Auden’s Col is the Holy Grail of trekking in the Himalayan region of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, offering the finest multi-terrain challenge you will encounter. It’s one of the most famous treks in the Indian Himalayas
The Auden’s Col Trek is named after John Bicknell Auden, a British Geographical Survey officer who first discovered it in 1935 and crossed it in 1939.
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeTrekking
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Auden’s Col is the Holy Grail of trekking in the Himalayan region of Garhwal in Uttarakhand , offering the finest multi-terrain challenge you will encounter.
The Auden’s Col is situated on the connecting ridge of Gangotri III (6577 m) and Jogin I (6465 m), small depression between the two mighty massifs – we approach the Col from Rudugaira glacier and descend through the ice falls and the heavily crevassed Khatling glacier. We start our expedition by driving up the Bhagirathi valley right till the end of the road at Gangotri. From here we move south towards the Gangotri range establishing a series of camps. With proper acclimatization, we cross the col and abseil to the mighty Khatling glacier. We descend the Khatling glacier and exit along the Bhilangana river, which surges from the mount of the Khatling. This is one of the most scenic walks in the Himalaya, all the way till Reeh, where the road has moved up the valley.
The Auden’s Col Trek is named after John Bicknell Auden, a British Geographical Survey officer, who first discovered it in 1935 and crossed it in 1939.
Arrive Haridwar by overnight / day train. Board waiting vehicles to be driven straight to Kuflon Basics in the Assi Ganga valley (7hrs). Breakfast enroute. Overnight Kuflon.
After breakfast, we depart Kuflon for a 4 hr drive to Gangotri. This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga, and the impressive falls of the Bhagirathi at Gauri Kund. Gangotri was built by the Nepalese General, Amar Singh Thapa in the early 18th century. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is a must – see. Overnight Guest House at Gangotri (3050m).
Acclimatisation day in Gangotri (3042m)
We leave after an early meal and walk on the trail leading to the lake of Kedartal. The trail goes through birch forests and is steep all the way to the small campsite at Bhoj Kharak (3780m). Back to Gangotri late afternoon. Overnight Guest House at Gangotri (3050m).
Gangotri – Nalla Camp (15.85 km; 3754 m)
We have an early morning breakfast and wait for porter’s to arrive and distribute the loads amongst themselves. We set of on the true left of the Bhagirathi river and walk for about half an hour before we turn south towards the Rudragaira Nalla. Looking back we get beautiful views of Chirbas Parbat, Matri, Yogeshwar and the other snow capped mountains. The climb is a gradual uphill through the forests of birch and maple. Nalla Camp is just above the tree line and can get quite chilly during the night. Overnight Nalla Camp (3760m)
Nalla Camp – Rudugaira Base Camp - Gangotri 1 Base Camp (5.9 km ; 4527m)
The day starts off with a steep climb to a huge meadow followed by a river crossing and another steep climb right up to the Rudragaira Base Camp. After lunch at the grassy campsite we continue over the glacial moraine to the Gangotri 1 Base Camp. Overnight Gangotri 1 Base Camp (4500m)
A day to acclimatise
A day to relax and acclimatise, read, relax, or take a short walk near camp, or try and spot some wildlife. Overnight Gangotri 1 Base Camp Camp (4500m)
Auden’s Col Base Camp (8.14km ; 4888m)
We proceed towards the head of the valley with the Gangotri Range to the north and Jogin group to the south. Auden’s Col is at the head of the valley in the depression between the two massifs. We camp at the foot of the col. Overnight Auden’s Col Base Camp (4800m)
Cross the Auden’s Col (4.98 km ; 5490m) & descend to Khatling Glacier Camp I (2.8 km ; 5091 m)
We leave very early today, to make the climb to the col easier in the firmer morning snow. The climb is steep and can easily take 4-6 hrs depending on the snow conditions. Auden’s Col offers excellent views of the Khatling Glacier, and the mountain peaks of Jaonli, Kedarnath, Jogin & Gangotri. From the col we abseil down near-vertical walls of ice on fixed ropes to the heavily crevassed Khatling Glacier. Overnight Khatling Glacier Camp (5110m)
Khatling Glacier Walk, Snout (12.25 km ; 3903 m)
Today is a very long day and one of the best days of the trek, we are surrounded by high mountains massifs, with small glaciers feeding the main trunk of the Khatling glacier as we descend towards the snout of the Khatling, negotiating crevasses along with way. We will be roped up initially for the overall safety of the group. Overnight Snout Camp
Snout to Khatling Cave and onwards to Tambakund (9.4 km ; 3441m)
Today we descend through moraine to get to the snout of the Khatling Glacier, from the mouth of which emerges the Bhilangana river, a tributary of the Bhagirathi which meets it at the Tehri dam. We continue to camp on true right of the river near a natural cave. Overnight Tambakund (3400m)
Rest day / Contingency
We have a rest / contingency day to allow for bad weather and to have some flexibility in the itinerary. Overnight Camp
Tambakund – Kharsoli (11.72 km ; 2902 m)
We walk through dense mixed Himalayan Forests of oak, birch, deodar, fir & rhododendron. The gradient is gradual and this walk in the woods gives a great opportunity to commune with nature. People are allowed to enjoy the walk at their own pace and guides spread out a bit. Kharsoli has a beautiful campsite in a clearing next to a gushing stream. Its hard to resist the temptation of jumping into the stream. We will find plenty of drift wood by the stream to enjoy a big campfire in the evening.
