The Milam glacier teahouse trek - the details

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#1 Oct 12th, 2004, 19:59
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  • Jeroen is offline
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The Milam glacier trek is a beautiful, varied and slightly challenging trek through both forested and stark alpine landscapes in the Nanda Devi area in north-eastern Uttaranchal. It's not as easy as the nearby Pindari valley trek (see the detailed posting elsewhere on Indiamike's Trekking forum), but can be done without much preparation if you're in good health. It's well away from the crowds on the traditional Uttaranchal pelgrim treks further west, so you'll only see locals, porters on their way to the villages and army posts and a handful of trekkers (mostly Indians). As in Pindari, there are villages and resthouses at good distances along the main path, so you can do this carrying just a light rucksack and a light sleeping bag (unless you want to go off into one of the side valleys or above the glacier, in which case you need all the usual gear). The highest point of the trek I describe (the glacier) is at about 3800m, so you won't have acclimatisation problems. But still there's a 2000m height difference along the path, with plenty of ups and downs.

The scenery is stunning. You soon leave the forested lower regions with its
varied birdlife behind and enter barren valleys with only grass and shrubs. From Martoli onwards, and if the weather is good, you'll have glimpses of the two Nanda Devi peaks, India's highest. The villages along the route are beautiful, with more traditional lifestyles than in the Pindari valley, although it's heavily eroded due to the closing of the Tibetan border and the subsequent emigration that has caused the upper villages to die out in the 1960s. Walking among the ruins is fascinating though. The paths are very well-kept but sometimes rather muddy, and intensively used by shepherds, villagers, porters and the military. The lower parts are well-paved, the upper parts can be just rocky paths, sometimes very muddy after rain. A few parts are steep going, but nothing you can't get over using the good old small-steps-technique. At times the route is just a narrow path hacked out into a cliff face with steep drops right beside you down to the raging river - not always for the faint-hearted.

The information below is just the dry details. For a better impression of what to see along the way, read the June 25 entry of my travelogue, online at www.travelpod.com/members/jeroen.

PLANNING

You don't really need a guide for this trek if you stay on the main path, though you may help the crap economy a bit by employing a local lad for 150-200rs/day (which includes all his food/lodging costs) to carry your bags - he can show you the way as he goes, or can run off ahead (these guys are fast) if you want to walk alone. If you're heading up far beyond the glacier or into side valleys, a professional guide and proper gear would be recommended. Note: trekking agencies in Uttaranchal will quote huge amounts; if you want them, best wait until Munsyari to arrange local porters/guides (leave a day's time before the trek to arrange this, more if you're planning sidetrips) at much lower costs and with the cash staying in the community. Munsyari has several agencies specialising in trekking.

If you're fast and really want to, the trek can be done in 5-6 days, though it'd be very tiring, with little time to soak in the views and the atmosphere of the villages. I'd suggest taking 6-7 days for the trek, plus a day's rest in Martoli.

Teahouses along the way will be happy to cook up a delicious thali for you, so you don't need to bring food except for snacks. Shops in some villages along the trail (the better ones are in Liliam and Burphu) stock basic things like instant noodles, Pepsi, biscuits, etc. Bring your own water purification stuff.

The invention of the chimney has yet to reach most of the Himalayan valleys. The cooks crouch down in the smoke to cook, with all eyes in the small room in tears. The locals are used to it, but foreign trekkers like myself sometimes have to run out into the cold for some real air. I have discussed chimney technology (suggesting using a couple of those old oilcans) with several dhaba-wallahs, but they seem put off by the idea of making a hole in the roof; rain might come in.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner on the trail, like on the Pindari trek, consist of a combination of: paratha (flat bread with spicy potato much inside, usually for breakfast); dal (lentil curry); chapati (flat roti bread); sabji (a spicy stew of vegetables or potatoes); rice; and chai (sweet milk-and-sugar-infused tea). Not much else is available in the dhabas and teahouses along the path, and this indeed is what locals eat every day, all their lives. Not much vitamins in there, but it’s excellent trekking nosh, except for the dal-induced farting that seems to increase with altitude. A fellow trekker gave me a packet of Hajmola sweets to combat the farts - it seemed to worked but had an acquired taste, as they're made with black pepper. Any chemist in India sells them cheap. Some dhabas now also sell packets of stuff locally known only as ‘Maggi’: pre-cooked spaghetti with a bag of weak taste to add to it. I took along 500grs of dalia, wheat that can be cooked with water and milk to make tasty porridge; (cheap and available from many shops).

