Mayali Pass trek
Photography by Arjun Majumdar
Location: Uttarakhand. Base camp is at Ghuttu
Duration: 9/10 days
Altitude: Base camp – 5500ft. Mayali Pass – 18000ft.
Seasons: Mid June – Mid September
Terrain: Starts with forests, followed by meadows and at the higher reaches boulder and scree.
The trek starts from Ghuttu and moves parallel to River Bhillangna via Reeh, Gangi, Kalyani, Kharsoli, Tambakund and then reaches Khatling Glacier,the source of River Bhilangna. Chowki, a meadow in front of Khatling Glacier is an amazing camping ground with great view of peaks, the most impressive being Thalay Sagar peak.
From Chowki, it is a steep climb to Masartal. Further the climb becomes steeper and in snow to reach Masar Top and eventually Mayali Pass. This is followed by a steep descent to Vasukital and further to Kedarnath shrine and finally the trek ends at Gaurikund.
Ghuttu the base camp for the trek is 174 kms away from Haridwar. Take a bus/shared jeep to Tehri, Ghanshali and then to Ghuttu.
Day 1 – Ghuttu 5090ft to Reeh 7200ft (4 hours 10kms.)
It is going to be a tough climb for a first day especially since your muscles are not yet used to climbing. Ghutu is on the banks of river Bhillangana. The route to Reeh is a decent climb.
After about 2 hours of walking on the sunny dirt road, you enter the forests and walk in the shade till you reach Reeh. The trail goes along the river in the beginning and later it’s a steep climb through the pine forest. Rhododendron and bamboo grow plenty on this route. Reeh is a small village with very few inhabitants. Camp for the night here in a tent or stay at the GMVN.
Day 2 – Reeh 7200ft to Gangi (8630ft 4 hours 10kms. Hard climb.)
The hike from Reeh to Gangi is a steep incline. Climb the hill behind the GMVN in Reeh to head to Gangi. It takes about 3-4 hours to climb the hill and the climb to Gangi is further up with a constant incline.
When lots of little farms dot the way, you know you have reached the mid point of the days trek.Gangi a typical Garhwali village is 2 more hours away. After reaching the last spot of civilization on this trek. Once again choose to stay at the GMVN here or pitch a tent for the night.
The trek from Reeh to Gangi crosses a series of meadows high above the valley. You get to see fine views of Panwali Kantha and South Ghuttu after crossing the top of the ridge.
Day 3 – Gangi 8630ft to Kharsoli (9670ft via Kalyani 7-8 hours 16kms. Easy gradient but long walk.)
Just out of Gangi you pass through some stretches of landslides. Cross them carefully. The trails sometimes get lost between these stretches. After the landslide stretches is a short climb which brings on the soil of Kalyani. Kalyani is a slight plane ground with mound on one side and a vale underneath on the other.
Kalyani is where the alternate route starting from Mala joins this trail. You could take a day off and visit the grasslands and lakes Sahasratal and Bhimtal on that route from here. These excursions are a good way to acclimatize on this trek.
Camping at Kalyani is a good option too but move on if you are in a hurry. Kharsoli is about 10 kms away from Kalyani and does not have very good camping grounds.
Day 4 – Kharsoli 9670ft to Tambakund 11400ft (3 hours. Relatively easy day though moderate climbs towards the end.)
The next days target is Tambakund. Half way out of Kharsoli you are out of the treeline and enter the meadows.
The trail follows the river and there is an impressive waterfall on the opposite side of the valley near Tambakund.
Tambakund is a pleasant petite place where shepherds bring their herds. It is quite near to Khatling you can make out the glacier type of terrain. Tambakund is quite near to Chowki. Dismount the valley, ascend the other side and that is Chowki. You may choose to continue towards Chowki or camp at Tambakund. The views keep getting better by the day and but you do not yet get entire image of the snow clad peaks.
The other option for the 3rd and 4th day’s trek is to camp at Kalyani and then proceed to Chowki on the 4th day.
Day 5 – Tambakund to Chowki (1 hour. Short climb)
Tambakund to Chowki is less than an hours trek. Discend the valley, traverse the river and you reach Chowki. The river crossing can be a tricky bit though. Be equipped to create a make shift bridge incase there is no bridge to cross the river. Ensure that your porters and guide are equipped for this when you star the trek.
Chowki is less than an hour away from Tambakund. It is a lovely green meadow surrounded by snow clad crest. With a huge glacier sloping down on one side, there is a huge glacier sloping down and the glaciers river basin is extended more or less. Icy cold water is available if you dare to touch it.
