Brotherhood of Ice Axe

From Churah to Pangi Valley | Chaini Pass Yatra – II

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting”, said one Joyce Meyer.

At Rawas Campsite, we behaved like little mice caught in a trap. (Read Part I Here).

Rawas Campsite, Day 1

Impatiently, waiting to find someone who could lead us to the top. Impatiently, waiting for the horrendous rains to stop.

The pass, we were told, was right in front of us, hidden beneath a thick layer of mist. And that aggravated our misery. It rained incessantly and any plans of moving forward were curtailed.

Meanwhile, an ailing Pandit Ji was in a dilemma whether to continue or not!

We kept requesting locals gathered at campsite to guide us to the top but none of them showed even an iota of interest. Having waited for three long years, we decided to wait for another day. Deep down inside, we knew we wouldn’t go back empty handed this time.

It rained pretty bad whole night. Pandit Ji made his mind to turn back. I and Rijul were still thinking of finding a man or  a demigod who could lead us to the top.

Rawas Campsite, Day 2

Pandit Ji packed his bag. The sky was still overcast. There was no guide in the picture. And then came Jagdev along with his son Vyas. They saw one of us going back and the other two behaving like schmucks. They talked to us for some time and then went on their way.

And then the inevitable happened. The sun appeared out of the black hole that had engulfed the valley since our arrival. One of the locals decided to accompany us to the top.

Jagdev and his father were surely god-sent. 

And then onward we marched!

Patahar Campsite – Day 3

Patahar Basecamp, Chaini Pass Visible
Patahar Basecamp, Chaini Pass Visible

An hour’s walk from Rawas lead us to Patahar, a beautiful green meadow occupied by gaddis’. 

Ideally, one should camp at Patahar instead of Rawas because that brings you closer to the pass. Also, you get to acclimatize at 3100 meters instead of 2900 meters.

And that means a near vertical hike of 1200 meters from the base camp number two.

From Patahar onward, it was entirely a snow walk on glaciers of gigantic size. At times, because of excessive snow, we had to walk on our fours. Above 4000 meters, it was entirely free style climbing.

If done in late July or August, Chaini Jot is a moderate walk. The trail on both the sides is well marked . However, if you venture here in early July or before that, Chaini Pass is an extremely difficult and dangerous trek. So much so that even the gaddis’ wait for snow to clear from tricky patches. 

Chaini Jot Pass Mindhal Churah Trekkiing (10)
Never Ending Glacier

There were three major crossings where we had to cut steps. The prayer flags atop the pass were visible but reaching there was a daunting task. Our guide was an expert axeman and he cut steps meticulously on hard ice. To avoid steep ice crossings, we had to climb to higher reaches and that was only possible because of our guide who knew these mountains like the back of his hand.

And finally, after seven long hours from Rawas campsite, we were at the top of the mountain. Eight kilometers in seven hours. We started at 05:35 in the morning and at 12:30 we had reached the summit.

The Incredible Valley of Pangi welcomed us on the other side. A never ending glacier appearing to be originating from the feet of sky high mountains guarding horizons of the Pangi Valley. A site to behold forever!

There were two men resting atop the pass who had come from the other side. They told us about the steep descent and route to follow. The descent looked horrible. There was a thin layer of fresh snow on slippery rocks and that made matters even worse. Our guide was now sprinting down to the other side and now it was us against the mountain.

Brotherhood of Ice Axe
Brotherhood of Ice Axe
Chaini Pass Top, June 2015
Chaini Pass Top, June 2015

Chaini Pass Top – 0100 Hours

I tried to lead the way. In the process of moving 10 meters, I slipped thrice. Pandit Ji and Rijul took their time to find the safest route possible and that consumed 20 precious minutes. Eventually, they too slipped and moved 10 meters.

Chaini Pass Top – 0130 Hours

Our backpacks were off our backs. The continuous drizzle had now become watery ice. I jumped on a seemingly flat bed of ice and it landed me in a ditch. The other two started laughing and when they realized they too had to jump in the same ditch, their smile disappeared. They asked me to find an alternate route.

“Theoretically possible, practically not”, was my response. They laughed again.

And then they had to jump. One of them banged his knee against the rock. The other one landed on my chest. We all laughed.

It took us one hour to get down the first fifty meters of descent. Another eight hours to reach Mindhal Village, the last motorable village of Pangi Valley. 

 Glacial Walk – 0200 Hours to 2000 Hours

We spent next six hours walking on a huge glacier. The huge dip that river ChandraBhaga makes in the valley of Pangi was visible. But too far from our reach. Pandit Ji walked at snail’s pace. We were told that we would reach a safe shelter within 3 hours. It took us six hours. And also little help from Pangi Police.

Chaini Jot Pass Mindhal Churah Trekkiing (17)
Storm’s Coming!

Chaini Jot Pass Mindhal Churah Trekkiing (14)

Hello Pangi Police! – 2100 Hours

Pandit Ji gave up. We were still nowhere close to the village. There were dogs all around us, readying for the wonderful feast that awaited them. And then we dialed 100. Unfortunately, the call connected in Shimla. We were given phone number of Pangi Police Station. That didn’t connect, obviously.

We then contacted Abhishek Dular, SP Kangra. He listened to us carefully, noted our position and location. Soon, we were told, that a vehicle was on our way with SHO Kamlesh leading the way.

It took them, the rescue party, three hours to find us. And I am we are thankful to SHO Kamlesh for all his help and generosity.

Chaini Pass Yatra was finally complete. It took us three years in waiting. Three days on foot. Three hours in a police vehicle. And three more days to reach back home.

But we three made it. 🙂 

Chaini Pass Top - Churah to Pangi, 14400 feet
Left to Right: Tarun, Rijul, and Arun
Base Camp to Base Camp Profile
Base Camp to Base Camp Profile

11 thoughts on “From Churah to Pangi Valley | Chaini Pass Yatra – II”

  1. इस ट्रैकिंग ने तो डरा दिया… ये कुत्ते रात-बेरात के समय भालुओं से भी खतरनाक हो जाते हैं। पुलिस ने आपको लताड लगाई या दुलार किया?

  2. नीरज, पोलिस जानने वाली थी इसलिए प्यार प्यार से बच गए। खुद SP का फोन आया हो तो डांटेगा क्यों कोई भला 😉

  3. Wow. What a trek. And lucky that you still had enough charge and network in your phone to be able to make thats call.

  4. Brilliant post on adventure you guys had. This is such an inspiring post and I feel like planning for a trek right now 🙂 … Keep inspiring us Tarun !

  5. This one surely goes about ur grits Guys….I have read your trekking tales Tarun but this one is exceptionally good for the Rescue Part…..Made me felt few scenes of the ‘Grey’ Movie …..only difference was u guys were chased by wild dogs and in movie people were chased by Wolves. Hats off to the Journey and Salute to the Grit!! ….Keep Exploring…Keep Writing!

  6. Amazing trek full of thrills , adventures and beautiful photos. But photographs k saath sr kuchh videos bhi share krdein then it’ll be like soney PE suhagga…..

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