Like last few years, Har Ki Dun is closed for the tourists/trekkers during this winter again. This came as a notice from the office of Govind National Park, dated 26th November 2019. Here is the summary of the order:

  1. Starting from 1st December 2019 until 29th February 2020, Har Ki Dun trek will remain closed to visitors.
  2. Other high altitude treks inside this nation park will also remain closed to trekkers. These treks are Borasu Pass, Ruinsara and Bali Pass, Devkyara, and Rupin Pass.
  3. Kedarkantha remains unaffected due to this notice.

Below is the photocopy of the notice issued from Deputy chief’s office, Govind National Park, Purola Division.

har-ki-dun-and-govind-national-park-closed-for-tourist-in-winters
Notice photocopy issued on 26th November 2019

The notice states “security” being the reason of the above order.

From 2016-17 winters, every year a similar notice issued before winter. We anticipated this and didn’t plan any Har Ki Dun trek in winters, although many did and had to cancel later on.

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2019-20 winters | Kedarkantha update and news

It is natural to be curious about latest updates and current conditions of Kedarkantha if you are in planning phase. Even more so, if you have already finalised your travel. Here is your much awaited updates of Kedarkantha trek, with latest photos from the trail. Whether you will get snow or not, if there is already existing snow then how much that is? So here is it:

  1. Its an exciting news that winter has already set in the Himalayas by early December and Kedarkantha trail is no exception.
  2. As of early December Kedarkantha received multiple snowfall starting from early November, latest one being on 3rd December.
  3.  Kedarkantha base camp has around one foot of deposited snow already.
  4. Judatal lake is fully frozen and campsite has scattered snow. Forest between Judatal and Kedarkantha base camp is also snowy.
  5. Kedarkantha peak has ample snow on its summit.
  6. In a nutshell, Kedarkantha trail become a fun filled snowy land 😎 .

Kedarkantha latest photos:

Some fresh photos of Kedarkantha shot during first week of December 2019. Fresh snow covers more than 50% of the trail. From Judatal to Kedarkantha summit and back has pretty decent 6 inch to one foot of snow.

deposited-snow-early-december-2019-towards-kedarkantha-summit
Early December 2019: Towards Kedarkantha summit

You can see the difference before and after the snowfall from the following pictures. After the moderate fresh snowfall during first week of December, deposited snow increased to a considerable amount. Forest around Judatal and Kedarkantha base become winter wonderland for the time being!

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Before the latest snowfall
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Kedarkantha base: After snowing in early December
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Juda Ka Talab campsite just after moderate snowing

Forecast and snow expectations:

One important factor for Kedarkantha being the most popular winter trekking destination in India is Walking on ample snow. You normally get easy access to snow, at relatively low altitude and easy terrain.

  1. Chance of snowing intensifies during late December to January. As of now, weather forecast predicts precipitation chance of 50% around Christmas.  This in turn should result into snowfall as already temperatures comfortably going below freezing.
  2. This is only early winter season and early to predict snow conditions in January. Although walking may be challenging and indeed strenuous during late winters. The trail may receive 2/3 numbers of moderate to heavy snowfall during late December to January.

You can check current weather forecast of Kedarkantha trek base Sankri and get an estimate of the coming days for your planning pupose.

PS: All photos are shared by HT staff.

