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Kedarkantha Trek Experience – Kedarkantha trek is another great winter trek, wherein you climb up to 12468 feet (3800 mts) above sea level with Snow all through the base to Summit.
The climb is a non-technical train on thick Snow but throws enough challenges to give you the high of summiting a peak.
Winters in the Himalayas mean chilled evenings, cold nights, and frozen mornings… A lot of people avoid coming to the Himalayas in winters, but then the trend is changing lately.
There are a lot of travellers who not only make it a point to visit the Himalayas in winters, but also do Winter Summits to mid-range Himalayan Peaks. And then they are well rewarded with great views and towns which not overcrowded with tourists.
The trek is tough, due to the Snow, harsh winter and the early morning ascent, but then the views of the surrounding peaks with the rising sun is outstanding.
The starting point of the trek is a small village of Sankri, about 200 kms from Dehradun, in Uttarkashi district in Uttarakhand.
Sankri is a busy town, as it is the base for many treks, and every day there are a lot of trekkers starting or finishing their treks. It’s dotted with lovely houses and few guesthouses where the trekkers stay.
We were a small group of 4 trekkers, who decided to brave it out to Summit Kedarkantha. The weather forecast was for heavy Snow for the initial two days of our trek, but we stayed firm on our dates in the first week of Jan 2019.
We reached Sankhri by late afternoon and had few hours to explore the place.
As usual, it was full of trekkers, and most of them were heading to Kedarkantha Trek !!! The evening temperature was cold, and the weather started to set in with clouds coming in and cold wind passing through.
We had an early dinner and settled in our rooms to repack and get into the warm beds.
As we woke up in the morning, it was already overcast, and we were told to have a relaxed start as the first camp ‘Juda Ka Talab’ was only 4.5 kms.
The first kilometre was on an even road, and then the accent started. By the time we started the climb, it was already drizzling, but we kept going as we were geared up to battle the Rain and Snow.
Even before we could finish the first kilometre, it started to Snow. The soft mud was wet and was sticking to our boots, and we had to frequently remove it as the boots were getting heavier.
Soon we reached magi point, a small tea shack, about 1.5 kms up the climb. The snowfall was heavy by now, and we took the opportunity to have a warm cup of hot tea.
As we started to climb, the Snow was heavier and thicker. Another brief stop was made at ‘Kedar Baba’ another tea shack and camping ground.
We encountered many trekkers coming down and advising us about the ascent and precautions to take.
By the time we reached Juda Ka Talab, it was still snowing, and the campsite was a complete whiteout with over 12 inches of Snow.
We quickly shifted the bags into and were back to a small shed where there was some shelter from the Snow with a fire going.
We must have blessed the support staff several times, as in that cold weather; the fire was a welcome surprise. We had lunch there and spent the entire afternoon there.
In between two of us went to visit ‘Juda Ka Talab’ which was a small pond all covered with Snow at that moment.
There was no sign of the weather getting better, we kept removing the Snow piling up on the tents, but would return to the shed.
Post dinner we decided to retire into our sleeping bags hoping that, the weather would settle the next day.
The whole night it kept snowing, and the support staff would come and remove the Snow, the thumping sound would wake us up, and we would also help them by pushing the tent walls from inside.
The morning welcomed us with more Snow, and our plans to go further were grounded.
We again assembled at the shed, had a few cups of tea followed by breakfast and still there chatting, solving problems of the world as we could not solve ours!!!
We could not climb up as the snow conditions were even worse at the base camp, and the ascent to the peak was closed by the authorities due to heavy Snow.
We could not plan anything as we needed mule/porters to shift the stuff and with that kind of Snow measuring almost 2 feet, it was most unlikely.
We had a leisure lunch; courtesy the support staff which worked nonstop in that weather to make us comfortable in whatever way possible.
Post lunch as we were planning to take a nap in our tents, suddenly the mules surfaced. They were sent specially to shift our stuff as it was clear that the accent was not possible for the next few days and we had limited time.
It was still snowing, and we had almost two and a half feet of Snow. We quickly packed out stuff, got dressed to walk in the Snow.
It was a task to walk down in Snow, all of us slipped quite a few times, but we kept descending slowly. It was snowing nonstop still, and we took our first break at Kedar Baba again for a hot cup of tea.
We climbed down slowly, and it took us nearly the same time, as it took to climb up.
It was dark by the time we reached Sankri, and it was snowing there too. We somehow managed to find a room as the guesthouses were all full as most of the trekkers didn’t start the trek or had returned.
It was a relief to stay in a decent bed after spending the whole night in heavy snowfall in the small tent, which was all wet due to the condensation. The Snow stopped at around 11.30 pm, and it cleared up.
The next morning, it was bright and clear, but an absolute whiteout. The Snow was frozen, and we waited for the Snow to get a little softer else it would have been difficult to drive on that.
At around 10, we cleared the car of the Snow and headed back to Dehradun.
It was a surreal experience despite the Snow, but I guess we will have to go back to complete the climb again.