Hiking - Destination

Pindari Glacier Trek in Uttarakhand: Get an Access to Glaciers!

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India is bestowed with some of the best natural features that are a visual treat to nature lovers and a source of adrenaline rush to hikers. One such region that all hikers, whether beginners or experts, dream of visiting, is the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand. It offers true delights to hikers because the hilly terrain caters to all tastes and levels of hiking. Nestled in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand is a very popular hiking terrain called Pindari glacier, a dream destination for hikers.

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The picturesque trail of hiking towards the Pindari valley supersedes its description. As if coming out from a fairytale, the trail offers the grandeur of natural beauty in full bloom. Lush green valleys, riversides, serpentine turns of the mountains, floral landscapes, and snow-clad terrain, the trek to the Pindari Glacier takes you through it all.

Pindari Glacier Trek- An Overview

pindari glacier
The Trek That Takes You through the Best of Nature (Source)
  • Where it is Located: Uttarakhand 
  • Number of Trekking Days: 6 - 7 days
  • Trekking Grade: Easy
  • Max Altitude: 3,353 m above sea-level
  • Trekking Distance: 90 km
  • Livingit Rank: Enthusiast, Advanced, 

Geographical Details

High in Kumaon Himalayas, the Pindari glacier is located in the Bageshwar district at an elevation of 3,353 m above sea level, south east of the famous Mt. Nanda Devi. The direction of flow of the glacier is towards the south, where is traverses a distance of about 3 km and yields the Pindari river. This river flows to Garhwal region before merging with the Alaknanda River at Karnaprayag.

Pindari Glacier Trek - What to Expect

Despite being a long trail, most hikers are able to manage comfortably and complete the trail in around one week. This is because this trek is largely uncomplicated, except for a few regions. One of the distinguished features of this trek is that it can be completed by a family with children, as long as one is careful while hiking with kids.

pindari glacier
Spellbound by Nature

As you hike towards the Pindari glacier, you will witness magnificent views of mountain peaks like Nanda Devi, Maiktoli and Panwali Dwar, and the Kafni glacier. This trek will enthral you with the green cover of Rhododendron forests which are home to some exotic bird species, who will chirp and coo as you pass through their area. Soon, the chirping will be replaced with breathtaking views of the valleys and ridges with magnificent mountains in the backdrop. Finally, the panoramic views from the top will fill up your senses like fog in a forest.

Brief History of Expeditions in the Region

pindari glacier
Traill’s Pass: A Passage to the Past

Pindari valley has been one of the important historical trade routes to Tibet via the Milam valley. It was in 1830, that the then Deputy Commissioner of Kumaon, G.W. Traill, arranged an expedition to find out a shorter route from the Pindari glacier to reach Martoli in Milam valley, via a Col through the Pindari ice-fall. This Col stands at a height of more than 17,000 feet and was later named Traill’s Pass. Eventually, a lot of explorers started using this route, owing to the easy approach to its ice-fall terrain.

Reaching Pindari Glacier

The first step is to reach Bageshwar. There are many options of travel to Bageshwar and are discussed below.

Reaching by Road

Buses and cars can be used to reach Bamsera, which is about 26 km away from Bageshwar. From Bamsera, hikers can easily reach Saung village to begin their trek.

Reaching by Train

The Kathgodam railway station located at Nainital is about 145 km away from Bageshwar, and many trains arrive at this station. From here, you can reach Bageshwar by road.

Reaching by Air

Many flights fly from New Delhi to Pantnagar airport, situated about 180 km away from Bageshwar. Buses and cars can be taken to reach Bageshwar from here.

Best Time of the Year to Visit Pindari Glacier

pindari glacier
The Perfect Weather to go on an Adventure

The season from mid-March to mid-June is the most suitable time to plan a trek in the Pindari glacier. This is because the weather will be moderate and the trek routes will be unobstructed, making the trek easier and comfortable.

After June, the monsoons set in and the heavy rainfall in the region makes this trail very dangerous. The route is also prone to landslides.

In September and October, the weather is expected to be on the cooler side, but still not extreme. Therefore, some hikers also visit the Pindari glacier during this time of the year.

Between November and March, the temperature drops to a very low point and the snow-clad terrain makes it difficult for hikers to make a trek. Most of the rout is obstructed by snow.

Average Temperatures

  • Summer: 26 to 31 degree Celsius (day); 17 to 22 degree Celsius (night)
  • Winter: 19 to 24 degree Celsius (day); 8 to 13 degree Celsius (night)
  • Monsoon: 25 to 30 degree Celsius (day); 21 to 26 degree Celsius (night)

Pindari Glacier Trek Map

pindari glacier
Mapping Out Your Adventure (Source)

A Quick Look at the Pindari Glacier Trek

A hiking trail to the Pindari glacier will take you through Saung village, Loharkhet village, the Dhakuri pass, Khati village, followed by Dwali and Phurkia before culminating at the Zero point-Pindar. This beautiful trail along the Pindari River would require about a week for most hikers to cover a total distance of about 90 km.

