General Information and Tips
- A sound suggestion would be to go with a group of friends
- The trek is scheduled to be for 11 days, excluding the traveling part which can be a bit of issue for someone like me who is working in a private sector organization. We managed to save the prior two days of the trip by showing up late, but we did seek proper permissions from head office of YHAI. (Psst : All you need to do is to cite your inability to them a least two weeks before the actual date of reporting 😛 )
- If your official leaves are sorted then I would suggest reporting on time for the camp, as the base of Kasol itself is an amazing destination. We totally fell in love with it. Check my blog on Kasol
- YHAI follows a very strict schedule and they are very particular about the camp discipline, but there are always people like us ;).
- Drinking and smoking in not permissible inside the camp area. And one would not get into any trouble unless you drink outside and behave inside.
- Sleeveless shirts / shirts, Shorts, Half Pants, etc. are not permitted. Why carry them in a cold place anyway.
- Base camp is the only camp with proper sanitation and electricity facility.
- YHAI conducts in two routes – one through Nagaru and other through Gunapaani and Zirmi (the one we covered). It’s not optional. The decision of the route totally depends YHAI and the local support.
- Contrary to popular belief that you will slim down after trek, you won’t lose a single pound because the food is yummm..!!
- The YHAI doesn’t encourage burning wood for bonfires. But the villagers who trek along for setting up shops would do it (probably from day 5 onwards). You may sit around and enjoy along with them.
- You will have zero network coverage and believe me you would not want one either.
- Here is a comprehensive list of stuffs to be carried
Day 1 – Reporting Day – We didn’t show up 😛
We took a Volvo (to Manali) from Jhandewala, Delhi for an overnight trip to Bhuntur (Rs 1000 per person). Our bus stopped at some dhaba which was freaking costly. Don’t binge, you would not wish for a stomach infection.
Day 2 – Acclimatization day
Devbhomi Himachal main aapka swagat hai.
We reached Bhuntur at around 6 am. Kasol is 1 -2 hours drive from Bhuntur. Taxis are available but if you want to save money, you may opt for the bus from the local bus stand.
Our next step was to report at the base camp. They asked us to wait for the immediate next group but we tried and convinced them that we had already informed them about the delay. Then we submitted all the required documents (see in the check list), and booked our tent. We devoured on the food, and trust me it was a delightful surprise as one does not expect a lot of yummies at a base camp.
Now it was the time to enjoy Kasol. There are many good riverside restaurant, bar and bakery (Try some Israeli food). All you would like to do is to enjoy the serene nature with a pint of beer. I found Parvati valley very divine. You will find more travelers than locals. Manikaran is just 10 km from Kasol. Do visit the place for a rejuvenating hot bath coz for next seven to eight days, you would barely get the chance to do so. And that’s how we managed to avoid the acclimatization part and enjoyed best of Kasol..Here is my post on Kasol.
They always arrange for a campfire after dinner. I won’t lie to you but I found it damn boring and trust me, you cannot avoid it. Try and gel with rest of your group and don’t show up late at camp in the evening else you might have to perform something at the campfire gathering as punishment.
Day 3- Rock climbing and rappelling– You will love it
Be prepared to wake up early morning to jog and exercise. You will not have a choice.
After breakfast and waving goodbyes to SP(number) group, there were two sessions each for rappelling and rock climbing, before lunch and after lunch. The instructors were super cool and in the end they gave us bhole baba kaprasad (You know ;)) We enjoyed the evening…literally. 😛
Day 4 – Sheela Village, Kanchi Tach, 8000 ft. above sea level
This was the first day of the actual trek (SP 3 group). We started at around 8 am after breakfast and boarded a bus (or rather it’s top, it was aaaaaamazing) and reached the village Unchdhar. From here, we started walking towards our first camp site. At around 11 am we reached a village called Sheela. The village and its people are the backbone of this trek. They followed us till the end, carrying the back packs of those who were not able to carry it, setting up stalls selling omlettes, tea and maggie all along the way throughout the trek. It was surprising to see that how these mere thousand bucks they managed to earn during this short while had been the only source of their income for their entire family. I would probably dedicate a separate blog to describe my encounters with these incredibly genuine and simple locals.
We had our lunch (packed from the base camp) near a stream location. After the lunch break under the tree shade, it took us almost an hour to reach the first camp site GunaPani (Kanchi Tach). Our camp site was at different location than usual one every year. It was just in front of river Parvati. The sound of the river flowing through worked as a lullaby to us. We bought a bottle of Old Monk from a guy selling Maggie (you do not get liquor supply beyond this point). I must say the chill and the ‘old friend’ kept us warm the whole night and we all slept like a baby in our sleeping bags.
The next morning we attended our nature’s call in the open valley. All the next 6 days of our trek, we peed and pooped under the sky and covered our tracks 😉
Day 5 – Faul Pani (Khor Tach), 9000 ft. above sea level
The trek from our previous camp to this camp was uphill and steep. The point of trek till lunch was freaking steep, post lunch it becomes gentle. must admit we were pretty fast and waited for the rest of the group to catch up. While we stopped, Himanshu kept us engaged by playing some of the amazing tunes with his harmonica (the actual reason for us to trek up so fast). Everything was just so pristine that it still gives me goose bumps.
