One amongst the many impressive mountains in the Garhwal Himalayas, is Black Peak – the highest peak in the Saraswati Range of mountains in the Ruinsara Valley. Called Kalanag in the local dialect – named so for the uncanny resemblance of the head of the peak to the head of the black cobra – it is 6,287 M of awe-inspiring beauty. The Bandarpunch massif (also called the Saraswati range of mountains) consists of 3 peaks: White Peak or Bandarpunch II at 6,102M, Banderpunch I at 6,316M and Kalanag (Black Peak) at 6,287M. Daunting for its structure and the nature of climbing required to get to its top, Black Peak dominates the Bandarpunch massif bringing it up the ranks on every mountaineer’s list of peaks to scale. For the magnificent location in which it is housed, Black Peak has some of the most reverential mountains in its vicinity. All the major peaks of the Garhwal range like Swargarohini, Bhagirathi Massif, Bandarpunch, Gangotri range of mountains and many more keep you company along the trail. The trail itself, for passing through Govind National Park which is known for its diverse flora and fauna, boasts of insurmountable beauty across an assortment of landscapes ranging from alpine meadows to pine forests to moraine ridges, boulders and glacial basins. Black Peak offers the right mix of beauty and challenge. A technical expedition overall, the most demanding section of the climb is the 75 feet vertical ice wall with a 70 degree gradient which comes on your way to the summit. Walking across crevassed snowfields, navigating glaciers, miles of rocky moraines and the continuously thinning air of the altitude, Black Peak is an overall challenging endeavor which requires knowledge of mountaineering equipment and skills specific to surviving at this altitude. Hence, it is an expedition reserved for experienced climbers only. Mountaineering certification or alternatively vast experience in high-altitude trekking and extreme temperature is a mandate to undertake this challenging expedition. Stay on this page for information on Black Peak expedition - Itinerary, Routes, FAQs, and eligibility criteria.
Day 1: Make your way to Sankri (1,920M)
Distance: 185kms drive
Time Taken: 8-9 hours
If you have signed up with Bikat for a drive from Dehradun to Sankri, our day starts early. All of us assemble at the meeting point by 7 in the morning so we can start our long drive up to Sankri – a trekking hub in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Although there’s nothing more on the agenda for today other than the 9-hour drive and settling into mountain air, 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.
Sankri is a head trail for a lot of trekking routes and is bustling with trekkers across the year. Popular trails such as Har ki Dun, Baraadsar Lake, Bali Pass, Kedarkantha, Dev Kyara, Phulara Ridge to name a few, all start from this little village centered in the background of some of the most splendid mountains in the region.
The drive from Dehradun takes us on scenic mountain roads. If you have the slightest motion sickness, the smooth roads can easily make your head spin with its curves. The ever-changing landscape with each turn, however, is a good way to keep yourself distracted. Tall trees, massive fields and entire mountain faces cut into steps for farming are views you wouldn’t want to miss for some shuteye. The drive takes you through some very big towns but also alternates between small patches of busy roads with village shops and long empty stretches with nothing but the sound of the wind and the birds.
The constant shift between the noise and the calm has a different sense of serenity attached to it. What’s even better is that breakfast and lunch, on local dhabas along the way make sure we get to indulge our tastebuds in some locally popular cuisine. The last two hours of the drive take us through a smooth road lined with thick forests on both sides. The sparkle of the forest is enough to refresh us from the long drive to get to our destination. Sankri is a head trail for a lot of popular treks and hence is not short on facilities. Although there is no phone network in Sankri, you can probably find a shop in the market which will be happy to loan you wi-fi in case of urgent need.
Waiting for us, at the end of the trail of this back-breaking journey will be a warm, wooden homestay with cozy rooms and a home cooked meal. Expect to reach latest by 7 PM.
If you have not opted for travel with Bikat from Dehradun to Sankri and are to meet the group directly at the head trail, check out the article on how to reach Sankri (hyperlink article) for any assistance. Do plan your travel so as to reach Sankri latest by 7 in the evening. (Please note: Bikat can arrange for your transport for an additional cost as mentioned in the Add-Ons section above.)
