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  • Experts Opinion

An unforgettable summit: Pangarchulla

Published On 09 May 2021 by Mohit Goswami

Are travel-pangs a real thing? I am going to double-root, make a lot of noise and scream at the top of my lungs in affirmation. Of course, they are! They are as real as humans and there is absolutely no doubt about it. The last time I felt one, I grabbed my essentials and zoned deep into the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, straight to the summit of Pangarchulla trek. And goodness, was it a crazy, unreal and exceptionally stimulating trek or what? 

I started off by mapping the trail, estimating the cost, reading a few reviews and sorting the itinerary first. Once you have that ready, you can jump right into it but for disclaimers - the trek indeed is quite difficult and does require average stamina, grit, as well as a brief experience in mountaineering. If you?ve ticked off the requirements, you are good to dive right into it. 

To start off, Dehradun remains the most comfortable place to kick start the expedition to Pangarchulla. It can be easily reached and has many public transports that ferry travelers to the city of Joshimath. The drive from Dehradun to Joshimath is magical and pleasant, lasting around 10 hrs approximately. Situated at an altitude of 6,900 ft, Joshimath is an ideal place to camp for the night as well as facilitate steady acclimatization at the same time. Embark on a 30 minute long drive to the village of Dhak, the next morning, to resume your expedition. Dhak is where the trek to Pangarchulla officially begins. From this point, you need to trek for a distance of 5km to reach the Gulling top in time. Enjoy the surreal sunset at Gulling top and set up your camps to embrace the bliss of experiencing freezing cold weather and citing picturesque landscapes. Wake up to a mesmerizing sunrise and buckle up for the activities of the day. You are to trek from Gulling to Lower Khullara, this day. This bit of the route is interesting and soul-warming altogether with clear views of the greater Himalayas in the forefront and views of dense forests in the backdrop. You will be elevating to a height of 12,200 ft to reach the camping site at Khullara. Watch out for the sunset and relish the magical beauty of nature. The next day will be the most anticipated and sought after day of the expedition. You will be attempting the summit, this day. Find your travel-pangs stormed with adrenaline rushes as you make your way towards the epic summit of Pangarchulla situated at an elevation of 15,069 ft. The views of the greater Himalayas will tend to magnify as you reach closer to the summit. The giant black boulders smeared with fresh powdery snow, the snow-clad landscapes as well as the mighty peaks of Mt Nanda Devi, Mt Chaukhamba, Ghori and Hathi Parwat etc encircling the trail, raise the bar of this trek o the Pangarchulla summit to an exceptionally high level. Enjoy the spellbinding views from the Pangarchulla peak before it is time to prepare for the return trek to Lower Khullara. To your rescue is the fact that the descend from the summit of Pangarchulla, unlike most other summits, is as much thrilling as the ascend; it is equally adventurous and soul-filling. So retrace the trail from Lower Khullara to Joshimath, the next day and soak in as much beauty as you can, while you still have the opportunity to do it.  The distance between Lower Khullara to Joshimath is as long as 12km approximately.  It is pretty taxing and requires a gradual descend. Traverse through the unforgettable wilderness encompassed within the Himalayas and savor the unreal sacred, unexploited beauty of nature. You will find yourself dropping down to a height of 6,900 ft this day. The stark difference in the freshness of air at the peak of the summit and back in cities at lower altitude will remain quite evident at this point. Wash off the exhaustion of the expedition with a peaceful sleep at Joshimath and depart from the city, the next morning to bring your expedition to an end. 

The Pangarchulla trek is done only during the month of April while the winter season slowly wilts away. It is the best time for the summit attempt with just the right amount of snow along the trail. It is neither suitable during the months of December and January when it is peak winters nor during the month of May when the monsoon begins to cripple in. On another note, many travelers even trek to the Kauri Pass summit during their trek to Pangarchulla. Even though it is possible, it is very demanding and taxing to attempt the Pangarchulla summit via the Kauri Pass summit. It is best recommended to prepare the itinerary for your expedition as per your stamina as well as do-ability. 

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