For a trekker, hiking trails that are well rounded and accessible all the year round are like a dream come true. This is exactly what a trail to Pangarchulla peak offers. The peak is situated at an altitude of about 15000 feet and offers a breath-taking scenic treat to the trekker. It is a great trail for people who wish to get taste of adventure and at the same time, enjoy a varied landscape as they continue the trek. The beauty of this trail differs in spring, when the valley and the mountains are in full bloom of wild flowers and the hill slopes are lined by lush Deodars. In winters, the snow-covered mountains offer a different kind of beauty that cannot be comprehended unless you have witnessed it yourself. If you want to experience this pristine beauty, Pangarchulla peak is where you should head to.
- Pangarchulla Peak: An Overview
- More about the Pangarchulla Peak
- Who Should Opt for Pangarchulla Trek
- Best Time to Visit the Pangarchulla Peak
- How to Reach Pangarchulla Peak
- Pangarchulla Peak: A Brief Itinerary
- Pangarchulla Peak: A Detailed Itinerary
- How to Get Fit for the Pangarchulla Peak
- Trekking Essentials for the Pangarchulla Peak
- Summing Up
Pangarchulla Peak : An Overview
Where it is Located: Chamoli district, Uttarakhand
Number of Trekking Days: 7 days
Trekking Grade: Moderate- Difficult
Max Altitude: 4,593 m (15,069 ft)
Trekking Distance: 40 km (approx.)
Livingit Rank: Enthusiast- Expert
Get awestruck at nature’s wonder- Pangarchulla Peak that has balming weather, picturesque landscape and most important a satisfying rendezvous with nature.
More about the Pangarchulla Peak
The peak is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, near the Kuari Pass. It can be still snow-clad in some regions even till May. Though the trekking route is not difficult per se, it can be long and tiring for the uninitiated because the trek requires about a week to complete. It traverses a total distance of more than 34 km.
As you begin the trek, you will pass through lush green forests and flatlands. Soon you will experience a change in the terrain to pure white. The guided trek is led by a trained and experienced guide and requires the use of dedicated trekking equipment. Once you reach the summit, Pangarchulla will offer you majestic views of Nanda Devi, Vasundhara Falls, Dronagiri, Lampak Massif, Bertholi and Barmal, to name a few.
Who Should Opt for Pangarchulla Trek
Now that we know the fine details of the trek, we are in a better position to understand who all can complete this trek. The Pangarchulla trek is not very difficult per se, but the final summit is tricky and requires climbing in deep snow. Hence, this trek is classified as a moderate- difficult trek.
A large part of the trek is fairly uncomplicated and the trail goes through pleasant forests and meadows. Depending on the season that you choose to trek this trail, you will encounter different amounts and thickness of snow towards the summit.
Accordingly, we can conclude that this trek is suitable for:
- People above the age of 15 years who are generally fit
- Trekkers with prior experience of hiking in mountainous terrain
- People who wish to hone their trekking skills and experience the magnificence of mountains
Best Time to Visit Pangarchulla Peak
The landscape of this trek will offer different scenic treats to the trekkers during different seasons. The best time to visit this trek is either in summer time (May-June), or post monsoon season (September- November). The temperature variation during the trek can be from -5 to 15 degrees. During summers, the overall weather will be pleasant and the region will offer clear views because it will not be cloudy. In addition, the absence of snow makes it easier to reach the pinnacle from where the various peaks can be easily spotted and photographed. Post monsoon, the trek will present snow is some parts, and remain lush green in others. This is a totally different kind of adventure.
Summer: 28 to 33 degree Celsius (day); 15 to 20 degree Celsius (night)
Winter: 10 to 15 degree Celsius (day); 5 to 9 degree Celsius (night)
Spring: 14 to 20 degree Celsius (day); 7 to 13 degree Celsius (night)
Highlights of the Pangarchulla Trek
Compared to other mountainous hiking trails, a trek to Pangarchulla is a completely different experience.Some highlights of this trek are:
- Different scenic treat in different seasons
- Constantly changing terrain through the trek
- The awe-inspiring summit-climb in deep snow
- Jaw-dropping views throughout the trek and from the peak
Now that you are inspired to witness this spectacular natural treat, let us see what a typical itinerary for this trek looks like.
How to Reach Pangarchulla
The Pangarchulla trek starts from Auli. The following options are available for travel to Auli.
Take a flight from New Delhi to Dehradun, and travel from Dehradun to Auli by road.
Haridwar is the most important railway station that is well connected by a number of trains. You can reach Haridwar by train and then proceed to Auli by road.
A number of state transport buses ply between New Delhi and Dehradun or Haridwar. You can then reach Auli by road.
The trek ends at Joshimath and you can take a rental car to reach Haridwar. From there, you will have ample train options to travel back to New Delhi.
This trek spans over 7 days and covers different laps in such a way that the trekker does not feel overburdened at any time.
