Auden’s Col trek as the toughest trek in India. Keeping the debate aside, this treacherous col and challenging trail is certainly a bucket list trek to all experienced trekkers
Auden’s Col Trekking Expedition
Auden’s Col Trek is named after John Bicknell Auden, a British Geographical Survey officer, who first discovered it in 1935 and crossed it in 1939. Set at an altitude of 5,490 meters, Auden’s Col is one of the high altitude mountain passes in the Indian Himalayan region of Garhwal that connects the Rudragaira and Bhilangana Valley. Auden’s Col Trek forms a bridge between the north – west ridge of Gangotri III, which stands at an elevation of 6,580 meters and the ridge coming from Jogin I at 6465 meters on the east. The trek to Auden’s Col is one of the toughest treks in the Garhwal Himalayan region and hence it has been least explored. The journey requires acclimatization as it passes through high altitude spots and some of the dangerous moraines, narrow cliffs, stony and snaky paves. The vicinity also includes some of the massive glaciers like the Khatling Glacier, which is at an approximate altitude of 4,200 meters. The Auden’s Col trek is a dream trek for almost every trekker and mountaineer. The trekking trail cuts and runs through the thick forest of alpine trees; meadows dotted with varied species of flowers; innumerable gushing streams; charming villages secluded from the urban of Garhwal Himalaya; and several temples that reflect the religious significance of the Garhwal region. Although a strenuous trail, the journey is rewarded with the majestic view of the hulking high peaks like the Rudragaira, Jogin group, Bhagirathi group of Peaks and Kedar Dome..
The Auden’s Col Trek starts from Gangotri at 3,048 meters, which is one of the important Hindu pilgrimage sites and hosts a shrine that is dedicated to Goddess Ganga, the holiest river in India. From Gangotri the trail heads upward to Nala Camp, which is 8 kilometers of easy trail. The beautiful walk through a Pine and Birch forest gets transformed into a picturesque walk with views of some of the Himalayan peaks i.e. Jogin and Kedartal range. From Nala Camp, the trail continues to Rudragaira Base Camp, which is further 7-8 kilometers gradual climb. Thereafter the route turns to the base of the Gangotri group of peaks and further leads to Auden’s Col, passing through the glaciated tracks. From Auden’s Col the journey goes ahead to Khatling Glacier and thereafter to Chowki, which is one of the alpine meadows. From Chowki the route heads to Masar Tal and thereafter to Vasuki Tal, the two high altitude lakes in Garhwal Himalayan region. From Vasuki Tal, 8 kilometers of downhill trail leads to Kedarnath, which is another important Hindu pilgrimage site and the remotest site of the Char Dham Yatra. Later the Auden’s Col Trekking tour ends at Rishikesh, which can be reached via Gaurikund, Rudraprayag and Devprayag.
Auden’s Col Trip Highlights
- Auden’s Col is a 5490m high mountain pass connecting Rudragaira and Bhilangana Valley.
- Rudragaira peak (5818m)
- Jogin group of peaks, Bhagirathi group of peaks and Kedar Dome
- Gangotri – the origin point of River Ganga.
- Khatling glacier
- Remote Villages
- Nights in Hotel/Guest House
Best Time to Visit
Best time to travel to Auden Col Trek is in summers (May – June) and Post Monsoon (September – mid October).
Summers: The weather of Auden Col Trek remains salubrious and pleasing during summers (May – June). The Himalayan range is distinctly visible and the cool breeze adds charm to the vacation. Carrying woolens is advised.
Monsoon: Serenity and solitude are at its best during post monsoon at Auden Col Trek. The region is blessed with heavy snowfall during winters and the accommodation options are also restricted to few. But you can see the best of Auden Col Trek post monsoon as it looks like heaven on earth.
Where is the Auden’s Col Trek?
Auden’s Col is a high mountain pass, which is situated in the central Garhwal region. It connects the mountain peaks Jogin I (6465m) and Gangotri III (6580m) and is at an elevation of around 5242m. Auden’s Col bridges two glaciers on either side – Khatling glacier on the south and Jogin Glacier on the north. A little distance lower to Jogin Glacier is the Gangotri III glacial system. Auden’s Col is approachable from Gangotri and one can trek up to Kedarnath following Auden’s Col and Khatling glacier.
How to Reach?
Nearest Railhead: Haridwar (225 kms)
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun (215 kms)
Auden’s Col can be reached via Uttarkashi. There are regular buses from Haridwar to Uttarkashi and shared jeeps are available as well. It takes about 6 – 7 hours to reach. Buses are available early morning, and it is advised that you leave early to reach early to be on the safer side.
If you are in a group, you may hire a cab for your group as it will be more convenient and quick. We may help in arranging cabs, the cost of which is to be shared by you on actual basis
Auden’s Col Trek itinerary
Day 1 – Dehradun to Gangotri (10100 feet) (245 km)
Our vehicle picks you up from Dehradun then leaves for Uttarkashi through the route of Mussoorie. Tehri Lake can be seen during the journey.
Drive to Gangotri is along the right bank of River Ganga (Bhagirathi) in the middle of the way visit Gangnani, hot spring you can take sulphur bath in it. On the way, you will get the views of Great Himalayas, Harshil and alluring green forest. Check-in a hotel and in the evening visit holy city Gangotri, at 7 pm attend Aarti of River Ganga, it is worshipped by the Hindus.
In the evening you can explore this place on your own to have dinner and overnight stay in the hotel
Day 2 : Acclimatization Day at Gangotri
Acclimatization is necessary because prevents Altitude Motion Sickness. Today you can explore the nearby surroundings and go for a hike towards Gaumukh.
