Monday 22nd of September 2014

Complete Trek Information

 


The Rupin Pass trek is like an edge-of-the-seat Hollywood thriller. So sudden are the changes in scenery that it makes you always walk a little further just to see if there is another surprise round the corner.

What’s intriguing is why many hikers don’t do this trail. Yet, it is one of the best treks you will ever do in your life.

Picture this: A turn here and a towering waterfall, a turn there a meadow full of yellow marigolds, another turn: a fir forest. Look down and a snow bridge to cross, look up -- a hanging village, scan the horizon and hundreds of water falls cascading down a glacial valley, look across and an icy blue river gently floating by. Squish your toes and rivulets dance, twirl and gurgle underfoot.

Eerie trails dug out of rock faces, trails that look down a precipice, trails over swaying wooden bridges, trails through deep dark folds in the mountain, trails that cut through millions of white Rhododendrons, trails over lush expanse of green meadows, trails on glaciers and icy slopes, trails over vast snow fields, trails through an echoing gully – it just doesn’t stop. The Rupin Pass trek has got it all.


Your trek starts at Dhaula, a sleepy hamlet of a dozen homes and the last road head of Uttarakhand. Dhaula overlooks the Rupin curving down a stony gorge in the river – the sound deafening. In the evening step down to the cable drawn sway bridge and catch a wall of mist hanging over the gushing Rupin. The stillness of the mist in contrast to the rush of the river right under is the start of the many surprises in store.

 

Day 1. How to get to Dhaula base camp

Dhaula (5500 ft) is the base for the Rupin Pass trek. Dhaula is a sleepy hamlet of a dozen homes and the last road head of Uttarakhand.

Getting to Dhaula:

Dhaula can be reached by a private vehicle from Dehradun. The other way to get there is to take a bus from Dehradun to Sankri, get off at Naitwar and take a shared jeep to Dhaula. The bus from Dehradun leaves at 5.30 am from Gandhi Road, just outside the railway station.

If you are taking a taxi the route is Dehardun -- Mussoorie -- Damta -- Nowgaon -- Purola -- Mori -- Naitwar -- Dhaula. It is a 10 hour long, but lovely road journey. 

Dehradun is the nearest big town to the trek base Dhaula. Take an over night train from Delhi to Dehradun. The train 12205 NDLS DDN AC EXP runs everyday and is a good train to take. It usually gets to Dehradun by 5.45 am.


Day 2. Dhaula 1560 mts to Gosangu 1920 mts via Sewa

(5½ hrs. Level: Easy undulating walk, with short climbs and drops. Altitude gain: 360 mts/1180 ft. 11 kms).


Dhaula - the base camp. You camp amidst pines next to the fast flowing 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 climbs sharply 200 mts 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, listless, and undecided. On the other slope, the trekking trail snakes its way up through apple and apricot trees. The landscape: lush green.


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 thirteen year old girl-woman will take your order for tea and biscuits. She is the owner, manager, cook and the washer boy 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.

 

The temple with a clock at Sewa village

 

Sewa at 2040 mts is an unattractive place to camp, though the camp site is at the entrance of the village. Stop at the village temple adorned with medals and an electric clock – a sight so out of place that you need time to get used to it. The two storey temple combines local and Kinnaur traditions, not surprising with the Himachal border so close. Buy a few biscuits from a shop near the temple, swig from your water bottle and head out of the village.


The trail 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.

 

Pine forest after Sewa

 

Gleefully hop and crisscross across 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 because this is no-mans 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 pictch 7-8 tents. This place is called as Haldi Khad. The next day's trek carries ahead along the trail until you climb up from the banks to the road head of Gosangu.

 

The village of Dodra, the remotest Tehsil of Himachal is above Gosangu and takes an half hours 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.


Day 3. Gosangu 1920 mts to Jhaka 2650 mtsvia Jiskun 2320 mts

(5½ hrs. Level: Long climbs with gentle walks in between. Altitude gain: 730 mts/2394 ft. 9 kms)

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 climbs and meets up with the overhanging trail to Jiskun.

 

Once on the main trail to Jiskun, the changing sights start to assault 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, its 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 over-hanging trail walk and you come to a rapidly flowing stream, the Raj Gad. This is an ideal place to take a breather -- after this there 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.



It is a further 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.

 

Jhaka the hanging village on the Rupin pass trek


Day 4. Jhaka 2650 mts to Saruwas thatch 3400 mts via Uduknal 3000 mts

(4½ hrs. Level: Mostly climbs with one gentle walk in between. Altitude gain: 650 mts/2132 ft.6 kms).


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 to camp in the courtyard of the school itself.


Jakha is the last stop to replenish your supplies and also look for porters if you are running short. For the next few days of your trek, there is rarely a soul you are likely to find on the route, 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, takes you through a civilization that is pristine and untouched. 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. If you are the naughty type, wait at a corner to catch the quick draw of air from your trek mates when they catch the first sight of the snow bridge.

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.

 

 

A note here: 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. 

To continue: 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 I’ve just 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 Uduknal. 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 to 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 hoping 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 Buras Kandi and an excellent place to camp if you don’t mind the many cows that graze in the bounties of nature here.

 

 

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 of colours -- white, pink, purple. They are everywhere. The Rhododendrons are the dwarf kind and rarely cross your chest height. 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.

The first view of the U shapped Rupin valley

 

A small clearing and the Rhododendrons now adorn the slopes, the plants climbing a few thousand of feet into the air. Walk a bit further to a bigger clearing and get hit by the 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 its 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.

This is Saruwas thatch.

 

Day 5. Saruwas thatch 3400 mts to Dhanderas thatch 3560 mts (lower water fall camp)

(4½ hrs. Level: Initial short climb followed by easy undulating walks. Altitude gain: 210 mts/680 ft. 6 kms)


The day’s walk is perhaps one of the best you’ll ever do. It has enough ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in store to last you a lifetime.

