Informative

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

Neeti Singhal

Last updated: 03-11-2021

As one of the best crossover treks in India, Pin Bhaba Pass is your passage between two distinct worlds. It introduces you to the wide range of landscapes hosted by the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh taking you from lush mountainsides of Bhaba valley in Kinnaur to the arid expanse of Pin Valley in Spiti. The reward for getting to the highest point of the trek – the Pass - at 4,915 M is that you get a look into both the worlds at the same time. The differences in landscape are so stark that it will blow your mind.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

This equally beautiful but relatively safer and shorter trek is the best alternative to its cousin, Pin Parvati Pass. What’s even better is that, while other treks become inaccessible, this trail is open during rains giving you a window into the monsoon landscape of Himachal Pradesh. Pin Bhaba Pass is exquisite and easy to fall in love with but it sure makes you sweat before it lets you experience its beauty. Although in the literal sense of the words, it is in fact a ‘walk in the park’ for all its meadows, but idiomatically - far from it! It makes you clock in the hours and expects you to stay on course to reveal its last surprise.

This article discusses the difficulty level of Pin Bhaba Pass trek, the gear and skills you require to get on this culture ride and some of the challenges you are likely to encounter on the way.  

 

Difficulty Level of the Trek:

Pin Bhaba Pass is a level 4 trek on the Bikat Rating Scale.

About the BRS: The Bikat Rating Scale rates the difficulty level of all treks and expeditions in our portfolio after taking into account their geographical and climatic conditions. 

According to this scale, if you are a beginner who is unsure of your fitness level and don’t know what to expect on a trek, a trek rated one will be a good place to start. 

If you liked your very first trekking experience and are looking to test your limits next, the treks rated 2 or 3 will do the job for you.

A beginner who is sure of their fitness level on the other hand is welcome to skip the first two levels and directly start with one of the treks rated 3.

From 4 onwards, the rules change a little. It is mandatory to have trekking experience of the previous level to participate in the next level.

 

The Trails of Pin Bhaba Pass:

Rife with poetry and drama, this trek falls more towards the difficult end of moderate. The length and certain parts of the terrain make this a tough undertaking for first timers. We would recommend this trek for trekkers who have some experience in the Himalayas and have previously attempted a few treks.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

Although not extremely difficult, the Pin Bhaba Pass trek presents you with an assortment of terrain, altitude and environment which will seem more manageable to navigate if you have tested your body in the Himalayas. It helps to have some experience of high-altitude, since the pass takes you to the maximum height of 4, 915M and also requires you to gain a lot of altitude in a relatively short time frame. 

As a learning-based organization, we will, of course, be giving you basic how-to trainings during the initial days of the trek and will be with you every step of the way. Nonetheless, it helps to know what are some of the challenges you are likely to encounter if you decide to undertake this journey. Let us help acquaint you to some exciting challenges which make the trek demanding as well as fun!

 

Challenge 1: Drive to Kafnu: 

The proximity of the Himalayas is not best friends with the concept of limited time. While the head trails of some of the treks are easily accessible locations, Pin Bhaba Pass demands a little more of your time. The trek begins at a charming little mountain village called Kafnu which is a 200 km drive from Shimla – and Shimla itself is not the fastest place to get to. So, in terms of transit time, you spend a lot more getting to the start of the trek, and similarly, a significant amount of time to get to the closest transport back home after the trek is over. While this could be a legit concern, it also is testament to the beauty tucked away on this trail for being so remote.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

The drive from Shimla to Kafnu takes close to 11 hours on long, winding mountain roads. If you are prone to motion sickness, things could start to get interesting for you, already!

 

Challenge 2: Difficult Terrain: 

Pin Bhaba Pass trek is a literal feast – an exclusive spread of sensory delight. However, it is as contrasting as they come. Parts of it are as delicate as spiderwebs gleaming in the soft colours of morning light while others as harsh as icy winds by the cold sea.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

While it presents you with soul-cleansing sights, its terrain is not the easiest to get along with. From massive distances between camps, steep ascends, river crossings, big altitude gains, glacier walks, sections of loose rocks and narrow trails, each day presents you with a different trial which, to be fair, helps keep the monotony of walking for hours, at bay.


Day 2: Kafnu to Mulling: First actual day of the trek and its already testing your mettle. There is a height gain of 900 M. The real challenge for the day is the length of the walk – with 10 kilometers, it is the third longest day of the 8 days of our trek. The ascend, however, is gradual and takes you through wide, open trails to thick forests with tall trees – rich with bovine, streams and the smell of pine. It's a long but steady incline with ample plain patches and patches of slight descend which give you enough time to get your heartbeat back to normal and maintain your pace.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

There are multiple river crossings on bridges made by unsupported logs placed next to each other. If you have a fear of water, you are already in for an adventure.