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HIMALAYA TREKKERS

Civilisation, as it progresses, brings along with it the hazards of environmental endangerment in the absence of a symbiotic implementation. The exploitation of the Himalayas, its people, and nature bear testimony to this unpleasant but stark truth. Over the years, unregulated tourism, over-consumption of natural resources and non-enforcement of environmental regulations have taken their toll of the pristine highlands. People in this already poverty stricken region have been forced to shun their traditional ways of life and serve interests of outsiders, at the cost of their own environment. This has led to unsustainability. Dawn follows the night. Such sorry state of affairs has evoked strong reactions across a few quarters who have come out to help restore the balance. And a few more, who are facilitating the process by not adding to the existing disorder. We, at Himalaya Trekkers (HT), probably belong to the second group, and aspire to work our way up to the first. Himalaya Trekkers (HT) support and encourage Sustainable Trekking. The focus is on - Awareness & Engagement - Creating environmental awareness and earning opprotunities among local population by ensuring their participation in sustainable, environment friendly eco-tourism. Conservation & Symbiosis - Living off nature without causing harm, minimizing carbon footprint, endorsing local products and business. These steps may seem insignificant, but no more than the span of human history is - compared to the age of the earth. We request all the trekking and mountaineering communities, agencies and individual nature lovers to preserve and protect the Himalayas and its natural diversity, to respect the age-old culture and traditions of the hill people and give back to them as much as we take. LIVE GREEN, TREK GREEN, TEAM HT
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HIMALAYA TREKKERS is at Sandakphu.
Buckle up for #Sandakphu 😎
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If you want to start hiking and not entirely sure if you're ready for the hectic high altitude, Sandakphu will be a wise choice to check your stamina. You can choose to go there any time apart from Monsoon ( June-Aug).
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The season ahead in particular (Mar-May) is famous for Rhododendrons. Following are the reporting dates for our FD groups to Sandakphu :
22-Mar-2020,29-Mar-2020,05-Apr-2020,12-Apr-2020,19-Apr-2020,26-Apr-2020,03-May-2020,10-May-2020
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Btw in these 4 pictures we've tried to capture four out of many flavours of Sandakphu. Don't hesitate to let us know which one you liked the most. Thanks 🤗
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#treksneardarjeeling
#hikemoreworryless
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#livegreentrekgreen @ Sandakphu
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HIMALAYA TREKKERS
#Kalap, a small village of western garhwal.
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This place is approximately an hour of climb from the village. From here you traverse right to get to the cave of #Moru Maharaj. Stay tuned to know more about Moru Maharaj and his holy cave. ✌️
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#livegreentrekgreen
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HIMALAYA TREKKERS updated their cover photo.
Trek enthusiasts have already started planning for their summer treks.

From #Pristine treks like #Sahstrataal to #popular treks like #Goecha La, we've already published FD dates & itinerary for more than 20 unique trek destinations. Find the dates in the link below :
https://himalayatrekker.com/fixed-departure-treks/
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Shot @ Ruinsara Campsite, Bali Pass Trek
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#livegreentrekgreen
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Accumulated snow, on the motorable road connecting Sankri to Taluka, is slowly melting. Hopefully by first week of March we'll be able to start Har ki Dun trek from Taluka.
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#treksinuttrakhand
#hikesingarhwal #hikingadventures #hikemoreworryless #outdoors #himalayatrekkers #livegreentrekgreen
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Brahmatal snow update for 2019-20 winters:

Some of you have already booked your winter trek to Brahmatal or maybe finalising soon. Here is the latest update from Brahmatal trek trail as per first week of December 2019. This will surely help you to decide and choose your desired date for this exquisite winter trek.

  1. First snowfall of the season occurred on 27th November 2019. This is usual first snowing time in this region.
  2. During first week of December 2019, you will get some snow at or above 3000 m/10000 ft.
  3.  Between 4 to 6 inches of snow deposited on stretches of meadows to Brahmatal and the lake itself.
  4. Thin snow blanket towards Khamila Top also referred to as Brahmatal Top.

Brahmatal trek latest photos during December 2019:

Below are the pictures of Brahmatal trail between 1st to 4th December 2019 that you can get first hand Brahmatal snow update for winters of 2019-20. As a result of late November snowfall, trail already has deposition of some scattered snow around Brahmatal lake and surrounding meadows. Whereas the lower altitude of the trail from Lohajung to Bekhaltal and approach to Brahmatal remains snow less.

brahmtal-winter-snow-trek-december
Brahmatal route as of early December 2019
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Brahmatal: Early December, around 6 inch of snow deposited
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Bramhatal campsite inside forest cover
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Sunset time
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Beautiful clear weather during the trek

Forecast and snow expectations:

  1. This year winter arrived on time in the Himalayas. Temperature is already plummeting below freezing on or above 3000 m/10000 ft. Even Lohajung is attaining a minimum temperature of 2°/3°C on a regular basis by early December.
  2. As its sunny in daytime, some amount of already deposited snow on trail will melt in coming days. However there should be additional snowfall as well. We expect another one or two snowfall by later half of December. In such condition, you will get moderate level (6 inch to 1 foot) of snow blanket on Brahmatal trail during Christmas New Year time.
  3.  Apart from days during snowfall, weather should remain clear for fantastic view of the high mountains.
  4. Usual sunny days accompanying cold nights. Prepare for -10°/-12° C as minimum outside temperature at Brahmatal during early hours of morning.

