Pangarchulla Trek

Duration 7 Days Difficulty Moderate-Difficult

A challenging summit climb between the highest Himalayan peaks!

It’s not often that you come across a well-rounded trail that poses just the right amount of challenge for trekkers. As the trail to Pangarchulla Peak turns from green to a snowy pristine white, trekkers can treat their eyes to few of the highest peaks of the Garhwal region. Added to that, trekking during spring makes the lower trail a colorful one, with rhododendrons in full bloom!

The summit climb

If timed right, the summit climb to Pangarchulla is out of the world! You make your way to 15,069 ft in deep snow, with some boulder sections and views grand enough to make you stop in your tracks!

Ascent to the Pangarchulla Summit. PC: Satyen Dasgupta

Constantly changing landscape

The trail takes one through a landscape that changes with each uphill heave and downward scurry. From the meadows to breath taking Oak forests and the grasslands.

Trail leading out of Tali. PC: Nikhil Patil

Views throughout the trek

The Pangarchulla trek passes through the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. So the trail is blessed with views of Mt.Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba, Dunagiri, Hathi Parbat, Ghori Parbat and more. These are a true treat for the eyes!

View of Mt.Dronagiri and Mt.Nanda Devi on the way to Cali. PC: Anurag Satpathy

The Trek

Day 1: Reach Lata

The Pangarchulla trek begins from Lata. The drive from Haridwar to Lata is beautiful. The road chugs along tributaries of the Ganges. It hugs the mountain side and you get views of the vast valleys and forests of Garhwal. You will reach Lata by 6.00 pm.

  • Altitude: 7,601 ft (2,317 m)
  • Time taken: 8-10 hours
The meadows of Auli. PC: Vinit Adur

Day 2: Drive to Dhak. Trek to Akhrotgetta

  • Altitude: 7,601 ft (2,317 m) to 9,395 ft (2,863 m)
  • Time taken: 5-6 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. 4 hours ascent followed by descent for about an hour.
  • Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the hotels at Towers 8 and 10 of the ropeway, and at Padiyar.
Tali Lake. PC: Anurag Satapathy

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.

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.

Around 40 minutes of descent brings you to Tali. You can either camp here or continue further to Chitrakantha. The campsite is in the midst of meadows at Chitrakantha. You get 180 degree views of the surrounding mountains from here.

Day 3: Akhrotgetta to Khullara

  • Altitude: 9,395 ft (2,863 m) to 11,100 ft (3,383 m)
  • Time taken: 4-5 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. 2-3 hours of ascent followed by descent for about 1.5-2 hours.
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water
View of Mt.Dronagiri and pine forests near Khullara. PC: Vinit Adur

From Chitrakantha, the trail ascends through a forest for 2-3 hours, till you reach Jhandi Top. The views from here are outstanding.

From Jhandi Top, descend along the ridge till the trail meets Lord Curzon’s trail. On one side you see Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, Dronagiri, Nilgiri and Hathi Ghoda peaks. Straight ahead of you are Trishul and parts of Nanda Devi.

From here, turn towards Khullara. It will take you about an hour to reach Khullara.

Day 4: Khullara to Gailgad

  • Altitude: 11,100 ft (3,383 m) to 12,476 ft (3,803 m)
  • Time taken: 3-4 hours
  • Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradually ascending trail.
  • Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water
Campsite at Gailgad. PC: Ramshankar Sahu

From Khullara Campsite, walk towards the forest ridge ahead of you as you connect with famous Lord Curzon Trail. The initial 30 to 45 minutes of the trek is through a forest ridge along a frozen rivulet. This section will be found buried in huge accumulation of snow. The ascent of about 100 meter is stiff. Carefully climb up the snow ridge section until you see a vast snow field in front of you. Observe the snow gully above you in the middle. That is the point where one has to reach. The incline gets steep as you walk on soft powdered snow. You finally leave the forest line behind you. Wear a sunglasses to avoid snow blindness.

After walking for 30 to 45 minutes you reach the top of the snow gully. From here Lord Curzon trail connects with the one coming from Auli from your left. The trail merges and moves towards the right side ahead. From here you get the view of Pangarchulla Main and Pangarchulla subsidiary summits.

