Along the Charang Ghati Trail

As I take a step, the next prayer follows. I am grabbing onto loose pebbles, trying to climb almost flat face on a mountain pass. There is not much distance left to the top. I am panting for breath and my heart is beating, and added to it the drop below is 2000 ft. Charang Ghati pass at 17,600 ft, the mountain pass in the Kinnaur Kailash range, is in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

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 view from kalpa 

It has been four days since we left Lambar, the last motorable road at 9850 ft. We have crossed the alpine meadows, walked down to the valleys, crossed several streams seen waterfalls and snow-clad mountains all just a few hundred feet away.It is monsoon and while everything around seems pretty, walking in the rain is not advisable. The bugyals (alpine meadows) are blanketed with wild flower creating a kaleidoscope of colours. Clouds form a cover just a few feet above the ground and it seems I am literally walking on them.

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                                Heading to pass                                                                                          Wild folwer in bloom

     Our journey begins from Kalka in the morning. The route runs through Shimla-Narkhanda-Rampur-Karcham. The hills begin thereafter and the whole character of the journey changes. The serpentine road meanders almost parallel to Sutlej river through the mountains, pursuing a sinuous rhythm that is dictated by the terrain it weaves over and passes through. The fragrant air and the cool serenity of the surroundings work like a sedative. The sudden appearance of the upcoming mega power projects at Karcham and Wangthu threw us back to the Indian political apathy. A real eyesore in the Himalayan  grandeur. The construction of the dam and littering the area around with concrete and cacophony were like festering wounds.

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                   All in the days work                                                                                                                     Local folk in traditional attire 

But lofty mountains were potent enough to lift us to their summits from this ugliness. Snow-capped peaks now and then compel us to leave behind any lingering negative thoughts. That is the magic of the Himalayas!

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At Charang Base

 

     After a couple of days of trekking, we make an early start next day to reach Charang Ghati base camp (15,750).The weather is clear and the route from here is very broad; a ‘U’ shaped valley indeed! After two hours of trek, the route deteriorates to a virtual succession of jumps from one boulder to another. There have been massive landslides on the surrounding mountain sides. The last few hours to the base camp is a very steep climb and with no water under a scorching sun — a test of endurance indeed.

     We reach the base camp, an open ground surrounded by mountains and pitch our tents beside a glacial lake with difficulty as the cold winds blow from the glacier. Everyone is dog tired by now. We crane our necks to the limit to see the tops of the peaks and path beside the glacier. The clarity of the night sky never ceases to amaze at such places. A short campfire followed by hot khichidi with pickle fortifies us for a good night’s sleep.

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To the left visible is Charang Ghati pass

The next day, the final day we are lucky to have yet another clear morning. The initial climb is on the moraine and after crossing the stream flowing from the snout of the glacier we climb uphill crossing huge boulders with difficulty and reach the base of the pass.

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                                                   Members at Basecamp                                                                              View form pass

     The climb from here becomes even more steep at an 80 degree gradient indeed. The last steps to the summit really checks ones endurance and inner strength. The sudden appearance of prayer flags, thangkas, flickering in air makes us happy.

The pass offers a vast and interesting panorama of snow-clad mountains, valleys and bugyals. The trail continues for a couple of hours down with a steep descent, zigzagging down the green slopes and leads directly to Chitkul village at 11,320 ft situated in the Baspa river valley.

Next day we start early to retrace the route and travel along Mastrang-Sangla-Karcham and stop at midway at Jeori to bath in the natural hot springs. We visit Bhimkali temple at Sarahan which is 16 kms and are back to Kalka late night exactly 14 days after we had left.

 

Vishwanath Radhakrishna

Summiters was founded  by Vishwanath in the year 2005.  Being an avid nature enthusiast he started this concern as a freelancer and also helped a lot of fellow enthusiasts.  He is a certified Mountaineer  from Nehru institute of mountaineering and trained Wilderness First Responder  from NOLS ; USA.  He conducts wilderness camps in Western ghats , Himalayas and also locally.  He has custom designed  and executed various outdoor based learning activities at school, colleges and corporate levels.  In addition to these, he is a trained passionate PADI scuba diver, a  freelance writer and photographer. His  articles and photographs have been published  in several mainstream news papers and magazines.  He participates at National, International level photo salons and has won several certificate's of merit.

Vishwanath maintains his blogs at: http://.vishwanath.summiters.net/

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