BARA BHANGAL TREK - Undulation Unlimited

#1 Sep 15th, 2012, 11:15
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  • sidred22 is offline
#1
1. It wasn't as if we had not propitiated the weather gods, having deferred to them repeatedly as is the wont before venturing in those high mountains but then there definitely remained a notion of an iota of insincerity which unleashed a fury of such elements, the intensity of which would deter even the designs of die-hard resolutes.

2. Having decided to venture into those forsaken mountains during the annual ebb of monsoons ( beginning of Sept), all that remained was to chalk out an itinerary and plan the logistics so as to make the trek as leisure-able as possible.

3. However, to cut the long story short, the ten tiring days it took us from Manali to the roadhead at Baragaon (opposite Rajgundha), shall forever continue to foreshadow our schemes for future treks and make these likely wanderlusts less daunting.

4. Having decided to venture without the assistance of guide or porters (and merely navigating using 'Survey of India' maps), each day confronted us with new unforeseeable challenges varying from losing route repeatedly in those desolate valleys and sprouting fauna to being hammered unabashedly by the elements such as hail, snow, ice, rain, blizzards,sleet, mist, whiteouts and floods.

5. The designs were deterred daily and plans were thwarted so much so that at the end it was the unrelenting spirit of survival and experience of years of repeated forays into those high altitudes that carried us through. The undulation and stark desolation during the trek was a surprise and it was only the months of sturdy preparation that help overcame the indomitable walls of mental and physical fatigue that shrouded each moment of the trek.

6. At the conclusion, I would merely surmise with a word of caution to those who wish to venture for this or similar trek that "MOUNTAINS ARE NOT THE ARENA TO TEST YOUR METTLE, VENTURE ONLY IF YOU ARE FIT LEST THEY MAY TAKE THEIR TOLL".
Last edited by sidred22; Sep 15th, 2012 at 16:39..
#2 Sep 16th, 2012, 00:00
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#2
Sidred - Some details and photographs would be good. How many of you were there and what was your previous trekking experience? While, I am not a solo trekker but it will be useful to know how bad things can be for unguided treks.
#3 Sep 16th, 2012, 10:52
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#3

Thumbs up Bara Bhangal - Details and Lesson learnt

1. Bara Bhangal is a strenuous, long and grossly undulating trek throughout its extant except for maybe the last 20kms (5hrs) and the difficulties are compounded further during the time of monsoons whence not only continual rains but constant whiteouts create unfathomable difficulties.

2. The trek is open for utmost four months during any year from late June to mid October (depending on snowfall) and for alpinists wishing to start from Manali, a careful analysis of the route is required since it requires crossing three ridges before the first pass (Kali hind pass). This creates difficulties of its own since routes marked on Survey of India are grossly wrong and should not be adhered to at face value.

3. The undulation and desolation of the valleys make it mandatory to carry the entire logistics all along since Bara Bhangal, being the only village enroute, is quite distant from Manali. So if you are diehard alpinist and wish to travel without porters and ponies (like we did), be prepared to carry atleast 25-30kg of rucksack.

4. But if you are going to enjoy and savour the scenery, rather than adventure, take a guide/porter and horses ( a pair of ponies cost Rs. 700 per day) and the trek would be easy in any weather.

5. If you start from Sangchar ( near Patli Kuhl, 18 km short of Manali), a well crafter and a wide mule track is all along the Nullah emanating from Kalihind pass and there is no chance of getting lost. Moreover, you may not requirre to carry additional logistics since there is village enroute and incline is very gradual.

6. The problem of bear attacks is not surreal and adds to the complexity further and one must cater for such contingencies specially along Manali - Barabhangal route. Another factor that poses problem is that trails specially those below 3500m are so infrequently used that a thick fauna hides them specially in the areas of thatchs and one would not be surprised to see a well marked trail suddenly vanishing and requring very-very careful time consuming recee to find it.

7. THe undulation on the Manali-Rajgundha route is as follows - Ascend from Manali (1880m) to Niyasi ridge (3900m) and descend to nullah coming from Kali hind beyond Riyali Ridge ( 3050m) and thereafter ascend again to the Kalihind pass ( 4700m). From Kali hind pass walk along the Kaliheni nallah for 35km and once at 3100m ascend again upto a small pass at 3900m above Dhamari Thatch. Thereafter walk down to Bara Bhangal Village river crossing at 2400m and climb once again to Thamsar Pass at 4700m before getting down to Rajgundha/ Baragaon at 2250m. So all along its up and down and no respite.

