Why Pangarchulla Peak trek is not suggested for Monsoon & Winters?
Pangarchulla Peak has become a dream summit for many of us. The extreme cold of winters and the added challenges of knee-deep snow is what we strive for. Pangarchulla is known for its notorious knife ridge which is difficult even in summers. One can only imagine how strainful it would be in the cold season.
Owing to the curiosity of strength and thrill Pangarchulla is the most queried trek. Despite that, we don’t run a single batch to the stunning mountain. There is no big mystery behind it. So let’s find out why Pangarchulla is not good for winters.
Mechanics of hard snow
The snowfall season for Uttarakhand Himalayas is from December to February end. If you may wonder December is the right time to witness layers of snow then you are wrong. Even if the snow showers in December the fresh snowfall cover is delicate and thin. One step on it and you may slip or sink.
Another fact of the Pangarchulla trail is that it is loaded with huge boulders. Imagine stepping on such a deceptive snow layer and being sucked into the gaps of these boulders. There is a good chance of breaking a leg.
Over the time of 3-4 months (up to March) the continuous snowfall hardens the thick carpet on the ground. When the loose powder snow freezes into a concrete pathway there are no risks of boulders deep below. The only problem then is slippery ice which can be overcome by using crampons.
That is the reason post-March the hike is filled with enough snow to protect from high blocs but stable to walk on the ice.
Mechanics of cold you can bear
If you are still confident of cracking the physical challenges of crossing snowfields, consider the mental hindrances of cold. It is no secret that temperatures in winter may fall below -5 degrees. Staying at the campsites can be unbearable, climbing up the steep ridge is more painful.
Not to forget the factor of wind chill. As you may know, the Pangarchulla slope is exposed. It is not covered by big mountains nor are there any trees to block the heavy winds. All of this sums up to the unimaginable cold.
To tolerate such terrible temperatures, one needs high-end clothing. We all know mountaineering requires such quality clothing. Who would like to indulge in an INR 35000 jacket for a trekking trip?
Most of the trekkers attempting Pangarchulla are either beginners or intermediate trekkers. They are not mentally prepared for these hardships. Nor are they physically strong enough to tolerate the strainful climb.
Mechanics of Autumn and Monsoon season
If you may wonder why the peak is not open in Monsoon or autumn months when in winter it is inaccessible. The trek is open only from March to June. After June the snow melts completely. Then the dangerous boulders come to the surface again. Crossing those rocks makes the trek harder grade and lengthy.
Another important fact of Pangarchulla is that to avoid the long summit climb another higher summit camp can be added closer to the top. This will extend the itinerary by one more day but it is manageable. It makes the risky and tough ascend to the head easy and enjoyable. But this option is not practical because after the “no camping on bugyal/meadows law” this higher camp is illegal or unethical. Therefore, the only option is to avoid going to Pangarchulla when the route is exposed.
Mechanics of companies claiming Pangarchulla Peak trek in winters
Despite knowing about the difficulty of the winter Pangarchulla many companies are suggesting this peak. They are feeding off the adventure desires of interested trekkers. They claim to pass on to Kuari Pass in case the summit is not possible – this happens all of 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 our trekkers. We have always been honest with all of you and will remain the same. There is no point in bluffing with the hopes of the trekkers.
Winters is one of the fabulous times to experience the tranquility of the Himalayas. It is only wise to spend time and money at the amazing to create memorable moments. Now the question is do you want to complete Winter Kuari Pass directly or indirectly?
TTH Official Content Writer