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!
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.
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!
Day 1: Reach Auli
The Pangarchulla trek begins from Auli. The drive from Haridwar to Auli 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.
- Altitude: 8,800 ft
- Time taken: 8-10 hours
Day 2: Auli to Chitrakantha
- Altitude: 8,800 ft to 11,156 ft
- 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.
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: Chitrakantha to Khullara
- Altitude: 11,156 ft to 10,492 ft
- 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
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: 10,492 ft to 12,476 ft
- Time taken: 3-4 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradually ascending trail.
- Water sources: None. Carry 2 litres of water
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 to 15,069 ft to 12,476 ft
- Time taken: 12-14 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.
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 Joshimath via Dhak
- Altitude: 12,476 ft to 6,696 ft via 6,956 ft
- 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.
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
How to get fit for the Pangarchulla trek
The Pangarchulla trek is classified moderate-difficult trek. You start the trek at 8,933 ft and reach a 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.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60-70 minutes before the start of the trek
On the Pangarchulla Peak trek, you have to cover an average of 8-9 km each day. This requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
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 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin
- Gradually bring up your speed to do 5 km in 30 minutes
- Start increasing the distance you jog to get to 10 km in 70 minutes
Before the start of the trek, get to 10 km in 60 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.
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
- 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.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- 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.
- 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.
- Three trek pants: Carry light cotton trek pants. Wear one pair and carry two.
- 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 fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals (Optional): Those who are more susceptible to cold can carry thermals to wear at night.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. There might be snow closer to the lake, so carry a pair of sunglasses.
- Suncap: The sun is more
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of fleece or woolen hand gloves. One pair of water proof/resistant, wind proof gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can 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.
- Poncho: When it rains, a poncho will cover you from head to your knees and also cover your backpack.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. 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.
- 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 – 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)
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Trek fee: Rs. 8,750/-*
*GST at 5% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping 3 sharing)
- All meals – vegetarian
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher)
- 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. Transport cost from Haridwar to Joshimath and return from Auli to Haridwar is additional, and is to be paid directly to the transport service operators/drivers.
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs 1250* plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus GST of 5%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- 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/unforseen 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
The trek fee includes all cost from the start of the trek at Joshimath to the end of the trek at Auli.
2. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from the Haridwar railway station by 6:30am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels to the base camp together in shared cabs.
3. Transport: The cost of transport from Haridwar to Auli and return from Joshimath to Haridwar has to be borne by the trekker and paid directly to the driver. The transport is arranged through local operators in shared cabs/mini bus. Each shared cab (Tata Sumo) costs approximately Rs. 6000/- one way, and Tempo Traveller costs Rs 9,500. Trekkers are expected to share the cost likewise.
Note: In case you do not want the Indiahikes pick up, please let us know at least 20 days in advance.
4. 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 charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 1,250/- days if you pay online and Rs.335 per day if you decide to offload on the slopes. 5% GST will be applied to both of these. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
5. 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.
6. Fitness: An 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 25 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.
7. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
8. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
9. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen 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.
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 Indiahikestrek 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 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
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.
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.
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.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay in Joshismath on Day 1 and Day 6 will be in a guest house, where you will be sharing a room with fell trekkers. Stay on all other days will be in tents – each tent is to be shared by 3 trekkers.
2. Will you provide us with tents and sleeping bags?
Yes, Indiahikes trekkers will be provided with tents and high altitude sleeping bags that can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC.
3. What will the temperatures be like during this trek?
Day time temperatures will range from 14-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 0-6ºC in May. Expect temperatures to be lower by a few degrees in October/November.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
You will find snow while climbing the summit in April. Depending on the weather in a particular year, the snow might be present all the way till early May.
5. What will we do if it rains?
If it starts raining while you’re trekking, we will continue on the trail as planned. Your poncho should protect you from the rain. Carry a backpack cover for extra protection from rain for your belongings. When it rains at the campsite, we usually get together in the dining tent and play games. The tents that you will be staying in, the dining tent, kitchen and toilet tents are all water proof, so you will stay dry inside.
6. How do we reach Joshismath?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Haridwar railway station and to Joshimath, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs.5,800 per cab for a 5-6 seater vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Joshimath will take 11-12 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Joshimath to Haridwar. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Pangarchulla trek?
The Pangarchulla trek is best done in April. I spring, the forests come alive with rhodendrons and other flowers blooming. At the same time, the trail to the summit is likely to be covered in a couple of feet of snow, giving you the thrill of a snow trek. Going there later in the year will entail walking on boulders to get to the summit, which comes with its set of challenges.
9. Are backpacks, raincoats and other equipment available for rent from Indiahikes?
No. There are several websites that rent out trekking equipment. Indiahikes does not rent any equipment. You may purchase trekking poles and other equipment from the Indiahikes store.
