By Sourav Roy
What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘trekking’. For me, it is an absolute bone-chilling feeling through the spine. So, when one of my school friends asked me for a trek I didn’t think twice before saying a yes. It was August 2019 when six of us headed for the famous Hampta Pass in Himachal. Hampta Pass was named after Rishi Hampta and is a pass that connects green Kullu valley with the dry Spiti valley. An ideal beginners trek, Hampta has a lot to offer to range from beautiful green valleys to gusting mountain rivers, varieties of high-altitude Himalayan flowers to spider walls.
Typically, the trek begins from the green valley of Jobri which is at a height of 9000 feet and a 45 minutes’ drive from Manali town. One has to pass through the forests of birch, silver wood, a river stream and a bewildering green valley to reach the first campsite at chikka at an altitude of 10300 feet. This is one of the best campsites one will encounter during the entire trek cladded with green during the monsoon months.
The first day, the walk is an easy one with relatively less altitude gain. Day two starts with a steep ascent and the trek become easy to moderate as one crosses a spider wall and then a gusting river stream. An astonishing valley with millions of colourful Himalayan flowers makes the sight a hundred times more beautiful. One can see Himalayan blue poppy, parthenium, magnolia, hogweed in abundance across the valley.
At the end of this trail of 5 to 6 kms, one reaches the Balu-Ka-Ghera campsite. This is too a beautiful campsite with mountains both the side at a height of 11900 feet. This is the place where the greenery of Kullu valley is about to end before it turns to the grey of Spiti. Day three starts with a moderate walk till the watershed where one can see the crossover from green to grey at the river bed.
As one crosses the riverbed the ascent starts through bolder and screen and snow cladded peaks of Pirpanjal range starts giving sighting. This place is immensely beautiful. At the time the gradient becomes almost 70 degrees just before reaching the pass and the last 2 km are high moderate grade walk through the very small passage and loose stones falling intermittently. Finally come to the pass and the highest point of this trek at a height of 14200 feet or 4200 meters, from where on a clear day one can see a 180-degree view of the Pirpanjal range with Indrasan and Deo-Tibba at a touching distance.
Indrasan is the highest peak in Pirpanjal range in Himachal and regarded as one the toughest technical climb in the world. Right after crossing the pass descend starts. This descends is much tough as entire of this till the Sheagoru campsite is through boulders and very narrow passage. One has to cross a spider wall once again during the descent. The 3rd-day trek ends at Sheagoru campsite. This is a V-shaped valley in the Spiti district. The campsite is just beside the Hampta River sourced from the glacial water of the Indrasan, Deo-Tibba and adjacent glaciers. One generally gets a very clear sky at Spiti with millions of stars in the night. Milky Way galaxy can be spotted easily during the night here.
Next day and the last day of the trekking starts early in the morning as most people do Chandrataal along with Hampta pass. For Chandrataal once needs to reach Chatru campsite and from there a 3 to 4 hours journey through the Chenab valley to reach Chandrataal.
The road to reach Chandrataal from Chatru is completely stone laden and ideal for those who love off-roading. This road connects Manali to Kaza through Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass. Chandrabhaga or Chenab goes hand in hand. Chandrataal is an alpine lake situated at 14000 feet, feed by the glacial water of the adjacent mountains and remains frozen for 8 months of the year apart from the summer months. One can plan to stay a night at the Chandrataal camping site. A full moon night stays here would be worth remembering through life. Baralacha-La trek starts from Chandrataal.
Best time to visit- June to September. During August and September greenery at Hampta Pass is at its best. Day temperature varies between 10 to 15 degree and in the night comes down between 0 to 5 degree.
How to go- Manali is the starting point and it is easily accessible from Delhi and other major cities. Many trek agencies offer Hampta Pass trek package. It is always advisable to take some local guide.
Where to stay- There are ample hotels of different price ranges are available in Manali. During trek, one needs to stay in the tents provided by the touring agency.