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Gangotri to Kedarnath
Auden’s Col is the holy grail of trekking in the Western Himalayas - hailed by many as being more difficult than Kalindi Khal, which is one of the most dangerous treks in India. As a mountain pass hanging at the impressive altitude of 5,490M, this impossibly high, glaciated pass between the ginormous Gangotri and Jogin massifs is the climax of a long, treacherous journey between the pilgrimage towns of Gangotri and Kedarnath. Starting from the high mountain town of Gangotri, which is possibly one of the best trailheads in the country, the trek takes you high in the Garhwal Himalayas in the massive Gangotri glacial region. The mighty Bhagirathi flows loud and proud, from its glacial source at the foot of Chaukhamba, down through vast meadows and dense deodar forests. Auden’s Col is by no means a monotonous landscape. You climb through dense birch and oak forests on the first day, onto vast, unending meadows with panoramic views of the Gangotri and Jogin peaks. You leave the meadows for harsh, alpine terrain - over moraine fields with hidden lakes, onto steep snow slopes for the final pass climb. Once you climb the pass, you walk through one of the most heavily glaciated regions in India - the crevassed Khatling glacier. Then back onto moraine and through dense forests once again before visiting the holy Vasuki Tal lake and the snow-covered Mayali Pass. The first crossing of Auden’s Col, through this beautiful trail which links the Khatling and Rudra valleys was made by J.B. Auden, a British surveyor, in the year 1939 with the next recorded passing of the col, a long 44 years after. With everything that’s challenging and awesome about Auden’s Col - the glaciated approach, the lush and beautiful lower valleys, the unending moraine, and the magnificent views, the pass remains one of the least explored in the country even today. On the one hand, the trek is an easy pick for its scanty crowds and a perfect assortment of beautiful landscapes along with unmatched views of revered peaks in the range. But on the other hand, it is feared to be a hostile trail where the dangers encountered outweigh the scenic beauty of the terrain. For the distance covered and altitude gained each day, there are no ‘easy’ days here. The trek requires immense patience, and doesn’t forgive those who don’t acclimatize well. That being said, this trek brimming with raw beauty and laborious challenges, is perfect for seasoned trekkers looking to step up their trekking game in the Himalayas. Stay on this page for more details about Auden's Col Trek.
Make your way to Gangotri (3,415M)
The trek begins from Gangotri which is a mountain city on the banks of River Bhagirathi and is known to be the origin of the holy River Ganga. Located in the Greater Himalayan Range, legend says that this is where Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the river from the locks of his hair. This holy city which lies at an altitude of 3,415M is a 245 km drive away from Dehradun – the closest city with an airport.
If you have signed up with Bikat for a drive from Dehradun to Gangotri, the day starts early. Everyone assembles at the meeting point by 7 in the morning so we can start our long drive up to Gangotri, a holy mountain city in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Although there’s nothing more on the agenda for today other than the 8-9 hour drive, it is better to leave as early as possible for two reasons:
One, so we can reach as early as possible and give our bodies enough rest for what’s coming the next day. And, two, roads on the mountains are unpredictable and it is always better to account for delays when we start. It is also better to reach before it gets dark.
Rest and acclimatization at Gangotri (3,415M)
Day two is reserved for rest and for acclimatization to the altitude. This is important to allow your body to adapt to its new environment and reduce chances of adverse health conditions. You can go around and explore the market, delve into the colors and culture of this high-mountain town and visit some places nearby. A little movement around the city would be good for acclimatization. Also, use this time to go through your checklist and do some last-minute shopping for what you might be missing for the trek.
While the body acclimatizes, we take this time to get together with the group for a debriefing session where we get to know each other better and delve into the happenings of the next few days - schedule, what to expect, basic do's and don'ts in the mountains, how to maintain the sanctity of the environment and other such matters of importance.
We also go for a short acclimatization walk in the evening to adapt to this new environment better.
Gangotri (3,415M) to Nala Camp (3,760M)
Distance: 7 km
Our first day of trekking in this treacherous terrain involves an altitude climb of close to 350M. The trail for most parts runs through dense forests that occasionally open up to miniature grasslands with unclouded views of limpid skies above.
We head southwest from Gangotri, walking down the main valley for around 2 km and then turn east into the Rudugaira valley. The trail from here gradually climbs up through thick oak and birch forests. On crossing the nala, the tree line begins to thin out giving way to wider expanses of landscape in the form of meadows and grazing grounds. Our approach to the campsite for the day offers magnificent views of Gangotri III and Jogin II which looks like a sharks fin when viewed from a certain angle.
