Audens Col Trek

Dehradun | India
  From  INR 90,000  | From 15 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Audens Col Trek

The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India is popular among trekkers for offering some of the most challenging high altitude treks. The Garhwal Himalayas here present the most beautiful sceneries along with the various mountain passes. It is thrilling to see how the greenery transforms into brown, rugged terrain as one slowly arrives at the snow-covered winter wonderland. 

The Audens Col trek is one such exciting adventure. It offers a thrilling experience with majestic sights of mountain ranges, meadows, and alpine lakes, while the trekkers walk across glaciers and moraine ridges.

The forest trek from Gangotri:

The trek begins from the Gangotri National Park, where the glacier serves as the source of the river Ganga. It takes the trekkers through the forests of bhoj patra, cedar, pine, and rhododendron trees. A picturesque start through the alpine vegetation makes this trek remarkable.

Charming river valleys:

The trek connects the beautiful Rudugaira Valley with the scenic Bhilangana Valley as the starting and ending points. The alpine forests of the Rudugaira Valley and the rippling river offer a refreshing start to the trekkers from Gangotri. On the other hand, the atmosphere of the Bhilangana Valley soothes the exhausted trekkers after they have climbed down from the Auden's Col.

Trekking across a mountain ridge:

The Auden's Col is a ridge that connects the Gangotri III (6454 meters) with the Jogin I (6465 meters). In mountaineering language, the term "col" refers to the lowest point of the ridge where two mountains meet. Trekking through this ridge is a thrilling experience and the major highlight of this trek.

View of the Khatling Glacier:

From Auden's Col, the sweeping, snowy view of the Khatling Glacier is mesmerizing. The Bhilangana river originates from this glacier. After spending some time at Auden's Col, the trekkers need to cross the Khatling Glacier. The descent is very steep, so they may need to use ropes to rappel down the stretch. This challenging part of the trek feels highly rewarding once the trekkers finally reach the Khatling base camp to rest for the day.

Overview of the Auden's Col Trek:

The Auden's Col pass lies between the Gangotri III from the northwest and the Jogin I in the east. It is characterized by snow-covered glades, moraine ridges, streams, and glaciers. The trek is among the most challenging ones in the Garhwal Himalayas and requires some prior mountaineering skills, even though it is non-technical. 

The Audens Col trek was first discovered by the British explorer and surveyor John Bicknell Auden in 1935. He first crossed it in 1939. He was among the prominent members of the Geological Survey of India, so the pass was named after him. 

The Audens Col trek cost will be around USD 1080 to 1360 (INR 80,000 to 100,000), including accommodations and food. Since this is a dangerous, high-altitude trek, hiring an experienced guide is necessary. It takes 14 days and 13 nights to complete this trek.

How Difficult is Auden's Col Trek?

The trek to Auden's Col is a difficult one. It involves hiking on moraine ridges with loose boulders. One comes across numerous crevasses and icy stretches on this trail. It has long trekking days and high altitude gains every day.

The trekkers on this trail are required to know how to rappel since it is full of steep climbs. AMS is a common occurrence among the trekkers here, even with the day of acclimatization. For these factors, only experienced trekkers should embark on this journey with a professional guide and proper trekking equipment.

Best Time to Visit the Auden's Col Trek:

The summer month of June is the best time to do the Audens Col trek expedition. The trek takes one to the permanently snowy regions of the Garhwal Himalayas, which is bearable for trekkers only in June. During this period, the skies are clear with magnificent sunrises and sunsets. The meadows around the Masar and Vasuki lakes in the latter half of the trek appear beautiful with fresh greenery and blooming flowers in this season.

Gear Guide and Checklist for the trek to Auden's Col:

Packing for the trek to Auden's Col should be done with a lot of care since this is a difficult high-altitude trek. The Audens Col trek cost in the trekking company's package will not include the following personal gears that you may have to buy or rent.

Apparel and footwear:

A mountain pass trek should be done in 3-4 quick to dry, polyester, full-sleeve t-shirts, and 2-3 pairs of sweatpants or track pants as they can be easily layered to maintain optimum body temperature. The trekker must take a thermal innerwear set to keep warm in the snowy environment. In sub-zero conditions, light fleece sweaters layered with padded, down jackets that come down to the knees and have a hood will also help.

