JADH GANGA valley trek
This is the route that Heinric Harrer, author of SEVEN YERS IN TIBET, took to finally escape from India in May 1944. he had been interred in Dehradun as a POW after his attempt on Nanga Parbat.
Sub Title: Following Harrerís tale
Location: North Uttaranchal
Ideal Season: May to October
Route: Walk from Bhaironghati high above the left bank of the Jadh Gangaís deep gorge.
Getting there and out: By rail to Rishikesh from anywhere in the country. By road via Haridwar to Uttarkashi and Harsil to the road head of Bhaironghati just after crossing the spectacular Jadh Ganga gorge by a sturdy girder bridge about half way up it. Porters have to be got from Harsil or Gangotri. Canít take a step inside this valley without an Inner Line Permit. The Inner Line is a babu dreamed up line. Completely imaginary but without that sheet of paper there can be a lot of trouble.
In May 1944 Heinrich Harrer, Hans Kopp, Peter Aufschnaiter and Bruno Treipel escaped from a POW camp in Dehradun. Crossing the Aglar valley and going over Nag Tibba ridge they reached Nelang in the Jadh Ganga valley after passing Uttarkashi, Harsiland turning off up the gorge at Bhaironghatti. From Nelang they walked through the villags of Naga, Dosindhu, Sonam, Tirpani and Pulamsunda. They then went up the first tributary of the Jadh Ė the Mendi- to Tsangchok la (5250 m) which they crossed on the 17th of May seven days after leaving Dehra Dun. This was the pass from where his seven years in Tibet began. Except for mentioning the villages he does not describe the route.
24 years later beyond Harsil and Lanka I crossed the rambunctious and foaming torrent by a log bridge scaringly low enough to catch an occasional spray. Looking up I was fascinated by the chasm cut by this unruly river. Somewhere close to the top of the narrow rocky gorge hung the intriguing remnants of a wire bridge. A precarious path looped up to it from the bridge.
In June 1985 some friends and I were in the Jadh Ganga valley trying to climb some 6000 + peaks south of the Tsangchok la and also Chirbas Parbat (6525). None of these villages is inhabited. Till 1962 the mysterious Tibetan Jadhs- a phratery of the Bhotias of Western Tibet used to live here. They have now been resettled on both sides of a straight cobbled street in Harsil below Wilsonís Cottage. Instead there are jawans guarding this territory from an imminent attack by the Chinese, who are meanwhile busy concentrating on winning an economic war by flooding India with cheap smuggled goods.
Bhaironghati (3079 m) to Karmoli (3200 m): Distance and Time: 15 kms and 7 hrs; Level: Easy
During this march the Himalayan crest is crossed and there is little rain to trouble. Walk on a wide rough deodar forested path up the left bank of the Jadh Ganga or Jhanvi. Its jeepable for a few kilometers. Look across the gorge and be terrified by wooden steps fixed to the immense plummeting rock wall of the gorge. This was the path taken by Harrer and Co in 1944. Many brooks to be crossed. At one place the path goes up a series of wooden causeways drilled into the rock wall but hidden amidst huge deodars. Camp near the Chaudhar stream flowing in from Chaudhar Bamak a couple of hours trek to the SE. Look up and see the 5500 m high Chaudhar ridge with fissured ice walls, imposing rock pinnacles and a glacier.
Day # 2:
Karmoli to Naga (3600 m): Distance and Time: 12 kms and 6 hrs; Level: Easy
Very interesting route. 3 kms ahead is Dhumku (3245 m) on the left bank. Opposite from NNW the Chor Gad Nalla roars in to meet the Jadh. During colonial times when tax used to be collected from goods coming into and going to Tibet people used to use these hidden ways to avoid tax. A crumbling route goes up this river to the sources of the Baspa river in H.P. and then over the 5545 m high Yamrang La to Tibet. Dramatic entrance to Chor Gad provided by a perfect pyramid rock peak Chagle (5992 m). Steep granite cliffs of the Zanskar throttle the Chor Gad. Look south while passing Neelang. Kalidhang (6373 m), its lesser peaks and overhanging glaciers overawe. Its drained by the Dahi Bamak nalla which meets the the jadhís left bank here. 2 kms later to avoid the huge vertical rock cliffs on the left bank cross to the right bank by a sturdy log bridge over a narrow and deep chasm. Vegetation becomes sparse, trees disappear and pink wild rose bushes are sprinkled all over the dry prospect. See the turbulent Guli gad meet the Jadh on the left bank after draining the glaciers of the Guli Dhar and Chirbas (6525 m) & Matri (6721 m). Cross to the left bank just before Naga, which nestles in the narrow confines of two gorges. The Nilapani which meets the Jadh here.
