Pin Bhaba Pass – A challenging high-altitude crossover trek
Pin Bhaba Pass is one of the best crossover treks in the the Himachal Pradesh region. This fascinating trek features some of the most dramatic shifts in landscapes and cultures. The trail starts from the lush grasslands of Kinnaur and leads up to the desolate mountain ranges of Spiti valley. This ancient route has been frequented by the Gaddi shepherds for decades. During summer, they tend to their herds by letting them graze the meadows in the Pin and upper Bhaba valleys. Ever since word got around, this trail has been well-trodden by travelers and trekkers. The base camp of this trek is Kafnu, a quaint village in Bhaba valley, Kinnaur. It’s interesting to note that it is home to India’s first underground dam.
The high-altitude mountain pass-crossings over the Bhaba and Pin valleys at 16,105 feet is an experience of a life time. From the saddle point (highest point) of the pass, you get to enjoy a panoramic 180° view of the Bhaba and Pin valleys. When you arrive at this point, the geographical contradictions of the two valleys are well pronounced. The prayer flags are symbolic of the changes you are about to witness. Once you crossover, you will recognize the influence of Buddhism on the people and the scenery.
Whom is this trek meant for?
Pin Bhaba Pass is not a beginner’s trek. At the high passes, snow is highly likely in the months between May and October and you will require guidance from a technical guide. You will be negotiating a lot of moraine, boulders and scree in the slopes. Hence, this trek demands high levels of fitness and it is suitable for trekkers who have done a couple of high-altitude treks like Buran Ghati or Roopkund. Anyone above 14 years can go on this trek.
Difficulty level and Preparation
Pin Bhaba Pass is classified as a moderate-difficult trek. Day 5 is a gruelling experience because of the challenges posed during the pass-crossing. It is a strenuous hike up and down two starkly different mountain valleys. It requires high levels of fitness, endurance and skill to accomplish this task. Click here to learn how to prepare and get fit for the trek.
What are the risks involved?
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 feet on a single day and you’ll be covering a trekking distance of 11.3 km. With significant altitude gain there are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness. To prevent this we recommend that you stay well hydrated and go on a course of Diamox starting three days prior to your arrival at Shimla.
ATM points and Mobile connectivity
Rampur is the last place before you reach the base camp that you’ll find an ATM, in case you need to withdraw money. BSNL network is available up to Kafnu. Please inform anxious family members about poor connectivity on the trail.
This trek was explored by our trek leader, Tanmay Bain.
Short Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Shimla to Kafnu – 205 km. Pick-up will be organised from Shimla Old Bus Stand at 6.30 AM. It will cost approximately Rs.7,000 per cab. One cab can seat 5-6 trekkers. The fare is to be shared among all and paid directly to the directly.
Day 2: Kafnu (7,878 ft) to Mulling (10,637 ft); 8 hours
Day 3: Mulling (10,637 ft) to Karah (11,653 ft); 5 hours
Day 4: Karah (11,653 ft) to Phustirang (13,474 ft); 4 hours
Day 5: Acclimatization and rest day at Phustirang
Day 6 : Trek from Phustirang (13,474 ft) to Mangrungse (13,674 ft) via Pin Bhaba Pass (16,105 ft); 9 hours
Day 7 : Trek from Mangrungse (13,674) ft to Mudh (12,283 ft); 7 hours. Drive from Mudh to Kaza – 52 km.
Day 8 : Drive from Kaza to Manali.
Day 9: Buffer day. It is mandatory to have this extra day as any bad weather or rain will delay your pass crossing.
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.
Transport: From Kaza to Manali, the cost of a Sumo vehicle is Rs.9,000, 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.
Please note that you will be staying at a guest house in Kafnu and Kaza. The stay on all other days is in tents (3 per tent).
Day 1: Drive from Shimla to Kafnu
- Altitude: 7,465 ft to 7,878 ft
- Time taken: 6 – 7 hours, 205 km. Pick up from Shimla old bus stand at 6:30 AM
The beautiful city of Shimla needs no introduction. Your journey to Kafnu starts from here. Buses and private vehicles are available from Shimla to Kafnu. A sumo can be hired for Rs. 7,000/- and it can accommodate 5 to 6 trekkers for the onward journey to Kafnu.
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.
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 to 10,637 ft
- 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 trek starts from Kafnu today. 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 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 to 11,653 ft
- 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.
Day 4: Trek from Karah to Phustirang
- Altitude: 11,653 ft to 13,474 ft
- 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 Phustirang. 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 Phustirang. From this spot, continue the upward climb for another 700 meters and you will reach Phustirang.
Phustirang 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 Phustirang
Day 6: Phustirang to Mangrungse via Pin Bhaba Pass
- Altitude: 13,474 ft to 16,105 ft to 13,674 ft
- 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. Drive from Mudh to Kaza
- Altitude: 13,674 ft to 12,283 ft
- 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 Mangrungse and 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.
From Mudh, vehicles can be hired for the journey to Kaza. The charge of the jeep/sumo is Rs. 2,100/- Alternatively, a bus is available at 6.30 AM. If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, this transport will be arranged by us and is included in your trek fee.
