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Kedarkantha Trek

Kedarkantha Trek in the virgin snowscapes of Uttarakhand is one for the die-hard winter trekkers in the Himalayas. It gets so far after as the very middle of December when finally the snow of winter starts to set in. And it is not before April, that the chill in the air and frequent snowfall finally begins to wade off. So, trekkers planning the Himalayas of a snow crazed winter actually have a vast window to attempt this trek. More on the plus side of Kedarkantha winter trek-- it’s sort of a small peak climb, with a way running deep through virgin pine forests in large parts, a few brief patches of meadow walk, a freezing lake to camp by and a snow peak vista to take your breath away.

What Is Kedarkantha Trek?

Kedarkantha is a trekkable mountain peak at an elevation of 12,500 ft. In the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, the peak is within the ambit of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. The area is a repository of exquisite wildlife; amazing hiking trails that take you to close on to the magnificent snowline of the Garhwal Himalayas, and an interesting village life that preserves the legacy of the Pandavas of Indian puranic history. The climb to the peak kicks off from village Sankri - a small nook of a handful of ethnic Garhwali homes at the base of the mountain. The region is technically on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Note for cultural explorers of the Himalayas-- you are going to find strains of both Kinnauri ethnic style of Himachal and the Garhwali lifestyle and cultural motifs of Uttarakhand here in these locales. The hike up could feel taxing as the challenge level shoots up, but the spellbinding view from the top, visually encompassing the snow peaks of the Dhauladhar Range of Himachal, the Rupin river valley and the Har Ki Dun Valley make it feel all worth the toil. The trail turns into a perfect winter wonderland by mid-December and remains that way till April.

Why Should You Go For Kedarkantha Trek?

  • Late snow that lasts long, from the middle of December to late April, opening up a huge window for visitors craving pure, blissful wintriness.
  • Pretty campsites in the midst of pine and walnut forests, campsites in the jungle clearings, and by the waters of Juda Ka Talab.
  • The sheer adventure of a peak climb, a challenge level that beginners can truly enjoy despite the deliriously breathless higher stretches of the climb.
  • Small, enjoyable parts of meadow walk around the Pukhrola campsite, providing a fresh break from the forests.
  • The exploration into the wildlife and indigenous peoples of Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. There are fifteen species of large mammals found here, including the elusive snow leopard, Asian black bear, brown bear, musk deer, crested porcupine, steppe eagle, etc.
  • Interesting religious and social-cultural trends are found in the lives of the Garhwali people here. Polygamy among women in the way of Draupadi from the puranic history of India is found in practice in the villages near here.
  • Gobsmacking 360 degree snow peak views start on the Kedarkantha trek right on from the base camp. Look out for the mesmeric view of the Swargarohini Peak, swargarohini- literally meaning “stairway to heaven”.

How High Is the Kedarkantha Trek?

The altitude of Kedarkantha summit is 12,500 ft. The trek starting from Kotgaon at 6,800 ft takes a climb higher up over 2 days of a hike to the Kedarkantha summit. It’s one of the less high treks of Uttarakhand where snow can be found in abundance just after crossing the 10,000 ft mark.

When to Visit?

Kedarkantha is an out and out winter snow trek. It’s not as fun attempting the craggy trail through the forests in summer as it is during the wintry chill. From mid-December on, the trail is shrouded in a white cover of virgin snow and sleet. Getting your hiking boots on and jumping on the soft mesh is the ultimate fun feeling ever. Juda Ka Talab- the lovely lake nestling in the midst of the forest too remain frozen over during this time- quite a sight to behold and cherish it is!
Also, since it starts to snow late on this trail most of the other Uttarakhand winter treks, the good days last longer, as late as April. Feel free to attempt this trek anytime during this window, from December to April!

How to Reach?

By Air: Fly into Dehradun Jolly Grant Airport on the morning of your pick up towards village Sankri - the base camp for this trek.
By Rail: The rail station nearest to the base camp o this trek is Dehradun, connected well with most major towns and cities of India.
By Road: You can find transport by road to Sankri by buses from Dehradun and Uttarkashi.

Are There Any Shops Available On the Kedarkantha Trek?  
You can find shops for supplies, food, and hiking gear till the village Sankri, which is the base for this trek. The rest of the trail runs through the wilderness.
How Long Does It Take To Complete the Kedarkantha Trek? 
It would take nearly 6 days, from Dehradun to Dehradun to complete this trek.

What to Pack for the Kedarkantha Trek?

  • Large or medium size backpack, and a duffle side bag for extras
  • Water bottle
  • Sun hat
  • Warm cap
  • Base layers
  • Fleece jacket
  • Outer jacket
  • Rain jacket (essential for the monsoon months)
  • Sturdy trekking shoes and a pair of floaters
  • Flashlight
  • Trekking pants, several pairs
  • UV-protection glasses
  • Thermal socks

Is There Any Possibility Of Altitude Sickness?

The risk of Altitude Sickness is not severe in this trek. Though the climb to the summit can feel grueling on the last lap, it is not sickness inducing as per record. The treeline is never left too far behind, thus AMS proneness remains considerably under check.