Pangarchulla Peak Trek – One of Uttrakhand’s Best Treks
All I wanted was to escape to any secluded place, but summers and this sweaty hot weather left me with very few options, and I don’t know how I thought of going to the Himalayas. And that turned out to be the best decision I ever made. And yay! I summited Pangarchulla Peak Trek (14,700 feet) on 2nd May.
Here’s my 7 days journey when I was lost in the Himalayas, although I am still lost in its thoughts.
*Day – 1* ‘Rishikesh to Joshimath’
My journey to reach and summit the mystical mountains started from Rishikesh after spending a day in a small town JOSHIMATH which is also the base camp for many other prominent treks like the Valley of Flowers; Kauri Pass, Nanda Devi…
The route also takes many pilgrimages to Badrinath and Kedarnath, who come a long way to seek blessings from the Supreme God of Hindus – Lord Shiva.
On our 10 hours road journey, we crossed five sacred confluences and were greeted with beautiful Ganga and Alaknanda river views for most of the journey.
And I was super excited for the trek to start the next day!
*Day – 2* ‘Joshimath to Gulling Top’
A heavenly 12km drive from Joshimath to DHAK VILLAGE (6,790 feet) took the breath away but brought us closer to the gigantic Himalayas. Mt. Dhoragiri, Nanda Devi, Hathi, and Ghora Parvat already started greeting us with their magnificent views.
After reaching the Dhak village – ascending narrow rocky patches, passing through Tugasi village, Gulling village, crossing water streams, seeing a gradual change in scenery turning green from dusty brown color was a delight in itself.
After a 6km trek, we finally made way to our first campsite GULLING TOP (9,600 feet), and learned to pitch in our tents. A short acclimatization walk and playing sitoliya amid nature rejuvenated us and made our day more enjoyable.
*Day – 3* ‘Gulling Top to Khullara’
Yayy..we were going higher and higher! After having some snacks, warm-up, and stretching sessions, we started for our next campsite KHULLARA (11,122 feet), a little early. It was a 6 km steep ascent through the coniferous forest, which had giant pines, oaks, walnut trees.
The trail also treated us with some dramatic streams and incredible views of Mt. Neelkant, Chaukhamba, Mt. Dhonagiri, Hathi and Ghora Parvat, and a few other Himalayan ranges.
We were then gifted with beautifully laid out mountain flowers and rhododendron trees. The landscapes still didn’t stop changing its color along the way.
In the end, we reached the lush green sprawling Khullara meadows, which held mesmerizing and breathtaking views all around.
*Day – 4* ‘Khullara to Jhandi Top and Back’
Initially, it wasn’t an exciting and thrilling day for us, as our next campsite GAILGAD (12,300 feet), was already occupied by other trekkers, and there was space scarcity. Hence, we had to spend another day at Khullara itself. But our trek leader planned our day wisely in a way that we can enjoy the day and get enough acclimatized as well.
After the yoga session in the morning, we summited (after a 3 km climb) JHANDI TOP (12,000+ feet), which is not so far away from Gailgad. The trail had no tree lines as hostile winds, and low moisture content didn’t let the trees grow there. Also, there are absolutely no water sources on the way, so water needs to be carried along.
The trail only had boulders, grasslands, mountain flowers, medicinal plants (only locals can identify them), and yeah, also bones (scary). 😛
This time we were treated with 360-degree spectacular mountain views from the top. We descended to Khullara and were ready to hit the bed by 7 PM to relax well for the big day – Summit Day!
*Day – 5* ‘Khullara to Pangarchulla Peak and Back’
Finally! The much-awaited day – SUMMIT DAY started at 2 AM for us as we had to start from Khullara and not from Gailgad, excited and a bit nervous as we had to cover approx. 16 km (ascend and descend) in a day. We started ascending at night in the bone-chilling weather under the full moonlight and with our head torch on.
After crossing some narrow trails and climbing steep ascends, we somehow managed to reach Khullara top by approx. 5 AM. The landscape again turned its color from brown and green to glistening white. After a few minutes, the sun rose over a mountain, leaving it orangish white and leaving us in wonderment.