You can check the current readings by clicking weather forecast of Brahmatal trek base Lohajung.

Note: Check with us for in case you need any latest weather update directly from base camp Lohajung.

PS: All photos are shared by HT staff.

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Autumn is here again. As we approach late October, we would like to share the update of treks that we completed from mid September to mid October 2019. This year monsoon delayed in various regions of India and so in some regions of Himalayas. Although eastern Himalayan states of Sikkim and north Bengal (Darjeeling) got adequate rainfall as expected, but not everywhere. Western Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh received less rainfall in monsoon than usual.

As we progress into autumn/fall, here are the updates and pictures from different treks which we have completed by mid of October 2019.

Kalihani Pass:

Season kick start with this exquisite and less trodden trail above Manali. Regular monsoon was already over when the team started from Manali, though they get somewhat heavy rain at Moridugh campsite in the evening for couple of hours. Although afternoon or pm showers are common in September, specially in the evening, but our team didn’t get it frequently. Morning and daytime weather were pretty good with good views of the mountains. Alpine meadows were also intense green, just after the monsoon. Here are some pictures from the trek:

riyali-thatch
On Riyali thatch meadows
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Camping at Riyali (PC – Saikat)
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Deo Tibba and Indrasan among other peaks from Kalihani base camp (PC – Subhayu)
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The climb to Kalihani pass from base camp (PC -Anirban C)
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Kangra side view from Kalihani pass (PC – Imran)
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Team HT

Dodital:

Dodital trek went as expected, good clear weather throughout the trek. However team didn’t attempt Darwa top, which is a strenuous day hike from Dodital, but explored the lake and surroundings. Team can see the fall colours in the forest around Dodital as they reached late September.

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Tehri dam, on the way to Uttarkashi (PC – Paresh)
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Exploration around Dodital
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Ganesh temple @ Dodital (PC – Sandeep)
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Foliage at Dodital
Team

Sandakphu:

Season started in the late September with usual cloudy weather in this region, specially in the afternoon or evening. Occasional showers as well in between. As we move into October, weather got cleared and teams got reasonable to fantastic views of the mountains and Sleeping Buddha. Some moments from different groups, follows:

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Gairibas
at-kalapokhari
From Kalapokhari
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Finally the sleeping Buddha!
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Sunset time
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A team during early October

Brahmatal:

As expected, later half of September, Brahmatal trail remained lush green. Major takeaway was eye soothing green campsites and forests. Even the Brahmatal Top, also referred to as Khamila top was vibrant green. Even if, it didn’t rain but unfortunately clouds hovered close to the mountains.

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Khopdalia: Camp around Bekhaltal
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On the way to Brahmatal
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Brahmatal camp, away from the lake
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Brahmatal: A different perspective in September
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Lunchtime while descending from Brahmatal top summit

Goechala:

Residual monsoon continues as usual till September end in Sikkim. Our first Goecha La trek started on 28th Sep and the team got mixed weather. Although they got good views from Dzongri top during sunrise and decent views with some cloud cover at Goecha La sunrise point (View Point 1). From 2nd group onward, weather started clearing up. 5th Oct group got little or no rain during their trek. By mid of October weather is shining and bright, expected as usual during this time.

misty-wet-weather-goecha-la-trek-late-september-2019
Usual mist and cloud in the afternoon (PC – Pradeep)
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At Dzongri top, early October (PC – Ritam)
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Goechala View Point 1 (Sunrise point) during mid October (PC – Ashok)
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Kokchurang – Mid October (PC – Ishita)
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Team at Goechala View Point – Early October (PC – Pankaj)

Har Ki Dun:

Weather in this valley remained clear, starting from October beginning. Early foliage begin in October, some while bushes and grass turned into orange and yellow. One snowfall occurred in this valley in early October, though not at the height of Har Ki Dun, but higher. Fall colours and early snowfall are expected during November. We will keep a close watch, whether authorities issue Har Ki Dun trek permit during winters of 2019-2020 or not.

