Located at an elevation of 4650 M, Rupin Pass is a jaw-dropping high-altitude trek that creates a sensational passageway between the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Apart from offering glorious views of the Kinner Kailash range in the north and the Rupin valley in the south, the trail also allows you to witness up-close, the journey of the gushing waters of the Rupin River all the way up to its origin at the Rupin waterfall.
Being a moderate level trek, Rupin Pass demands specific skills and trekking gear to navigate the terrain efficiently. In this article, we discuss the challenges of the Rupin Pass trek along with the preparation needed to complete the trek safely and enjoyably.
Difficulty level of the trek:
Rupin 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 1 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 Rupin Pass:
The Rupin Pass trek requires you to cover long distances (>5 km) each day, rising from an altitude of 1580 M to 4657 M in a matter of 6 days. The trek gradient is a moderate ascent all the way up to Dhanderas Thatch campsite on day 6 of the trek. Beyond this point, the trail climbs up steeply in snow till the Rupin Pass. After crossing the magnificent pass, the trail descends all the way to Sangla valley. The Rupin River acts as a constant companion changing contours in various sections.
Challenge 1: Steep snow Trek from Dhanderas Thatch to Upper Waterfall Camp
Dhanderas Thatch is one of the most beautiful campsites that the Himalayas has to offer. Resting at the bottom of a valley’s bowl, it is surrounded by several thin waterfalls gushing from mountain tops and the main Rupin waterfall thundering from the snow-capped ranges afar.
As you leave this campsite, a strenuous challenge awaits you quite shortly after. 1 km into the trek, you reach the base of the Rupin waterfall covered with snow patches all around. The ascent from here will require snow equipment like micro-spikes, gaiters, and ice-axe depending upon the density of the snow. Since the section is also likely to be covered in hard ice, the trail can get slippery in some sections.
That said, our trek leaders will prepare you for these challenges ahead of time. The trekkers are guided and trained about how to veer through the snow and arrest your fall on such slippery slopes.
By the time you reach the middle of the waterfall, you will come across a gigantic snow bridge offering a spectacular view of the top of the Rupin Waterfall. This is followed by another steep climb through snow-clad slopes until you reach an open meadow with a river flowing gently right at the centre of it – this is the Upper Waterfall Campsite.
The steep climb rewards you with a view not many can claim to have seen. A lush green meadow, surrounded by snow-capped Dhauladhar ranges with a softly flowing Rupin river; all at the top of the Rupin Waterfall. Once you set up camp, follow the path of this river that leads you to the edge of the meadow. From there, you can watch the waters plunge directly down to the lower waterfall campsite! You are literally at the top of the Rupin waterfall.
Challenge 2: Climbing the near-standing Rupin Pass Gully to reach the Rupin Pass
The ‘Pass Day’ marks the most adventurous section of the trek. The Rupin Pass Gully is a half tube cut out of the mountainside. Although it is a short 200 m ascent, the trail is inclined at a 60-70 degree angle making navigation extremely exerting.
The gully is so formed that there are loose stones and boulders through the entirety of the stretch that are likely to disturb the momentum of the group. Since the trail isn’t well defined, an ice-axe is likely to come in handy in this section.
The structure of the gully is also such that any loud sound echoes inside it can cause the loose snow on the surface to shift and slide. Therefore, the trek leader instructs the group to maintain a low voice in order not to create unwanted obstacles for the group.
It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to climb to the top of the Rupin Pass gully, but the duration may vary depending upon the speed of the trekkers and the level of snow on the trail. The strenuous climb finally opens up to surreal views of stone cairns lined up with hundreds of prayer flags flourishing in the backdrop of the mighty Dhauladhar ranges. The Kinner Kailash Range sits majestically in the north while the Rupin Valley spreads out generously in the south. Spend some time at the ridge and relish in the eternal glory of the spectacle in front of you.