The best period for trekking here is just before and just after the monsoon months (May/June and September/October) with September the most pleasant. Uttaranchal is in the rain zone, so especially around monsoon time it's good to carry an umbrella/sheet, and to start early so you arrive at your destination in the afternoon. Note that the lower parts of the trek are very warm in summer. Warm clothes are essential; although the trek isn't high for Himalayan standards, the wind can be pretty fierce and cold once you're past Bogdiyar and woe you if it starts raining then. In June, when I visited, in Martoli (3500m) the snow level came down to 4000m one night, and it was damn cold in my summer sleeping bag.

Also bring a torch/flashlight and some candles for any activities that need light after sunset, and for finding a safe place to pee after dark. There are a few post offices in Munsyari and the villages beyond, but if you're mailing stuff out best take it to a place with a railway station and mail it from there as it may take a while to get down to the valley otherwise.

The KMNV resthouses, private teahouses and guesthouses along the route are all basic. Don't expect electricity, running water on this hike. Some KMNV (the Kumaon hiking association) resthouses may have an 'en suite bathroom' but this is just a dank, cold concrete room with a hole in the floor and some streamwater piped into a corner. On the plus side, this valley offers some of the cheapest sleeps in the world; Martoli's 10Rs/night guesthouse being the cheapest one I've ever stayed at. Staying a night in a KMVN resthouse was about 40-50Rs/person. Rooms in their crumbling standard bungalows sleep 2-6 people. There are sort of relatively clean sheets and good blankets, though bringing a sleeping bag is advisable. You can ask for a bucket of hot water (sometimes charged 10Rs or so) for bucket-showering. If you don't like the idea of pouring water over yourself with the same scooper that is used for cleaning the toilet, bring your own big mug or bowl. You can camp all along the route, though near all resthouses you can do so too, benefiting from water/toilets/dhabas.

Almora is the last town with a sizeable market for stocking up on essentials; Munsyari has the basics but don't count on finding what you're looking for. Mountain gear can be rented from some hotels/agents in Munsyari, but is best arranged in advance as you can't count on them having it when you arrive. The only good trekking shops in this area are in... Delhi.

GETTING THERE

From somewhere in Delhi, there's a gruelling daily direct bus to Munsyari. Plan on two days of travel to reach Munsyari and you'll be able to enjoy your ascent up through the Himalayan foothills much more. The relaxed approach: the night train from Old Delhi station to Kathgodam, a bus or jeep to Almora (overnight here; the town has a very pretty market area along the top ridge) and a further bus or jeep the next day to Munsyari. It's a really beautiful ride - especially the last few hours are amazing as you enter truly Himalayan landscapes with amazing roads. From Almora the quickest route is by direct bus (from the southeastern busstop) or jeep northeast towards Gangolihat, from where it's a short jeep ride to the junction with the road heading via Thal to Munsyari. The lads driving will know. It took me about 3 hours to get from Bageshwar to Thal, and another 3,5 hours for the remaining 70kms to Munsyari.

Note that in the mountains most buses and jeeps run in the early morning, catering to the market-goers, so make sure you're up by 06:00 to be able to cover some distance. Starting late, at 07:00, can mean you have to wait for a couple of hours before anything on wheels heads out of town. By 07:00 most vehicles will have left Munsyari already, with the next possibilities around noon if you're lucky.

