Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Roopkund trek - Tips to Trekkers (Part 4)


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General Information about Roopkund trek
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Roopkund is a high altitude glacial lake in Uttarakhand state of India, lies in the lap of Trishul massif and famous due to hundreds of human skeletons found at the edge of the lake . It is situated at an alitude of almost 15800 feet, which is higher than Mt Blanc , Europe's highest summit. It is also known as the Mystery Lake.

Location:  Located in a remote corner of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand State, it is a completely isolated place with no permanent human settlements in the vicinity, at the height of 4750 meters or 15800 feets approx (some reports says 5029 meters, 16500 feet approx). It is surrounded by snow-glaciers and situated near the base of two Himalayan peaks Trishul, and Nanda Gunti. Despite of its increasing popularity, it generally remains inaccessible for six months in a year because of its high altitude and continuous snow.


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How to reach
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Lohajung , a small village is the base camp for the Roopkund trek. 

1.  Delhi to Lohajung via Kathgodam

Kathgodam can be reached from Delhi by the Ranikhet express. It departs Delhi around 10.30 PM and reaches Kathgodam by 5.00 AM, Kathgodam is the last rail head. Ranikhet express is always recommended for trekkers, due to the timings we reach Kathgodam and continue the onward journey.

From Kathgodam, there are many shared taxi that go to Gwaldam. There is no direct bus/jeep running from Kathgodam to Lohajung. 
Since we trekked with India Hikes , they had arranged a jeep from Kathgodam to Lohajung (Extra cost). The direct vehicle takes around 12-14 hours to reach Lohajung.

Else, people have to stay overnight at Gwaldam and proceed to Lohajung the next day

Route : Kathgodam - Almora - Kausani - Gwaldam - Tharali - Dewal - Lohajung

2.  Delhi to Lohajung via Haridwar

Haridwar is easily accessible from Delhi. There are many buses and trains that ply to Haridwar/Rishikesh from Delhi.  From either Haridwar/Rishikesh catch a bus that goes to Badrinath/Karnaprayag. 

From Karnaprayag there are many shared jeeps to Tharali. And from Tharali, to Lohajung in another shared jeep. Karnaprayag is a town situated along the confluence of Pindar and Alakananda rivers.

Haridwar - Rishikesh - Srinagar - Karnaprayag - Tharali - Dewal - Lohajung

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Packing for the trek
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1.  Backpack (55 - 65 L) with sturdy straps and supporting frame (with rain cover). Quechua Forclaz 60 is a good choice.

2.  Daypack (20L) -- optional. 

Useful for summit/pass day. It is mandatory if you want to offload your backpack on the trek.

3.  Trekking shoes –  Quechua Forclaz 500 and Woodland are good choices. 
The novadry technology in Forclaz 500 prevents the shoes in becoming wet. In worst conditions, it dries up pretty soon.

4.   Track pants and multi pocket cotton pants are advisable.

5.   Cotton T shirts
      Two full sleeve sweaters or fleece jackets.
      A full sleeve thick jacket.
      4 pairs of undergarments.
      1 pair of thermal inners 
      2-3 pair of sports socks.

6.   Wollen monkey cap/balaclava that cover the ear.

7.   Light weight rain coat/poncho (to escape a quick burst of rain).

8.   Woolen hand gloves + synthetic glove (water proof).

9.    Sun glasses – To avoid snow blindness

10.  Sun cap and/or head-scarf.

11.  Trekking pole

12.  Light towel (should be thin, quick drying kind).

13.  Lip balm , Sunscreen lotion , Odomos etc

14.  2 Water bottles (1 L each). 

15.  A plate, spoon and coffee mug.

16.  LED Torch / Headlamp 

17.  Personal toilet kit (minimal) and toilet paper.

16.  Personal medicine kit and medicines as per your requirements. 

17.  Camera, memory-cards, batteries etc 

17a. If you are a serious photographer, carry extra batteries and memory cards. Due to the cold weather, the battery may drain. Also carry a tripod, as there are chances of shooting star trails in the hills.

18.  Slippers/sandals 

19.  Energy boosters like Dry fruits , Nutribars , Glucose etc 

20.  Swiss Knife

Some Dont's :

1. Do not carry Jeans, they are heavy and if it rains, it becomes more heavier.

2. Do not consume Alcohol and smoke Cigarettes on the trek

3. Do not carry any disposable plastic bottles like (Bisleri, Aquafina), plastic wrapped/packaged items. 

4. Do not bring any non bio degradable material.

5. Don’t get any sleeping bags / tents . India Hikes team would be providing the sleeping bags and tents.

6. Any other don't, which you feel is better in conserving nature is absolutely fine.
Dressing in layers is a perfect solution to prevent cold.


