Lush green, with a stream! Very common site at mountain foothiils on the way to Uttar Kashi.
Satellite Map annotated with GPS data.
Gangotri : 2940m
Bhoj Kharak : 3415m
Kedar Kharak : 4315m
Kedar Taal : 4760m
Patangani Camp : 4540m
Patangani Dhar : 5085m
Dhabba Camp : 4685m
Rudugaira/Auden Base : 4730m
Auden Adv Base : 4975m
Auden's Col : 5350m
Khatling Camp : 4970m
Water Falls : 4300m
Khatling Base : 3765m
Bhilangana Bridge : 3480m
Chowki Camp : 3630m
Masar Tal : 4550m
Masar Top : 4695m
Mayali Pass : 4990m
Vasuki Top : 4335m
Vasuki Tal : 4210m
Kedar Top : 4480m
Kedarnath : 3530m
Day 0: while on a trail in Haril village, found Wilson House at Harsi, which is now turned into a guest house with two rooms
Ganga @ Harsil
A cute little boy at Bhagori Buddist village near Harsil
A woman making wool at Bhagori in her carved wood house
A cute girl playing with a lamb, while men around her were busy cutting wool off sheep
JP, Satya, Pavan, Cpt. Himansu (our host at Harsil army camp), Abhilasha (aka Khukhari), Satish (Subbu is taking photo)
Reached Gangotri. Pavan and I are guarding the luggage while rest are checking out hotels
We offered prayers to Ganga for our safe and successful trek
Satya, Pavan, Satish and JP showing off their Himalayan Trekker T-shirts in Gangotri market
Acclimatization Trek: took the trail to Bhoj Kharak that we were to take next day, offers rapid altitude gain, very good for acclimatization
While JP was busy sorting out permits etc., rest of us hit the trail to Gauri Kund and Pandav Cave. But we didn't do much, just had loads of fun.
Eveming Ararti at Gangotri temple
It was not Hindu month of Sraavan (Vikram calendar), but I liked JP's idea of doing Kavand Yatra from Gangotri to Kedarnath, and doing Shiva-Abhishekam with holi Ganga water from Gangotri
Day 1: Super Six! (Satya, Pavan, Abhilasha, JP, Satish, Subbu) @ GMVN hotel at Gangotri. Ready to Go!
पहचान कौन? (Can recognize me?) : A modern Kavadiya dressed in white (instead of black) and cool Shades
Trail to Bhoj Kharak passes through a slope of Bhoj Tree jungle
Last point on our trek where mobile phones will work
Bhoj trees on slope, beautiful valley, green meadows, future looks sunny!
These are very fragile mountains with a number of rock fall zones
Negotiating not-so-wide ledges on stone is not as scary as it looks. Anything for those pretty Bhoj trees standing erect on the mountain slope :-)
Lone grieving atheist? (this tree reminded me title of one of my poems)
Bhoj Kharak camp site. I suggest to go a few Kilometers further on the trail to Kedar Kharak and camp on the edge of Kedar Ganga river.
Day 2: Getting Ready for Kedar Karak
If I was just a little smaller, I bet I would have looked like these small plants with white flowers; smiling and swinging!
Trail to Kedar Kharak is beautiful and easy :-) even though it was a misty/rainy day
We reached Kedar Kharak camp site in 2.5 hrs, and I decided to act my own Sholey movie (कितने आदमी थे?). Umm... didn't I look more like डान्कू (Robber) instead of Kavadiya in that white get up?
However, गांव वाले (habitants of this Raam-Gadh) refused to accept me as Gabbar Singh, the Great Robber, and were not scared at all
We decided to take up the trek to Kedar Taal that was scheduled for next day.
And not after very long, we were in the middle of a glacier
Me @ Kedar Taal
Wow, beautiful Kedar Taal. Clouds prevented us from seeing peaks surrounding it.
We hosted the Indian flag at our first goal. Khukhari became tired, dizzy and sleepy, so she returned back from halfway to Kedar Kharak camp.