10. Is this a good trek for a first timer?
Pangarchulla is a moderate-difficult trek. While it is possible for a first timers to do this trek, we recommend that you have prior high altitude trekking experience before embarking on this one. Irrespective of your prior experience, this trek requires high levels of fitness.
11. If not the Pangarchulla trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Kuari Pass and Roopkund will be good alternatives. Kuari Pass is an easier trek but its path overlaps greatly with that of the Pangarchulla trek. So, you’re assured of the forest walks, meadow and outstanding views. Roopkund is a slightly longer trek, but is of a similar difficulty level as Pangarchulla and has a good mix of forests and meadows. You will also get substantial amounts of snow on this trek if you go in May/June.
12. Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek?
Yes, there is an option to offload your backpack. This will cost Rs.1,250 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Joshimath, the amount will be Rs.335 per day + 5% GST. The offloaded bag should not weigh more than 9 kg. Strolleys, duffel bags, suitcases etc. are not allowed. We suggest you read “5 Tips to make Carrying your Trekking Backpack Easy” before making a decision.
13. Can I take my child along on this trek? What is the age limit?
If you wish to bring children along we suggest the Kuari Pass trek. The minimum age requirement for this trek is 12 years. Your child should be physically fit and preferably, have prior trekking experience before going on this one.
14. Who will be with us on the trek from Indiahikes?
An Indiahikes team consisting of a qualified Trek leader, trek guides, porters and cooks will be with you throughout the trek.
15. What are washroom/toilet facilities like on the trek?
The guest house at Joshimath will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 or 4 of these toilet tents depending on the size of the group. A toilet tent will have a deep pit, where one can answer nature’s call. There will be a mound of soil and a shovel to cover it up. These are dry toilets, where you’ll have to use toilet paper. There will be a room freshener as well. It’s the most hygienic and convenient way to answer nature’s call in the wild. Please use plain toilet paper and refrain from using wet wipes since these are not bio-degradable.
16. What kind of food is served on the trek? Should we carry any food?
Indiahikes uses a well planned menu suitable for high altitude treks. Breakfast varies from bread and butter, semia, poha to sandwiches and cornflakes. Lunch mainly comprises of roti or puri with sabzi. Dinner is complete with Dal, rice, roti and dessert. Dry ration of biscuits and chikki will be provided as well. You may carry nuts and dry fruits if necessary.
17. Will there be water sources on the way? Will two litres of water be enough?
Our campsites are pitched near water sources. For your day’s trek, two litres of water should be enough. There will be 1 or 2 water sources on the trail on each day of the trek.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
You will get mobile network up at Auli and Gorson Bugyal. Beyond this, there will be no network. Also, the signal will be intermittent while you’re trekking to Gorson Bugyal, so don’t count on it. Make sure you inform anxious family members about poor conectivity while on the trek. The guest house at Joshimath will have electricity charging points.
19. Do I need special snow shoes on this trek?
You don’t need special snow shoes. A good trekking shoe is sufficient for the trek. We recommend a pair of water resistant shoes. When there is snow, we provide micro spikes and gaiters.
20. Why is the trekking pole necessary?
We suggest you watch this video to for a better understanding of why a trekking pole is necessary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=LXezaCVjEao
21. When it gets really cold can I consume alcohol?
Alcohol is dangerous in extreme cold, especially on high altitudes. Contrary to what people believe, alcohol does not make you warmer. Instead it opens your pores making your body colder. Moreover, it dehydrates you very quickly. Hence consumption of alcohol is absolutely prohibited on all Indiahikes treks. Anyone found with alcohol is quickly removed from the trek. Smoking, similarly, is not allowed on Indiahikes treks.
22. How long do we trek every day? What is the distance covered?
The first day, when you trek from Auli to Gorson Bugyal, is a short one, but you gain a lot of altitude. Day 5, which is the summit climb day, is long, and you can expect to trek for 12-13 hours. The other days will have, on an average, 5-6 hours of trekking.
23. How do I manage the negative temperatures on the trek? Do I need special jackets?
At high altitudes, temperatures are sure to dip into negative at nights.. For these extreme cold temperatures, you need to keep the rule of 3 in mind. The rule of 3 usually takes care of cold that dip to -10°C. It is a simple formula of wearing 3 layers of woolen, inners and lower wear.
Follow this guide:
Wear one thermal and two T-shirts, three layers of woolens (two sweaters and a jacket). For your lowers wear a thermal inner with two layers of track suit. If you are prone to more cold, just add a layer.
The temperatures dip only late in the evening and early mornings. During the day if the sun is out, then you may even be trekking in your T-shirts. Make sure you use your thermal wear only at night and not while trekking.
A woolen cap/balaclava and gloves are a must.
24. What all do I need to carry on the trek?
Click here to get the list of all the things you need to carry on the trek.