Day 2: Sankri (1,920M) to Seema (2,260M) through Taluka (2,100M)
Distance: 12 kms drive to Taluka, 10-12 kms trek to Seema
Time Taken: 3 hour drive, 5-6 hour trek
Today is an early day because there is much ground to cover. We should be done with breakfast anytime between 7-8 AM which gives us enough time to soak in the morning sun and the beauty of this mountain town before we leave for the day by 9 AM.
There is a narrow kaccha road that can be covered on wheels. Do not, however, expect this to be a quick drive – we are likely to encounter JCBs shoving parts of fallen mountain off the narrow roads on multiple patches all through the 12 km stretch. The drive should take anywhere between 2-3 hours based on how many times we have to wait for the road to clear. The waiting does not seem too tiresome for the fresh water streams with fantastical views of the forest and mountains. A deep gorge with a stream(nalla) flowing underneath is invigorating. The nip in the air keeps your senses active and the mind, refreshed.
At the end of the road is a small mountain village named Taluka, bursting with colours. You will know you have reached when you see rows of mules standing obediently in a line, facing the mountain and about a dozen tiny canteens lined up to serve you hot food in case you shall need it before your trek! A lot of popular treks like Har ki Dun and Bali Pass start from here so it is forever bustling with the contagious energy of trekkers.
After breakfast and picking up our packed lunches for the day, we set off towards Seema which is going to be our first campsite on this trek. Although we are not gaining much altitude today (just 160M from Taluka to Seema), the length of the walk is the real challenge. The trek starts on even land with a strong smell of the forest in the air; the lush landscape adorned with waterfalls by a half dozen. The land is mostly even, save the jumping over massive fallen trees and big boulders. The inclines otherwise are gradual with the grayish blue of the boisterous Supin river following alongside as a faithful companion.
After an hour of climb we reach our first clearing out of the forest. You will see two dome-like structures built as a stop-and-rest space to keep you from the harsh sun. Another hour into the trek and the trail opens up on one side to expansive views of the valley. This is when we hit our first patch of steep incline which will take all of 10 mins to cover but is efficient enough to make you stop for a breath or two. The next hour seems like quite a relief, then, for it being a flat land with a few humps along the way. It’s a steady incline from here on. We hit one more food joint one hour away from the campsite – stack up on some energy if the trail’s knocked some air out of you.
The forest floor is wet and mucky and gets slippery. Remember to walk carefully. The shiny dots you see covering the mountain faces on the opposite side are houses of entire villages resting precariously on these rugged slopes. The only traffic jams you are likely to encounter on these routes are cows going about their business for the day as you try to squeeze through the crowds of them on these narrow trails.
Expect to reach the campsite latest by 6 in the evening after a 6 hour trek. The 2 km stretch of the long camping ground has rooms available with views of the mountains, alongside the river, in open ground or tiny patches snuck behind trees away from the crowds. Take your pick of the view you want to pitch your tent and rest your weary self for the night.
Day 3: Seema (2,260M) to Ruinsara Tal (3,500M)
Distance: 14 kms
Time Taken: 7-8 hours
Considered sacred by locals in the area, Ruinsara Tal is a high-altitude lake resting its bright blue self at an elevation of 3,500M. The Ruinsara trek is also a popular trail for trekkers visiting the Har ki Doon Valley. Adorned by the bright colours of alpine vegetation, Ruinsara is at a distance of 14 kms from Seema. Legend says that this is the route Pandavs passed by on their way to heaven through the Swargarohini peak which is also visible on the trail. Expect to reach this gorgeous campsite by early evening and rest yourself amidst its beautiful landscape.
