Monday, June 9, 2014

Sarpass Trek - YHAI

Remember that time spent on a rock climb isn't subtracted from your life span.
Climbing is as close as we can come to flying.
-Shamelessly copied.

This is my third expedition with Youth Hostels(YHAI), read about previous ones below.
Goa Biking Expedition
Leh Mountain Biking Expedition

National Himalayan Trekking Expedition or simply Sarpass Trek:
It is one of the oldest and famous trek organized by YHAI.

View of Mighty Mountains from Kasol Base Camp
Is it for me?
I found many people leaving the trek intermediately, it's no fun leaving in between.
So, below are few things to consider before taking up sarpass.

Its for you, if you:
- Have done a good numbers of treks.
- Can sustain a couple of falls/injuries with no loss of enthu .
- Know that you can be injured fatally(Didn't see/heard of any though).
- Know the utmost luxuries you get are a sleeping bag and a blanket.
- Know that the whether can go bad anytime.
- Know the temperatures might drop below zero.

Strictly not for you, if :
- You are inspired by movie "Yeh Jawani Hain Deewani".
- You are inspired by friend's facebook pic and want one for yours.
- This is your first trek.
- Think this as a picnic.

Schedule for Sarpass - 2014:
Day 1:- Reporting at Base Camp, Youth Hostel Kasol.
Day 2:- Acclimatization and Orientation.
Day 3:- Rock climbing and rappelling.
Day 4:- Trek to Grahan (Ht 7,700 ft,9 kms, 5hrs).
Day 5:- Trek to Padri (Ht 9,300 ft,9 kms, 6 hrs).
Day 6:- Trek to Min Thatch (11,200ft,10 kms, 6 hrs).
Day 7:- Trek to Nagaru (11,800ft, 6 kms,5 hrs).
Day 8:- Trek to Beskari (11,000ft,14 kms, 8 hrs).
Day 9:- Trek to Bhandak Thatch (8,000ft,12 kms, 6 hrs).
Day 10:- Trek to Barshani road (6,600ft,10 kms, 5.5 hrs), transfer by bus to Base camp Kasol.
Day 11:- Camp breaks after breakfast.

Daily Schedule:
Tea and Snacks.
Breakfast and Pack Lunch for afternoon.
Welcome drink and snacks at destination.
Milk + Bournvita
Hot water at Higher Camps on request.

All the camps are tented in nature's lap, equipped with bare necessary things and staff.

Day 1: Report and Rest
The day was purely meant for rest, did rest and got used to tents, camping and all.
Took a walk to nearby market bought a pair of nice gloves and socks to keep hands and foot warm.

Kasol Base Camp.
Day 2: Acclimatization hike.
A small hike will was organized to get acclimatize and to know each other.
Briefing on YHAI and sarpass route by Field Director.

Day 3 :
We had a couple of sessions in Rock Climbing and Rappelling.
This is the last day at base camp, we packed our Hiking Bags and submitted the extra luggage.

Kasol Valley

Kasol Valley

Day 4:
Here starts the actual trek, moving to higher camps.
A 9KM nice trek to Grahan Camp/Village, it was the last village on the trek to sarpass.
Camp is located a mid green fiels and snow clad mountains.
We had some good interactions with village people, bonfire experience on chill nights is awesome.

On the way to Grahan Camp

Grahan Camp, a mid green fields and snow clad mountains.
Day 5:
Another 9KM trek to Padri Camp.
Padri is completely surrounded by high snow clad mountains.
As and when we reached padri, nature welcome us with hailstorm.
Padri Camp is on a thatch(grazing lands), there is small river flowing.

All Valleys

Padri Camp

Padri Camp, welcome by hails.
Day 6:
Trek to min thatch is the most difficult on this route, as one gains height of 2K+ in 10Kms.
When we started the skies are covered by dense clouds, all are skeptic about whether and many people turned back from here.

As we moved further, the trail gave us nice view of mountains with waterfalls, high rise trees.
The path was very steep almost everyone started panting, pace got very low.
After few kilometers, the whole trail is on snow,all were tired and hiking on snow was tiresome.

Two kilometers before the min thatch, there was a heavy snowfall.
Snowfall gave us spectacular breath taking views of surroundings, offcourse scary too.
Many times the trail was on the ledges of valley, all reached safe and sound.

Min Thatch Camp, Nagaru Behind

Min Thatch Camp

At min-thatch the temperatures were very low, those who didn't got good number of clothes and whose bags got wet had real hard time.
Its always advised to keep few extra clothes and most important to cover bags properly.

Day 7:
Few people who are ill-prepared like clothes getting wet, injured, not-so-fit moved back to base camp.
This was the best day for all of us, as we moved further, it started to rain, winds blowing and snowfall.
Little did we know that this is going to turn into huge storm and cancel our whole purpose of sarpass trek.

The trail was easy, but winds made it diffucult.
At a point my rain coat over turned and the winds so heavy that I feared I would be carried away by wind.
With no option I sat down on snow to avoid winds.

On the way to Nagaru

On the way to Nagaru

On the way to Nagaru

Nagaru Camp
Check the below Nagaru Camp video

There were no trails further, all covered with snow.
It was hard to navigate, the cold and snowfall made it even more diffucult.

Some how we managed to reach Nagaru Camp. There are no signs of skies getting clear.

At a point of time, all that we are doing was to hold tent firmly so that tent doesn't get up-rooted and cleaning tent top every 30 mins to avoid getting buried.
We are hoping that the storm and winds will be cleared by morning.

Day 8:
We woke up at 4AM to proceed towards Sarpass, unfortunately the whether is the same.
And the whole batch has to move back as guides are not ready to take us further citing bad whether.

With no other option, we had to move back to base camp.
While coming back, all the partially covered hills previous day were fully covered by snow.
The trees which appeared green previous day were in total white.
The fresh snow is till knees, its was not easy to climb down too.

This is how green mountains changed into.

Day 9/10/11:
Not Applicable for our us.

Tips :
Carry few polythene bags to protect clothes, etc.
Boys, don't do a clean shave, facial hair helps from dust, tanning, etc.
Take good quality rain coat and thermals.
Protect your bag from water and moist.


Woolens / Thermals / Jacket

Cotton Shirts / T-Shirts

Slacks / Comfortable pants

Sun Cap

Comfortable one's
which you are wearing from some time
Woolens are better, even cottons work
Enameled or Steel Mug / tumbler
To drink tea, water, etc.
To eat food, no paper plates, better carry steel one

Swiss knife
Will be really helpful.

Cold cream / Vaseline / Sunscreen

Liquid body wash is better
Toilet Paper


Rain cheater / Rain coat

Medicines which you normally use at home

Camera with extra batteries

Membership Card 
YHAI Membership card and Admit card / Passport Photos
Flight / Train / Other travel docs
Clotrimazole powder 
Good to have
To fight itching from sweat
Memory cards 
Good to have
Carry one as spare.
Battery Bank
Good to have

Tooth brush  




Paper Soap
Good to have

Fitness Certificate
Can get from General Physician
Inflatable Pillow
Good to have
If you are used to pillow.
A good Rucksack to hold all above

Note : Above experiences are my own, from the batch SP-06 of 2014.
Camps and trek route might differ from time to time.

Read more from Himachal Tour here:
Lambri Trek - Tirthan Valley
Sarpass Trek - Himachal Pradesh
Tirthan Valley - Gushaini