Rupin Pass – A Change in Scenery at Every Turn
If there is a classic trek in India, it has to be the Rupin Pass. This trek is like an orchestra, building up momentum with surprises in scenery every hour or so. With every step, the trek throws up a new vista to see, a new scenery to unfold. All along, to complement the scenery, the blue waters of the Rupin run along, sometimes rushing, at times gliding by. It culminates in the famous three stage water fall of the Rupin.
In the higher reaches the trek passes through superb snow fields. The pass crossing through an echoing snow filled gully is an adrenaline high. The Rupin Pass trek has got it all: hanging villages, terrific forests, glacial meadows, hundreds of water falls and an exhilarating pass crossing. As a complete experience Rupin is the trek to do.
Why we love Rupin Pass
“Rupin Pass is a trek that changed my life. And I don’t exaggerate. The sense of achievement I felt standing at the Pass, surrounded by snow fields, meeting the mountains of Kinnaur at eye-level, was unmatched. You don’t get to the Pass easily. It requires four long days of hardcore trekking through coniferous forests, meadows, overhangs and the Rupin River Valley. You really have to earn those 20 minutes at the Pass. And the reward is priceless. The confidence I felt while standing up there still stays with me. It makes me feel invincible.”
Rupin Pass is rated as a moderate-difficult trek. On an average you trek 5-6 hours and 10 km every day. You have to be well prepared to be able to cover this distance with ease. Terrain is another factor which determines difficulty. Trails are not very well defined at several sections. Ascents and descents on slippery mud, scree and hard snow are a part of the trek. The climb to Rati Pheri from Upper water fall and the steep ascent to Rupin Pass through the gully at 15,380 ft require very good cardio or lung power. While our Indiahikes staff help you tide over tricky slippery sections, you need to be a confident and independent trekker to do this trek. Here’s how you can prepare and get fit for the trek.
Day 1: Reach Dhaula
Dhaula (5,100 ft) is the base for the Rupin Pass trek. It is a sleepy hamlet of a dozen homes and the last road head of Uttarakhand.
The drive to Dhaula is on beautiful mountain roads and steadily gain altitude as you reach Dhaula. Deep valleys and thick forest cover keep you company. You will have to reach Dehradun on your own, and from the Dehradun Railway Station transport will be organized to Dhaula at an additional cost. It is approximately a 10 hr drive.
- Altitude: 5,100 ft
- Time taken: 10-11 hours drive to Dhaula. Pick up from Dehradun at 6.30 am
Day 2: Dhaula to Sewa
- Altitude: 5,100 ft to 6,300 ft
- Time taken: 6 hours, 11 km
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Initial climb for a couple of hours followed by an easy, undulating walk with short climbs and drops.
- Water sources: You can refill you water bottles from the Rupin river.
Take the trail that starts at the village and heads up the valley to Sewa Gaon. Past a cattle shelter and an enormous collection of dung, the trail starts to climb sharply, 200 metres outside the village – a gentle reminder of more such climbs to come. The climb eases out in 20 minutes into the first change of scenery: the Rupin fans out 500 ft below you into a wide river bed. Friendly villages hang out of the hills on either side. Village kids scamper about with their shy smile and a gentle Namaste.
A curve in the trail and the next change in scenery: the Rupin careens out of a gorge. A sheer cliff face towers over the river so high that clumps of clouds hang about its face immobile and undecided. On the other slope, the trekking trail snakes its way up through apple and apricot trees.
Half an hour into the ascending trail, stop by at a road side eatery and the only one you’ll find before getting to Sewa. If you are lucky, a friendly girl will take your order for tea and biscuits. She is the owner, manager, cook and the washer woman of the place. Sip the much welcome tea and enjoy the view of the cliff face looming over you and the sound of the Rupin pounding at the bottom of the gorge many hundred feet below.
Sewa at 6,300 ft is your camp for the day. Visit the village temple adorned with medals and an electric clock.
The two storey temple combines local and Kinnaur traditions, not surprising with the Himachal border so close.
The temple is said to be a combination of classical and local folk art mastered by the local kingly clans who once use to rule the Tons and Kinnaur regions. To understand the true theocratic character and historical background, one can look at its details – such as the Kinnauri carvings on the wood, the old relics of local deities, the old coins engraved on the walls.
The temple was build in reverence to “Karna” from Mahabharata. Look out for old hanging medallions of sorts on the walls. Not much is known about the symbolism of the temple. If you want to read more about these temples history and architecture, we suggest reading “Temple Architecture of the Western Himalaya: Wooden Temples” by Omacanda H.
Day 3: Sewa to Jiskun
- Altitude: 6,300 ft to 7,700 ft
- Time taken: 5 hours, 8 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Easy walk for the first 3 hours followed by a steep ascent to Jiskun for 2 hours.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Sewa. Water sources are available up to about an hour before you reach Jiskun.
The trail out of Sewa cuts across a mixture of barley and potato fields and suddenly dips into a deep dark jungle – so thick that the darkness is overpowering. The descent through the mixed forest over a slushy and often smelly trail pops out into the bright river bed of the Rupin. A change so sudden and different that you need to look back just to check your bearings. For the first time on the trek you actually trek on the river and not alongside it.
Gleefully hop over and crisscross the many rivulets of the river. Veer to your left and join the trail that goes over a small wooden bridge across a stream that flows into the Rupin. Spend some time on the bridge, which is no-man’s land. On either side are the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
In fifteen minutes you get down to the bank of the river where you can easily pitch 7-8 tents. This place is called as Haldi Khad. The trail goes flat until you climb up from the banks to the roadhead of Gosangu.
The village of Dodra, the remotest Tehsil of Himachal, is above Gosangu and takes a half hour climb to get there. If you decide to break your trek at Gosangu, you can get buses to Rohru and then to Shimla from Dodra. The other end of the road climbs up to Kitwari, where there’s a BSNL tower coming up.
Prepare yourself for a bit of huff and puff that the trail has in store for you for the day. The good bit is that the climb sections are always followed by gentle level walks.
Take the road towards Kwar, cross the wooden bridge and head towards the iron bridge over the Rupin. Just before the road takes a dip to meet the river, take any of the trails on the left that climb and meet with the overhanging trail to Jiskun.
Once on the main trail to Jiskun, the changing sights start to confront you relentlessly. First, the trail itself: what was until now a wide bodied path suddenly turns into a narrow trail. The mountain slope no longer gentle, but a towering precipice, climbs interminably. The trail hangs out of the face, like a lip. As you peer over the edge, far below, the Rupin glistens as the sun catches its rapids.
A bend in the trail, a short clamber over a narrow section and you stop short: a sight least expected. A picturesque waterfall cascades down on the trail, it’s source so high above that you can’t see it. The water so gentle and fine, yet with so much volume, that you want to take in a shower. Spend a while taking pictures — and perhaps even a refreshing swipe under it.
