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Snowscapes Theme  Routes (ALP Programs and ITex Theme Treks)

These are routes designed out of various SFex Expeditions held over the last decade. Most of these routes are mapped by GPS during the SFex expeditions and the GPS data used proprietarily by Snowscapes. In all these unique routes customised maps of resolution unto 1:5000 have already specially been designed by the Snowscapes Cartography Team- a division of Snowscapes that specialises in designing custom GPS Maps of the Himalayan Terrain.

Some of the routes certified for the ALP and ITex (Introductory Theme Expeditions) are provided below. Profile of the routes are given below but the detailed itinerary is worked out on request.

The difficulty grades of these treks can be rated between Easy to Moderately difficult. On the 11 factor dynamic rating scale that we use, these routes yield an average difficulty rating of 5-6 out of a 10 point rating scale. The newness and virgin-ness of the routes adds almost one point advantage to the difficulty level.

Since many of these trails are juxtaposed geographically it is also possible to create new route options by combining parts of various outs described below. We provide below a short description of the ten routes we have handpicked after careful experimentation and analysis.


1 . Trail with Canine Friends – Winter exploration of Taknore Range :

Keeping in line with our passion for unique adventures, Snowscapes launches the “Pet Lover’s Winter Trail at the Taknore Range”. Being pet lovers ourselves we have realised the dearth of a good place of vacation for our Canine friends. We realised this the hard way having forever been attached to the Canine friends of the retriever variety. As more and more people take to the innocent and intense companionship of their canine friends, there would be an increasing need for pet lovers to take their friends out into the wilderness and have the experience devoid of protests and rules and regulations that always comes in the way.

All Snowscapes members are avid dog lovers and understand the breeds and their temperaments well. The Winter dog trails require that the owners themselves necessarily travel with their canine companions. We also plan expeditions for groups of pet lovers with their canine companions provided the dogs are well mannered socially and well trained on basic commands of recall.

Depending on the weather and terrain conditions we have been able to provide an experience of a life time for many of our canine friends which may involve day long running around, chasing squirrels, cavorting in the snow and quick dips in the waters of the Ganges. Although we can organise separate cooking for dog-food, we prefer and recommend standard dog-food kimbles.

More details and pics to follow soon.

2 . Fraser-Skinner Trail and the source of Yamuna :

The area defining the source of Yamuna, the Yamunotri-Kharsali complex have been well documented by the early British explorers in the early 1800s, both by J B Fraser and Captain Skinner. Many of us now Yamunotri for the Char Dham pilgrimage to the Yamunotri Temple. However few would have explored its linkage with Medicinal Herbs and the famous story of Ramayana.

Rich medicinal flora of the Yamuna valley

Rich medicinal flora of the Yamuna valley

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3 . Ski Valley Exploration at the Monkey-Tail Mountain :

As one traverses along the Supin river towards the famous trail of Har Ki Dun, many options for new exploration present as one heads into the Ruinsara valley instead of following the trail to Har Ki Dun. At the head of the Ruinsara valley is the Banderpunch Glacier which drains the snows of the massif by the same name.

Ski Valley II Exploration – SFex 2007 November

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4 . Haathi Taal- The Jewel of the Elephant :

This route was geocoded during our 2009 Flagship expedition to explore the Semartoli Valley- a tributary valley to the Bhuinder Ganga on Smythe’s trail. The Semartoli Valley is lovely for its diversity of flora, fauna and virgin untouched beauty. The head of this valley is surrounded by a bevy of tall peaks dominated by the Elephant Peak or Haathi Parvat.

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5 . Smythe’s Trail- The Khunt Khal Traverse :

There is an interesting pass at the southern extreme of the Valley of Flowers that Frank Smythe used during his return exploration from Mount Kamet- the journey during which he named the “Valley of Flowers” and thus created an enduring destination-brand in the Garhwal ranges.

The Khunt Khal as seen from Tipra Kharak CG in Valley of Flowers- SFex 2010

The Khunt Khal (ridge depression almost at centerframe)  Tipra Kharak /Valley of Flowers- SFex 2010

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6 . Smythe’s Trail and Bankund Lake :

This lake was geocoded by us during the Flagship expedition to Guptkhal in the year 2010. The start point is at one of the most ancient villages-Ghamsali, in the Dhauli Ganga valley of Northern Garhwal. The famous Frank Smythe describes this area in great detail in his journals of 1931 during his exploration to Mount Kamet- the expedition that eventually got him to a valley full of flowers which he named accordingly- The Valley of Flowers.
The easy and gradual valley of Amrit Ganga starts from the village of Ghamsali and brings one to one of the most complex glacier confluences which we named earlier as the Bankund Junction for our reference purposes.