Now it was time to put on crampons and walk on that white sparkling snow and enjoy some jaw-dropping views more closely. Initially, the trail wasn’t so steep and tricky but starting changing.
We now started ascending on extremely steep narrow ridges. Also, the crazy winds accompanied us all along the way. At a few places, our leaders helped to make the trail by cutting down the snow.
The weather, the winds, lack of sleep, continuous ascend, tough trails started taking a toll on the body, but we were all determined and kept going. It was an ultimate test of willpower, stamina, and endurance.
We all successfully reached the Baby Pangarchulla Summit and were only a few meters away from the Pangarchulla Peak Summit (14,700 feet). The summit trail was the most grueling ascend and much narrower, but we were all super excited as we were only a few steps away from the summit. And yessssss, WE MADE IT! It was a WOW moment! 🙂
Everyone started congratulating each other, and it was a moment to rejoice. Some people had beaming faces, and some cried out because of that achievement feeling and happiness!
The mountains God mustn’t be happy with us, and the weather turned completely foggy, blocking all the views which we were dying to witness for long. Hard Luck! 🙁
After photo sessions and appreciating mountains’ beauty from the top, we started descending; now, this was the trickiest part. On both sides, thousands of feet down, there were valley glaciers, so we had to be super cautious about not slip on either side. (P.S. Avoid taking photos there). The snow already started melting as we started descending at 11 AM.
After crossing some giant boulders, after falling ample times and walking down the snow, we did the craziest part, we slid down a couple of times. 😀
And after some time, the weather changed dramatically, and it started hailing.
While descending from Khullara top, a bad hailstorm again started, followed by heavy rainfall and a white path. Somehow we managed to reach our camps by 7 PM, dead tired.
*Day – 6* Khullara to Joshimath
Now it was time to say goodbye to the mystical mountains, which will start hiding as we will descend. It was getting hard to think that we will be back to Joshimath base camp and leave the mountains and those jaw-dropping views behind.
Early morning, we started descending, crossed the forest, villages, and stopped at a few places to talk to the locals and learn something about their culture and their lives in the mountains.
Also, I couldn’t resist taking a picture with cute mountain kids.
We all descended 12 km well on time and enjoyed some street side food at Joshimath. In the evening, we were given our certificate of achievement, and everyone poured their heart out and shared their experiences.
*Day – 7* ‘Joshimath to Haridwar’
At 7 AM, we started our journey back to the city; the mountains must have certainly called us, so we had reached! 🙂 But now it was time to bid adieu 🙁 to this different and magical world, to the mountains and the team. After breakfast and lunch pit stops, we reached Haridwar at 6 PM. Now everyone departed, wishing each other many more adventures.
I must have missed the views from the top, but I discovered my strengths, my hidden potentials, I conquered. I must have left the mountains behind, but a piece of my heart and soul is still there – WANDERING!
How to reach Joshimath?
The distance between Haridwar/Rishikesh to Joshimath is approx 250 km, which takes around 9-10 hours by road.
Being high in the mountains, it takes longer than the usual path. The best way to reach Joshimath is by cab from Haridwar or Rishikesh. If you are on a budget, you can opt for a local bus that plies frequently.
Trek booking for Pangarchulla Peak Trek
I did my trek with Trek the Himalayas because they covered the best route; after a lot of research, I booked with them, and it was worth investing in – www.trekthehimalayas.com.
How much Pangarchulla Peak Trek may cost?
Trek agents may cost you between 10-15k INR (accommodation, food, travel, and guide charges) for the whole trek. If you do the trek by yourself, it may cost 7-12k INR depending on the local guide charges, season, accommodation charges, etc.
Moderate to Difficult, but with good inner strength, it is an enjoyable trek.
Best time to do Pangarchulla Peak Trek?
Pangarchulla Trek can be taken from December – June, but I would recommend taking it before May to enjoy more snow.
I hope you enjoy Pangarchulla Peak Trek – one of Uttrakhand’s best treks in the best possible ways. Happy Trekking!! 🙂