Another few anxious moments of overhanging trail walk and you come to a rapidly flowing stream, the Raj Gad. This is an ideal place to take a breather – after this is a long climb to Jiskun village. Take off your shoes to cross this stream. You don’t want to get your feet and boots wet at this stage.
The trail forks immediately as the Raj Gad vanishes from view behind you. Both trails look suspiciously similar. Take the trail heading up. It is a long hour’s climb to Jiskun village.
Jiskun, high above the confluence of Nargani and Rupin, is a village in two parts — lower Jiskun is now called Bawta. For a trekker it is a welcome break. You sight a friendly tea house for a much welcome rest. Soon after the trail winds endlessly up, until you reach upper Jiskun half an hour later. Cross the first post office of Himachal Pradesh, and take a break at the many eateries here. Jiskun is a good place to replenish your supplies if you are running short. There are local stores where you can stock up on your rice, wheat, sugar, spices and vegetables.
Day 4: Jiskun to Udaknal
- Altitude: 7,700 ft to 10,100ft
- Time taken: 6 hours, 8 km
- Trek gradient: Difficult. An hour’s descent followed by an hour’s steep ascent, easing off till the fir forest. Steep descent for an hour followed by a gentle walk.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at Jhaka, 3.5 km from Jiskun. An hour’s descent from Jhaka will bring you to the Rupin river, which will stay with you for the rest of the day.
It is a 3½ km walk to Jakha, the highest and the last village on the Rupin pass trek. The trail out of Jiskun descends rapidly through a forest of deodars and walnut until it reaches an enchanting dark fold in the mountain. The fold’s upper reaches are dark and beyond human touch. Sight the remains of an old wooden bridge, almost hidden in the foliage. Below, at eye level, cross the new wooden bridge and crane your neck up to an eerie trail cut out of the rock face. So out of place and strange, you need moments to fathom how this was built and who made them.
The next one hour climb to Jakha is through one of the best trekking trails. The scenery changes frequently. The trail initially zig-zags up on the ridge line of the slope. Looking up from below, the trail appears ominous, reaching out to the sky. Once you start climbing it isn’t as monumental as it looks. The trail winds through an enchanting mixed forest – with cliff faces on the other side of the valley and whistling birds keeping you company on this side. Two thirds of the way up, watch out for an equally broad trail that forks to your left. The other trail heads up to a village, Dhara, higher than Jakha. Stick to the trail that veers to the right.
The trail mostly climbs with one gentle walk in between. Jakha is a village completely enveloped in the ways of the Satsang. No meat is taken here. Avoid asking for any live animals or eating meat out of canned tins. The campsite is just above the village and doubles up as the children’s playground. An alternative campsite is the school courtyard itself.
Jakha is the last stop to replenish your supplies and also to look for porters if you are running short of either. For the next few days of your trek, there is rarely a soul you’ll encounter, except shepherds tending to their flocks. This is how it is until you reach Sangla.
The well defined trail ascends past the playground, passing through fields of the upper Jakha village before entering a magnificent fir forest. The entry to the forest is again so sudden that it is almost like someone has opened up a gate to let you in. The towering blue pines, each more than few centuries old, take you through pristine and untouched surroundings. If you have a keen eye, catch a few maple trees within the pines, their golden orange leaves strewn amidst the pine cones.
On the other side of the trail, high above, cliffs hang over the V-shaped valley. In their crags you notice the first patches of snow. An hour into the descending walk through the fir forest, and around a bend in the trail, is the biggest surprise of the day.
Stretched under is a vast snow bridge across the Rupin – the last thing that you would expect on the trail. With no trace of snow earlier and only glimpses of snow patches at higher ground, finding a snow bridge at a lower height will make you gasp.
Run down to the snow bridge, put on your sunglasses, and for the first time on the trek feel snow under your boots. The snow bridge is magnificent, with the Rupin carving out gaps and holes through it. Climb up to the higher reaches of the snow bridge, cross the Rupin and get on to the trail on the other side.
Note: During some blistering summer years the snow bridge melts with no chance of crossing. But don’t worry, the original trail, after a brief crossing of a tributary stream over wooden logs, continues further until you come to a wooden bridge that gets you to the other side of the Rupin.
The trail is no longer wide but a narrow foot trodden path made by passing cattle and the shepherds. Follow the trail until you get to a wooden bridge mentioned above. Do not cross the bridge, but carry on with the Rupin on your left.
The bridge has its advantages though. Higher up, to the right of the bridge is the first open grassland of Udakanal. Trekkers often camp here. But 2½ hrs out of Jakha is hardly the time to camp. Carry on further for more excitement stored for the day.
The scenery is rather different form what you have left behind. Most times the trail follows the course of the Rupin. Little tributaries from the upper reaches of the mountain flow into the Rupin, their bottom characterized with perennial snow patches. Often you are walking on the boulder strewn river bed. The Rupin changes colour to a glorious icy blue – the water clear as crystal. No need to look for water to quench your thirst – just dip into the Rupin.
After an hour and half of intermittent boulder walk, and hopping over many cascading streams that feed the Rupin, the trail climbs and heads to the right, heading for a clump of forest. Just before the trail enters there forest, you are met with a small open grass land. It is easily recognizable by a big rivulet that gushes out of the hill side – the water pure and clean. This is Burans Kandi, an excellent place to camp if you don’t mind the many cows that graze in the bounties of nature here.
Day 5: Udaknal to Dhanderas thatch (lower water fall camp)
- Altitude: 10,100 ft to 11,700 ft
- Time taken: 5 hours, 6 km
- Trek gradient: Easy-moderate. Gradual ascent all the way; tricky terrain over the snow bridge.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill water bottles from the river.
Below, the Rupin thunders on. On the opposite bank, huge snow patches cover the gullies that once were part of glaciers feeding the river. A clump of forest starts just outside the camp area, and before you know it, you are in deep foliage.
The ascent is steep. The Rupin next to you and on your left climbs along rapidly in a series of mini water falls. The climb isn’t for long. Ten minutes later it evens out to leave you speechless. You are surrounded by thousands of Rhododendrons in full bloom. Where did they come from? They are in myriad colours – white, pink, purple. They are everywhere. The Rhododendrons are the dwarf kind and rarely cross your chest. The trail weaves through the roots of the plants and some hang out on the Rupin – their flowers touching the clear waters of the river.
A small clearing and the Rhododendrons now adorn the slopes, the plants climbing a few thousand feet into the air. Walk a bit further to a bigger clearing and get your second surprise of the day. You are in a glade with the Rupin on your left forking to give away to a little island. The island has a carpet of green grass, lush with life. Right in the middle are a few Silver birch trees completing a picture of utmost serenity. Just as you thought that the glade was a pretty sight, for the first time on your trek you catch a glimpse of the famous Rupin waterfall in the far distance. You can’t help but gasp. The sight of the U-shaped valley and the Rupin climbing down from the clouds above will make you hold on to something just to steady yourself. Bet on excitement to set in as you relish the prospect of an amazing adventure in store.