Clouds finally relented to let us have a peek of Talayasagar peak
Day 3: Super Six! getting ready for trek to Patangani Dhar camp site
Climb was tough, but it was just preparation for final ascend to Patanganidhar, which is much more steep
Having done the hard work of going to Kedar Taal on previous day, it was a short day of just 3 hour trek. We used it as a kind of rest day :-)
At sunset, we were treated with amazing riot of colors for around 5 min. What a background for Bhrigupanth and Talayasagar peaks.
Day 4: Khukhari had to return since she was signs of high altitude sickness, so we were reduced to Fantastic Five! (Subbu is taking photo)
We saw Bramha Kamal on the way
Last few hundred meters were really steep, Dhar (pass) is up there
Satish, Pavan and JP at Patangani Dhar. It started to rain, and descend over slippery moraine on the other side was quite difficult. We retired at Dubba camp site.
Day 5: Getting ready for a long trek to Rudugaira glacier campt site
Satya, JP, Pavan, and Satish enjoying Gangotri peaks and glacier
Auden's Col is finally visible (step formation on the left of me)
Rudugaira glacier and Auden's Col (the pass links ridges of Jogin and Gangotri peaks)
Campsite on Rudugaira Glacier (beneath stones, these is ice; we could hear the sound of stream flowing beneath at couple of places)
Day 6: starting to Auden Col (advance) base camp
Treked on the ridge between glaciers on Jogin and Gangotri sides; we could hear stream flowing beneath
Saw so many interesting ice formations on the glacier
Glacier was full with table-tops, wonder if we could sip coffee sitting around them :-)
Still, miles to go before tent is pitched! Seems like that we haven't moved at all, Col is still that far!
Ridge becomes narrow and glaciers on both sides are visible; Col ABC is still around 500m+ away. Not many gets a chance to pose here :-)
Camps were set up just below the Col
Looking back to the ridge. This tent is of another team of two coming from Gangotri via Rudugaira (was led by Ramesh, the brother of our guide Balvant). So, while crossing Col and Khatling, we were lucky to have two guides who are known to be the best on this route, and our cook was guide too :-)
Day 7: We started to get ready at 5:15am with gaiters and harnesses. Snow plowing becomes difficult as sun goes up.
Ready for the D-day! We started climbing Auden Col at 6am.
Col is full with crevasses. Both teams latched their harnesses in a single rope. Ramesh is leading us. Balvant has gone ahead roped with porters.
Crevasses: avoid them; else you will reside in them for eternity.
Balvant with porters, few crevasses ahead of us.
It sometime felt like never ending quest.
Col is littered with crevasses.
Soft snow is difficult. I slipped a couple of time at the beginning; later Satya also kept slipping a number of times. Ramesh is pulling him up in this photo. Unfortunately, your slipping has implication for people climbing behind you because it destroys nice step trail that can easily be followed.
One step at a time (Ramesh guide, followed by Satya, Pavan, Satish, JP, and not seen here Subbu :-)
Finally, atop Auden Col. One of the famous Rabbit Ears is visible. Pavan is ready with snow balls; I am not sure who is the target.
Fantastic Five! @ Auden Col. Satya, JP, Pavan, Satish, and Subbu. It started snowing lightly and we hoisted the flag after prayers at the Col.
We planned to rappel down the Col, but suddenly rocks started falling where Balvant and Ramesh were fixing the rope. We had to descend around 20 meters bare hands on the rock and take shelter at a relatively safer spot. There was pin drop silence for 15 min, and the thought whether all of us would make it down unhurt did cross my mind. Finally we started climbing down slowly, one by one, without dislodging any rock to rappel down the safe part of the desecend.
I didn’t actually rappel; I just slid in a controlled way :-) Little did I know up there that there is a big crevasses just below the Col, and I must pass through that small snow bridge. If I had deviated, then people below would have been yelling and jumping wildly to bring me back on the track; I loved participating in that yelling once I was down there :-)
How precise! Exactly on the snow bridge; paused there for a min. to catch my breadth and inspect around. I can certify that snow bridge was real solid :-)
Final 10 meters, I had fun, and little control; harness saved the day :-)
Balvant is better than James Bond. He removed the rope, no safety of harness, and coolly climbs down with an ice axe, and his hands, knees and feet.
Our joy of safe survival didn’t last too long. Ramesh quickly lined us up and roped us and told that the day was not yet done, we have to cross big chunk of Khatling, which is also littered with crevasses. All those straight dark lines are potential crevasses. It was still snowing a bit.