Stay towards the true right of the snow ridge as you walk alongside gaining altitude. The snow accumulation on the ridge from here forth can be huge during winter season (Mid January till April). After 45 minutes of watchful snow hike along the ridge, you reach the level snow grounds. This can be a possible Advance Base Camp for Pangarchulla Summit. However there is no source of water here in winters.

From this point observe Chaukhamba massifs in the far north, followed with Mana, Kamet, Abl Gamin, Hathi Parvat, all the way to Nanda Ghunti and Trishul. In the middle sight, the Drunagiri, Changabang and Kalanka peaks are prominent.

Day 5: Gailgad to Pangarchulla and back

  • Altitude: 12,476 ft (3,803 m) to 15,069 ft (4,593 m) to 12,476 ft (3,803 m)
  • Time taken: 10-12 hours
  • Trek gradient: Difficult. Initial gradual ascent followed by steep ascent over snow/boulders
  • Water sources: One source, around 3-4 hours into the trek. Carry 2 litres of water and refill your bottles completely at the source.
Trekkers climbing up the ridge before the Pangarchulla summit. PC: Abhisek Bandyopadhyay

Start early at 4 am, as the summit needs to be reached before 11 am. The approach to the Pangarchulla summit is laborious, but not difficult. It is advisable to have a qualified guide with you for opening the snow route. There are multiple steep sections on soft snow. Proper high ankle trek boots, gaiters and crampons will help in climbing. Crampons are highly advisable to minimise chances of slipping on snow. The climb can take five-Six hours in snow conditions. In post monsoon season one can reach the summit in 4 hours.

From this point, observe the summit approach all the way to the base of Pangarchulla main peak. There are six mountain ridges that needs to be traversed to reach below the base of the peak. During winter season the whole region is carpeted in snow making it difficult to traverse the area swiftly.

Take the snow trail that descends sixty meters down and then climbs up 120 meters till you reach a level hump. This section is laborious with a sharp descent and ascent. Once you reach the top of the first snow hump, it is time to climb the second one above it.

Traversing the second, third and fourth snow ridges may take an hour and half. Once you reach the top of the fourth ridge a clear perspective of summit climb from base of Pangarchulla Peak can be seen. Move forward towards the fifth ridge which has a gradual ascent as you reach nearer to the base of the peak. As you cross over the fifth ridge, the sixth one appears to be a stone throw away.

The ascent from here to the summit of the peak is around 300 to 350 meters. The climb to the summit is best approached from following the connecting ridge moving along the right side to begin with. Half way through the climb, look for an appropriate pont from where summit route needs to be established.

Ice carving a route via an ice axe will be required from here forth. Take a left as you face the side ridge wall with a sixty degree incline section. Depending upon the accumulation of snow a fixed rope may be required. As you climb to the top of the razor sharp cornice, the final summit climb section awaits you. The team should be harnessed on a rope here as the wind here is very strong. Avoid walking on the edge of the cornice at any point as you do the final ridge walk. The summit is less than 100 meter away.

Once at the summit, enjoy the breathtaking 360 degree views of Garhwal peaks. Nandaghunti, Trishul ranges are clearly visible from the summit for the first time. The return is a three hour descent down to the camping grounds of Khullara. Take care while descending on snow.

Note* – During the month of late May till December, the snow melts at Pangarchulla Peak making it a rocky moraine climb. Reaching Pangarchulla in these months takes less time and requires no climbing gear.

Day 6: Gailgad to Auli. Drive to Joshimath

  • Altitude: 12,476 ft (3,803 m) to 6,696 ft (2,041 m) via 8,800 ft (2,682 m)
  • Time taken: 6 hours trek + 45 minutes drive
  • Trek gradient: Difficult. Steep descent to Dhak
  • Water sources: One source, around 3-4 hours into the trek. Carry 2 litres of water.
Villages on the trail to Dhak. PC: Satyen Dasgupta

The trail today is a completely descending one, with some steep sections. As you cross the tree line, you enter forests of oak and rhododendron.

About half way through the day’s trek, you approach scattered villages and farms. Dronagiri stands out prominently almost throughout the trek.

As you inch closer to Dhak, look out for the Dhauli Ganga river carving its way through the valley below.