Overnight Kharsoli Camp (2880m).
Kharsoli – Gangi (17.8 km ; 2650m)
The walk continues through dense forest, shepherd hutments and the first signs of civilisation. Overnight Camp / GMVN Guest House at Gangi (2650m).
Gangi – Reeh (10 km ; 1550m)
During a long day’s walk, we slowly descend to pine forests and go past the village of Reeh to finish the trek at the roadhead, 4kms upstream of Ghuttu. The road has come quite close to the village of Reeh. Overnight Camp / GMVN Guest House at Ghuttu (1550m).
Ghuttu – Delhi
Have a relaxed start, pack up, drive from Ghuttu to Haridwar and board the evening Shatabdi Express to be back in Delhi by 10:45pm.
We believe that along with the privilege of adventure in the Himalaya comes a serious responsibility, the responsibility to protect and contribute to its ecology, cultures and its tremendous beauty. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy is followed to the letter and we work to minimize the environmental impact of our trips. We are scrupulous in our camping, cooking and sanitation practices; we limit the number of trekkers we allow to join us on our trips and the number of trips we lead in a given area.
In wilderness, commercial agreements between service provider and client require a depth of understanding that is more than what is routinely attached to similar agreements elsewhere. In the outdoors, we have to balance pursuit of stated objective and risk. We try to overcome risk and deliver the objective promised in the agreement between client and service provider. But that does not mean that we ignore risk altogether to chase an objective. We wish you to be informed on what makes a trip safe for you and everyone else.
Please take a few minutes to read the following:
The nature of wilderness
By definition wilderness implies remoteness. It means that response to any accident or mishap takes time. Timely intervention is a life saver. Working back from this, it becomes imperative that any commercial adventure in wilderness be conservative in terms of the risk it courts. Yet adventure means there will be risk. The way out is to manage the risk involved in such a fashion that a safe experience is provided. There are a few things that the client can do.
Prepare in advance
Commercial expeditions entail strain even if others are carrying your load and doing the team’s work. Prior physical conditioning – particularly of the cardiovascular sort contributing to improved endurance – helps. Please invest time and effort for that before embarking on the trip. It will help you in the field.
Be honest, speak up
We encourage clients to be honest about how they are feeling on expedition days; voice any personal difficulties they may be experiencing. This helps the team make relevant decisions for clients’ well being, something crucial when venturing into altitude. Not all of us are meant for altitude. If your physiology rebels, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. Speak up. Make sure that your disclosures about self are not biased by an objective you are feverishly trying to achieve like getting to the summit of a peak or crossing a high pass at any cost. Don’t let summit fever and similar instances of extreme personal ambition, consume you. It puts you and your support team at risk. Stay with the team’s assessment of risk. Go with the resultant decisions. If you think you have a point to make by all means do so. We will hear you out. But risk assessment and decisions, will be by the team leaders as the onus of a safe expedition primarily rests with them.
Let the leaders work
You may be familiar with rivers, mountains and altitude. We don’t wish to question that. But there are reasons why many of us choose to go as clients. One of them is that our primary vocation is something else, while those working in the mountains as guides have chosen to make that their primary vocation or at the very least, dedicate time to it. More than us, they are in the mountains. They are alive to it. That’s why we entrust our passage to them. So, please let them work free of interference. Please don’t influence their judgement. Your expedition needs their best work and best judgement. In any expedition, leadership style will vary with the risk being tackled in a given situation. There will be times when we can travel easy in a very consultative fashion. There will be times when that is not advisable and a more directive style may be adopted by your guides. Please comply.
