Why Pin Bhaba is unlike any other trek in Spiti
When it comes to treks in Himachal, Pin Bhaba would be one of the most dramatic.
Everyday, the scenery changes completely, so much so that it is like doing a new trek every day!
When compared with its riskier cousin, the Pin Parvati Pass trek, where your life is at stake, the Pin Bhaba not only is a great alternative, but a more beautiful one.
Here are 5 things that will stun you about the Pin Bhaba Pass trek.
The Dark Forests of Mulling
Here is the thing about the forests of Mulling. Unlike other treks, the forests here are enchanting! They’re right out of a story book. You trek over roots of tall coniferous trees. Pine needles line the forest floor. The giddy scent of pines is everywhere.
But it is the forest scenery that strikes you the most. A turquoise blue river gushes through the forest on one side, little brooks skip and jump through the trees on the others. You take a gently ascending path meandering through these settings for a good part of the day.
Later, towards noon, you burst out of this enchanting forest into a surprise you’re least expecting — the grasslands of Mulling — a sight that makes you catch your breath.
This is the first day of the trek. For a page turner, it can’t get more dramatic than this.
Kashmir-like settings of Karah
The high altitude meadows of Karah are the closest you’ll get to the grasslands of Kashmir. If ever there is a debate about one of the prettiest settings for a camp on our treks, then the grasslands of Karah would be right on top.
From the Karah camp this is what you see. Ahead of you two valleys meet. Behind you tall snow capped mountains frame the entrance of the valley that descends out of Khara.To your side grassy hills tower above the camp. Why, at your camp, there is a small hillock where you can climb to the top taking in the views. A quiet river flows besides your camp. All around it is a grassy setting where hundreds of sheep munch away.
This on the second day of the trek, when you have still not got over the forests and grasslands of Mulling.
The River Delta of Phutsirang
River deltas are rare on a trek. Actually, they are extremely rare on a trek. So much so that the Pin Bhaba is the only trek at Indiahikes where you’ll see one. Which is why it makes sense to savor the camp at Phutsirang. It helps that we spend an extra day here acclimatising.
At a height of almost 13,500 feet, the river fans out across the valley floor, glistening in the sun. In between the delta are tiny islands that you can hop on to. On the edge of the grasslands, the colours take a different hue. Organges mix with green and brown.
On the rest day, trekkers take long leisure walks to the end of the valley, taking in the views of the stark mountains that surround Phutsirang.
It is rare to come across camps as beautiful as Phutsirang. Add to it the tinge of nervous excitement of the upcoming Pin Bhaba Pass crossing the next day, the setting is complete.
The Pin Bhaba Pass crossing
This is where everyone leaves the beauty behind to focus on the pass crossing at 16,100 feet. Which may be a mistake. The moraine setting around the pass crossing is as beautiful as the first few days of the trek.
Climbing to the pass is a lovely challenge. The higher you get, the more you tower over the rest of the scenery. The snow capped peaks are now almost at eye level.
The pass crossing is over a series of ledges, so the fun is in getting to the first ledge and then setting sights on the next.
The pass is narrow, almost knife like. The space just enough for a handful of trekkers to stand. Getting to the pass is thrilling. The satisfaction immensely gratifying. The heady altitude adds to the allure. Around you are serrated mountains of Spiti. But the scene below you is what makes your jaw drop.
Below, as the steep flanks of the pass levels out, the Pin valley spreads out in a riot of colours. It is hard to imagine a valley pink in colour but that’s how it predominantly is.
Which brings us to the colours of Spiti
Lot of people trek in Spiti for various reasons. You’ll get all of them on this trek. But one of the big reasons that you must trek in Spiti is for the colours. On the last day of the trek to Mudh, the colours are kaleidoscopic.
The trails take you over jet black mountain flanks, valleys with only white and pink rocks, orange hill sides, purple hills. It is something that is hard to see anywhere in this world.
Closer to Mudh, when the first civilisation after days of trekking greet you, the surprises still continue. The harmony of the Tibetan culture is palpable.
