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Kedarkantha Trek 2017-18: A snow summit

Upcoming Winter treks to Kedarkantha: 

16th Dec (Day 1) to 21st Dec’17 (Day 6)
17th Dec (Day 1) to 22nd Dec’17 (Day 6)
23rd Dec (Day 1) to 28th Dec’17 (Day 6)
24th Dec (Day 1) to 29th Dec’17 (Day 6)
25th Dec (Day 1) to 30th Dec’17 (Day 6)
30th Dec (Day 1) to 4th Jan’18 (Day 6)
31st Dec (Day 1) to 5th Jan’18 (Day 6)
1st Jan (Day 1) to 6th Jan’18 (Day 6)
7th Jan (Day 1) to 12th Jan’18 (Day 6)
14th Jan (Day 1) to 19th Jan’18 (Day 6)
21st Jan (Day 1) to 26th Jan’18 (Day 6)
26th Jan (Day 1) to 31st Jan’18 (Day 6)

Click to see HT Kedarkantha winter 2016/17 Picture Gallery 

Brief Itinerary:
Day 1: Dehradun to Sankri drive – 200Km – 9/10 hrs
Day 2: Trek to Juda Tal – 5Km- 4/5 hours
Day 3: Trek to Kedarkantha base – 5 Km – 3 hours
Day 4: Trek to Kedarkantha peak and back to Kedarkantha base – 7 Km – 6/7 hours
Day 5: Trek to Sankri — 8 Km – 4/5 hours
Day 6: Drive from Sankri to Dehradun – 200 Km – 8/9 hours

*** Trekkers need to reach on their own to Dehradun on Day 1 early morning (by 8 am) or the previous night. Return to Dehradun on Day 6 evening (by 8 pm). Arrange your tickets for inward journey and back to home from Dehradun accordingly ***

Cost : Rs 7800 (Sankri to Sankri)+ 5% GST

(Book for 3 persons and get a discount of 5%; Book for 5 or more to get a 10% Group Discount)



Customised Trek: If the dates above don’t match or you want a separate private tour for your group then fill up the Customise Your Trip form with correct details.

The Trek Highlights:

Length: 4 days of trek; Walking from Sankri to Sankri, around 22 Km. Dehradun to Dehradun in 6 days.

Access: Dehradun is well connected by train from New Delhi and Kolkata. There are several overnight trains and buses from Delhi. Nearest airport Jolly Grant is 20 Km from Dehradun. The trek base Sankri is 200 Km from Dehradun. 

Highest Point: Kedarkantha peak ~ 3820m/12500 ft.

Grade: Easy; Fresh snow in winter

Seasons: April/June and September to end of December

Further Option: While returning this trek can be joined with Har Ki Dun trail

About Kedarkantha: Kedarkantha (also referred as Kedarkanta, Latitude: 31.02257 N & Longitude: 78.17185 E) peak (~3820m/12500ft) is situated in the fringe of Govind National Park of Western Garhwal. Surrounding Tons river valley, with remote villages, snow capped mountain ranges in the horizon, and rich flora and fauna of the national park makes the short and easy walk to the Kedarkantha peak a enjoyable hiking experience. In clear weather, the renowned peaks like, Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, Black Peak can be seen from the summit. In winter or spring, the trail remains covered with fresh snow. Snow patches amidst giant pine forest and snow covered meadow in this altitude, even late till spring, makes this trek a special one. In spring during March and April another added bonus is the blooming of Rhododendrons. Temperatures are warmer than the harsh winter days but residual snow remains intact on higher altitude, specially on top and even till base camp.

Temperatures and clothing:

It is highly recommended that you buy a proper waterproof trekking shoe, as you need to walk longer duration on snow during winter and early spring.

1) Winter & spring: In Dec the daytime temp remains cool and nights are cold. Night temp at Sankri, Juda Tal and Kedarkantha base can be around 2, -2 and -5/-10 deg C.

Three layers of clothing is mandatory in the campsite while outside tent or FRH/TRH.

a) A base layer, can be a thermal layer (Use a dry-fit t-shirt as base while walking).

b) A heavy jacket (Double layer or Fleece jacket ) as middle layer.

c) A windproof with hood as the outer layer.

2) Summer & Fall: Day time weather remains warm. Night temp at camp sites  can be around 10°C to 4/5°C.

Access to Sankri (The trek base):  We will arrange a pickup from Dehradun to Sankri and drop from Sankri to Dehradun. This will be shared by the team members on actual basis. The cost is RS 5500 one way for a Tata Sumo/Mahindra Bolero type vehicle.
Otherwise if a trekker wants to reach Sankri by public vehicle then here is how:
1) There are 2/3 privately operated buses from Dehradun (near DDN railway station on Gandhi road) To Sankri. The 200 Km journey will take around 10/12 hours. The buses start at  5:30/6/7 am.
2) While returning from Sankri take the morning bus to Dehradun/Vikasnagar and reach by 7 pm.

Click here for detailed information on how to reach Dehradun. 

