Formerly named as Kuari Pass the trek got a make over due to its stunning winter beauty and now it is called as Winter Kuari Pass trek. Why shouldn’t it be? It is by far the most marvellous and challenging winter trek. Basically, it has it all, a complete snow packed package. This winter beauty was first explored by the famous mountaineer Lord Curzon. No wonder why the path leading to the Kuari pass is also called the Lord Curzon trail. Yes, named after the renowned mountaineer and explorer.
The hike is known for beginners and also advanced hikers. It is best for kids and family too. Therefore, the trek is suggested for everyone. Even aged people can easily cruise through the winter snow land as they want without more strain as compared to other winter difficult winter trails. The trek lies in the Garhwali Himalayas of the Uttarakhand state. The trek also lies in the Nanda Devi sanctuary that offers a chance to witness the greenery and thrill of the Nanda Devi and peaks in the range. The entire trail is amazing with mixed views of dense forests that open up to vast snow fields as you gain height.
The trek begins from Joshimath in Uttarkashi district. The Kuari Pass is famous for panoramic views and spectacles of the Uttarkhand high mountains like Nanda Devi (as mentioned because of its location in the Nanda Devi Sanctuary) other peaks include Trishul, Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, are all magnificent zeniths of the Garhwali mountains. Apart from these big mountain tops, the trek is known for huge meadows or grasslands of Dhak, Gulling, Khullara and last but not the least Chitrakantha. The striking point is that these vast meadows turn into the biggest snow fields for thrilling skiing activity and also add to the overall beauty of the hike. If you are a lucky person you can also discover some snow leopards pug marks.
Let me reiterate that Winter Kuari pass trek is a walk or journey of a lifetime. It must never be missed for anything. Throughout the long and number of days of the hike from Joshimath to the last point or the high point of the Kuari pass, you will witness the stunning beauty of the Garhwal Himalayas. The high pass of Kuari pass is located as four thousand two hundred and sixty-four meters or 4264 meters elevation. Now, this elevation is not as high to there are fewer chances of AMS called Acute Mountain Sickness. For enthusiastic mountaineers or those dreaming of climbing higher peaks, the pass is like an amphitheatre from where all of big and high seven thousand meters (7000 m) peaks are seen at distant. Some of these mountain tops are Kamet at seven thousand seven hundred and fifty-six meters (7756 m), Trishul peak which is at seven thousand one hundred and twenty meters or 7120 m, another one is Chaukhamba the four tops peak with the summit of seven thousand one hundred and twenty-eight meters or 7128 meters. Well, the list does not stop here. Some other enthralling summits seen are of Nanda Ghunti, Chanbang, Dronagiri, Hathi Ghoda Parvat and Mukut Parvat. So as you can see the mindblowing Winter Kuari pass gives you an opportunity to witness all of the big peaks of India from a closer distance. It is like standing in between ocean of snow crowned mountains.
Winter Kuari pass is the trek that commences from Joshimath which is situated in the Chamoli district of the northern state of Uttarakhand. The town of Joshimath is now a hub for mountaineers, trekkers, climbers, skiers and also adventure lovers and photographers as it is a gateway to the Uttarakhand Himalayas. Have you heard of these rivers namely Pinder, Mandakini, Dhauli Ganga, Birehiganga and also Kaliganga? If not let me tell you that these gushing and bluish green rivers meet together and their confluence are now famous pilgrim and tourist destinations of which the popular ones are namely, Karnaprayag, Devprayag, let us not forget Rudraprayag and Devprayag too.
After a long and wonderful drive through the above pilgrim or the tourist spots to be precise you shall arrive at your lodges or hotels in the Joshimath town. Yes, Joshimath is the base village and is quite developed with facilitated home stays or well equipped restaurants and lodges. From here onwards no more bus or vehicle rides at your rescue only foot steps and walking and climbing the slopes of the mighty Himalayas. On the route to the high pass of Kuari pass, you will be crossing lush forests of Oak and rhododendrons. There will also be animals grazing around. The rhododendrons flourish or bloom into pink and sometimes red and white vibrant happy colours. In autumn there are orange yellow forests covers. These bright colours of the forests with the big mountains with green slopes and white snow at the zenith form the picture perfect landscape. Rightly coming from your imagination, flawless.
After crossing the woodlands of oak and birch and rhododendrons, you will rise even higher to the Lord Curzon trail. Yes, the famous shows its sight at last. The Curzon path is nothing like you imagined. You will come across various tiny habitats that will help you understand the mountain life. I missed that forests before Curzon trail also consists of Deodar trees. So, yes additional thrill or forest lovers and photographers. The jungles are a life saver and eye pleaser. For the lucky ones, there will snow leopards sightings.
The second major stopping place or camping place to be precise will be Dhak village. A flat and stable walk leads from Dhal habitat. The trail slowly goes to the other famous and remote habitat called Tugasi village. Tugasi is really famous amongst Kuari pass trekkers. From tugasi, the path changes drastically nothing you could have thought off, I am sure! There will steep climbs sometimes if not that then there will be sharp turns that will blow your mind. As a caution never go ahead of your local guide always follow him. Always try to walk with your team members. So that you don’t lose your path and get lost in the wild and adventurous Uttarakhand mountains.
Enough talking about forests the Kuari pass is much more than only forests and meadows. There will be streams of Dhauli-Ganga watch out for it. It looks like a shining silver chain gleaming under sunlight. Do you know that Khullara meadows are also a big camping spot during Winter Kuari Pass Trek? One lesser-known fact is that the newly formed Vishnugad Tapovan Hydroelectric power station will also be spotted during Winter Kuari Pass trek.