Streams, Stones and Showers : An unusual trek to Hampta Pass


Active Member
Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Excellent pictures Aniket, Excellent :)

Next part my friend ;)


Well-Known Member
Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Aniket, beautiful pics and narration. Enjoyed very much.
Day 6: Trekking from Balu-Ka-Gera to Shia-Goru (Via Hampta Pass)

It was around 1 AM when I was woken up by Dhanno. She was unable to sleep and wanted to go out of tent and attend “Call of Nature”. It was still raining quite heavily. Seemed like Doomsday. And her problem again was fear of dark. We tried to wake up Ashwini so that she could accompany her. But cough Syrup made sure that Ashwini blankly refused to leave her cozy Sleeping bag.

I had a hard time convincing Dhanno that there is nothing outside. She can just go and come back quickly. I will show her the light from inside the tent. Finally she agreed and left the tent. She came back in less than 30 seconds… :D. That was quick.

Anyway, rest of the night was uneventful and we got some nice sleep. It still gives me shivers when I think about the extent of rain that we slept through. It was a feat!!

15th August 2013 (Independence Day) – Also the day we crossed Hampta Pass

It was around 6:00 when we woke up to usual after rain chilling climate. The rain had subsided. But dark clouds loomed in a distance and threatened to spoil the day. Poluram came to visit us and ask our Howabouts. We expressed our dismay at the rains and discussed the day’s proceedings. What he told us, was what had been our worst fear.

“Aisa hi Mausam raha, toh yahi se lautna padega”.. Also, the other group was not left with a single dry item in their sacks. We were stuck by a sudden gush of Disappointment and Dismay. Returning from here was like a complete spoiled up vacation. Returning right from the base of the famed Hampta pass was one thing that was hard for us to digest. We just wanted those clouds to turn away. And in such situations, optical illusions make us see what we want to see. And we started visualizing the clouds turning away. Not just this, we started coming up with theories supporting the returning of clouds. Theories that involved concepts of Altitude Pressure and Wind speed.

Meanwhile, it struck us that it was 15th of August. The Independence day. And despite it being at the back of my mind, I had forgotten to bring a flag along. But I was determined for hoisting the flag. I tried finding out the objects colored Saffron, white and Green. Soon, the flag was ready. Flag made up with the Saffron rain cover for our sacks and one of my T-Shirts which had White and Green colors. Few moments later, Balu-Ka-Gera camping site was echoing with the sound of National Anthem.

A moment very close to my heart:


The moment had a lot of postive energy to douse the negativity raised by the weather. And sure enough, Buddhi ji and Poluram had a discussion and decided to continue with the trek. At least till weather makes it impossible to go ahead.

We readied ourselves with multiple layers of clothing and rain-protection and were as determined as a soldier is for conquering some Peak from the enemies clutches. Rain was our enemy. Buddhi ji lifted the spirits further by preparing Momos for the breakfast and Boiled Eggs for the trekking. Also, it was decided to let horses carry the sacks of Ashwini and Swasti. We shifted all the heavier things to these sacks and further readied ourselves for the D-Day.

Buddhi Ji took along Ashwini to get a head start. We started around 15-20 minutes after they had left. It was uphill all the way today. And the rain started as soon as we started the trek. As far as the photography is concerned, this was the darkest day. Rain didn't allow me to capture much. So, here we start ascending uphill. Soon, the flowery terrain gave way to rocky one. Wet Slippery rocks. Gradually the rocks became boulders and the real trekking begins. We walked midst the Streams, Showers and Stones. Oxygen level was fast depleting and our breathing started becoming tougher. The rocks were huge now. So huge that we had to traverse through by ascending and descending on them. We lost sight of Buddhiji and Ashwini .

We were actually going besides a small lake. On having a closer look, I figured out that it wasn't a lake actually. It was sand (Balu). All wet and quick sand. And hence the name “Balu ka Gera”. I could manage to get a few clicks here:




There were numerous streams feeding water to this sand lake. And there were flower beds on these deltas. These were last flower sightings. As we will be in white and dry(wasn't that dry this year though) Spiti Valley once we cross Hampta:




Our first pit stop for the day was a small naturally formed cave. It was located quite uphill but was an ideal stop before the final ascent towards the Hampta pass begins. Fighting against Breathlessness, slippery boulders and everlasting rains we finally reached the cave and had our first round of lunch. Apples and Eggs. It wasn't going to stop raining. Buddhi ji had already informed us that it was worst round of rains this region has received for over a decade.

After a 30 minute break in the leaking cave (almost felt like “Leaky Cauldron” from Harry Potter), we resumed our final ascent. I was moving fast. I just wanted to reach the campsite. I was grossly fed up of rains now. From here, our group was split. Dhanno and Ashwini were never sighted again till we reached campsite. Even I was separated from the rest due to varying pace. Photographs were out of question. It was now becoming a herculean task for me to save my camera from the rain. Horses were in sight soon and were dripping wet. And so was the entire luggage: Tents, Sleeping bags, Kitchen and two of our sacks.

