An amphitheater for the entire Garhwal Range, Pangarchulla, at an altitude of 4,590M, is perfect if you want to get a real taste for the high mountains at a comfortably low altitude. With the right amount of challenge and awe-inspiring views, it has to be one of the few peaks which introduces you to difficulties other than those that come with altitude in the Himalayas. With giants such as Nanda Devi – India’s second highest peak, Kamet – India’s third highest, Dhronagiri, Hathi Ghoda, Chowkhamba, Mana, Neelkanth (to name a few) standing guard like iron knights, is it any wonder it stands confident and so sure of itself – making climbers sweat?
The trail for Pangarchulla and Kauri Pass remains the same up until the last day. As you are driving to Dhak which is the head trail for this astounding peak, you get an unobstructed view of Nanda Devi to your left and the crown of Pangarchulla to your right, sitting atop a dense forest thick with pine trees. It is a short trek which delivers a lot in its limited time of 6 days. From local towns to dust trails leading to vast open meadows, thick forests, pristine streams and rocky patches going into the white of the snow- the Pangarchulla trek introduces you to an assortment of terrain working all kinds of magic in a very short duration. Not to mention, the many reverential peaks that accompany you all throughout, all of which are soaked in historical relevance and mountaineering stories, alike.
Although at an altitude which wouldn’t make many flinch, it has the ability to shake the confidence of even accomplished climbers. Why is that so, you ask? Pangarchulla presents you with different but equally enthralling challenges in both the seasons (Nov-Dec vs Mar-Apr) giving you a taste of all kinds of terrain and the associated challenges. To know more about the kinds of challenges, read the article below.
Given its trials and the difficult terrain, we would recommend that you consider this trek only if you have prior experience in the Himalayas and some basic skills in the mountains. These will help you adapt to the environment and the terrain better making the experience a joyous one.
The best time for Pangarchulla trek is between March and April to experience a trail covered with snow and ice, and between October and December for a predominantly rocky terrain with bits of hard snow scattered across the landscape.
Dehradun (430M) to Joshimath (1,890M)
Distance: 295 kms drive
Time Taken: 10 hours
The trek begins from Joshimath which is a mountain city on the way to places such as Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib, and Badrinath. It is at a distance of 295 kms from Dehradun – the closest city with an airport.
If you have signed up with Bikat for a drive from Dehradun to Joshimath, the day starts early. Everyone assembles at the meeting point by 7 in the morning so we can start our long drive up to Joshimath – a mountain city in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Although there’s nothing more on the agenda for today other than the 10-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.
The drive to Joshimath never leaves Ganga’s side and takes you through the holy city of Rishikesh. The road from Dehradun to Rishikesh, once you have crossed the city, is bordered with thick, fresh forests with sunlight filtering through the gaps – making the green turn a bright color of dusty gold and tiny specs of life in the air dancing in the warm light. The road is smooth, the air nippy and the drive joyous. The bustle of the monkeys jumping across the forest, grooming each other on the side tracks and zipping past the smooth roads as you drive through the jungle is a mirthful reminder of whose territory you really are in.
After breakfast, we start to move upwards with a lush green mountain face (characteristic of Uttarakhand’s topography) on one side and a valley to the other with layers after layers of mountains spread out in all directions. The roads are so smooth, if you closed your eyes, you could bet you were flying.
Alaknanda is a constant companion through our journey. Before we reach Joshimath by early evening, we would have come across three of the five Panch Prayags, a term used to identify the five sacred river confluences in Garhwal Himalayas. The sight of each of these is nothing short of spectacular for the very identifiably distinct colours and personalities of the rivers that come together.
Tonight will be spent in the comfort of a warm bed in a guest house in this sacred mountain city of Joshimath which lies at an altitude of roughly 1,890M. We have gained considerable altitude for one day, and it would serve well to rest our body in order for it to function well for the rest of what’s coming. There is cellular reception in the city.
Joshimath (1,890M) to Dhak (2,090M) to Guling (2,857M)
Distance: 10 km drive to Dhak 6 km trek to Guling
Time Taken: 30 min drive + 5 hour trek
Today is a short day. So, there is no need for a rushed morning. We leave after a warm breakfast. Please note that the breakfast for today is not included in the expense, so participants will need to arrange for their own meal. The city of Joshimath is a focal point for many places in the region, such as Valley of Flowers, Hemkund Sahib and even the temple of Badrinath. That is to say that it sees a lot of tourists and hence is not short of facilities.
