Uttarakhand is home to almost everything that nature has to offer. From lofty snow-capped mountains, tough terrains, lush greenery to breathtaking rivers, Uttarakhand has it all. Auden's Col is a mountain pass perched at an elevation of 18,000 ft. It is named after the founder of the mountain pass, John Bicknell Auden, who also crossed it in the 1939.
The fearsome height and rough terrain of the Garhwal Himalayas, on which the mountain pass is founded, make it one of the most challenging trekking routes in India.
Basic Details Of The Trek
The route connects the two glaciers of Khatling Glacier and Jogin I Glacier. It begins from Gangotri and ends at Kedarnath, wherein both the regions are two of the most prominent Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. The trail is a tough one since trekkers have to cross difficult terrains like curved paves, narrow cliffs, ridges, moraines, etc.
It goes without saying that this trek is for professional trekkers. It is a long and strenuous trek that takes 20 days in total to be completed, which includes 4 days of travelling. Another important aspect to keep in mind is getting acclimatised, since the final destination is perched at a very high altitude.
However hard the trail might seem, walking through alpine meadows while taking in the breathtaking views of Garhwal Himalayas makes all the effort worth it.
Best Time To Trek
The best time to embark on a trek to Auden's Col pass is during the summer months of May to June and post-monsoon months of September to mid-October. Summer will be pleasant and will have a perfectly cool temperature to trek while post-monsoon season will give an entirely different experience, with cold climate and snow-covered terrain.
Here is how the 2-week-long trek will look like.
The first 2 days will be travelling from Delhi to Gangotri. If the journey has tired you down, take a rest day once you reach Gangotri, where you can spend time getting acclimatised as well. The last two days of the trek are also travel days when you'll be returning to Rishikesh and then Delhi.
Trekking Day 4 to 7
After a day's time of getting acclimatised, you can begin the journey from Gangotri to Nala base camp on the 4th day. The trail goes through the Gangotri National Park where you will witness beautiful cedar and rhododendron trees lined throughout the path. The 5-6 hour trek will end for the day once you reach river Rudragaira.
On day 5 you will proceed to the Rudragaira camp which is a trek of 7-8 hours. You will start on a ridge, pass through streams and finally climb onto a steep trail from where you can witness the majestic Rudragaira and Jogin peaks. Enjoy the vista while setting your camp for the night.
Day 6 is a break day where you can spend time to get acclimatised, since you would've reached a height of 14,270 ft by now. Walk around the campsite and get a better understanding of the place because from day 8 the trek gets tougher.
PC: Rajarshi MITRA
On day 7 you must reach the Gangotri group base camp which goes through moraines, tricky and very steep trails. The final destination will give you an awe-striking view of the Gangotri group of peaks.
Trekking Day 8 to 11
The final destination of day 8 is Auden's Col base camp which has a rather confusing trail that includes even more moraines. The base camp will be pitched on any flat surface on the rocky terrain.
The real deal is on day 9 when you will reach Auden's Col pass and trek to the Khatling Glacier. You will have to begin the trek early in the morning and go through tough terrains of technical climbing. Sometimes you might need a rope to help you through.
Once you reach Auden's Col at 18,000 ft, take some time to absorb the beauty of the view of Himalayas from the point. After you're fulfilled with the view, begin the 6 km descent towards Khatling Glacier, which is where you will pitch your camp.
PC: Paul Hamilton
Day 10 will be trekking to Zero Point, a 10-12 hour trek on glaciers. With the help of technical trekking equipments you can cross these glaciers, and then walk through moraines to finally reach Zero Point. The most harsh part of the trek ends here.
From Zero Point you will head to Chowki on the 11th day, a grassy camp site that takes just 4-5 hours to complete. You can finish the trek through meadows early and take some time to rest.
Trekking Day 12 to 16
On day 12 and 13 you will trek to two beautiful lakes, Masar Tal and Vasuki Tal. The 14th day involves reaching Kedarnath, the popular Hindu pilgrimage site. Here you can witness one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. You can choose to end the trek here or proceed to Rishikesh.
From here you can head to Gaurikund on the 15th day where you'll be walking a 14 km well-laid path. On day 16, you will finally reach Rishikesh, which marks the end of the Auden's Col trek.