The trip itinerary:

Day 1: Drive from Dehradun to Sankri – 200 km – 10 hours

Today morning we start our trip from Dehradun.  200 Km long drive takes at least 10 hours to reach Sankri, our trek base.  It’s advisable to start latest by 7 am in the morning.

Initially after crossing Mussoorie town the road enters the Yamuna valley and we continue along the river for a while. It gets better after crossing the town of Purola. The car goes up the winding road surrounded by blue pine forest.  From Mori we follow the course of Tons river. You’ll enter Govind National Park after you cross Netwar and after Netwar you will be following the course of the river Supin. The road gets bumpy at times but you won’t feel much because of the astounding beauty of the surroundings. On your way you will experience dense conifer forest, scattered apple orchids, farming fields and open valleys in between.

Sankri may appear comparatively busy in a trekking season than the villages you may have visited interior in the Himalayas. But if you look carefully, you’ll find that most of the people around you are either trekkers or the local support staff.

We will arrange your accommodation in a home stay at Saur village or in a lodge at Sankri. This will be on sharing basis and on the basecamp always expect a dormitory style room.  Saur is actually bigger than Sankri and in the ‘Pahari’ essence too. It is just two minutes’ drive from Sankri. If the sky is clear and you reach Sankri/ Saur before sunset, you can’t miss the vibrant orange and purple hue on beautiful snowcapped ranges of Mt. Swargarohini from here. Over a hot cup of tea, you’ll be discussing the trail with our representative keeping that beautiful painting at backdrop.

Sankri the trek base for Kedarkantha trek


Evening at Saur

Evening at Saur

Day 2: Trek from Sankri (~ 1900m/6230ft) to Juda Ka Talao (~ 2830m/92500 ft) – 5 km – 4/5 hours

Today morning after breakfast we start our trek to Judatal also referred to as Juda Ka Talao.  Initially we follow the road which connects Sankri to Taluka for about five minutes. Then we leave the motor able road and turn right to take the trail which leads to Kedarkantha.

The climb for today is throughout of moderate gradient and can be tiring at stretches. The trail starts gaining height among sparse conifers at the beginning. After following the trail for about an hour on the mountain slope, you will find a cement bridge lying on a small stream. The foot trail splits into two and we take the left one.  The tree line clearly starts to change by then. You’ll see more Maple and Oak trees in the forest. After ascending for another hour or so you’ll cross a huge fallen trunk to reach a glade inside the forest.  Surprisingly a single walnut tree stands tall in the middle. We take a well-deserved rest here. After all we completed halfway to the Juda Ka Talao.

Continue climbing after taking a good rest at the “Fallen Trunk” meadow. Before reaching the last meadow of the day we cross another meadow in between. Both of the meadows share surprisingly same characteristics. Both are covered with lush green carpet of soft grass. If you have any time or energy left, allow yourself to walk a few steps barefoot on it. But certainly not at all if it’s cold and snow covered. These are the small pleasures of life what we city dwellers miss back at home. Both the meadows have shepherd huts nearby.  Hop inside.  Imagine spending a lonely night there sharpening your knife, cooking your own food on a wooden fire and praying all night long that bear doesn’t attack your sheep as does the shepherd. Not really that lonely, huh? Well, you can imagine as many sheep as you want with you.

The walk begins inside conifers

The walk begins inside conifers

One of the meadow on our way

One of the meadow on our way

However, let us take a break from our imagination and let us get back to the trek. We turn right from the last meadow and climb for 15-20 minutes more and we’ll reach our campsite for the day. The total distance is hardly 5 Km but it may take up to 5 hours!

Judatal is a really pretty campsite. Imagine an undulated wavy meadow amidst a dense Maple-Oak forest and at the left corner of the clearing there’s a small lake which remains frozen in most of the winter. So, what do you think? Pretty enough?

There are quite a few stories about Juda ka Talao. Locals say that this small lake is somehow linked with a well of Saur villages. Long time ago, a small shepherd boy got drowned in the lake. That little boy loved to play his flute. He carried his flute everywhere he would go. Almost after a week of the tragedy, the flute was discovered from that well in the Saur village. True or not? You be the judge.

Camp setup @ Juda Ka Talao

Camp setup @ Juda Ka Talao

Frozen campsite

Frozen campsite

Today we trekked only about 5 km but remember that we have climbed three mountains and gained considerable altitude. Today’s trek was not that easy as it appears. After an early dinner we call it a night and get into the cozy comfort of the sleeping bag inside tent.

Day 3: Trek from Juda Ka Talao (~ 2830m/92500 ft) to Kedarkantha Base (~ 3400m/11150ft) – 4 km – 3 hours

The trail towards Kedarkantha base is clearly defined across Juda Ka Talao campsite.  After about 5-10 minutes of climb we reach a vantage point on the slope from where you get a full view of the pristine lake and the grassy meadow. Take out your camera for sure! Climb further and you’ll see the trail going straight forward keeping the ridge to your left. Don’t take that trail but wait for your guide here. That route will take you straight to another campsite called Hargaon. You are supposed to climb the ridge to your left. After about an hour of steep climb we reach a spot where stands a solitary shepherd hut. In winter the snowline would have begun by then. The ascent gets gentler after this point and we’ll reach today’s destination after maximum one more hour of trekking. Spend few minutes here, enjoy the surroundings.