In Munsyari, there's a cheap KMVN resthouse at the top of town along the main road and there are a few upmarket hikers' lodges out of town, but I stayed at the Hansling Lodge (tel. 222 321/222 535), which is just below the bus stop on the round square (look for the building with the flags). It has just renovated the rooms, and they basic ones with shared facilities (200Rs) are comfy while the more expensive ones (500Rs) are even luxurious by Indian guesthouse standards. The views across the valley to the Panchchuli peaks (if clear) are great. They're happy to store luggage while you walk. Note that Munsyari is at the end of the power line, and there are very frequent blackouts.

THE TREK

You can plan your hike so that you stay at the same places on the way up AND down, but I did it so that I stayed at a different place every night, which I describe below.

The steps along the trek:
Munsyari, 2300m, 0km
Darkot, 1700m, 15km (1hr by bus/jeep)
Liliam, 1900m, 7km (2hrs)
Budgiar, 2700m, 14km (4-5hrs)
Rilkot, 3200m, 16km (5-6hrs)
Martoli, 3400m, 7km(?) (2-3hrs)
Burphu, 3200m, 5km(?) (2hrs)
Milam, 3400m, 10km(?) (3hrs)
Milam glacier, 4100m, 10km (3hrs)

I'm assuming that you'll spend the night in Munsyari, starting early in the morning, which means you can reach Budgiar in the afternoon after a longish day. If you arrive in Munsyari in the late morning/early afternoon, you could still make it to Liliam the same day, like I did, reaching Budgiar easily the next day.

DAY 1: Munsyari to Budgiar

Take an early bus or jeep from Munsyari's lower bus stop (just look for the honking mess of badly parked jeeps and buses) down towards Darkot. The road curves deep down into the Gora Ganga valley, and before Darkot you'll be set off next to a dhaba that does good chapati and omelets. They'll drop you off at the trailhead if you tell them you're doing the hike. The house next door has a tap with water for tanking up on drinking water. The walking to Liliam is easy... it's mostly downhill. The trail starts right next to the dhaba, a paved path heading down. Follow the path down, follow a gravel road to the left/north, then another path that goes steep down to the level of the river, at about only 1700m (it can be hot going here in summer), near a hydro power station. Keep on going through some tiny cute villages with plenty of options for stopping for a chai, cross a newish suspension bridge and you'll be in Liliam village in about 2hrs. Along the path there's a one-window post office, the valley's best shop and a dhaba/resthouse. It's good for a rest, but the sleeping dorm is very basic - just one very wide bed for everyone. Just 5 minutes further along/up the path is the Liliam KMNV resthouse with a set of basic huts (about 80-100Rs/person/night) and another good dhaba. The views and sleeping conditions are much better here.

From the resthouse, the newly made path immediately goes steep up against a scary cliff with the river churning mud deep below - an impressive start to the hike. Across the valley are the last of Liliam's houses, with their impossible terrace fields skirting landslides, just before the Gori Ganga gorge gets serious. After passing a shrine (pray, or else!), the path descends to follow the river twisting its way through the gorge (which you will only leave near Rilkot).

You'll pass two more teahouses (spaced an hour or so apart) where you can get a cuppa chai. The first one is basic but has a nice view of the river. The second one, Raragari, is a fabulous bamboo-construction (no nails - all tied together with reed) which is situated under a cliff. I'd recommend this one as a good alternative to Budgiar for spending the first night. This one is well known for its good food and friendly people. Now and then shepherds drop by for a chai, parking their flocks of Kashmere goats or sheep outside. It has cute bamboo dorms and double rooms (with next to no privacy though - big gaps). The main problem - no toilet, and not much bushes in the area for discreet excretion.

