Rupin Pass Trek report - May 2015

#1 Oct 10th, 2015, 20:13
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#1
Rupin Pass Trek – May 2015

Way back in 2012, I heard about Rupin Pass trek for the first time and saw some photographs–it was even before my trek to Dzongri in Sikkim. This high altitude trek starts from Dhaula in Uttarakhand and ends at Sangla in Himachal Pradesh covering a total distance of 60 kms with the highest altitude being the narrow and steep pass itself at 15350 feet above the sea level. Soon after I gained knowledge about Rupin Pass, I decided to go for it in 2015. The preparation began in January from finding trek partner to selecting proper guide and negotiating the rates. After a lot of uncertainty, I finally got company of 3 people: Subhrajyoti, my schoolmate; Dipankar da, my fellow trekker in Sandakfu and KP Mukherjee, an experienced trekker who contacted me after seeing my trek ad on a website. By that time I also finalized the guide and trek rates. So after all this, we were good to go. We also finalized the following itinerary:

27-05-15 - Day 1 - Doon Express from Howrah at 8:30 pm
28-05-15 - Day 2 - In train
29-05-15 - Day 3 - Reach Dehradoon early morning and reach Dhaula in the evening.
30-05-15 - Day 4 - Dhaula 5,100 ft to Sewa 6,150 ft (11km)
31-05-15 - Day 5 - Sewa 6,150 ft to Jhaka 8,700 ft (9km)
01-06-15 - Day 6 - Jhaka 8,700 ft to Saruwas thatch 10,250 ft (6km)
02-06-15 - Day 7 - Saruwas thatch 10,250 ft to Dhanderas thatch 11,680 ft (lower water fall camp) (6km)
03-06-15 - Day 8 - Dhanderas thatch 11,680 ft to Upper Waterfall camp 13,300 ft. (3km)
04-06-15 - Day 9 - Acclimatization / Buffer day
05-06-15 - Day 10 - Upper Waterfall 13,120 ft to Rupin Pass 15,250 ft to Ronti Gad 13,420 ft (12km)
06-06-15 - Day 11 - Ronti Gad 13,420 ft to Sangla 8,800 ft. Overnight bus journey to Shimla. (12km)
07-06-15 - Day 12 - Reach Shimla in the morning and reach Kalka in the afternoon. Board Kalka-Howrah mail at 11:55 pm.
08-06-15 - Day 13 - In train
09-06-15 - Day 14 - Reach Howrah at 8 am.

Day 3: To our much surprise Doon Express brought us to Dehradoon on the scheduled time! But by then the only direct bus to Sankri had already left Dehradoon. We knew we would not be able to make it, so we had our plan B ready. We walked outside the station, located a taxi stand, did some short free-hand exercise to get over the fatigue of 36 hours long and tiresome train journey and approached the counter to get a car to Dhaula, which is around 200 kms from Dehradoon. All we could get was a good old white Ambassador. We started off immediately, reached Mussoorie in next two hours where we had our breakfast. Then we continued our journey through the towering mountains, beautiful valleys and roaring rivers. The last part of the ride was along the bank of Tons river which originates from the confluence of Rupin and Supin rivers. At around 5 pm we reached Naitwar which is 30 kms away from Dhaula. We changed the car as the Ambassador was not capable to climb the steeper and unpaved road. We boarded a crowed Jeep and after half an hour we reached the starting point of our trek – Dhaula. It was situated in the gorge of Rupin river which we would be following for the next 4 days. Our guide George Neggi was waiting there and greeted us with smile. He took us to the only homestay of the place where we spent the night.

Day 4: It was the starting day of our trek. So we woke up early and got ready. From the balcony, we saw a large group of around 30-40 people approaching us. It was the Rupin pass trek batch of IndiaHikes (will be referred to as IH hereinafter). They crossed us and proceeded toward Sewa which would also be our destination for today. At this time George’s elder brother Samsher appeared and started negotiating on trek package despite we had fixed the same beforehand. He gave many excuses to prove the cost had risen due to shortage of porters and could not start the trek unless we agreed on his escalated price. The bargaining went on for quite some time before both the parties settled on a price somewhere in the middle.

It was around 8 am in the morning when we hit the road. It had a gradual ascent towards Sewa. The trail followed the course of Rupin river. We crossed several small villages on the way. It was a sunny day and we sweated ourselves as the day progressed. But the weather started to change after 12 pm, as expected, in the hilly area. When we were half an hour away from Sewa, rain started pouring. We had to cover ourselves in raincoats and walk the remaining trail to get to our homestay in Sewa. It was a moderate sized village with a nice temple. We spent the rest of day in leisure.