The Bankund Lake campsite

The Bankund Lake campsite -SFex 2010

The best campsite is obtained near a lake over a lateral moraine ridge called the Bankund Lake which also houses the temple of a local deity. The view of the junction is grand and shows the mountain with all her ferocious beauty. The symmetrically triangular peak of Kagbhushand, the cascading Bidhan Icefall and the majestic Nilgiri Parvat add on to the beauty of the area. The route is made further flexible by attempting an exploration to the entrance of the Devban Plateu (one of the largest storehouse of frozen ice fields of freshwater in this part of Himalayas) or an exploration to the base of the Bhuinder Khal. An exploration further up the Bankund Lake moraine ridge gets one to see the Nilgiri -Mandir complex where one gets to experience what it is like to enter the Kingdom of snow. Travellers get to experience glaciers, rock shelters, view of massive icefalls, sprawling snowfields and views of distant but regular avalanches. This route is juxtaposed to the valley of flowers and for specially designed expedition teams, an exit route can also be carved out through the “Valley of Flowers” exactly the way Smythe came to discover that beautiful valley.

7 . Nalgan Valley Exploration :

The areas of North Western Garhwal known as the Rawain Ranges are also home to the origin of the Yamuna, a major tributary of the Ganges. The Rawain area is separated from the Kinnaur valley of Himachal Pradesh by a long and high ridge that provides two access points to go across to Kinnaur- The Rupin Pass and the Nalgan Pass.

The lovely camp site at the head of Nalgan Valley-SFex 2008

The lovely camp site at the head of Nalgan Valley-SFex 2008

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8 . Hermits Abode at the Cow’s Mouth :

This route explores the traditional route to the source of Ganges with a twist. The focus of the route is to show, how since time immemorial, the men of God and hermits seeking spiritual solace used to come all the way up here and then further up above the main Gangotri Glacier into the meadows at the bottom of two grand mountain ranges – Mount Shivling (Also called the Matterhorn of the East) and the Bhagirathi Massif – home to the three 6000M+ peaks called the Bhagirathi Sisters.

Campsite at Tapovan- ALP I

Campsite at Tapovan- ALP I

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9 . Gateway to Nela Pass :

This route explores one of the most picturesque valleys in the Upper Bhagirathi valley that is defined as the Taknaur Range. First documented by Fraser and then in detail by Fredrick Wilson, this route presents lovely campsites almost every 2 Kilometers and affords one of the closest views of the snowy ranges of Upper Bhagirathi.

Maveric ALP II at Kyarkoti snowfields- Apr 2013

Maveric ALP II at Kyarkoti snowfields- Apr 2013

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10 . Fraser-Hodgson Trail :

This route explores the route followed by some of the earliest British Explorers to explore the source of Ganges M/S Fraser in 1815 and Hodgson in 1817. Not that these trails were pioneered by them since for a millennium before that these routes had been laid out and maintained by the industry that supported the Hindu pilgrimage to the source of Ganges. The route begins near one of the famous hot springs in the Bhagirathi valley and explores north ward through one of the most ancient villages in the old pilgrim trail to Gaumukh-
the source of Ganges.

Chhaya Gidara Alpine Medaow at the foot of the Bamsaru Pass- SFex 2005

Chhaya Gidara Alpine Medaow at the foot of the Bamsaru Pass- SFex 2005

The route then explores further into one the most beautiful and pristine alpine meadows that lies at the base of an ancient pass that allowed pilgrims from Yamunotri (Source of Yamuna) to cross over into the Bhagirathi valley. Both Fraser and Hodgson describe about the afore mentioned village and this ancient pass called the Bamsaru Pass. With time available at hand the pass can be crossed and a quick exploration of the headwaters across can be done- the headwaters mentioned in the Fraser-Skinner trail. Views can be obtained of a lovely glacial lake called the Matri lake mentioned in the journals of Fraser and Hodgson. The route then proceeds west and North west towards the sprawling alpine meadows of Asi-Ganga ridges and descends to the roadhead of a lovely mountain village again mentioned in the journals of Hodgson. The route not only presents various kinds of challenges but also presents many a historic trivia on this famous trail documented for the first time by the early western explorers. The route is juxtaposed to the Asi Ganga Exploration Route and the Fraser Skinner Trail.

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