The path continues to wind along the gorge to Budgiar, which unfortunately is quite an unappealing place. A huge landslide in 1989 destroyed the army buildings here, killing dozens of people, and it still looks like a wasteland, with lots of rocks all over the place, and not much of a view to look at. I'd suggest slow walkers head for Raragari for the night, while really fast ones can press on to one of the next teahouses to avoid Budgiar.

The first buildings you pass in Budgiar are the plexiglass igloos of the ITBP (Indian Tibetan Border Police), where all foreigners have to register before continuing up the valley. The poor lads there on their 3-6 month postings away from their families are bored stiff and insist on writing it all down themselves - name of father, home address, contact number... spelled out letter by letter. Charming lads though - they let me shelter from the rain and gave me a cup of tea. If you really want to do them a favour, bring along some Hindi or English magazines; anything to read. When I visited, they were reading Christian propaganda booklets.

Budgiar has a KMVN resthouse (the solid-looking building to your right), a dhaba with basic dorm room (to the left) and across the stream 100m further on another simple dhaba shack. They're also building something new on that side - looks like it'll be a proper resthouse. The best place to get fresh water in Budgiar is across the path from the ITBP igloos; descend the path behind the wooden shack to find a clear stream emerging from beneath a big rock.

DAY 2: Budgiar - Rilkot - Martoli

A great walk today. The path climbs rapidy after leaving Budgiar, and soon you'll leave vegetation behind, swapping it for grassy stone-strewn hillsides. You pass some very narrow stretches of the gorge; one is a new path hacked out in a sheer cliff, the other a path created by stacking stones against a cliff, the path is just 30cm wide at its narrowest (mule caravans take a route high above the cliff to avoid this part). Before Rilkot there are again two teahouses spaced out along the walk, of which the first, with a flapping transparent plastic roof and peppery chai, would not be my first choice for spending the night. The second one, just before the cliff with the hacked-out path, would be fine, with a solid roof and a very friendly dhaba-wallah who cooks a great thali.

After the gorges it's up up up into alpine meadows and for your first good views of the peaks around. Before Rilkot, you're high up on the western part of the valley, looking down at a huge active landslide that has blocked the river, creating a big lake. At the end of that, high on a glacial terrace, are some more ITBP igloos and finally the Rilkot resthouse.

I found Rilkot a rough place (dozens of shepherds and porters were shovelling down thalis when I was there) and it is very windblown with an isolated Scottish feel to it. I walk fast and arrived early, so after lunch I decided to move on, as it's only 1-2 more not-too-steep hours to Martoli. After zigzagging steep up from Rilkot it's a fairly level walk, with picturesque views of the first deserted village (Tola) across the valley. You come to a clear fork in the road opposite Tola with a pretty signpost in Hindi extolling the virtues of Martoli (which on the sign looks like a Butlin recreation park without the subtropical swimming paradise). Take a left to reach Martoli. A right turn here leads you down the valley where you again have a fork with a choice: 1) right to go steep down to a small bridge (the first one in the valley), after which there's a very steep climb again, after which you can go right to Tola or left to Burphu; 2) left to follow the path that stays well below Martoli on the west side of the valley, crosses a bridge over a side stream and ends up at a new suspension bridge directly beneath Burphu (this is the easiest route if you want to skip Martoli).

Martoli wins the prize for best place to stay a day and do nothing. It's a near-deserted village (see my travelogue for the reason why), with only about 10 old men, three old women, and some shepherds living there. There’s only one place to stay in Martoli (the grandly named 'Nanda Devi Hotel') that has a dhaba serving the usual food. Visitors can sleep on hard mats on the first floor of the old house for 10Rs (though you share the room with sacks of wheat, dust, some mice and a lot of smoke; a mat and sleeping bag are necessary here). Warning: The Nanda Devi hotel terrace is the place where all the old men meet, and they're all drunk by 10 in the morning every day. Nothing threatening, but it can get irritating; another reason to bring a tent.