I reached a point where the path was very narrow and at the horses reached the same point at same time. I had to wait and let them go ahead. The narrow path led to a traffic jam. Imagine a traffic jam at 11000 feet. :D

I was soon at a plateau where people from other group were taking a stop. Poluram was also present. I wasn't in a mood to stop. More because I wanted to catchup with Ashwini and Dhanno. Was worried about how they are coping the extreme conditions. Just around the plateau, I saw a shepherd with a flock of sheep. Looked like he was crossing the pass too but going in opp. direction. He had a very calm and composite aura about him. None of the extreme conditions bothered him at all. And we, working in air conditioned cubicles with access to all world class amenities, complain of stressful working conditions. He spends most of his life crossing dangerous Himalayan Passes in search of pastures for his sheep. May God bless him!!


After taking a few more steps ahead for what were a few rare brief solitude moments, I suddenly stopped dead. Anyone would have. Anyone who would have set his eyes upon the sight that had just unfolded before me.

There lies a huge white sheet of hard snow before me.. A Glacier!! And we have to walk on this one. All the tiredness was lost. We had been waiting for this sight. In fact, we had come so far, we had soaked in the rain, just for this blessed sight! I couldn't wait more to set my foot on the Glacier. Just to test the grip of a shoe I had paid a grand for.. lol. Just Kidding.

It was a divine moment for all of us. It was still raining, but our throats were dry of the excitement. I had forgotten the altitude and tried running on the Glacier!! The stream we had been walking along was actually originating from here. We could see it flowing below the glacier from a few gaps in the snow. It was hard snow. And before I forget to mention, a lot of horse dung had changed its color to slight off the pure white. Though rain stopped me from using my camera, I still dared to let pictures describe the moment:





I crossed the glacier post the photography session, wishing to stay there for long, but the clock was ticking and we had a 14000 high pass waiting for us. As I already mentioned, I even tried running on the glacier and believe me it was fun, except the fact I was gasping for air in sometime. Just after we crossed the glacier, we started climbing almost vertical. I realized that the “D” moment is not far away now. But this is where I started facing problems.

All the awe emotions were side-lined as hunger started chasing me soon. The climbing was demanding more effort from my body and my body was demanding food and our food had probably already crossed Hampta and was heading towards Spiti valley by now. All the food items were with Dhanno and she had gone miles ahead of us. “Learning for all readers: Always, Carry your own food.”

Nevertheless, I was almost fainting. I had spent my energy in running on the Glacier and was paying the price now. Slowly and Steadily I moved ahead. It was all rocks now. Wet, slippery and large ones. Rain was now pouring streams now. Camera was tugged safely into the covers and I am not sure if the covers were doing the job of protecting the camera from heavy showers.

It took a great deal of effort to keep moving. Oxygen was thin and stomach was gurgling angrily. It all depends on mind in such situations. Mental blocks need to be avoided. Willpower to see what lies up ahead on the Hampta Pass kept the energy to climb alive in me.

One gets a magnificent view of “Deo-Tibba” and the beautiful Pir-Panjal range from here given the weather is clear. But alas it wasn’t. We couldn’t see the person walking a foot away, let alone be Deo Tibba.

Gradually, the stones led way to another Glacier. The visibility was almost zero now. We were amidst dense clouds. Wind was howling in our ears, it’s howl raised over the sound of rain. Wait a minute; did I just say “Wind”? Yep, I did. And wind howls only when it passes through a narrow gap. A narrow gap such as a “Pass” in a mountain range. Such as “Hampta Pass” in Himalayan mountain range that divides Kullu and Spiti valleys.

It took a while and a strain on eye to see the “gap” in mountain range, but Yes, Hampta pass was there, welcoming us with open arms. And guess who else were waiting? Sheep and a Shepherd. Poluram who had been leading us for a while said the words for which we had come 14000 ft high. “Here begins the Hampta Pass”. It was raining very heavily but if I do not click this moment, my Camera would go crazy on me:


A flock of sheep at Hampta Pass

That’s it. That’s the only clear photo I could manage at the pass. Camera, Its bag, the extra lenses all had got wet despite the rain cover. I knew I was taking a great risk, but when we see the results, it is all worth it. Sooner, rest of the group caught up. Ashwini and Dhanno of course were nowhere to be seen. They might have descended into Spiti Valley by now.

Sandy was the most elated on reaching the pass. After all, the plan was his brainchild. He jumped upon the moment and celebrated the success with the traditional Chatrapati Maharaj Jaigosh! We took a cue and shouted Patriotic Slogans. The Hampta pass was alive with the sounds of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. After all it was 15th August.

We couldn't spend much time at the pass. And started traversing through it. It felt like a narrow gorge with huge rocks placed in between the two Himalayan walls. And the space between the rocks was taken up by the hard glacier snow. We had to watch our steps as we moved towards the highest point of the Pass. It was a steep ascend still, but the fact that we are finally at D Destination, had generated a new energy in my body. Like a soldier who has just conquered a peak from the clutches of enemy (read rain), the feet had got springs.

In no time we were at the highest point of the pass. It was marked with prayer flags and sacred stones. We stayed for a while (just for regrouping). I managed to get a bite at a chocolate here. It is all descend from here. But a steep, sharp descend. So sharp that we do not see where the steepness ends.

Loose gravel and stones marked the thin ledge that we descend on. Clinging to the mountain on the right at some places. The valley could be seen in sometime but it always remained far-off the sight. Spiti valley- one of the driest parts of our Country and today receiving highest rainfall of the decade probably. Sure enough, there was someone with us against whom Indra Dev has deep grudges. Fighting the gravel and stones and empty stomach, the descend was mostly event less. It took almost an hour and half to reach the bottom. I wish there were no clouds and I could capture the great Hampta pass from here. But it was cloudy all around. Sure enough the view must be majestic here. Snow-capped peaks all around the dry rocky valley.

Photographers’ paradise. I am coming back in more favorable weather conditions someday.

Nevertheless, we reached another glacier, a small one. For the fun purpose we decided to cross it by sliding over. And we did that. It was sheer fun but the bums didn't have the best time. :p

I was in a hurry to reach the tents now. More coz of irritating rain than the sheer exhaustion. It was an almost plain walk now. Camp had been in sight ever since were descending the last bit of the valley. 30 minutes, and I was there.

The first words I spoke on spotting our tent were “Dhanno, Ashwini, Are you fine?” I was surprised at my voice. It was a tired call. It has been a while that I have sounded like this. And there came a reply, “Yes, we are fine, come on in.” That was music to my ears.

I entered the tent with my soggy sack (all wet, nothing was left dry). Camera bag was with Sandy. And he was yet to arrive. I started the daily task of creating dry space within the tent. Throwing all wet clothes and misc. items out. There was not much that was left inside. Even the tents and sleeping bags/mats were dripping wet today. Felt like we were survivors of a sunken ship.

Buddhiji’s Soup and Maggi lifted spirits and most importantly brought back my lost energy. We all were sick and needed rest. And we did take rest. We cannot thank Buddhiji and Roshan enough for taking special efforts to dry up the sleeping bags and rugs by heating them besides the kitchen stove. These people are so selfless. Roshan didn’t sleep that night, making sure that we slept well and kept the tents dry by creating drainage around it.

Salute!! And a big thank you!

Dinner came to the tents and we had whatever our bodies managed to take in. It was chilly. And it had to be. The name of the camping site says it would be. “Shea-Goru” translates to “Cold place”. Surrounded by glaciers and a glacial stream adds to the chill.

I forgot to mention the state of my Camera. It was dripping wet. I dared not switch it on. I wiped it dry as far as I could manage. Camera didn't dry up until it was kept beside the stove next day. And the 70-300 lens took two more days.

The night was event less. We slept sound in the semi dry sleeping bags. Clinging to whatever was left dry. Nothing was! No wait, something was dry. “The thought that we had crossed Hampta Pass despite such extreme conditions.” It kept us warm and dry in a dripping Spiti Valley.
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Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Nice finish. Worth the wait. It made me remind my descent from Sarpass in HP in 2012! It was raining and we had to descent from 13000 feet to 7000 feet in 9 hours.
Re: Streams, Stones and the Showers!!

Nice finish. Worth the wait. It made me remind my descent from Sarpass in HP in 2012! It was raining and we had to descent from 13000 feet to 7000 feet in 9 hours.
Thanks :). But it is not the finish yet. There are a few twists and turns yet to be told. Will not delay it much this time. :)


Active Member
Re: Day 6: Trekking from Balu-Ka-Gera to Shia-Goru (Via Hampta Pass)

Meanwhile, it struck us that it was 15th of August. The Independence day. And despite it being at the back of my mind, I had forgotten to bring a flag along. But I was determined for hoisting the flag. I tried finding out the objects colored Saffron, white and Green. Soon, the flag was ready. Flag made up with the Saffron rain cover for our sacks and one of my T-Shirts which had White and Green colors. Few moments later, Balu-Ka-Gera camping site was echoing with the sound of National Anthem.

A moment very close to my heart:

Jai Hind!

Awesome! glad your camera was alright :)
Day 7: Sunlight finally!! Trek from Shea-Goru to Chattru to Unknown Destination

It was peace. Long awaited peace. The rain was pounding the tent as it has been since last 3 days. Occasional wind was making the tent sway. Straining the ears, I could also hear the stream gushing about 50 meters away. The stream that we need to cross in a few hours. But above all I could hear my heart beat. Pounding through the realms of peace that I had just discovered, resonating with sounds that had captivated the shackles of my mind.

Such are the moments I seek,
When I feel so strong, that I have never been week.
Moments when all my wounds are heeled, however deep.
Such are the moments I seek.

Such a moment was found while resting in the tent at the Shea-Goru campsite. There were a lot of thoughts that I wanted to pen down right then, but the much damned rain had even washed away my Diary. It was dripping litres when I found it in my sack. “Learning for readers: While packing your sacks for treks, use zip-lock poly bags for compartmentalizing and packing vulnerable items.”

Nevertheless, I was carried away by sleep soon after I found the aforementioned peace. Before sleep, of course I wished and prayed for a dry day tomorrow. (Not many pray for a dry-day :grin:). It was an undisturbed sleep. And it was a bright morning when I opened my eyes.

Shea-Goru camp site was probably the most scenic of all the campsites. It had the right blend of Streams, Showers and Stones. It felt like a huge amphitheater. Surrounded by Himalayas on three sides and overlooking the great Spiti Valley on another. A stream emanating from some distant glacier gushed across the flat camp site and disappeared into a shallow gorge up ahead. It would find its peace in the mighty Chandra River in Chattru. And so would we. From there a vehicle will drive us to most awaited Chandrataal.

Rain had subsided for a while leaving behind light clouds which looked unlikely to hold any water. Had the rain Gods finally had mercy on us poor souls? Or is it too early to say? Time will decide.

Meanwhile we re-packed our rucksacks, keeping a whole section for wet items. Breakfast was readied by Buddhi ji. Delicious fried Momos. What a start for the day!!
Both of my lenses had become foggy and it did worry me a lot. I kept them by the side of the Chullah where breakfast was being prepared. The 18-55 recovered in some time but the 70-300 Tammy was far from recovering yet. Also, 18-55 developed some strange Autofocus problem, which was fixed later by canon Workshop in Pune under the warranty period. :).

Shea-Goru camp site using the manual focus:


And finally a picture having all 6 of us in a single frame(Clicked by Buddhi Ji):


Soon, We were ready to descend into the Spiti Valley. It is descend all the way today and that adds to our smiles. The clouds had become scantier, which broadens our smiles further. But before the good times begin, we had this freezing stream to cross and its span was about 30 meters. Its temperature definitely would have been sub zero, only the steady flow must have kept it from freezing.

Now this is why we love Buddhiji!! He came up with a tremendously useful tip to apply mustard oil to our legs for sustaining the chillness to some extent. And it helped loads. The other group led by Poluram, was devoid of this tip and there faces were all red after the crossing. Despite the oil layer, it was quite an experience that chills me down the bone as I write about it.

Crossing of stream:


A few more pics of the cloud laden Shea-Goru:




Its all rocky terrain now. It is in stark contrast with the Kullu valley on the other side of Hampta Pass. but it is here that the nature uses the most breathtaking strokes to produce a canvas painted with myriad colors. Let the photos speak now that the weather was allowing me to click a lot though only :


The Rocky Terrain begins


The Sun Finally!!


The lone trekker lost in the myriad of colors


The Furry and the non-Furry..:p


Look at that canvas of colors


Getting lost in the tranquility


Queen of goats


Buddhiji taking a moment off the duty


Frowns gone, Smiles appear


Nature's own painting.. A stream falling into Chandra River

The sun was shining finally and it evaporated all our frowns and browns. The moods were elated and the spirits were touching newer heights every moment. And soon enough we could see a Road!! We were back to civilization. I could see a village up ahead. That must be Chattru:


It was more like a joy ride now. Trekking was left behind. We were jumping rocks, chasing sheep and running about. And I was clicking!! The shutter had been unleashed after a long time. There is nothing more beautiful than a contrasting canvas that was put on display by the nature:


Sight of the destination adds springs to the feet. We were literally running towards Chattru now. Soon enough, a sharp descent was seen. We clicked a few photos posing in front of the landscape beneath and started descending.


Is any color missing?


After the sharp descent, it was stream crossing again. But this time we had a rickety bridge to our help:


We were split again after this, me coz of photography and others due to varying pace. It was plain walk amidst the stony rocks along the mighty Chandra river.


The Blue Sky after 3 days!!!


A stream falling into Chandra River​



And finally we reached the huge bridge that was build to connect the two banks of mighty Chandra river.


Across this bridge lies Chattru : the end of our Trekking. But will the trekking actually end? :).. Keep guessing.. :p

<<<Next part would be the final part of this treklogue.. :)>>>
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