Day 2: My guide Akash was quite punctual and reached my hotel at 9am to pick me up for my year end adventure to Patalsu peak. We started our trek from the skiing area in Solang towards the treeline. Target for the day was to reach till Patalsu peak basecamp. Usually the basecamp is Shagadugh but, this year Manali experienced more than expected snowfall, so basecamp was shifted approx. 1km above Solang village at a quaint campground. Solang is the last village as you follow the Beas up the valley towards Manali’s towering 16,500ft skyline. Being a localite, Akash had a decent knowledge about the area. He told me some very interesting facts about the pace which I didn’t know before. It was extremely soothing to get away from crowd with every step on the snow terrain. As we were ascending higher, the view of Solang valley was getting more and more amazing, wrapped in the white blanket of snow in every nook and corner. I have been through my fair share of Himalayan villages but something I have always been enthralled by is how unique each one seems from the last, despite sharing so many commonalities. Solang village seemed to crawl its way up the side of the mountain, with stone paths zigzagging their way through homes, communal waterpumps and crop plots. The thing that caught my eye the most was that before leaving the civilization, there was a temple. It was a rich brown color and stood on a stone platform overlooking the dropoff to the valley below but it had eyes, snake eyes. I quickly realized that there were snakes etched and carved into wood everywhere I looked and one snake seemed to be right looking at me. Akash told me that this was the deity of Solang village folks named as Solangi Naag. The interesting fact was this village was named after this snake God. After trekking for approx. 3.5 hours, we reached the base camp. I was welcomed by Broza Adevntures basecamp team- Lalit bhai and Ajju bhai. The basecamp was a pleasant sight in itself. The whole campsite was covered in a thick sheet of snow almost 1-2 feet deep. From one side, whole Solang valley was visible and from the other, views of Friendship peak and then the snow trail going up to Patalsu peak. The best part was that my camp was just at the front of an unnamed mountain which was loaded with snow. Although this campsite was remote, but the arrangements were amazing. After resting for an hour, I had an amazing lunch prepared by Lalit bhai amidst the snowcapped mountains. I still had 3-4 hours of daylight left, so I decided to hike around the campsite to get into the rhythm for the next day (summit day). Patalsu’s lower slopes are typical of Manali wilderness – golden oak and pine forests, virtually endless meadows, bright blue skies and snowcapped peaks hiding beyond the horizon.I returned back to campsite a little before dark and was welcomed with tea, pakoras and snacks which was shortly followed by dinner. Post dinner I just roamed around the campsite admiring the beauty, silence and tranquility of the place. The sky was full of stars and it was really hard to find an empty patch of sky. It just seemed like an artist’s canvas. These are the kind of sights which you don’t see until you get away from the maddening cities. I wanted to stay out a little longer but it was extremely cold and the temperature at night dropped to -18 degrees. So, I hopped in my camp and slipped in sleeping bag to retire for the night.
Sholang valley with snow❄️