After breakfast, we load up our packed rucksacks into a van which will take us to Dhak – the trail head for our trek. Remember to keep your sacks light and only carry what you require on the trek – you can store your extra luggage in the guest house. Dhak is roughly 10 kms from Joshimath and the drive takes not more than 30 minutes. The drive is short but picturesque. You are in the company of giants from the get-go. 20 minutes into the drive you start seeing an unobstructed view of Nanda Devi –India’s second highest peak after Kanchenjunga, to your left and the crown of Pangarchulla sitting atop a thick pine forest to your right.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach Dhak. This is where we will start our trek. The first half an hour of the trek is on a motorable road upwards after which we leave the road and take the stone paved trail up the mountain. The climb is steady and gradual. While it’s mostly stone-paved, the trail gets narrow and loose in places where you would need to exercise extreme caution. Within the shade of the bushes and the baying of the cattle, the walk today is fairly simple, much like a stroll through the garden. We will be gaining a total of close to 800M today. So, the walk in the park comes with the addition of a slight incline, of course!
The scattered colours you see on the mountain sides are brightly painted house walls of the many mountain settlements that precariously stand on these fragile slopes. The trail passes through the villages of Kharchi, Lower Tugashi and Upper Tugashi giving you a glimpse into the many peculiarities of mountain living – from the structure of the houses designed to support their life style, to the many sources of livelihood and their close association with and dependence on nature. This is a popular route since the same route goes to Kauri Pass and a few other treks too. There are small food stalls in each of these villages. You will also find hydro-powered mills in the villages which is a perfect example of mountain people’s close association with the natural resources and their impeccable ability to coexist with other natural forms in the spirit of support instead of exploitation.
Other peaks now start getting added to the mix. Dhonagiri stays front and center all through the trail while Pangarchulla plays a game of hide and seek at every turn. You also start to see other popular peaks – don’t forget to keep asking for their names from your local trek guides. The entire trail for the trek takes you through Nanda Devi National Park. It is a protected area so do not forget to be respectful of the location and its inhabitants.
Two and a half hours into the climb, you hit a patch of steep incline after which you reach the next village. There is no shortage of water sources on the way. The villages also come with expansive views of step farming giving you a glimpse into the sustainable ecosystem of the place. We walk through these terraced lands to reach the next village perilously standing on the narrow ledges of the mountain face.
After crossing Upper Tugashi, we start to put a little distance between ourselves and any sign of civilization. We make an entry into the forest full of golden and black oak as well as pine and walnut trees. Ask your local guide to point out the tree whose bark is used to make butter tea – butter tea is supposed to keep the body warm and is a local relish in the winters – another example of using nature for survival. There is a gradual incline on the trail - it is the last stretch for today. You are now very close to the campsite, Guling. You should make it there just in time for hot lunch. Guling top is a massive open field with the best views of the Garhwal range. To witness the sun playing chase with these peaks twice every day, is quite an experience.
The entire landscape works together to put you at ease. The reds, greens and yellows of the trees plus the five dozen shades of brown along with the white of the peaks and the sun teasing the skies, changing their color every second of the oncoming dusk.
Rest for a bit after your hot lunch and feast your eyes on the marvels that unfold before you as the day comes to a close. Since we have gained quite a bit of altitude today, we go for a short acclimatization walk in the evening and return to camp before it gets dark.
Guling (2857 M) to Khulara (3390 M)
Distance: 5 kms trek
Time Taken: 3 hours
Today is a short day of walking in the oak and pine forests that bordered our campsite the previous day. We enter the quiet of the forest right after breakfast so as to finish the day as early as possible. This is important as the summit push begins the same night and it’s vital that we rest our bodies before making our way out in the cold of the night.
We leave the campsite by 9 in the morning. It takes 5 minutes to enter the thick forest where suddenly you are in closed quarters after spending a night in open grounds. You receive patches of sunlight as gifts from the tall canopy of the forest, though. The drooping pine branches leaning in as if for a kiss, and the stern oak, the complete opposite – the many cascading streams adding movement to the otherwise still forest. You will also come across Himalayan Birch or Bhojpatras in this forest as well as the trees used to make butter tea. The only roadblocks on the way are the massive fallen trees on the trail you have to climb over. The terrain today has a gradual incline, not very tiring. The months of March and April might see the trail covered with snow from Khulara onwards and you might even have to camp in snow.