25. Is it safe to trek with Indiahikes?
All high altitude treks come with their share of risks. 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. Before you go on the trek, make sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with the safety procedures followed on a trek.
How to get to the basecamp – Auli
Delhi → Haridwar → Auli
The Pangarchulla trek starts from Auli, 223 km from Haridwar.
Indiahikes organises transport from Haridwar to Auli. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Haridwar Railway Station on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs 5,800 per vehicle for a Bolero and Rs 9,000 for a Tempo Traveller. 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 –
- 14041 Mussoorie Express – 21.30 – 5.45
- 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.
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. 5,800 per vehicle for a Bolero or Rs 9,000 for a Tempo Traveler. 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.
f 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.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“The trek was a great experience and tries to test our limits. With this difficulty, indiahikes made it look easier by taking care of things very well. The best part was the food- it was amazing. Our trek leader was very hospitable and was looking into every little issue we had and he was very motivating. The entire team was very supportive.” – Sindhu Priyadarshini, batch of June 2016
“It was wonderful experience for me as it was my first ever himalayan trek. Trek Leader was a very nice guy; He was motivating and calm, with lot of patience. I appreciate the kitchen team who made sure that we don’t miss our home-cooked food. I never expected such good food on the mountain. Irrespective of the weather conditions we got out food and beverages on time. Our local Guide Dinesh was also very friendly and had many things to tell about the different places.” – Sushmitha, batch of June 2016
“The trek was absolutely wonderful, definitely turned out a lot better than i had anticipated. I must say that our trek leader, was really good. Tanmay took care of everyone very well, was always on top of things and even taught us how to pitch tents (something every trekker must know). The trek route on all four days was stunning. The food was even better than what i eat back here in Mumbai! The crew fed us very well and with love, I must add. The head chef always had special dishes waiting for us when we returned from a tiring trek. All other members took very good care of us.” – Vedika Jiandani, batch of June 2016
“We got a very experienced staff,manager and leader for this trek. Tanmay as a trek leader is brilliant and keeps motivating all the participants to do well. His knowledge about the area is simply phenomenal and his method of instruction is equally effective. Mukesh has been spot on as a Trek Manager. Chander Bhai as head cook has been beyond words. I have been hearing a lot about him from fellow trekkers and am pretty sure he will keep doing brilliant job. Indiahikes as usual has been my favorite and will be my first choice for hiking.” – Rachit Pradhan, batch of June 2016
“It was an amazing experience. Indiahikes is doing a great job by promoting trekking rather than business. The travel experience from the start was breath taking. The nights were cold and the views were fantastic. We had a great view of the stars from everywhere and the people around us were always surrounded with optimism and joy. I give my special thanks to the local guide for being there with me till the end. I got the motivation from him as even he was effected by the cold and the fatigue. He never gave up on me and was with me till the moment I descended. Thank you for everything Indiahikes. I found amazing friends and amazing humans. I guess this is one experience I will never forget and I look forward to travelling back to the mountains for one more adventure.” – Bhaskar Voleti, batch of May 2016
“The trek was really good. The views were breath taking. Also difficulty of the trek was moderate so it was good for both the new trekkers and the ones with experience. Entire team of India hikes made the experience a memorable one. Trek Leader along with entire team were really helpful and compassionate during the trek. Special mention of the food which was as good as home-cooked food or perhaps even better. Initiatives like the Green trails are really appreciable and are taken seriously by all the stakeholders. Overall I would rate the experience as very good and look forward to do another trek with Indiahikes in the future.” – Shikhar Goel, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trekking experience from day 0 at base camp, Auli till the last day when I bid goodbye to fellow trek members. The Trek Leader, the support staff and the kitchen staff were all amazing. The trek leader’s leadership enabled us all to move as a team and when few members found it difficult to keep up with the average pace, he made sure that there is a member from support staff available to help them. And the local guide ensured we were on right path in spite of very low visibility and he even helped few of us cross the boulder zone quickly to avoid getting stuck in a storm. The kitchen staff made fabulous food every single day and made sure we get a variety. I am very happy that I chose Indiahikes for my Himalayan Trekking experience.” – Sheetal, batch of May 2016
“The trek was splendid thanks to the support from the Indiahikes team. The best part was about cleaning the mountains while trekking. The entire team including the Trek leader, Trek guides and kitchen staff, worked really hard to make us feel comfortable at inhospitable locations. Starting from Auli walking all the way through meadows and forests was a very nice experience. When we started from Chitrakantha after a certain distance we could see the Pangarchulla peak. With snow fall on the 3rd day it was an amazing experience to trek in snow on the summit day. Overall it was an awesome experience on the summit day and we spotted peaks like Dronagiri , Neelgiri , Hathi Ghoda, Kaushambi etc.” – Bharath Kenchappa, batch of May 2016