The day’s walk is perhaps one of the best you’ll ever do. What’s amazing about Saruwas thatch is the sight of the Rupin gushing out of a gorge just ahead and to your left. While everyone’s seen a gorge from above, very few can claim to see a gorge at eye level.The heady sight behind you, walk along an even trail with snow patches on the mountain side to your right getting bigger and lower around you. Silver birches (Bhoj trees) are common, their barks peeling off to reveal the sacred Bhoj leaves. Collect a few as souvenirs. The legend goes that the epic Ramayana was written on these leaves. Climb to a bump on the trail – and let the big surprise of the day overcome you.
The climb through forest and shrubs makes way to a grand amphitheater of green. You stand on the edge and enjoy front row seats of a grand scale production. As you peer from the lip of the U-Shaped valley you notice thousands of waterfalls cascading down its brown walls to meet the Rupin. In contrast, laid out in front of you are miles of green meadows, dotted with thousands of yellow marigolds. And in between the undulating meadows the Rupin gracefully snakes its way down from its source. To top the scenery you have white snow patches lying scattered all along on the edges of the meadows.
Climb down to the valley of yellow marigolds. Enjoy the gentle undulating walk to the first hurdle of your trek: a snow bridge over the Rupin. The slope of the snow bridge is much steeper than you can anticipate. Get a good grip and try to climb upward and higher. The steep bit isn’t for long and the flat of the snow bridge is a thrill to walk on. Crossing the snow bridge is easy and soon you are on the left bank of the Rupin.
The walk climbs gently through the lushness of the meadows. Every few steps tiny brooks gurgle under your boots as you hipety hop over them. Wild flowers sprout everywhere. This time they are blue, purple, green, yellow and white. The Rupin gently makes it way down the valley, an icy blue.
Cross a big boulder sitting on the edge of the river and find the Rupin fanning out into a wide river bed. Step on the river bed and walk along its edge and reach the base of another snow bridge, the biggest of all you have come cross. Climb on to the snow bridge and cross the Rupin once more, bringing you to the base of a short climb that leads to a plateau above.
The climb is like inching along near the top of a roller coaster ride, waiting, anticipating for the next view. It doesn’t disappoint you. You have arrived at the prettiest meadow of the trek, a site so beautiful, that you want to set up camp right there. And you do, for no Himalayan camp site can better the location. You are in the middle of the valley’s bowl. Ahead, the Rupin thunders down its three stages of waterfall. Beyond the waterfall is the alpine Dhauladar Range looming large. On your two sides are the snowy valley walls with their numerous waterfalls.
Water isn’t a problem. You just have to walk in any direction to find a crystal clear icy rivulet passing by. Pitch tent but sit out on the grandest landscaped lawn that nature can serve up. This is Dhanderas Thatch.
Day 6: Acclimatization day at Dhanderas Thatch
Day 7: Dhanderas thatch to Upper Waterfall camp
- Altitude: 11,700 ft to 13,100 ft
- Time taken: 3 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuously climbing trail, tricky around the snow patches at the base and top of the water fall.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at streams.
This is perhaps the most important day of your trek. The acclimatization climb to the top of the waterfall will help you immensely for a super successful climb to the Rupin pass.
From Dhanderas Thatch the altitude gain for the Rupin pass crossing is almost 2,500 ft. It is considerable and it is almost certain that many will suffer from altitude sickness. It makes better sense to climb up about 1,500 ft to the top of the waterfall, allow your body to feel the effects of the altitude. Acclimatized somewhat, your body is better prepared for the grueling climb to the Rupin pass the next day. Unlike most days, start your day at leisure. Let strength come back to your limbs. After breakfast, prepare for the climb to the top of the waterfall.
It is about a kilometer to the base of the waterfall from Dhanderas Thatch. On the way you’ll get plenty of streams to hop and jump over and the wild display of yellow marigolds. Sometimes, the marigolds are laid out in a carpet and you just want to lie down on them.
Things get serious when you reach the snow patch at the base of the waterfall. Avoid getting on the snow patch directly, but climb against its side on the boulder strewn hill side until you come to the trail that cuts across the snow patch. It would make sense to have a stick or trekking pole for support. An ice-axe is extremely helpful here. If the trail has already been made on the ice-patch, send a prayer of thanks upwards. If the trail is barely visible, then start cutting steps with your boots or ice-axe and slowly inch your way across the ice patch. This brings you to the top of the lower water fall.
(Note: the step cutting is invaluable and can save your life from a slip or a fall)
It is another similar series of snow patch crossing and intermittent climbs before you are on to the big snow bridge over the Rupin. The sight is spectacular when you stand on the middle of the snow bridge and look up to the waterfall and watch the Rupin disappear under your feet hidden somewhere under the snow bridge. At this spot you are over the middle water fall.
Crossing over to the other side of the Rupin, it is a steep climb flanking the slopes that leads to the top of the waterfall. It is like climbing a series of ledges (and a minor snow patch) before getting down to the meadow at the top of the waterfall.
For the first time you catch a view of what it is actually like at the top of the waterfall. It is quite unlike what you expected, keeping to the tradition of surprises of the Rupin trail. It is a wide meadow, reaching out to a flat bowl. Streams fed from the alpine snowy flank that converge on the bowl merge together to form the Rupin.
Get down to the snout of the waterfall and sit on the edge. Dangle your legs over as you watch the Rupin crash down to the valley below. This is the top of the waterfall, a spot that has been in your sight the last two days.
Day 8: Upper Waterfall camp to Rupin Pass via Rati Pheri, further on to Ronti Gad
- Altitude: 13,100 ft to 15,380 ft to 13,100 ft
- Time taken: 10-11 hours
- Trek gradient: Difficult. Steep climb to the pass followed by a steep decent.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water from the camp before starting. Refill your water bottles completely at Rati Pheri – 1 hour after you begin. Water sources will be limited hereafter.
Steep climb to the pass followed by a sharp descent. This is the longest day of your trek and the most gruelling – and perhaps the most exciting too. It has enough adventure in store to haunt your memories for a long time.
Start your day even before sun up. Make sure you are out of the camp by 5:00 am. Carry breakfast with you. You’ll need the energy boost for your brief halt at the top of the pass.
The trail to Rati Pheri starts out to the left of the meadow, climbing steeply along a snow patch that looks a mile long. The climb gains altitude in bountiful. An hour into the climb, the ascent veers left, rounding the shoulder of a ridge and opens out to the camping grounds of Rati Pheri. Stop here for a breather and much needed drink of water (and also fill your bottles for water source is limited until you cross the pass). Also, marvel at the change in scenery.
