Bali Pass Trek

Dehradun | India
  From  INR 20,400  | From 8 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Bali Pass Trek

The north Indian state of Uttarakhand is the cradle of the bountiful extravaganza of nature. Its trekking and tourism industry attracts thousands of tourists, trekkers, and pilgrims every year. The Garhwal Himalayas stand tall like sentinels guarding this treasure of nature with many glacial rivers meandering through the picturesque landscapes.

The Bali Pass trek is a beautiful trek nestled amongst the abundant natural glory of Uttarakhand. It boasts of an enchanting trail through the canopy of tall alpine trees and is accompanied by views of the regal peaks of the Himalayas, alpine lakes, and glacial rivers cutting through lush green valleys. There are stark changes in the scenery as the trek progresses since the Bali Pass remains covered in snow throughout the year and its base camp is essentially a field of ice.

High-altitude trek:

The trek to Bali Pass is a high-altitude, difficult trek that takes the visitors to a soaring height of 4939 meters at the pass summit covered in snow. From here, one can see the grand 360-degrees view of the surrounding landscape of snow and sparse mountain vegetation. The majestic Bandarpoonch (6316 meters), Kalanag (6387 meters), and Swargarohini peaks can be seen from here.

Beautiful campsites:

The tranquil camping grounds of Seema, Devsu Thatch, and Untigad paint a picture of the quaint and rustic life of the mountains. The pastoral atmosphere is a good change from the urban bustle. The Ruinsara Valley is a delight to campers looking for that unique camping experience on treks.

Ruinsara Tal and river crossing:

The enchanting Ruinsara Tal lies on the way to the Bali Pass. Trekkers can camp beside the Ruinsara Tal and watch the stars of the pollution-free night sky reflected on the lake's crystal-clear water. The river-crossing activities through the ice-cold water of the Ruinsara River are also quite thrilling.

Overview of the Bali Pass Trek:

Location of the Bali Pass Trek:

The Bali Pass is located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, falling in the Govind Ballabh Pant Sanctuary area. The trail weaves through thick forests of rhododendrons, chestnuts, walnuts, and deodar trees and slowly exits the tree line only to cover fields of ice and snow as one nears the Bali Pass summit. The trekking trail stretches over a length of 56 to 60 km and can be covered in 8-10 days.

Bali Pass Trek Cost:

The trek to Bali Pass costs around USD 230 to 250 (INR 17000 to 18500), depending on which trekking package you choose. This trek needs a local expert guide whose hiring charges may not be covered by the tour package. Additionally, there is a nominal entry fee of USD 2 (INR 150) for Indian nationals and USD 8 to 9 (INR 600) for foreign nationals to spend 3 days and 2 nights in the Govind Ballabh Pant Sanctuary, which can be extended with extra charges upon request. The trekker has to keep this in mind while calculating their budget for the trek.

How Difficult is the Bali Pass Trek?

According to trekking experts, the trek to Bali Pass is a difficult-level adventure. This trek has quite a steep slope and long days of trekking every day - from dawn till dusk. The daily altitude gain is also quite a lot. These factors exhaust even the experienced and veteran trekkers. Especially in a high-altitude trek like this, where the low air pressure may lead to breathing troubles, even seasoned campaigners might find it pretty challenging. To prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), the trekker must ensure to remain well hydrated throughout the trek.

The top of the Bali Pass remains covered in snow all year round, so the trekker might have to use an ice ax to cut through it while climbing the steep slopes. A local guide, well-versed in navigating the mountainous trails, will be required on this trek, especially during adventurous but dangerous activities like river crossing and technical rope climbing.

Best Time to Visit the Bali Pass Trek:

The ideal time to visit the Bali Pass trek is between the middle of March to the end of June or from early September to the middle of October. Spring, summer, and autumn are the only accessible seasons since this is a higher altitude trek, and the weather tends to get dangerous in monsoon and winter.

One can witness the full bloom of rhododendrons, wild roses, and irises while traveling in these seasons. The sunrises and sunsets on the clear skies will give the most rewarding opportunities for photography. Even in these seasons, the Bali Pass summit remains covered in snow, so the change of scenery is also very eye-catching.

Gear Guide and Checklist for the trek to Bali Pass:

A mountain pass trek like the one to Bali Pass calls for light luggage, but one should be ready to tackle any eventualities.