The white of the homes blend in with the stark brown background of the hills. They all face the same direction. If there was ancient science to see, it is right there in front of your eyes.
The Pin Bhaba pass is easily one of the most beautiful treks in India. But what makes it even more is the dramatic settings of each day of the trek. It is a trek not to be missed.
Day 1: Drive from Shimla to Kafnu
- Altitude: 7,465 ft (2,275 m) to 7,878 ft (2,401 m)
- Time taken: 6 – 7 hours drive from Shimla, 205 km.
Getting to Kafnu is not as difficult even though it is a really remote village in the deep reaches of southern Himachal.
What makes it accessible is the hydro electric power project that is on the Bhaba river. The river runs past Kafnu village all the way up to Wangtoo. The hydel project is as the river, right at Kafnu. Hundreds of workers, local villagers work in the project. Kafnu is well connected by bus especially from Karcham, Kalpa and Recong Peo. There are buses from Rampur as well.
The road to Kafnu climbs fast over the hydel power project at Wangtoo which can be nerve wracking when the bus swings left to right on the narrow dirt road hanging over precipitous cliffs.
You will stay at Kafnu for the night, at one of the local lodges. It’s important to use the day to rest in preparation for the trek to Mulling tomorrow.
Day 2: Kafnu to Mulling
- Altitude: 7,878 ft (2,401 m) to 10,637 ft (3,242 m)
- Time taken: 8 hours, 11.3 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Easy walk on motor road for 2.65 km followed by a 4.5 km ascent. Level walk for about 1 km then ascend all the way to Mulling.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find 2 water sources on the trail to refill your water bottles.
The day 1 of the Pin Bhaba trek will always rate as one of the most beautiful days of trekking. So exquisite and beautiful is the trail through a largely coniferous forest – it is rare to come across such a trek.
The trek starts from Kafnu. Brace yourself for a challenging day. It’s important to get a head start considering the trekking distance and the altitude gain, which at 2,759 feet (841 m) is quite a challenge. From the village, walk for about 200 meters and you will spot India’s first underground dam, the ‘Bhaba Hydro Project‘. Note: Photography is prohibited. Continue to walk on the motorable route for 2.65 km.
About 2 km into this trail, you will reach a bridge. Cross the bridge to reach the left bank of the Bhaba river. Shortly after crossing the bridge, you will notice a narrow route going up from the motorable route – take this trail.
Continue to walk along this route for 4.4 km. At this juncture, you will be surrounded by the dense vegetation of a jungle. The landscape is blessed with the graceful presence of silver birch, pine and oak trees. The sweet sound of birds chirping adds more charm to this spot. The confluence of such beautiful trees, all within a single frame will make this one of the most memorable highlights of this trek. A flat 1 km walk from this section will lead you to a beautiful clearing. This terrain is riddled with mud, grass and small stones.
About 6.8 km into the trek, you will reach a beautiful campsite surrounded by trees. This place is called ‘Champoria‘, 9,491 feet. From this spot, you will need to cross the Bhaba river. Cross the river via the log bridge to reach the right bank of the Bhaba river.
After crossing over, continue walking along the river bank and you will spot a tributary of Bhaba river. From this point onwards, you will need to pace yourself slowly for the ascent. 10 km into the trek, you will reach a place called Jhandi top (10,640 feet). This is a good spot to catch your breath. From Jhandi top, the Mulling hut and campsite are visible. From here, it’s a short 1.3 km hike to reach the campsite. If you’re trekking independently, you can choose to stay at the abandoned hut, which has two rooms. Alternatively, you can pitch a tent here.
Day 3: Mulling to Karah
- Altitude: 10,637 ft (3,242 m) to 11,653 ft (3,552 m)
- Time taken: 5 hours, 6.03 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Gradual ascent for 3.3 km followed by 1.5 km of steep ascent, easing off for the last 1.2 km.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find a water source to refill your water bottle around mid way.
