Kalindi Pass – The Glacial Traverse


Bordering Tibet, the region of Garhwal in Uttarakhand, is most famous for the holy sites including the source of India’s most sacred Ganges River which each year receive thousands of pilgrims. Located at the very centre of the great Himalayan chain Garhwal has a host of 7,000 metre peaks such as Nanda Devi, Kamet and Trishul, and sub 7,000 metre expedition peaks such as the stunning Shivling, and this makes the region a Mecca for mountaineers also. Connecting the two holy shrines of Gangotri and Badrinath, this trail traverses from one glacier to the other to cross the high pass of Kalindi just under 6000m.

We begin by following the ages-old ‘Pilgrim’s Trail’ to the source of the mighty Ganges at Gaumukh, and from here we journey into the mountainous heart of Garhwal. We establish a succession of alpine meadow and lakeside camps, with magical views of some of India’s biggest peaks including Shivling, undeniably one of the most beautiful peaks in the Himalayas. Beyond Nandanvan, we climb onto the Chaturangi Glacier and for the next 4 days our route is either on or beside this river of ice as we approach the Kalindi Khal (5947m.).

The walk now is mostly over the moraines and the snow fields with deep crevasses and gives great opportunities to view the high altitude wildlife. From our highest camp, the short and yet exciting climb to this glaciated pass involves the use of ice axe and crampons. We enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains before descending to the beautiful Arwa lake. We follow the Arwa Valley to its junction with the Saraswati River and make our return to civilisation through the villages of Ghastoli and Mana. Walking at an average altitude of 4500m for about 10 days and sleeping at freezing temperatures this trip is a lot more than a trek.
Only for experienced trekkers !

Day 00 : Overnight train from Delhi.
Board the overnight Nizamuddin Dehradun AC Special leaving Delhi at 11:55 pm.

Day 01 : Haridwar to Uttarkashi
Arrive Haridwar by 4:00am.
Board the waiting vehicles to be driven 7 hrs to Uttarkashi, Breakfast enroute. Lunch, dinner and overnight at Camp.

Day 02: Drive Uttarkashi to Gangotri (3000m), 4-5 hrs
After a relaxed breakfast drive 4-5 hrs to the pilgrim town of Gangotri. With the new dam coming up on the Bhagirathi valley expect lots of construction activity. The drive gets picturesque as one approaches the village of Sukhi. Closer to reaching gangotri one starts getting the views of the snow-capped peaks.

Day 03 : Trek Gangotri to Chirbasa (3600m) 4 hrs
Visit the temple and the start the 4 hr walk up towards Gaumukh, the source of the river Ganges. The trail keeps following the river and and just short of Chirbasa one gets the first views of the Bhagirathi Peaks. Chirbasa (3600m), literally meaning the home of pine is now a cluster of shops and some pine trees. Walk down from the main trail and setup camp close to the river.

Day 04 : Trek Chirbasa to Gaumukh(4000m) 4-5hrs
The trail goes along the valley and crosses the campsite of Bhojbasa(3800m), home of birch (now only a few left in the much denuded area). We carry on further to camp close to the snout of the Gangotri Glacier.

Day 05: An extra day for acclimatisation

Day 06 : Trek Gaumukh-Nandanvan (4505m) 5-6hrs
We walk up to the meadow of Nandanvan at the base of Bhagirathi group of peaks. The camp offers majestic views of Shivling – the Matterhorn of the Himalayas.

Day 07 : Trek Nandanvan-Vasukital (4900m) 6-7hrs.
Walk along a stream with views of Meru and Bhrigupanth. After 5kms, we bypass the outlet of the valley leading towards Bhagirathi and come to a deep gorge eroded by the glacier. Descend diagonally towards the snout of the lateral glacier to reach Vasukital. Camp near the lake at the foot of the North-west ridge of Vasuki Parbat.

Day 08 : Rest day at Vasukital
A day to rest and recuperate. It helps us acclimatise and get ready for crossing the high pass.

Day 09 : Trek Vasukital to Kharapathar (5115m) 4-5 hrs
This day’s walk is over stony rubble and crossing moraines. Camp.

Day 10 : Trek Kharapathar to Sweta Glacier (5500m) 4-5 hrs
Camp at a small campsite by the Sweta glacier.

Day 11 : Trek Sweta Glacier to Kalindi Pass Base

Day 12 : Trek Kalindi Pass Base camp to Rajparav(4910m) 4-5 hrs
Start early in the morning to climb the Kalindi Pass (5967m). Descend over snow fields to camp.

Day 13 : Trek Rajparav – Arwatal (3900m) 5-6 hrs
Moving on the side of an icefall, the route descends to a small lake, Arwatal. Kamet and its neighbours are visible. Camp overnight.

Day 14 : Trek Arwatal-Ghastoli (3790m) 5-6hrs.
Walk down Arwa nalla with its profusion of wild flowers. A leisurely day to camp at Ghastoli.

Day 15 : Trek Ghastoli-Mana (3135)-Badrinath (3100m) 5-6 hrs
and drive 2kms to the hotel in Badrinath.

Day 16 : Badrinath-Haridwar 10-12 hrs
Visit the temple of Badrinath(3100m) all the way along the Alaknanda valley till Devprayag. The Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda at Devprayag and now the river is called Ganga. Drive down till Haridwar and board the overnight train to Delhi.

Day 17 : Arrive Delhi early in the morning
Trip ends !

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Trip Details

Location: Uttarakhand
Duration: 16 Days
Grading: Challenging
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