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Old 19th March 2022, 01:32   #1
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Default Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

It all started when I saw an email from Thrillophilia advertising about Kedarkantha Trek. It had few photos of the trek which immediately got me hooked. When I opened the link in the email, it led me to the trek page on their website and it had more photos of the snow-covered mountains, tents in the snow, a frozen lake, an approximate itinerary and i was sold to the trek right away.

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-me-3.jpeg

I had been to Valley of Flowers/Hemakund Sahib trip back in July 2015. Since it was my first trip to the mountains up north it was a decent experience. While I was prepared for the VoF trek gear wise, physically I wasn’t in the right shape and it became evident in the first few KMs of the trek.

The urge to revisit the mountains was always there and the Kedarkantha trip certainly appeared to meet that urge. With a regular fitness routine these days, I was confident that I can do this trek. I had never seen snow in my life and the now capped mountains of Kedarkantha trek appeared to be right one for me experience the snow and also to rekindle my interest in high altitude trekking.

Kedarkantha summit is at 3800 meters or 12500 feet and is situated in the Govind Balabh pant wildlife sanctuary in Uttarakashi district of Uttarakhand. This trek can be done throughout the year and winter months of December to January are when it seems the most people attempting this trek.

Key aspects of this trek:
  • Temperatures would vary from around 1 C to – 17C throughout the trek, proper winter gear is a must
  • Difficulty is rated easy to medium and anyone with a regular fitness routine can complete the trek
  • [FONT=Calibri]No mobile networks are available during the trek. Patchy BSNL network available at Sankri. Jio/Vodafone available at the peak
    [/FONT]
  • Winter cloths, down jackets, ice pants, walking stick, hiking shoes, woolen caps are a must
  • Stay will be in tents at campsites surrounded by snow
  • Freshly prepared food and beverages would be served at the campsites.
  • Due to the cold, electronic gadgets would lose their charge rapidly (more on this later)
  • The summit push starts at around 2.30AM, so need to carry a torch preferable a head mounted one to keep your hands free to use the walking stick
  • Toilets were tents with hole in the ground and you can only use tissues. Daredevils can try water to clean up.
  • As the altitude of this trek wasn’t that high but mountain sickness is indeed a possibility, so need to carry required medicines just in case.
  • There is no way you can get a bath once you depart from Dehradun. So, deodorant is a must
  • You will halt at Juda Ka Talab (Frozen lake)/ Hargaon Camp site on day 1 and at the base camp site on Day 2 and 3
The summit push is the most challenging part of the entire trek. There are 3 paths to the summit and each of them have their own challenges. Since you start in the dead of the night you won't realize the difficulty. A lot of people give up and stay back at one of the tea shops which are on the way to the peak. Breathing will be stressful and people with not much fitness the summit push is a challenge.

As you get closer to the peak, the incline is pretty steep. Its only when the sun rises and you see the stunning mountains all around you, the effort will be worth it. You will be rewarded with the stunning views all around you. The cold at the peak will be a huge challenge and it takes a lot of efforts to take your hand out of the gloves and click the photos.

While you take one path to go to the summit which has steep assent on froze ice which requires micro-spikes and trekking stick , the return path is like an alpine meadow and you can slide down at few places and have fun

Now let the photos do the talking: (All photos taken from mobiles phones and are in no particular order)

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Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-trek-base-camp.jpeg

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-summit-return.jpeg

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-night-sky.jpg

All photos courtesy from my trek mates: Argha, Dr.Shubam, Dr.Niyati, Prem, Mukul, Apoorva
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Old 19th March 2022, 13:06   #2
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Nice photos ant_vas. Which month is this?

Also I have heard Kedarkantha is really crowded now days. How was your experience?
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Old 19th March 2022, 15:17   #3
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

How is thrillopia as a trekking group?What was the costing and group size?

Kedarkantha is arguably the most popular and crowded winter trek.

The experience of trekking in the winter months after December is superb.

Happy trekking now that the bug would have bitten you.As addictive as driving I must say.
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Old 19th March 2022, 18:17   #4
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Quote:
Nice photos ant_vas. Which month is this?

Also I have heard Kedarkantha is really crowded now days. How was your experience?
Thanks warrioraks. This was last week of December and indeed it was pretty crowded. During the summit push we were literally like ants one behind the other and if someone in front was tired and stopped to rest for a minute, the entire line would come to a halt!