Today’s trek starts with a gradual ascent through a rocky terrain. About 1.6 km into the trek, you will arrive at a beautiful meadow and a waterfall towards your right. From this section, it’s a gradual ascent for another 1.7 km to reach an interesting geographical phenomenon. You can hear the sound of a river but you won’t be able to see it. This feature is called a subterranean river, where the water flows beneath the surface of the ground. From this section, it’s a 1.5 km steep ascent to the top to reach an exquisite meadow with flower beds.
After passing the meadow, continue to walk for another 1.2 km to reach the campsite near a water stream. You will find a lake within 200 meters from the campsite. The lake boasts of stunning reflections when it’s sunny. You can setup your campsite at Karah. You will have the entire afternoon to rest and recuperate for challenges that lie ahead.
Day 4: Trek from Karah to Phutsirang
- Altitude: 11,653 ft (3,552 m) to 13,474 ft (4,107 m)
- Time taken: 4 hours, 4.91 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Steep ascent throughout.
- Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Karah. You might find a couple of streams but these are seasonal.
Today is the shortest day of the entire trek since you have to cover only 4.91 km. Brace yourself for a steep ascent. The first order of the day is to cross the tributary of the Bhaba river. The mountain stream approaches from the left side of Phutsirang. Cross the stream and continue to climb the steep slope.
Tread with care since the terrain is a combination of stone and loose mud. The entire route today is dominated by mountain stream crossings and humps, which can be a bit taxing. It’s important that you pace yourself accordingly.
About 4.2 km into the trek, you will arrive at a campsite which has been setup for lower Phutsirang. From this spot, continue the upward climb for another 700 meters and you will reach Phutsirang.
Phustsirang will serve as the perfect vantage point to get a glimpse of three beautiful mountain passes: Nimish Khango (16,185 feet), Tari Khango (17,318 feet) and Pin Bhaba Pass a.k.a Wang Khango (16,105 feet).
Day 5: Acclimatization and rest day at Phutsirang
Day 6: Phutsirang to Mangrungse via Pin Bhaba Pass
- Altitude: 13,474 ft (4,107 m) to 16,105 ft (4,909 m) to 13,674 ft (4,168 m)
- Time taken: 9 hours, 10.9 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Steep ascent for close to 3 km to reach the pass. Initial 2 km of steep descent from the pass followed by a river crossing and gradual descent through moraine and scree all the way to the campsite.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find one water source just before the pass and one right after.
Brace yourself for an exciting day. Today, you will be conquering steep slopes and navigate through the high mountain passes connecting Bhaba and Pin valleys. Trekkers who have ascended a mountain pass will tell you that it’s an experience that is as thrilling as scaling a summit. The sense of adventure and accomplishment you derive is far greater than a summit ascent because of the fact that you go in with lower expectations.
From the saddle point of the pass (highest point between the mountain valley), you will notice the sudden shift in landscape. The geographical contradictions are well pronounced in this spot. You will be leaving behind the lush grasslands of Bhaba valley and move to the brown, desert mountain valleys of Pin. The Pin river can also be seen from this point. The descent is steep and it is tricky, since it’s a combination of moraine, glacier and scree. Negotiate this terrain slowly.
About 2 km into the descent, you will spot the Pin river. Remove your footwear to cross the river to get onto the right side of the river. From here on, it’s a gradual descent yet riddled with moraine and scree. Pace yourself slowly and rest if you must. About 5 kms from the river-crossing, you will be able to see the Mangrungse campsite below the trail. From Mangrungse, the Tiya campsite is located across the river bank. Tiya is one of the campsites for the Pin Parvati Pass Trek.
The mountain stream trickling by near the Mangrungse campsite is safe for drinking.The various colours of the Spiti mountain ranges have a charm of their own. The furious sound of the Pin river is ominous.
Day 7: Trek from Mangrungse to Mudh
- Altitude: 13,674 ft (4,168 m) to 12,283 ft (3,744 m)
- Time taken: 7 hours, 16.29 km (trek)
- Trek gradient: Moderate – difficult. Initial easy 4 km trail followed by a gradual descent and flat walk through moraine.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at a couple of spots from the river and a small stream.
