Every trek in Uttarakhand offers the trekkers the surreal experience of becoming one with nature. The thrilling Pangarchulla summit trek is one of the most coveted ones that experienced trekkers and mountaineers attempt. The non-technical climb from Auli near Joshimath is filled with breathtaking sights that are hard-earned rewards for the courageous trekker.
An adventurous summit climb:
The summit of Pangarchulla at 4593 meters is an impressive Himalayan peak climb. It challenges the trekkers' skill and determination. The summit day entails half a day of a thrilling journey towards the snow-covered peak.
The steep slope and uneven boulders characterize the rugged region. The trekkers can do the Pangarchulla peak trek in December and April when the snow levels out the gap between the boulders, making it easier for them to traverse this trail.
Picturesque view of Himalayan peaks:
From the soaring Pangarchulla peak height, many snow-capped Himalayan peaks can be seen. Peaks like Chaukhamba (7138 meters), Nilgiri (7061 meters), Neelkanth (6500 meters), Dronagiri (7066 meters), Nanda Ghunti (6309 meters), Hathi (6727 meters), and Ghoda (6708 meters) can be seen from here beside magnificent massifs like Trishul (7120 meters) and parts of the Nanda Devi.
The proximity of the peaks is an exciting sight to experience. The peaceful atmosphere of this area makes the trekkers marvel at and truly appreciate the splendor of nature. The panoramic view of the Greater Himalayas is mesmerizing during the trek, totally worth the Pangarchulla trek cost.
Location and basic information:
The picturesque Chamoli district of Uttarakhand hosts the Pangarchulla trek. It lies in the Garhwal Himalayan region and is one of the few climbable peaks here that do not require any technical experience. Some popular trekking haunts like the Lord Curzon's trail and the Kuari Pass trail have a common direction for the initial part of the trek from the starting point of the trek at Auli.
Some trekkers spend a few days at the famous skiing resort at Auli before embarking on this trek. The popular tourist hubs nearby are Joshimath and Rishikesh.
Duration and budget:
It takes 7 days and 6 nights to complete the total distance of 38 km. The Pangarchulla trek cost is around USD 134 to 168 (INR 10000 to 12500). The budget fluctuation depends on the season, availability, and facilities the trekking agent provides.
Depending on the season one chooses to plan the trip, the Pangarchulla trek is popularly categorized as a moderate to difficult trek. Pangarchulla peak height is 4593 meters, and the trekkers require grit and determination to scale the high altitude. The uneven topography, frequent ascents and descents, and thick snow cover make this a perfect challenge for experienced trekkers to take on.
This is a winter trek, so the thick snow cover near the summit in December makes it even more demanding. Proper gear and equipment will keep the trekker protected from the weather. Hiring a local guide to help you navigate the trail is recommended.
It is easier to do the Pangarchulla peak trek in December, as the snow cover is less than the March-April window, so the budget gets lowered too.
According to the experts consulted while writing this Pangarchulla Peak trek blog, the trail is safe for trekking in March-April and November-December. So, the trek can be done in spring and winter.
The trail experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoons, making the ground slippery and unstable. Besides, the exposed boulders have too many gaps between them, making trekking quite risky. During the peak of winter in January-February, the ground is covered in too thick snow to trek through. So, it is best to trek to the Pangarchulla peak in moderate weather conditions.
Pangarchulla trek in spring:
Spring is the best season for trekkers who want to experience a snowy trek to the Pangarchulla peak. This window extends from early March to mid-April before the snow melts. The route stays open for nearly 8 months.
In the lower altitudes, the trekkers can camp in the grassy meadows comfortably, basking in the beautiful scenery of spring blossoms all around. The days are mostly bright and sunny, perfect for capturing spectacular photographs with the temperature around 15°C. At night it may drop to -5 °C.
Pangarchulla trek in winter:
Pangarchulla trek in December is recommended for only the daredevil trekkers who are brave enough to push through the fresh layer of thick snow the area experiences around this time. Snowfall begins as early as the start of November, but the lower regions might be free of snow in early winter.
Pangarchulla trek in December will be more challenging, so it is best to take proper gear and equipment to protect oneself against the cold. An experienced local guide can help the trekkers navigate safely through the knee-deep snow. The activity might be exhausting, but the view of the snow-covered surroundings from the summit will be a worthwhile reward.