You should reach the campsite of Khulara within three hours. It is a massively open ground where the view of the peaks opens up further to accommodate many more mountains. The sunset here is absolutely awe-inspiring – like a conversation between the sun and the skies with slightest movement of the sun changing the colour of the skies and the mountains.
We also take some time in the evening to distribute necessary gears required for the summit push along with a short tutorial on how to use them effectively to aid your climb.
Khulara (3,390M) to Pangarchulla (4,590M) and back to Khulara (3,390M)
Distance: 14 kms
Time Taken: 12 – 16 hours trek
The day starts before break of dawn. We gear up and leave our campsite in the dead of the night, at 3AM. There are no water sources on the way and it is an extremely long day, so remember to carry sufficient water.
Considering it is summit day, it will be the longest and toughest day of the trek. We eat something and top our bottles before we leave for the night. The trek starts by crossing the open ground of Khulara which starts to climb onto a rocky terrain with a gradual incline. The nights tend to get extremely cold. So, do not forget to layer up adequately.
After an hour of incline on the uneven land, you will hit the meadows. If it is a clear sky, look up to see the wonders of the night – the sky, the stars and the quiet of the meadows bordered by trees is enough to take your breath away if the climb up until now hadn’t done so already. An hour more from here on a gradual incline and you reach the top of the ridge line. There is a small stone temple on top which is where the route for Kuari Pass and Pangarchulla separate. To summit our peak, we take a left from the temple and start to walk the long and steep walk up the ridge of the mountain. There are three ridgelines we will walk before we hit the next section on the trail. The walk on the ridgeline is especially challenging because it is completely exposed and hence extremely windy, with no way to protect yourself or guard against the chilly winds. There are a few small sections of descend on this patch which is a welcome change after steep inclines going up. The peaks appear to be ghost-mountains with their faint greyish outlines fogged out in the mist of the night.
Once off the ridge, the sun starts to make an appearance by around 6AM. The changing colours of the sky and the way the majestic peaks react to the sun’s movements is something you don’t want to miss. Three and a half hours into the climb, we hit the hardest part of the entire summit push. Remember, we are climbing a total of close to 1,200M today and are expecting to reach the summit latest by 11 am.
By 0730 AM we reach the boulder section of the climb – the hardest bit. The rocks here are very stable so once you learn how to use them to move forward, it gets much easier. It will take close to an hour and a half to get from the start of this section to the bottom of the peak. This is relatively flat but requires extreme caution for the boulders have massive gaps between them which could cause a lot of damage in the case of a slightest misstep.
Note: The terrain is very different in both seasons. During March and April, this section of the climb receives a thick sheet of snow making it a flat and massive snow field which is much easier to navigate and is likely to be faster to cross. During Oct-Dec, the snows melts away exposing the boulders underneath.
From the bottom of the peak, it is a steep climb up all the way to the summit. This, too, is rife with boulders which makes the climb slower in winters. During peak season (march and april), however, it might be a bit faster for snow is relatively easier to walk on. Based on the speed of the climbers, this last section up is likely to take anywhere between 2-3 hours. It is demanding and requires a lot of internal motivation. Expect to reach the summit by 11AM.
The tiny parts that were previously hidden are now completely open and you can see the entire Garhwal Range from where you stand. The force of the mountains surrounding you has the power to fill you up with energy, if you feel drained at all from this arduous climb. After a short prayer on the temple at the summit, prepare to start your descend. This is going to take really long too, and you might want to cross the most precarious sections before the sun starts to make the snow unstable.
We follow our footsteps back down the mountain. The climb down might seem endless because it takes a lot of effort to descend these almost blindingly steep slopes. Expect to reach the end of the boulder section at the mark of three hours. And three more hours to get to Khulara.
Khulara (3,390M) to Dhak (2,090M) to Joshimath (1,890M)
Distance: 12 kms
Time Taken: 3-4 hours
Today is very easy. We just have to follow our footsteps back to Joshimath. After resting off the weariness from the previous day, we finish breakfast by 8 and aim to leave by 9 AM. An hour and a half into our descent through the forests, we make it to our first campsite. An hour and a half more and we have reached Dhak from where we board our vehicle and head on to Joshimath. There is a lot to explore within and around this holy town. We spend the nights at the guest house.