Martoli's houses all have courtyards which are sometimes used to plant herbs (to be dried and sold down the valley). The ones with grassy courtyards are excellent for setting up your tent out of the wind. Note all the beautiful wooden carvings of the Nanda Devi godess above doors and windows - she had a bit of a cult going on here.

The views from Martoli in the early morning are stunning. As it’s set on a plateau in the middle of the valley, high above the river, and I often had clear views up adjoining valleys towards the two 7000m+ peaks of Nanda Devi and a couple of peaks over 6000m. And the sunsets were even better. Walk towards the temple set a little higher up the slope of the 4590m Martoli peak to spot the peaks up the valley. Get up early for good views; at 08:00 the clouds start moving in, blocking the view to Nanda Devi.
Martoli has a few places where hoses bring water to the houses, otherwise there's a 'shower hut' at the beginning of the village (you pass it along the trail from Rilkot); a stone shack with the river diverted through it. Just 100m below this is Martoli's underused grain mill, using fabulous ancient waterworks technology; take a peek.

At 09:00 every morning (in June anyway), the sun sets off a breeze which soon becomes a strong cold wind - be prepared. Shower and dry off in the sun before then. It stops at about 17:00. Just above Martoli is one of the largest birch forests of the Himalayas – an excellent place to sit out of the fierce wind and take in the views. It has flat terraces with heather and grass between the trees; bring your blanket and a picknick, and you'll have a grand day out with smashing views.


DAY 3: Martoli - Milam village

A relatively easy day today. At the northern end of Martoli, a path goes over the edge of the cliff, steeply zigzagging down to a bridge spanning a contributary of the Gori Ganga coming from the gorge directly behind the village. At the bridge you join the lower path that circumvents Martoli (option 2, above). Cross the bridge and after about two hours you'll arrive at a new (but already grotty) suspendion bridge; directly above it lies Burphu village.

This bridge was washed away years ago, and lay in ruins, causing problems for the locals as the only other way down the valley to Munsyari is climbing the high path towards Tola, the steep descent to the small bridge, and the steep ascent back up again to reach Rilkot. I was told that the bridge had been rebuilt, but that the materials had not been paid for, and that the supplier took the bridge apart again. Thankfully, the day before I needed it, they fixed it, saving me a long walk from Martoli back down, and up, and down again to Burphu. Burphu is a pleasant place to look around; it's not as deserted as Martoli, and has a good shop, a dhaba and a KMVN resthouse (all in the first houses you reach after going left and up from the bridge).

From Burphu's dhaba/shop, the path to Milam cuts across the fields and heads along the flank of the valley. You have great views of the mountains, the glacier ahead, and a few more deserted villages on your left as you stride ahead. The walk is pretty easy from Burphu; no more steep climbing. Just before Milam village, the landscape is obviousely shaped by glaciers, with huge wedges of sediment standing in the middle of the valley (one villager told me he remembers as a child that the glacier reached up to here). The path veers off into a side valley for a bit, crossing a bridge before another gorge and turning the corner with Milam straight ahead.

At Milam, again you have to register with the police in the ugly buildings at the beginning of the village. If you're just planning on seeing the glacier (and possibly the lakes beyond) and heading back they're fine with it, but if you have wilder plans you may need permits, as Tibet is nearby. Above the police post you see the glacial ridge (dotted with watchposts), behind which is the valley with the original trade route up to Tibet; off limits to us for now.

Like Martoli, Milam is in ruins, though there are quite a few houses still inhabited, and one of them holds a tiny shop. Sadly, there are much more complete ruins here, as the military used the beams of the houses (including the Nanda Devi godess carvings) for firewood in the first harsh years they were guarding the border area for Chinese invaders.