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Har Ki Dun peak – late September
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Simatra campsite
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Har Ki Dun in autumn
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Har Ki Dun – Wonderful opportunity for kids and families
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Team @ Har Ki Dun 

This is the update status for now. During November we have some more treks to Har Ki Dun, Sandakphu and Goecha La. After that winter treks will begin, starting from early December.

If you are planning a winter snow trek then don’t miss to read the best winter treks in India blog. Drop us an email to [email protected] or call @ +91 9831112469/9836133166/916328300 for any queries that you may have.

P.S: All pictures are shared by HT trekkers or staff. Image rights are with respective owners.

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New rules and regulations for Goecha La trek inside Kanchendzongha National Park (KNP), July 2019:

On 25th July 2019, a new set of rules and regulations suggested by SDM of Yuksom, Govt. Of Sikkim. This is a good time to go through these proposed changes and its impact. If you are going to Goecha La trek with a registered tour operator, then you need not to worry. They will take care of these changes and implement the recommendations. Otherwise as an independent trekker, you should note carefully and ensure that is followed.

Though Goecha La trail is inside Kanchendzongha National Park, A UNESCO heritage site, safety didn’t get its due importance. Till date, it greatly relies on either the quality of the tour operator or awareness of the independent trekkers in a group.

The new order aims to implement more safety to the trekkers, expedition teams, local staff members, in general all who are visiting the National Park.

Note that effective from Aug 2019, any individual/team visiting the park need to obtain the “Entry Permit” from Office of the Sub Divisional, Yuksom. Previously one had to submit photocopies of ID, photos and a self declaration at Police Station, Yuksom. Read the order issued by SDM, Yuksom, July 2019, or photocopy below:

goechala-trek-knp-rule-regulation-update-july-2019
Copy of the notice issued by SDM, Yuksom, dated 25th July 2019

Additionally one will need to pay existing camping charges, permit fees and any other levy to the KNP office, Forest Department, Yuksom.

What is new in this notice?

Safety is the prime theme of this notice. In last 5 years number of groups visiting Goecha La have doubled, thanks to big companies and independent groups. At the same time instances of hikers getting seriously ill have increased in many folds. On rare occasions it became fatal. A trekker literally vanished on the trail leaving no trace. It all happened!

The new measures of issuing work permit and capacity building of guides, porters, cooks and staff will help to reduce such mishaps to take place at first. Formation of a rescue team by administration is a very positive intention. We hope the concerned authority will take quick steps to implement in real world.

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By this late April 2019, lowlands of India already facing a promising spell of summer. Temperatures steadily charting over 40° C. Many of you have already booked your tickets to the Himalayas for a respite. Some of you surely finalised which trek to go, some yet digging in to chose the right one.

It is a good time to get an update about how spring ended on mountains this year 2019. Here are the treks that we finished from 10th to 20th April.

Also it will help you to check the current snow conditions till the end of Spring (late April) in different regions like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh (around Kullu Manali valley). Furthermore to get an idea about how much it would be remaining in coming months May and June.

Snow conditions forecast for high altitude treks in summer 2019:

Last winter, i.e. 2018-19 was normal in its course and snowfall was good. Due to steady snowfall in winter till February 2019, deposited snow on high altitude is as expected and not low/minimum like last 2/3 years. In our assumption:

  • In Uttarakhand, any trek which is going around 15000 ft is pretty difficult to complete by mid of May. Treks like Rupin pass  or Bali Pass will probably open by later half of May.
  • Himachal has lower “snowline” comparing to Uttarakhand. As of late April, heavy snow is present at 3000 m/10000 ft. It is wise to go to treks like Bhrigu lake only after mid May and Hampta pass after mid of June for this summer.
  • Good news is that for all high altitude moderate grade treks will have snow in June, this summer.

Sikkim/Darjeeling trekking trail weather and snow updates:

The weather upon on Sikkim/Darjeeling was usual in the end of spring. Some cloud, mist, showers, and views of the mountains as well.