Some places we just jumped over the crevasses one by one while folks around held rope tightly, you know, just in case...
Guts of a crevasse.
Humm... a nest (looks like they were breeding there) of crevasses.
We hissed them... go away...
Finally we were on safer ice, and not tied :-)
Nature has made beautiful, and countless, ice sculptures. Crevasses were still there, but easier to recognize and avoid.
I had decided to camp on ice, others were reluctant thinking that it would be cold. Alternate camp sites on rocks didn't offer a smooth surface, soon others brought their camps too. On that night, I had best sleep of the trek.
Couldn't resist walking around on the ice.
Day 8: Good Morning.
Satya, JP, Ramesh, Balvant, Satish and Pavan enojying a fine morning at Khatling glacier.
Pavan capturing some of Satish's dance moves.
Later he joined too. Anybody noticing at Bollywood?
Yup, I am landing from sky!
All good things come to end, we were ready to roll at 9:15am
Anybody in there?
Oh My God, this was worse than previous day. Shark jaw glacier canvases, and we had to cross them.
Enjoying the beauty
There were a series of water falls.
Instead of taking Water Fall route, we crossed through glacier. It was supposedly faster and scarier :-)
Humm... doesn't shock us anymore
Keep going in right direction :-)
Some places were a bit tricky to cross.
Reached almost the end of glacier
Moraine followed the glacier, with Bhilangana river flowing below.
Khatling Base is a beautiful camp site.
A fine afternoon to shave and take bath in Bhilangana river.
Fantastic Five! Shaving and bath seemed to have given me a new look.
We had dinner around camp fire.
Pavan, Subbu and Satish were busy showing their skills in the night using head lamps.
Finally, JP came out of the tent and forced us to end our party (our protest that it was not even 9pm didn't impress him). So we said our Good Nights to Day 8.
Day 9: It was a sunny morning, and Chowki Camp site was a short trek (3-4 hours); little did we know what mother nature has in store for us.
Makeshift bridge to cross Bheelanagana. It was raining quite a bit. We all took shelter below a big rock after crossing the river, and waited for rain to stop.
Makeshift bridge to cross Bhilangana. It was raining quite a bit. We all took shelter below a big rock after crossing the river, and waited for rain to stop.
Chowki Camp site: There was another gang of profs from University of Cincinnati to collect rock samples for their research on dating the glacier.
Satish lost in his thoughts.
A herd of 500 sheeps across the river
Day 9a: Was lost due to rain. We spent the day in the tent watching Khatling peak and debating whether to go up towards Mayali pass or down towards Gangi village if it rains the next day as well.
Day 10: Rain finally stopped, and we were happy to continue to Mayali pass.
It was beautiful valley...
surrounded by beautiful peaks
We reached Masar Taal camp site around 11:45am. The last part of the climb was very steep.
In the evening, we paid a quick visit to Masar Taal.
Masar Taal camp site.
Day 11: The world around our camp site
Day 11: Good morning
Masar Taal, on the way to Mayali Pass
Fantastic Five! @ Masar Top
It snowed previous two nights. It was so pretty with virgin snow, we couldn't stop clicking our cameras.
Fantastic Five! @ the base of Mayali pass
Lights! Camera! Jump! Click! We all did it.
The climb starts
Semi frozen lake at Masar Top from Mayali Pass
We just couldn't stop clicking our cameras.
By now, we were familiar with crossing crevasses.
Joy of holding the flag!
Fantastic Five! @ Mayali Pass
Joint photo of Himalayan Trekker and Kolkata team with guides.
That day I finally did what I thought I had lost ability to do: I ran on boulders! A misty valley awaited us below.
Our final camp site: around a kilometer before Vasuki Taal.
Fantastic Five! gossiping inside a tent.
Day 12: Fantastic Five! ready for Vasuki Taal and Kedarnath
Final climb to Vasuki Top. Kedarnath peaks at the background.
Vasuki Top: getting ready to climb down to Kedar Nath
Kedarnath peaks that form the background for the Kedarnath temple.
Kedarnath temple town. Temple complex is near the center of the photo.