There are two guesthouses in Milam, but the best place to stay is Deepu's Guesthouse. It has simple, clean rooms with proper matrasses (oooh yes) and a guestbook. It's the last house in the village, marked with a big white flag right at the end of the village. Look carefully from the nice sunny terrace and you'll see Martoli perched on a plateau, way in the distance. Deepu's, in Deepu's absence, is run by Kishan, a kind old man who tends the herb plots around the house and cooks *great* meals. If you're lucky he'll end the procession of dal through your intestines by cooking up a sheep (or its testicles, as he suggested to me). He also likes to serve 'wine' which is not wine but effective nevertheless.


DAY 4: Milam village - Milam glacier - Martoli

Get up very early for a magical breakfast watching the sun rise over the glacier. It's a relatively easy 4km path going up from Deepu's, reaching a viewpoint with a bench after half an hour, and petering out on the sand/gravel expanses below the glacier. The official path goes down onto the plain of sand and rocks, and then clings to the east side of the valley, hugging the weird mini-hills you see there, ending up at the foot of the glacier. You can see several places where the ice shows, melting in the sun. The best bit is to the left, where most water roars from underneath the ice; you can get very close but beware of shifting and falling stones; it can get really dangerous here, especially when the sun starts heating things up.

I walked further up the valley along the eastern edge of the glacier, on top of the rubble dragged along by it, but the debris interspersed with deep, blue crevices went on for kilometers. You don't get a good view of the white/blue ice cascading downhill unless you walk much further. There is a trail to a mountain lake (which branches off eastwards from the main track before it descends onto the sandy plain - I missed the start of this trail though), but a tent would be necessary for that.

DAY 5: Milam village - Budgiar

Same same but down. Less sweating and more time to take in the views - mind your footing though.

DAY 6: Budgiar - Munsyari

An easy hike... until the moment you pass Liliam and remember that the first bit of the trek went steep down. Now you pay for that, with the last hour going very steep up, albeit over good paths. If you're filthy dirty by now, you'll have a chance to clean up at the 'village showers' along the path, where stream water is led though stone enclosures. Back at the roadside dhaba, just wait for a jeep or bus heading up the valley to Munsyari.

ALTERNATE ROUTES

- You can hike up along the east/right side of the glacier (taking the high path well before reaching the glacier, not the one that descends onto the sandy plain before the glacier) and after a few hours on the right there's a lake you can camp at; further on you can cross the glacier and head up another side valley and camp at another lake.
- If you're a crack trekker and properly equipped, you can trek from Martoli westwards across the pass between the Milam and Pindari valleys, but this is absolutely not for beginners.
- From Burphu or Martoli, you can hike via the extinct village of Tola (visible from the path) up to a steep 4500m (?) pass and down the next uninhabited valley, taking another 2-3 days to reach Munsyari. You'll need a tent and provisions to do this however.
- You can walk from Burphu bridge all the way to the glacier on the western bank of the river too. Keep in mind that there are no bridges or safe crossing possibilities after Burphu except for walking across the rubble on top of the glacier itself on an unmarked path that shepherds use. The river is cold and really wild right from the glacier, so don't try to cross it if you're inexperienced in this kind of thing (you'd have about 10 seconds to cross it before your legs freeze; not enough).
- A brilliant 2-day trip from Martoli (tent and warm sleeping bag needed) involves walking along the western valley path described above. You'll come to a tiny deserted village bisected by a side valley heading west; head up this valley along shepherd's paths and you'll be able to camp in the fields at the foot of Nanda Devi herself, looking at a fabulous glacier.

THE MAP
Attached is a simple route map. Not to scale, folks! If you're heading up there, could you print out a bunch and leave them at your hotel for future hikers?

COMMENTS
Thanks again to Avid for providing the idea and the basic details for me to do the trek. Happy hiking, everybody.

