Top 10 treks to do in Himalayas this Winter

12/01/2012 02:59:00 PM

The trekking season in the Himalayas starts from late spring to summer, covers virtually the whole year including winter at lower altitude regions, a sizable decrease in options in comparison to the rest of the year.  Winter may not may best months to venture high in to himalaya, but for the energetic leisure seeker and adventurer, keen to take up a rare wilderness experience, the awe-inspiring views of snow covered mountains laced in thick white dress makes it hard to resist opting for choices that it persistently lays out in these few months of otherwise low activity.

From famous to non-famous, from explored to least known, here are my top 10 picks from the best  of winter treks, that different regions of Himalayas have to offer.

1. Ladakh Chadar (The ICE Sheet) trek 

Carrying the Legends, history, culture and magical landscapes for over thousand years, The ancient trail that once was used by the Zanskaris as only way in or out for trade in months of winters, is now known as the one of the greatest, high adrenaline, most exotic and incomparable trek in the region of himalaya. From walking on a frozen river and camping in caves, to utterly real possibilities of seeing a glut of wildlife  — the bharal, ibex to the elusive carnivores, the wolf and the regal snow leopard, and chance of learning about the region and its people by staying with the locals, the Chadar trek offers thrill seekers an experience of a lifetime. no doubt its features in every avid trekker's dream trek list and as one the top treks in world trekking map. 

The Chadar trek follows the river bed from Chilling to Naerab, Lingshed and many other villages, along the river Zanskar. 

Difficulty - Moderate to Difficult
Trekking Kms.- 70-100Kms
Duration - 7-10 days  
Region - Ladakh  
Nearest airport - Leh

2. Chopta Chandrasilla trek 

Famous for the highest temple dedicated to lord Shiva, Mount Tungnath, at an altitude of 3810mts, is difficult to scale in winters. A mini-peak beyond Tungnath, however is not only easy to reach, but offers a great vantage point, a 270 degree most amazing view of the entire range of Garhwal peaks like Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Nanda devi and Trishul among the most prominent ones. The trek passing through forests and vast meadows, views of snow clad Himalayas, starts with a steep but short climb from Okhimath, to Deoria tal, crosses Chopta and Tungnath to reach the summit of moon rock, .i.e. Chandrashila at 34090mts

Chopta is situated on the Gopeshwar-Ukhimath road 40kms from Gopeshwar at an altitude of 2900mts high. The trail from Chopta to Tungnath peak is short and easy yet difficult to spot in winters and hence challenging. Chandrashilla is another 1km of rigorous climb from Tungnath Temple.

Difficulty - Easy to moderate
Duration - 3-4 days 
Maximum Altitude - 4000mts
Region - Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 
Nearest railway - Haridwar 
Nearest airport - Dehradun 

3. Har-ki-Doon- Ruinsara tal Trek 

At an elevation of 3556mts, Har ki doon trek is a classic, one of the most famous tea-shop treks in Garhwal region of Himalaya. Surfaced on Fateh Parvat and Known as a small valley, more beautiful than the valley of flowers, Har-ki-doon valley literally means the Hanging valley of Gods. The Trail from Sankri takes you to some of the least explored area in the valley, surrounded by dense forest, rich fauna and shining peaks. The trek is relatively easy even in months of winter, and can be further extended to Ruinsara tal, Jaudhar Glaciar and Maninda Tal. From Ruinsara one can see a splendid view of  Swargarohini range peaks.

Trekking Routes for Har ki Dun Trek : Sankri - Taluka - Taluka - Osla - Har - Ki Dun - Osla - Taluka - Sankri

Difficulty - Easy 
Trekking Km.- ~90Kms.
Duration - 6-7 days 
Region - Uttarakhand 
Nearest railway - Mussoorie
Nearest airport - Dehradun 

Bordering Himachal pradesh, Kedarkantha is another trek in har-ki-doon valley. The trail offers enchanting view of Himalayan vista, rich and verdant pines, chestnut, and maple forests and chances of catching few glimpses of Himalayan wildlife, making this route, virtually a paradise for the botanists, bird watchers, trekkers and anyone interested in exploring and photographing it. The land has been also known for the temples and shrines with sacred mythological attachments. Duryodhna, the eldest of Kaurvas, is worshiped here.

The trek starts from Mussoorie, crosses Kempty Fall, Nainbag, Purola and Mori and reaches Juda ka Talab, a small pond on the way to Kedar Kantha. from the medows a 6 hours trek takes you to Kedarkantha peak.

