Kuari Pass Trek

01 Aug

Kuari Pass Trek

Among the several things that Lord Curzon did in India, the hands-down winner is exploration and popularising of a marquee trek route starting from Joshimath to Kuari Pass in the Garhwal Himalayas. At an altitude of 4264 meters, Kuari Top is like an amphitheatre where some of the stalwart peaks of Himalayas take stage. The 7000 meters club includes the Kamet (7756m),Trishul (7120m), Chaukhamba (7128m), and the great divine peak of Nanda Devi (7817m) and its twin Nanda Devi East (7434m). More peaks make an equally imposing appearance – Nanda Ghunti, Hathi Ghoda Parbat, Neelkanth, Dronagiri, Mukut Parbat, Mana, Rishi Pahad, and Changbang, to name a few. The Kuari Pass trek gives you a chance to view this impressive skyline of these mighty mountains from close quarters.

The trek begins from Joshimath, in the Chamoli district of Himalayas, which has evolved into the hub for trekkers and pilgrims in this part of the Himalayas. Confluences of several rivers – the Pinder, Kaliganga, Nandakini, Birehiganga & Dhauli Ganga give make up the Pancha-Prayag – namely, Devprayag, Karnaprayag, Devprayag and Rudraprayag. The trek then proceeds through small remote Himalayan villages. Walking along the Curzon trail through these villages is a great way to get acquainted with the life of the mountain folks. The trees are ablaze in the yellow-orange colors of autumn, striking a deep contrast to the blue-brown mountains and the snow caps. On this trek one walks through gorgeous jungles of Oak and Deodar trees. And these jungles, of course, are house to some wildlife. Pug marks of leopards or Himalayan black bears can be sighted in the forests. Rhododendron trees, which bear flowers of a fiery red color, are also found in abundance in these mountains.

The truly refreshing part of the trek is while walking through the luxurious Himalayan meadows, called ‘Bugyals’ in the local tongue. The beauty and serenity of a Himalayan meadow is an experience no one should miss out on. The most remarkable is the Gorson Bugyal, consisting of vast undulating green pastures. On this trek you will also visit Auli, which is famous for its beautiful skiing slopes in the winter kuari pass

The trek takes you up and down a few other lesser passes – the Vinayak pass and Tali top, eventually taking you to the highest point in the trek – the Kuari Top at which is at 13990 feet. This trek is not too difficult, and pays huge dividends for the physical effort with the most mesmerising views of some of the best mountains in the Himalayan Range. The sight of the Nanda Devi Massif is the highlight of this trek. So if you want to have some fun in the meadows and on the snowy slopes of the Garhwal Himalayas, pack your rucksacks and head on towards Haridwar. The TTH team will take you on the Curzon Trail to Kuari Pass, while you feast your eyes on the spectacular sights.

We have sketched out an itinerary slotting in all the best attractions the trail has to offer—
-a passage through a handful of typical Garhwal villages,
-an open meadows campsite overlooking the majestic Dronagiri Parvat,
-a day of easy clamber through oak and rhododendron forests,
-camping on snowdrifted forest floor,
-a thoroughly taxing snow hike on the summit day,
-a 360 degree glittering Greater Himalayas peak panorama,
-an initiation in the art of snow hiking with gears, and
-a field day in the gently rolling slopes of Gorson Bugyal.

Who Can Go:-

First timer can apply, should have some interest in trekking and mountaineering.
The climber must be fit and have sufficient stamina to cover 5 km of distance in 45 minutes without a stress.
The climber should be able to carry a 10 kg backpack.
Heart problem, high blood pressure, asthma, and epilepsy cannot be reconciled on this mission. The climber must not have the conditions mentioned above.

Brief Itinerary

Day 01: Haridwar to Joshimath

Altitude: 6724 ft
256 kms drive, approx 10 hours

• Trekkers will be picked from Haridwar at 6:30am in a Tata Sumo or a similar vehicle (cost is included)
• Arrive at Joshimath by approx. 5 pm – (tea, briefing of the trek & dinner)
• Breakfast and Lunch on the way (exclusive of charges)
• Accommodation at the guest house
• Telephone Network- Available
Route 
• Haridwar to Rishikesh (best place for white water rafting, trekking gear available on rent and purchase)
• Rishikesh to Devprayag (confluence of Bhagirathi river and Alaknanda river)
• Devprayag to Srinagar
• Srinagar to Rudrapryag (confluence of Mandakini river and Alaknanda river)
• Rudrapryag to Karnprayag (confluence of Pindar river and Alaknanda river)

Note: You can reach Rishikesh a day earlier for rafting. On the day of the trek, we can arrange your pickup from Rishikesh.