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Attached Images
Milamtrekmap.JPG 
'To see the world in a grain of sand; and heaven in a wild flower; to hold infinity in the palm of your hand; and eternity in an hour'
Last edited by Jeroen; Apr 15th, 2005 at 06:24.. Reason: added better map
#2 Oct 12th, 2004, 21:48
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#2
I`ll bite :
(edit : now this - and none of the above- looks like crap on the thumbnail : transparent comes out as black on the thumbnail only. Lesson learned `till next time..)
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#3 Oct 12th, 2004, 22:42
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#3
An excellent post Jeroen, and a great resource of up to date information for anyone thinking about doing this trek. Thanks!
Last edited by Alan D; Oct 12th, 2004 at 22:44.. Reason: typo
#4 Oct 14th, 2004, 13:28
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#4

a real good post

a very good post Joroen...good first hand information

Thanks for sharing.....
#5 Oct 14th, 2004, 18:35
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#5

Map link

The online AMS Nanda Devi map seems to cover the trek. You`ll find Milam Glacier scrolling southwards from the AMS logo on top (fourthousand by something image , slooow download)

For discussion on the pro and cons of these maps , see the "detailed maps" thread.

Milam Village was the home of Nain Singh, one of the 19th centurys greatest cartographers-cum-spies, who gave the first exact position and altitude of Lhasa .. and a lot more.
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#6 Oct 27th, 2004, 19:09
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#6
excellant post..........
#7 Nov 2nd, 2004, 14:41
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  • himadventures is offline
#7
Kindly update your post.
KMVN has changed rates. Now charges for tents,people in group and also how many ponies/porters is also asked for.

Your's is a well written piece !
#8 Nov 5th, 2004, 14:21
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  • Jeroen is offline
#8

Milam trek - map added

I added a nifty little jpg map of the Milam glacier route to the original posting, with distances, checkposts, teahouses etc; hope it's of use.

Himadventures - please tell us what the new KMVN rates are if you know them!
#9 Nov 18th, 2004, 17:29
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#9

Milam Glacier

Jeroen

No doubt-this was excellant post. You wrote very well and balanced details of this wonderfull trekk.
I would disagree with only one point that it will be fine if you take a local man and do trekking.

Exposure of money and $ has chnged things in mountains-I would advice you to hire proper responible people before you set-off for remote trekks. There had been numerous cases of miss happenings in mountains and people comes to know about them....years after.

Finding and staying on a route is not only problem one faces in Himalayas. Sickness and injury is yet another big factor-leave alone havoc created by winds and weather.

My post seems to be bit pessimistic but as I belong to a pro. outdoor company and most of the year-I am in mountains-I know ground reality what's happening in real.

KMVN charges min. 250 INR for one room and this has to be booked well in advance. You can also book online at www.kmvn.org/
There is huge charges for :

Per tent: 100 INR
Kitchen Tent: 300 INR

I had been charged according to this structure in Pindari Glacier trek in Oct. 2004.

Charges also varies if you are overseas clients. But no more they allow free tent pitching and kitchen tent.

Our company will write to DM ( District Megistrate ) of respective regions as this is the guy ( team) which controls all trekking and climbing things in mountains!
#10 Dec 20th, 2004, 18:23
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#10
I am planning to 'do' this trek right now. We are a group of 5, leaving Delhi this friday - Dec24th. Our plan is to hire a few porters and go as far a possible. If it is the zero point of milam glacier, amen. We don't have a problem coming back.

1) To start with, Can I reach Munsyari by road at all this season?.

2) How far do you think we can reach safely?. It would be great if we reach Milam.

3) What is the best place to hire porters and tents?. Can we get them at Munsyari (and convince them).

4) What is the shortest route to Munsyari in terms of time. Going to TanakPur by train and taking a Jeep to Pithoragarh is in our mind. Please tell me the best fastest route.

Any advice is welcome. However, if you discourage me from this trip, please suggest something else.

I have only four days to go. Please reply soon.
#11 Dec 20th, 2004, 19:43
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#11

Milam in winter

Hi Kaushiks. I have no experience of hiking here in winter, but I imagine it's possible and very impressive as long as the sun shines!