Today is the last day of the trek. Brace yourself for the long 16.29 km stretch to Mudh. Start as early as possible from your campsite. Climb the slope from Mangrungse to reach the trail and continue walking along the same. The distance between Mangrungseand Bara Boulder is 4 km and from the Bara Boulder campsite, it’s a gradual descent through a section filled with moraine. This campsite is a good spot but the water isn’t clean. It’s recommended that your water bottles are stocked up at Mangrungse.The tributary of Pin river is just 300 meters from Bara Boulder. Cross this stream using the log bridge. The trail from Bara boulder is completely flat and is dominated by red soil and small red stones.
A flat walk for 1.5 km from Bara Boulder will take you to the banks of a mountain stream. Cross the stream using the log bridge to reach a dry, flat stretch of land. The Mudh village will be visible even from a distance of 5 km. It’s a picture worthy of a postcard and the beauty of this place is otherworldly.
The sight of the village will motivate you to push yourself for this final stretch. The Pin river is the last river that you’ll need to cross to access the village. This is yet another exciting experience in this trek. The view of the suspension bridge dangling over the Pin river is a sight to behold.
Cross the river via the suspension bridge. After crossing the river, it’s a short climb to reach the village.
Day 8: Drive from Mudh to Manali
Distance: 201 km
We have put together a list of places you must visit if you are going to Spiti. Don’t miss any of the places on this list – Side Excursions from Spiti After Your Trek To Pin Bhaba.
Banner Image by Jagadeesh DM
How to get fit for the Pin Bhaba Pass trek
The Pin Bhaba Pass trek is classified as a difficult trek . You trek up to an altitude of over 16,105 feet. You start from an altitude of 7878 feet at Kafnu and reach the highest point of 16,105 feet at Pin Bhaba Pass on Day 5. Since you will be gaining an altitude of more than 8,000 ft in four days, you have to make sure your lungs are strong for this.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 5 km in less than 35 minutes before the start of the trek
On the Pin Bhaba Pass trek, you have to cover an average of 10 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.
Here’s a fitness routine that works:
In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, phase out your distance targets in the following manner –
If you are somebody you prefers cycling over running, then try to cover 22 km in 60 minutes.
How to send us a proof of your fitness routine?
Record your run on an app like Nike Run. Start recording your run when you start running. At the end of your run, hit the stop button.
Take a screenshot of the summary of your run. We will need a detailed split of each kilometre of your run. This is usually integrated in all running apps.
Note: Make sure your GPS is on when you record your run. If the GPS is off, we will not accept the screenshot.
Upload two screenshots 10 days prior to the start of the trek — one of you covering 5km in less than 35 mins along with your picture and the other with splits of your run.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each
This is another area you should work on. There is a lot of trekking distance that you will cover in high altitude carrying your backpacks. You have to walk on uneven terrain during the trek. It could be taxing for your legs. For this, strengthening your legs will help. You can do some squats to strengthen them. Start with 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set and work towards reaching your target in 3 weeks.
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. On your trek, it is important that you arrive on the slopes with your muscles relaxed. 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.
Consider HIIT training regime for a trek like this one.
What to take on the Pin Bhaba Pass Trek
- Trekking shoes: Carry trekking shoes and not sports shoes. The trail will be slippery at several places and will require shoes with 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.
On a trek, carry fewer clothes than you would normally need. Do not pack for ‘what if situations’. That will only add to the weight of your backpack and not be used on the trek. Once your clothes get warmed up on a trek, you will not feel like changing. Just maintain personal hygiene.
- Three layers of warm clothes: Carry two sweaters, and a padded jacket. If you are more susceptible to feeling cold, add another layer.
- Three trek pants: Carry light cotton trek pants. One of your pants can be tights that you can wear as an inner layer while trekking, especially on the Pass day. Denim/jeans and shorts are not suitable for trekking.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. If you’re too cold, you can wear two tshirts together for more insulation. Let one of the three t-shirts be a dri-fit t-shirt. It will dry quickly in case you are trekking on a rainy day. A common mistake that trekkers make is not changing their tshirts often enough. Regardless of how cold it is, the body tends to sweat a lot. Trekkers who don’t change to fresh clothes after reaching the campsite fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals: Carry thermals (top and bottom) to keep yourself warm at night. Keep your thermals fresh and don’t wear them while trekking.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are mandotory. In June, there will be abundant snow on Hampta Pass, and you would need it to protect yourself from snow blindness.
