Hampta Pass is one of the most sought after trekking destination in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh. This trek offers breathtaking views and a variety of landscapes to pass through like pine forests, open grasslands, vast meadows, glacial valleys and the pass itself, all within 4 days. For most of us who reside in the city, this trek is something to look forward to and relish the experience. It is also a great trek for participants of all age group with a difficulty level of moderate. The maximum altitude we reach on the trek is 14,100 ft.
Day 01: Manali - Chikka (via Jobra)
Manali, at an elevation of 6,726 ft. above sea level, is a good place to acclimatize your body before beginning the trek. The vehicle from Manali passes through Prini village, takes you up through 40 hairpin bends and drops you off at Jobra which is at an altitude of 9,800 ft. Jobra is the starting point of the trek as you enter dense forests of pine, maple, deodar and oak trees. The trail passes through a meadow with the Rani Nala or Rani River flowing in between and on either sides of the hill. Today’s trek is till a place called Chika, where we pitch our tents and camp for the night.
Day 02: Chikka - Balu Ka Gera
Balu Ka Gera is a flat ground amidst the mountains at an elevation of 11,900 ft. The trail takes you through Jwara, a beautiful scenic sheltered valley. After an early breakfast, we begin our trek from Chika and walk along the banks of the river to the left. To your right, you will find a cluster of silver birch trees. Take moments to pause and soak in the beauty of this marvelous place, turn back to behold the Dhauladhar snow clad peaks. On the way you will come across a small waterfall where you can relax and fill in your water bottles and cross the river to the right and walk into a sheltered valley. Keep walking along the river, you will come across a variety of colourful wild flowers and snow melting into the river. At the end of this valley is Balu Ka Gera or the bed of sand – soil deposits washed down from the mountains by the river. Behind you are the mountains you traverse the next day to cross Hampta Pass. We set up camp and relax for the rest of the day as we slowly reach an altitude of almost 11000 ft.
Day 03: Balu Ka Gera - Hampta Pass (Crossing) - Shea Goru
This is the D-Day of your trip and the most challenging one. Today’s trek can be broken down into two phases which normally takes 9 hours in all. First is the climb to Hampta pass, and the second, the steep descent from Hampta Pass to Shea Goru.
As we start walking towards the mountains from Balu Ka Gera along the river for an hour when the gradient begins, the trail takes you straight towards Hampta Pass. In no time, you will come to the first plateau with the magnificent Deo Tibba peak right in front of you. Climb up the ridges as you come closer to Hampta Pass, a few meters away. The climb is vertical and steep, of course demands concentration and effort, which is all worth at the end. Now at 14,300 ft., you are on top of Hampta Pass with breathtaking views that will leave you in awe. The weather can be quite unpredictable with snow, rain or wind but whatever it is, pause, rejoice to have made it to the top, take pictures and prepare for the steep descent.
The descent is slightly trickier than the ascent as always. It can vary slightly depending on the snow condition too. Sliding down may be an option if there is snow. You can see Spiti valley from this point. It generally takes an hour and a half to completely descend and reach the base of the valley that leads to Shea Goru at 12,900 ft. The trek to Shea Goru is fairly easy on flat land. Upon reaching there, we set up camp and rest after today’s challenge.
Day 04: Shea Goru - Chatru - Manali
Today’s trek is approximately 2 hours long from Shea Goru to Chatru at 11,000 ft. which is by the side of the river valley between mountain ranges. These mountains are barren and the trail can be slippery at times, so it is advised to navigate carefully. You will notice the Chandra River flowing below and a road that goes by its side. There are 2 huge glaciers that flow down from the mountains on the side to the Chandra River. The other side of the Glacier is Chatru. At this point, the trek ends, we rest for a while and board a pre-arranged vehicle to reach Manali, which takes about 4 hours.