Why Do Trekkers Get Carried Away With Off-Seasonal Treks?

There’s an increasing trend I’m noticing among trekkers. They want to do challenging treks, above 14,000-15,000 ft — Goechala, Rupin Pass, Pangarchulla, etc. That’s great, I love that people are taking on such adventures!

But what is not ok is that many of them are opting to do these treks off-seasonally, at any whimsical time of the year

I was recently in conversation with a friend who went to Goechala in the first week of December. Goechala is a high mountain pass in Sikkim, climbing up to 15,100 ft.

Even before he went, I thought he must be mad to go in such a wrong season. I was also worried for him. The Goechala trek is notorious for severe winters and high chances of HAPE. He was not trekking with Indiahikes, so I was worried about his safety as well.  

Once he came back, he confirmed my thought. 

Out of a team of around 12, only 3-4 of them made it to View Point 1, the final destination on the Goechala trek. The rest of them could not make it. 

I was not surprised.  

Goechala is not a December trek by any stretch of imagination. It becomes bitterly cold, the terrain gets very dry, water becomes scarce and frozen, the snow in the upper reaches can be very hard to manage.

“The cold is often intolerable on this trek… it is not like our winter treks where there is snow all around, but the cold, dry icy cold that grips your bones. Add to it the wind that blows through the valley making it feel like we are in the poles,” shares Arjun Majumdar, the founder and CEO of Indiahikes, who has been to Goechala multiple times, even before he founded Indiahikes.

At the end of the day, it’s simply not a trek you do in the wrong season. 

Another instance… 

Another trekker I was talking to went on the Pangarchulla trek in December. Frankly, I was in disbelief when I first heard him say December. 

Pangarchulla is a high summit climb, at 15,000 ft. Amongst all our high altitude treks, Pangarchulla has the shortest window when it’s accessible — only the month of April. Before April, there’s too much residual winter snow and the climb gets very technical. After April, the boulders on the trail get exposed, making it very risky. 

So when he said December, I was a bit at my wits end. Even our most qualified Trek Leaders would think twice about venturing out to Pangarchulla in December. 

Again, as expected, not one member of the team of 12-13 made it to the Pangarchulla peak. Out of the whole lot, only 2-3 of them made it to mini Pangarchulla, which is a false peak. It’s the same as climbing a bit higher than Kuari Pass and returning.

Now, these are just two trekkers’ stories. 

I don’t know how many more trekkers are falling into this trap of being enticed by challenging treks in the wrong seasons. 

This is where I have a bone to pick with trekkers.

I must admit that a few years ago, trekkers did not have access to information about trekking. They did not know what weather to expect, what was the best time to do a certain trek. They would often pick the wrong treks in the wrong seasons.

But now, when there is so much information available, why not research a bit before you sign up for a Himalayan trek? 

A typical trekker’s tendency is to (a) see dates, (b) look up the organisation and (c) book a trek. 

Just a handful of trekkers actually research the trek they are going on. Most of them blindly trust the organisation to run treks at the right time — often to their own peril. More and more organisers are keen to cash in on the holiday season rather than choose a trek that is appropriate for a trekker. 

At Indiahikes, our first priority is to ensure a trek is always safe, yet adventurous

Then we look at the beauty of the trail itself. When trekkers go to a certain trek, they must be able to see it at its best. Just like the Valley of Flowers has its blooming season in monsoon, every trek has its own season when it’s at its best. That’s when we want trekkers to see it. 

Finally, we come to the success rate. We don’t want trekkers having incomplete treks. We do not want our poor planning or off-season trekking to lead to incomplete treks. 

But not all organisations look into these aspects. 

That’s why I’m not ok with a blind approach towards trekking, when trekkers don’t research their treks, especially the more difficult ones like Goechala, Rupin Pass, Pangarchulla and others.

It could quickly turn out to be the most dangerous decision of their lives.

That’s not wise.

On a different note… 

I wish organisations would also be more considerate towards trekkers. Listing out dates in totally wrong seasons is not fair to trekkers, especially when they know that the majority of them are not likely to successfully complete the trek. 

This is the difference between running treks and running a business. 

“The mountains have their rules and timings. Even Everest is climbed in winters. It is attempted by professionals with years of practice behind them. Doing a trek in the wrong season is not being adventurous. It is being foolhardy,” says Sandhya UC, the co-founder of Indiahikes.

In conclusion…

Trekking is a transformative journey for your mind, body and spirit. A successful trek can leave you deeply touched inside, like nothing else can. It can impact your well being to an extent we cannot imagine.

But a trek in the wrong season can mean injuries, altitude sickness, a drop in confidence, a deep feeling of regret, and sometimes even fatalities. It’s the thin line between adventure and a devil-may-care attitude. 

I wonder if you agree with me

I would really like to hear your thoughts about this. 

Can you drop in your thoughts on this page? 

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35 thoughts on “Why Do Trekkers Get Carried Away With Off-Seasonal Treks?

  1. People should do research before going on a trek , a simple mistake can be fatal , u are trekking not for becoming a macho also be responsible with your waste and do not litter around ,try to leave the place most serene than it was before.