On reaching the campsite, we rest our weary selves for a bit, get some fuel in the form of hot food and head out for an acclimatization walk early evening.
Nala Camp (3,760M) to Rudugaira Camp (4,350M)
Distance: 4 km
On the agenda today is a 600M altitude gain across a short distance of 4 kms. Needless to say, the ascent up to Rudugaira Base camp will be steep and grueling. Going further ahead from the Nala Camp, the trail climbs to the upper grazing grounds which, if you are lucky, will offer up countless herds of Bharal (Himalayan Mountain Goats) sprinting around these high mountain lands. After crossing a few streams, we begin our climb up a steep spur which will take us straight to Rudugaira Base Camp.
We pitch our tents in this beautiful campsite covered in snow and surrounded by famous peaks such as Gangotri I, II, III and Jogin III.
Rest and Acclimatization at Rudugaira Base Camp (4,350M)
Today is reserved for acclimatization to the altitude since we gained quite a bit of height in the last two days and have also entered a much different terrain. After a late breakfast we go for an acclimatization walk. On climbing just a few hundred meters from the campsite, we get our first view of Auden's Col which is inspiring to say the least. We end the day early so as to get optimum rest.
Rudugaira Base Camp (4,350M) to Auden's Col Base Camp (4,720M) via Gangotri Base Camp (4,500M)
Distance: 8 km
Today we start early and continue on towards Gangotri base camp which is approximately 4 kms from our campsite. A short while into our trek, we get our first glimpse of Auden’s Col. The view is absolutely spectacular. Covered in white, the col appears benign as it straddles a precarious ridge from the mighty Jogin I on the east and an equally formidable ridge running from the Gangotri III peak on the North West.
Gangotri base camp to Auden's Col base camp is a relatively short walk of 4 km, but quite difficult due to the altitude, terrain, and snow – we have now left the slopes of the valley behind and have entered the world of moraines. After a few hours of trudging through moraine-covered snow, we reach the wild and desolate Auden's Col base camp. On our way today, we will pass a high-altitude lake by the name of Sukha Tal which is a beautiful azure lake hidden in a moraine bowl.
Auden's Col Base Camp (4,720M) to Khatling Glacier Camp (5,000M) via Auden's Col (5,490M)
Distance: 5 km
Today is THE day. We will be crossing the formidable yet spectacular Auden’s Col which lies at the confluence of four huge massifs: Jogin I and Gangotri III flanking us on either side with the Jogin glacier behind us and Khatling lying in front of us. Expect this to be a tiring day.
We continue on the moraine-ridden terrain until we reach the glacier. After a short while on the glacier, we hit a patch of ascent with a gradient between 30-50 degrees which will need to be navigated with caution. We rope up for this steep patch, which spans close to 1.5 kms, for utmost safety. The climb up to the col should take close to 3 hours. However, the climb up is not the main challenge for today.
The descent from the col is tricky and requires navigating a steep and narrow gully inclined at an angle of 70-75 degrees. Once this gully is crossed, however, the glacier flattens out – the broadened valley giving way to views of massive icefalls, glaciers and formidable peaks in the region. A short walk down the glacier brings us to our camp for the night.
Khatling Glacier Camp (5,000M) to Zero Point (3,870M)
Distance: 10 km
We have successfully crossed the pass and are now on the other side, but the challenge has only just begun. Today is going to be one of the longest days of the expedition and also the most demanding. We will be crossing the forbidding Khatling glacier today, which is almost 10 kms long and extremely challenging to navigate. As one of the most heavily glaciated regions in India, the Khatling glacier is a moraine-rich land full of hidden, open and deep crevasses for all the 10 kms. This unmarked route over loose gravel and scree with sections of steep ascents and descents demands extreme caution with each step forward. Towards the end, we are reunited with a marked trail which leads us to our campsite for the day by the snout of the Khatling glacier.
Rest Day at Zero Point (3,870M)
Since the last couple of days have been extremely taxing, we rest at Zero Point today.
Zero Point (3,870M) to Chowki (3,580M)
Distance: 7 km
Today we will be leaving the land of snow and making own way to the warmer reaches of the valley. After 3 kms of continuing our walk along the river, we reach the meadows. Chowki, our grassy campsite after spending days in rocks and snow, is a 4 km walk from here.