A view of Juda Tal

A view of Juda Tal

First view of Kedarkantha

First view of Kedarkantha

As said before, after walking another hour you’ll see a vast opening with few desolated shepherd huts. A thrilling view of a 180 degree arc of majestic snow capped Himalayan ranges with significant peaks like Banderpoonch, Swargarohini, Kala Nag and Ranglana can be seen from here. Yes, cheer up, we have reached today’s camp site. Now don’t get too carried away with the view. Look left to the arc. Can you see the triangle shaped peak right above the tree line? That is Kedarkantha. You are supposed to start before the break of the dawn next day to reach the top on or before sunrise! We serve the dinner early in the evening, as the last scattered light remains on the horizon. Get into the tent and pack your light day pack, if you have one. Otherwise keep at least a bottle of water and some dry food/chocolates with you during summit. Tomorrow expect tea to be served by 3 am in the morning.

Reaching basecamp

Reaching basecamp

A view of Kedarkantha basecamp

A view of Kedarkantha basecamp

A much desired and recuperating day before attempting Kedarkantha peak tomorrow :-)

Day 4: Trek from Kedarkantha base (~ 3400m/11150ft) to Kedarkantha summit (~ 3820m/12500ft) and back to base camp – 7 km 6/7 hours

Today we start as it has been planned. In December/January it will be pretty cold at the onset of the dawn. Wear warm jacket and certainly a windproof on top. A pair of gloves is a must, if not a waterproof one. The first hour of the hike takes you through dense Oak/Kharsu forest but as you climb further the forest recedes.  You may come across something quite interesting to attract your attention during the initial walk. You may spot pug marks on snow larger than human. Ha-ha, you haven’t discovered “Big foot” or “Yeti” pugmarks but probably of the Himalayan Black Bear. And yes, Govind National Park has quite a number of Himalayan Black Bears in its wild life chartJ. But unlike their pugmarks you have to be really lucky to spot one.

However, after almost an hour of gentle climb you’ll reach a clearing with a shepherd hut from where there are mainly two trails on the way to the top.  Depending on the conditions, especially on snow in winters most of the hiking teams take the left one while climbing and descending the other way.

Pushing to Kedarkantha summit

Pushing to summit


Summit awaits in a while!

From here the trail gets steep. After climbing for another half an hour or so, you’ll find yourself above the tree line. The structure of the shrine at the top is clearly visible from here. Usually dawn starts to break by this time.  After this point we climb the steep ridge to the top.  Follow your guide and his footsteps as he takes you to the top through the switchbacks. The trail can be slushy and icy at stretches in the morning.  We will provide you a pair of Anti Slip Grip/Crampon that help you get a better hold. After hiking another half an hour that way you’ll find yourself right in front of the shrine. Don’t stop there. Take left and climb for five more minutes and you reach the top. Yes, it’s a summit, as every peak has one!

A view from summit

A view from summit

kedarkantha top

happy faces at Kedarkantha summit

A majestic 360 degree view of the Himalayas waits at the summit. In the southerly direction you can see the wide valleys sloping down. A number of high peaks in Gangotri and Yamuntri ranges can be seen towards the north. Your guide will help you to spot the Swargarohini range, Mt. Kalanag/Black peak, Hati parvat, Ranglana and more. Snowcapped ranges of Kinnaur forms the backdrop in west. Savour the summit to your heart’s content and head back towards basecamp.

While going down we may take the alternative route. In winter this trail is fully covered with soft snow and be careful while descending. Use your heel to get a better grip.  At times a glissading can be the icing on the cakeJ. It will take around 2 hours to get to the base camp from summit.

We camp overnight at Kedarkantha base.

Day 5: Trek back to Sankri via Hargaon –  8km / 4-5 hours

Today is the last day of our trekking and it’s all the way down to Sankri. There’s no hurry and we’ll enjoy the morning and then start going down to Sankri.

For the first half an hour we retrace our steps to the Shepherd hut where we took a good rest while reaching the base camp. From here we take a different route through dense Maple-oak forest to the opening of Hargaon campsite. From the clearing the entire Har Ki Dun river valley is distinctly visible dotted with villages on both the sides of the carving Har Ki Dun nallah.

Another hour of hike will take you to the cement bridge which we crossed on the first day of our trekking. Saur is not far from here. It takes maximum one hour to reach the Saur village from here and another 5 minutes to Sankri.

Trekkers resting at Hargaon

Trekkers resting at Hargaon

A view of Har Ki Dun valley

A view of Har Ki Dun valley

If you have any more energy left, explore around the Saur village or just stroll around Sankri bazar.  Accommodation will be in lodge/homestay.

Day 6: Drive back to Dehradun – 200 km – 9/10 hours

If you start by 6:30-7 am in the morning, expect to reach Dehradun by 6 pm latest. The trip ends here, but not the memories!

P.S. : The distances and altitudes are indicative and may not be exact.

All pictures are taken and shared by HT trekkers. Special thanks to Divya Ramakrishnan, Abhijit Mitra and HT support staff.