Day 3 : Gangotri to Nala Camp (12335 feet) (7 km)
After breakfast leaves Gangotri and descends through the valley for around 2 km then you will enter Rudugaira valley. Ascend gradually through the dense forests of oaks and birch, cross a nallah and trek to the valley’s right.
Now, you can see the receding treeline and from here head towards the wide meadows and grounds which are used for grazing. Before you reach the campsite have a glance at overwhelming sights of Gangotri III and Join II.
The campsite is next to Allah where you can set the camps and relax for the night.
Day 4 : Nala Camp to Rudugaira Camp (14800 feet) (4 km)
The climb today is steep but short, ascend all the way to Rudugaira camp. Bid adieu to the campsite of Nallahand starts heading towards the upper grazing fields.
There are multiple streams on the way, cross them and then a sheer climb starts which lead to the Rudugaira camp, you will reach the base today.
The campsite offers alluring views Gangotri group of peaks and Join. Enjoy the overnight stay in tents.
Day 5 : Acclimatization Day at Rudugaira Camp
You drastically gained altitude in the last two days so allow your body to acclimatize according to the environment. Today you can for a short hike towards Rudugaira peak and from above you can have a glimpse of Auden’s Col.
Come back to the Rudugairacampsite, rest and retire for the night.
Day 6 : Rudugaira Camp to Auden’s Col base camp (16000 feet) via Gangotri base camp (7 km)
Leave theRudugaira campsite, after a short hike you will exit the valley slopes and the moraine climbing starts. Ahead lies two moraine ridges that are not very big in size, ascend to the top of the ridges and after descending reach the Gangotri base camp.
You’ve reached the half part of today’s trek and you have to go for half more that is Auden’s Col base camp. Cross Sukha Tal, it is a unique clear blue lake hidden behind the moraines.
The camping site is on a small flat of moraine and from here the trail to Auden’s Col is visible. After setting the camps and having sumptuous food retire for the night.
Day 7 : Auden’s Col base camp to Auden’s Col (18000 feet) and Khatling glacier camp (16800 feet) (5 km)
You have come to the main day to traverse Auden’s Col, ascend through the moraine section to reach the glacier. The beautiful views of Gangotri and Jogin peaks can be seen on both sides. Reach the glacier and go to the flat part.
Take out your ropes and start climbing the slope, this is the time-consuming part of the trek which will take 3 hours. Use equipment and skills, follow your trek leader and cross this section.
Reach the top of this pass and enjoy the overwhelming views of Rudragaira, Bhagirathi peaks, Kedar Dome and Join. After spending some time at the top plan descend, it is going to be steep through a snow-ice gully of 70 degrees.
Reach the mid part of this gully which gets flattened and wide, there you can see the huge glaciers and high peaks that surround the valley. Descending through the glacier will lead to the KhatlingGlacier campsite.
After successfully climbing the toughest pass in the Garhwal region celebrate with your teammates. Have delicious food and retire for the night.
Day 8: Khatling glacier camp to Zero points (12700 feet) (10 km)
From Yesterday’s trek was a strenuous one but today’s trek is going to be the longest one. Walk down the glaciers for 2 km and reach the moraine area.
From this point there are no cairns and trail isn’t market till the glacier’s snout. The terrain has scree and loose rocks and you can see black ice sometimes. Leave the glacier before reaching snout and descend towards the valley’s stream.
Climb up the slopes of the valley and after some time of trekking, you will reach the well-made trail, follow this trail and come to the campsite, you will set up camps at the Khatling glacier’s snout. After having food retire for the night.
Day 9 : Rest Day
At this campsite rest for today because yesterday’s trek was a long one.
Day 10: Zero point to Chowki (11750 feet) (7 km)
Post breakfast start You will trek along the river valley, walk for 3 km and a meadow will unfold in front of you. Take a rest break there and then head towards Chowki.
Chowki’s campsite is 4 km away from the meadow, reach there it is all green and is very soothing. Pitch your tents here and admire the beauty of this place, delicious food will be served then you can retire for the night.
Day 11: Chowki to Masar Tal (14960 feet) (8 km)
Today ascend is going to be steep but the views of ThalaySagar will not leave your side. Cross a ridge which is right above the valley, the route is well defined until you reach Masar Tal.
Masar Tal is a beautiful Lake, nearby you can pitch your tents and retire for the night.
Day 12: Masar Tal to Vasuki Tal (14435 feet) via Mayali Pass (16900 feet) (12 km)
Start ascending as soon as the trek starts, it is a steep climb on a ridge over boulders to reach Masar Top. When you reach the Top, rest for some time then descend before you climb the glacier.
Climb the glacier which leads to Mayali Pass. From Mayali Pass Mt. Thalaysagar and Kedar Dome are visible, descend is going to be steep just like descend through Khatling side.
Continue descending, you may need ropes to get down depends on the conditions. Reach Vasuki Tal your campsite for today. Setup the tents and retire for the night.
Day 13: Vasuki Tal to Kedarnath (11800 feet) (7 km)
Today the trek is towards a very famous Hindu pilgrimage site, Kedarnath “Abode of Lord Shiva”. From Vasuki Tal, it is 7 km away and you can reach there in 3 to 4 hours.
When you reach there to visit the temple in the evening and check-in a hotel at Kedarnath.
Day 14: Kedarnath to Gaurikund (14 km) same day Drive to Rishikesh/ Dehradun
The distance from Kedarnath to Gaurikund is 14 km reach 12 am road head same day drive to Dehradun.
Vehicles will be arranged for you till Dehradun, the drive is along the banks of River Ganga. Start after having breakfast and have lunch en route.