Quote:
How is thrillopia as a trekking group?What was the costing and group size?
The experience is a mixed bag with them! Valley of Flowers trip was very well organized as the operator we were assigned was Trek the Himalayas. For Kedarkantha trek, they didn't assign an operator till the very last minute and we got Himalayan Footprints as the operator. I would say the arrangements were below average to average. First we weren't assigned a proper guide. He didn't know if our campsite is at Juda ka Talab or Hargaon! Finally when we reached hargaon camp site, the tents were pitched on a slight incline and we kept slipping through the night and could barely sleep after climbing the whole day. The tents at base camp site were at the last spot.

But i wasn't really bothered about this as there to experience what ever challenge was there and make memorable experience of this trek.

And yes, now am bitten by the bug and already thinking which should be my next trek this year.
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Old 20th March 2022, 11:29   #5
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Oh man! The pictures brings back a lot of memories

Congratulations on summiting Kedarkantha, Hope you had a great experience!

As said, this is a great easy to medium winter trek. One good thing in this trail is you see tea shops who make great Maggie and hot snacks available in this high altitude.

This is must go Trek in the Indian trek routes.
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Old 20th March 2022, 20:38   #6
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

What are some challenging (750m+ elevation gain in a day?) treks with snow and real toilets which have running water? The only thing that stops me from trekking is this...

Last edited by peepo : 20th March 2022 at 20:40. Reason: wanted to add challenging
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Old 20th March 2022, 21:00   #7
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Wow that is a wonderful travelogue on the Kedarkantha ascent.

The campsites look so crowded though. I went there in early Dec 2015 with a bunch of friends and we were the only ones in the entire trek. It was a pretty exciting and memorable trip for all of us !

Hijacking your thread with a few pics from my trip.

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Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-fb_img_1647789968601.jpg
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Old 20th March 2022, 21:43   #8
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Was lucky enough to do the Kedarkantha winter snow trek in 2020 in a world without masks.
It was the first trek of my life and my first trip to the North India.
The first time I had seen, felt snow.
The first time I had experienced temperatures of -18~-20.
The first time I had spent a night (2 nights) in a tent in brutal cold temperature.
Many first times

It was an experience of a lifetime.
Initially I was not keen on signing up as I always rooted for road trips.

My uncle who's a seasoned trekker, had arranged this expedition (for noobs it is) through a private tour operator based out of Dehradun.
Needless to say, I fell in love with the mountains and the trek itself.
Now my situation has become such that Car driving is like Saas and Trekking is like Bahu. I have to keep both sides of me happy

Here's a few pictures from my collection
Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp1.jpg
That refreshing and divine feeling when I set my first foot into Devbhoomi

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp2.jpg
View from a dhaba on the outskirts of Dehradun on the way to Mussoorie.
Honestly, Dehradun to Mussoorie stretch is one of the best driving roads I felt despite travelling in a Force Traveller.

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp3.jpg
First glimpse of snow capped mountains

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp4.jpg
Day 1, almost near the campsite, exhausted, hungry and cold!

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp5.jpg
We got to stay at the campsite right by Judaa Ka Talaab lake

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View of the surrounding mountains from base camp

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-tbhp9.jpg
Last glimpse of the peak

Due to inclement weather, that's the furthest we could go and the push for summit had been suspended for the entire week as there had been unprecedented snowfall.
This is my maiden trekking and camping experience.
Lessons I learnt from this trek
The top of one mountain is the always the bottom of another mountain.
Humans need other humans, it's very necessary to talk to people. Otherwise if one starts feeling homesick, that could be nightmarish!

I had been wanting to write a travelogue on this, but laziness took the better of me.
Thank you for refreshing my memories and sorry for hijacking your thread.
Cheers.

Last edited by Abhinav V : 20th March 2022 at 21:48.
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Old 21st March 2022, 10:15   #9
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Quote:
What are some challenging (750m+ elevation gain in a day?) treks with snow and real toilets which have running water? The only thing that stops me from trekking is this
In the kedarkantha trek while you do gain decent altitude each day, but if you have a fairly healthy lifestyle and do cardio on a daily basis you can achieve the summit easily. AMS is real and i did see couple of people in my group suffering from it during the trek. We started as a group of 15, after day 1, 3 of them dropped off, for the summit push it was only 5 who finally made it, 4 stayed back in the base camp and 1 came only till the tea shop on the way to the summit.