Tons River alongside road to Dhaula


Dhaula


Dhaula to Sewa along with Rupin River


Sewa Village
Last edited by Joydeep316; Oct 10th, 2015 at 21:16..
#2 Oct 10th, 2015, 20:30
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#2
Day 5: We woke up early to find out cloudless sky and chirping of hundreds of mountain birds. We got ready and started walking towards Jhaka village, the last human settlement of the trail. First we had to decent a long way to the Rupin river bed, then follow the upstream for around an hour, and again ascend to an unpaved bus road. We took a brief rest there, and continued our trek through the road. Soon we spotted a HPRTC bus coming from nearby Dodra Kaoyar village scheduled to reach Rohru. Now, as this was the bus route, there was no difficulty in walking, but at the same time there were neither trees nor shades alongside, and the scorching sun was almost burning us all the way. But this ordeal soon ended when we entered Jiskoon village little off the main road. We took lunch break with Maggie (which was still available there!), then continued towards Jhaka through narrow mountain trail. This part of the trail went through thick vegetation, and was pretty steep at some points. At a particular point we got to see the Jhaka village literally hanging on the mountain side. It took us another couple of hours to reach there and we took shelter at the home of famous ‘Mamaji’ of Jhaka. The elderly guy’s name was Nar Singh and he was our guide George’s father. We took a nice long rest there. It started raining heavily at around 5 pm and continued till late night. We were a bit worried about next day’s weather, but to our surprise the weather magically improved around 11:30 pm when we could see the snow-clad mountain peaks in the moonlit night which came as a treat to our naked eye. Finally we went to bed around midnight.

Day 6: When we were getting ready to depart, Mamaji appeared and demanded full trek fees. We did not agree to it as we already discussed with George that we would pay half the fee at the beginning of the trek and the rest after completing it. So we had another round of argument after which he agreed on what was decided earlier. After paying him half the amount we were ready to start. We had to wait as the team took a longer time to prepare because they had to pack everything for the remaining part of the trek as Jhaka was the last resort to collect the required essentials. After an hour or so, we finally left Jhaka.

The trail went through pine forest and had several ascent and descent before diving down to Rupin river bed. There we had to cross the first ice bridge to go to the other side of the river. After that there was not any laid trail. We had to make our way through mountain slopes, boulder zones and high altitude trees. The scenic beauty kept getting better as we progressed towards the Rupin valley. We reached Kodaknal where IH had their campsite. They were yet to arrive, so all tents were empty at that time. We took a brief rest there, and proceeded further. We crossed another couple of ice bridges over Rupin and finally reached Guras Kandi, a place just before Saruwas Thatch. The place was bloomed with beautiful purple rhododendron flowers and it was the gateway to Rupin valley. We waited there for a long time for our porters. At the same time it was raining pretty heavily and we were quite tired and hungry. So when they finally reached there after an hour, we told them to pitch tents there and called it a day.

In the late afternoon the sky became clear and we witnessed a majestic sunset on the snowy mountains of Rupin valley. We also got the first glimpse of mighty Rupin waterfall at the other side of the valley which we were to climb in a couple of days. We retreated in our tent in the chilled evening and fell asleep soon after having dinner.

Day 7: We woke up early in order to start our trek through Rupin river bed. We had to do it in the early hours; otherwise the melting ice could raise the water level of the river. After half an hour, we reached Saruwas thatch, from where the entire U-shaped Rupin valley could be seen. We wasted little time there and proceeded through the valley. Slowly the vegetation made way to rough rocky terrain and snow patches. When we reached around the middle of the valley, snowfall started along with sharp wind. We had to put on our raincoats and at the same time move on as the place was completely open with no shades/shelter. Now the trail was completely under snow and we crossed the river for a couple of times using ice bridges. The continuous snowfall led to exhaustion than it would have been otherwise. But thankfully our porters reached the campsite before we did and put up the tent. We threw ourselves inside it with all soaked clothes and boots and stayed there for next couple of hours until the snowfall stopped.

In the afternoon we went outside and saw IH team had pitched their camp on the other side of the river. The snowfall covered the exposed rocky grounds. The sight was marvelous. We ventured in the snow and practiced walking on it till the evening. This place is almost at the other side of the valley and mighty Rupin waterfall could be seen almost clearly. We had a brief discussion with our team on how we would continue climbing the next day and we all became a bit anxious as it was sounding a bit difficult. After that we had our dinner and were off to sleep.


