Pangarchulla Peak: Conquering The Pinnacle

Shubham Pokhriyal

Since the last one year, every morning, peeking outside my window driving towards my office, was this one peak out of many, which I was always pulled towards. Every time the peak comes into the view, my mind would always run through its ridges towards its top. The desire, not just to see the mountain but to stand at its top is what led to this amazing journey. A thrilling summit, loaded with heavy snow made this a memorable trek.

Pangarchullais a 14,700 feet high mountain adorning the famous Kuari pass –Lord Curson Trail.

Pangarchula peak

The trek starts from Dhak village- a small village, 12kms on Malari road from Joshimath. Once leaving behind the roads, the trek starts on a rocky track and unpaved road till Karchi village. The levelled walk soon started to vanish as we entered the forest. The walk among the forest was quite steep at times but our campsite which will be our summit push camp came after 5kms of hiking through the forest.

‘Akhrotghetta’ at some 9000feet above MSL was our campsite, which was home for the next two nights. It was a clear opening surrounded by forests. At the center of this opening was a wild and grand ‘walnut’ or ‘akhrot’ tree standing tall, and hence the name. This is the time of the year when blooming season starts here at these upper reaches. Especially rhododendron was at its personal best. They were adding a charm all around along with the shiny Himalayan peaks. We had our lunch and lazed around the entire evening. The weather kept on playing its game consecutively with sunshine,clouds and rainfall, the whole day.  Finally, with the onset of the setting sun, the weather started turning clear. We had our dinner and slept for an early start next morning to the summit.

Sunrise at Mt.Dunagiri

The next day started at around 02:30AM, it was cold outside but the moon light lit the campsite beautifully. With all necessary preparations and after a light breakfast, we left the camp site at around 03:30AM. The first task of the trek was to reach Gailgad before the day light breaks down. We walked silently through the dark forest with the light of the torches. With least breaks and relatively well walk, we crossed Khulara and proceeded to Gailgad. Leaving behind the tree line, we were welcomed by the snow fields. The snow was hard at this early hour and was easy to walk on. With everything going as per planned, the first rays of the sun became visible at around 05:30AM and touched Gailgad.

The whole world and the terrain from here were completely different, mesmerizing and dangerous too. There was snow all around in countable feet height. Within no time, it was sunny all around. Walking around from ridges to ridges through the snow, we had this place, gullies and valley all to ourselves. Walking carefully following each other footsteps were reached the base of the mountain.  With a little rest and refreshment, we started way to the summit. We were joined here by another team of four members making it eight members for the summit. We navigated through what is called the shoulder of the mountains carefully and slowly marking the way for all to follow.  After the shoulder, the ridges ran in front of us all the way till summit. Since there was no marked way in the snow and keeping in mind that the snow was a risky business to proceed, we continued with caution. The ridge of the mountain is 60 degree steep on one side and 80 degree on the other. The snow was too loose to be walked on so, a decision was made to walk up to the summit only if the snow conditions were good. Slowly and carefully, our guide marked a way and we all followed it. In clear and clam conditions, after seven hours, and around 10:30AM, seven of us made to the summit. It was moment of being blessed and happy. Every effort and vain was at last paid off. We had stunning 360 degree panoramic views of all the major peaks of Garhwal :- Nandadevi, Trisul, NandKot, Dronagiri, Hathi-Ghoda, Bramal, Neelkanth, Chaumkambha and many other famous and unnamed peaks. Far down the summit, I could see the road from where I use to gaze the peak. It was the feeling of such gratitude that after returning home, when I’ll look back this peak, I will see my achievement right in front of my eyes. We offered our prayers to this mountain and thanked for its gratefulness to let us climb it. The clouds then started marching and we started our journey back.

Sunrise over Mt. Chaukambha & Mt. Neelkanth.
The Summit
Summit Views

The journey back to camp was much difficult than going up. As the afternoon kicked, the snow became too soft to walk on. For the next few hours, we walked in snow as a drunken man finding his way to home.  When we finally reached back to our camp, it was 13 hours past.Laying outside our tent, we finally realized that the deed has been done successfully .We were all pretty happy, proud and satisfied with ourselves. Being tired throughout the day, we just lazed in the evening, had our dinner and fell asleep.

Pink Rhododendron during the blooming season

The next day, we packed our stuff and marched on to another campsite near Gulling. The trek for the day was through the forest. The sound of gushing water streams and dense forest was a charm. There are plenty of water streams along the way. One could find widespread Golden Oak, Birch trees all around.

Sunset Hours

We were at our campsite before lunch. We roamed around the campsite for the whole afternoon. After lunch at the campsite, the sun took a dip and the snow peaks took a golden sheet casting a spell of pure magic.We relaxed pretty for the whole day and explored area around the campsite.

Tali Lake

Next morning was our last day into the trip. And a final leg of journey started with ascending into the forest. This was mildly steep till we reached a small lake ‘Tali’. The view around this lake are unparallel. After a descent ascent, this is a perfect site to catch up few breaths,Immersing and experiencing the beauty around the lake and getting refreshed. The ridge walks started which took us to Gorsobugyal and finally after walking for few more hours till Auli we ended this beautiful journey.

Every one of us was a little heartbroken when we finally saw human-hood and reached civilization. The mountain and its summit had a deep impact on each of us. We learned a lot in this journey but the most important thing we learned was how to maintain a positive outlook and be mentally and physically strong so as to attain great heights in every aspect of our lives.

Summit Team

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