The Rupin valley that has been your companion for the last six days is lost to view, and the alpine Dhauladar range takes its place to your right and across the valley. It is now snow fields and alpine country till you get to the Rupin pass. This is a good time to put on your gaiters if you are carrying them.
From Rati Pheri, for the first time, across vast acres of snow fields, you get a glimpse of the Rupin pass, a tiny gap on the ridge line of the Dhauladar. It looks so far away, that the thought of actually climbing through the gap does not register.
The slow walk over the undulating snow fields is endless. The snow makes the going difficult. At times you are going to slip and slide a few meters. At times your foot is going to sink in up to the thighs. But never is it going to get so difficult that it scares the life out of you. The scenery is singularly white.
There are no tracks on the snow and you need to keep a general sense of direction towards the Rupin pass gully. The good news is, there are hardly any chances of losing your way, and if you keep your sight on the pass and stick to your right, you will eventually, after an arduous trek of an hour and half, come to the foot of the Rupin pass gully.
Rest for a while, collect your breath and prepare yourself for a thrilling adventurous climb through the Rupin pass gully.
A word of caution here: The trek through the gully is a short climb of about 200 meters. What makes the climb tricky is the loose stones and boulders (scree) that line its entire length. Add to it the initial climb leading to the gully over a steep snowy flank of the slope. Footholds on the icy slope are difficult to find and scrambling on all fours is sometimes the only option. An ice-axe to cut steps is extremely handy here.
It is a good idea to let your guides and porters go in advance as they can mark out the route for you. In addition they can give you precious hand-holds in some of the tricky stretches.
Climb in a single file and place your step in the hollow of the footstep in front. Watch for falling stones and rocks and gingerly make your way to the base of the gully.
The gully is a half tube cut out of the mountain side. Voices echo and travel sharply all over the gully. Conversations at regular tone get amplified and it is fun listening to the travails of the trekkers as they make their way up the gully.
Crane your neck up to the mouth of the gully. A multitude of prayer flags flutters in the high winds that blow across. You are looking at the Rupin pass.
The climb through the gully is as thrilling as it gets. The rocky world is surreal. The anticipation of reaching the pass exhilarating. It won’t take you more than fifteen to twenty minutes to get to the top of the pass.
The pass is a saddle on a ridge line cutting its way through and across the Dhauladar range. For the first time you catch views of the Sangla side of the mountain – and you are again spun into the world of eternal surprises of the trek. The green open mountainscape is so much in stark contrast to the snow and alpine country behind you that it takes a while for the scenery to sink in.
The Rupin Pass
Hundreds of little stone cairns line up the ridge line of the Rupin pass. Multicolour prayer flags flutter in the high winds of the pass. All around are the many branches of the Dhauladar range, like a spider’s legs branching off from the Rupin pass.
On the Sangla side, the descent is steep and the only place to camp is in the vast meadows below the snowline. Unlike the Rupin side, getting down to the snowline is quicker and steeper.
Step out of the pass and slide down the chutes of the snow. And if you think you can walk down the slope (like I did), that’s a big mistake. There’s only one way to get down and that’s on your bottom.
The slide down the slope is in three stages and each them is so much fun that you want to do it again. Grown ups squeal and whoop in delight as the rush of sliding the slope brings to surface the little ones in everyone. Within minutes you lose about 400 ft in altitude.
After the slides the slope evens out to a more manageable trudge over snow. Numerous melting streams trickle out of the snow below your feet joining the now roaring feeder of the Rukti gad.
It takes slightly more than an hour to get to the edge of the snowline. Looking back, Rupin pass is high above, a speck in the ridge line.
From the snowline, there is a sharp descent to the endless meadows that stretches all the way to Sangla Kanda (3 hours away). At the base of the descent there is a clear bountiful stream. Pitch camp at the even grounds that is around it. Remnant of old camping fire are another way to recognize the camping ground – otherwise indistinguishable from the surrounding. This is the camping grounds of Ronti Gad – another green paradise on earth.
You are again in meadows land – but the scenery is different. Towering, snow capped mountains lean over the campsite. The visual is a blend of whites of the snows and the greens of the meadows. A just reward for a hard day’s trekking, starting at 13,100 ft, climbing to 15,380 ft and then dropping down to 13,100 ft. At Ronti Gad you are going to spend your coldest night of the trek, so dive into your sleeping bags early for a well deserved rest.
Day 9: Ronti Gad to Sangla Via Sangla Kanda
- Altitude: 13,100 ft to 8,600 ft via 11,427 ft
- Time taken: 6 hours
- Trek gradient: Moderate – difficult. You will be constantly descending today.
- Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You will find several water taps along the trail as you begin to approach villages.
The descent to Sangla is hell on your knees and toes but makes up for everything with its ever changing scenery. For the first time you get to view the Kinner Kailash range and the blue pines of the Baspa valley.
Start the day leisurely but not too late. The descent will make you lose height rapidly and it can get rather warm near Sangla (that’s all comparative with the chilling height of the Rupin Pass)
The trail out of the campsite is a shepherd’s trail that heads to the valley below. After days you will come across shepherds tending to their flocks. Multiple trails join your path and some go away from it. If you come to two trails that look alike and you want to make a choice, it doesn’t matter. All of them lead to Sangla Kanda. Only, avoid the trails that head down to the river.
After an hour and half and a drop of over a 1,500 ft, the trail leaves the narrow valley of the Ronti Gad, veers left and opens out to the valley overlooking the Rukti Gad. To the right, is the snow bound Nalgani pass, a gentle reminder of a trek for another day.
The meadows abound the entire slope of the mountains, the snows behind and out of sight. What takes your breath away is the sudden appearance of the Kinner Kailash range right in front. The sharp serrated edge of the range all over 20,000 ft overlooking the meadows of Sangla Kanda is enough to make you stand still, awed by the moment — that has now become an expected twist and turn of the Rupin pass trek plot.
Far below are the first signs of civilization – the lake of Sangla Kanda and the tiny settlement of the village. It takes another hour and half to get to the village. The sharp descent would have taken a toll on your toes and knees – and the village is a good place to take a break. The villagers are warm and friendly and you can always get yourself a warm cup of tea exchanging stories of your climb to the Rupin pass.
There are many trails that lead out of Sangla Kanda to Sangla. Ask a villager for directions or take any trail that turns right. Most trails would join the main trail that skirts its way around and below the lake. After days, you get below the tree line – and almost welcome it.
The mixed vegetation abruptly gives way to a forest of blue pines – the last of the surprises of the trek. The trail to Sangla is now entirely along the Rukti Gad (about 500-700 ft below). The descent through the pines is refreshing and occasionally you come across hectic activity of a road being built. The road is a feeder that in future would connect Sangla and Kanda – a much needed infrastructure for the locals but a blob in the landscape for a trekker from the Rupin pass.