Apparel and footwear:

Instead of carrying several warm clothes, it is best to layer on a mountain pass trek. 3-4 quick-dry polyester t-shirts with long sleeves and 2-3 pairs of joggers or track pants should be packed along with a thermal innerwear set for daytime trekking. To maintain optimum body temperature, carry light fleece sweaters with padded down jackets with a hood. A light poncho can protect you against the occasional downpour in spring or summer.

Other accessories like woolen caps, balaclavas, woolen mufflers, woolen gloves, and woolen socks will be required for a high-altitude trek like this one. Carry several pairs of synthetic sports socks for the daytime treks as they might get wet during the river crossing. At night, a pair of woolen socks worn over the synthetic ones will keep the trekkers warm.

Trekking boots with microspikes and gaiters of high quality will help the grip on the snowy trails. They should be sturdy and also provide good ankle support.

Other Accessories:

Since trekkers will have to start trekking before sunrise, UV-protection sunglasses, a sun cap, a headlamp, and battery-powered torches should be carried. They will also benefit from carrying a pair of sturdy trekking poles.

Carry your own set of reusable cutlery consisting of mostly stainless steel utensils since they are easy to wash quickly. A steel plate or a lunchbox, a mug, a spoon, and a fork will be enough.

Backpacks, waterproof covers, and sleeping bags:

A 60 to 65 liters capacity backpack is necessary for the trek to Bali Pass. The trekkers can hire a mule from Sankri to carry their extra luggage. In that case, they will have to carry a 20 to 25 liters daypack to take their essentials with themselves since they cannot access this bigger luggage until they are resting at the campsites. Offloading is allowed in Dehradun.

Take waterproof covers for the backpacks and water-resistant bags for your electronics, wallet, and essential documents in case it rains. A thick, good-quality sleeping bag will be essential for the nights at camping tents. You can also consider carrying an insulated mat to keep the cold from the ground at bay. 

Toiletries and hygiene products:

The trekkers must have a personal toiletry set consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant, and hand sanitizer. Toilet paper, tissue rolls, and wet wipes will come in handy. Women should carry enough tampons, sanitary napkins, or menstrual cups on the trek for maximum menstrual comfort and hygiene. You should also consider carrying a ziplock pouch to store the menstrual wastes and bring them back to the plains without disposing of them in the mountains.

Medical kit with first-aid:

On any trek, common medicines like paracetamols, anti-nausea medicines, antacids, antihistamines, and painkillers should be carried along with water-purifying tablets. Your first-aid kit should contain bandaids, crepe bandages, ointment, gauze swabs, antiseptic liquid, insect repellent cream, and a pain-relieving spray. With these, one can treat any minor sprains or injuries.

Important documents:

The trekker must carry a government-issued photo ID card with address proof, a few photocopies of the same, along with two passport-sized photographs. Foreign trekkers should take care of their passports and visas.

Bali Pass Trek Itinerary:

The Bali Pass trek itinerary spreads over a week – 8-10 days – from Dehradun and back. To get to Dehradun, one can arrive at the Jolly Grant airport from their hometown. The most common way is to come to Delhi by train or by air and then book a cab or a bus ride to Dehradun. This is where the trekkers gear up for the adventure that lies ahead. 

