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.
- GPS Coordinates: 31°37’1.21″N 78° 1’23.13″E
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
- GPS Coordinates: 31°41’53.42″N 77°59’43.74″E
- Altitude Gain: ↑1007 mtr Altitude Loss: ↓173 mtr
- 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
- GPS Coordinates: 31°44’2.27″N 77°59’42.02″E
- Altitude Gain: ↑426 mtr Altitude Loss: ↓109 mtr
- 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
- GPS Coordinates: 31°45’45.79″N 77°59’8.61″E
- Altitude Gain: ↑614 mtr Altitude Loss: ↓21.8 mtr
- 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: 10 hours, 10.9 km
- GPS Coordinates: 31°50’29.19″N 77°59’19.62″E
- Altitude Gain: ↑762 mtr Altitude Loss: ↓838 mtr
- 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)
- GPS Coordinates: 31°57’31.58″N 78° 1’58.27″E
- Altitude Gain: ↑339 mtr Altitude Loss: ↓722 mtr
- 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
Day 1: Reach Kafnu; 6 -7 hours from Shimla. Pick-up will be organised from Shimla Old Bus Stand at 6.30 am. It will cost approximately Rs.8,500/- for a Bolero (6 seater).
Day 2: Trek from Kafnu (7,878 ft) to Mulling (10,637 ft); 8 hours, 11.3 km
Day 3: Trek from Mulling (10,637 ft) to Karah (11,653 ft); 5 hours, 6.03 km
Day 4: Trek from Karah (11,653 ft) to Phutsirang (13,474 ft); 4 hours, 4.9 km
Day 5: Acclimatisation and rest day at Phutsirang
Day 6: Trek from Phutsirang (13,474 ft) to Mangrungse (13,674 ft) via Pin Bhaba Pass (16,105 ft); 9 hours, 10.9 km
Day 7: Trek from Mangrungse (13,674 ft) to Mudh (12,283 ft); 7 hours, 16.29 km.
Day 8: Drive from Mudh to Manali. The transport costs Rs 15,000 for a 6-seater and Rs 16,000 by Tempo Traveller (11 seater). You are expected to reach Manali by 7.00 pm.
Day 9: 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.
The trek goes deep through Himachal Pradesh both by foot and by road. Delays can happen anywhere. Plan for departure from Manali only on day 10.
Please note that you will be staying at a guest house in Kafnu and Mudh. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
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 Old Bus Stand at 6.30 am on Day 1. The cab fare is Rs.8,500 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.
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 30 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 25 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 30 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, moisturizer, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. Do not carry wet wipes since these are not biodegradable. We do not like biodegradable wet wipes because they take a long time to decompose in the mountains. Use toilet paper instead.
- Sanitary waste: Make sure you bring your used sanitary napkins back to the city with you. Carry a zip lock bag to put used napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose 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. We do not allow biodegradable or disposable cutlery on our treks.
- 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 – 1 Strip
- Dexamethasone – 1 strip
- Crocin – 10 tablets
- Avomine (optional, in case of motion sickness)- 1 Strip
- Combiflam- Half Strip
- Muscle relaxant – Half Strip
- Digene – Half Strip
- Avil – 1 strip
- ORS – 6 packs
- Knee Cap (If you are prone to knee injury)
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforeseen 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.
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. The trek has long climbs and steep descents on a daily basis. As a measure of your fitness, we require you to be able to run at least 5 km in 30 minutes by the time your trek starts. Alternatively, you can do cycling of 25 km in 60 minutes or walking 10 km in 75 minutes. This is a minimum, mandatory requirement. 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 and upload the fitness screenshots on your dashboard. Trekkers who have not adequately prepared may be asked to discontinue the trek at any point.
Indiahikes has the right to reject trekkers who do not meet our eligibility requirement at the base camp.
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 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. You can opt for offloading directly your dashboard after your payment is done for the trek.
Partial offloading is not allowed. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
Online offloading in advance is possible up to three days prior to the trek start date.
Discount for a group of 10 and above
If there is a group size of 10 trekkers and above, then we will waive off the trek fee charges for one person.
Note - There is no discount available if the group size is 9 or less than that.
You can register the entire group and send us an email. If the group is registering individually, then the primary participant needs to send an email to the Trek Coordinator with the list of trekkers from the same group.
If you want to make the payment individually, then individual registrations have to be done.
This will be the case for a group of 10 trekkers. So if you have a group of 20 trekkers, then we will waive off the charges for 2 trekkers.
We want to stay in Kaza, Spiti for a couple of days after the trek. Will we get a vehicle back to Manali?
Kaza is a popular place in the Spiti valley. You get buses and Tempo Travellers from the main Kaza bus stop at 9 am. It is really tough to find transport to Manali, post 10 am.
We will not be able to arrange transport for you if you are staying back in Kaza. Our vehicles leave from Mudh ( where you end the trek ), the next morning.
If you are planning to stay at Kaza, make sure you visit Kibber ( 18.9 kms from Kaza ) to visit the Key Monastery. You can also go to Hikkim ( 15.4 kms from Kaza ) to get to the world’s highest post office.
I want to take a transport back to Shimla where I started and not go to Manali.
Kaza to Shimla is a really long journey. But a beautiful one.
We would suggest that you split the journey. From Kaza you can go to Reckong Peo ( 11 hours journey ), stay there for the night. The next day you can move to Shimla which is also a 10 hour journey.
You will find transport to Shimla from the main bus stop in Kaza. We recommend that you take an early bus. Around 7 am would be a good time to leave from Kaza.
Is there an option to offload my backpack on this trek.
Yes. There is an option to offload your backpack on this trek ( have a porter or a mule carry the bag for you ).
This is going to cost you Rs. 2100 plus 5% GST for the entire duration of the trek.
Make sure the weight of the backpack you are offloading is not more than 9 kgs. Also, the bags should have shoulder straps. You cannot get suitcases or strollers for offloading.
Can I keep extra luggage at the base camp of Kafnu?
The option to leave extra luggage is not available for this trek.
Pin Bhaba is a crossover trek. This means you will be starting the trek at a point, crossing a mountain pass, and ending the trek at a different point. You will not come back to the same base camp of Kafnu.
The only option is to carry only what is necessary on the trek.
What is buffer day on this trek for?
The weather in the mountains is highly unpredictable. It might so happen that weather conditions prevent us from passing the cross as planned. We will then have to wait a day to do this.
Hence you must factor in the buffer day while planning your travel. Book your return journey on the next day after you reach Manali.
If in case the buffer-day is used, we will be charging you Rs. 2500 extra.
Renting is available for this trek? What all can be rented?
We recently started the renting of trekking equipment on the Pin Bhaba Pass trek.
You can rent out Trekking shoes ( Forclaz Trek 100 ) , Trek Jackets ( Padded jackets ) and Trek Poles.
We usually put up rentals on our online store, one month before the start of the trek.
Here is a link to our online store. www.store.indiahikes.com
Here is what trekkers have to say about their experience at Pin Bhaba Pass Trek