The trail is broad and descends rapidly to Sangla passing quaint wooden houses and step farms. The woods of the blue pine give way to apple orchards and more of civilization. Telephone lines, a resting place in the middle of the track, cell phone connectivity and you know Sangla is not too much further off.
Half an hour later and a sharp descent to the Baspa along a school with children in uniform, you get to the bridge below the forest rest house. Cross the muddy waters of the Baspa, look back one last time at the blue pines behind and above you – a symbol of a trek that is part of the best that the country can give you.
Footnote: From the bridge over the Baspa, it is a steep 20 minute climb to the motorable road at Sangla. There are many concrete lanes that you can take to get to the main road and some wind their way without seeming to go anywhere. Ask for directions to the bus stand, though the route is clearly marked in paint.
At the bus stand, there are restaurants where you can eat and places to stay. Most of them are good and offer basic bed and bedding. Charges are reasonable and quite negotiable. The last bus to Shimla leaves at 5:00 pm and gets to Shimla at 3:00 am the following day.
To read about trekkers’ experiences at Rupin Pass, you can read their trek blogs here.
How to prepare for the Rupin Pass trek
Rupin Pass is a moderate – difficult trek. No two ways about it. Every day, you cover around 10 km on an average and gain a good amount of altitude. Over 4 days, you climb from 5,100 ft to a highest point of 15,380 ft. So you gain 10,000 ft over just the first five days of trekking! If you want to do this trek comfortably and enjoy all the surprises it offers, you will need to prepare well.
Cardiovascular endurance – Target 10 km in 60 minutes before the start of the trek
The Rupin Pass trek requires a good amount of endurance and stamina. 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. In case you’re just starting with a regular fitness routine, you can phase out your targets in the following manner –
- Target completing 5 km in 35 minutes when you begin
- Gradually bring up your speed to do 5 km in 30 minutes
- Start increasing the distance you jog to get to 10 km in 70 minutes
Before the start of the trek, get to 10 km in 60 minutes.
Prepare for ascents
To prepare yourself for the steep climbs, you can add stair-climbing to your routine as well. The second and third day have long stretches of ascents to Jiskun and Jhaka. Start simply by climbing upstairs for two minutes non-stop. Overtime, increase this to five-minute bursts of climbing, and take it to ten minutes with a short break in between.
Strength – Target 4 sets of squats with 20 in each
A stiff ascent at 15,000 ft in snow requires sheer body strength. Also, the last day of the trek from Rontigad to Sangla involves a killer descent of 12 km. This can be extremely taxing on your knee. So work on your core body strength and also your thighs, to take pressure off your knees. You can do some squats. Do three sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can include planks and crunches in your routine. This will help increase your core body strength.
When you’re working your muscles a lot, you need to keep them loose and flexible. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek.
Here is a chart that you can follow to get fit for your trek.
Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
Things to take on the Rupin Pass trek
- Trekking shoes: The Rupin Pass trek has different kinds of terrain. A majority of the trail is rugged, with rocks, loose soil and boulders. After the first few days on rugged terrain, you walk on lovely meadows and then on snow. So its imperative that you have a good pair of trekking shoes. So ensure you wear a good pair of shoes. You can learn how to select the right pair from this video.
- Backpack (40-60 litres): A backpack with sturdy straps and a supporting frame.
- Three warm layers: Here’s a video on how you can layer yourself.
- Three trek pants: Wear one pair and carry one pair. This should be enough. But your pants could get wet while sliding, so carry an extra pair.
- Three collared t-shirts: Carry light, full sleeved t-shirts that prevent sun burns on the neck and arms. 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 fall ill due to wet clothes and are often unable to complete their trek.
- Thermals: Carry thermals to keep warm at night. Keep them fresh. Don’t wear them while trekking.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness. They are mandatory.
- Suncap: The sun is more harsh on your skin at high altitude and will zap your energy quickly. Wearing a suncap will help.
- Synthetic hand gloves: One pair of water proof/resistant gloves.
- Balaclava: You may use woollen scarves instead as well.
- Socks (2 pairs): Apart from two sports socks, you can take a pair of woollen socks for the night.
- Headlamp/LED torch: Mandatory
- Trekking pole: Watch this video to understand why you need a trekking pole.
- Daypack (20 litres): This is required ONLY if you are offloading your backpack.
- Toiletries: Sunscreen, moisturiser, light towel, lip balm, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitiser. If you plan to use wet wipes to clean up after a trek, make sure you do not leave the used wipes/tissues back in the mountains since these are not biodegradable. The same holds for used sanitary napkins. 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, 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)
- Original and photocopy of government photo identity card- (driving license, voters ID, etc.)
- Medical Certificate – Download PDF
- Disclaimer- Download PDF
If you’re shopping or packing for the trek, you can download this quick and simple checklist for offline use.
Here’s a guide to help you pack for the trek –
Video on Rupin Pass by Tushar Ghei
Click on the images to see them full screen
Here are some photo contest entries by our trekkers for the months of September and October 2016
Here are picture from May and June, shot by Anirban Banerjee
Video on Rupin Pass by Shekar Babu
What you need to know about the trek fee
The trek fee of Rs. 14,950 + 5% GST covers all costs of the trek from Dhaula to Sangla.
Here is what the trek fee includes:
- Accommodation – Stay is included from Day 1 to Day 8 (Dhaula to Ronti Gad). You will be camping on all days of the trek (3 per tent).
- Meals – All meals from dinner at Dhaula on Day 1 to lunch on Day 9 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 to pick you up from Dehradun and drop you back from Sangla. This will cost approx. Rs. 6,000 per 5-6 seater vehicle to reach Dhaula and Rs.7,500 per vehicle form Sangla to Shimla. 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 Dhaula and return from Sangla.
- Backpack offloading charges – If you wish to offload your backpack, there will be an additional charge of Rs. 2,200 + 5% GST. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. 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 Dhaula (Rs.375 per day inclusive of taxes).
- Stay at Sangla/Shimla on the last day
- Personal expenses of any kind
- Anything apart from 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 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% (bank 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 cots of the trek from the start at Dhaula to the end at Sangla.
3. Pick up: Trekkers are picked up from Dehradun Railway Station at 6.30 am. Usually, trekkers are clubbed together with other participants to make a group. The group travels together to Dhaula in shared cabs.
4. Transport:Transport from Dehradun to Dhaula and return from Sangla to Shimla can be arranged by us at an extra cost. Participants are expected to share the cost of the cab (approximate cost of the cab: Rs. 6,000 for Dehradun to Dhaula per vehicle, one way; Rs.7,500 per vehicle from Sangla to Shimla). The amount is to be paid directly to our transporter. No GST is applicable on transport cost. Indiahikes only arranges the vehicle pick up and is not responsible for any issues during transport.