Sewa to Jhaka


Sewa to Jhaka


Sewa to Jhaka


Jhaka Village


Jhaka to Guras Kandi


First snow bridge on Rupin River


Guras Kandi


Violet Rhododendron


Rupin Valley from Guras kandi


Rupin Valley


Rupin Valley


Our camp at Suruwas Thach after snowfall. Rupin waterfall in the background.
#3 Oct 10th, 2015, 20:49
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Day 8: In the morning, we first let IH team of 30 people go ahead so that we could follow their path. After walking for half an hour, we reached the base of the waterfall. The whole waterfall was divided into three steps. First we climbed and later traversed a steep icy slope to the right of the waterfall. It was a strenuous one, but we were asked to keep walking as the large snow deposits on the nearby peaks could melt down by sunlight. But the sky was overcast and soon started snowing. We continued our climb in the midst of snowfall. At the end of the field was a rocky ledge partly covered in snow. IH team was resting there. We also did the same for a brief period. We had crossed the bottom part of the waterfall.

When we resumed our trek the weather started improving. To cross the middle part of the waterfall we needed to cross a long U-shaped snow bridge hanging over the waterfall. Basically the waterfall was gushing underneath the snow bridge. Crossing it was easy and very enjoyable. Now we were to the left of the Rupin waterfall. At the end of the snow bridge a very steep rocky mountain face was waiting for us. We took a long break there to let all our members gather. The view from there was simply awesome. The entire Rupin valley was visible like bird’s eye view; and at the other side the upper part of waterfall was thundering down under the ice bridge we just negotiated. The bright sunshine made the whole sight even more beautiful. We put on our sunglasses to protect our eyes from bright glare.

After resting, we started climbing the steep face of the mountain to get to the top of the waterfall. It was quite a tiresome task. Sometimes I had to use both my hands to maintain balance. It took almost half an hour to climb before we stepped on a flat rock above the waterfall. We all were very happy to climb the waterfall safely. Now the remaining trail to the campsite was a cakewalk. At 13300 feet, there was no sign of vegetation and only snow was visible. We finally left Rupin River which was accompanying us since the start of the trek and crossed a large ice-field to reach our tents next to IH campsite. Today we walked for just 3 hours, so we were not that tired. But just as we were planning to stroll outside and meet IH members, a forceful ice-storm hit the area. We quickly dived into our tiny tent and held the rods and kept tapping the surface from inside to ensure it did not collapse under the weight of accumulated snow. This storm continued for almost 4 hours and it deposited almost 1 foot of fresh snow. Despite the storm, the night was calm and we were hopeful to cross the pass on the next day itself as everybody was fit and not affected by high-altitude sickness.

Day 9: The frequent whistling by IH guides woke everybody up including us before 5 a.m. in the morning. We went outside the tent in the bone-rattling cold and saw the whole IH team was already ready to depart. We let them go first as they would create the walking trail on the soft snow allowing us to follow the course easily. We had out tea, put on crampons on both feet and finally set off at 5:30 am. Originally it was supposed to be the acclimatization day, but as we all were fit, we decided not to waste time unnecessarily in high altitude. The recent intense snowfall proved to be both good and bad for us. We were able to get grips easily in soft snow. But at the same time we could not get any place to sit at all as all the rocky surfaces were covered in snow. First we climbed a long gradually ascending ice-field to reach Rati-Feri. From there we could see the Rupin Pass for the first time. It was at the other side of a large ice field lying ahead. It was still 2 hours far from there. We continued to walk towards a large rocky island to get some well-deserved rest for the first time during the day.

Soon after we resumed the hike, the weather started deteriorating. We walked as fast as we could empty stomach, and reached at the base of the pass after an hour or so. That was the last hurdle to get to the top of it. The 50 to 60 degree gradient made it difficult to negotiate. But our guide and porters were with us to offer us help. They held each of our hands and got ourselves moving – one step at a time. Some of IH members were still climbing in front of us, so we had to be cautious. We could barely stand on the heavy slope so we kept on climbing with full attention to the path. It took almost 15 minutes to cross around 50 metres of pass, and finally we all made it! This was our moment of joy and celebration as we all got to the top of Rupin Pass. IH members were still there, and it got crowded on the narrow pass. It was 10:30 am and the weather also surprisingly improved. We offered puja with our eatables on the pass. Then a herd of around thousand sheep led by three dogs and two men climbed across the pass. They were on their way to Ladakh where wool would be extracted from them. We had to wait around half an hour more to let them pass through. The whole Kinnur-Kailash mountain range in Himachal Pradesh was visible from the pass. The IH team got down after the herd did, and soon we followed them.

Descending from the pass was quick and fun. Our guides used mats as slides and we all slid long slops in minutes which would have taken hours to cross. After descending down a lot way by sliding and walking, we finally had the first meal of the day. We finished it in a hurry as we were literally starving and continued descending towards Sangla. We left snow regions after another couple of hours and finished the long day at Ronti Gad in the afternoon. Our tent was pitched on a small grassland and Sangla town was visible from there. We also got mobile connectivity from there and called our loved ones to give the success news.


