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“The best view comes after the hardest climb”.
I have to admit that Hampta Pass trek is not the hardest out there. It’s level is from easy to moderate in hiking terms.
But every trek is not so much about difficulty of the physical climb, as it is about conquering the mountain tops within yourself and taking a journey within.
It may seem cliche, but trust me when I say – every one who goes on the same trek will have a very different journey and different outtakes.
For me Hampta Pass was the first real camping trek I have done and this experience have left me in a place where I never thought I could reach – inner harmony.
So what is it about Hampta Pass and trekking which makes it one of the best experiences:
- The route
It is a Manali to Spiti 5-day trek that starts in Jobra valley on altitude of 9000ft, goes though Cheeka (9500ft), Balu Ka Ghera (12500ft), reaches its highest point at Hampta Pass (14000ft) and takes you via Sheagoru (12900ft) to Chatru (10800ft).
Keeping technicalities aside, the places you pass leave you breathless in literal and metaphorical sense.
Seeing the landscape change from grand trees and valleys
to mountains and rivers,
taking you to a barren mountain tops where the only things surrounding you are clouds and wind
and leading to gorgeous graphic landscapes of Spiti
with short trip to deserted lands nearby Chandratal
and the lake itself.
2. The journey
As i already said – it is experience of looking within and overcoming not just physical tiredness, but your emotional blocks.
Being surrounded by nature gives you time to have a one-on-one conversation with yourself and maybe discover much more than your eyes ever could.
3. The people
Even if you are doing a solo trek, this is a great opportunity to discover the goodness and role of communication in our life.
From helpful and hospitable locals who sell ginger-lemon tea and maggi in small tents amidst the hills,
to fellow trekkers you meet along the way with their myriad of experiences and stories, many languages but same love for adventure,
to people who organize this trekking experience for you and make it unforgettable. (special thanks to Trek The Himalayas team for support, guidance and making it happen).
4. The physical challenge
Yes, how can one skip this part – climbing up and down the stones, steep mountains, almost hanging over the deep valleys; crossing ice-cold rivers barefoot and crossing the valleys under a burning sun.
It is the moment when all the limits disappear. You discover how much stronger you are than you thought and how much you can bare if situation calls for it.
5. The absence of technology
No network, no internet, Whatsapp or Facebook. No distractions and procrastinations of the modern world.
What will you do if you don’t have all of it? With so much free time on your hands?
You will discover why previous generations were less frustrated and anxious!
You will find joy in just watching the clouds, hearing the river flow, observing the small and big lives in nature.
You will embrace the conversations where you can actually hear people and be heard, without them constantly looking in their phones.
You will actually feel the taste of your food and enjoy even the simplest of it.
You will be sitting alone or with someone under the starry night sky, waiting to see a shooting star and there will be more human connection and intimacy in it than can ever be in a fancy restaurant.
6. The experience
Experience of putting up (or struggling to do so) your own tent, experience of sleeping in a sleeping bag for few nights, wearing few layers of clothes, hearing nothing but the river flow besides you.
Experience of being woken up at 6 am by birds (or by fellow trekkers) when sun hasn’t yet reached your tent, but you can feel it moving towards you slowly warming you up.
Experience of climbing for 4 hours with short breaks that you spend snacking with boiled eggs and potato, lunching or simply embracing the ever-changing scenery.
Experience of seeing a shooting star from your tent in the night and glorious mountains in the morning.
Experience of simple things (like breathing with full chest on altitude) rediscovered.
7. The mountains
They deserve a separate mentioning. They are the reason to stop, they are the means to continue. They are the tops to conquer and the shelter to hide.
They will be everything and nothing, the silent spectators – grand, yet not intimidating.
They will make you feel small and insignificant, but they will always be good to you if you treat them with respect.
They will be the reason you can never go back to what you were before you met them and will always come back to see them again.
If you are already convinced, then below are few things to prepare yourself:
All the needed logistics and packing advises you can find on trekking sites, like Trek The Himalayas, but the main items will always remain the same:
- tent (if you are traveling by yourself)
- rucksack – I suggest you carry one big rucksack to keep all the packed things and a small backpack to have on you during the trek with only essentials for the day. You can hire mules to carry the big rucksack
- few layers of clothes (for each level of heat/cold), woolen socks, cap, warm hat and one very warm jacket (for night and altitude). As a person who keeps freezing, I also had my gloves with me and – no regrets
- water bottles
- healthy snacks (like nuts, boiled eggs, fruits)
- trekking shoes – from personal experience, this point is extremely important and should not be disregarded. I had an accident that left me without my trekking shoes for the journey and it can not only mess with the comfort and delay you, but also put you in grave danger while going up and down steep surfaces which are many.
- medical kit
- spray deodorant and talcum powder – you won’t be having bath for few day, so…
- personal hygiene items (like toothbrush and toothpaste)
- tissues (wet and dry – believe me you’ll get use of both)
- wind cheater/hoodie
- raincoat – it wasn’t raining when i trekked, but weather in mountains can be unpredictable, especially if it’s close to monsoon season
- glucose – in form of pills/candies – it is a must to keep your vitals up
- electrolytes – like “Electrol” powder – keep sipping on it during the trek, otherwise you risk severe dehydration
- sunglasses – make sure you are carrying sunglasses not for how fancy they are, but for how comfortable they are fixed on your nose and ears – you don’t want to be constantly distracted by loose sunglasses
- thermal inners
- sunscreen – I have seen people even using it go as red as Santa’s pant or Durga’s saree…need I say more?
Make sure you carry these essentials, but do not go overboard with packing – remember that you will have to carry it around at some point.
DO NOT drink or smoke on the trek – altitude and long walks/climbs are already tough on your lungs and brain – you don’t want to be unable to walk because of that one extra cigarette.
Please ensure that you don’t have an altitude sickness, and if you do: DON’T trek alone, keep oxygen cylinders with you and take the medicine in advance.
What can you expect on coming back from the trek?
Apart from beautiful memories and some stunning photos, you are likely to be having a HWS – “Himalayas withdrawal syndrome” – it is a state of utter disinterest in your usual routine and longing for mountains. You may think that sounds like a joke, but as a person going through it at the moment – not so funny.
It will pass, but you will keep occasionally waking up in the morning and keeping your eyes closed imagine that you are back to Hampta Pass.
In the end, how many reasons to go I can mention – it will never be enough and can never reflect the real value trek to Hampta Pass or anywhere in Himalayas can give you.
So, go ahead. Go.