We run Kedarkantha from around mid-December to the first week of January. Afer that, there is too much snow on the trail for it to be trekkable. Kedarkantha is open to trekking again in March and we run the trek till end of April.
I have an interesting story to tell you of how Kedarkantha Winter trek came to be. “Kedarkantha was never a four-day winter trek,” our founder Arjun Majumdar told us over our lunch. “It was rather like Nag Tibba. You camp, climb to the summit and then come down.”
This was a surprising revelation for a lot of us considering Kedarkantha has burst into the trekking scenario as the winter trek to do. Years ago, winter trekking in India was limited to Khajjiar Top near Dalhousie. The trek was largely on the road. Our founders had been discussing a possibility of a real winter trek. Then, Kedarkantha came into the picture. Our founder Arjun consulted a guide in Sankri, asking how the snow is on Kedarkantha trail during winter season.
The guide said the trek can be done in December. The snow won’t be high enough to block the trail. So when our founders did Kedarkantha as winter trek in 2010, they established the camps you now know today: Juda Ka Talab, Kedarkantha Base Camp and Hargaon. Now that this trail we did long ago is extremely popular, we are now doing it from a new route.
Har Ki Dun
This year, we are running Har Ki Dun in December. The Forest Department will be closing the trek by end of December. The trail is trekkable until then. This is a trekkers’ favourite in winter!
As for Sandakphu, I often get asked what Sandakphu is like in December. This blog by our trekker Sharat Kolke would give you a realistic picture of what it is like in December. Read it here.
An Announcement about our Kashmir treks
We are running our Kashmir treks as scheduled. We are seeing a trend towards normalcy in the Valley. We hope that continues. However, since the political situation is still volatile, we are erring on side of caution. Managing the last season of Kashmir was an extremely challenging experience for our staff. None of that reflected on the trek or our trekker’s experience of it. You can read about it here.
In case of an event where we have to pull out of Kashmir, we have our back up treks to Hampta Pass, Pin Bhaba, Valley of Flowers, Bhrigu Lake ready. In case you do not want any of our back up batches, we would be giving you a full refund.
Moving on to the treks we are running now, here are some of our updates.
Updates from our slopes
The weather continues to be predictable at Roopkund: Sun during the day, cloud cover and rain in the evenings. No batch so far has attempted Junargali. However, here is a picture of our Trek leader Karthik from the recce of the route.
Here is what a trekker who has just come back from Roopkund has to say:
“As Roopkund was my first high altitude trek, I was nervous whether I would be able to complete the climb. However, from the start, Indiahikes team — be it Yash or the ground support team or the camp site teams were supportive and eager to solve our difficulties. Every few minutes, someone would call out “Yash!” and he would be there ASAP to solve their issues. He would also follow up the next day. Kudos to the cooking staff at camp sites for providing fresh, warm and healthy food throughout the trek. Thanks to the technical team for encouraging us constantly through the summit climb. Overall, it was a very positive experience and I would love to trek again with Indiahikes.” – Alay Mehta, May 2017 batch
On the Green Trails front, we have good news! Sprouting has begun at our Lohajung Green House. In two weeks, we will be able to see a more substantial growth.
Moving onto our other Green Trails Projects, our Green Trails interns are trying to create a new model for rainwater harvesting at Pathar Nachauni campsite. Pathar Nachauni is a notoriously windy campsite. It is also the campsite that desperately needs rainwater harvesting. This is proving to be a challenge in a campsite that is known to have blown away an upright gas cyclinder!
Our interns this week will work on setting up a system using tarpaulin, tank and sticks. The idea is to keep the tarpaulin low to the ground–creating a very low centre of gravity– so that the wind does not affect it. Let’s see how this pans out!
Meanwhile, here is a picture from the segregation work at Lohajung Base camp . The staff went through a whooping 20 sacks of garbage! These sacks were brought down because it was getting difficult for our staff to segregate it at the source.
Rupin Pass, in comparison, to Roopkund is seeing more luck with weather. The batches are now seeing clear weather on most days, with evenings being overcast. Rainfall, if at all, has been sporadic. Here is how the grand Rupin Pass trek looks like now.