8. Incase you plan to go there, I would suggest that either you are well versed with mountains and very fit to move with heavy loads for days or better idea would be to hire services of porter, ponies and guides at Manali which are nominal for a group and will help you expedite the trek and make it less strenous. BEST OF LUCK.
#4 Sep 16th, 2012, 10:57
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#4
For photos I have pasted few at my fb profile and made them public for few days : Search for 'sidred red' at fb.
#5 Sep 16th, 2012, 19:54
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#5
Thanks - Barabhangal is on my list and it is supposed to be a moderate trek (and there are three different passes via which you can do it - other two starting from Beas Kund), so I was wondering!! With your clarification, it is clear that the trek is not tough but you guys chose to make it tough by being on your own. I have a bad back so that is anyways not an option for me (though otherwise fit) and I lose route on simple trails so not trying something on my own. In fact I think unless very experienced with handling contingencies, no one should try out routes on their own.
#6 Sep 16th, 2012, 20:09
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#6
Sidred - nice photographs. Very desolate place.
#7 Sep 16th, 2012, 23:19
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  • milind shevde is offline
#7
sidred,
Thanks for your crisp report.
I & other IM'ers will be thankful if you/or any one from your group give us 1st hand experience in details.i think you are 1st IM'er to write about "BARA BANGAL TREK"
i have two specific questions
1.will this trek be easier from bara bangal to manali (as far as AMS is concern)?
2. how bad is "Ravi gorge" ? what i mean is that is very scary/dangerous for an avg trekker like me( experince of last 15 years of trekking in himalaya)
i had read once even harish kapadia took another route & crossed kugti pass from bara bangal side, instead of going to manali
thanks in advance
milind
#8 Sep 17th, 2012, 09:03
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#8
1. Personally my recommendation would be to start Bara Bhangal trek from Manali (1885m)/ Sangchar(2450m) side since the long walks and undulations would ensure that you are properly acclimatized by the time you cross the first major pass, Kaliheni (4700m) pass, on fourth /fifth day. Moreover, the entire region is thickly forested and if you plan your itinerary logically, there is generally no problem of AMS. ( I have mentioned the undulation aspect from Manali side in previous report and Sangchar route is far easier and modestly inclined).

2. However if you start from Rajgundha/ Baragaon side ( Near Bir) , you should cross Thamsar pass on the third/fourth day and reach Bara Bhangal on the same day without staying atop the pass and again there should be no problems of acclimatization since the mountains are well endowed with forests and fauna. This area from Bir to Thamsar along the Uhl river is far more beautiful than the Manali side walk to Bara Bhangal and frankly I would have loved to spend much more time savouring the beauty of the nature here. Moreover, the track side joints at Palchak (2600m), nala junction (3000m) and Panethu (3450m) along the Uhl river cater for hot food and snacks and you may reduce you administrative burden during the initial ascent. This is also the main supply route to Bir Bhangal and there are continual mule trains all along so you would never feel lonely or lost along this route.

3. Once at Bir Bhangal, there are four exit routes - Thamsar pass, Kaliheni Pass, Chamba Ravi river gorge and Tengu Pass towards Beas Kund. Ideally Thamsar and Kaliheni are selected for entry and exit and Tengu is considered to be slightly awkward , maybe due to rouge rocks and loose boulders and not many ppl know about it even at Bhanghal. Ravi river gorge is the main route of ingress and egress for the local since it is the shortest route to the roadhead and it is the only route open throughout the year. However, this route is not negotiable by mules or pack animals and there are certain stretches ( although very few now) which are considered to be dangerous even by locals. Oftlate an attempt to construct an all weather mule track is in progress and this track is likely to be completed within two-three years.

4. Personally, inview of the heavy loads carried by us during treks and the resultant imbalances caused by these negated our efforts to even contemplate moving along this route. If you are walking light and have nerves which are not likely to tether for few harrowing minutes, then this route is well navigable and recommended for expedited exit from Bara Bhangal. ( If you start early in morning at 0630 , you can easily board a 1500h bus to Chamba from the culmination point on this route).

5. There are stretches albeit short ones along this route which are not more than 40cms wide along the lee of a deep vertical gorge (upto 2000ft) and which have to be negotiated very very carefully. Moreover, certain stretches have been conjoined using logs and one should not lose the nerves in the midst of these. On the positive side, the track except for this small precarious stretch ( half an hour atmost) is slightly undulating and entirely safe ( though not recommended even by locals.)
#9 Sep 18th, 2012, 19:44
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  • ogion is offline
#9

Two comments.

Thanks to Sidred for useful information and a colorful narrative.