Day 1: Reaching the Auli base camp. Overnight stay at Auli.
Day 2: Auli to Padiyar Camp
Day 3: Padiyar Camp to Tali
Day 4: Tali to Bhagrabadda
Day 5: Bhagrabadda to Pangarchulla Summit and back
Day 6: Bhagrabadda to Joshimath via Tapovan
Day 7: Joshimath to Haridwar
The trek begins once you reach Auli and ends once you reach Haridwar. The travel from your city of residence is not calculated in these 7 days. Therefore, it is good to assume that a total of 10 days will be required for this trek, including all travel.
Pangarchulla Trek - Detailed Itinerary You'll Need
Let us now have a look at the detailed day by day itinerary for this trek.
Reaching the Auli Base Camp
The base camp at Auli is the starting point of this trek. Auli is situated at a distance of 214 km from Haridwar. Most people prefer to reach Haridwar by train or road and then proceed to the base camp at Auli by road. It takes about 11 hours to reach Auli from Haridwar.
Alternatively, some people also choose to come to Auli from New Delhi. Auli distance from Delhi is roughly around 500 km and people usually take a flight from New Delhi to Dehradun and then reach Auli by road, covering a distance of about 300 km. You will reach Auli late in the evening and will have to stay overnight at Auli.
Trek from Auli to Padiyar Camp
The second day of the Pangarchulla trek will involve a change in altitude from 8800 feet at Auli to about 10500 feet at Padiyar Camp. This lap of the trek is typically covered in 4 hours and the trail is not difficult. As you begin the trek from Auli, you will reach the Auli ski lifts and begin your ascent. Mount Nanda Devi is visible from Auli on a clear day. It is interesting to note that Auli temperature is fairly pleasant throughout the year.
After climbing for about 2.5 hours, you will reach a dense Oak forest. The trail through the forest will welcome you with a carpet of leaves on the ground as you continue the trek. You will hear the musical symphony of jungle birds as you tread ahead. After about an hour of walk, you reach a point where you locate a small shrine and some small water streams.
As you walk ahead, you will find that the end of the forest leads to a meadow surrounded by mountains. This means that you would have reached Gorson Bugyal, and this will be the base camp. Since this part of the trek involves a change of altitude by about 2500 feet, it is necessary to get acclimatized and spend the rest of the day here.
You should not miss the beautiful sunset from this point. You can also roam around the region and enjoy the marvellous scenic splendours. Overnight stay is in tents.
Trek from Padiyar Camp to Tali
The third day of the trek will cover a change of altitude from 10500 feet to 11000 feet, meaning that the ascent will not be very steep. But the distance covered today will take about 5 hours.
You will garner the beauty of Gorson Bugyal in full splendour as you travel through the wide meadow before it narrows and enters between the mountains. At this point, the majestic view of Mount Dronagiri welcomes you and will accompany you for a large part of the trek. The Oak forests assume different colours in different seasons. The lush green forest changes to a wonderful shade of rust orange during autumn. As you continue the trail, you will find a valley appearing below the walking route. This valley leads to Nanda Devi Sanctuary and Tapovan. Once you reach Tali, most of the trekkers stay overnight.
Walk from Tali to Bhagrabadda
This lap of the Pangarchulla trek involves a walk for about 6 hours and a change in altitude of about 1000 feet. The ascent is not steep at all and can be easily covered by a moderate pace of walking. The walk through the Birch and Spruce trees is refreshing, to say the least. The trail takes you through beautiful ridges lined by forests on each side. You also get to witness some patches of snow as you walk through the meadows. Bhadrabagga camp is located just at the foothill of the Kuari top and overnight stay is recommended for trekkers. arranged here.
Challenging trek from Bhadrabagga to Pangarchulla Peak and Back
This day marks the most intensive part of the trek, both in terms of the difficulty level, and also the physical effort. Today, you will experience a change of altitude from 12000 feet when you start to 15000 feet Pangarchulla peak altitude. The total journey today will span over about 12 hours, so it is advisable to start very early in the morning, even before sunrise.
If you start from the base camp at 4 a.m., you should reach the peak before 11 a.m. This is considered to be the best time to be there. Since this lap of the trek will most likely be covered with snow, it is advisable to follow the instructions of your guide throughout, even if you don’t find the trek to be difficult. Wearing proper trekking boots and crampons is recommended.
The first one hour of the trek today is through the forest ridge that connects with the Lord Curzon Trail and leads to a frozen stream of water. Snow will be present here and you will have to climb about 100 metres in thick snow. Once the steep slope ends, you will find a snow field spread out in front of you. Continue walking through the snow field for about an hour to reach the snow gully. This is the point from where you can witness Pangarchulla peak.
Continue climbing for about one more hour to reach another snow field and make and advanced base camp here, if needed. This point offers excellent views of Kamet peak, Chaukhamba, Hathi Parbat, Nanda Ghunti and Trishul. You will also see Dronagiri and Chandabang peaks along with a prominent Kalanka peak. The advantages of an advanced base camp include beautiful sunset views and higher chances of successful peak climbing.