Day 02: Joshimath – Gulling Top

Altitude: 9600 ft
12 kms drive and 6 kms trek, approx 4 hrs

• The trail is a mix of steep and gradual ascent, mostly through villages.
• Hot lunch at camp site
• Water Points- Available at villages in passing
• Accommodation in tent
• Peaks spotted: Dronagri, Hathi Parvat, Gori Parvat
• Drive from Joshimath to Dhak village (6790 ft) (12 kms)
• Trek from Dhak village to Tugasi village (8040 ft) (3.5 kms trek)
• Trek from Tugasi village to Gulling village (8990 ft) (2 kms trek)
• Gulling village to Gulling top camp site (9600 ft) (0.5 km Trek)

Day 03: Gulling Top to Tali Forest Camp

Altitude 11070 ft
4 km trek, approx 5 hrs

• Gulling Top to Forest Hut (first and last water point) (9840 ft) (1 km trek)
• Forest hut to Tali top (Tali lake is there, steep ascent ) (11480 ft) (2 km trek)
• Tali top to Tali top forest camp site (gradual descent) (11070 ft) (1 km trek)
• Oak, Rhododendron (mostly pink and white), walnut forest
• Accommodation in tent
• Peaks :- Nanda Devi, Kalanka, Chang bang, Dronagri, Hathi Parvat, Gori Parvat

Day 04: Tali forest camp to Kuari pass and back via Khullara top

Altitude 12,763 ft
15 km trek, approx 11 hrs

• Tali forest camp to Khullara top (moderate ascent) (11800 ft) (3.5 km trek)
• Khullara top to broken bridge with frozen stream (traverse walk) (12300 ft) (2.5 km trek)
• Broken bridge to KUARI PASS (Strenuous climb) (12763 ft) (1.5 km trek)
• Today is the toughest day
• Carry enough water (no water source on the way)
• Early morning after breakfast start trek to Kuari pass
• Peaks:- Kedarnath Peak, Kedardome, Chaukhambha, Balakun, Neel Kantha, Mukut Parvat, Kamet, Abhi Gamin, Mana I, Ghori Parvat, Hathi Parvat, Dronagiri, Kalanka, Chang Bang, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti

Day 05: Tali forest camp – Joshimath via Gurson bugyal (11150 ft) and Auli (9680 ft)

8 km trek, approx 7 hrs, 13 km drive

• Tali forest camp to Tali lake (111480 ft) (1 km trek)
• Tali lake to Gurson bugyal (11150 ft) (3.5 km trek)
• Gurson bugyal to Auli (9680 ft) (3.5 km trek)
• Auli to Joshimath (6724 ft) (13 km drive)
• Breakfast at Tali camp site
• Lunch Pack on the way
• Joshimath (evening tea, debriefing, dinner)

Day 06: Joshimath to Haridwar

256 km drive, approx 10 hrs

• Ride will commence at 6 am, reaching destination at around 6 pm
• Breakfast and Lunch will be on the way at a roadside inn, exclusive of charges

Note: On Day 6, you’ll reach Haridwar between 6 pm and 7 pm. You can book your travel any time after 8 pm.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Haridwar to Joshimath

You will begin your journey with us from Haridwar. Starting the drive from Haridwar from the appointed pickup point (Haridwar railway station), we will take the fabled Badrinath Road.

If you are enthusiastic about cultural sightseeing and adventure water sports, you may like to arrange a brief stay at Rishikesh, an hour’s drive away from Haridwar where the Ganges is wild and strong availing golden opportunities to raft and adventure. We will be crossing Rishikesh and conveniently arrange pickup from there too. Alternatively, you can arrange your stay at these awesome places on your way back after the trek as well.

The nine hour drive to Joshimath will surely be long and arduous, but you are never going to run out of mesmerizing views. The great river running with us on parallel will get wilder and more fascinating as we trudge uphill. We will be passing by the panchprayag or the five holy confluences of Ganga—Devaprayag, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Nandaprayag, and Vishnuprayag.

So, keep your cameras on the ready and remain awake for most of the journey!

Day 02: Joshimath – Gulling Top

A host of ice peaks will greet us at Joshimath which will be more inviting this morning than in the dusk of our arrival to the base camp on day one. After an early breakfast on this day, we will head off to Dhak village in the Joshimath tehsil, a rocky drive of 45 minutes. From here our trek will commence. Look out for the gentle slopes of the Sleeping Lady Mountain of Joshimath on this drive. The gentle ups and downs of this mountain seem to form an outline of a lying lady.