Day 4: Ruinsara Tal (3,500M) to Kyarkoti Base Camp (3,820M)
Time Taken: 5-6 hours
As you make your way towards Kyarkoti Base Camp from Ruinsara Tal, you start to see the summit of Black Peak. Kyarkoti is a massive patch of grassland surrounded by boulders and snow-clad mountains. The campsite lies next to a spring. We dare you to stop the adrenaline from rushing through your veins as you get to the base of this mesmerizing peak. Get a good look at your ultimate goal standing tall right before you, for the first time in the trek!
Day 5: Rest and Acclimatization at Basecamp (3,820M)
A lot is to be achieved during your time at base camp- from the distribution and setting up of all the gear to technical training and practice on the icy slopes. But before then, you have the entire day to rest your bodies and acclimatize to the terrain, altitude and temperature of the base camp which lay at 3,820M – a height gain of approximately 2000M from Sankri, the village where it all began!
Day 6 – Day 14: Expedition
Since the conditions on high-altitude are unpredictable, there is a constant readjustment of plans to adapt to the situation at the time. Providing fixed day-wise schedules is hence tricky. But roughly, the schedule includes rotation rounds between camps which is a standard acclimatization process on high-altitude expeditions. Black Peak has 3 camps after base camp: Advanced Base Camp (4,600M), Camp 1 (5,100M) and Summit Camp (5,500M).
Given that high-altitude climbs demand a rigorous acclimatization routine, expeditions usually employ the method of making rotation rounds between camps so as to better adapt to the environment. Living the tenet of ‘climb high, sleep low’ which is a golden rule for survival in that altitude, we make multiple rounds between campsites. For Black Peak, specifically, we make two rounds. The first is when we ferry our load up to the next camp, leave our stuff there and then climb back down to the lower campsite to spend the night. The next day, we climb back up to the camp where we left our stuff and proceed to pitch out tents to now occupy the campsite. What this achieves is a three-fold benefit. Firstly, you can divide your weight between two days so as not to carry a massive amount in one trip. Secondly, it introduces the body to a higher altitude environment but gives it time to better adapt to it by not pushing it in this new height giving it a better chance to survive that altitude. Thirdly, for each time that you climb the same route, it tends to get easier and easier, refining your technique, skill and adaptation.
The entire length of the expedition will include proper acclimatization, rotation rounds, rest days and a possibility of 2 summit attempts in case of bad weather.
Base Camp (3,820M) to Advanced Base Camp (4600M): It’s a fair bit of altitude gain from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp but a good trial run to get accustomed to the slopes and terrain of the peak. The trail takes you through grass lands, onto a bouldered section followed by a steep climb through a small patch prone to landslides which will take you into a moraine rich land and then onto a glacier. The climb should take close to 4-5 hours.
Advanced Base Camp (4,600M) to Camp 1 (5,100M): The terrain is similar to the one we ended with yesterday – moraines, glaciers and ice. You will start to realize that everything seems easier the second time around.
Camp 1 (5,100M) to Summit Camp (5,500M): With a majestic view of Swargarohini to the North and Bandarpooch to the south, we have now reached a terrain rich in hidden and open crevasses. Slowly adapt to the environment, terrain and its challenges to make your way to the top of the peak.
Summit Camp (5,500M) to Summit (6,387M): We push off for the summit in the dead of the night. Hence, one immediate challenge is the night cold and the violent winds of the altitude. The summit climb is fairly challenging and involves navigating vertical ice walls of a gradient between 70-75 degrees with a height of 75-85 feet. These sections will require the use of fixed ropes and jumars to climb until we make it to the ridgeline. As opposed to its brutal slopes, the summit of Black Peak is fairly flat. We aim to reach the very top of this gorgeous peak in 7-8 hours and start our descent soon after so as to make it to the sanctuary of our tents before the snow starts to get unstable. Remember to exercise extreme caution on your way down, for descends are known to be more ruthless than ascends.
With our first summit attempt on Day 10, we aim to reach down to Base Camp by Day 11, Ruinsara Tal by Day 12, Seema by Day 13 so as to drive back to Sankri, our trail head, by Day 14.