  2. I completely agree with you. I have trekked with India hikes and other organisations too and always ensure that I have complete information at hand. The purpose of my trekking is to enjoy the beauty the nature has to offer and in the process relax my mind as well.

  3. I completely echo Swathi with your thoughts that you narrate in your article.In my opinion the purpose of doing trekking is not just challenging yourself to the harshest weather condition , steep and dangerous terrains , but also give enjoyment to your body, mind and soul. Your body strength, tenacity and power should be in harmony with the difficulty of a particular trek.

  4. hello india hikes….i did only one trek with u dat went ok…i comoleted somehow. ..bt you guys rock…!! Love you india hikes

    1. Yes! I absolutely agree with you Swati, mountains have their rules and we (including the trek operators) should respect them, to make it a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience for all. Thank you for all the initiative and content you put in, it’s very informative and educative.

      1. First of all… A Big Salute to Indiahikes!!
        Yes! I agree with you Swati, mountains have their own rules and mountaineers should respect the same. Beginners should do a thorough study of their trek and make mentally & physically fit for the same. But still, during trekking, we cant predict the nature of both our mother earth and our health.
        Thank you…

  5. Yes Swathi ! you explain very correctly the difference between “running treks and running business” It is really eye opening to do research about treks and organization to select before venturing in to. You are doing a great job to educate the beginners and intermediate trekkers…keep it up.

    1. The criteria to select a trek is quite different than we expect. Most people select a trek after checking pictures on social media. They don’t understand that person posting it must be a professional or quite experienced one to pull off an off season trek. Most people don’t work on their fitness as well. At the end they post pictures on social media for the spectacular views but seldom people write or post about the miserable experience they had on a trek. Just finishing a trek is not important. Enjoying the trek has to be focused. For that one should do a simple research like Ideal Season, Fitness required, and go step by step on choosing their next trek and not hurry going directly for some big one just bcoz they liked the pictures that particular trek.

      Also the information is so easily available these days, still people go for the wrong ones and in wrong season at times. This trend is increasing especially bcoz of over crowding on treks. Even i did Goecha La in first week of April to avoid crowd, when IH and other groups were starting only second or third week of April. But the cold was bone chilling, there was no one on the entire trail beyond Dzongri, Snow was hard to navigate in some patch, Samiti Lake was entirely frozen. It was still by far the most wonderful treki have done, as it wasn’t an off season but probably early season trek, I wonder how people would enjoy Goecha La in December.

      Over crowding has probably lead people to go off season. I hope people move on from the famous treks to other less explored trails instead of doing this off season madness for popular treks.

  6. Yes. I am agree with you regarding this subject. I also notice this matter. One should know exactly that how much risks one can absorb in an adventure. Many youths think if they trek in odd season ut could be more heroic. But heroism is a fatal thing in trek always. Lack of research, experience and much dependency on youtube and google brings down this type of wrong decision.

    Secondly, I noticed many tourists choosing trekking destinations as thei holiday spot or want to change taste and want to trek with family. This is dengerous too. I personally noticed this in madhyamaheswar and tungnath. In winter season I was in tungnath to see snow. Many tourists do the same for some extra adventure. But many trekkers face problems due to adverse situation.

    Thirdly, now trekkers want to avoid rush so also choose such odd dates which could be harmful for trekkers.

    Organisation must take proper responsibilities and should take care of trekkers and display the pros and cons of trek route specially high altitude treks.

  7. Agree with your point. Sometimes, even research cannot help. The snow may remain longer than usual or the rains may come early. The trek organizers can then help the trekkers by giving upto date information about the weather conditions on the trekking routes at least a week before the trek so that travelling can be postponed/rescheduled.

  8. Before deciding trek one should decide his motives for doing trek means, just for spending holidays, for collection of his Profile pictures, for snow attraction, for adventure, or for photography purpose or just a love with nature. Then according to his fitness he must decide trek by reading itinerary carefully with considering dates and claimate at that period.

    1. Yes I agree with you.
      Your every article is very informative.I did Rupin pass,Rupkund EBC Great lake.
      Our first priority is safety. And also be with neature.
      Whether prediction is most important.

  9. In my opinion,it is just a foolish act and nothing else. People want to show their heroic side that we have done this trek in off-season, without any guidance, without any help. As a result,most of the fatalities and casualty happen with these kind of people.

  10. Dear Swati,
    I completely agree to your thoughts, the climate in mountain is completely unpredictable, sometime it can be hazardous. It requires through planning and discipline.

    The research before the trek is a must, especially about the climatic conditions, this is were IH are pioneer. I am following the blogs and vlogs of India Hikes from couple of years now and I really appreciate IH teams efforts and hard work to collate all the information and passing in the form of knowledge.

    Thank You very much and keep doing the good work.

  11. Completely agree! It is foolhardy for inexperienced trekkers to attempt such treks in the wrong (risky) season! An experienced mountaineer doing it is one thing, but they have it much thought through with years of experience behind that.
    Glad to see Indiahikes publish this to spread more awareness.

