Kuari pass & Roopkund

INDIA
11 days in October, 2010

Trekking through the Indian Himalayas of the Garhwal region (Uttarkhand province). This was our very first trek in the Himalayas. It was also our first trek ever with guides - Denish and Radju (two local guys, 23 and 27 years old) and two mules (Tikku and Pudja).


 
 

View from Auli towards the mythical Nanda Devi peak (7820 meters). This is the highest peak in India entirely inside the country (=not a border mountain).
 
 

Denish in front of a temple in the forest

 
 

Pastures with incredible views...

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

The forests were amazing, a mixture of mainly rhodedendron and oaks covered by moss, with lichen hanging from the branches. The autumn colors had started to appear as well.

 
 

Our first campsite

 
 

Our guide, Denish, spent 2-3 hours cooking dinner every day. The food they cooked was amazing - rice, lentils, curries, sabji (vegetables), pakora, pickles, and bread (chapati or parantha) made from scratch...

They spent about 1 liter of kerosene per day! And tonnes of sugar for their coffe or tea (it was hard to taste the difference).

 
 

Day 2. Woke up with frost covering the tent after a night with hail.
But it melted quickly as the sun rose

 
 

Our tent to the left, and our Guides' (Denish & Radju) tent to the right

 
 

Amazing peaks!

 
 

Radju about to feed one of our mules

 
 

And the hike continued on the grassy ridges

 
 

So beautiful that it hurts looking at it :)

 
 

Edelweiss

 
 

Deeeeep valleys

 
 

Peaks ahead. We want to climb them all!
Must come back some day...

 
 

Denish & me

 
 

Wow...

 
 

Campsite a short descent after the Kuari pass.
We saw two Monal birds here, so beautiful!

 
 

A group of shepherds passed our camp. One of these shepherds was Radju's uncle. Every time we met people on the trail, our guides would know them. This was nice, since we got to speak a little bit to them (Denish translated) and were invited for tea several times.

 
 

Dinner and campfire. Life is good!

 
 

Day 3 we entered some amazing djungles

 
 

Waterfall from a narrow canyon.
Me & Sara took a little bath here.

 
 

These berries grew on the ground like strawberries or cloudberries. I don't know what they are called, but they tasted very nice :)

 

 

The high & steep mountains around the waterfall

 
 

Fairytale forest

 
 

Shepherds who invited us for tea (and about to get some milk for the tea). They also had a small solar panel so that they could play music on their mobile phones...

 
 

The amazing terrasses (for agriculture)
around Pana village

 
 

Cannabis, being prepared for smoking.

 
 

Kids in Pana

 
 

Our campsite in Pana (3rd night)

 
 

A man in Pana village smoking

 
 

Note the safety-pin as nose decoration on the girl...

 
 

This huge tree was actually a rhodedendron.
At home I have only seen them in the shape of bushes.

 
 

Kids in the school in Jinji village.

 
 

A house in Jinji

 
 

Denish showing us his house in Jinji.
He said that bears often walked night-time just outside the house, searching for food in the corn field.

 
 

Above the valley in the background are "the seven lakes" called Shaptekund in Hindi. Another place we want to trek to... we have to come back for that :)

 
 

Village house...

 
 

...and the people who live there

 
 

We re-entered the jungle, and soon saw a group of langurs. Some of them just sitting around, eating or scratching themselves, others climbing and jumping among the trees.

 
 

Further on we found this grassy hill with 100 langurs!

 
 

Temple in Ala village

 
 

Many vultures sailed the skies above the meadows between the villages

 
 

Some of them came very close to us

 
 

Mantis (bönsyrsa på svenska)

 
 

Radju and Denish (our guides)

 
 

 

 
 

The tiny village shop in Kunol.

 
 

After a long climb we reached the alpine pastures.

 
 

 

 
 

The Roopkund massif in the background - that is where we are heading!

 
 

A wonderful row of peaks in the distance. One of those passes is the Kuari pass, which we passed on the second day of this trek!

 
 

Monal birds were flying among the trees below us

 
 

We finally reached Patar Nachuni - the place where we would camp. After climbing from 2500 m to 3700 m in one day, we naturally felt a bit altitude sick. We had hoped that we were already adapted to the altitude, since we had already passed 3800 m or so at the Kuari pass, but apparently not...

 
 

From our campsite, we could see "blue sheep" (a type of mountain goat) graze among the rocks on the other side of the valley.

 
 

Day 9. We woke up at 4:30am, since this was a long, tough day and we wanted to reach the Roopkund lake before the afternoon clouds started to form. Our aim was a viewpoint at 5000 m altitude, near the Roopkund lake.

 
 

The Roopkund massif in front of us.
We could really feel the altitude, with heavy breathing and a headache growing...
Also, it was very, very cold.

 
 

A short rest. Both me and our guide got a headache, but Sara was fine :)

 
 

We finally reached the Roopkund lake!
Unfortunately the snow covered it completely.

 
 

There were still some human skeletons laying around, but under the snow there are skeletons from 400 people! They are 1200 year old remnants from pilgrims who died here during a terrible hail storm, with hail (ice) as large as fists breaking their skulls...

 
 

 

 
 

Last climb up to the viewpoint (5000 m)

 
 

A small part of it involved some scrambling that was a little bit scary, but not too bad.

 
 

The view was incredible! Glaciers below us, and 7000 meters high peaks surrounding us, looking as if they were so near that we could touch them!

 
 

Tracks from snow leopard!!!

 
 
 

More snow leopard tracks...

 
 

Heading back.
By now my head was hurting really bad and I got very weak. The altitude was getting to me...

 
 

Now clouds invaded the whole place. We were extremely lucky who got to see it all in perfect weather.

 
 

Last glimpse of the high peaks...

 
 

Back at the Patar Nachuni campsite.
I felt very bad and couldn't eat anything.
Instead, I went straight to bed.

 
 

Day 10 we just walked a couple of hours to reach Bedni Bugyal. I was too weak to walk any further. We chose to stay in one of these shelters.

I wanted to eat some of our Swedish food, but it had all been drenched in kerosene, that had leaked out while being carried by the mules... Finally I found some porridge that hadn't been affected by the kerosene - or so I thought! After swallowing it my whole mouth tasted like kerosene...

All I managed to eat was a little bit of rice and biscuit... During the night I woke up from some sound. I turned on my flashlight and could see a mouse sitting in my porridge bowl :)

Day 11 we walked down through nice oak forests to the beutiful village of Wan. Here we had a cup of tea, before we took a jeep-taxi to the nearest town.