1. Tentu pass from Bara Bangahal village to Beas Kund is not at all an easy option. It passes next to Hanuman Tibba - and is said to be crevassed quite badly. On the Beas Kund side, it presents an awkward scramble.


2. The Ravi gorge - as described by Harish Kapadia - is said to be highly exposed and risky due to loose rock. The route is said to involve some
"rock-climbing" perhaps with fixed ropes. And since Sidred has not mentioned any roads leading out of Bara Bangahal (a road from Chamba was talked about) - it is not generally advisable.

These comments are of course, cautionary - be careful and travel safe.
The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy ----- Weinberg
#10 Sep 18th, 2012, 20:05
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidred22 View Post For photos I have pasted few at my fb profile and made them public for few days : Search for 'sidred red' at fb.
only 11 pic....please some more pics....
and can you share your detailed itinerary with distances b/w places
Rules r meant to be broken
But!!!!!!
Don't break rules in Himalaya
Please Keep Himalaya clean & plastic free
#11 Sep 21st, 2012, 01:30
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#11
Wow, Bara Bangahal armed with just SOI maps. Impressive!

I had the opportunity to see Serbjeet Singh's film 'The Avalanche' (filmed in 1959/60) last month. It was partly set in Bara Bangahal village, so I gathered some idea of the terrain involved.

And there's definitely no road to BB village even today.
#12 Sep 21st, 2012, 11:17
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#12

Thumbs up Itinerary for the trek

1. This is the itinerary followed by us , although not entirely as we had planned but all the same ' Alls well that ends well'.

Day 1: Manali Bus Stand to Gayachi (via Lamadugh)
09 hrs

Day 2: Entire day spent searching for the route which was finally found at 1500h so reached the nullah beyond the Niyasi settlement ( utmost 3 hrs from Gaychi)

Day 3 : Got lost again and both trekkers got separated during the dense white out and drenched conditions only to meet again at the starting point during early evening and start afresh. Trek till Riyali Thatch ( 2 hrs from Niyasi ridge)

Day 4: Followed the wrong track till afternoon but reached shepherd hut at Sagordug (3900m), an hour short of Kaliheni base camp.

Day 5: Crossed the Kaliheni pass in packed and blizzard conditons by noon but forced to camp just below glacial snow due to aggravated hypoxia.

Day 6: Reached Devi ki marhi temple (3400m) by noon but forced to halt to due to overflowing nullah which despite desperate and gallant attempts could not be forded. -- 6 hrs

Day 7: Trail disappeared again at the same time around noon and got lost again. Futilely searched for trail for hours only to find it in evening but reached Dhamari Thatch (3850m) --12 hrs

Day 8: Reached Bara Bhangal village (2450m) by noon (stopped again at noon) -- 7 hrs

Day 9: Moved towards Thamsar Pass and camped just below the pass beside the Glacial lake (4200m) -- 9hrs

Day 10 : Reached roadhead at Baragaon (opposite Rajgundha) via Thamsar pass, Panethu and Palchak- 13 hrs

Advised not to conform to this scheduled itinerary while planning but take precautions where ever I have written we got lost or followed different trails.
#13 Sep 25th, 2012, 14:59
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  • vsathyanarayan is offline
#13
@rajat

it is clear that the trek is not tough but you guys chose to make it tough by being on your own
.

In response to your comment above. Yes, the trek was made tougher because we were trekking independently. However, even if you had a guide/ponies this would be a tough trek. One would need to be fit to do this trek. Let me just say that this is much tougher than the typical Roopkund / Rupin pass treks. Am clarifying it so that other IM'ers reading this thread to not underestimate this trek.

cheers
sathya
#14 Sep 26th, 2012, 01:13
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#14
Sathya - thanks for the clarification. I was quoting Sidred:
"4. But if you are going to enjoy and savour the scenery, rather than adventure, take a guide/porter and horses ( a pair of ponies cost Rs. 700 per day) and the trek would be easy in any weather."

Could you give more details of what makes it tough:
- Is it that the area is less explored
- Is it longer and thus more strenuos
- Did read about crossing the three ridges: Are they really bad?
- Was it the rainy season?

I hope I will find out on my own one day, but till then your response will be helpful
#15 Sep 27th, 2012, 11:02
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  • vsathyanarayan is offline
#15
Photos from the trek can be found here :-
https://picasaweb.google.com/1171988...al_trek_photos

You can read my blog regarding this trek here :-
http://sathyastravels.blogspot.in/2012/09/bara-bhangal-trek.html

cheers
sathya

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