Sandakphu trek update:

  • Started on 14th April. Weather was misty and flowery, as expected. Some Rhododendron and Magnolia bloom. Occasional afternoon rain showers. No remaining snow.
  • The team got clear views of the high mountains, Kanchenjunga and Sleeping Buddha from Sandakphu. Weather was sunny from Kalapokhari to Sandakphu and till the end of trek, Srikhola.

You can get an idea of current weather and forecast for Sandakphu here.

Here are some photos we received from the team members:

rhododendron-bloom-at-tumling-mid-april-2019
At Tumling
spring-summer-mist-sandakphu-route
Fog and mist
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Kalapokhri
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Some colours
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Clear skies at Sandakphu on 18th April 2019
gurdum-village-and-valley-while-descending-from-sandakphu
Sunny day while descending from Sandakphu

Goecha La trek update:

  • Trek which started on 14th April got good Mangnolia around Tsokha and decent Rhododendron in Tsokha to Phedang stretch.
  • Weather was typically misty till Dzongri. Light snowfall occurred at Dzongri, Thansing and above.
magnolia-bloom-at-tsokha-goecha-la-trek
Magnolias at Tsokha
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On the way from Tsokha to Phedang
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Thansing
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At Goecha La Sunrise Point (View Point 1)
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At Tsokha

Uttarakhand trekking trail weather and snow updates:

Good amount of deposited snow at ~ 3500 m/11500 ft. Trails are covered with snow above 3000 m/10000 ft, as of late April. We anticipate that residual and scattered snow will remain on treks like Har Ki Dun, Kedarkantha, Bedni Bugyal, Kuari Pass till mid May. High altitude treks going above 15000 ft will have more than 2 ft of snow by mid May.

Har Ki Dun trek update:

  • During mid of April, weather was unsettling in most of the Uttarakhand. It snowed on 16th and 17th April at Simatra campsite and above.
  • Only one of our team member decided to take the challenge and reach Har Ki Dun.
  • The route is open now and snow is melting.
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Near Kalkatiyadhar before snowing
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At Har Ki Dun on 17th April
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Fresh snowfall in Spring is not uncommon

You can get an idea of current weather and forecast for Har Ki Dun here.

Dayara Bugyal trek update:

  • Still more than 6 inch of deposited snow on Dayara Bugyal. Towards Bakriya top snow is almost a feet.
  • Weather was inclement during mid April, though for couple of days. Once cleared the team good good views.
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Raithal
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From Goi campsite
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Dayara Bugyal snow covered on 18th April 2019
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Fun time on snow
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Barnala camp

You can get an idea of current weather and forecast for Dayara Bugyal here.

Himachal Pradesh trekking trail weather and snow updates:

Treks around Manali has not really opened till late April due to heavy snow. Only a day hike or two is comfortable at present. Up to one foot of deposited snow at ~ 3000 m/1000 ft mark. In our estimation routes like Beas Kund, Bhrigu Lake will open to all around mid May or later this year. Teams will probably start crossing Hampta Pass from beginning of June 2019. All routes around Manali will have residual snow in June 109.

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From Vashisht, Manali an estimation of snow line
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Negotiating snow slope above Moridugh
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Fully frozen Bhrigu lake – 27th April 2019
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Descent on snow

Final take on treks for this summer of 2019:

  • Most of the Easy grade trekking trails in Uttarakhand should have remaining snow till mid to end of May 2019.
  • It is a good idea for you beginners to explore these great summer treks in May and June.
  • Treks around Manali kike Bhrigu lake or Beas Kund will have ample snow throughout May and residual in June 2019.
  • High altitude treks or moderate grade treks like Rupin Pass, Bali Pass or Hampta pass will be comfortable in late May to June with residual snow.
  • Check our Fixed Departure trek calendar which is adjusted considering the weather and snow conditions of this season.

All pictures are shared by HT trekkers and staff.

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As the summer has already in its course, many of you are looking for the trekking routes to explore. Uttarakhand treks become a major focus for many trekkers and mountain lovers. And why not so? Uttarakhand is indeed the heartland of Indian Himalayas. Before reaching to a conclusion and choosing your trekking trail, you must be aware of a court order in place at present.