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Tips for Photographers
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1. Carry spare batteries. Probably 2-3 extra , if you are planning to do night photography.

2. Batteries drain fast in cold weather. Protect them by keeping in warm clothes.

3. Though carrying a tripod is tiresome, it is very much helpful (at least for slow shutter speed and Night photography )

4. A wide angle , macro and a telephoto lens is enough (You can never expect the subjects you get there)

5. A rain cover for camera bag and a lens cleaning kit is useful.

6. Extra SD/CF cards would be a friend in need

7. Telephoto Zoom like 70-300mm is ideal for mountain peaks that are far away. You can also shoot birds (for record purpose)

Equipment that I used in the trek :

Nikon D7100
Nikon 18-105mm VR Lens
Nikon 70-300 mm VR Lens
Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 Pro ATX-II
Tamron 90mm F/2.8 macro  
Benro Tripod
Aputure Timer remote

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Documents required (If trekking with India Hikes)
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1. Medical Certificate

2. Disclaimer Ceritificate 

3. Photo identity card and passport size photo

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Why Roopkund trek ?
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1. Considered as gardens of Lord Shiva :

a. Mount Trishul is considered to be Lord Shiva himself, and a trek to Roopkund is along the massiff of Mount Trishul. 

b. Mount Nanda Ghunti which is next to Mount Trishul is considered to be Goddess Parvathi (wife of Lord Shiva). From Bhagwabasa, one can get a glimpse of both the peaks.  

c. Kallu Vinayak - Also called as Kevalam Vinayakam enroute to Roopkund is a small Ganesha temple

d. Karthikeya temple which can be seen while returning to Wan from Bedni.

Hence, a trek to Roopkund is like having a Darshan of the Shiva family. So in other way, this is also a pilgrimage.



2. Earlier trek route to Mount Kailash :

Mount Kailash, which is now in Tibet is considered to be the most sacred place on earth for both Hindus and Tibetans. The roopkund trail was earlier a route to this abode of God.

3. Trekking along the biggest meadows in Asia :

The Ali - Bedni bugyals are said to be the largest meadows (open grasslands) in Asia, which is a grazing ground to hundreds of sheep , horses and mules.

4. Pilgrimage of the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra :

Lakhs of pilgrims perform the Nanda Devi Raj jat yatra along this route once in 12 years. So, A trek here would be spiritual (pilgrimage) as well. 

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Trek facts in brief
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Difficulty : 
Moderate-Difficult. 

Trail type : 
Circular; returns to base camp.

Altitude : 
Roopkund: 15,750 feet (4,800 mts). Junargali 16,000 ft (4,878 mts, highest point)

Rail head : 
Kathgodam. You can reach Kathgodam by an overnight journey from Delhi. Ranikhet express leaves Old Delhi station at 10.40 in the night to get to Kathgodam by 6.30 in the morning. Indiahikes pick up is lined up with the Ranikhet Express.

Base Camp : 
Village Lohajung (Chamoli District, Uttarakhand)

Best Season : 
May 3rd week to June end; Mid September to October end.

Temperature in May, Jun :
Day: 15° to 20°C. Night: 4° to 7°C. Temp at highest camp, Bhagwabasa: Day 5°C to 10°C. Night: 3° to -2°C.

Rains :
Rainy season is from the second week of July to mid September. May/June is not the rainy season but afternoon showers are very common in the mountains. These are not the monsoon rains.

Temperature in Sept and Oct :
Day: 13° to 20°C. Night: 2° to 7°C. Temp at highest camp, Bhagwabasa: Day 3°C to 10°C. Night: 3° to -4°C.

Snow :
High snow in May from Kalu Vinayak onwards. Decreases in June. Comfortable snow during the last half of June. September has little snow. In the first week of October, the first winter snow is likely to fall in the upper reaches. Usually melts in a few days.

Preparation :
Physical preparation mandatory. 

Thanking :

1. Parents for giving us permission to trek.
2. India Hikes team for organizing this trek.
3. Fellow trekkers.
4. Inderji and Kalam bhai (locals of Lohajung)

What are the benefits of trekking with a small group ?

Click here to see more info : Benefits of trekking with a small group


This marks the end of this blog series !!!

Thanks a lot for viewing



7 comments:

  1. Incredible journey, Incredible post, many thanks for sharing the experience..!

    ReplyDelete
  2. excellent pictures with necessary information thank you sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. Arjun, Thanks for presenting the visual tour of Roopkund... And taking out time to write detailed information...Trek is already in my To Do list... lets see when.... :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you want a cab this is a must visit blog for you!!
    Delhi to Haridwar Taxi

    ReplyDelete

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