Naga to Sonam (3920 m): Distance and Time: 11 kms and 6 hrs; Level: Easy
Steep ascent after Dosindhu 3 kms ahead and where the Jadhang from WNW meets the Jadh. Dramatic change now. Very dry and very Tibetan landscape. Dry brown and an unreal purple are the colours of the scree laden slopes. Descend over a spur to a wide plain of boulders surrounding a scrub dominated grazing ground around which hover spires, needles and jagged ridges that are immensely colourful in the setting sun. looming over the south is the magnificent north face of the Chirbas Parbat (6525 m). This is Sonam on the left bank of the now wide and sluggish Jadh. A bleak and terribly windy place.
Day # 4:
Sonam to Pulamsunda (4300 m) : Distance and Time: 20kms and 8 hrs; Level: Easy
Continue along the left bank. Striking colourful rock features. A striking turquoise lake amidst yellow scree on the right bank. Cross a stream. Stunning clay and rock natural sculptures including an arch under which the pebbly and dusty track goes. Before the confluence of the Jadh with the Rongmach gad cross to the right bank and 2 kms after Tirpani cross again to the left. The jadh is very gentle at last and so clear that the myriad coloured pebbles can be seen on its shallow bed. Small alps of nutritious grass to which come herders with Tibetan ponies (!) from Harsil and Kinnaur. Large ITBP camp here and consequently new names have been given like Rampratap ka parao to a lovely furze and grass dominated camp site 8 kms ahead of Pulamsumda on the Baregudda stream. This furze burns with explosive energy.
Days # 5,6 & 7:
Pulamsumda to Rampratap ka parao (4745 m): Distance and Time: 9 kms and 4 hrs; Level: Moderate
Enjoyable tramp. Jumping from rock to rock, grass to grass and from bank to bank. Good site to explore ridges and peaks above. But be careful for crossing over into Tibet is just a misstep away. A bright and sparkling green glacial lake at 5770 can be visited as well as climbing any one of the several 6000 m + peaks nearby. Tsangchok la (5350 m) from which Harrer and friends escaped into Tibet and its ridges and Tibet can be seen close to the north- a better view than from the pass itself. But a direct route from here entails lots of ups and downs. Over schist itís a terrible strain. From the Thag La (5030 m) north of Tsangchok la to intervening Tibet to the NNE can be seen in Kinnaur Raniso La (4055 m), Khimokul La (4557 m), Kinner kailash (6474 m), Reo Pargial (6791)- the rocky one and to the SE is Muling La (5584 m) and Sri Kaila (6932 m) and Mana parbat (6794 m) to name only a few that can be easily recognized in the cold gusts and clear skies. To the ESE stands the magnificent triangle of Kamet (7756 m) between its neighbours Mukut Parbat (7244 m) and Abi Gamin (7357 m). Even Meade Col could be seen if one walks along the ridge north of point 5165 m. Such a spectacular view with so little effort is rare. Return to Pulamsumda.
Day # 8:
Pulamsumda to Sumla (4720 m) camp: Distance and Time: 3 kms and 2 hrs; Level: Moderate
Up the narrowing but still fast flowing and at times frothing Jadh till it meets Mendi stream from the NNE. The Jadh flows in from the north. Camp on the right bank of the Mendi. View is restricted but tantalizing. Broken down walls of shelters from the distant past are still around acting as windbreak for the odd herd or two that comes this far. Plenty of time to explore the Jadh. Climb to the ridge above the left bank for better views.
Day # 9:
Sumla to Tsangchokla (5350 m) and back to Pulamsumda : Distance and Time: 20 kms and 9 hrs: Level: Moderate
Keep hopping over the Mendi stream and climb steadily to its source. 200 mtrs below the pass are some more ruined walls. Steady climb to the pass marked by cairns and on the pass itself are the remains of 2 mtr high chorten. Tibet does not appear any different. Same colour mountains. Same scree and schist. No wide valleys yet. Walk a hundred metres down to get a better view. Can see grazing grounds of a village. Views as in Day 6 but considerably narrowed. From a point above and to the left of the pass some more neighbours of Reo Pargial can be seen. Retrace steps to Pulamsumda. Always windy and bitterly cold. No snow.
These impressions and comments of mine are impartial. In no way am I drumming for any of these establishments