5. Backpack carrying: Indiahikes expects all trekkers to carry their own backpacks. All common gear will be carried by the support team. If for some reason a trekker is unable to carry his or her backpack, he/she can offload the same by paying an additional charge.
Backpack offloading charge for the entire trek duration is Rs. 2,200 plus GST of 5%. Partial offloading is not allowed. Charges will vary for last minute on slope offloading – Rs.375 per day inclusive of tax. The backpack cannot weigh more than 9 kg. 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. Cardiovascular training before a trek is critically important. Training must include strength and flexibility workout. We have laid out the eligibility criteria here. Registering for the trek is an understanding that you will undertake the mandated fitness training. 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. Route changes, postponement, delay or finishing the trek a day earlier: Under some extraordinary circumstance, your trek may end a day earlier or start a day later. This may become necessary due to inclement weather, snow and ice conditions, political restrictions or any other cause. In the event of a change, postponement or delay, participants have no right to refund of the trek (in whole or in part) or other compensation for any injury, loss or damage. Trek fee is not charged broken down in terms of days but is a composite fee for the whole trek.
12. 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 Indiahikes trek 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.
How safe is the Rupin Pass trek?
The Rupin Pass trek is a difficult one. The most difficult part of the trek is the crossing of the pass itself. The Rupin gully is steep, at around 45 degrees, with lots of fresh snow. It is short yet taxing but technical guides will lead your way and make sure that nothing untoward happens. Altitude is gained gradually but the Rupin Pass trek takes you to 15,350 feet. This is considered very high altitude. There are chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness though the trail is designed such that your body has enough time to acclimatise to the surroundings.
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.
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 Rupin Pass trek. Anyone who wants to register for the Rupin 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 Rupin 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.
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.
With all these processes and equipment in place, you can be rest assured that you will have a safe trek with Indiahikes.
Nevertheless, you will need to be cautious and report the slightest of symptoms to your trek leader as soon as you feel them.
What you compulsorily need to know if you’re going on the Rupin Pass trek
Acute Mountain Sickness:
On the Rupin Pass trek, the trail is designed such that your body has enough time to acclimatise to the surroundings. So probabilities of Acute Mountain Sickness are low, even though you hit a maximum altitude of 15,380 ft.
However, at campsites such as Udaknal, Dhanderas Thatch, Upper waterfall and Ronti Gad, AMS can hit anyone since these are all at very high altitudes. Hence, it is imperative that you take necessary precautions.
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 Rupin Pass trek
The closest exit on this trek is at Bawta, on the way to Jiskun (before crossing the pass), where there is a road head. After crossing the pass, the closest exit is at Sangla. Evacuation can take time, even 1-2 days, especially from high camps. Medical expenses, if required, at the medical centre are to be borne by the participant.
Depending on where in the trek a medical emergency occurs, there are different hospitals that you can access. On the Dhaula side, Purola has the closest hospital. If you’re a few days into the trek, then Rohru will have the most accessible hospital. Towards the end of the trek, your best option would be to reach Sangla, where you will find 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.
1. What is the style of accommodation in this trek?
Stay on all days of the trek will be in tents. Each tent accommodates three trekkers and will have to be shared accordingly.
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?
There will be snow in the months of May and June. The September-October season will not have any snow.
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 Dhaula?
Indiahikes will arrange pick – up vehicles/shared cabs from Dehradun to Dhaula, the base camp. This transport cost is to be borne by the trekkers and will amount to approximately Rs. 6,000 per vehicle. You will have to pay the driver directly. The drive to Dhaula will take 10-11 hours.
7. How do we get back after the trek?
Indiahikes arranges transport to Shimla from Sangla. You leave right after the trek and reach Shimla by 1.00 am. The cab cost of Rs.7,500 per vehicle (5-6 seater) is to be shared among trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
8. Which are the best seasons for the Rupin Pass trek?
There are 2 seasons for the Rupin Pass trek – if snow is what you’re looking for then May and June are good months to go. September and October are also great months to do this trek. This is when the rains subside, leaving the trail and campsites lush green.
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?
We recommend this trek for people with prior experience in high altitude trekking. Fitness holds the key for successfully completing this trek, so make sure that you are adequately prepared.
11. If not the Rupin Pass trek, what is a good alternative trek to do?
Goechala, which brings you face to face with Kanchenjuga, is a good alternative. The Pin Bhaba pass trek would be another good option. However, these are both difficult treks and will require a lot stamina and energy.
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.2,200 + 5% GST if you inform us in advance. If you decide to offload once you reach Dhaula, the amount will be Rs.375 per day inclusive of tax. 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.
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. However, the minimum age requirement for this trek is 12 years. So, if your child is physically fit, meets the age criterion, and has trekked before, you can bring her/him along.
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 house at Yuksom will have concrete toilets. On the other days, toilet tents will be set up along each campsite. There will be 2 or 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 bio-degradable.
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 water sources on the way on all days of the trek. Day 8 – the pass crossing day – is a long one, and there is only one source on the way, before the pass. So ensure you are well hydrated before starting the trek and refill your water bottles at this source.
18. Is there mobile network on this trek? Are there any electricity charging points on this trek?
Mobile network is available at Dhaula, Jiskun and Sangla. Make sure that you inform anxious family members about poor connectivity on the trail. There will be no electricity charging points on the trail.
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 – You will be picked up from Dehradun and the drive to Dhaula will take you 10-11 hours.
Day 2 – Dhaula to Sewa is a 6 hours trek.
Day 3 – Sewa to Jiskun will take you 6 hours to reach.
Day 4 – Jiskun to Udaknal is a 5 hours trek.
Day 5 – Udaknal to Dhanderas thatch is around a 5 hours trek.
Day 6 – This is an acclimatisation day at Dhanderas thatch.
Day 7 – Dhanderas to Upper waterfall camp is a short, 2 hour trek.
Day 8 – The trek across Rupin Pass to Ronti Gad is a long one, and will take you 10-11 hours to complete.
Day 9 – It is a 6 hour trek from Ronti Gad to Sangla via Sangla Kanda.
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 is there an acclimatisation day in the itinerary? Can I skip this?
We have introduced an acclimatisation day at Dhanderas thatch (Day 6) on the basis of our past experience. This is just below 12,000 ft, the point where you are most likely to be hit by AMS. This additional day is required to rest your body, allow it to get used to the altitude gain, and be prepared for the pass crossing day.
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 the basecamp – Dhaula
Delhi → Dehradun → Dhaula
The Rupin Pass trek starts from Dhaula, 197 km from Dehradun.
Indiahikes organises transport from Dehradun to Dhaula. The pick up is at 6.30 am from Dehradun Railway Station on Day 1. It costs Rs.6,000 per cab one way. This is not included in the fee. It is to be shared amongst trekkers and paid directly to the driver.