Be open to alternatives
We can set up the best safety systems possible, checking and double checking to make sure that nothing is left to chance. But we don’t control or totally overcome variables like weather and terrain / river conditions. They impact expedition’s progress. If team leaders review / alter plan citing concerns on any front, we request that it be respected and not viewed as money’s worth denied even if it dims prospects for achieving an expedition’s original goal. Such challenges are frequent in the outdoors. Seasoned trekkers and climbers, when they realize that a particular objective does not seem achievable on a given trip, learn to be happy with other pursuits to compensate – like staying camped and enjoying the mountain environment or attempting more doable hikes from wherever they are. We request you to stay aware of these possibilities. Be open to them. Decades ago when exploration and first ascents were happening in the Himalaya, the explorers / mountaineers / hikers devoted months to their work. Committed outdoorsmen still do. They wait out unfavourable circumstances by having a lot of time and patience. Time is what the modern world does not have even as the mountains remain the same, posing the same challenges; the same risk, the same unpredictable circumstances. An exceptionally lucky circumstance may deliver success. But luck isn’t commonplace. We should be mentally prepared for the above mentioned alternatives.
If you don’t achieve your objective it isn’t the end of the world. Be patient, another chance will emerge. There is a simple reminder, climbers often tell their colleagues leaving for a summit: “ the mountain will always be there; make sure you are there.’’
In other words – be safe.
Our expedition trips are designed for energetic and flexible people who have the spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Previous experience in the outdoors and camping helps, though is not a must. These trips are participatory in nature, and everyone is expected to pitch in, set up and break down their own tent, clean their own dishes. Look up our trip grading before you sign up.
Grading of Trips
We have graded our trips in four different categories and you should choose one that suits you the most. Grading of each trip has been done keeping in mind a lot of factors like the trip duration, the altitude, the terrain, the no. of hours of activity everyday, temperatures and conditions encountered, and the level of fitness needed. Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
- Easy : Most of our camp based trips, with easy activities, that are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding whitewater trips with easy support and myriad options.
- Moderate : Active trips involving hiking over reasonable terrain, within vehicular access, upto elevations less than 4000 meters, or trips with long walking days, multiple rafting days, wilderness camping. Includes more demanding whitewater trips with Class III rapids.
- Demanding : Hiking and trekking to elevations exceeding 4000-5000 meters, away from vehicular access, over multiple days. Encompasses demanding whitewater with Class IV rapids.
- Challenging : Our most demanding trips include climbing at high elevations in excess of 5000 meters, in remote and extreme conditions with no access to roads; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips, and demanding whitewater trips with Class IV-V rapids.
The Next Step
Ready to go? Email us at email@example.com to book your place and we will guide you through the booking process. Please sign and scan/email us your booking form and inform us about the status of your payments at the time of confirming the trip (Booking form and Payment details below).
Why travel with Aquaterra Adventures?
We are a pioneer in active adventure travel, and run the most number of rivers in India, having opened them up over the past several years. We set the standard and have a strong reputation for excellence. We have a lot to live up to and we ensure we provide the safest, quality trips for our guests.
Should you wish to contact any of our past guests for a trip reference, write to us.
In remote regions, we often use local suppliers who provide services that may include vehicles for transportation, equipment, logistical support, hotels, guest houses etc. We do not own or operate these independent services or suppliers. We work with them as they share our commitment to service and quality.
All travel from Delhi and back to Delhi by road/ rail as applicable (by non ac car / 2 or 3 tier ac coach), all arrangements for staying and camping while on the trip, accommodation on twin share basis in tents / rest houses / hotels, all group climbing gear like ropes, anchors, slings etc. and individual climbing kit which would be hired climbing boots, ice-axes, crampons and gaiters, all meals, professional guide fee, peak fee, sanctuary fee / royalty / permits where applicable, all trekking arrangements with india’s most experienced guiding team, camp staff, cook etc.
Railway station / airport transfers in Delhi, any stay and meals in Delhi, meals enroute to reaching first days destination and back on the last day (due to road journey being 5 hrs or more), sleeping bag, items of personal clothing, expenses of a personal nature like laundry, phone calls, alcohol, cigarettes, insurance, camera fee and any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions and any other circumstances beyond our control.
