In my quest to explore the state of Uttarakhand inside-out, I headed out to experience the magic of Pangarchulla expedition, one fine morning and since them I have been reminiscing those glorious moments time and again. It is indeed one of the most kicking, interesting and fascinating expeditions of all time with sufficient scope for adventure and thrill.
I started off by gathering all the necessary details, read a couple of blogs for best treks in May, a few reviews, glanced through the map and pulled in 3 of my friends to join me on the journey. It is always better to have fellow humans on treks that are far stretched and cover long distances. This one especially goes all the way up to a whopping height of 15,069 ft and there is no way you could do it solo. In fact, it is prerequisite to have good mountaineering knowledge as well as field experience for anyone to even be eligible for the trek.
All 4 of us were super pumped up for the expedition and decided to reach Dehradun at the earliest. It is an easily accessible city with plenty of public transports that can be used to reach Joshimath; the first stop in the itinerary. Usually, a group of travelers book a vehicle to Joshimath and share the fare amongst themselves, it is the most cost-effective method to reach Joshimath which lies at a distance of 291 km approximately. It takes about 10 hrs of drive to reach Joshimath from Dehradun but trust me, the drive is simply a fascinating and delightful journey through outstanding landscapes. Even though 10 hrs of drive can appear to be exhausting, in reality it is in the blink of an eye that you find yourself standing before Joshimath; the gateway to Himalayas. We settled in the base camps and hiked to close-by spaces to relish the freshness of the surroundings. Next morning, we woke up to a blissful day light and drove off to Dhak village to trek to the Gulling top. It took us 30 minutes to reach Dhak, post which we tightened our shoe laces and set our foot onto the trail to Gulling Top which rests at a height of 9,600 ft. After trekking for nearly 5 km we reached Gulling Top and enjoyed a soul-stirring and warm sunset amidst the mountains. We pitched in our camps and rested at Gulling top for the night. Next morning, we woke up to a bright morning and headed towards Lower Khullara. The trail from Gulling Top to Lower Khullara is fascinating; it took us through dense forests that got sparser by the distance. After trekking for a while we found ourselves emerging out of the forests and soon the alluring and powerful views of the Greater Himalayas began to unfold before us. The sight gave us goose bumps and left us spellbound by its beauty; and truly it was so nice to simply exist there, that moment. We were at an altitude of 12,200 ft at Khullara where we set our camps and admired nature’s bounty. Next day, all four of us woke up thrilled and excited to attempt the summit. It was going to be a heroic moment for all of us. We adjusted the straps of our backpacks and zoomed right onto the trail. As we climbed higher, we found Mt Nanda Devi, Mt Chaukhamba, Ghori, Hathi Parwat and many other snow smeared mighty mountains stair back at us. It was a moving and chilling experience and in no time we were on top of the world, quite literally. The sight from the Pangarchulla summit was drool-worthy and I can fairly recall, that each one of us gasped at the surreal charm of the scenery; we were after all at a fascinating height of 15,069 ft. We lived the moment wholly and prepared to return after spending some good time at the peak. The descend from Pangarchulla to Lower Khullara was relatively easy. We thoroughly enjoyed the serene beauty of the landscape and reached back just in time to grab sufficient rest for the night. The next day, we woke up much-relaxed and resumed the descend by trekking towards Joshimath. We were to trek for 12 km this day. We prepared ourselves and buckled up to meet the challenge with grit and vigor. It was taxing but on the bright side it was adventurous, wild and a perfect wrap up for the expedition. We reached Joshimath, tired, exhausted but completely satisfied and happy. In no time we found ourselves dead on the bed and the next thing I remember is waking up to a bright fresh morning, the next day. We then departed to Dehradun to go back to our own places and officially end the trip.
The Pangarchulla expedition is a must-do for every adventure enthusiast. It is an experience like none other; an experience beyond comprehension. We embarked on this expedition in the month of April, since it is the only month in which the expedition can be done in the first place. Though it can be really tempting to do the expedition during the months of December and January during peak winter when it is snowing fresh, it is however, neither safe nor allowed to do the expedition during those months or even during the month of May when the monsoon is just crippling in. Besides, many travelers even like to attempt the Pangarchulla summit via the Kuri Pass summit. This is doable but is very taxing and demanding which is why I personally, do not recommend it. However, if you think you have the stamina, courage as well as passion to attempt both summit, you might as well just go ahead and do it.