So what is the Uttarakhand High court order?

In response to a PIL filed in Uttarakhand High Court, the division bench laid out certain rules and issued certain directions. In attempt to conserve the fragile Himalayan ecosystem the court  ruled that “the overnight stay in the Alpine meadows/Subalpine meadows/Bugyals is banned“. Read full order here.

This is certainly a catastrophic setback for people of Uttarakhand who are directly or indirectly related to trekking and tourism. What may have triggered such an aggressive order from high court needs our attention and introspection. Though,it is currently out of scope for this update.

The above order impacted some popular trekking trails within the state of Uttarakhand. In accord with the court order, Forest Department of Uttarakhand issued restrictions on camping to places, on trek route basis. To understand the implications more, give us a call or drop an email.

Here is an attempt to summarise the impact and current status of some popular trails.

Summary of some popular Uttarakhand treks affected due to camping ban on Bugyal/meadows
Trek Name Permit issued by Forest Department Impact and status
Roopkund No camping is allowed at Ali-Bedni Bugyal, Patar Nachuni and Baguabasa Severe. It is almost impossible for one to reach and return from Roopkund to permitted campsites. Trek is closed.
Tapovan No camping at Tapovan. High. It will be a strenuous and difficult day to reach and return from Tapovan to Bhojbasa campsite. Estimated time 10/12 hours on moraine.
Deoriatal Chopta Chandrashila No camping at Deoriatal, Chopta and Tunganath. High. You have to camp near Baniya Kund below Chopta and visit Chandrashila and back.
Winter Kuari Pass Only two campsites are allowed, Gulling and Tali forest camp. Medium. During winter on snow it is a long day’s walk to reach and return from Kuari Pass to the permitted campsites.
Satopanth Tal No camps above Chakrateerth. Low. No camping at Satopanth Tal.
Kedartal Highest camp is before Kedar Kharak. Low. No camping at Kedartal.
Har Ki Dun Highest camp at Simatra. Low. No camping at Har Ki Dun.
Dayara Bugyal Highest camp inside forest at Tilapra. Low. No camping on Dayara.
Bali Pass No camping at Ruinsara Low

So the question arises what’s next?

  • You can certainly choose the Low impacted trek routes. Banning a camp at a particular place or two doesn’t take away the beauty of the route. It helps in protecting the environment of those fragile campsites to an extent.
  • It is better that you fully understand the implications of High impacted treks. A particular day may become strenuous than you actually anticipated.
  • Popular winter trek destinations are mostly not impacted.
  • There are other popular treks and new trails in accord with the order. Check here our list of Uttarakhand treks.
  • In case you are looking for more options, then you can check our Sikkim/Darjeeling treks or Himachal Pradesh treks.

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Considering the present situation we have called off the ongoing trek to Goecha La. Wisely the trekkers were not allowed by Sikkim police today to start the trek from Yuksom. Safety being our primary concern on mountains, we decided that our trekkers will return to Siliguri tomorrow morning.

However our trekkers are in relaxing mood and day hiked to Dubdi monastery and back few hours back. Mountains and trails will be there to return again :- ).

The following updates may be useful for the parents, spouse, relatives, friends, colleagues and near and dear ones of the trekkers who are on the Dzongri-Goecha La trail. We are constantly in touch with the local people at Yuksom and try to give relevant information as per our capability.

  1. Today no permits were given from the Yuksom check post by Sikkim police. It is very likely that trekkers will not be allowed to trek in next few days.
  2. The weather at Yuksom is partly shiny and cloudy, as expected during this spring/summer time.
  3. Tremor up to magnitude of 6.7 is felt from Yuksom today. No damages are reported.
  4. Groups which started the trek on 25th April from Yuksom and were at Sachen/Bakhim/Tsokha yesterday night have returned to Yuksom today safely.
  5. Groups which are already further up to Dzongri and above don’t get any network connectivity. We expect that trekkers are safe. As most of trekkers pitch tent on the trail and the huts on the trail are single storied wooden structures, so the chance of any kind of injury is minimal. We pray for the trekkers to return to Yuksom safely.
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