Day 15: Depart from Sankri (1,920M)
Your expedition ends here but not before some celebration. How can we end this adventure without a summit party?
Like we indicated before, the weather on high-altitude is unpredictable as are many other conditions. We would suggest you keep spare days between the end of the expedition and your travel arrangements to head back home.
Day 16: Reserve Day
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 accordance with the rules and regulation set forth by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) for mountaineering expeditions, out of 12 seats per batch:
- 6 seats are reserved for aspirants with a certificate in Advanced Mountaineering Course (AMC)
- 4 seats are reserved for aspirants with a certificate in Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC)
- The remaining 2 seats are reserved for aspirants with previous trekking experience of expeditions above 5500 meters
Foreign Nationals - Due to a specific set of guidelines for Foreign Nationals it is recommended to call our support team to gain information on the list of documents and procedure involved in booking a mountaineering expedition with us.
Black Peak (Kalanag) expedition 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 5000 meters and above. It is recommended not to opt this trek if you cannot get acclimatized in the mountains. Besides you need to have a strong physical endurance to complete this expedition. 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
May-June and September-October. However, the best season is from May to June.
Click here for text packing list.
The starting point to the basecamp of Black Peak is from Sankri. Sankri is a small village in Uttarakhand which serves as a base camp for many Uttarakhand treks in the Garhwal region. It is 180 km from Dehradun. There are public buses and shared jeeps running between Dehradun and Sankri. You can also take a shared taxi that will cost you around INR 600. Dehradun is easily accessible through road, rail and air transport.
By Road: There are no direct buses to Sankri from Delhi. You can take overnight UKRTC buses and Volvos available from IBT Kashmere Gate, Delhi to Dehradun. The distance from Delhi to Dehradun is about 247 km. You can also hire a taxi or an outstation cab from Delhi to Dehradun.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Sankri is 187km in Dehradun. There are a number of trains running between Delhi and Dehradun like Dehradun Express, Mussoorie Express, Nanda Devi Express. It is advisable to make your train bookings a month in advance.
By Air: The nearest airport from Sankri is Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun which is 213 km away from Sankri. You can reach Dehradun from New Delhi by flight.
There is no mobile reception after Sankri.
There are a number of places to visit in Dehradun and Mussoorie. Sahastradhara, a ‘thousand-fold water spring’ is a famous tourist spot in Dehradun. The waters of the spring are believed to have medicinal properties. Robber’s Cave or Guchhi Pani is a famous picnic spot for fun-loving enthusiasts. Visit the holy Tapkeshwar Temple on the bank of Asan River which is believed to have one of the oldest Shivling. Enjoy the splash at much touted Kempty Falls in Mussoorie. The highest place in Mussoorie, Lal Tibba is where you can enjoy the panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains. Admire the Kumaon and Garhwal Art & Culture at SOHAM Heritage and Art Centre.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 years should be accompanied by 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 and mountaineering.
When you arrive in Sankri, your stay will be made at a local guest house/hotel. The rooms will be provided on twin or 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.
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.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters, crampons, and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axes.
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 are not included in our cost.
You can rent the following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack.
During Summers, the day temperature at the Black Peak Base will be in the range of 0 to +2 degree Celsius whereas, the night temperature will be in the range of -2 to -15 degree Celsius. Higher the altitude you gain, colder it gets.
May to June will have a good amount of snow at the base camp and ahead. During the winter months the snow accumulation is very high and therefore the trek is not feasible.
A team of the 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 a 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have 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, there are stores/shops in Sankri 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, 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.
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.
The pickup point will be from Dehradun railway station or ISBT. The dropping point remains the same.
Expect to reach Dehradun late in the evening. Make sure your flight/bus bookings from this point to your respective destinations are in the morning the next day post 10:00 Hrs.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried), Medical Certificate (Soft Copy to be sent to us & original to be carried) and Photocopy of ID Proof and passport size photos are the mandatory documents required for the trek.
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