Spend a day at Chowki acclimatizing to the altitude. The subsequent two days of climb will make you gain height rapidly and the day spent at Chowki will go a long way in the successful crossing of the pass.
Day 6 – Chowki to Masartal (15240ft 7 kms 4 hours 40 mins. A climb to remember – for the gradient and views.)
A climb to remember! both depending on gradient and views. Not just views of the valley but also climbing terrain.
On this day, we will go for arduous treks till Khatling glacier, the trail comes down abruptly to the bank of the river previous to climbing boulder and slant next to the Bhillanganga. The Khatling glacier is connected with the enormous lynching glaciers of Ratangian, Jogin and Phating.
This climb to Katling Glacier is only 7 Kms but the rapid ascent is 1500M. Every step of the way is a climb and behind you is the beautiful sight of the Chowki grasslands.
The track extra to Masar tal pursues the imprecise shepherds trail (steep in places) across boulder pasture. You may scuttle here if you fail to step correctly. The views are wonderful, transverse the higher sections of the Khatling Glacier and to the elevated pass – the Auden Col (5400m) – heading towards Gangotri. The Jogin crests are visible as is Jaonli (6630m). The trek further directs across lofty alpine territory and screed slopes to the tranquil & Placid waters of Masar Tal (4590) mts.The water remains ice-covered till mid-Jun. Masar Tal is a lofty altitude alpine lake and is chilly cold. This place drives chill down the spine and it seizes a running hour before the absolute miraculous loveliness of the place gets invisible. Masar tal is meant for the night camp spot.
Day 7 – Masartal to Masar Top 16032 to Mayali Pass 16850ft to Vasuki Tal 13800ft (Approx 13 kms. 8 hours. Tough climb over boulders to Masar Top. Steep descent to Vasuki Tal.)
This is the day every Mayali Pass trekker will be waiting for! The climb to Masartop takes a little more than an hour. A risky climb and it sometimes is more than a 45 degree climb on boulders. When the sun is out, the icy surface on boulders become wet and slippery and can be very dangerous. Our advice is to start very early for this stretch.
At Masar Top the entire vale is perceptible. Right underneath is Masartal and straight in front of you is Khatling dale and underneath ahead the vegetation of Chowki. At this juncture you will see an enormous snow ice over is on the other side, like a panaroma of moon and you distinguish Kedar Dome. no one gets the chance to see this side of it. And this is where you chanced to behold this facet of Kedar Dome. Afterwards you go up at the Masar Top and on your sheer left is Kedar Dome and in middle of it is a vast snow field and a glacier underneath. It is a glacier in middle of Kedar Dome and you. After crossing the glacier you get a chance for a massive snow field to traverse. The width of snow field is so immense that you drop all pleasure of spectacle. When you eventually land there and cross it, you don’t know what dimension it is. It’s that colossal. You have nothing rightfully compare to what you observe. It is nothing more than a moon landscape and that’s the pleasant sight from Masar Top.
From Masartop start your march on a sharp landslide kind of region. Do not go after glacier. You intersect the landslide hill. It’s little complicated to undergo, but your guide will steer your way all through. After that you will be having the unwavering glacier with appropriate snow cover.
Just the once, you pass through the landslide hill, cross through those snow meadow which may take an hour and it is a vertical clamber through the snow to reach Mayali Pass. Ropes can be useful here.
After celebrations at Mayali Pass, prepare yourself for a steep descent. It’s a prolong expanse to descend. It will take you on snow for the first two kms and then you face both large and small boulders, which will be taxing on your ankles. The descent will take a couple of hours after which you approach the Vasuki Tal area camp site. The neighboring janitor will prefer you camp away from the Tal as it is a sacred lake.
Day 8 – Vasuki Tal to Kedarnath (9 Kms 4 hours.)
Relax and start late today at 9.30 a.m. Vasukital is actually serene and beautiful place where spirituality comes out naturally. You may not find snow here in September.
Vasukital is surrounded by a valley and in order to reach the other side mount and to the summit of the vale and then descend; this is the ultimate clamber of this hike. The climb takes an hour and is not very easy. You are not less than 4,000 mts region. Kedarnath is visible from that region. You are just next to Mandakini. Mandakini is the stream that you notice at Kedarnath. You are heading alongside the Mandakini, not the major Mandakini brook but a diminutive tributary that unites it. You can see Kedarnath very beneath and you ought to descend possibly one more one and a half hour expanse. Stay at one of the many places available for lodging at Kedarnath.
Day 9 – Kedarnath to Gourikund (14kms downhill on the piligrim route)
Take the usual pilgrim route from Kedarnath to Gourikund. From Gourikund you get buses and shared taxis going down to Rishikesh and Haridwar.
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