Keeping the trekker's comfort in mind while packing for a week-long summit trek is essential. Carry 3-4 quick-to-dry, polyester t-shirts with full sleeves. 2-3 pairs of sweatpants, joggers, or track pants can be layered comfortably to maintain optimum body temperature as they gain altitude. A thermal innerwear set is a must-have on this trek. Light fleece sweaters, hoodies, and pullovers can be layered with padded knee-length down jackets with hoods to battle the cold.
An important trick to avoid catching a cold in frigid conditions is to prevent any heat loss from the head at a high altitude. Woolen caps, beanies, or balaclavas can be worn beneath the jacket's hood to achieve this. The trekker must also wear woolen mufflers and scarves to protect the neck. Woolen gloves that are thick enough should be used. Synthetic sports socks can dry quickly, so it will be suitable to carry several pairs for the day trek. A couple of woolen socks can be layered with synthetic ones at night to deal with the freezing cold.
Footwear and other accessories:
The Pangarchulla trek cost may not cover the expenses of buying or renting personal gear and equipment. The trekkers have to hike over boulders covered with thick snow. So they must opt for trekking shoes that have a robust body and waterproof exterior. Gaiters will help keep the boot from getting wet while traversing through the knee-deep snow. The best-suited boots should also support the ankle and have a good grip for maximum efficiency. Microspikes are also a valuable feature for these.
UV protection sunglasses should be carried to prevent snow blindness, among other accessories. A small tube of sunscreen, a sun cap, battery-powered torches, and a pair of solid trekking poles will be necessary to navigate the area. It is recommended to carry or rent a headlamp for the summit day trek for which preparations begin at the dead of night.
Since you will be camping in the open campsites, buy a thick, premium quality sleeping bag. This will help you sleep at night in the tent.
Backpacks and waterproofing:
Since this is a week-long trek, a 45 to 50 liters capacity backpack will be required. The trekker can also carry a 15 to 20 liters daypack to easily access the essentials. Mule service may be available from Auli, depending on the season. Offloading services are available in both Auli and Rishikesh.
Remember to carry waterproof covers for the backpack since the weather can be pretty unpredictable here. Water-resistant bags will also help protect your essentials from heavy rainfall or snowfall.
Toiletries and hygiene products:
It is essential to maintain personal hygiene on a trek, so trekkers must carry toiletry supplies to attend to their daily needs. This should include a set of toothbrush and toothpaste, biodegradable soap, hand sanitizer, and deodorant. Carry lip balm and moisturizer to keep your skin from going dry and cracking. Toilet papers, tissue rolls, and wet wipes will help clean up quickly, but be careful not to litter as these products can be non-biodegradable.
Women should carry sufficient sanitary napkins, tampons, or menstrual cups for maintaining their menstrual hygiene on the trek.
Carrying a personal set of reusable cutlery is advised as these remote lands do not have such provisions. For treks like this, stainless steel utensils are the most suitable as they are easy to wash and non-reactive. It is enough to pack a steel plate, a fork and spoon set, and a mug.
Medical kit with first-aid:
Common medicines that should be carried on a trek include paracetamols, anti-nausea medicines, antacids, antihistamines, and painkillers. A simple first-aid kit containing crepe bandages, antiseptic liquid, gauze swabs, ointment, bandaids, and insect repellent cream will be able to help treat any minor sprains, bruises, or injuries. Keep a pain-relieving spray at hand for muscle cramps. Water-purifying tablets should also be carried out to refine the drinking water collected from streams and ensure protection from any water-borne diseases.
A valid identity card with address proof, its photocopies, and a few passport size photographs should be carried. For foreign trekkers, their passports and visas are essential. These documents will be needed for registration and verification purposes at various checkpoints.
The Pangarchulla peak trek in December demands the trekker to be fit enough to brave all the odds on the challenging summit day. Regular jogging, cycling, walking, swimming, and squatting will help build the stamina and endurance required. A few gym sessions per week to increase core strength and flexibility will be helpful.
Since this has been classified as a challenging trek, the trekkers must be prepared to face any situation. This will require grit and determination, which can be developed by practicing yoga, pranayama exercises, and meditation.
The mesmerizing trek to the peak will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As this Pangarchulla peak trek blog suggests, the trekkers who attempt this trek should possess the agility and determination to achieve this feat. Following the instructions of the trekking guide closely should ensure their safety on this thrilling expedition.