Fitness Levels Required for the Rupin Pass Trek
The trails of Rupin Pass are a subtle blend of steep inclines and gradual descents. However, the overall trek gradient is an upward trudge throughout. The segment right before the Pass is long & steep with an inclination of about 60-70 degrees and can be quite challenging to navigate in knee-deep snow.
Being a moderate level trek, you will need good lung capacity and leg strength to finish the trek strongly. If you are struggling most of the time, you won’t be able to enjoy the trek. With most of the trek being a gradual ascent, the summit day brings about steep icy climbs that would require a good level of fitness to complete it successfully. With the end goal being enjoying the trek and not just completing it, the following is the fitness level we recommend.
Practice jogging/running three days a week and see if you can cover 5 kms in 30-40 minutes. Also, try to run 10 km in 1 hour or 1 hour 15 minutes once a week. In addition to this, you can also add some resistance workouts for legs (like squats and lunges) and core into your training schedule.
Gear Required for Rupin Pass Trek
While we will be providing most of the equipment needed for trekking (tents, sleeping bags, crampons, snow boots, ice axes etc), there is some basic gear you will need from your end to get through your hike comfortably.
These are a sturdy, lightweight backpack and comfortable trekking shoes. In case, you plan on purchasing them, please refer to the articles below for some helpful tips on how to go about choosing the right gear for your trek.
A branded backpack can be a hefty spend when it comes to trekking. But this needn’t be the case if you know what to look for when purchasing one.
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. In the article linked above, he shares some helpful tips on what to look for when choosing a trekking backpack.
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. For a trek like Rupin Pass, where you will be veering through dense snow patches, we recommend wearing water-resistant shoes to avoid exposing your feet to cold temperatures. Please refer to the guide linked above for some useful tips on choosing trekking shoes.
Trekking poles are not mandatory but can help take the stress off joints especially during descents and save energy. It is an accessory that helps the trekker with stability and rhythm on rough terrain.
The article linked above explains how to use trekking poles.
Skills required for Rupin Pass trek
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.
On the Rupin Pass trek, our trek leaders guide and train the group on how to steer through the snow during ascent and descent and arrest your fall on slippery trails, before attempting the summit.
The trekkers are instructed about various trekking equipment that will be used during the trek like gaiters, micro-spikes and trekking pole, all in coordination with one another.
All these equipment except trekking poles will be provided by the Bikat Adventures team. During descent, the snow becomes slippery adding to the challenges for the trekkers. To avoid slipping, trekkers are taught descent techniques like the right placement of foot, where and how to apply pressure and much more.
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 the skills that are likely to come in handy on a trail like the Rupin Pass.
Although Rupin Pass is a beginners’ trek, the ascent to the summit can be quite challenging. Maintaining the right rhythm and body posture can help avoid injuries and reduce the stress on your ankles and knees. The guide linked above shares some useful tips on how to ascend and descend down trails.
During the Rupin Pass Winter Trek, one is likely to experience sub-zero temperatures at night. This means you will have to pull out all the winter clothes needed to layer up at the campsite. This in turn will require you to re-pack your backpack in the mornings.
The article linked above shares some useful guidelines you can follow to pack efficiently.
Layering appropriately to protect yourself from the cold is essential. The temperatures at Rupin Pass can dip as low as -7 degree Celsius. Hence, it is crucial to understand how many layers one needs to carry to have a comfortable trek.
The article linked above 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.
When trails become slippery because of the snow, microspikes give you the support and balance you will need to navigate these trails efficiently. Since we are likely to be using them on the Rupin Pass Trek, please ensure the shoes you are wearing are compatible for microspikes.
Gaiters are special layers that you wear over your shoes and ankles to prevent dirt, pebbles, and snow from getting inside your shoes. When the snow level is high on the Rupin Pass Trek, Bikat Adventures will also be providing gaiters to trekkers right from Sankri. The article linked above will give you an idea of how to use them.
We hope this article answers all the questions you may have about the Rupin Pass Trek. In case you need further assistance/information with something, please feel free to reach out to us. We are only a phone call away.