Chowki (3,580M) to Masar Tal (4,135M)
Distance: 8 km
We will be making our way to one of the most isolated lakes in the Garhwal region, Masar Tal, today. Stationed at an altitude of 4,135M, this pristine, high-altitude lake rests to the east of the snowy Khatling glacier. The route starts off as a steep ascent with a view of Thalay Sagar- a gorgeous peak of 6,904M that lie 10 kms southwest of the holy site of Gaumukh. After the initial ascent, we cross a ridge over the valley which takes us straight to Masar Tal. We camp by this scenic lake.
Masar Tal (4,135M) to Vasuki Tal (4,135M) via Mayali Pass (5,000M)
Distance: 12 km
Onwards to another glacial lake today, Vasuki Tal is at an altitude of 4,135M. Today’s trail begins with a steep ascent over boulders on a ridge to Masar Top. The path, then, descends slightly before climbing up the glacier to reach the top of Mayali Pass – another hidden gem of Uttarakhand. The descent from here is as precarious as the one we left behind when we climbed down from Khatling glacier. This section will require the use of fixed ropes on which we will rappel down. We continue our descent down all the way to Vasuki Tal which is our campsite for the day.
Vasuki Tal (4,135M) to Kedarnath (3,590M)
Distance: 7 km
We will finally be making our way to Kedarnath today – which happens to be one of the holiest shrines to Shiva. As one of the twelve Jyotirlings, Kedarnath sees a lot of pilgrims in the months when the area is not buried under snow. Kedarnath is a 7 km trek from Vasuki Tal which takes about 3-4 hours to cover. We visit the temple in the evening and spend our night in a warm bed in a hotel, after days on cold, uneven surfaces.
Kedarnath (3,590M) to Gaurikund (1,985M)
Distance: 14 km
We trek down this easy, well-marked trail of 14 kms which takes us directly to Gaurikund. We will be spending our night in a guesthouse/hotel.
Gaurikund (1,985M) to Dehradun (430M)
Distance: 252 km Drive
The drive back down to Dehradun is alongside the fierce Ganga River. It should take close to 9 hours to reach. Expect to get to Dehradun by late evening.
In case of bad weather or other difficulties which might set us off schedule during the course of the entire expedition, Day 16 is set as a reserve day. This will only get used if unexpected and unforeseeable conditions present themselves at the last minute preventing us from reaching our destination as planned. In case this day is used, there is an extra charge of INR 4500 per person. The same will be collected by the trek leader at the end of trek.
Auden's Col Expedition is made only for highly experienced trekkers/mountaineers who want to test their limits. The challenges faced on the expedition should not be underestimated. It is recommended not to opt for this expedition if you cannot get acclimatized in high altitude regions. Besides you need to have a strong physical endurance to complete the expedition.
Auden's Col is made only for experienced trekkers who want to test their limits. The challenges faced in the trek should not be underestimated. You should attempt this trek only If you have already done a trek that climbs to 4700-5000 metres. It is recommended not to opt this trek if you cannot get acclimatized in high altitudes. Besides you need to have a strong physical endurance to complete this trek. For details on trek difficulty level, please read on Bikat Rating Scale
A basic mountaineering course is recommended though not mandatory in case of highly experienced & skilled trekkers. At least 2-3 challenging treks along with 20 – 25 total trekking days in the Himalayas. Medical fitness certificate from CMO of a recognized hospital.
Jog/Run for 5 Kms in 25-30 mins Or Walk continuously for 10 kms (with 3-4 small breaks) on plain terrain (slight incline is better) and
Hold your breath for 40 seconds and
3 sets of Climbing 30 – 40 steps in one stretch and
Push Ups – 10 and
Lunges & Squats – 15 X 2 sets
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
How to use an Ice Axe
How to use Climbing boots & Crampons
How to rope up & follow queued climbing/descending
How to self-arrest using an ice axe
Knowledge of Basic First aid
June or September are the best months to do the Auden's Col Trek.
Click here for text packing list.
The starting point for Auden's Col expedition is Gangotri, around 500 km from Delhi.
Reach Gangotri By Air: At a distance of around 226 km from Gangotri is located the closest airport named Jolly Grant Airport. Situated in Dehradun, the airport has regular flights from India's capital city of Delhi. So, you can catch a flight to the airport and then you can hire a cab from there to reach the sacred town of Gangotri. Taxi or cab charges will cost you around Rs 4,000.