  12. I got my next to-do list. I agree with you Swathi, but doing crazy stuff does have high, but safety foremost cannot be compromised.

  13. Absolutely, it sounds like going out of house on a rainy day without an umbrella. What can one expect? It’s not only childish to go on such high summit treks without proper knowledge rather reflects on the immaturity of such trekkers. Not everything in life is to be only adventure especially when it comes to safety and well-being of oneself. So, organisations conducting such treks should also be more thoughtful when coming up with treks and dates. India hikes is surely a trusted name in the game!!

  14. Beautifully explained. I completely agree with you and I would like to add that one should know the difference between bravery and foolishness.

  15. Absolutely. Research is required for all trips, not just treks. You certainly want to be in the best season wherever you go. But this doesn’t seem to be a research problem. The urge to do something ultra difficult, impossible and impractical is attracting people towards these decisions. Organisations should be more responsible in these aspects. They play an important role in framing one’s purpose of trekking.

  16. swati i fully concur you on the same , well it has happened to me on hampta pass and result we couldnt complete the trek , very well writtenand ecplained , also i am following your you tube post and detailed description of how to pack for trek and various other insights . thank you and gratitude

  17. Yes . Completely true. It’s better to do treks and hikes in the right season and for the right reasons. We r not in a car rally where we have to show off our driving skills. Treks and hikes .. we do it for ourselves, for our peace of mind. We take in nature and our surroundings which leaves a positive impact on our minds and souls. Atleast that’s what I feel. That’s what I felt when I started hiking more than 20 years ago. The oneness with nature is indisputable. So u don’t want to spoil that experience by trekking in the wrong season. Like if u go to the valley of flowers in the winter what’s the point. What r u trying to prove. But the problem is that some people think they r bigger than everything and they will decide what they want to do and whenever they want to do it. They need to be told that doesn’t work like that in nature. It is for each person and organization to decide how to behave responsibly and respect what they r doing for themselves and others. The same issue with over crowding on the trails. I am in Canada and people respect each other’s space and privacy on the trails. So yes I fully agree that people shud know the right season they shud be doing a particular trek or a hike. A wasted effort is not going to take us much further …. is it ?

  18. Dear Swathi,
    You are absolutely right that trekkers should choose the right season for a particular trek to derive the maximum pleasure out of the trip.
    Trekking is something in my opinion coming very close the nature at her best time, enjoy her beauty and treasure the experience forever.
    So we must choose the best time for all treks to fill our heart with the maximum beauty of that particular area.

  19. Hey Swathi,
    In my point of view.
    It’s not the adventure trekkers are seeking in off season or end of the season.
    Trekkers like me don’t want too much rush on treks. Treks shouldn’t be like Kedarnath, Vaishno Devi Yatra. Have you seen the level of rush these days on treks like Valley of Flowers, Kedarkantha in season? it was like a trekkers jam on the narrow path of treks.
    Government is banning treks over the years because of permanent camps setup and consistent over crowding.
    I know Indiahikes works responsibly, but permanent camp setup was also started by Indiahikes.
    Please talk about the trekkers who couldn’t make it back from Everest base camp trek last year due to over crowding.
    Please talk about limiting the number of trekkers on treks in season.

  20. I’m a bit surprised actually that people don’t research. I have signed up with you for my first solo trek and I have read all your articles. From fitness, trek route, what to carry to what to expect. They are so helpful and detailed. Looking forward to the trek.

  21. I completely agree with this article and I am quite concerned now to go with not much known trek organisers as a first timer to himalayas.. Not always does every trekker get a chance to trek in tough terrains and when he/she gets such a chance, they should be able to return home happy having made to the destination.

  22. I’m completely agree with u Swathi. For me it’s not only a trek , it’s an emotion. So I can’t miss a single view and to enjoy the trek fully we need to choose trek according to season.

  23. Definitely..!! I agree to every thing, you discussed. I’m also a travel blogger and before going on any trip, I do research to a very large extent. So I know the importance of research. Although I have never been to any trek but will soon be a part of trekking expedition of indiahies. On mountains, a wrong decision may be your last decision. So you can’t just pack your bags and start trekking. Watching YouTube videos and actually going on a trek is completely different things.

  24. Agree 100%, every trekker should research the trek in details before going. Its not fun activity which can be done anywhere in Himalayas any time. One should consider each aspect of trek before booking.

  25. Totally agree with the topic , every Trekk has a season , few treks are all season . Doing trekking for showing off that we did it in difficult conditions, reached higher point is not trekking , one should consider safety first , research the trek and the organisation you are going with and then plan

  26. Its the adrenaline rush which gets into the readers after reading or watching so much info on the internet. Probably too much information, improperly digested could be another reason.

  27. hi Swati…the cautionary note in your article is worth paying attention to. I believe we go to the mountains to be one with self and the nature. We do not go to these higher grounds to win medals or find a story to boast about, we go there to find what is within us. Walking the mountains fill us with awe, fear , exhilaration, a sense of wonder, and above all a meditative silence. So why spoil it by putting us in needless danger and pain. thank you.