- Suncap: At high altitude, the sun is extra harsh, as the UV rays don’t get filtered. So carry a suncap to protect yourself.
- Synthetic hand gloves: Avoid woollen gloves as they will get wet if you touch snow. You can add a fleece glove as an inner layer, and wear two gloves on each hand if you’re more susceptible to cold.
- Balaclava: You’ll need this to cover your head, as most of the heat escapes from your head.
- Socks (2 pairs) and a pair of woollen socks: 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.
- Daypack (20 litres): As this is a crossover trek, you would only need a daypack if you are offloading your backpack.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. If you do happen to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you bring them back with you. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. Carry a zip lock bag to put used wet tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- 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)
- 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)
- Knee cap, if you are prone to knee injury
- Anti fungal powder
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
What you need to know about the trek fee
The trek fee of Rs. 14,450 + 5% GST covers all costs of the trek from Raithal to Barsu.
Here is what the trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 7 (Kafnu to Mudh). You will be staying in a guest house at Kafnu and camping on remaining days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Kafnu on Day 1 to breakfast at Mudh on Day 8 are included. We provide simple, nutritious vegetarian food on all days of the trek.
- Camping charges – All trekking permits and forest camping charges are included.
- Trekking equipment – You will stay in high quality tents and sleeping bags in all the camps. Our high altitude sleeping bags can withstand temperatures as low as -10 ºC. We provide ice axes, roped, micro spikes, gaiters etc. as required.
- Safety equipment – First aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc. will be available at all campsites to deal with emergencies.
- Services of an expert Trek Leader – All our trek leaders are qualified in basic / advanced mountaineering courses.
- Services of an expert Trek Team – The mountain staff on this trek consists of well trained guides, cooks, helpers and porters.
Here is what the trek fee excludes:
- Transport to and from the base camp – We will arrange shared taxis for trekkers from Shimla to Kafnu and from Mudh to Manali. This will cost approx. Rs. 8,500 for a 8-seaterTempo Traveler and Rs.7,000 for 6-seater Bolero to go from Shimla to Kafnu. On the return, it will cost Rs.16,000 for a Tempo Traveler from Mudh to Manali. You will have to share this cost with the other trekkers
- Food during transit to and from the base camp – The trek fee does not include meals purchased during the journey to Kafnu and the return drive from Mudh.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 2,100 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. Suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will not be allowed. Please note that charges will vary for last minute offloading in case you decide to offload your bag after reaching Kafnu (Rs.400 per day inclusive of tax). Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
- Stay at Shimla/Manali on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from inclusions
- Buffer day – It is mandatory to have this extra day as any bad weather or rain will delay your pass crossing. If buffer day is utilised, you will need to pay Rs.2,500 + 5% GST. This amount is to be handed over to your trek leader.
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 login to your account and cancel. Cancellation requests will not be taken over phone or email.
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% (cancellation charges) from the total fee you have paid. Also, if you have opted for a trek insurance, the amount will not be refunded.
2.The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start at the Kafnu base camp to the end at Mudh.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Shimla bus stand at 6.30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Kafnu in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Shimla to Kafnu and return from Mudh to Manali can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost Rs. 7,000 per vehicle, one way from Shimla to Kafnu. From Mudh to Manali, the cost of a Tempo Traveler is Rs.16,000, one way, shared by the trekkers). The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No service tax is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack offloading: 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 the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges -Rs. 2,100/- plus GST of 5%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs. 400 per day inclusive of tax. 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. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
6. Emergency during trek: In a trek a medical emergency or any other emergency may arise. If for any reason you are sent down from the trek then Indiahikes will make arrangements for your return to the base camp or nearest road head. A staff will accompany you. He may not be a trained personnel.