  • Day 1: Like many other treks on this route, the starting point of this trek is the same – Sankri. But the point might be overcrowded with tourists. In such a case, Kotgaon can be an alternate starting point since it falls on the route too. On the first day, the trekkers have to drive up to Sankri or Kotgaon. This will take about 10 to 11 hours, and visitors will reach the spot in the late afternoon, just in time to catch the sunset. The view of the sun setting against the backdrop of the snow-covered Swargarohini peaks is enchanting from this altitude of 1950 meters. Spending the night at the homestays in these quaint villages is a good experience.
  • Day 2: This day involves a 12 km drive of an hour from Sankri or Kotgaon to Taluka. Sometimes, landslides may affect the passage of jeeps in this region. In that case, one can trek this distance too - it will take around 3 hours to cover this easy gradient and climb to the 2418 meters altitude of Taluka village through a picturesque forest of walnuts, chestnuts, bamboo, deodar, and chinar trees. Some wild roses and irises can also be spotted. There will be some small streams on the way that would have to be crossed by bridges. Finally, one has to climb uphill to the right side of the Supin river in order to reach Seema. This is another long trek of 14 km that may take around 7 to 8 hours maximum. During the peak season, camping grounds at Seema may not be available, so trekkers should consider alternative camping grounds like Osla and Chilurgad.
  • Day 3: 200 meters away from Seema base camp lies a wooden bridge over the River Supin, which should not be crossed. The trekkers should take the trail downwards to the Ruinsara forest. This will be a heavily bouldered region, and it is best to be very careful while traversing here. The sprawling Har Ki Doon valley can be seen, along with the confluence of the Ruinsara and Har Ki Doon rivers. Covering a total distance of 6 km, there lies Devsu Thatch (3052 meters)- the trekkers' stop for the day. The valley - rich in mountainous greenery, spans over 2 km and is a perfect spot to capture those calendar-worthy pictures.
  • Day 4: The next day on the Bali Pass trek itinerary takes the trekker to the beautiful Ruinsara Tal, situated at an altitude of 3489 meters. From Devsu Thatch, after crossing the wooden bridge over the rippling blue Ruinsara river, the trekkers have to march on for a stretch of 4 to 5 hours to cover 10 km. There are three mountain bends on the way and alternate stretches of boulders and pasture lands. The Untigad campsite lies ahead from where trekkers go on to visit the Ruinsara Tal 45 minutes away. The regal galore of the lake crowned by soaring mountains on all sides is one to marvel at. One can camp out here for the night to experience the reflection of the stars against the lake's clear water or move back to the Untigad campsite in the case of a space crunch. The lake stays frozen in winter, appearing to be a breathtaking sight.
  • Day 5: The fifth day involves some challenging river crossing activities. But this is not too difficult if the trekkers take care of each other. A human chain needs to be formed to wade through the ice-cold water. This prepares the trekkers to take on the cold atmosphere for the rest of the ascending stretch. It is best to reach the Thanga campsite at 3657 meters before lunch and relax for the day, enjoying the magnificent views of Swargarohini peaks. The next two days are the most difficult sections of the trek.
  • Day 6: A 5 km trek from Thanga to the Bali base camp takes around 5 to 6 hours due to the steep ascent of 610 meters in a distance of only 1.5 km. On the way lies the lush green meadows of Ruinsara and Kyarkoti Valleys. Once again, the trekkers must cross the Ruinsara river early in the day to avoid high tide timings. Walking through a snow moraine comes next with the Ruinsara River on the left and the Swargarohini range in the front. One can see patches of snow on the gradual ascent of the slope, which quickly develops into a level field of ice with several pockets of frozen glacial ponds and snow dunes of the Bali base camp. If the trekkers wish to go to the Advance Base Camp of the Bali Pass, then they have to trek further for 2 to 3 more hours on a snow ridge. The exhausted trekkers should rest up sufficiently.
  • Day 7: The main part of the Bali Pass trek is here. The trekkers will walk to the trek's highest point on this day, the Bali Pass summit, situated at an altitude of 4939 meters. The climb is steep, and taking a local expert guide is recommended. One will also need an ice ax to ensure safety on the snowy terrain. Instead of ascending in a straight line, making scissor-bend trails will be more efficient. From the Bali Pass summit, one can see the Bandarpoonch and the Kalanag peaks, complete with a 360-degree view of the Ruinsara and Yamunotri valleys. The descent requires the help of ropes because of the steep gradient. The beautiful views of the upper and lower Damini forest ridges are visible on the climb down, and soon the trekker enters the forest. The lower Damini region (3375 meters) provides the best camping spots for the night.
  • Day 8: The trekker now has to bid farewell to the mountains as they descend back to Jankichatti in an hour. From here, buses back to Dehradun are available.

Getting Fit For Bali Pass Trek:

This is a difficult trek with a high altitude gain daily and long days of trekking. It will test the trekkers' cardiovascular endurance. One needs to do regular jogging, walking, squatting, swimming, cycling, and skipping ropes to build that. One can also book three to four sessions weekly at the gym to develop the core muscle strength required during the technical parts of the steep climb and descent.

The flexibility of the body is also going to be very important on this trek. A trekker should regularly stretch their lower back muscles, shoulders, hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps to be flexible enough to tackle whatever difficult terrain they have to face. Especially when they are trekking with a backpack on their shoulders, physical fitness in all aspects becomes a major factor to be maintained.

The key to success in such treks is mental fortitude and perseverance, which will be brought about by practicing yoga and meditation. It will help to inculcate positive thinking in the trekker and make them determined to overcome any obstacle thrown their way.

The trek to Bali Pass is truly a mesmerizing one, complete with beautiful sceneries and adventurous activities. The trekker should be cautious on the trail and follow the instructions of the guide closely to avoid any kind of mishap. A thrilling but safe trek will remain a glorious event in their memory.