Once you have absorbed the grandeur of these mighty peaks, it is time to continue the trial toward Pangarchulla. You will have to cover about six snow clad ridges with steep ascents. Therefore, you have to be very cautious. This takes about 4-5 hours before you finally reach the approach of the peak that is about 300 metres from the top.
Depending on the weather conditions at the time of the trek, your guide will decide the best route to reach the peak. It is highly recommended that you adhere to the instructions given by the guide. Pangarchulla weather determines the difficulty and route of the trek. If you decide to traverse the Pangarchulla trek in May, you will not encounter so much snow on way to the top. On the contrary, the Pangarchulla peak trek in December will necessitate the use of special snow climbing gear because of oodles of snow on the peak. The descent is much easier and will take about 4 hours.
Descent from Bhagrabadda to Joshimath via Tapovan
This descent is fairly easy because of the absence of snow from the trail. It will take you about six hours to traverse through Gulling to Tapovan, where you can witness natural hot water springs, and then to Joshimath. Once you reach Joshimath, you should roam around the place and spend a night here. Average Joshimath temperature is -3 degrees in peak winter time and 25 degrees in peak summer. There are many interesting tourist places nearby. Joshimath has a religious significance too. There are many temples like Gari Bhawani temple, Shankaracharya Math, Narsinh temple, Kedar Temple etc.
A special place of interest that is not far from Joshimath is Devprayag. Considered to be a holy place situated on the confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, Devprayag attracts many tourists throughout the year. Devprayag weather is generally pleasant, with the winter months experiencing an average temperature of 8 degrees and the peak summers having an average temperature of 35 degrees.
Proceed to Haridwar
The final day of the trek will be marked by departure to Haridwar from your place of stay. If travelling from Joshimath, the Haridwar to Joshimath distance of about 280 km can be covered in about 9 hours by road.
How to Get Fit for the Pangarchulla Trek
If you want to check your fitness level for this trek, you should include exercise to enhance your cardiovascular endurance. This is because a large part of this trek is at high altitudes. Moreover, as you are climbing at high altitudes, you must even work on increasing your lung capacity and train yourself with proper breathing exercises. Also, some laps of the trek will require covering about 10 km in a single stretch. So for that, you must perform workouts that will increase your strength, stamina and flexibility.
Trekking Essentials for the Pangarchulla Peak
Since the Pangarchulla trek will encompass different kinds of terrain, it is a good idea to keep different accessories for different landscapes. You will need the following things for this trek:
- Good quality trekking shoes that have good ankle support and a firm grip. Normal sport shoes are not suitable for this trek because they will not work in snow.
- A good backpack and daypack is essential. Make sure that these have sturdy straps and are waterproof.
- A trekking pole will be helpful in the final lap of the trek
- Keeping the season in mind, you should pack your clothes for this trek. In general, it is advisable to carry warm layering clothes like fleece jackets, padded jackets etc., especially when the night temperatures drop to near zero and you have to stay in an outdoor tent.
- At least three trek pants and three shirts are recommended. Even though it will be cold, climbing in mountains causes a lot of sweating and your shirts will be wet with sweat.
- Additionally, keep a pair of thermals.
- Sunglasses are always recommended for any hike, and this trek is no exception. They not only prevent sun induced damage to the eyes, but also avoid snow blindness that is very common on high peaks.
- Carrying a suncap will protect your head from sun’s merciless rays.
- Enough pairs of socks, both cotton and woollen.
- A woollen scarf will be very handy in protecting against frost.
- A headlamp or LED torch to tackle regions of low visibility.
- A camera to capture the memories of the experience.
- Personal toiletries like soap, shampoo, moisturizer, sunscreen, wet wipes, hand sanitizer etc.
- Water bottles
- Bags for disposing any kind of waste
- Cutlery for personal use, like mug, spoon, plate etc.
Or any trek, it is recommended that you carry your own medical kit. Although basic first aid kit is available with the tour guide, one must not risk the availability of any medication. Your kit should contain pain killers, medicines for fever/ diarrhoea/ altitude sickness/ acidity/ allergies etc. in addition, keeping band aid, gauze and antiseptic cream is also recommended. Don’t forget to keep any prescription medicine that you take regularly.
Typically, you should carry the following documents with you:
- A national identity card, in original and a photo copy.
- A medical certificate indicating your fitness for a trek, signed by the Chief Medical Officer of a Government hospital.
- Disclaimers by the tour operator, duly read and signed by you.
Now that you know all the fine details about the Pangarchulla trek route, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head straight to Chamoli. The region is a paradise for hikers and trekking enthusiasts, whether beginners or experts. Forget the chaotic world behind and conquer the summit of Garhwal region and experience a surreal and satisfying experience. Don’t forget to share your trekking experience with us.
"Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery"- John Ruskin