To reach Dehradun
The best way to reach Dehradun is to take an overnight train from Delhi. There are two trains available from Delhi to Dehradun.
- 12205 Nandadevi Express – 23.50 – 5.40
- 12055 DDN Jan Shatabdi – 15.20 – 21.10 (reach the previous night)
If you cannot find a train, then take a bus. To stay on the safe side, book buses online in advance. Book such that you have some buffer time to make it to Dehradun on time for the pick-up; buses usually get delayed.
Option 1: Sangla to Shimla by cab
The Rupin Pass trek ends at Sangla, which is a small touristy village in Himachal. From Sangla, we arrange a cab to Shimla. The cab will cost around Rs.7,500 for an SUV that 5-6 trekkers can share. You have the option of starting for Shimla by 2.00 pm on Day 9 and reaching by 1.00 am the following morning. Buses to Chandigarh depart from Shimla bus stand at 5.00 am. Many of our trekkers wait in the bus stand itself to board one of these. It is safe to wait at the Shimla bus stand.
If you wish to avoid traveling at night, stay overnight at Sangla and leave at 6.00 am the following morning. You will reach Shimla by 4.00 pm. Buses leave from Shimla to Delhi every 15 minutes.
In case you require help with finding accommodation in Sangla, please speak with your trek leader during the trek. The cost of stay in Sangla will have to be borne by trekkers.
Option 2: Sangla to Shimla by bus
There are 2 local buses from Sangla to Shimla –
- 5.30 pm – you can take this the same evening you finish the trek and reach Shimla by 6.00 am the following day
- 6.30 am – you can take this bus the following day and reach Shimla in the evening
There are buses leaving from Shimla to Delhi every 15 minutes. The cost of stay in Sangla is not included in the trek fee.
Taking a bus from Sangla to Shimla will be the most economical option.
Stay at Shimla, if required, will have to be booked by trekkers on their own.
In case you wish to go directly to Kalka or Chandigarh, you will need to arrange for transportation on your own. Your Ground Coordinator can help you with the contact details of the transport provider. Here are the options –
Sangla → Kalka → Delhi
You will reach Sangla at around 1 pm after you trek. You can take a cab that evening and head to Kalka. The cab will cost you around Rs.10,500 for an SUV. Around 5-6 people can share this cab. From Kalka, there is a Shatabdi that goes to Delhi. It leaves at 6.15 am. You will be in Delhi by 10 am. If you leave Sangla at 4 pm, you will reach Kalka by 4 am and have some buffer time at the railway station.
Sangla → Chandigarh
Another option if you have to get to an airport is to go to Chandigarh. From Sangla, you can take a cab to Chandigarh. This will cost you around Rs.10,500 for an SUV that 5-6 trekkers can share. If you leave Sangla by 4pm, you will reach Chandigarh by 6 am.
Please note, transport providers who drive to Chandigarh require a special permit since that is in a different state. Most have valid permits to operate vehicles only within Himachal Pradesh. If you opt to hire a cab directly to Chandigarh or Kalka, ensure that you confirm in advance with your transport provider about the validity their permit in Chandigarh.
Here’s what trekkers have to say about trekking to Rupin Pass with Indiahikes
“I absolutely loved the trek. Everything was phenomenal and I genuinely cannot think of anything I did not like. The Trek leader was a fantastic, friendly, and informative. The scenery and the trek itself was gorgeous and the assisting staff (guides and cooks) were exemplary; and the food was beyond what I could have expected!” – Ori Gutin, batch of October 2016
“One word : Spellbound. The views and scenery is breathtaking. We were luck enough to see a snowfall which added to the beauty. The Indiahikes team is awesome and they make sure you have one hell of an experience. I am going to cherish this trek for a really long time!” – Kriti Gupt, batch of September 2016
“I loved it – every bit of it. For me the mountains have a mysterious pull, and its magical being amidst them. This time as always it was a very memorable experience. It wasn’t easy, considering the ever changing weather and the sub zero temperatures. Anxiety regarding the actual pass crossing and ups and downs with health. However the actual pass crossing day was euphoric – worth every bit. Our anxiety regarding snow, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. And the snow covered vistas were hard to leave behind!” – Sonali Gupta, batch of September 2016
“You don’t always wake up to see snow covered peaks, free flowing rivers, deep valleys and lush green mountains! This trek is the combination of adventure and beauty. Indiahikes took all the efforts required to make this trek a pleasant experience for all of us.” – Varun Vaidya, batch of June 2016
“You could keep guessing on what comes next and this keeps you moving all the while. Combined with the friendly as well as very disciplined guides and a heap of enthusiastic trekkers this is one great experience. Far from any sort of contact from the outside world, this is one of the best holiday experiences filled with adventures. Awesome food, awesome people, awesome trek and well managed by Indiahikes.” – Arun Premkumar, batch of June 2016
“Loved it. One of the most soul-satisfying and amazing experiences in my short life till now. Never though I’ll meet such helpful and amazing people. Loved the trek leader, probably one of the most interesting people I’ve met. And the support staff were entertaining and helpful.” – Divyanshu Sharma, batch of June 2016
“This trek did so many things for me it’ll take way more than a google form to elaborate. With terrain changing every few kilometers, the trail is extremely engaging. The scenic beauty is breathtaking and it’s a waste even trying to put it down in words.” – Tushar Ghei, batch of June 2016
“This was my fifth trek with Indiahikes in the Himalayas and I rate Rupin Pass the best trek. Never expected this to be so good. We had almost 15 hours of sunlight and clear sky for most of the trek. The camping sites were out of this world. Gurpreet was an awesome trek lead. Had a great time” – John Raviraj, batch of June 2016
“This was my first Himalayan trek, and to be honest it was very good. Every hour during the trek view changes dramatically beautifully. For a moment you think this is the most beautiful place you have been, but after sometime you think this is the most beautiful place now. I’m so glad that I decided to go with Indiahikes. Apart from the trek, the experience with Indiahikes is another experience for me, I never felt like a client, I was part of community. Everyone including the Trek leader, Guides, cooks and porters were friendly and courteous. I made good friends among them. 10/10 for food. 10/10 Green trail initiative. 10/10 for management at camp sites. ” – Dhaval Gulhane, batch of June 2016
“Awesome. I enjoyed a lot and carry life time memories.Food was amazing. Hats off to all people working on ground in such a hostile condition to make things easier to all trekkers at every nick of time.” – Shakti Prasad Raturi, batch of May 2016
“The trek was a wonderful experience” – Akshatha Arodi, batch of May 2016
“Awesome is the right word for Rupin Pass trek. This was my first himalayan trek and I’m very glad that I chose Rupin pass and India hikes. The views during the trek gets better and better every passing day. Especially the upper waterfall camp, believe me it’s nothing but heaven. Very impressed about how the trek had been organized by Indiahikes and kudos for green trails initiative. Also hats-off to the trek lead and supporting team for the extreme kindness they have exhibhited all throughout the trek.” – Pavendhan Krishnan, batch of May 2016
