A few weeks back when our Workaway experience at Sangla Valley was coming to an end, we decided to do a high altitude trek before leaving the area. We chose the Rupin Pass.
The Rupin Pass
The Rupin Pass is one of the most popular treks in Himachal Pradesh, India. Most people start the trek from Dhaula in Uttarakhand and take around 9 days to reach Sangla in Himachal Pradesh. Since we wanted to start and end the trek in Sangla, and this was our first high altitude trek, we decided to do a 3 day version of this trek.
The ideal months for this trek are from mid May to June and mid September to October.
3 day itinerary
Sangla (8,600 ft.) 5 KM trek to Sangla Kanda (11,427 ft.)
Sangla Kanda (11,427 ft.) 7 KM trek to Ronti Gad (13,100 ft.)
On the first day we decided to do the 12 KM from Sangla to Ronti Gad. One can opt to sleep the first night at the base camp in Sangla Kanda if an extra day is not an issue. Hence on the first day, you will only cover 5 KM and can spend the rest of the day enjoying this beautiful area. Since we had time and energy left, we decided to continue to Ronti Gad. Always make sure you have ample time to reach the next destination before sunset as some parts of the path are quite narrow, steep and sometimes slippery.
The first 12 KM were constantly uphill but not so steep. We took around 2.5 hours to reach Sangla Kanda and another 2.5 hours to reach Ronti Gad.
Ronti Gad (13,100 ft.) 5 KM trek to Rupin Pass (15,380 ft.)
Rupin Pass (15,380 ft.) 5 KM trek to Ronti Gad (13,100 ft.)
On our first day the rain drizzled all day. We went to sleep hoping the weather will get better by the second day but were not lucky. Our original plan for the day was to reach the Rupin Pass and continue another 2 KM to reach the waterfalls. However the guide informed us that because of the weather, probably we wouldn’t even make it to the pass.
The continuous rain made the trek much harder as we were constantly walking uphill and downhill on a slippery path. In spite of the rain, we managed to reach the pass in 2.5 hours, but immediately had to turn back as the weather was getting worse.
Ronti Gad (13,100 ft.) 12 KM trek to Sangla (8,600 ft.)
Again we woke up to the sound of the rain falling on our tent. Today’s plan was to head back to Sangla at around 8:00 AM but delayed the departure hoping the rain would stop or at least ease up. By 10:00 AM we gave up our hopes of better weather and started heading back to Sangla. We reached Sangla Center by 2:00 PM, and within fifteen minutes were feasting on Momos and Chow Mein (Noodles), soaking wet but happy to have completed the trek.
Our mistakes…and what you can learn from them.
As this was our first high altitude trek, we did some amateur mistakes which could have been easily avoided. Hopefully anyone reading this can also learn from our mistakes.
Good trekking shoes
Previously I had my trekking shoes stolen (ironically from a temple), but since I was fine with my running shoes I didn’t bother to buy a new pair and kept on putting it off. Eventually, we left Delhi, which was my last opportunity to replace my trekking shoes, but I did not. Therefore, I ended up doing this trek with a worn out, completely flat sole running shoes. Maybe, I would have been fine for the first 12 KM to Ronti Gad and back if it did not rain so much and the path was not so slippery.
However, even if it had not rained I would have struggled for the last part up to the pass were you have to climb slippery glaciers and snow. Hence, a good trekking shoes which you are already accustomed to is definitely a must. Do not assume that you can get good quality gear from the next place you are visiting especially in small hill stations such as Sangla.
Be ready for all-weather conditions
We had lived in Sangla Valley for over a month and it never rained for more than a few hours continuously, therefore we did not think about a scenario where it would rain for three consecutive days. But it did and we were not ready.
The last thing you want after hours of walking is to arrive at your destination soaking wet and all your extra clothes are wet too. Always make sure you have the following items with you:
- A good raincoat
- Water proof bags. Our bag is water proof but I guess it was not enough for the amount of rain we had during the three days. It is best to carry all your items in plastic bags as an extra precaution
- Extra (warm and waterproof) clothes, especially socks! My plan was to carry the bare minimum, a decision that totally backfired on me. Definitely do keep in mind the backpack weight when packing, but also make sure you have at least the basic necessities.
I went on this trek with just one pair of pants. My reasoning was that since it’s only three days, I can rough it out, as I did not want to carry anything extra. Well, my pants were soaking wet after the first day. If Arturo, one of our companions was not sensible enough to carry an extra pair of pants, I would have had to sleep in wet pants at a temperature of around 5°C. Not my brightest idea but I guess I am wiser now.
Choose your companions well
Our companions on this trek were Arturo and Ben. After an amazing month together volunteering in Sangla Valley, we decided to do this trek together before parting ways. First and foremost, both Ben and Arturo are the best and I would not have chosen anyone else to share this experience with, but damn these guys are fit and fast … really fast!
I spent so much time worrying that I was holding them back and I hated the fact that I was always behind and kept them waiting for me. I realise that most probably this was only a mind issue as the guys insisted repeatedly that they do not mind having a break while I caught up with them. For my next trek, I would prefer not to have to worry about this matter.
Hence, going forward, I would think twice if we were to do other treks with more people. Joining others has advantages such as sharing costs and the experience but do make sure that more or less, you are on the same fitness level and have similar intentions as to what pace you want to do the trek. For instance, some people enjoy taking photos every two minutes, while others enjoy a challenge and would like to complete the trek in the shortest time possible.
Fortunately, we did not have any high altitude sickness or other related issues. It might be a good idea to spend a night in Sangla to acclimatize to the altitude if you are not used to it.
Overall this trek is of moderate difficulty and I would definitely recommend it to anyone of moderate fitness level. We booked a guide from A.I.M Adventure Group, which are based in Sangla and would highly recommend them. Total price for two people was 5,000 INR. This included two nights accommodation (all camping gear was provided), food and guide from Sangla Kanda to the pass and back to Ronti Gad.