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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

Last updated on: October 17, 2013 21:26 IST

IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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Niranjan Vaidya

There's nothing like a trip in the hills, is there? Rediff reader Niranjan Vaidya took one and returned enriched.

We booked ourselves on a 6 day-5 night trek to Hampta Pass in Himachal Pradesh in July this year. Gangotri was literally washed out by the June 15 cloudburst in Uttarakhand, so at the last minute we decided to trek from Manali.

In spite of severe opposition at home, we were determined to complete our trek.

It was a blind date with Hampta Pass! And with a team of 11 between 8 and 48 years, including seven first time trekkers it was going to be tough.

Hampta Pass (4268 m), like Rohtang, connects the Kullu Valley with Spiti Valley.

Normally, groups trek Hampta Pass in 5 days and 4 nights.

Since we had an extra day on hand, we decided to start the climb from Jagat Sukh a few kilometres from Manali on the left bank of Beas.

Day 1:

After a high adrenaline white river rafting experience, we spent a quiet day in Manali enjoying the Manalsu River trout for dinner and local sightseeing and shopping.

Day 2:

We started the climb from Jagat Sukh village till we reached Shri Nag Temple at noon for lunch. Some steep inclines through the forest and after being in action for almost six hours we reached the first camp, Sortu at 2300 m.

Since it was monsoon, it rained quite heavily, especially in the nights.

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Image: Trekking to Chikka camp
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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Day 3:

We got out of the tent with a view of the sun gleaming off Hanuman Tibba (5860 m) right across the Beas-Manali Valley.

The guide warned us that the day was going to be tough. And tough it was! But then again walking up the steep inclines in the deodar forests and crossing an ice-cold waterfall was really exciting too.

We passed a few tribal villages and replenished our rations. On reaching the regular campsite the guide realised that there is no water available so we had to walk another few kilometres.

With sun disappearing fast, the team was getting a bit nervous so we finally settled at a campsite after almost walking for 9 hours.

It was like camping in a mini valley of flowers at Tilgun Base Camp (2650 m).

Day 4:

Today wasn't as tough as the previous day. There was a gradual decline for starters and we were walking through a bed of thousands of beautiful wild flowers.

After passing the Jobra dam, the trail comes right beside the Rani Nallah which ultimately leads to Hampta Pass.

Crossing the river was a challenge as the flow of water in July was almost at its peak and our feet got numb as the temperature of the water was just above freezing point.

Every campsite was getting more scenic and Chikka camp (3270 m) was another beautiful campsite on the river bank with an amazing waterfall in the background.

That night it rained cats and dogs and the tents started leaking which meant a sleepless night. Most of the people were actually contemplating returning to Manali at sunrise.


Image: A snapshot of the scene at Sortu
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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Day 5:

Majority of the traditional trek routes as well as roads in Himalayas follow a river and this one was no exception.

We kept gaining height with the river as it fell from numerous waterfalls and hundreds of streams joining the main flow time to time.

This meant numerous very cold waterfalls and stream crossings which were very scary but thrilling at the same time.

Soon the vegetation was left behind and we were carving our path on boulders, which would have been brought down by the glaciers through landslides.

About this time, we had our first direct contact with packed ice. We arrived at Balu ka Dera (3700 m) at 4 pm and were stunned by the view. We were surrounded by mountains on three sides with curtains of water falls across the breadth of the mountains.

The streams collect the water in a pond which gives rise to the Rani Nallah. We finally managed to find a relatively less soggy place to set up the camp and retired for the night which turned very chilly due to the wind flowing from the glaciers we had passed earlier in the day.


Image: En route to Balu Ka Dera
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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Day 6:

We started the day with a steep climb on a glacier. Most of us were not ready for this challenge as the ice was very slippery. So after a small training session by the guide, the team started our ascent.

As it was late summer most glaciers had receded. However given the location of the Hampta Pass Valley, some glaciers remain throughout the year.

After almost five hours of continuous climbing we reached the glacier which winded through the Hampta Pass.

We then climbed the rocks above the glacier to reach the highest point of our trek (4268 m).

It was an amazing view. We took a lunch break and spent about half hour there.


Image: Climbing the glacier to reach Hampta Pass Valley
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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The descent in the Spiti Valley was trickier due to the loose rooks and glaciers. It was like magic when we entered Spiti valley.

Suddenly from the fog, mist and dense vegetation of the Kullu Valley the scenes around us changed to brown with clear blue skies and extremely dry weather.

The majestic Indrasen (6200 m) and Deo Tibba (6001 m) were visible as we climbed down to our final campsite -- Shia Ghouri (3300 m).

It was very cold at night as the wind from the Kullu Valley, after passing over the glaciers, gets compressed and blown out from the Hampta Pass which acts like a natural air conditioner as the rest of the mountains are too high for the clouds to pass.


Image: The stunning Deo Tibba (L)
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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IN PICS: Our incredible trek to Himachal's Hampta Pass

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Day 7:

Refreshed from the achievement the team started the steep descent to Leo Village road. After crossing few more ice-cold streams and glaciers, we reached the motorable road at Chhatru village which winds along the Chandra River.

The road that took us back to Manali through Rohtang was itself a thrilling experience as it passes through breathtaking waterfalls and glaciers.

We ended our journey with a memorable trip with a visit to the Taj Mahal before heading back home to Pune.

Want to share your travel story and pictures? Simply write in to travelpicsga@rediffmail.com (subject line: 'My Travel Story'), along with pictures of the destination you're writing about. We'll publish the best ones right here on rediff.com!


Image: Yet another view of the Hampta Pass Valley
Photographs: Niranjan Vaidya

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