 

Day 3: Mulling to Kara: The third day tests you in different ways. Although the height gain is half of that from the previous day, the challenge for today involves crossing over a forceful river. It requires team work, a little technique and soaking your feet in the gushing flow of the icy cold water. There is also a 300 M steep ascend which is a little tiring, especially because of the weight on your backs. The climb involves navigating a lot of huge boulders. Other than some tricky sections which put you in a constant struggle of continuously having to shift your weight on the big rocks, you start to get used to the uneven land. These boulders actually aid the hike, proving to be like a climb up the stairs.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

Day 4: Kara to Pushtirang: Today is a hard day for the legs – firstly because of the steep ascend and secondly because the trek starts with multiple river crossings. You have to cross streams, crisscrossing through the meadows. Because the force of the water is high, this will require rolling up your pants and getting to work as a team in order to successfully make it to the other side. There are around 6 streams to cross to make it to the dry land on the other side – that is thirty straight minutes of bone-chilling water adventure. All this as the green, rocky mountains look at you struggle to keep your feet dry.

The day also includes long sections of steep inclines and glacial walking which requires extreme caution and balance.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

Day 5: Pass Day: This day deserves an entire section dedicated to it for the variety of challenges it throws your way. Listed below as Challenge 3!

 

Day 6: Baldar to Mudh:  It is pretty straight forward but is extremely long. Baldhar to Mudh is a total of 15 kms in dry, flat terrain. Walking endlessly, even if it is amidst beauty, is likely to get to you after a while.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

Challenge 3: Pass Day

The Pass-day is especially challenging because of the nature of the climb. Firstly, you gain an altitude of nearly 800M in a single night and descend down nearly 1000M – that from 4100M to 4915M to 3900M (Baldar). Right from the get-go you will gauge that it’s going to be a hard day which despite the cold weather is going to make you sweat through every pore of your body. 

The day you cross over the pass is a day you need to pack all your energy with you. Pluck out the spare reserves you might have stored in different places, because a lot of energy is what is going to get you through the day. With long ascends and a doubly long descend, the day is 15 hours long. Starting at 2 AM, there is something about the midnight climb that increases the thrill by many folds. Waking up to the cold, crisp darkness, limited vision as much as is allowed by your tiny head torch, faltering your way onto the mountain; a midnight climb is something else!

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

From the minute you put one foot behind the other, you will find yourself navigating big boulders on a steep incline – traversing through the zigzagging path on a loose mountain. The climb up is likely to take anywhere between 5-6 hours – to get to the highest point on the Pass. There are no water sources for the first 6-7 hours of the climb, which adds to the difficulty of the day. The 6 hour ascend is riddled with precarious sections of rock fall, glacier crossing, scree, moraine and navigating big boulders – all in the dark of the night. Once the rock and scree area end, you are presented with an endless sheet of white snow. Walking on snow can get very tricky and unpredictable. You can never be prepared for what to expect and have to adapt to conditions of the snow at the time.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

While you might prepare yourself for the ascent; it is the long, weary descent that is the actual concern. You start to appreciate the ascend when you hit the slopes to go down. The snow now starts to get slushy and hence a little more difficult to walk on. If you are lucky and there is enough hard snow, you will be able to cover a lot of distance by sliding down the icy slopes. If the snow has started to pack its bags for the season, well, your day just got a bit longer!

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

After crossing the snow patches, the trail now takes you alongside the blue Pin River. Although mostly straightforward, there are some sections which are tricky, with very narrow trails, deep gorges and loose mountains. Slipping on these slopes will take you straight down into the strong flow of the river. The landscape of the beauty could get a bit distracting so don’t forget to keep your eyes on the trail! Although, called the cold desert, it is not devoid of color and you learn to see beauty in elements other than the flora of the mountains.

 

Challenge 4: Physically Demanding

The challenges presented by the terrain itself are compounded by the fact that you have to carry your own bags. On some treks, like mountain summits, you can carry essentials and leave most of the heavy stuff behind at Summit Camps – since these are the longest and the most physically demanding of days. These also happen to be the days when you hit the highest altitudes.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

The Pin Bhaba Pass trek offers no such relief because it is a cross-over trek. Since you don’t take the same route down, there is no option but to carry all your weight on your back through and through. Given that it is already identified as a moderate trek which climbs to an altitude of 4,915 M, the trail demands even higher levels of endurance and strength as requirements to complete the trek. 

 

Challenge 5: Weather

Since the trail is open in monsoons, the precarious sections on the trek are likely to get trickier during rains. The narrow trails get slipperier and the sections with loose rocks and scree get challenging to navigate. The long distances will seem even longer and the hours of walking between camps will grow substantially longer, too.