Evacuation or dealing with emergencies is extremely difficult in the mountains. It is time consuming as well. A normal trek of 2 hours may take 6 hours in an emergency (a sick person is not easy to evacuate). Doctors do not go along with a team. Doctors are not available at the base camp or nearest road head either. Indiahikes trek leaders are trained to administer first aid and know how to deal with issues related to the mountains. However, they are not doctors.
Registering for this trek is an understanding that you have read up on the difficulties of high altitude trekking and understand the risks. You have also understood what AMS, HAPE and HACE are. You have taken efforts to educate yourself and you are in a position to manage your own altitude related emergency.
7. Fitness: A high altitude trek in the Himalayas requires considerable fitness. Your body needs to train itself to process more work with lower levels of oxygen. Therefore, on treks, cardiovascular training is critically important. You need to be able to jog a distance of 5 km in 30 mins before start of the trek. Unable to do so can make your trek difficult. In addition, preparation of trek needs to include strength and flexibility training. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point. Indiahikes has the right to reject candidates who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
8. Non-liability: Indiahikes is not responsible for any loss/damage of your gears/equipment or other belongings on the trek.
9. Payment: Payment for the trek can be done online through credit/debit card or net banking. Cheque/draft or cash is not accepted.
10. Drinking and smoking during the trek is strictly prohibited. If found flouting the rules, your participation on the trek will be cancelled with immediate effect.
11. Safety Protocol
a. While our itineraries are designed to allow for adequate acclimatisation, most treks in Indian Himalayas climb quickly, which is called forced accents. Unavailability of camp sites and the Indian Himalayan terrain are the reason for this. There are chances that you will feel the effects of altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation while on this trek. Please be aware that your trek leader may deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, and arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.
b. Our trek leaders will conduct routine health checks at all camps to measure oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure. Indiahikes reserves the right to exclude any trekker from climbing higher on the trek without refund if the trekker’s vital readings are below accepted norms for that altitude. These norms are available with 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 Pin Bhaba Pass Trek?
The Pin Bhaba Pass trek is a difficult one. 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 altitudes.
Since the Pin Bhaba Pass is a pass crossing trek, in case of emergencies there are no easy exits. In winter, the trail will have snow at higher sections. Micro spikes will be provided to walk over slippery snow patches. During your trek from Kafnu to Mulling, you gain an altitude of 2,759 ft on a single day and you’ll be covering a trekking distance of 11.3 kms. With significant altitude gain there are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness.
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.
Right from the time you decide to register for the 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
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 Pin Bhabha Pass trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Pin Bhabha Pass trek has to meet the fitness requirements, with the ideal BMI. The BMI and fitness regime will require proof. A high altitude trek is not to be taken casually.
2. Monitoring health on a trek
On the Pin Bhabha Pass trek, your Trek Leader will be monitoring two aspects thrice a day.
- Oxygen Level
- Pulse Rate
Your Blood Pressure levels will be checked once a day.
This will help us ensure that your body is acclimatising as required.
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, wherein they will be entering details about their health everyday. It also contains details of what symptoms one should look out for and what action should be taken during emergencies. These Health Cards will be collected back at the end of the trek.
3. High Altitude Medical Kit
Your trek leader will 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. In addition to that, there are oxygen cylinders installed at all high altitude campsites for any emergency situations.
4. High Altitude Trek Equipment
To ensure safe trekking 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. You will have qualified technical guides with you, who will lead the way on difficult terrain.
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.
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.
5. 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.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Pin Bhabha Pass trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
At altitudes above 10,000 ft, the chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness cannot be ruled out.
All the campsites starting from Mulling are a at considerably high altitudes. You gain 2,759 ft when you reach Mulling and the pass day has a gruelling climb. Trekkers can develop symptoms of altitude sickness at any of the intervening campsites.
At any campsite, inform your trek leader about your condition immediately if you identify any symptom of AMS. If the symptoms don’t alleviate it is best to head down to a lower campsite.