Pindari Glacier Trek - Detailed Itinerary You'll Need

A typical trek here will take about a week to complete. Let us have a look at the detailed itinerary for Pindari glacier trek.

Reaching Loharkhet

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The Picturesque Loharkhet

Depending on your point of arrival by the chosen means of transport, you would have to reach Bageshwar from Pantnagar (180 km) or Kathgodam (145 km). The town of Bageshwar has a few sight-seeing and tourist options like Bagnath temple that is located at the pious confluence of the rivers Gomti and Saryu. The town will also provide ample options to shop for necessary items. You can also have lunch here before proceeding to Loharkhet, that is just a couple of hours drive. There are plenty of boarding and lodging options in Loharkhet and you will easily find accommodation for the night.

Loharkhet - Kharkiya - Khati

The second day of your trail to Pindari glacier will involve travel to Khati via Kharkiya. This stretch usually takes about 3-4 hours by car followed by about an hour’s trek. This part of your trail largely consists of a road from Loharkhet to Kharkiya. While driving on this road, you will come across many sharp bends and turns, therefore it is advisable to go slow and steady. As the road ends, you will reach Kharkiya village. This is the place where you can find few shops that supply basic amenities.

From Kharkiya, you will have to follow a well-marked trail to Khati. This path is beautifully crafted by nature and adorned with oaks and rhododendron trees. As you continue on this trail, you will reach a stream that has to be crossed by a bridge and soon after, you will find another bridge to cross. This walk is very easy because it is on flat land.

pindari glacier
Just Some Minor Difficulties

Except for a few steep sections within the forest, this walk is not difficult, so you can walk at an easy pace. Soon, you will leave the dense forest behind to find a lush green field welcoming you. From this point, you will be able to see Kharkiya village behind you and the trail to Khati in front. Trekkers like to spend a few minutes at this tranquil spot before carrying on with the hike, partly to admire the serene natural beauty, and partly to gain some strength and prepare for the steep hike that is coming up.

Once you are well-rested, continue on the path till you reach the trail to Jakhani village. This trail will be steep and involve some sharp scissor bends, therefore, you must tread on this path very carefully. As you continue on this trail, you will witness the splendour of Sunderdhunga valley and Pindar valley before reaching Jakhani at 7,470 feet. For those of you who wish to take a quick bite, Jakhani will have a few dhabas that offer basic food.

Continue walking on the trail towards Pindar valley and soon you will find another bridge that has to be crossed. The bridge is followed by a small stretch of forest ridge and upon crossing it, you will see the Khati village with a majestic back drop of glorious mountains like Nanda kot, Nandabaner and Laspadhura.

This is the last inhabited village before you reach the Pindari glacier. You will have ample options for overnight stay here. Mobile network here is scarce, except for BSNL, which will work for a few hours.

Did you know?
The Khati village is devoid of regular electricity supply and relies heavily on solar electricity.

Khati - Dwali

This part of your trek towards Pindari glacier will cover about 15 km. It is advisable to start early in the morning, because the weather here is unpredictable and you might be greeted by sudden rain showers later in the day. Also, this stretch of the hike, which was previously very well laid and picturesque, has been damaged because of the massive landslides that happened on 2013. Thus, a large part of this trail is broken and might require altering your route a bit to find steady ground to walk.

For the first 30 minutes, your path will be steep but eventually, it will flatten out. You will find a water stream and a wooden bridge on his trail and soon after, you will find the eroded path that was earlier a part of the trek trail. You will also find the Pindar River flowing below. Between your downhill and uphill hikes in this part, you will find many regions destroyed by landslide. Keep walking and you will find the original trail again. Continue walking on it and cross another landslide hit area by going downhill towards the river again.

pindari glacier
The Sparkling and Cheerful Pindar River

Once you cover this area and join the original trail, another eroded region will follow after about 20 minutes. This also needs to be traversed in a similar manner. You may take a small break here. The trail continues and you find more stretches where landslides have destroyed the path. Paving your way through these stretches, you will have to be very careful. Soon you will reach Dwali, with the Pindar glacier and valley on its left, and the Kafni glacier and valley on its right.

Dwali - Phurkia

This part of the hike towards the Pindari glacier is not very long, but it involves a great difference in altitude. Therefore, it is recommended that you make an overnight stay at Phurkia to get acclimatized for the next part of the hike.

This trail will be largely lined with oaks and rhododendrons and you will find many streams alongside your trail as you hike. The trail by itself is not difficult, and allows the hiker to soak in the beauty of nature as they walk. As you continue walking uphill, the Pindar River will gradually become a gorge. You will be able to view the peak of the great Mt. Nanda Devi.

pindari glacier
Nanda Devi: Standing Tall

Soon you will reach a very beautiful and serene spot with waterfalls and green meadows. It is not uncommon to spot Mountain Ibex here. This region is an idyllic place for capturing a few photographs and admiring Mother Nature. As you cross this region, you will find glacial streams and grasslands before entering a forest terrain. This path is also damaged by landslides, but as there is no alternate way, you have to keep treading carefully in this section.

