How Much Snowfall Can You Expect In The Himalayas This Winter?

Last year, when our trekkers set out on winter treks, many of them came back disappointed. It was as late as December 20th and they had not seen snow. The first winter snow, which usually comes down by mid-December, took until December 25th to show up.

It was the El Nino year last year and the year before last. To put it crudely, El Nino is a climatic pattern resulting from a change in atmospheric temperature in the Pacific Ocean. That’s very crude, but there are many websites that have detailed reports on El Nino. Our concern is more with how it affects our winter treks.

So in this week’s episode of Trek Talks With Vishnu Benne, Vishnu talks about how this year’s snow pattern is going to be. Is going to be the same as last year or is it going to come in earlier this year?

Listen to find out.

How did El Nino affect the Indian Himalayas?

It’s hard to believe that a small change in the pattern of air circulation deep in the Pacific Ocean could cause such a drastic change in climate all the way in India.

Because of El Nino, there was less rainfall and also less snowfall. Snow in the Himalayas came in late and disappeared early too.

Our summer treks like Pangarchulla, which climb up to 15,000 ft and normally have snow till the end of May, saw snow melting by mid-May, leaving tough boulder sections exposed.

On the other hand, snow came in very late on our winter treks. Waiting for the first snowfall was most excruciating with trekkers calling every day to find out if they would see snow. It finally came down on December 25th amidst Christmas celebrations.

But overall, the whole year was dry with streams drying up and the earth looking parched.

The year of La Nina

This year, however, is the year of La Nina. As opposed to El Nino, which is sometimes called the warm phase, La Nina is another climatic pattern also referred to as the cold phase. 

You’ll notice that there has been more rainfall this year than last year all over India. Our August treks didn’t see a day without rainfall.

That’s a promising sign. It lends us to believe that there will be an earlier winter this year with more snow than last year.

In fact, it has already started snowing on our high mountain passes like Pin Bhaba (16,100 ft). This isn’t winter snow. It is September snow that comes down irregularly and melts away quickly. But it is a weather pattern we have observed for years. It is a welcome sign of normalcy.

This means you should expect to see snow from around mid-December on all our winter treks. Any treks that hit the 10,000 ft mark in Uttarakhand are likely to put on their yearly blanket of snow around this time. That is Kuari Pass, Kedarkantha, Dayara Bugyal, Deoriatal, Brahmatal and Har Ki Dun.

So it looks to be a snowy winter! Make sure you are geared up well!

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Swathi Chatrapathy is a journalist from Bangalore. She heads the content team at Indiahikes and runs a video show called Trek With Swathi. Writing, reading and trekking are up there on her list of favourite things!

58 thoughts on “How Much Snowfall Can You Expect In The Himalayas This Winter?

  1. We really have selected the trek Kuari Pass 31dec-5jan desiring to see snowfall. last year i have done rupin pass on boulders during june. Please let us know when it snows first at kuaripass trek this year.

      1. Hi Siddharth,
        You are very likely to find snow on the trail at Kedarkantha towards March end. It is difficult to say if there will be fresh snowfall at that time.

  2. Going for Indrahar pass on 30th September expecting hailstones or snowflake but I don’t expect snow at indrahar right now at this time of year, maybe by the mid of October but surely by the end. This is going to be my first solo attempt for Indrahar pass. I’m really excited 😋

    1. Hello Safdar
      You can go for the Brahmatal trek in January or February. You will be trekking in knee deep snow during this time.

  3. Yes you may be right….
    I am a “Pahadi” person and belongs to Uttarakhand and one supportive sing of this phenomenon I have seen in my native during this time that crop in field get ready to collect almost one month earlier……
    So we can say nature is preparing himself for an early winter…..
    So I think its La Nina effect and hope it will be continue…..

    1. Hi Valay, March and April are really good months for the Har Ki Dun trek. There will be a lot of snow and towards mid-April, which is spring, there will be lovely greenery as well! So you get the best of both winter and summer in these months. 🙂

  4. Hello
    I will be coming for the kedarkanta trek on 19 th Dec this year.. I would like to know if there is way to get in touch with my trek mates before hand?.?

  5. Hi,I along with my 6 other friends have decided to do a trek .We are planning to go to either Hampta pass or Kedarkantha trek or Brahmatal trek.I want to know are there any chances of seeing snowfall in either of these treks.We are planning to go from 6th december to 12th of december.Or,please suggest any winter trek in HP or Uttarakhand where we can hope to see snow during this time.

    1. Hi Mani, winter is not a good time to trek in Himachal. The snow is very very high and most trails are closed. Kedarkantha and Brahmatal are good treks to do, but it starts snowing at this altitude only towards the end of December. So the first half of December is not likely to have much snow at this time. But the treks are beautiful to do nevertheless! 🙂

    1. Hi Darshana! You can absolutely find a lot of winter snow in March! It even snows a few times in March – the last of the winter snowfalls. Also, the rhododendron forests start blooming at this time. So it’s a grand time to go! 🙂

  6. Hi Swathi,

    I’m planning to take my friend on a trek for her bachelorette trip (she’s been wanting to go on a Himalayan trek since we were in school). But, we are both first timers and I have no idea which would be the best trek to go during Nov-Dec. Do you have any recommendations?

      1. Hi Karishma

        Thank you for the recommendation! 🙂
        This looks like a very exciting trek but as I checked its availability, it seems completely booked until January, 2018 and we can only go before New Years.
        Is there any other trek, and of a shorter duration (around 3-4 days)?

  7. Hello ma’am
    Please recommend a trek for a group of 8 Adults which is suitable in Early December or Mid December..We are confused between Chopta Trek, Kuanri Trek and BramaTal Trek(Or something else)…We want to find some snow during our trek( Even a small amount of it would work considering we have never ever seen snow before 🙂 ) …Please recommend us the perfect trek destination and time because we are very confused..
    P.S-We have done Triund Trek only.

    1. Hello Vansh, I would say there is a very slight chance of it snowing in early December but you can take your chances with mid-December. I’d suggest you go for the Brahmatal trek 🙂

  8. Hi Team,
    We are planning to go for brahmatal in the week of 11th -16th March, 2018. Is there any uncertainty about getting snow during that week?

  9. Hi,
    We’re booked for the Brahmatal trek starting 25th Dec. However, we’re wondering if there would be any snow (snowfall would be amazing) during our trek.
    I know now there’s no point wondering but still wanted to know what are the odds of snow.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Sushmita
      We just got news of it snowing at the Kuari Pass yesterday. Quite an early snowfall this year. These two lie in the Chamoli district so it is quite likely to snow there a bit early too. There is definitely a high chance of it snowing in Brahmatal around that time.

  10. Hi,

    Any news abt snowfall on Kedarkantha trek so far? I was checking it online but couldn’t find anything for this trek. I am going the trek on 19th dec. So was wondering how much snow is expected by then.

    1. Hi Prachi, we cannot predict snowfall in the mountains but from the looks of it, Kedarkantha should be snowing by then. We got news of snowfall on the Kuari Pass trek just last night which is quite early for the winter snow. So there are high chances of snowfall during that time of the year.

  11. Hi,

    I am going for Kedarkantha trek in mid-Dec. I noticed some time back Kedarkantha trail-Indiahikes has changed,we are no more camping at Juda ka Talab. Can you please let us know why is that the case? I was very much looking forward for it.
    Even last time during Deriotal-Chndrashila trek trail was suddenly changed. We didn’t even get a chance to pass via Rohini Bugyal as mentioned(forget camping).

    Request you to kindly let us knw.


    1. Hey Prachi
      There was a time when we camped at Juda Ka Talab but since the Kedarkantha trek has gained popularity, that route has become extremely crowded. There is hardly any place to camp around that area. We do spend time at the Juda Ka Talab but camp further up in Haregaon which beats the views even at JKT.
      Regarding the Deoriatal Chandrashila trek, the changes were made owing to the rules by the Forest Department which came as a shock to us as well.

  12. Hi,

    We are planning for Kedarkanth trek between 10th Dec to 15th dec, any news on the snowfall so far from the recent treks in that region. Please let me know.

  13. hi, we are planning for dayara bugyal trek. dates – 26-29 december. can we expect heavy snowfall? is it snowing now? what temperatures can we expect?

    1. Hello Neel
      It hasn’t started snowing yet but we are expecting a good amount of snowfall during those dates. The temperatures can go down to as low as -5 degree Celsius at night. So it will be quite cold during that time. You’d be fine if you wear all the 5 layers mentioned and also a layer of top and bottom thermals.

  14. we are planning to leave for the brahmtal trek on 24th december .. what are the chances of seeing snow over their? can we expect thick blanket of snow?

    1. Hi Tushar,
      Rest assured that you will get snow on the Brahmatal trek around 24th December. Our other winter treks such as Kedarkantha, Har ki Dun and Chandrashila-Deoriatal have already experienced snowfall at the summit and at higher campsites. They’re all at a similar altitude as Brahmatal.

  15. Hi. I Am going Brahmatal on 13Jan Will there be snowfall?? I read latest news that weather is really bad right now and only two of them could reach summit? trek’s wont get cancelled ryt?

    1. Hi Kanna,
      What we experienced last week was a snow storm, which made the build up of snow very high in a very short time. This made it difficult for people to climb to the summit. However, the weather has now cleared and the trails are much easier to manage.
      There are very high chances of snowfall in January. However, unlike a snowstorm, a normal snowfall will not obstruct the trek in any way.

    1. Hi Lekha,
      Snowfall is unpredictable so we cannot say for sure if it will snow on these dates. But there will be knee deep snow on the trail.

  16. Hi Team

    I have registered for Bhramatal Trek during 11th March to 16th March. I’ve never trekked in a snow before, so I pretty excited to have that experience. Hence wondering, if during this period will I be able to trek in snow?

  17. Hey,

    I am planning for a Kedarkantha trek o 17th Mar batch. Wanted to check if can find snow around this date? We are flexible with dates and flexible to change trek but wanted to make sure we get to see enough snow.
    Kindly assist.


  18. I am planning a trek with my wife in March 24 to 30 batch to kedarkantha. Since i have never ever gone for any trek does it would be ok to go there. what kind of climate there would be,is it too cold .We have heard that nights are too cold & temprature goes down to -7,8 celcius in Nights. we want to enjoy snow but cant bear too much cold.Suggest me perfect time so we would enjoy snow & climate would be favourable too.

    1. Hi Nitin,
      March will be a good time to go to Kedarkantha if you wish to to trek on snow. It’s also a good trek for a first time trekker. Day time temperatures will be in the range of 3-13 degrees celsius depending on the altitude. Night temperature could fall to -4 degrees at the highest campsite.

  19. how is kedarkantha trek during april end. if there is any chance of snowfall? we are planning for 21st april team

    1. Hi Yash,
      There will be a lot of snow on the Kedarkantha trek in January end. The views from the summit will be clear. On the Chandrashila trek, Chopta experiences heavy snow in January so it reaching the Chandrashila summit is usually not possible. In case you want an alternative to Kedarkantha in January, you can consider Brahmatal.

    1. Hi Yashaswaini,
      It is very likely that you will find snow at Har Ki Dun in April 1st week. The trail will be beautiful in spring.

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