Many in the group stopped to take a nap after lunch. We were busy having time of our life. In the evening, we sat around the bonfire lit by a temporary shop beside our camp till it was dark. This leg of our trek was a bit tiring, so we all tuck ourselves in our bags to have a good night sleep.
Day 6 –Zirmi Tach
This was the last camp in ascend and without snow. The trek between FaulPani and Zirmi is short, so you will get a lot of time to relax and even sleep. There would be some snow as well to play along. You can stretch the lunch break for utmost 2 -3 hours so we chose to explore a little more of the wilderness around.
The camp location is set with an amazing view, in fact you will find every camp site better than the previous one. Day 6 is the day to relax as we reached the place way before the scheduled time. We even had a hot water bath, courtesy temporary shop. They charged Rs 20/- for a bucket of hot water and shampoo which was bonus. Also do have the Maggie from the shop.
The night sky was filled with stars and again we sat around the bonfire set up by the temporary shop. We sat there till late night singing songs and chit chatting. It was indeed a night to remember. The camp location is amidst the wild and is prone to bear and wolf attack. It is suggested to not venture alone and definitely not during night. If you need to pee, take someone along and carry a torch.
Day 7 – Tila Lotni, the highest and coldest camp amidst snow
IMP TIP: Use water very judiciously during trek.
Just one hour after leaving Zirmi, we saw thick patches of snow covering the land and post lunch it was all snowy. The trek was a bit scary but full of adventure. The trek was up hill with no slops but we found some place to slide around at the place where we had stopped for lunch. Keep a spare cloth to change in case you plan to play with slow and enjoy the slides.
Post lunch the trek gets a bit scarier. Walk slowly and dig with shoe toe before you take another step to maintain the grip. To help you with the walking technique on snow here is a video guide.
After 2-3 hours of thrill-filled trekking, we were on the top of word and there in one corner was our camp – in between peaks. Do Not Rush.
The camp leader was a guy of our age, an IT BHU graduate, a mining engineer, with an experience of 3-5 national level treks. We were a group of mining engineers from ISM Dhanbad. It was the most ‘breath-taking’ moment for us. We were treated with their customary welcome drink, tea and snacks, dinner followed soon after. We sat on the rocky platform beside the tent and admired the beauty of Himalayan peaks all around. Of course we tried and captured the beauty of the mountains in our cameras and ventured around.
We were warned and made aware of the snow bears. Next day we had to start quite early at about 4 am, so we went to slumber as soon as the dark set in. Twelve folks in one tent kept each other warm in that chilly night.
Walking up in the morning was not as painful as we thought, but finding a location to poop was pain. The snow was more of ice and very slippery to walk on.
We were asked to pack out lunch and set out for the final ascent. .
Day 8 – SARPASS and then Biskiri
IMP TIP: Keep another set of cloth handy before setting out. Mark my words, you will need it.
Our group was assigned two Sherpas (from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute), they had instructed us about the dangers before leaving. There was this situation due to fierce snow storm which killed two experienced climbers. Read what happened.
The bottom-line – do not compromise on clothing.
Anyways we started off before sunrise. It was steep uphill climb to the top, that too on hard sheet of ice. It was at that moment that we felt the need of Quechua shoes. In fact I would not at all recommend hunter shoes. It was a big mistake. Had the weather been a bit harsh, we would have got a frost bite.
It took us around 3-4 hours to reach the top. Once we reached there, it was heaven, literally. We were walking on a glacier at 13500 ft above the sea level. The highest I have ever been on foot and the closest I have ever been to any Himalayan peak. Ecstatic is the word for what we were feeling. Weather was pleasant, the wind was ice cold but at the same time a soothing bright sun light comforted us. We played around, clicked pictures and even danced. The rest of the group was far behind.
Next we had to start our descent but first some Maggie. O yes there is one small slide before the lunch point.
After lunch, we were literally walking on ‘edges’ and icing on cake one more steep climb, in fact the steepest climb (and the last ascend) and for that we had to use a rope. And now is the most exciting part of SARPASS, the great slide. The total length of slide is around 3 km. Made my bum go numb. After that we badly needed to change our clothes and a hot cup of tea. And Voila! There came the temporary shops to our rescue. You wonderful people of Himachal!!!
The next camp Biskriri Tach is 3-4 km downhill. The road was muddy and slippery. Each one of us was very tired, so burned some pot and were nature “High”. Many from the group in fact decided to skip the last camp. We exchanged numbers and went to slumber.
NOTE: if you are concerned about certificates, it will only be issued to you once you have permission of group leader for skipping the last camp.
Day 9 – Bandhak Tach, our very own Switzerland
We woke up late and started the trek by 9 -10 am. Descending downhill through coniferous forest, we reach Bandhak tach. Mark my words this camp is not to be missed. I will let the pictures speak for me.
NOTE: Properly close the tent at night. The grassland has other visitors as well.
Day 10 – Back to Kasol
We descended as quickly as we could, had an amazing Maggie at lunch point and reached Kasol by noon. We donated our shoes to those amazing village folks (the least we could do is to thank them)
We got a name of Delhi Daredevils from the amazing group mates of SP3.
Alas!! All good things have to come to an end! But we are still in touch through facebook group.
PS: You can send this post to you kindle. Here is how
Few more snaps –