Trekkers also tend to lose a lot of heat from the head in the high-altitude treks. Woolen caps or balaclavas should be worn beneath the hood of the padded jacket. The high, furry collars of the clothes will not be enough to protect the neck, so the trekker must also wear woolen mufflers. Thick, woolen gloves are ideal for warming the hands. Since the trekker has to hike across a glacier, taking several synthetic sports socks will be ideal as they dry quickly. They can be layered with a pair of woolen socks to keep warm at night.

The rugged terrain full of moraine and boulders calls for sturdy trekking shoes with a robust and waterproof body, good grip, and ankle support. Trekking boots with microspikes and gaiters will help with the grip while crossing the Khatling Glacier and will prevent small rocks and debris from entering the boot.

Other Accessories:

UV protection sunglasses, a sun cap, a headlamp, or battery-powered torches are essential for a high-altitude trek. A pair of strong trekking poles will be necessary to navigate through the loose rocks and boulders on the moraine ridge of this trek.

Having your own set of reusable cutlery is necessary on a mountain pass trek as these sites have little to no resources. Stainless steel utensils are easy to wash and non-reactive, which makes them ideal. Packing a steel plate or a lunchbox, a fork, a spoon, and a mug will be enough.

Backpacks, waterproof covers, and sleeping bags:

A 60 to 65 liters capacity backpack is essential for the Auden's Col trek. Additionally, a 15 to 20 liters daypack that the trekker feels comfortable carrying can be taken alongside. The guide can help the trekkers hire mules and porters on major trek points like Gangotri and Kedarnath. Offloading is allowed in Rishikesh.

Waterproof covers for the backpack and the extra luggage are necessary. Water-resistant bags to put in your electronics, wallet, and essential documents will also be beneficial.

A thick, good-quality sleeping bag will keep you warm at night and help you sleep.

Toiletries and hygiene products:

Trekkers must always carry toiletry supplies, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, lip balm, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, and deodorant for their daily needs. Toilet paper, tissue rolls, and wet wipes are essential products that will help in a quick clean-up. Women should carry an adequate number of tampons, sanitary napkins, or menstrual cups to maintain their menstrual hygiene and complete the trek as comfortably as possible. 

Medical kit with first-aid:

Paracetamols, antihistamines, anti-nausea medicines, antacids, and painkillers are common medicines that a trekker should definitely pack. Their first-aid kit should contain bandaids, crepe bandages, antiseptic liquid, ointment, gauze swabs, insect repellent cream, and a pain-relieving spray. Any minor sprains or injuries can be treated with the help of this. The streams on the trek are the main drinking water sources, so water-purifying tablets should also be carried.

Important documents:

A trekker must carry a government-issued photo ID with address proof, a few photocopies of it, and two passport size photographs. Foreign trekkers should keep their passport and visa very carefully as they are necessary items. This area falls in the Gangotri National Park and requires an entry permit. It can be obtained online or from offline offices at the site. It costs USD 2 (INR 150) for Indian nationals and USD 8 to 9 (INR 600) for foreign tourists for two days and is extended upon request with extra charges. This permit cost may not be included in your Audens Col trek cost.

Auden's Col Trek Itinerary:

  • Day 1: The first day's journey entails driving 270 km from Rishikesh to Gangotri. It will take about 8-10 hours to reach Gangotri by the evening, so the trekkers should start early. The Gangotri temple is the highlight of this site. Numerous hotels and guesthouses offer overnight accommodations at affordable rates.
  • Day 2: The trekking starts today with the trekkers in this hike through the Gangotri National Park. From the starting point at Gangotri, one leaves early in the morning to trek through forests of pine, cedar, and rhododendrons to reach Nala camp. It takes approx 6 hours to cover this stretch. The Rudugaira River cuts a picturesque sight around the Nala campsite (3750 meters), making it ideal for trekkers.
  • Day 3: The Rudugaira base camp requires 7 to 8 hours of trekking from the Nala camp. Today, the trekkers have to climb ridges and walk alongside streams and rivulets. It is a steep gradient here. From the Rudugaira campsite, one can spot Rudugaira peak, Jogin peak, and Auden's Col. The trekkers stay for the night here at 4350 meters altitude.
  • Day 4: For a high-altitude mountain pass trek, acclimatization is essential. So, the fourth day is kept for acclimating to the air pressure at this height. One can explore and take a look around the campsite for this day.
  • Day 5: The day's trek to Gangotri base camp will require some technical skills. Moraines characterize the challenging route. The stunning Gangotri range can be seen from the campsite. The trek takes around 5 hours to cover the 6 km distance. 
  • Day 6: Rugged terrain characterized by moraine is to be covered on the sixth day of the trek. Covering this moraine ridge between Gangotri base camp to Auden's Col base camp is the most challenging part of the trek. One crosses a stream on the trail and passes a moraine lake called Sukha Tal, which dries up after the monsoons. The campsite here is not too well marked, so the trekker should take extra precautions at night.
  • Day 7: The trek to Khatling Glacier takes the trekkers through the Auden's Col on the way, which is the highlight of the Audens Col trek expedition. The total trekking distance for the day is 12 km and takes 10 hours to cover. Auden's Col can be reached after a steep 5 km ascent, at an altitude of 5490 meters. The trekkers stop here to look at the mesmerizing sight of the snow-capped Himalayas. The rest of the trek is a 6 km descent from here to Khatling Glacier base camp. It can be very steep, so the trekkers will need ropes to rappel down the stretch. They will stay here, at the Khatling Glacier base camp overnight, with a view of the soaring Himalayas around.
  • Day 8: No trek sounds too difficult after watching the gorgeous sunrise against the Himalayas early in the morning from the Khatling Glacier base camp. A long and challenging trekking day lies ahead of the trekkers, and sights like these keep them motivated and determined. For the eighth day, one will have to trek through long stretches over moraine and crevasses. Technical equipment may be required once again today as it involves trekking through the 8 km glacier. Beyond the glacier, the rest of the 4 km moraine trail will take the trekkers to the Waterfall campsite, also known as Zero Point. The Bhilangana river can be seen from here.
  • Day 9: 5 hours of trekking today will take the trekkers to the Chowki campsite. Within the first 3 km of trekking, they will reach the beautiful rolling meadows of the Bhilangana river valley, the first breath of greenery after days of rugged, brown, and white scenery. This is an excellent site for photography. The plain grasslands of the Chowki campsite are the second change in landscape, marking the fact that the trekkers are descending now. Trekkers planning to cover the Mayali Pass camp here too. Kedarnath, one of the Four Dhams that Gangotri too is a part of, lies beyond the Mayali Pass.
  • Day 10: After crossing a ridge by ascending from Chowki, the trekkers will begin their proper descent today. The Masar Tal (3000 meters) is the destination for the day. It is situated on the left flank of the Doodhganga Bamak. Masar Lake is nestled in the middle of lush green dales, reflecting the clear blue sky. The 8 km trek takes around 6 to 7 hours but arriving at such a fantastic sight is worth it. The trekkers camp on the banks of the lake, enjoying the view of the starlit sky until late at night. But not too late, since the next day will be another long day of trekking.
  • Day 11: Located at 4800 meters above sea level, the Vasuki Tal is the goal of the day. The trekkers have to ascend for the first part of the stretch and descend for the rest of it for 7 hours. The whole trek towards Vasuki Tal is 12 km, but the gradient is comparatively gentle, so it will not take too long.
  • Day 12: 5 km away, the Kedarnath Temple is one of the most attractive sights on this last stretch of the trek. It takes only 3 hours of hiking to reach Kedarnath temple. There are a number of hotels and guesthouses here for overnight accommodations.
  • Day 13: Witnessing the breathtaking sunrise from Kedarnath Dham is truly an exciting experience. After an early breakfast, the trekkers embark on the common 14 km trail to descend from Kedarnath. The vivid greenery of this trail is refreshing. It can take up to 4 hours of trekking to reach Gaurikund for an overnight stay.
  • Day 14: The Vasuki Ganga accompanies the trekkers for a while in Gaurikund as they drive down to Rishikesh. The journey will take around 10 hours. Buses from Rishikesh can take one back to Delhi.

Getting Fit For Auden's Col Trek:

The challenging trek to Auden's Col demands a lot of core and cardiovascular strength. Regular exercises like jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, squatting, and skipping ropes can increase the trekker's stamina. Two to three gym sessions per week, with a special focus on weights training and core muscles building, should be done.

The Auden's Col trail might be dangerous, so the trekker must be ready to tackle any situation at any point. To do that, they have to develop mental fortitude and determination. Practicing yoga and meditation will help with this.

The trek to Auden's Col is one of the most challenging treks in Uttarakhand. Special care should be taken to choose the right trekking equipment and have an experienced guide accompany the trekkers on this trail. Following the guide's instructions and taking precautions will make this trek a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.