Why Is The Pangarchulla Peak Trek Not Suggested For Winters?

Pangarchulla Peak has become a dream summit for many trekkers. Located in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas, the extreme cold of winters and the added challenges of knee-deep snow is the kind of thrill we strive for! Pangarchulla is known for its knife ridge, which is difficult to hike even in summers. One can only imagine how difficult it would be in the snow-covered months.

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Pangarchulla offers some spellbinding views of mighty mountain peaks like Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba from its summit. Owing to the challenges and the thrill it offers, this is one of the most sought-after treks in the country. It is a part of many travel bucket lists. Many adventure-seekers are constantly looking for a winter expedition to Pangarchulla Summit and many organizations have even started winter batches. Despite this, we don’t run a single batch to this stunning mountain in the winter.

Mechanics Of Hard Snow

  • The snow season in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand starts in December and lasts till the end of February. If you think December is the right time to witness the blankets of snow over the mountains, then you are completely wrong. This is because, even if the snow showers begin in December, the fresh snowfall cover is quite delicate and thin and it is just not sturdy enough to withstand your body weight. One wrong footing and you may easily sink deep into the snow.
  • Another notable thing about the Pangarchulla trail is that it is full of huge boulders. Imagine stepping on a deceptive snow layer and being sucked into the gaps between these boulders. There is a good chance of breaking a leg or much worse.
  • Over 3-4 months (up to March) the continuous snowfall hardens to a thick carpet on the ground. When the loose powder snow freezes into a hardened ice pathway, there are no risks of getting stuck in boulders lying deep below. The only problem then is slippery ice which can be overcome easily by using crampons. 

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This is a major reason why we hike post-March. By March, there is enough snow buildup to protect you from accidents and offer a stable ground to walk on instead of sinking. 

How Much Cold Can Your Body Bear?

If you are still confident of conquering the physical challenges of crossing snowfields, consider the mental hindrances created by harsh weather conditions. There is only so much your body can bear. Let us take a look at the conditions that make winter expeditions to Pangarchulla difficult.

  • The temperature in winter may fall below -5 degrees. Staying at the campsites can be unbearable in sub-zero temperatures and climbing up the steep ridge is even more painful. 
  • Do not forget the wind chill factor. The slope is exposed on all sides. It is not covered by big mountains nor is there any tree cover to block the heavy mountain winds. All of this sums up to an extremely harsh weather condition and extreme cold in December. 
  • It is also not cost-effective. To tolerate such terrible temperatures, one needs extremely high-end clothing. Who would like to indulge in an INR 35000 jacket for a single trekking trip?
  • You need immense mental strength. Most of the trekkers attempting this trek are either beginners or intermediate trekkers. They are not mentally prepared for the hardships of extremely cold and harsh weather,  nor are they physically strong enough to tolerate the strainful climb. 
  • To avoid the long summit climb to Pangarchulla another higher summit camp can be added closer to the top. This could have made the trek manageable by reducing the risks and sublimating the tough ascend making the scale enjoyable. However, after the establishment of the “no camping on bugyal/meadows law,” setting a higher camp has become illegal or unethical. 

Beware Of Companies Claiming Pangarchulla Peak Trek in Winters

Despite knowing about the difficulty of the winter Pangarchulla, many companies are suggesting this summit climb in deep winter. They are feeding off the adventure enthusiasts’ interest in seeking a thrill. They often suggest passing on to Kuari Pass in case the summit is not possible and this happens all the time. Trust us. 

When the outcome is Kuari Pass then why pay and hope for something that is not going to happen? 

We don’t believe in deceiving the trekkers. We have always been honest with the trekkers and aim to be so in the future. There is no point in bluffing the trekkers and disappointing them later on.

Winter is one of the fabulous times to experience the tranquility of the Himalayas. But it is only wise to spend time and money on the right excursions.  Instead of opting for a winter Pangarchulla expedition that leads to Kuari Pass eventually, you can just opt for Winter Kuari Pass directly!