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 hit 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 up to its waterfall 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.

Dhandheras Thatch on the Rupin pass trek

 

The climb is like inching along near the top of a roller coaster ride, waiting, anticipating for the view next. It doesn’t disappoint you. You have arrived at the prettiest meadow of the trek, a site so beautiful, that you want to setup 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. Dhanderas thatch 3560 mts to Upper Waterfall camp 4000 mts or Rati Pheri camp 4250 mts

(2 hrs steep climb. Altitude gain: 210 mts/1444 ft.)


This is perhaps the most important day of your trek. The acclimatization climb to the top of the waterfall will help you no-end for a super successful climb of the Rupin pass.

From Dhanderas Thatch the altitude gain for the Rupin pass crossing is almost 4000 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 the glacier across the 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 on your sight the last two days.

 

Day 7. Upper Waterfall camp 4000 mts to Rupin Pass 4650 mts (via Rati Pheri), further on to Ronti Gad 4100 mts

(10-11 hours of trekking. Steep climb to the pass followed by a sharp descent.)


This is the longest day of your trek and the most grueling – 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 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 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 in all its hues.

Trekkers heading to Rupin pass
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 a direction towards 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 sloppy are difficult to find and scrambling on all four 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. Multitude of prayer flags flutter in the high winds that blows 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 your 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.

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 ranges, 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 of the stage 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 (still 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. Old remnants of 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 days trekking, starting at 13,120 ft, climbing to 15,500 ft and then dropping down to 13,500 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 8. Ronti Gad 4100 mts to Sangla 2679 mts Via Sangla Kanda 3600 mts

(6 hrs of steep descent. Altitude loss 1321 mts/4200 ft)


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.

 

The view after crossing the Rupin pass

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. Multitude 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 in the morning.

 

This is perhaps the most important day of your trek. The acclimatization climb to the top of the waterfall will help you no-end for a super successful climb of the Rupin pass.

From Dhanderas Thatch the altitude gain for the Rupin pass crossing is almost 4000 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.

Rupin pass himalayan trek: Snow bridge over the second water fall

Snow bridge over the second water fall

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 on your sight the last two days.

 

Trek Fees

Rupin Pass Trek


Rs 11,250


per person (from Dhaula to Sangla)

Note: Service Tax of 3.09% applicable on Trek Fees

What the trek fee includes, excludes and cancellation charges

Sep/Oct Trek Batches

 

20 to 27 Sep'14 (Full)
27 to 04 Oct'14 (Full)

04  to 11 Oct'14 (Full)


 

*Find out who can trek at a concession

Central government employees can avail special casual leave for trekking the Rupin Pass trek
write to info@indiahikes.in for the application kit.

*Green Trail Batch

 

 


Weather Observations

Dated: 19-06-2014

Weather is good. Skies are clear, very sunny and hot at base camp Dhaula.

Contact Us

Registered Trekkers call:
9590363344
(9.30 AM - 6.30 PM   Mon-Sat)

New Enquiry call:
9343831803
(9.30 AM - 6.30 PM   Mon-Sat)
or write to us at:
info@indiahikes.in


Trek Calendar

Other Indiahikes Treks

Trek Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up from Dehradun railway station.

Day 2: Dhaula 5,100 ft to Sewa 6,150 ft 

Day 3: Sewa 6,150 ft to Jhaka 8,700 ft.

Day 4: Jhaka 8,700 ft to Saruwas thatch 10,250 ft.

Day 5: Saruwas thatch 10,250 ft to Dhanderas thatch 11,680 ft (lower water fall camp)

Day 6: *Buffer day. Dhanderas thatch 11,680 ft to Upper Waterfall camp 13,300 ft.

Day 7: Upper Waterfall 13,120 ft to Rupin Pass 15,250 ft to Ronti Gad 13,420 ft.

Day 8: Ronti Gad 13,420 ft to Sangla 8,800 ft.

* Day 5 or 6 is used as a buffer day. It is possible to trek from Saruwas Thatch to Upper waterfall in a day. In case of bad weather the team uses either Day 5 or Day 6 as buffer day. The total number of days of the trek remain the same.


Trek Facts

Difficulty 
Moderate-Difficult. See link for details.

Trail type
Cross over trek. Starts in Uttarakhand and ends in Himachal.

Altitude
Rupin Pass: 15,250 feet (4,650 mts). 3 camps are above 11,000 feet.

Rail head
Dehradun. You can reach Dehradun by an overnight journey from Delhi. New Delhi Dehradun AC Special leaves New Delhi station at 11.55 in the night to get to Dehradun by 5.40 in the morning. Indiahikes pick up is lined up with the AC Special.

Base Camp
Dhaula near Naitwar in western Uttarakhand.

Best Season
May 3rd week to June end; Mid September to October end.

Temperature in May, Jun.
Day: 15° to 20°C. Night: 4° to 7°C. Temp at highest camp, Rati Pheri: Day 5°C to 10°C. Night: 3° to -2°C.

Temperature in Sept and Oct.
Day: 13° to 20°C. Night: 2° to 7°C. Temp at highest camp, Rati Pheri: Day 3°C to 10°C. Night: 3° to -5°C.

Rain
Rains start early July until mid September. Approach road landslides common in late August and early Sep. Usually repaired in a few days.

Snow
High snow in May from Saruwas Thatch onwards (3 days of the trek has considerable snow). Decreases in June. Comfortable snow during the last half of June. September has little snow. In the first week of October, the first winter snow is likely to fall in the upper reaches. Usually melts in a few days.

Preparation
Physical preparation mandatory. See link for more details.

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