indiahikes is by far the most organized and caring trek company I know, if safety is the point then Indiahikes is the best, also you have routes throughout the country.”-Paramahamsa Kolagani, batch of May 2016