This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience

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Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita

Auden’s Col Expedition is one of the most challenging treks in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. Auden’s Col is actually a mountain pass that connects Gangotri III peak (6580 m) and Jogin I peak (6465 m). The pass itself is situated at an altitude of 5490 m and is one of the most dangerous passes in the Garhwal Himalayas. The pass also connects the Khatling and Jogin glacier. Completing the Auden’s Col expedition is one of the most coveted achievements of a mountaineer. I mention mountaineer and not trekker, as this expedition is not for the inexperienced trekkers.

The pass is named after a British Geographical Survey Officer named John Bicknell Auden, who discovered the pass in 1935 and crossed it in 1939. The trek begins from Gangotri and ends at Kedarnath. Thus you invariably also travel to two of the Char dhams while doing the expedition. The trek offers magnificent vies of the Himalayan peaks like the Gangotri group, Jogin group, Bhagirathi group, Kedam Dome and Rudragaira. But the route is strenuous and the trail passes through narrow cliffs, moraines, boulders and difficult terrains. So if you want to go for Auden’s Col expedition, you must really be prepared and fit.

Photo of Auden's Col, Bhinlgana Range, Uttarakhand by Amrita

Detailed Itinerary of the trek

Day 1: Gangtori – Nala Camp (7 km)

Start your trek after seeking blessings from the Gangotri temple. The trail goes through thick forests of oaks, birch, pine, cedar and rhododendrons of the Gangotri National Park. Just before reaching the campsite at Nala, you will get a glimpse of Gangotri III and Jogin peaks. The first day of the trek will end at the Nala Camp.

Day 2: Nala Camp – Rudragaira Base Camp (7 km)

This day, the hike is short but steep. From the Nala camp, the trail goes uphill. A strenuous climb will take you to the Rudragaira camp. From this camp you will get clear views of the Gangotri and Jogin groups.

Courtesy: Wikimedia

Photo of Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India by Amrita

Day 3: Acclimatization Day at Rudragaira

It is very important to get acclimatized when you are at higher altitudes. This day will be for some rest period as you will already gain around 5000 feet in the last 2 days. You can trek to the Rudragaira peak for acclimatization walk. From the peak, you will get the first glimpse of Auden’s Col.

Day 4: Rudragaira BC – Gangotri BC (6 km)

In this trail, you will encounter a lot of moraines and technical surfaces. After ascending two moraine ridges, there is a short descent to the Gangotri Base camp. The trail is gradual, but challenging at times. From the camp, you will get magnificent views of Gangotri I, II & III peaks.

Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita

Day 5: Gangotri BC – Auden’s Col BC (6 km)

This hike is as challenging as previous day’s. but you will probably be accustomed by now. After crossing some moraine path, you will reach your destination for the day – Auden’s Col Base Camp.

Day 6: Auden’s Col BC – Auden’s Col Pass – Khatling Glacier Camp (12 km)

This is the day when you will cross the Auden’s Col Pass. You must start as early as possible. A 5 km uphilltrek for about 4 hours will take you to the Auden’s Col Pass. The trek is quite difficult and at freezing temperatures, it becomes more about your mental strength. But once you are at the top, all your pains will go in a jiffy. You will feel proud to be on top of the mountain pass.

The descent is however more difficult than the ascent. It is a steep and narrow 70 degree ice gully. Ropes are used to negotiate the descent. Once youreach at the bottom of the gully, a short walk will get you to your campsite.

Day 7: Khatling Glacier Camp – Zero Point (12 km)

This hike is also going to be technical and a challenging one. The day is going to be one of the longest and demanding as well. The walk is on the Khatling Glacier quite infamous for its deep crevasses. Ropes will again be used to trek this glacial stretch. After passing through the glacial stretch, you will arrive at the moraine trail. From here, the trail moves downhill until you reach the campsite for the day.

Day 8: Waterfall Camp – Chowki (8 km)

The trek is along the river valley for about 3 km and it will lead you to an open meadow. From here, another 5 km of trek will bring you to Chowki.

Day 9: Chowki – Masar Tal (8 km)

This day’s trek will also involve a lot of ascents, followed by a series of switchback descents. You will get beautiful view of the Thalay Sagar peak and the overlooking valleys. Some parts of the trail will be quite steep, but well defined till you reach Masar Tal. This will be your campsite for the day.

Day 10: Masar Tal – Mayali Pass – Vasuki Tal (12 km)

If you had though that the difficult days were over, you are wrong. This day’s hike also involves a strenuous ascent over boulders on a steep ridge to Masar Top. Then there is a little descent before climbing up the glacier again to the top of Mayali Pass. The descent from Mayali Pass is quite steep and technical, quite like that of the descent from the Auden’s Col. You might have to fix ropes and rapell. Continue your descent till you reach Vasuki Tal.

Source: Wikimedia

Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita
Photo of This expedition connecting Gangotri and Kedarnath is the ultimate mountaineering experience by Amrita

Day 11: Vasuki Tal – Kedarnath (7 km)

Trek towards the famous pilgrimage of Kedarnath. The descent will take about 3 hours. Once you reach Kedarnath, rest in a hotel for the day and cherish the moments. The Auden’s Col expedition is now complete.

From Kedarnath, you can return to civilization through Gaurikund.

Some details of Auden’s Col Expedition:

Trek Level : Difficult

Total distance: 115 km approx.

Passes crossed: Auden’s col and Mayali Pass

Highest altitude reached: 17,715 feet

Best Time to do the expedition: June to September

How to reach Gangotri:

Gangotri is a famous pilgrimage in India. Haridwar is the nearest railhead, while Dehradun has the nearest airport. There are daily buses from Haridwar and Dehradun towards Gangotri.

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