The trek flags off from Dhak along a steady ascent. The dirt trail steers away from the main road and rises towards Tugasi village. There are a couple of sharp T-turns on this trail after which the walk takes place on a level ground followed by gradually ascending soft slopes. The terrain is mostly rough here. Leaving out the terrace farming lands, there is no affluence of greenery, but offers a sweeping view of the Garhwal frontier all around. Look out especially for the bright silvery sun-dazed stream of Dhauli-Ganga snaking it way in the abyss, and the Vishnugad-Tapovan Hydroelectric Power Station. You are not likely to find any snow in this zone.

Twenty to twenty-five minutes into the trek, you will be reaching village Kharchi, where you can fill your bottles and take some rest. The trail continues from the village on the same rocky path, keeping the valley to the left. The ascent id steep and encounters a couple of switchback turns, finally reaching the Lower Tugasi area. You can find the trail forking into two here and must take the one curving along a hydro run flour mill. Approximately 10 minutes from here you will reach the Upper Tugasi region, marked with a handful of wheat fields, flower beds, and thatched roofed huts. You can also find little streams coming down in this area.

Continue on this path, maintaining a steep climb, leaving the farmland behind and you will find the awe-inspiring sight of Dronagiri peak hauntingly rising at a distance. We will be pitching tents in the open meadows overlooking Dronagiri and fringed around with oak forests.

You can ask your trek leader to take you on an acclimatization walk to Gulling Top point this afternoon to enjoy the snow laden forests in your own way. Also, brace up for a mesmerizing vista of the Dronagiri peak caught in the shimmer of morning light from this camp site the next dawn.

Day 03: Gulling Top to Tali Forest Camp

Wake up in time next morning to start on a 5 hour journey deeper into the forest of Talli. After the exacting climb of last day, the trek today will be less arduous. The gradients of ascent is relatively smooth and will allow you an enjoyable hike.

Twenty minutes into the trek, you will come to a green clearing overlooking the magnificent snow peaks. After a few moments of rest, the climb must continue crossing a little stream to enter a mixed forest slowly thickening with oaks and rhododendrons. If you are coming in late March you might still find some white and pink blossoms. Except rhododendrons, you can find walnut and some other varieties of conifers in here.

At the height of winter’s splendour, you can find everything in the forest coated with a cover of snow. In the thickening snow, light, and shade of the conifer forests of Gulling, your second camp on the trek will be pitched.

Along this path, the Hathi-Ghori peaks will be manifesting gloriously along with Dronagiri now somewhat flipped to the side.

Day 04: Tali forest camp to Kuari pass and back via Khullara top

Fourth day is the summit day, likely to span 10-11 hours depending on the group’s pace. You need to gear up appropriately for high snow and squalling wind on the ridges today. There is going to be no water source found on the way today,so carry enough to sustain you through.

In the first phase, the trek will move up to the Khullara top—a moderate ascent of 3.5 km. You will need to traverse a broken bridge and a stream frozen at the heights of winter, followed by a ridge climb to the high pass, severely strenuous and made more challenging with the snow. Every 15 minutes, you are welcome to take a break and catch your breath. At Jhandi Dhar, a suitable rest point 2 hours into the trek, you can afford a long break. Lunch will be had on the way or after reaching the templeat the base of the Kuari high pass.

Make sure to crampon your shoes properly. Trek the Himalayas will provide you good quality crampons, but you are requested to bring your own gaiters. You can also buy gaiters from the market of Joshimat at reasonable prices.

The climax of this trek comes with a visual bang exposing a host of Garhwal behemoth peaks, unveiling—Kedarnath Peak, Kedardome, Chaukhambha, Balakun, Neel Kantha, Mukut Parvat, Kamet, Abhi Gamin, Mana I, Ghori Parvat, Hathi Parvat, Dronagiri, Kalanka, Changabang, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti.

The magnificence of this vision is incomparable.

Day 05: Tali forest camp – Joshimath via Gurson bugyal (11150 ft) and Auli (9680 ft)

Today we will advance towards Auli—the skiing capital of India, and one of the most famous in south Asia. Exploring the beautifully snow patched rolling valleys of Gorson Bugyal, we will come down to Auli through a sweetly enjoyable journey.

Traversing the Bugyals of Gorson is completely free of any arduous and hassling climb, mainly on a smoothly rolling terrain, though the snow of high winter might leave the place a tad desolate. In the thaw season of March, skiing is a big activity here.

Upon reaching Auli, a eady cable-car ride will take you to Joshimath, floating over the magnificent ski resort, the softly undulating snow covered slopes and browning pine forest fringes.

Day 06: Joshimath to Haridwar

You will start off on an early morning ride down hill, homeward-bound. Rishikesh-Haridwar will be reached at sundown, around 6 in the evening.

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