Pin Bhaba Pass vs Pin Parvati Pass: Which trek to choose?

These sister treks are often spoken about in the same breath. Both are high cross over treks. Both have similar difficulty levels. Both have the extraordinary mountain scenery of Spiti Valley.

Both treks are run by Indiahikes.

So which do you choose?

I’ll lay out the attractions of both treks, then at the end I’ll help you choose.

As we have it, Pin Parvati Pass is the more glamorous cousin. The glamour lies in its legacy. It is one of the oldest extreme altitude treks in India. Seasoned trekkers have done this menacing trek and often been awestruck in the end.

Pin Bhaba Pass on the other hand is a trek people have vaguely heard of, if at all. Yet, head to head, the Pin Bhaba would be the docile, prettier sister of the two.

Altitude

Sometimes, trekkers do treks simply for the altitude. For them, getting to a very high altitude is a worthy prize. On this point, Pin Parvati scores. It rises to 17,450 ft at the pass. Pin Bhaba, on the other hand, is at a modest 16,100 ft at the pass. I say “modest”, but to give you a comparison, at the Pin Bhaba pass you are higher than most Indiahikes treks. So don’t scoff at it.

Trekking in the Himalayas- Pin Bhaba vs Pin Parvati-Indiahikes
From Pin Bhaba Pass at 16,100 ft, you descend to the pink and purple hues of Pin valley. PC: Sandhya Uc

Difficulty

When you compare the two, Pin Parvati is a longer trek. It takes 9-10 days to complete this trek. Most trekking days are long too – easily 7-8 hours on an average day. Some days are longer.

Pin Bhaba is a more relaxed trek. The trek lasts 6-7 days, with trekking time topping at around 6 hours per day. Like most treks, the pass day is long on the Pin Bhaba trek. It takes about 10 hours.

From a trekker’s angle, the effort required on the Pin Parvati trek is much higher. The Pin Bhaba trek is difficult too, but not as difficult as Pin Parvati.

The trekking time on the Pin Bhaba trek is around 6 hours per day, with only pass crossing day clocking time at 10 hours. PC: Sandhya UC

Terrain risks

Pin Parvati has rugged terrain, there’s no two ways about it. There are precarious overhangs over the Pin river on Day 2, which are not for the faint-hearted. Descending from the pass in never-ending scree is rough on the legs. The trail is often slippery too. Later, around Tunda Bhuj, there is a palm-sweating river-crossing over boulders. Such a river-crossing is never easy when there is a thundering river flowing below.

In comparison, Pin Bhaba has no such life-threatening risks. The trickiest section would be when you are getting off from the pass. The slope is steep. Snow slides are eminent. Later, descent is on a rough stony trail that is hard on your knees. But it presents no danger.

Trekking in the Himalayas- Pin Bhaba vs pin Parvati- Indiahikes
Pandu pul at Tunda Bhuj on Pin Parvati Pass trail. This river crossing on boulders, with a thundering river below, is a palm-sweating experience. PC: Sandeep Janardhan

Scenery

The Pin River

Well, both treks have spectacular mountain scenery. They have Spiti in common. Pin Parvati starts from Mudh in Spiti, whereas Pin Bhaba ends in Mudh. It is one of the most remote corners of Spiti. So you get to see a desert landscape that is even better than Ladakh. However, even though both trails run alongside the same Pin river, the Pin Bhaba side appears more attractive. It fans out wider on the Pin Bhaba side, making it more aesthetically pleasing.

The Bhaba river breaks into streams near Phutsirang. Unlike the thunderous Parvati, Bhaba river makes for a gentle companion on your trek. Picture by Sandhya UC

Forest trails

Head to head, Pin Bhaba has a lovelier forest trail than the Pin Parvati. That’s because the Bhaba River cuts through the forest in unimaginable beautiful curves. Added to that, the forest, with its delicious pine and maple cover is fairytale-like.

The Bhaba River cuts into the forests on the trail in beautiful curves. This is a rare sight on any trek. Picture by Arjun Majumdar

Grasslands

Higher up, popping into expansive grasslands, Pin Bhaba overshadows Pin Parvati. The meadows and grasslands are very Kashmir-like. The grasslands sweep with clusters of forests in between. The high altitude grassland camp at Khara is a feast for the eyes. The final camp at Phutsirang beside a river delta is dreamy. With a rest day here and an endless opportunity to explore the inner hills, it makes it even more special.

Trekking in the Himalayas- Pin Bhaba vs Pin Parvati- Indiahikes
The Phutsirang campsite below Pin Bhaba Pass. This campsite, on river delta, is dreamy. Picture by Sandhya Uc

Wide Valley Views

Pin Parvati, on the other hand, has terrific wide valley views, especially between Mantalai and Odi Thatch. Both camps at Mantalai and Odi Thatch are settings trekkers swear by. With flower beds around with the Parvati gently floating by things don’t get better than this. Even the snow field after getting off the pass is so vast that it boggles the mind. Later when the valley narrows shrubbery increases. From Tunda bhuj the trail gets into a lovely forest until Kheerganga. The forest continues until Barshaini, which is rather nice.

The campsites of Tunda Bhuj is right behind  Odi Thatch and Mantalai as one of the most beautiful campsites on the Pin Parvati trek. This campsite is in the bowl higher up on mountain, above the river. You can see waterfalls descending into mist at the cliff faces. Picture by Sandeep Janardhan

Snow

Both treks are best done from July until September, perhaps going up to mid-October. In July, you are likely to see a good amount of snow on both treks. Pin Parvati has more snow on the pass than Pin Bhaba. No surprises there about why snowfields are such a big attraction at Pin Parvati.

September is when you get the least snow cover, which is perhaps the best month to do these treks.

Expect the first bout of winter snow in the first week of October. This can make climbing on both treks somewhat tricky. Which is why after mid-October it is not wise to do these treks.

trekking in the himalayas- pin parvati vs pin bhaba- indiahikes- anuja gupta
Snowfields at the Pin Parvati Pass. The Pass has good amount of snow in the month of July. PC: Anuja Gupta

The verdict

Both, Pin Bhaba and Pin Parvati, are terrific crossover treks. Trekking in the colourful deserts of Spiti is a dream most trekkers cherish. On both these treks, along with Spiti, you see a luscious green side of Himachal. I don’t think trekkers can ask for anything more.

Both treks are challenging. They require good preparation before attempting them. They have well-deserved rewards too.

But if I have to choose from the two, I’d go for Pin Bhaba. What would move me towards Pin Bhaba is the mountain scenery. I have not seen such graceful grasslands, such lovely forests, and terrain with a different landscape every day in quite a while. And that’s only on the Bhaba side. On the Spiti side, well, less said the better. The colours of Spiti are astounding. The challenge of climbing a 16 thousand feet pass is there to take too.

All in all, it is a trek for those who want to move beyond the Rupin Pass and the Roopkunds. Pin Bhaba gives the thrill plus the jaw-dropping scenery that leave you thunderstruck for a long long time.

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Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. Long years of trekking and facing problems in getting information about trails led Arjun to start Indiahikes. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indaihikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India.

3 thoughts on “Pin Bhaba Pass vs Pin Parvati Pass: Which trek to choose?

  1. I will try Pin Bhaba trek first and later Pin Parvati.
    Next year pukka,as this year I am doing 2 high range treks
    in the Himalayas in d month of September.

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