1) The road to Munsyari was just being upgraded when I was there in June, they were nearly finished. It's quite good now though the steep drops on all sides plus wet/slippery roads will make it an exciting ride. I'd opt for jeeps.

2) Remember Milam has an army base and quite a few inhabitants who all use the footpath to Munsyari, so it's used year-round. The paths should be ok to tackle even in winter though there are a few tricky bits where you don't want to slip. Beyond Milam it's a very easy path on level ground - I guess there should be no big problem to get to the foot of the glacier (but if it's all covered in snow it'll just look like any old pile of rocks under snow, no?).

3) Maybe best phone ahead to Munsyiari - the friendly people at the Hansling hotel may be able to help (see the listing on the Uttaranchal hotel overview on this site: http://www.indiamike.com/india/listi...ing&listid=265). I heard that there are a few hotels just outside of Munsyari that cater to foreign trekkers... I don't have the details on that.
In Almora and Nainital there are agents that will glady take lots of your cash to organise things, but they'll need a few days warning and are pricey.
Assuming the resthouses and teahouses along the path are all open, you don't need tents. They'll be pretty cold though, so maybe camping is the warmer option.
Food/drinks is available at all the teahouses, and if they're all in working order you don't have to take that much along, really. The path itself is pretty eay to follow, and I'd only take a guide if you think the weather makes it necessary.

4) Night train to Kathgodam and jeeps onward to Almora and Munsyari I'd say, but I haven't used any other route here. On arrival in Kathgodam there were dozens of jeeps - you could just book one all the way to Almora or Thal, and tackle the rest of the ride the next day, doing the first part of the trek on arrival.

5) If you decide not to do it, maybe try the Pindari trek (see the post elsewhere on this forum); it's easier to get to and a more sheltered walk (forests, deep valleys) though less spectacular, while the last half of the Milam trek is quite exposed. If you do go, please let me know if the map supplied above is ok. Have fun and good luck!
Last edited by Jeroen; Mar 24th, 2005 at 17:19..
#12 Dec 20th, 2004, 20:09
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#12

Milam in Dec.-Not a good choice !

kaushiks

Jeroen wrote right !
Pindari is better option than Milam.
This region experience dry,fast and very cold winds. There are also chances of being trapped in snow...I would suggest PINDARI is better option.
#13 Dec 20th, 2004, 23:35
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#13
Jeroen and Himadventures,
Thanks a lot for your replies. I think we might choose Pindari. We like to see some vegetation of the alpine variety - deodars, high altitude conifers etc. Though the high barren glaciers are the target we like some typical himalayan greenery on the way and Pindari seems to fit the bill from what I read here.
And It looks like we can do it ourselves with warm clothing.

Cheers
Kaushik
#14 Dec 21st, 2004, 00:24
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#14
You'd have to ask the specialists on this forum about the difference between the Milam and Pindari treks as I'm a warm weather hiker
At least on the Pindari trek you're relatively sheltered, and up to Kathi you share the path with many villagers, after that it's no more villages but shepherds only.
Not too many deodars along the trek by the way - it's more of a jungle than pines. Plenty of them along the road up from Almora to the trek though.
#15 Dec 22nd, 2004, 21:18
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#15
We are a group of three people and one tent. We are going towards Milam glacier as far as we could go. I have made a list of stuff to carry. Himadventures and other pros, your advice will be grateful :
1) Tent
2) Rubber sheets for matresses (Its freezing cold)
3) Warm sleeping bags
4) Warm Clothes , inners, monkey caps.
5) Torches, batteries
6) Ropes (though no plans of using them)
7) Medicines
8) Jeoren's Maps
9) Dry fruits and other tinned foods

May be, ...
10) A small cylinder and some pans
11) Kerosene

We are planning to hire a local guy to come along. If we don't get any we won't be pig-headed enough to move ahead. We will stick around and trek near civilization.

Any other stuff you feel I must carry, I will be glad to know.
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