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 14,700 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!
Who is this trek for?
Are you a mountain lover? If you want to trek through snow, climb to a 14,700 ft summit and get fantastic mountain views of surrounding peaks; this is the trek for you. A physically active person of 12 years and above can do this trek.
Difficulty level and Preparation
Pangarchulla is a moderate to difficult trek. The best time to do this trek is May and June. You find snow on the trail during these months. Micro spikes are provided to walk on slippery patches. Summit day is long, you trek for 8-9 hours at a stretch. This required decent amounts of stamina and physical fitness. Click here to learn how to prepare and get fit for the trek.
What are the risks involved?
On the second day of your trek you gain an altitude of 2,000 ft. This is a significant gain and there are chances of getting hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. As a preventive measure, you are advised to be on a course of Diamox. If there is a need for emergency medical evacuation, there are easy exit points on this trek. This means that an evacuation will take place within 24 hours.
Places to see
After the trek you can spend time exploring tourist attractions in Haridwar. Please note that these are suggestions and Indiahikes does not make any arrangements for the same.
Here’s a short itinerary for the Pangarchulla trek:
|Day 1||Assemble at Haridwar Railway Station at 6.30 am. Transport can be arranged by Indiahikes. It costs Rs.1100 approx. per person for the transport one way. You’ll reach the base camp, Auli by 6 pm. The pickup will be arranged in a Bolero or Tempo Traveller|
|Day2||Auli 8,800 ft to Padiyar camp 10,500 ft; 3.5 hours|
|Day 3||Padiyar Camp 10,500 ft to Tali 11,000 ft; 5 hours|
|Day 4||Tali 11,000 ft to Bhagrabadda 12,500 ft; 5-6hours|
|Day 5||Bhagrabadda 12,000 ft to Pangarchulla Summit 14,700 ft and back; 12-13 km, 8-9 hours|
|Day 6||Bhagrabadda 12,000 ft to Tapovan 7,000 ft and drive back to Joshimath; 5-6hrs|
|Day 7||Departure day – Joshimath to Haridwar; The cost of the transport is Rs.1100 per person. You will reach Haridwar between 6 pm and 7 pm.|
Detailed Trek itinerary
Day 1: Reaching Base Camp – Auli Trek Itinerary
Auli is 214 km from Haridwar. Arrive at Haridwar the previous night or early morning by 6:00 am (on your own). We will organize pick-up vehicles from Haridwar railway station at 6:30am. The pickup will be arranged in a Bolero or Tempo Traveller (12 seater). The cost of transit from Haridwar to Auli will have to be borne by the trekkers. The total cost of transportation (one way) Haridwar to Auli is Rs 5800 (Bolero), Rs 9000 ( Tempo Traveller) (to be shared among the trekkers). The journey to Auli is approximately 11 hours. You will reach Auli around 5.30 pm. Stay overnight in tents.
Day 2: Auli to Padiyar Camp
- Altitude: 8,800 ft to 10,500 ft
- Time taken: 3.5 – 4 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: You can refill your water bottles from the hotels at Towers 8 and 10 of the ropeway, the latter being around mid way through the day’s trek
The trek begins at Auli which is famous for its ski slopes. Auli also gives outstanding views of India’s highest summit Mt. Nanda Devi. The trail starts right at the Auli ski lift. Its a straight ascent as you pass the ski slope, the Cliff top Resort and further.
The 2,000 ft climb through Auli slope will take about 2.5 hours. The end of Auli brings you to a magical Oak forest. The Oak trees grow into the sky and the ground is strewn with fallen leaves. A beautiful trail winds through the trees climbing gently. About an hour into the forest you come to a small shrine. The camp for the day is not far from here. There are a couple of small streams near by. If you are mesmerized by the Oak forest, there is more to come. The forest opens into Gorson Bugyal – a far stretching high altitude meadow with high peaks towering from all around.
The early end of the trek is for two reasons. One is acclimatization. You have already climbed 2500 ft and it is imperative that you don’t climb any further for natural acclimatization. Second, you are almost at the edge of Gorson Bugyal. Experiencing Bugyal with its mountains in the evening sun is an experience in itself. The campsite at the fringe of Gorson Bugyal gives you lot of time to explore the Bugyal and experience the mountains for the rest of the day.
Day 3: Padiyar Camp to Tali
- Altitude: 10,500 ft to 11,000 ft
- Time taken: 4.5 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Padiyar since there is no water source on the trail today.
The days trek sees you traversing Gorson Bugyal in its full width before the trail winds and enters the folds of the mountain. As you come out of the tree line, Mt Dronagiri comes up on to your left as the most prominent summit in the horizon. Dronagiri stays with you for most of the length of the trek. The initial 30 minutes of the walk at Gorson Bugyal is a climb. As you climb the mountain views start getting better. The mountains you saw from Auli also start appearing in the western horizon. Dronagiri and Nanda Devi stand prominently to your left.