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The Mountain Ibex: "Majestic" is My Middle Name

After this region, the weather will be cold so you have to be prepared accordingly. The next streams you will encounter will be frozen. The path will also be laden with snow at some stretches, and you ice axe will come handy. Be careful and maintain a steady foot hold. As you reach Phurkia, you will find a small dhaba with occasional provision for cooking meals. You will have to spend the night in outdoor camps on the slopes here.

Phurkia - Zero Point - Phurkia

Start the day early because this final lap of the hike to Pindari glacier would take about 4 hours and you get the best glimpses from the top soon after sunrise. The Zero-point is the final point of Pindari glacier that can be reached without any special permit. This part of the trek is a particularly beautiful walk along the inner views of the Pindar valley. Your path will alternate between grassy meadows and snow laden terrain.

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The Final Stretch

There is a brief stretch where rock-fall is common therefore it is advised that hikers are extra careful. The terrain tends to get slippery due to snow. The trail will require proper foothold and you should bring appropriate footwear for this section. This trail will be much easier mid-summer because the snow will not be so much of a problem. As you continue trekking for more than an hour, you will cross several small streams and rivulets.

Once you reach the top of this ridge, you will be able to bask in the glorious views of the Pindari glacier along with the Changuch peak. You will also witness ice fields below these peaks. This place is also the abode of Pindari Baba Dharmanand ji. His hut is visible from this point.

The Zero point lies further away from this place, and takes about an hour more. Once you reach the Zero-point, you will find a board welcoming you. The Pindari glacier is a vast expanse of ice, over 5 km long. The snout of the glacier is about 6 m high and 3 m wide. The glacier presents a thrilling visual treat from the Zero point. You will also be able to see Nanda kot from here.

Once you’re done admiring the majesty of the mighty glacier, you can follow the path you came from to reach Phurkia.

Phurkia - Dwali - Khati

It is advised that you take the downhill stretch of about 18 km slow and steady in case the weather is capricious.

Khati- Kharkiya-Bageshwar

This part of your trek will involve about 2 hours of trekking followed by car ride to reach Bageshwar. From here, it is up to you to stay and explore the region or head back.

Although this is the most popular itinerary to reach Pindari glacier, many tours also ply on another route that goes from Loharkhet to Dhakuri before reaching Khati.

Things to Do Near Pindari Glacier Trek Route

Pindari Glacier
So Much More to Explore

There are a lot of places to visit in and around the Bageshwar region.

  • You can visit the Nanda Devi National Park and Munsiyari if you decide to stay a couple of days after or before the trek to Pindari glacier.
  • Another very popular tourist destination is Joshimath, which has religious significance too.
  • The Narsimha Temple at Joshimath is very popular too.

What to Carry in Your Backpack

Choosing the right season for Pindari glacier trip is very important. Since the weather is capricious in the mountains, you may have sudden and prolonged rainfall or snowfall. It is advisable that you carry all the necessary stuff with you. The following checklist will be useful:

Clothing

  • Carrying enough warm clothes is very important. Ideally, you should wear the clothes in layers so that you can adjust them according to the weather.
  • Sweaters and trek pants will come in handy. Full sleeved shirts are recommended to protect from sun damage. Thermals are very useful too.

Trekking Gear

  • Wear good trekking shoes that are suitable for rough terrain and snow.
  • An ice axe might be needed in the final few km of the trek as you approach the Zero point of the trek.
  • Since you are required to sleep outdoors on some nights, it is good to carry light outdoor tents and sleeping bags.
  • Carrying a trekking pole is also recommended.
  • Add a good quality torch or headlamp and some extra batteries in your bag for emergencies.

Accessories

  • Sunglasses
  • Snow Cap
  • Gloves and Woollen Socks

Medical Kit

  • The medical kit should contain medicine to control altitude sickness, headache, fever, cough, and cold, acidity, allergies, vomiting etc.
  • In addition, it is advisable to carry first aid components like a bandage, antiseptic cream, gauze, cotton etc.
  • It is highly recommended to carry the medicines that you normally use.

Paperwork

  • Identity proof like the driver's licence, Voters ID, Aadhar card, etc.
  • Medical certificate issued by a Registered Medical Practitioner at a Government hospital.

Fitness Needed for Pindari Glacier Trek

Before planning your trek to Pindari glacier it is necessary to make sure you’re fit for it. Although this trek is generally suitable for hikers at beginner level, it is good to prepare your body for high altitude trekking. Improving your body’s flexibility, stamina, strength and cardiovascular endurance is necessary for this trek.

Summing Up

Pindari Glacier Trek
Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

This trek will be a great experience in terms of exploring the natural beauty of India as well as for discovering hidden aspects of your hiking skills. The Pindari glacier trek is sure to leave you with wonderful memories and loads of experience.

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