Reach Gangotri By Train: If you like travelling by train, you'll need to reach the Rishikesh railway station which is also the closest at 250 km from Gangotri. After arriving at the railway station, you'll see plenty of cabs ready to take you to your destination. You'll need to pay anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 as cab charges.
Reach Gangotri By Road: The holy town of Gangotri is also well connected by road with all the popular tourist places in the state of Uttarakhand and outside the state. From places like Yamunotri, Mussoorie and Tehri, you can easily catch tourist buses to reach Gangotri. There are both private deluxe buses and state buses to reach the town.
The expedition ends at Badrinath. From Badrinath, Delhi is a 537 km road journey. Alternately, you can drive to Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun (311 km from Badrinath), which has flights connecting to Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai.
Gangotri and Badrinath have coverage for all major networks.
Gangotri Temple: Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda.
Places to visit near the Gangotri Temple
Bhagirath Shila is believed to be the holy rock where King Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva.
Pandava Gufa, located 1.5 km from Gangotri, is the place where the Pandavas are believed to have meditated and rested en route Kailash. Pilgrims will have to trek up to the Pandava Gufa.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied with their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried) and Medical Certificate (Soft Copy to be sent to us & original to be carried) are the mandatory documents required for the expedition.
The stay will be in a guesthouse at Gangotri. The rooms will be provided on twin/triple sharing basis. You will receive the details of your accommodation through email a few days prior to the trek. On trekking days, all the trekkers will be accommodated in twin or triple sharing tents. Along with this, there will also be a toilet tent and a dining tent installed at every campsite as we roll.
We provide 4 seasons tents by Gipfel for higher altitudes which can easily withstand heavy snowfall and storms. They are spacious enough to accommodate 3 people at once with a vestibule to place the backpacks. Our sleeping bags are made up of Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation that can provide you comfort in -10 degrees celsius. We also use additional fleece liners to have thermal efficiency even in the extreme temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius. If you carry your own sleeping bag, you will get a cashback reward provided that you inform us as soon as you have booked your trek.
Toilet tents will be provided to you on the trek. These are portable toilets tents where a deep pit will be dug. A shovel will be provided inside the tent to cover the waste after you have made your business. You can take a toilet roll inside. Make sure you dig used toilet paper along with the waste. Though water is recommended in place of toilet paper. Please refrain from using wet wipes as they are non-biodegradable. There will be no facility for bathing on the trek. Go through our blog section for tips on how to maintain personal hygiene on treks.
Yes, there will be snow on the trek.
The temperatures vary from 20 degree celcius to 8 degree celcius during the months of June and September.
A team of participant will be led by a course certified trek leader and a local guide. All participants are requested to abide by what their leader says. There will also be a team of kitchen staff and porters on the trek. We maintain 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have a certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
Yes, the trekking pole is necessary. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent it from us on minimal daily basis charges. You can request the renting link from us.
Yes, it is absolutely safe for a solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing a tent with each other. In case you are the only woman on the trek, you will be given a separate tent.
You will be picked up from Dehradun ISBT bt 7am. Drop off point remains the same.
Expect to reach Dehradun by evening.
Yes, there are stores/shops in Gangotri from where you can buy necessary stuff. Though it is recommended that you come prepared with all the stuff. Please do not leave anything for last minute buying.
Yes, e-certificates will be given at the end of each trek provided that you completed it. It will bear your name, the trek, and the maximum altitude you achieved on the trek.
If you want to offload your rucksack, you will have to make a request for offloading a few days prior the trek through an email so that arrangement can be made in advance. You will be charged per day for offloading your rucksack. In case you decide to offload on the spot, you may have to pay a higher price than usual. However offloading your rucksack is not recommended since it is not a safe practice.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axe.
Vegetarian food will be served throughout the trek. The only non-vegetarian item served on our treks are eggs. Our kitchen staff follows a proper menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which has been designed in order to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the participants. There will be milk, poha, eggs, muesli/corn flakes, bread and butter served for breakfast. Rice or simple roti sabzi will be packed for lunch. In dinner, you will have dal, egg curry or any other vegetarian dish along with rice, roti, and a dessert item. Packed lunch will be provided to you on the days you are trekking. You are requested to carry your own tiffin box and a mug to consume food. The meals consumed on the journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
You can rent the following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack.
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure