Hampta Pass lies at an altitude of 4270 m (14009 ft) on the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas. It is a small corridor between Lahaul and Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh. Hampta village is located below Sethan village and from there it got its name Hampta Pass. This pass is frequently used by shepherds of lower Himalayan region, seeking for high altitude grassland in the dry cold desert of Lahaul during summer time. Numbers of wild flowers and herbs grow at the altitude between 3000 to 3800 m. Vertical rock walls, waterfalls, hanging glaciers, tiny lakes, peaks rising above 6000 m are main characteristics of this trek. From Hampta pass one can extend their journey towards the beautiful Chandrataal.
|Day 1||Reach Manali and drive to Jobra||You can either take buses (HRTC or HPTDC) from Delhi to Manali which takes 12-14 hours. Or take a bus from Chandigarh to Manali which will take you 8-10 hours. From Manali, we will organise transport to Jobra.
The Jobra campsite is a short, 40 minute trek away. Camp at Jobra for the night to acclimatise better.
|Day 2||Trek from Jobra to Jwara|
Altitude: 9800 feet to 11,072 feet
Distance: 7.14 km
Time taken: 6 hours
Trail type: Easy ascent
|The vehicle from Manali after passing the Prini village takes you up through 42 hairpin bends and drops you off at Jobra where you can have breakfast at a Dhaba and fill your water bottles. You have already gained quite an altitude from Manali and you start your trek at 9800 feet. Cross the road and take the small path into the forest.
The forest is mostly Pine with an occasional Maple tree with its new lush green leaves -a pleasant change in the vegetation. It’s an easy slope and after 20 minutes into the forest, you come to a bend with a huge rock which overlooks a meadow strewn with small rocks. Take a break at the rock and head to the meadow ahead.
The meadow has the Rani Nala or Rani River flowing in between and on either side you will see hills with rock faces. Some cows and sheep graze in the meadow which is lined with Maple and Pine trees. Early in the season one may find some snow by the side of the river.
You can traverse on the meadow or climb up the left hill. The climb makes the path slightly shorter. The river flows right in the middle and water is no issue. This is your lunch point – Chika.
Jwara is to the right of Chika, which can be identified by a couple of waterfalls in the distance. Head right but stay on the left bank of the river throughout. The initial climb is mainly through stones and boulders. The going is never too difficult. The right bank of the river is laced with dwarf Rhododendrons in the lower and middle region of the mountain and Birch trees grow at the upper end.
Look back and you will see the Dhauladhar range with its snow-clad peaks. It makes a pretty picture. You will find a waterfall on to your left. Relax and replenish your water supplies at this spot.
After the waterfall, you move towards your right, heading towards the river, which has a lot of boulders around it. Take off your shoes if you wish and jump across the rocks on the Rani Nala. The water is icy cold as one would expect. You are now about half way through your trek as you enter a walled valley. On one side of the valley are the rock faces and on the other end is the river below. Cross the river and now you are at Jwara where nature is at its dramatic best.
|Day 3||Trek from Jwara to Balu Ka Gera|
Altitude: 11,072 feet to 12,411 feet
Distance: 5 kms
Time taken: 4-5 hours
Trail type: Moderately steep ascent
|The river has snow flows melting and feeding it while numerous sheep and mules feed on the green grass. In front are snow-clad mountains beyond which somewhere lies the Hampta Pass.
Walk along the Rani river heading into a rectangular valley. On your way you will find a variety of tiny flowers – purple, yellow, pink etc. The trees are now left behind. You won’t find any more of them for quite some time now. It takes about half an hour to cross the valley. After you come out of Jwara, you need to walk further along. The terrain flattens as you reach Chota Balu ka Gera where you can rest for a bit and have a quick snack. Then continue further along the river crossing small snow flows and jumping across rocks. Towards the end the rocks are quite far apart and jumping across gets tricky. Soon after you will reach the destination for the day – Balu Ka Gera or the bed of sand. The ground is mainly of the sand and dust brought down by the river.It is a level ground and behind you are the mountains you will traverse the next day to cross the Hampta Pass. Pitch your tent and enjoy a beautiful sunset behind the Bandarpunch peak. You are now close to 12,500 feet above sea level.
|Day 4||Balu Ka Gera to Shea Goru crossing Hampta Pass|
Altitude: 12,411 feet to 12,254 feet via 14,035 feet
Distance: 6.65 kms
Time taken: 8-9 hours
Trail type: Easy to moderately steep ascents followed by a sharp descent
|Today’s trek can be broken into two stages. The climb to Hampta Pass which is moderately steep followed by a steep descent to Shea Goru. You will want to take a small break on the top of the pass so make it your target to reach the pass by lunch time, have lunch there and then start the descent.
You begin your day by heading towards the mountains from Balu Ka Gera. You may get a pleasant surprise with lots of tiny pink and yellow flowers growing by the side of the river. Move along the river for an hour after which you will be above it. At some points the trail may fade out so be careful not to get lost; Stay with your team. After an hour of gentle gradient in a rock fall prone area, the climb picks up. This is the first serious inclination you will encounter. Half an hour into the climb, you will reach the first plateau. Here you get to see the Doe Tibba peak right in front of you. If you are here during early summer, there is a good chance that this entire section is filled with snow. At other times, you may get only some patches of snow.
Take a breath, wait for your team to catch up and begin the next ascent. This is another inclined part which has two stages to it and finally ends at the ridge. The climb will take you another 20-30 minutes. From the top of the ridge you will see another parallel one, which is your next destination. Hampta Pass is a bend away from the top of the second ridge.
Before descending down to the side of the second ridge, continue walking on the first ridge for a small distance to get a 360 degree view of the intriguing mountain peaks like Peak 5260 surrounding you. This is a good spot for a panoramic shot. After descending down and 15 minutes of going by the side, you begin the vertical climb which gets over in 20 minutes. You may be panting at the end of it but you are almost there at 14,000 feet a top the Hampta Pass.
It can get windy at the top and sudden rain or snow also cannot be ruled out. Stop for some time, have lunch and enjoy the place.
The descent is slightly trickier than the ascent. It can vary slightly depending on the snow condition too. Sliding down may be an option if there is snow. From the pass, take a turn towards the right. You can see the LA haul side of the pass below. Go down in a zig-zag route and then stick to the right flank of the mountain. You will have to walk over slippery soil and stones too. In half an hour the first downhill run is done.
Take an U-turn and you are right below the pass now. From here it is a straight downhill trek on snow or you could also follow the zigzag path down until you hit the valley below. In an hour and a half you are down to the base of the valley. Tall snow-clad mountains surround you from three sides and the open side leads you to Shea Goru.
Shea Goru is an almost level walk from here. It should be an easy walk though some may find it tiring after the long day traversing the pass. You will find the river again flowing to your right. Choose a nice camp site close to the river and retire happily for the day after crossing the Hampta Pass.
|Day 5||Shea Goru to Chhatru, drive to Chandratal* and back to Chhatr|
Altitude: 12,254 feet to 10,898 feet to 14,100
Distance: 6.87 kms
Time taken: 4 – 4½ hours
Trail type: Downhill trek, easy walk with some tricky sections
depending on the condition of the roads
|You start this day by crossing the ice-cold Shea Goru Nala. Because of the water’s temperature, it is preferable to cross it after the sun is completely out(after 8am). It is a gentle downhill walk in the beginning from Shea Goru. You still move alongside the river in the valley between the mountain ranges. After an hour you get to see the Chhatru road at a distance. The mountains opposite are barren with specs of greenery and red flowers– a typical LA haul look.
As you move closer to the road, the descent gets a little tricky. You will need to traverse by the edges of rocks and sometimes it may just be easier to get down into the river/glacier bed below skipping the rocky section and getting back up.
There are also a couple of places with slippery soil. So you need to be nimble and hop down them to prevent yourself from sliding.
This section would take 2½ – 3 hours when you are out of the mountains. You are still at a height but you have the road right across and the Chandra river separating you from the road.
Two to three huge glacial flows flow down from the mountains on the side to the Chandra river. You will need to cross these streams to reach a camping spot which has water.
Choose a camping spot close to one of the numerous streams that join the river. Chhatru is a lovely camping site. You get lovely views of the different mountain ranges. The Chandra river flows in speed right below.
If the roads are clear and devoid of snow, a visit to Chandratal, the moon lake is a must when you are in Spiti. Chhatru is about 70 km away from Chandratal. You will take a vehicle to Chandratal from Chhatru. The journey takes about 3 hours and the road is quite bumpy, so it is advised that you start well before 3pm. Those who have motion sickness, don’t forget to take Avomine tablets.
If you have some energy to spare, walk up the hill next to Chandratal. From the top, apart from being able to identify the moon shape of the lake, you’ll be able to see a second lake out in the distance surrounded with scenic peaks like the CB-13.
Since Chandratal is at an altitude of 14,100 feet there are good chances of being hit by Acute Mountain Sickness if you’re not well hydrated. Head to the Safety section to find out more.
Chandratal – the moon shaped lake
In late summers, the road opens up to Chhatru and beyond. If you are early or late in the season, Chandratal may be ruled out and you may have to walk on the road upto a place where the road has be cleared off its snow flows.
|Day 6||Drive from Chhatru to Manali||After an early morning debriefing, bid the Spiti valley goodbye and head back to Manali. The journey from Chhatru to Manali passes through Rohtang Pass and can take upto 4 hours. The scenery all through the route is a treat in itself. Don’t forget to ask our trek leaders to teach you some group games like Hand Uno and Lateral Situations, to play on the way back!
It is advised that you keep a buffer day because the weather is unpredictable in the mountains. Overnight in Manali.
You can explore Manali the next day and take a Volvo bus to Delhi in the evening.
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