Once you reach Dhak, pick up vehicles will be arranged to drive you to Joshimath

Day 7: Joshimath to Haridwar

 

Banner image by Satyen Dasgupta

Short itinerary

Day 1: Reach Lata, the base camp. Transport from Haridwar to Lata can be arranged by Indiahikes. It costs Rs. 6300 per Tata Sumo (5-6 seater), and Rs. 10000 per Tempo Traveller (12-13 seater) for the transport one way. Pick up will be at 5.30 am. You will reach the base camp, Lata by 6 pm.

Day 2: Drive to Dhak (6,956 ft). Trek to Akhrotgetta (9,395 ft)

Day 3: Akhrotgetta (9,395 ft) to Khullara (11,100 ft), 4-5 hours

Day 4: Khullara (11,100 ft) to Gailgad (12,476 ft), 3-4 hours

Day 5: Gailgad (12,476 ft) to Pangarchulla Summit (15,069 ft) and return to Gailgad, 12-14 hours

Day 6: Gailgad (12,476 ft) to Auli (8,800 ft); drive to Joshimath. 6 hours trek + 45 minutes drive

Day 7: Departure day – Joshimath to Haridwar; The cost of the transport is Rs. 5500 per Tata Sumo (5-6 seater) and Rs 9000 per Tempo Traveller (12-13 seater). You will reach Haridwar between 6 pm and 7 pm.

Please note that you will be staying at a lodge in Joshimath. The stay on all other days will be in tents (3 per tent).

It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.

How to get to the basecamp – Lata

Delhi → Haridwar → Lata

The Pangarchulla trek starts from Lata, 223 km from Haridwar. 

Indiahikes organises transport from Haridwar to Lata. The pick up is at 5.30 am from Haridwar Railway Station on Day 1. The cab fare is  Rs 6,300 per vehicle for a Bolero / Tata Sumo (5-6 seater) and Rs 10,000 for a Tempo Traveller (12-13 seater). This amount is not included in the fee. It is to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver. 

Haridwar is well connected to Delhi. Here are the train options – 

  • 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 3.55

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 www.redbus.in

Nearest Airport

Dehradun is the nearest airport to Haridwar. It is connected by direct flights from Delhi and connecting flights from all other big cities. Dehradun is around 2.5 hours away from Haridwar and 1.5 hours from Rishikesh. If you decide to fly to Dehradun, make sure you reach at least one day before your pick up.

Pick up from Rishikesh

Since the route to Lata from Haridwar is via Rishikesh, it is possible to pick up trekkers on the way from Rishikesh. The pick up point will be Tapovan – Lakshman Jhula.

Getting back


Joshimath → Haridwar → Delhi

The Pangarchulla trek ends at Joshimath. The drive back to Haridwar from Joshimath takes around 7 hours. Indiahikes organises transport from Joshimath to Haridwar. The fare is  Rs. 5,500 per vehicle for a Bolero / Tata Sumo (5-6 seater) or Rs 9,000 for a Tempo Traveler (12-13 seater). This cost is not included in the trek fee. It will have to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. You will reach Haridwar at 7.00 pm. You can take a train back to Delhi – Mussoorie Express (23.15) or Nanda Devi Express (00.55) the same night. 

If you’re travelling out of Delhi the next day, make sure you keep enough buffer time for booking your onward journey, to factor in train delays.

 How to get fit for the Pangarchulla trek

The Pangarchulla trek is classified as a difficult trek. You start the trek at 8,933 ft and reach the highest point of 15,049 ft at the Pangarchulla summit. This means that you gain over 6,000 ft over just three days of trekking. Consequently, there will be a lot of steep climbing to do on this trek.

The summit climb to Pangarchulla is challenging in the presence and in the absence of snow. When there is snow, you’ll have to carve your way to the top using an ice axe, and when there is no snow, you’ll have to walk for hours on boulder sections. Either way, the trek is demanding and requires high levels of fitness.

As the trek demands a high level of fitness, we have a screening process for our trekkers.

Once you register, you will get a questionnaire from your Trek Coordinator who will ask you to send a screenshot of the GPS track and also the splits.

You need to cover 5 km in 35 mins and record it with splits of the run for the entire week using any fitness app before you register.

You will be able to make the payment only once he/she approves the fitness screenshot.

In order to be prepared for a high altitude trek, you should have a combination of distance and speed targets. In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your targets in the following manner –

  • Target completing 10 km in 70 minutes before the start of the trek
  • Gradually bring up your speed to do 5 km in 30 minutes
  • Start increasing the distance you jog to 10 km in 70 minutes

Before the start of the trek, you should be able to cover 10 km in 70 minutes. 

Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 15 in each
This is another area you should work on. When you’re climbing from  Deli Sera to Pangarchulla and back, you cover around 13 km. You gain 3,000 ft and lose 3,000 ft. This is more than climbing up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and coming back down! And that’s not easy when the air is thin and the temperature is at around 2-6 degrees. 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 work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.

Flexibility
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 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 take on the Pangarchulla trek

Bare necessities

  1. Trekking shoes: The climb to the summit at Pangarchulla involves walking on boulders or snow depending on the season. Sports shoes are not suitable for this. You will require trekking shoes with a good grip and ankle support. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes
  2. Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
  3. Daypack (20 litres): You will need a small bag on the day of the summit climb to carry water bottles, snacks and medicine kit.

The Pangarchulla trek is especially difficult on the day of the summit climb. There are long sections where you have to climb on boulders. Carrying a trekking pole will be extremely helpful. 

Clothes

On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.

  1. Three warm layers: At the campsites, especially the higher ones – Chitrakantha and Deli Sera – the temperature after sundown will drop to around 2-6 degrees. You will need at least three warm layers (two lights layers such as fleece and woollen and one padded jacket) for this trek.
  2. Three trek pants:  Carry light cotton trek pants. Wear one pair and carry two. 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. Let one of these be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. 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. 
  4. Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow closer to the lake, so carry a pair of sunglasses. 
  2. SuncapThe sun is more 
  3. Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
  4. Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
  5. Socks (2 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.
  8. PonchoWhen it rains, a poncho will cover you from head to your knees and also cover your backpack.

Others

  1. Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet 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. 
  2. Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons. 
  3. Two water bottles: 1 litre each
  4. Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.

Mandatory Personal Medical Kit 

  1. Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
  2. Dexamethasone – one strip
  3. Nifedipine – 5 tablets
  4. Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
  5. Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
  6. Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
  7. Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
  8. Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
  9. Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
  10. Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
  11. Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
  12. Gauze – 1 small roll
  13. Band aid – 10 strips
  14. Cotton – 1 small roll
  15. ORS – 10 packets
  16. Betadine or any antiseptic cream
  17. Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
  18. Knee cap, if you are prone to injury
  19. Anti fungal powder

Mandatory Documents

Please carry the below documents. Document two and three need to be downloaded (PDF), filled in, signed and handed over to the trek leader at the base camp. 
  • Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
  • Medical Certificate – Download PDF
  • Disclaimer- Download PDF

indiahikes-equipment

Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek – 

What are the risks on the Pangarchulla Trek?

The Pangarchulla trek is a moderate-difficult, 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 Pangarchulla trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Pangarchulla 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 Pangarchulla, 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 Tali or further to Chitrakantha. It is imperative you don’t climb further than Gorson Bugyal.

3.Monitoring health on a trek

Any abnormal reading will be paid attention to and action will be taken immediately.

On the Pangarchulla 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. 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

The summit climb to Pangarchulla will involve walking on a considerable amount of snow in April and early May.  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.

ams-symptoms-indiahikes

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 Pangarchulla 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 Pangarchulla is a High Altitude trek. It climbs up to an altitude of 15,069 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 Pangarchulla 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 Pangarchulla Peak trek is AMS likely to affect you

Over a year of conducting the Pangarchulla Peak trek, we have noticed there are two camps on this 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.

We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you tocommunicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then will he be able to take steps at the right time.

The next is Deli Sera – the base camp for the summit. This is a risk when you first reach the campsite as well as after the summit climb. This can happen after you return from the summit if your body has not acclimatised to the altitude there. 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 Tapovan or Auli – depending on which side of the pass you are on. Descent is the most effective cure for AMS.

Do NOT attribute your symptoms to anything other than AMS. If you have a bad stomach, suspect AMS. At high altitude, AMS is the first thing that should be suspected and treated.

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 the Pangarchulla trek

Pangarchulla 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 Deli Sera, you can descend to Tapovan. Joshimath, the nearest town,  is a 40 minute drive from Tapovan.

Closest hospital

Joshimath has the closest hospital. Joshimath is a 40 minute drive from Tapovan 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.

There are three life-saving medicines that you should always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.

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.

ams-manual-indiahikes-2-pages
Click on the AMS Manual to open and download

 

 

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9,750 + 5% GST