Rupin Valley from the waterfall


Climbing Rupin waterfall


Upper part of Rupin waterfall


On the way to upper waterfall


Above the waterfall


Upper waterfall camp


On the way to Rupin pass


First view of the Rupin pass


The approach to the pass


On the top of Rupin pass with IH team


Kinnur-Kailash range seen from the pass


Ronti Gad campsite
#4 Oct 10th, 2015, 20:54
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#4
Day 10: In the morning we realized we had all the time of the world to get ready! We never got out until the sunlight hit our tent, and took a lot of time to pack our rucksacks for the last time. The awesome weather with bright sunshine set a perfect stage to bid us adieu from the mountains. It took us around four hours to reach Sangla by following a well laid path through small villages. Finally we crossed beautiful Baspa river through a bridge to enter the small town on the lap of Baspa river and beautiful Sangla valley at 8000 feet above the sea. We all, including our guide and porters, celebrated the successful completion of the trek in a restaurant. After making the final payment, we bid them goodbye and waited there until the bus to Shimla arrived at 5pm leaving the unforgettable, challenging and scenic trail of Rupin Pass behind with loads and loads of memories for a lifetime.

Important Contacts:
Dehradoon Hill Roadways bus stand: 0135-2623435, 08476007535
Doon Taxi Owners’ Association: 0135-2627877
Nar Singh: 09459992099, George Neggi (son of Nar Singh): 09459990909


A herd of sheep


Beautiful morning at Ronti Gad


Sangla town on the bank of Baspa river
past trips:
Kedar-Badri 2005 | Andhra Pradesh 2009 | Sandakfu 2011 | Dzongri 2012 | North Bengal-Sikkim 2013
Kashmir 2014 | Delhi-Agra 2014 | Rupin Pass 2015 | Rambha-Puri 2015 | Puri 2017 | Goecha La 2018

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone"
#5 Oct 12th, 2015, 19:03
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  • kamalaprosad is offline
#5
Joydeep

Great TR. Hope it will help future Trekker in this route.
#6 Oct 12th, 2015, 22:00
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#6
Thanks Kamal da! I was very happy to have you as my Rupin trek partner
#7 Oct 12th, 2015, 22:21
Passion for Football & Trekking never die
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  • Legend is offline
#7
Great tr & snaps mate....Heard the same bargain story from others also...How much they charged you? Is it a package or daywise individual rate of guide & porters?
Rules r meant to be broken
But!!!!!!
Don't break rules in Himalaya
Please Keep Himalaya clean & plastic free
#8 Oct 13th, 2015, 01:03
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#8
Well written, been there on June 3rd week, so these snaps took me back to those days...

Thanks for sharing...
#9 Oct 13th, 2015, 22:20
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#9
@Legend: We went for complete package. It cost us around 11000 per head.

@Sayan: I look forward to see some pics of your Rupin trek
#10 Oct 14th, 2015, 00:56
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  • SayanBanerjee is offline
#10
I would try to post few of them...
#11 Oct 29th, 2015, 18:27
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#11
smart write up.nice job.
DIPANKAR ROY - Trek to Tarakeshwar, Jayanti-Buxa-Rupam Vallye, Digha-Shankarpur, Ayodhya Pahar, Sandakphu-Phalut, Singalila pass- Phalut, Roopkund , Deoriataal-chopta-tungonath-chandrashila, Sinhgad-Rajgad-Torna, Gokarna- Om beach , Naneghat-Harishchandragadh, Gangotri-Tapovan-Vasukital, Dzongri-Goechala, Nandadevi East Base Camp, Rupin Pass, Amarnath.....Miles to walk before I die :)
#12 Jan 26th, 2016, 13:19
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  • deeag is offline
#12

sangla to shimla

sir

hello....i deepak from indore ...we will plan rupin pass trek in may-2016....can u help me for last day ....sangla to shima or kalka ...bus...etc

my no. 09827635695
#13 Jan 26th, 2016, 14:35
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  • nilanjanchatterjee is offline
#13
Nice write up!!
#14 Jan 27th, 2016, 13:29
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  • Rainbow21 is offline
#14
Your pictures are very enchanting... I am new in trekking.. Can you please guide me how you managed to charge your camera batteries during this long trek? Any tips....
#15 Feb 1st, 2016, 18:55
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  • kamalaprosad is offline
#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by deeag View Post sir

hello....i deepak from indore ...we will plan rupin pass trek in may-2016....can u help me for last day ....sangla to shima or kalka ...bus...etc

my no. 09827635695
You will get bus for Chandigarh from Sangla at 5.30Pm .This bus passes Via Simla and Kalka.

No other direct bus for simla after 10AM when you will reach Sangla after completing your trek. Normally no shared cab is also available.

But you will get bus for Pio and from there you will get bus for Simla/kalka.
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