Difficulty - Easy 
Trekking Km.- 20 
Duration - 6 days 
Maximum Altitude - 38120mts
Region - Uttarakhand 
Nearest road - Mussoorie 
Nearest airport, railway - Dehradun 

5. Sandakphu - Phalut 

One of the best and most popular trek in Darjeeling, North East Himalayan region is Sandakphu -Phalut trek. also known as Sandakfu-Falut, this trek in Singalila range, offers not only a magnificent  panoramic view of Mount Kanchenjunga, but the spectacular sight of burned sliver-fir and emerald green forests.  the region abounds in rhododendrons, magnolias, primulas, orchids and ferns of numerous varieties and about 600 bird species making it a bird lovers paradise. From Phalut a portion of Mt Everest is also visible although it is slightly hidden by another peak in a shape of an enormous armchair.

The trek starts from Maneybhanjang via Chitirey, Meghma, Tonglu, Tumling, Gairibas, Kala Pokhri, Bekhey to Sandakphu and Phulat.

Difficulty - Easy to Moderate 
Trekking Km.- ~45Kms
Duration - 8/9 days 
Maximum Altitude -  3635mts.
Region - Darjeeling, Himalaya 
Nearest road, railway -  Darjeeling
Nearest airport - Bagdogra 

6. Helambu circuit Trek- 

Helambu is very popular trek in the langtang valley, also called the valley of glaciers, in nepal region of Himalaya. Inhibited by sherpa villages, the valley offers pine forest, slow moving rivers and swift mountain streams, rugged rock and snow-capped peaks, grassy downs and meadows strewn with daisies and wild primulas. The trek is relatively easy, peaceful and less crowded than Annapurna and Everest region treks and is cultural spectacle in itself.

Trek starts from Sundarijal, 15kms from Kathmandu, heading up a concrete path to Mulkharka Dam, and Chisopani. Pati Bhanjyang,Gul Bhanjyang,Malemchigaon and Tarke Gyang are few village you can see in this trek. Gosaikund peak to Tharepati is the best ridge walk amongst all treks in nepal. further the trail goes via forest to Sermathang and then to Malemchi Pul Bazar in Kathmandu.

Difficulty - Easy
Duration - 7 days 
Maximum Altitude - 3490mts
Region - kathmandu
Nearest railway - kathmandu
Nearest airport - kathmandu, nepal

Khumbhu region, Chola Pass, Dhaulagiri, and Ghorepani poonunhill Trek in addition to Everest and Annapurna Base trekking expeditions are also few treks in nepal region of himalaya that you plan in winters.

7. Dodital - Darwa Pass Winter Trek-

Relatively easy in summers, Dodital trek can be quite challenging in winter, due to heavy snowfall
The Dodital trail is a forest trek, which can be used to travel between Gangotri andYamnotri regions. The trek starts from Bhaghirathi Valley goes up to Dodital and then via Darwa top one can reach Yamnotri. Dodital is a sacred lake at around 10800 feet and it is believed to be the birth place of Lord Ganesha.  The trail is very well marked goes through the Oak, Rhododendron and some Deodar forest.

From Uttarkashi, drive to Sangamchatti and begin trekking via Agoda to Dodital and Darwa pass, you can descent via the same route on the summit day. Another route starts from Hanumanchatti on the Yamnotri road ato Kondola. there is no facility on this route, one needs to hire porters and mules and  arrange full gears in Hanumanchatti itself. This route will take you about 1,300 feet higher than Darwa Pass from over Darwa Top and then down to the bugyal descending to Dodital Lake. The longest and most difficult route however is via Dayara Bugyal following a jungle path used by the Gujjar nomads from the region.

Difficulty - Moderate to Difficult 
Duration - 5/6 days 
Maximum Altitude - 3025mts
Region - Uttarakhand 
Nearest railway - Haridwar 
Nearest airport - Dehradun 

8. The Lord Curzon / Kuari pass winter trek

One of the most beautiful and scenic, Kuari pass trek, offers views of many famous snow-clad himalayan peaks such as Neelkanth, Kamet, Kalanka, Trishul, Mukut Parvat, Nilgiri, Changabang, Dronagiri, and Chuakhamba. Kuari pass is also a pilgrimage route to Joshimath, and Badrinath. Joshimath is about 256 Km from Haridwar by road. after reaching Joshimath, the trek can be undertaken from either Auli (8KM) or Chitrakhana (12Km) to Tali top. from Tali top, trek traverses via khullar top through a steep, snow path to Kuari pass. 