Joshimath (1,890M) to Dehradun (430M)
Distance: 295 kms
Time Taken: 10 hours
The trip ends today. Prepare to checkout of the guest house and board your vehicles back to Dehradun. We are likely to reach Dehradun by late evening. If you plan on traveling the same night, please book transportation that leaves between 11pm and 12am to account for any unexpected delays on the road.
Pangarchulla Peak is a difficult trek. It requires more strength and endurance than moderate level treks. It is recommended that you first gain experience of trekking to altitudes higher than 3000 meters, and then move one level up with this trek. The summit day is the longest and the hardest day for which you will have to trek for 12 plus hours, uphill to summit the peak which requires significant fitness and endurance. The Pnagarchulla trek is appropriate for the seasoned trekkers and for those who have done moderate level treks before. However, if you are a beginner but committed to preparing, then you need at least 2-3 months to prepare physically & mentally for Pangarchulla. On Bikat scale Pangarchulla peak trek difficulty level is 5. For details on trek difficulty level, please read on Bikat Rating Scale.
You must have done a few moderate level treks and hiked to an altitude of more than 3500 meters before summiting Pangarchulla peak.
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
Click here for packing list.
Dhak Village is the last point on road for trek which is about 10 kilometre away from Joshimath. Joshimath is a small town, 290 km away from Haridwar, Uttrakhand. There are direct buses to Joshimath from Dehradun & Haridwar/Rishikesh. They leave early in the morning. One can also hire a private taxi from Haridwar, Rishikesh, or Dehradun to get to Joshimath.
Haridwar is easily accessible through road, rail, and air transport.
There are no direct buses to Joshimath from Delhi. There You can take overnight UKRTC buses and Volvos available from ISBT Kashmere Gate, Delhi to Haridwar. The distance from Delhi to Haridwar is about 222 km. You can also hire a taxi or outstation cab from Delhi to Haridwar.
The nearest railway station to Joshimath is 187 km away in Haridwar. There are a number of trains running between Delhi and Haridwar like Dehradun Express, Nanda Devi Express. It is advisable to make your train bookings a month in advance.
By Air: The nearest airport from Joshimath is Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun which is 272 km away from Joshimath. You can reach Dehradun from New Delhi by flight.
Once your trek is completed, there are many places in Joshimath that you can visit. Nanda Devi National Park, a UNESCO heritage site, is where you get to spot some of the endangered species. Narsingh Temple is a sacred place in Joshimath visited by pilgrims in huge number. The temple is a part of Sapt Badri. Visit Shri Shankaracharya Math which is one of the four monasteries founded by famous Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya. Kalpvriksh in Joshimath is a 1200-year-old Mulberry is considered to be the oldest in India. The tree remains evergreen throughout the year and never sheds a leaf. For more details on Joshimath read this: Joshimath - The gateway to Heaven
Pangarchulla peak trek best time is March-April, and October- December.
You will find the network at Joshimath, after which there is poor connectivity. You may find weak signals at Lata. Beyond this, you will only find the network at Auli.
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.
When you arrive in Joshimath on the first day and on the last day of the trek, your stay will be made at local guest house.The rooms will be provided on twin sharing basis. You will receive the details of your accommodation through email few days prior the trek. On trekking days, all the trekkers will be accommodated in twin or triple sharing tents. Along with this, there will be 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 accomodate 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.
You will be provided with good quality 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 fulfil 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 journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
You can rent following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack
During April-May, the day temperature will range from 14-18 degrees Celsius. The nights will get cold dropping the temperature to 0 to -6 degrees Celsius. There will be a further drop in the temperature by a degree or two in October and November. The higher the altitude you gain, the colder it gets. For more follow Pangarchulla Temperature Chart
You can expect snows in the during the months of April and May. There is heavy snowfall in this region post November which makes this trek inaccessible.
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.
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, 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.
Joshimath is a small town with a very small market. 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 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.
We have one pick-up point: Dehradun ISBT. The dropping point remains the same. The pickup will be from Outside ISBT, Dehradun at 7:00 AM to Joshimath, and the drop on the last day will be at the same place in Dehradun by/before 8:00 PM.
Expect to reach Joshimath late in the evening where arrangements for overnight stay will be made at a local hotel. Make sure your bus bookings from here are on the next day.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried) is the mandatory document 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