This risk can be avoided by going on a course of Diamox. Even while on Diamox, the risk of AMS still prevails. While AMS can be treated with rest and 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.
Take this specific precaution – Go on a preventive course of Diamox
We strongly advise you to go on a preventive course of Diamox. Diamox is a blood thinner and helps you acclimatise much faster and reduces the chance of AMS by around 80%. Take half a tablet twice a day from one day before your trek.
What to do if you have 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 below video to understand the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. In this video, Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes will also tell you the protocol to follow when you see someone showing symptoms of AMS.
<iframe width=”650″ height=”450″ src=”” data-src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/JYcVwxrfHyg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Exit points on the Pin Bhaba Pass trek:
Up to Mulling and Karah, it is relatively simple to get back to Kafnu in case of an emergency. Once you start from Phutsirang to the pass, exit is really not possible until you cross over into Spiti. Even here, Mudh, which is over 16 km from Mangrungse, is the only exit. Given all this, it is best to take all the necessary precautions before and during the trek.
Rampur, around 80 km from Kafnu, has the closest hospital on the Kinnaur side. Once you cross over to Spiti, Kaza has a hospital.
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 we suggest you always carry on you – Diamox, Dexamethasone and Nifedipine.
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, do not administer these to anyone without consulting your Trek Leader. If you are trekking independently then you need to know when exactly to administer these medicines and in what dosage.
Also ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the trek and do not skip any meal.
You can watch the video below to learn about HAPE and HACE and how to tackle them. In the video, Sandhya UC, partner at Indiahikes, explains in detail about High Altitude Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema, what the symptoms are and how to tackle them.
<iframe width=”650″ height=”450″ src=”” data-src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/hhlathGVtxg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
We cannot stress enough on how important it is for you to communicate any symptom to your Trek Leader. Only then your trek leader will be able to take steps at the right time.
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?
You will staying in a guest house at Kafnu and Mudh. Rooms will be shared with fellow trekkers. The stay on all other days will be in tents. Each tent will accommodate three 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 13-18ºC and night time temperature will range from 0-7ºC.
4. Will there be snow on this trek?
You will find snow on Day 6, just at and immediately around the Pin Bhaba pass.
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 Kafnu?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Shimla to Kafnu, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs 8,500 for an 8-seater vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Kafnu will take 6-7 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes will arrange for shared cabs from Mudh to Manali. An 8 seater vehicle costs Rs.16,000. This cost is to be borne by the trekkers and is not included in the trek fee. The journey will take you 10-12 hours.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Pin Bhaba Pass trek?
Mid july – September is the best season to do this trek. The trek ends in the Spiti valley, which is mostly inaccessible by road during the rest of the year.
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?
Pin Bhaba Pass trek is not for beginners. This is a difficult trek with long trails almost every day. Apart from prior high altitude trekking experience, you also need to be extremely fit to complete this trek successfully.
11. If not the Pin Bhaba Pass trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Pin Parvati is an alternative. This is also a difficult trek and offers a lot of challenge, in addition to the beautiful and diverse landscapes that the trails lead to. Goechala is another option. However, the season for it is May or late September – mid November.
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.2,100 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Kafnu, the amount will be Rs.400 per day inclusive of tax. Partial offloading is not allowed. 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. Online offloading in advance is possible up to two days prior to the trek start date.
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 Deoriatal, Kedarkantha or Kuari Pass treks. Although the minimum age for this trek is 15 years, we wouldn’t recommend it for children. Prior high altitude trekking experience and high levels of fitness are mandatory requirements.
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 houses at Kafnu and Kaza will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 to 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 biodegradable.
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. You will find at least one water source on the trail on all days except Day 4 – Karah to Phutsirang.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
BSNL and Airtel networks are available up to Kafnu. There will be no mobile network anywhere till you reach Kaza – you’ll pass Kaza on your way from Mudh to Manali. After Kaza, you will get network again only after crossing Rohtang Pass. There is also a satellite phone at Mudh – however, the sound quality is unreliable. Make sure you finish your important telephone calls in Kafnu and inform anxious family members about poor connectivity on the trek. The guest houses at Kafnu and Mudh might have charging points, which can be used if there is electricity.