Here is what Mahesh, who just returned from Rupin Pass has to say about his experience:
“It was a very well organised trek. Our trek leader Chaman was outstanding. He genuinely cared for the team’s well-being. I remember an incident when on the final day of our summit (on the snow of course), one of the guys was missing a glove on one hand and he was trying to see if any one of us has a spare one to put on… On understanding that there was no spare glove with any one of us, Chaman immediately offered his own glove to him. All the support and kitchen staff were pretty helpful and our dietary needs were well taken care off.” – Mahesh Okha, May 2017 batch
On Green Trails front, our interns have been doing a lot of work in the villages along the Rupin Pass trail. They have conducted an awareness program in Naitwar on 5th of June. They followed these up with programs in Sewa and Jiskun. These programs entailed educating the villagers about good wastage disposal methods, importance of segregation, upcycling and basic health and sanitation tips. They distributed a few bottles and have asked the villagers to fill them and return it in a weeks time. They will be shown how to make bottle bricks!
Here’s an article about How Plastic Bottles Were Upcycled Into Bottle Bricks.
The Bhrigu Lake trek is seeing snow from Rola Kholi campsite. The lake is frozen. So much so, that our staff and trekkers walked on the edges of the lake! On descent from Bhrigu Lake, the first batch faced hailstorm. It made the descent challenging. But aside from that, the weather has been pleasant on the trek.
Here is a picture from four days ago. This snow is going to last perhaps another two weeks before it turns into a clear blue lake.
The first batch of Buran Ghati came down today. The trek went wonderfully and our Trek Leader Vishal called our founder Arjun from the top of the Pass! Last year, in a team meeting, after leading Buran Ghati batches in September, Vishal had made an infamous statement, “Buran Ghati kicks Rupin Pass’s a**!”
Arjun reminded him of that in this call. “Do you still stand by your statement?”
With the snow wall of June, his answer was unequivocal: “Absolutely.” We can’t wait to hear what our trekkers have to say about the trek!
Trekkers going to Buran Ghati, do note: there is a lot of snow on the climb to Pass. Prepare for the climb! Also, do not forget your ponchos. The first batch faced an entire day of rain the day they trekked from Litham to Dunda. The second batch, in fact, started late for the Pass because of the rain.
Our Hampta Pass season starts tomorrow! We can’t wait to have our trekkers experience the June season, where the snow will be abundant in the narrow valley. Read an article about why mid-June onwards is the best time to trek to Hampta Pass.
Our technical guide, Dashod Rangar, summits Bhagirathi 2
Before I end the updates, here’s a lovely piece of news. Many of you would know of our technical guide from Naitwar, Dashod. He just came back from an expedition to Bhagirathi 2. Out of the 11 participants, he was the only one who made it to the summit!
Here is what Climbliner who organised the expedition had to say about him, “During this difficult expedition, Dashod showcased brilliant resilience as he worked his way up the towering mountain (6,512 m), fixing ropes with the guides. Despite a splitting headache and growing hunger pangs, Dashod was the only one, other than the lead guides to make it to the summit. It took him about 6 hours to complete the summit climb, and he reached the top of the mountain at 8:30 am.
After completing the expedition, Dashod told us about his chilling experience when his rope came off on the top ridge. However, being in the company of other guides, his first reaction was to save them rather than himself. Such is the mind and heart of a mountaineer!”
The Bangalore Office Team goes for a trek to Puppy Betta
The name, like the names we have given campsites on Kedarkantha, is something we came up with. There is a rock formation on the hill that looks like a puppy. Our Ground Coordinator Vishnu had to say this about the trek, “The scenery changes so drastically in a span of minutes on this hike. There are trees that have grown into the boulders. They look like paintings. The rock formations themselves are peculiar. It’s a geologist’s dream!
“After the boulders, you enter dark caves that of full of bats. Throughout this area, you can hear trapped wind whistling. It’s uncanny! And the 360 degree view of the Ramanagara hills with clear blue skies is a treat for just an hour’s hike.”
We have a documentation of the trek coming right up on our website!
So stay tuned!