Difficulty - Moderate 
Trekking Km.- 40 
Duration - 5/6 days 
Maximum Altitude - 13990ft 
Region - Uttarakhand 
Nearest railway - Haridwar 
Nearest airport - Dehradun 

9. Chamba to Dalhousie Trek - National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition, conducted by Youth Hostel Association of India-

Youth Hostel Association of India, YHAI, offers a winter trekking expedition to Dalhousie, a hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The trek begins at Dalhousie, to Kala Top, Khajjiyar/Khajjar, and Mangala or Chamba. Set on five hills and facing the Pir Panjal range, Dalhousie is one hill station, very popular among home and foreign tourists. The Trail from Dalhousie to Lakkadmandi is easy, from Lakkadmandi to Kala top is beautiful has snow patch, and is part of the Kalatop-Khajjiar Reserve forest. Next stop Khajjar, is called mini Switzerland and is a venue for adventure sports like paragliding and horse riding. From Kahjjiar tthe route onwards to Chamba is all downhill. 

Difficulty - Easy
Trekking Km.- 35 
Duration - 3/4 days 
Maximum Altitude - 
Region -Himachal Pradesh 
Nearest Railway, airport, road - Pathankot Airport is 80 Km from Dalhousie. The road from Pathankot to Dalhousie forms a part of the Pathankot-Chamba National Highway and is smooth and spacious.

10. Sunder Dunga Glacier Valley snow Trek - 

Sunder dunga means the valley of beauitiful stones. The enchanting valley situated to the west of Pindari valley and has two glaciers, Maktoli and Sukhram. With its superabundant wild-life, rolling forests, lush green meadows, deep and narrow gorges, and the snow-capped mountains, the valley offers all its name stands for—beauty in all its true forms. The valley is reachable via Dhakuri pass, through a snow bounded climb, and then descending to the village Khati to the valley floor vila Chilta top. the route makes it a great snow trek. and if (only) the weather permits, you can trek to either of the village Dwali or Jatoli, the famous village in Sundar Dunga Base camp route.

Incase you look forward to extend your trek, from Khati, an alternate route through dense forest trails and snow trek takes you to Bajling Dhar to Kaluwa taki pass and Pangu Top, offering a great view of Nanda top, the return from this route is via Supi and bageshwar.

Difficulty - Moderate to Difficult
Trekking Km.- 40 
Duration - 7 days 
Maximum Altitude - 13990ft 
Region - Kumaon Himalayas, Uttarakhand 
Nearest railway - Kathgodam 
Nearest airport - Dehradun 

Points to remember before you venture out - winter hiking can be as risky as it sounds, so before you head out

  • Get the right gears - clothing, basic snow hiking gears, Food items and emergency items
  • Make sure to leave an itinerary - am sure you have watched 127hours
  • Understand Altitude sickness and Hypothermia
  • Have a company - Dont venture out alone, get a guide at least 
  • Dont get confused, remember to have fun...

[ This Article was published on The New Indian Express newspaper and online link 1-  link 2 ]

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  1. काफ़ी काम की जानकारी मिली है।

  2. Took me 20 hours to write. I am glad it paid off. :)

  3. Good info on alluring treks. :)

  4. Hey there Poonam! It is a very good post that you have written here. I head the Content and Social Media Team for a travel website called WeAreHolidays, and I read quite a few articles on travel daily, but this post is right up there. Good stuff, girl. Would you be interested in freelancing on travel? :)

  5. Hey Neeraj,

    thank you for reading and of course commenting. I appreciate it. I am glad you liked the post. I badly want/ed to trek this winter, so ended up researching and writing the option not easily available at one place.

    I do freelance for magazines and papers for both photos and articles.. please write to me on / will get back to you asap.

  6. now i have to do chopta, amazing pic and a great post!

  7. That har-ki-doon looks awesome, should do that next winter, great info, thanks

  8. @Dinesh - Yup... you're most welcome.

  9. loved the great article done by you :)

  10. Article published on The New Indian Express link 1-

    link 2 -

  11. Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I loved this article.
    It was helpful. Keep on posting!

    My weblog proxykat

  12. I am planning to go for camping in Dodital in October. I have read several blogs and i am very impressed. I am looking for a travel buddy.

  13. @ajay - glad you liked it. Hope you find your travelbuddy, if not look for the trekking groups for perhaps bmc site, they have plenty of travel enthusiasts in the forum. yhai treks are crowded if you like that you can go with them too.

  14. One request...or a help please
    I have applied for special casual leave for attending the trekking programme with YHAI in May at Chandekhanni pass beginning on 4th May 2015
    This is the first time that someone is applying for the programme requiring special casual leave from my office
    My officer has been very kind and is ready to give me the leave....but he wants to see any similar permission/order for availing special casual leave given to other central government servants for attending trekking programmes of YHAI...
    I have already submitted copy of the specific order of DOPT showing provisions for granting permission for special casual leave..
    He wants to see the order given to any other central government employee for availing such special casual as a sample....
    Does anyone have one...
    Or any of your friends
    If it is there ....could you please mail it to me
    email ID
    Or give a phone number or lead I can follow to get it...
    With regards


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