Quote:
The campsites look so crowded though. I went there in early Dec 2015 with a bunch of friends and we were the only ones in the entire trek. It was a pretty exciting and memorable trip for all of us !

Hijacking your thread with a few pics from my trip.
The photo's look stunning! the route you took to summit appears to be route we took while coming down! The amount of snow is really amazing and the entire place looks surreal! And it was damn crowded during the last week of 2021

Quote:
Thank you for refreshing my memories and sorry for hijacking your thread.
Am glad my post is able to refresh your memories. I am sure you are itching to visit the mountains again and achieve the summit. all the best.
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Old 21st March 2022, 13:31   #10
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

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Originally Posted by peepo View Post
What are some challenging (750m+ elevation gain in a day?) treks with snow and real toilets which have running water? The only thing that stops me from trekking is this...
Missed mentioning about the toilets. Don't expect a proper toilet during the trek. It's a separate tent with a hole in the ground and a mound of mud for you to dump once you done using the toilet.

Running water in toilets? Forget about that. It will be freeze cold to touch water throught the trek and 99% of the time you will have your gloves on. Toilet paper or wet wipes are the way to go. With the kind of cold you will visit the loo probably 1 or 2 times only

A hand sanitizer is a must throught the trek for sure.

One day 1 at sankri home stay, I tried touching water after brushing teeth and I couldn't feel my fingers for 30 minutes.
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Old 21st March 2022, 14:09   #11
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Awesome photos @ant_vas, @//M and @Abhinav.

I'm hearing this Kedarkantha for the first time and its so mesmerizing. Kudos on completing the trek and sharing the experience here. Some of the pictures are wallpaper material.

By the way India is so beautiful isn't it?
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Old 21st March 2022, 14:31   #12
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

You brought back lot of awesome memories, we did Kedarkantha trek in Dec-2017 and it was a first big trek and in Himalayas and in snow. It was truly awesome experience and some of the memories that will stay with us for lifetime.
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Old 21st March 2022, 16:10   #13
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

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Originally Posted by peepo View Post
What are some challenging (750m+ elevation gain in a day?) treks with snow and real toilets which have running water? The only thing that stops me from trekking is this...
1. The biggest challenge you'll face is cold
It's really important that you carry at least two sets of your winter clothing gear. It's also important that you are properly covered in your sleeping bag and double ensure that there's a silk liner in the sleeping bag. That is very critical to keeping your body warm from the biting cold outside
2.Also medicines, most people overlook when carrying medicines for asthma, wheezing. A person at the campsite suddenly developed asthma due to severe cold and lack of sleep and had a severe bout of wheezing. Our trek guide had to run around in the middle of night, in ~-20 degrees, asking everyone if they had an inhaler or a tablet.
3. Drink sufficient quantity of water
It's really important to drink water in small sips rather than gulping down when you take a break. Insufficient drinking of water causes body cramps.
Enjoy the food at the campsite
Quality of sleep is important, not the duration

As for toilets and running water:
Once you check out from the hotel and begin the trek, there's NO toilets.
That is the biggest worry for everyone, and was for me too!
Don't fret about that, everything is an experience
Carry generous quantities of bog roll, baby wet wipes and sanitizer.

If you have anything in mind while trekking or are not feeling good, you must talk about it with your fellow trekkers. Keeping the matter in your mind and holding yourself from expressing won't do any good to you.
No one is going to judge you, especially on a trek.

Hope this helps
Cheers.
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Old 22nd March 2022, 10:42   #14
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Default Re: Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek

Just finished this trek this month. I would seriously recommend anyone to attempt this trek in the last week of February or the first week of March. The weather and the snow is more manageable. Our trip operator was the Himalaya Shelter and the management was far better than any of my friends who went with other operators. One thing that I can assure you of is that food is gonna be a problem. One big tip if you succeed in reaching the summit, while sliding down, be in the front of the line to slide down.
Sharing a picture from the Summit for anyone who needs a little final push to pursue this amazing experience.

Kedarkantha - India's famous Winter Trek-2aa8333624454813a3f3ce50fd5c7643.jpeg
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