The meadows spread out lush green lined by dense Oak forests in the edges below. In the later months of Autumn and winter, the green makes way for golden brown. Beautiful either ways. As you traverse left on the meadows, a valley starts appearing way below. The valley leads on to Dhak, Tapovan and further on to the Nanda Devi sanctuary.
Day 4: Tali to Bhagrabadda
- Altitude: 10,500 ft to 12,000 ft
- Time taken: 5-6 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Tali.
Today’s trek involves 5-6 hours of gradual walk and mild ascending through rhododendrons, spruce and silver birch trees and covering a distance of 6-7 km. The trail goes through a series of forested ridges, snow patches and vast meadows. Camp for the night at Bhagrabadda, which is at the base of Kuari top.
Day 5: Bhagrabadda to Pangarchulla Summit and back
- Altitude: 12,000 ft to 14,700 ft
- Time taken: 11-12 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water before starting the summit climb since there will be no water source on the way.
Today’s is a challenging summit climb. 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 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.
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: Deli Sera to Tapovan and drive back to Joshimath
Today’s is an easy hike down to Tapovan via Gulling. It takes about five to six hours to descend. You will reach Joshimath by afternoon. Overnight at Joshimath.
Day 7: Departure day – Joshimath to Haridwar
Depart from Joshimath early in the morning to reach Haridwar in the evening. This will be useful for those planning to catch evening and night trains from Haridwar to Delhi. Transport costs from Joshimath to Haridwar is Rs 5500(Bolero), Rs 9000 (Tempo).
How to get fit for the Pangarchulla trek
The Pangarchulla trek is classified as a trek of moderate difficulty. You start the trek at 8,933 ft and reach a highest point of 14,700 ft at the Pangarchulla summit. This means that you gain 5,770 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 5 km in 25-30 minutes
Every day on the Pangarchulla trek, you cover an average of 8-9 km. The secret to covering this distance comfortably lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 5 km in 25 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
Strength – Target 3 sets of squats with 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 in 4 weeks.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to take on the Pangarchulla trek
- Trekking shoes: There will be several slippery patches on the Bhrigu Lake trail, and you will need trekking shoes with good grip. Sports shoes will not be comfortable enough. You can watch this video to learn to choose the right trekking shoes. You can get Forclaz 600 from Decathlon.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
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.
- Two trek pants: One pair of pants should suffice for this trek. But you can carry one spare pair in case the first one gets wet. Wear one pair and carry one pair.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms.
- 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.
- Daypack (20 litres): If you are offloading your backpack, you will need a smaller backpack to carry water, medical kit and some light snacks.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste. If you plan to use wet wipes or sanitary napkins on the trek, make sure you carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- 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)
Trek fee: Rs. 8,750/-*
*Service tax at 9% 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 service tax of 9%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus service tax of 9%. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
- 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 email@example.com. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under:
- Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
- Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
- Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid.
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. 9% service 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 kgs. 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 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.
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 14,700 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.
How to get to the basecamp – Auli
Delhi → Haridwar → Auli
The Pangarchulla trek starts from Auli, a popular tourist destination. Auli is 223 km from Haridwar. Take a cab from Haridwar to Auli.
Indiahikes can have the cab organised for Rs 6,000 (Bolero, seats 5 people), Rs 9,500 (Tempo Traveller, seats 8-10 people). This amount is not included in the fee and is to be shared among trekkers. This transport is organised from the Haridwar railway station at 6.30 am. So please ensure you are in Haridwar by 6 am on Day 1.
Haridwar is well connected to Delhi. You can either take an overnight train (Nanda Devi Express) and reach Haridwar by 5 am, or you can take a train the previous day (Jan Shatabdi) from Delhi and halt overnight at Haridwar.
In case there are no train tickets available, you can travel by bus from Delhi to Haridwar. You’ll have to book this transport online. You can try www.redbus.in.
Joshimath → Haridwar → Delhi
The Pangarchulla trek ends at Joshimath. The drive back to Haridwar from Joshimath takes around 7 hours. The transport is not included in the trek fee and will cost Rs6,000(Bolero) or Rs 9,500 (Tempo). This will have to be shared by trekkers. You will reach Haridwar at 6 or 7 pm. You can take a train back to Delhi (Mussoorie Express/Nanda Devi Express) the same night, post 8 pm.
If you’re travelling out of Delhi the next day, make sure you keep enough buffer time, keeping in mind any kind of delay of the train.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking with Indiahikes
“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