 

PIN BHABA PASS TREK: WHO IS THIS TREK MEANT FOR

 

GEAR REQUIRED FOR PIN BHABA PASS

While we will be providing most of the technical equipment needed for the trek (tents, sleeping bags, gaiters, microspikes), there is some basic gear you will need from your end to get through your trek comfortably.  

Some of the things you will need are:

1) A sturdy, lightweight backpack: A good backpack which sits comfortably on your back without putting too much pressure on it can be the deciding factor between making it to the summit or not. Good, however, is not a synonym for expensive. 

One of our founders, Pankaj, purchased a non-branded pack for INR 1100 in 2010 and the pack continues to work just fine for him even today. In the article linked below, he shares some helpful tips on what to look for when choosing a trekking backpack.  

How to choose your backpack 

2) Comfortable trekking shoes: Happy feet equal a happy trek. Conventional sports shoes don’t suit trekking trails. We recommend wearing high ankle shoes with sturdy soles. These not only provide better support but also reduce the possibility of injuries while hiking. In case, you need help with a list of deciding factors that make for good trekking shoes, please refer to the article below.

How to choose a good pair of hiking shoes 

3) Right Clothing: Any high-altitude trek requires specific kinds of clothing. It should be warm but light weight. It should also be such that it is easily packaged. On high-altitude treks such as Pin Bhaba Pass, we usually employ the layering method where you put on multiple layers of clothing instead of one very heavy, thick jacket. This is for two reasons: 

  1. The weather in Himalayan regions is unpredictable and changes very quickly. Layering gives you the freedom to adapt to that accordingly where you are not left feeling too hot or too cold.
  2. These are easy to carry and are packing-friendly.

 

SKILLS REQUIRED FOR PIN BHABA - 

Bikat Adventures is primarily an adventure learning organization. This means our key objective is not just to help trekkers complete their treks but also to ensure they pick up some valuable lessons and skills in trekking along the way. 

To achieve this, we have created learning modules and paired them to different levels on the Bikat Rating Scale. 

These modules are taught real-time on the trails by our trek leaders. 

The following are some skills that are likely to come in handy on a trek like the Pin Bhaba Pass.

While you will have all the assistance you need on the trek from our capable trek leaders and guides, we suggest browsing through the articles below to get an idea of what is involved.

The trail of Pin Bhaba Pass trek is varied and requires constant readjustment of technique and strategy. The trek introduces you to different kinds of gradients including steep ascents and equally steep descents which could get extremely tricky. A set of simple techniques can help you navigate rocky as well as icy landscapes with considerable ease while also reducing chances of injuries and stress to specific body parts. The guide linked below shares some useful tips on how to ascend and descend on trails.

Ascending and Descending on Trails

Given how unpredictable the weather gets throughout the trail on Pin Bhaba Pass, you are likely to keep changing your layering frequently along the way. Also, due to the vast difference in day temperature and that at night, you most probably will spend a lot of time packing and re-packing your sack depending on whether you are on-trail or at the campsite, have chanced upon sudden rains or are stuck in a suddenly arrived cold hour. The area is also prone to unannounced rains. Under such changeable circumstances, accessing your stuff can get a bit messy and confusing. 

Also, a sack packed right can facilitate your trekking while incorrect packing can even make an easy trail seem difficult. Worry not, we are here to help. The article linked below shares some useful guidelines you can follow to pack efficiently. 

How to pack your rucksack

Our trek leaders will be guiding you on how to pitch a tent during the trek. Nevertheless, we are linking the article below for anyone who might be interested in reading about it.

How to pitch a tent 

Layering appropriately to protect yourself from the cold is essential. The article linked below will give you a fair idea of the winter layers you will need and guide you on how to layer up at campsites and while hiking.

Hiking attire and layering 

Like we said before, Pin Bhaba Pass is rife with sharp ascents and equally sharp descents in an assortment of landscapes. This, along with its peculiar terrain and environment require you to use some mountaineering equipment. The articles below will acquaint you to a few of these and help you understand how to use them as well as how they can facilitate your climb.

When you know you are going to be in and around snow or in any high-altitude location where the sun is harsh, you might want to carry a good pair of sunglasses. A lack of these could prove to be fatal. The article below can help you pick out just the right pair. 

How to pick high-altitude UV protection glasses? 

When on any trek, it is each person’s responsibility to know the requirements of the area, some campsite basics and how to manage our own selves as well as the environment around us. While our trek leaders will keep you abreast about the basic dos and don’ts, do read the article below to brush up on some basic principles before the trek. 

Waste Management and Leave No Trace Principles

We hope this article answers all the questions you may have about Pin Bhaba Pass. In case you need further assistance/information with something, please feel free to reach out to us. We are only a phone call away.

 

Neeti Singhal

A psychologist, a developmental researcher, and a constant seeker of stories, Neeti is usually found Read more

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