Day 8: Drive from Kaza to Manali
Distance: 201 km
Side-Excursions from Kaza:
Key Monastery : The biggest monastery of Spiti Valley (14 km)
Chichum : Trolley ride atop a deep gorge (18 km)
Kibber: One of the highest villages of the world (20 km)
Hikkim: Highest Post Office of the world (26 kms)
How to get fit for the Pin Bhaba Pass trek
The Pin Bhaba Pass trek is classified as a moderate – 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 30 minutes
This trek requires a good amount of endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Start jogging at a slow pace and then keep increasing your pace day by day. Make sure you are able to jog 5 km in 30 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too.
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 in 4 weeks.
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. You can get Forclaz 600 from Decathlon.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame. Rain cover for backpack is essential.
- Daypack (20 litres): As this is a crossover trek, you would only need a daypack if you are offloading your backpack.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: Apartfrom 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.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste. If you plan to use wet wipes or sanitary napkins on the trek, make sure you carry a zip lock bag to put used tissues and napkins. Bring this ziplock bag back with you to the city and do not dispose wet tissues and sanitary napkins in the mountains.
- Cutlery: Carry a spoon, coffee mug and a lunch box. We insist on trekkers getting their own cutlery for hygiene reasons.
- Two water bottles: 1 litre each
- Plastic covers: While packing, use plastic bags to compartmentalise things and carry few extra plastic bags for wet clothes.
Mandatory Personal Medical Kit
- Diamox – 10 tablets (to prevent AMS)
- Dexamethasone – one strip
- Nifedipine – 5 tablets
- Crocin – 6 tablets (fever)
- Avomine – 4 tablets (motion sickness)
- Avil 25mg – 4 tablets (allergies)
- Combiflam – 4 tablets (Pain killer)
- Disprin – 6 tablets (headache)
- Norflox TZ & Lomofen– 6 tablets each (diarrhea)
- Digene – 10 tablets (acidity)
- Omez/ Rantadine – 10 tablets (antacids)
- Crepe bandage – 3 to 5 meters
- Gauze – 1 small roll
- Band aid – 10 strips
- Cotton – 1 small roll
- ORS – 10 packets
- Betadine or any antiseptic cream
- Moov spray (aches, & sprains)
Here are pictures from September, shot by Vinay Joshi
Day 2: Kafnu to Mulling
Day 3: Mulling to Karah
Day 4: Karah to Phustirang
Day 5: Phustirang to Mangrungse
Day 6: Mangrungse to Mudh
Trek fee: Rs. 11,450/-
Service tax at 9% is payable on the trek fee
- Accommodation during the trek (camping- 3 per tent; guest house at Kafnu and Kaza)
- All meals – vegetarian
- Trekking permits and forest camping charges
- Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
- Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretcher, etc.)
- Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
- Services of an expert trek team (guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
- Transport from Mudh to Kaza
- Transport to and from the base camp (Shimla to Kafnu and return from Kaza to Manali)
- Food en route (to and from the base camp)
- Backpack offloading charges – Rs.1,500 + 9% service tax. 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.
- Stay at Shimla / Manali on the last day is not included
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from the inclusions
Terms & Conditions
1. Cancellation: If a trek is called off at the last moment due to a natural calamity/unforseen circumstances (like rains, earthquake, landslides, strike, bandh etc), Indiahikes will issue a trek voucher for the full amount. The voucher can be redeemed for the same trek or another trek in the next one year.
In case, you wish to cancel your trek, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellation requests are not taken over phone.
The cancellation charges are as under
Cancellations prior to 30 days from the start of the trek — full refund.
Cancellation between 30 days and 20 days to the start of the trek — 50% refund.
Cancellation less than 20 days to the start of the trek — no refund.
Please note: In case of refund, there will be a deduction of 4% (bank charges) from the total fee you have paid.
2.The trek fee includes all costs of the trek from the start at the Kafnu base camp to the end at Kaza.
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 Kaza to Manali can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost Rs. 5,500 per vehicle, one way from Shimla to Kafnu. From Kaza to Manali, the cost of a Sumo vehicle is Rs.9000, 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 offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charges -Rs. 1,500/- plus service tax of 9%. Charges for last minute offloading during the trek will be Rs 335 per day plus service tax of 9%. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kgs. No suitcases/strolleys/duffel bags will be allowed.
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 Bhabha Pass Trek?
The Pin Bhabha 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.
Exit points on the Pin Bhabha 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 Phustirang 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.
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.
Drive from Shimla to Kafnu
- Base Camp: Kafnu
- Distance covered: 205 km
- Average time taken: 6 hours
The beautiful city of Shimla needs no introduction. Your journey to Kafnu starts from here. Buses and private vehicles are available from Shimla to Kafnu. A sumo can be hired for Rs. 7000/- and it can accommodate 5 to 6 trekkers for the onward journey to Kafnu.
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.
You will stay at Kafnu for the night. Accommodation will be pre-arranged in a hotel called ‘Lake View Resort’. It’s important to use the day to rest well in preparation for the trek to Muling tomorrow.
Pin Bhaba Pass Trek Map
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