“It was interesting with lots of scenery & terrain changes a do to trek for all trek lovers.” – Arun Joshi, batch of May 2016
“Awesome management, loved the food and other arrangement. Technical staff is really helpful and well equipped. Trek lead, chetan sir is really great person to have as a trek lead.” – Nimish Gurav, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek. The food was very good and camp sites were also awesome.” – Pravin, batch of May 2016
“The arrangements, organising trek and Technical Staff were highly appreciable.” – Shekar Babu Penuganti, batch of May 2016
“I loved the landscape and the trails” – Anurag Rao, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek. Natural landscapes, crew members and food quality and the adventures during the trail. Abhirup,Yashpal and Santosh are very much supportive. Its been awesome and memorable and first life time experience for me, we enjoyed a lot during our trail and group activity conducted by crew.” – Sumit Waghmare, batch of May 2016
“Rupin is awesome trek, organizing, hospitality, food and technical advice was very good ” – Sabhareesh, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek because of the ever changing trails, road walk, jungle walk, magnificent views of Rupin river throughout the trek and of course because of the scenery of the last three days. The very responsive people of Uttarakhand and Himachal added a different sweet flavor to the whole trek. But above all it is the Indiahikes team who made it dead easy for us. I was literally in a different world in between them. Chetan, Shravan, Nitin and Praveen from Indiahikes were simply awesome. Whether it was food or micro spikes or the toilet tents, the management of Indiahikes was top notch in each and every case. It will take weeks or even months for me to come out of the hangover of the trek.” – Sabyasachi Manna, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek … the itinerary was well planned.” – Gajendra Kumar K M, batch of May 2016
“A professionally run trek where everyone was allowed to walk at their own pace and perhaps that was the single greatest attribute of Indiahikes trek team . The team bonded well together. Also the trek offered multiple landscapes, from pine forests to high altitude snow deserts, and that made it memorable.” – Subramanyam Venkatakrishnan, batch of May 2016
“I absolutely loved the trek. Well, honestly, our trek team made it way more enjoyable and an experience worth remembering for a lifetime. Ankit, Trepan and Praveen were exceptionally amazing help and guided us really well. They were available for any kind of help, assistance and support required and really grateful to have had such an incredible leading group. Also, must mention how generous and tasty the food given during our trek was, considering the kind of circumstances we were under.” – Sama Ankolkar, batch of May 2016
“I really liked it! I had a tough time with adjusting to the high altitude. But our trek leader and the staff on the trek were brilliant and did not faulter one bit on their end. If I completed the trek I owe it completely to them for their motivation and immense help. Right from the food, to the cleanliness, to instructions to food and friendliness everything was perfect!” – Anam Ankolkar, batch of May 2016
“The trek was awesome and adventurous. it helped me to learn attitude and focus which will entail me to get desired results. the way our trek leader handled situations, people and motivated us helped us to complete the trek.” – Sumit Pachlangiya, batch of May 2016
“Loved the trek.. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life till date.. from lush green mountains to calm peaceful villages to barren lands to snow capped peaks.. facing intense heat, rain and snowfall.. this trek had it all! One week of pure bliss and tranquility.” – Umang Dhawan, batch of May 2016
“Being a first time trekker I enjoyed the trek to the fullest specially I time I have spent in between the nature for those days. Things I liked about the trek is Discipline and professional environment to do the trek, Good support staff at every base camp, maggie breaks in between the treks, scenic beauty on every corner of the trek, Snow fall on last 3 days, Each Camp site location and definitely the food served to all of us.” – Robin Gupta, batch of May 2016
“The entire trek was just awesome. Everything was so meticulously planned and the staff (ground & onsite) is really passionate about what they do and I think that made a big difference.” –Santosh Reddy, batch of May 2016
“The overall experience was amazing. The trek leader, Mayank and our guide, Yashpal were thoroughly responsible and ensured that everyone managed to finish. Food was brilliant and the onsite team did a wonderful job with tents, toilets and washing pits. A completely satisfying trek.” – Aditi, batch of May 2016
“Well, I never expected that a trek can be such beautiful and memorable one. Before registration I had many doubts about Indiahikes(I did not go on any trek with IH before it), like how will be their management or will be the stuffs friendlier and much more. But IH not only meet all the expectations but it has crossed it’s limit. A standing ovation for your management, professionalism and responsibility towards the environment(Green Trails).” – Milan Sir, batch of May 2016
“Really loved the trek. The entire trek was mindblowing and way better than what i had expected from a trek overall. It includes scenery, experience, and the way we were treated. Special thanks to Dashod Bhai, Vishal Sir and our team Sweeper, Lovely. We were introduced to everyone in the staff, everyday. This was the best thing I’ve seen. Meeting the back team that makes us feel like family.” – Utsav Shah, batch of May 2016
“Excellent setup, guides and leads. Way to go, good job in promoting the untouched and amazing hiking places in India.” – Swanand Pathak, batch of May 2016
“Rupin pass trek was challenging and beautiful. Campsites were awesome. Indiahikes’s staff especially Ankit(Trek Leader), Trepan and Praveen were very professional and proactive in every aspect related to health, food or other facilities for trekkers.” – Rajnish Kumar Singh, batch of May 2016
“I liked everything about the trek right from the way the route has been planned so that the body acclaimatizes and builds strength for the climb to the pass. Food was excellent and IH staff trek leader, assistant trek leaders were very professional and did their job well.” – Saurabh Chowdhury, batch of May 2016
“The trek was one of the most memorable event in my life. With the serene nature around you everytime the trek leaders always ensured to give us the best out of the trek. Trek leaders were more like our brothers rather than a leader. Always encouraging, giving us tips, monitoring our performance, health… I particularly liked the discipline and the clarity of trek details. We always felt secured and could rely on Indiahikes when in doubt. This was my first trek and could feel the professionalism and care instilled with IH. Thanks for the memorable experience.” – Raghu R, batch of May 2016
“I loved the trek to Rupin Pass. Under the trek leader’s and the technical staff’s able guidance, all 25 of us were able to complete the trek. Thanks Indiahikes.” – Rekha Singh, batch of May 2016
“It was very well-organised. I really appreciate the efforts made by the crew to make our trek not only successful but also a joyful experience. The technical staff at the Pass was also well-versed in their skill & the entire group had a very enriching time. I am sure there must have been innumerable people, back stage including the ground coordinatores, who ensured a seamless delivery. Thanks!” – Sangeeta Karkhanis, batch of May 2016