If it becomes necessary to cancel your tour, you must notify Aquaterra Adventures India Pvt. Ltd. immediately in writing. Once we receive your notice, cancellation will take effect. Please note that the following charges will apply on cancellation:
- if cancellation takes place more than 45 days prior to departure, your full deposit
- will be returned except a processing charge of Rs. 5000 or US$ 77 ; (60 days for Brahmaputra trip)
- if cancellation takes place between 45 and 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the
- tour price will be forfeited (between 60 and 30 days for Brahmaputra trip); and
- if cancellation takes place less than 30 days prior to departure, 100% of the tour price will be forfeited.
Some trips attract a minimum processing charge – please check.
The tour price is quoted as a package. No partial refunds or credit will be given for services not used. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance upon booking.
Temperatures on the trek will vary from 20-30 degrees to minimum of -10 degrees Celsius. Its best to be prepared for lower temperatures due to wind chill or the weather turning bad. The days are hot and the nights refreshingly cool. You should be ready for inclement weather in any case as the weather changes rather quickly at altitude.
Keep it light – although what you carry with you is a very personal decision. Some of our guests love to travel as light as possible while others are only happy when they have countless bits of equipment for every possible occurrence, most of which will never be used.
What you are expected to carry during the day on the trail is a day pack – to carry things that you will need throughout the day, such as your camera, extra batteries, water bottle, packed lunch, sweets, rehydration powders, waterproofs, toilet paper, a fleece or a jumper.
Most trails in the Indian Himalayas are pretty rough and steep so a good pair of shoes is important. Have thin cotton / nylon socks for the day, thick woollen ones would give you blisters – need to be worn only at the campsites to keep the feet warm.
Few things will make you more miserable during the trek than blisters. And blisters are almost certain to occur if your boots are not broken in. If you are buying new boots buy them as soon as you can and wear them as much as you can before the trek.
While walking the body heats up and all we need to wear is a T-shirt & cargos/ trousers. However all our warm clothes will come into play in the mornings / evenings when we aren’t doing much physically. A good base layer which could be a thermal top (polypropylene), with a T-shirt on top will keep you warm and dry. Mid layers provide insulation so anything that is warm will do e.g. a medium thickness woolen jumper or a mid-weight fleece top, along with another lightweight fleece top will suffice. If you really feel the cold, substitute the thinner layer with a down jacket. The outer layer is the final layer between you and the elements and must be capable of keeping out the wind, rain and snow. Any good waterproof, windproof jacket would do the job. Leg wear in the form of thermal long johns are invaluable. A good sun hat is very essential. Sunglasses which offer 100% UV protection are necessary to combat strong daylight.
A good quality 4 season sleeping bag rated for at least -10 deg C would ensure a good night’s sleep after a long day outdoors. Do not compromise on your sleeping bag – err on the side of carrying a warmer bag, than carrying a light one which may give you many sleepless nights.
How to carry:
It’s best to carry your belongings in a large, tough duffel bag or a big rucksack. Pack similar things such as clothes, washing things, camping equipment etc. in separate stuff sacks or polythene bags so they are easier to pull out and add to the waterproofing in your bag. Your main bag should be a tough one as it will be on a porter’s bag, not the best place to be for a fragile backpack.
While trekking you will need to carry a small daypack big enough to carry your camera, water bottle, packed lunch, a warm layer and wind/rain jacket.
Your baggage on trek will be carried by porters. The packed weight of your bag should be no more than 15 kgs. Apart from it you will have a daypack to carry necessary items for the day’s walk.
A day on a trek begins with breakfast at 7 am by which time; you are expected to vacate your tent so packing can begin. Your help with setting up and packing up of tents is always welcome. We aim to usually be on the trail by 8:30 am and reach our camp for the day by 2-3pm, if not earlier. Long days on the trail may mean an earlier start and an 8-10 hour walking day. Lunch is usually had on the walk, and you’d get into camp for a welcome cup of tea. We would be having an early start (between 4-5am) on the day of crossing the Auden’s col.
Group Leader and Support Staff: The group will be accompanied by an experienced trip leader (a trained mountaineer) throughout the trek. The support crew will consist of a local guide and a cook (along with porters), who would prepare the days meals for the days that we are camping out.
Menus vary from Indian fare to Chinese, pasta, cold cuts, sandwiches, eggs etc. The emphasis is on providing a high-carbohydrate and largely vegetarian diet, which we have found to be easily digestible at high altitude. You might want to carry your favourite snack or some power bars with you on the long trekking days.
We will provide you safe drinking water throughout the trek – it will either be bottled or boiled with a dash of iodine.
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