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 shoes that is water resistant. 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?
Day 1 – Drive time from Shimla to Kafnu is 6-7 hours.
Day 2 – Kafnu to Mulling is a distance of 11.3 km, which will take you around 8 hours to cover.
Day 3 – Mulling to Karah is a 5 hours trek during which you will cover 6.03 km.
Day 4 – Karah to Phutsirang is a 4 hours trek during which you will cover 4.9 km.
Day 5 – Rest day at Phutsirang.
Day 6 – This is the longest day on the trek. You will take around 9 hours to cover the 10.9 km distance from Phutsirang to Mangrungse via Pin Bhaba Pass.
Day 7 – Mangrungse to Mudh will take around 7 hours during which you will cover 16.9 km.
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. Why does the itinerary have rest and buffer days? Can I skip these?
We have introduced a rest day at Phutsirang (Day 5) on the basis of our past experience. Phutsirang is close to 6,000 ft above Kafnu, from where you begin the trek. The next campsite, Mangrungse, can be reached only through the Pin Bhaba pass which is over 16,000 ft. The body needs time to acclimatize to take on the pass crossing successfully. Hence, the rest day at Phutsirang.
The weather in the mountains is unpredictable. It might so happen that we are unable to cross the pass on the scheduled day. Keeping a buffer day before your onward journey will ease your travel in case of a delay.
26. 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 Kafnu
The base camp of the Pin Bhaba trek is Kafnu, 205 km from Shimla. Kafnu is a quaint village in the Bhaba valley of Kinnaur. Due to its elevation and accessibility to the Sutlej river, it is home to a wide variety of flora. You will be passing through Rampur and the journey boasts of grand views of the Kinnaur mountain range.
Indiahikes arranges transport from Shimla to Kafnu. The pick up is from Shimla Bus Stand at 6.30 am on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.7,000 per vehicle. This cost is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. It will take around 6 hours to reach Kafnu.
Shimla can be accessed directly by bus from Delhi. This journey takes 10-12 hours. Regular buses are available from New Delhi ISBT. We recommend that you reach Shimla the previous day to make it in time for the Indiahikes transport to Kafnu.
You can also take a train to Chandigarh or Kalka. Buses and cabs are available from both these places to Shimla. Kalka mail is an overnight train than reaches Kalka by 4.30 am – this departs from Old Dehi Railway station at 21.25. Kalka shatabdi leaves from New Delhi Railway station at 7.40 am and reached Kalka by 11.45 am.
The trek ends at Mudh. Indiahikes arranges transport from Mudh to Manali. The cab fare will be Rs.16,000 per vehicle. This cost is not included in the trek fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver. You will reach Manali by 7.00 pm.
You will need to stay in Manali for a night since buses to Delhi depart between 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Take a bus to Delhi the following day.
Reaching Kafnu on your own
If you plan to get to Kafnu on your own, take a bus from Shimla that’s headed to Karcham/Recong Peo from the new bus stand. Take an early morning bus, preferably before 6.30 am. The bus takes about 6 hours or so to get to the Kafnu diversion on the way to Wangtoo. Wait at the iron bridge for a bus thats headed to Kafnu. It may take a while. The wait can easily be an hour or two.
Traveling to Kaza on your own
From Mudh, vehicles can be hired for the journey to Kaza for Rs.2,100 for a jeep/Sumo Alternatively, a bus is available at 6.30 am.
It was really a great experience(This is my first trek), Even though it has rained during the trek the patience your team has and the care they took one each and every person is applaudable maybe because of small group it was possible, But i think it goes the same way in bigger groups as well (Groups with 25). I have had a lot of learnings from Abhiroop on how to react in emergency conditions and his life experiences etc… It’s great to meet such good people like Mukhesh bhai and abhiroop. They are like well wishers, i have never felt like they new. Keep up the good Job Guys i want to do another Trek soon with people like these(Hope i get the same team again in next trek 🙂 )- Manikanta, August 2016 batch