Bordering Nepal and Tibet, the regions of Garhwal and Kumaon which together form Uttarakhand, are most famous for their holy sites including the source of India’s most sacred River Ganges which each year receives thousands of pilgrims. Located at the very centre of the great Himalayan chain, Garhwal and Kumaon contain a host of 7,000 metre peaks such as Nanda Devi, Kamet and Trishul, and sub 7,000 metre expedition peaks such as the stunning Shivling, as well as over 250 peaks above 5500 metres, and this makes the region a mecca for mountaineers and trekkers.
The Garhwal Himalayas are characterised by unsurpassed mountain scenery with soaring ridges, deep valleys and huge glaciers and this trek takes us right into the heart of the area. The word ‘Col’ is a geographical term for a saddle-like depression in a ridge between two peaks. Auden’s Col lies between Gangotri III (6537m) & Jogin I (6465m) and the crossing is one of the finest high altitude treks in the Indian Himalayas. Even in today’s day and age very little is known about this area and every year only a handful of people cross the col.
Day 01: Overnight train from Delhi
Board the overnight NDLS Dehradun AC Express leaving New Delhi at 11:55pm to be in Haridwar by 4:00am.
Day 02: Haridwar-Uttarkashi (1110m)
Board waiting vehicles to be driven straight to Uttarkashi (7hrs). Breakfast enroute. Overnight at hotel.
Day 03: Uttarkashi-Gangotri (3050m)
The drive to Gangotri takes around 4hrs. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is as impressive as the temple which sits on the banks of the rushing Ganges. Overnight guest house at Gangotri (3050m).
Day 04: Acclimatisation day in Gangotri (3050m)
Excursion/acclimatisation walk towards the lake of Kedartal. The trail goes through birch forests and is steep all the way to the small campsite at Bhoj Kharak (3780m) and then back to Gangotri. Overnight guest house at Gangotri (3050m).
Day 05: Gangotri – Nalla Camp (3760m)
We set off on the true left of the Bhagirathi river and walk for about half an hour before we turn south towards the Rudragaira Nalla. The climb is a gradual uphill through the forests of birch and maple. Overnight Nalla Camp (3760m).
Day 06: Nalla Camp – Gangotri 1 Base Camp (4500m)
The day starts off with a steep climb to a huge meadow followed by a river crossing and another steep climb right up to the Rudragaira Base Camp and then continue over the glacial moraine to the Gangotri 1 Base Camp. Overnight Gangotri 1 Base Camp (4500m).
Day 07: A day to acclimatise
A day to relax and acclimatise, we can do some side walks around camps. Overnight Gangotri 1 Base Camp Camp (4500m).
Day 08: Auden’s Col Base Camp (4800m)
We proceed towards the head of the valley with the Gangotri Range (G1, G2 & G3) to the north and the Jogin group (J1, J2) to the south. We camp at the foot of the col. Overnight Auden’s Col Base Camp (4800m).
Day 09: Cross Auden’s Col (5400m) & descend to Khatling Glacier Camp I (5110m)
The climb is quite steep through deep snow and could easily take 4-6 hrs depending on the snow conditions. Auden’s Col offers sweeping views of the Khatling Glacier, and the mountain peaks of Jaonli, Kedarnath, Jogin & Gangotri. From the col we descend against near-vertical walls of ice on fixed ropes to the heavily crevassed Khatling Glacier. Overnight Khatling Glacier Camp 1 (5110m).
Day 10: Glacier Walk, Khatling Glacier Camp II (4210m)
This is one of the best parts of the trek as we are in the mountainous heart of the Himalayas. Surrounded by high mountains jutting out one next to the other, small glaciers joining the mighty Khatling, glaciers hanging up on high mountains & complex ice formations we negotiate around deep crevasses to get close to the snout of the glacier. Overnight Khatling Glacier Camp II (4210m).
Day 11: Exit Khatling Glacier and reach Khatling Cave / Tambakund (3400m)
A short day - we descend through glacial moraine to get to the snout of the Khatling Glacier. Ice walls rise hundreds of feet and it is beautiful to watch the Bhilangana river gush out of the glacier we have been walking & sleeping on for the last two days. Overnight Camp Khatling Cave/Tambakund (3400m).
Day 12: Contingency day
We have an extra contingency day to allow for bad weather and to have some flexibility in the itinerary. Overnight Camp.
Day 13: Khatling Cave – Kharsoli (2880m)
We walk through the dense mixed Himalayan forests of oak, birch, deodar, fir & rhododendron. Kharsoli has a beautiful campsite in a clearing next to a gushing stream. Overnight Kharsoli Camp (2880m).
Day 14: Kharsoli – Gangi (2650m)
The walk continues through the dense forest and the warmth of lower altitudes is really enjoyable after days of being up in colder climes. We go past a group of 3-4 houses by the Bhilangana river and then have a steep climb to a fairly large village of Gangi. Overnight Camp/GMVN Guest House at Gangi (2650m).
Day 15: Gangi – Ghuttu (1550m)
A long day walk, we slowly descend to pine forests and go past the village of Reeh to finish the trek at the roadhead, 4kms upstream of Ghuttu. Overnight GMVN Guest House at Ghuttu (1550m).
Day 16: Ghuttu – Delhi
Have a relaxed start, pack up, drive from Ghuttu to Haridwar and board the evening Shatabdi Express to be back in Delhi by 10:45pm.