Borasu Pass

(Ancient trade route between Har ki dun valley and Kinnauris/Tibetians)


There are several adventurous passes around the valleys of North west Uttarakhand. The valleys are created by the mountian ranges of Dhauladhar to the north west; Swarga rohini peaks to the east, Kala nag and bander punch peaks to the south and west.


The popular valleys are Harki dun and ruin sara vallesy situated at the slopes of Swarga rohini peaks. Jaundhar glacier is the glacier adjacent to Har ki dun. and the glaciers emanating from "Kala Nag/ Black peak and Bander punch" form a very beautiful water shed feeding ruinsara nala.


Dhumdhar Kandi, Bali and Borasu are the high passes popular among some adventurous trekkers. Among all of these Bali pass is the easiest; most difficult one is "Borasu" pass. I crossed both Dhumdhar and Bali in 2007 as part of "High altitude 4 Dham Traverse".


There will be parties(groups) from Mumbai(Maharastra) and Calcutta(west Bengal) each year. This year also I noticed some people saying they were going to attempt Bali pass and Borasu pass. There was one party from "Delhi" that tried Borasu. They were people with different fitness levels and all age groups and some ladies as well. The weather was not so kind on some days and on some days the bodies of the people didn't cooperate so all these groups have altered their plans of crossing these high passes to trekking in the lower valleys.


I always get lucky with the weather. I got lucky with weather this time too and was gifted with some of the best views of these valleys and as well as adventure. I took one person as support with me. He was with me during my Dhumdhar Kandi pass crossing in 2007. He is 54yrs; from Osla.


Borasu Trek

Difficulty grade: Difficult; Max Altitude/Min Temp: 5200m/ -ve 10 degrees

Terrain: Rock & snow (soft, hard);

Gear Required: Rope, crampons, Ice Axe and good climbing boots, Snow & Ice anchoring gear would be very helpful.




Taluka 1800m - Osla - Harki dun 3500m - Maninda Tal - Rathadu 4000m - Sauni beda - Lamjunga - Borasu pass5200m - Zupke glacier 4500m - Bunga - jauri - Rani Kanta - Chitkul


My trek: Osla - Maninda Tal(Day1) - Lamjunga(day2) - Camp below the pass(3) - Pass & Bunga camp(4) - Chitkul(5).


Kripa in our kitchen on Day at Maninda Tal:



From day 2 onwards we have encountered the snow. At Some patches there was fresh snowfall which made our legs sink into the snow holes amidst the boulders. We saw the foot steps of "Baral - Blue mountain goat" in the snow fields but couldn't see one. In another place we spotted the remains of the left out of the feast of an Himalayan Brown bear. It attacked one of the sheep that the Gaddis' (Himalayan Nomadic Shepards) brought into these places during last season for grazing.




The route through boulders required some careful footing. Then the climb upto Lamjunga camp was also strenuous. But the view surrounding the valley and the amphitheater of high ridges and rock spires was enthralling. We did the final climb in whiteout conditions and it was snowing. We arrived at the camping place(Lamjunga) around 2:30 PM.


Making water at that altitude was an ordeal. We had to put the stove inside the tent. Incidentally I carried a 4-Men Tent and it provided space for two of us and cooking paraphernalia. The winds abated by evening; I had some wonderful views and pictures. I could see the pass hidden behind a snow bump for the first time.




We had noodles and soup for meal. We made some hot water and consumed glucose and tea. They were more of sugar inputs. Next day we waited until 10:30 AM for the light to reach our camp and dry the tent as it got heavily snowed.




We climbed diligently over the snow slopes of fresh snow, each of us taking turns to break the route. By noon the weather began to get worst and by 1:00PM it was complete white out conditions and started snowing. I decided to pitch the tent immediately as it might turn out further worst. My porter 'Kripa' was keen on crossing the pass as we were very close to it. I didn't want to do it as we will miss the opportunity of best views from the top of the pass as well it was getting late. Tackling the descent from pass beyond 4PM and still have another ordeal of at least three hours didn't sound to be a just decision for me. so we pitched our tent very close to the pass in high winds and white out conditions. We lay inside our sleeping bags contemplating the decision we made and as well taking rest from the exhaustion.




Around 3:30PM the winds blew very hard at the tent; we thought our tent wouldn't last the blasts of the winds. we held the tent poles from inside the tent. My worst worries were that the tent might take off like a parachute along with us from the ledge over which we perched our tent. The winds were so strong that we felt it might rip off the tent. Thankfully none of this happened but for our scared souls.


After the winds abated we went out to collect snow and store for the requirement of night's consumption. We made soup, tea and noodles for meal. My porter was feeling headache but that didn't stop him from having his quota of "bidi" smoking in spite of my objections. I had to give in to his pleading looks and such a hard working companion at that altitude and isolated place. He kept taking tablets though.

He kept expressing worries about the weather on next day.. thinking that it might worsen the next day... But I kept reassuring him and explained the worst case scenario and coarse of action. It kept snowing most of the night and occasionally blasted the tent. We slept with the worries of the next day.


By morning 4AM the skies were clear and we had anticipated very good weather for the day. We waited painfully for the sun rays to reach our tent (to dry up). Mean while we cooked our food and prepared water for the day's consumption. By the time we resumed our walk after unpitching the tent it was 9:30AM. The climb was steep at some section and through heavy snow. Just below the pass there was some rock band which was slippery and fresh snow added more difficulty to it. We didn't had any climbing gear - ice axe, ropes, crampons. Thankfully We were able to make it with caution and some luck. We arrived on the top of the pass at 10:50AM


View from the top of the pass was very beautiful. The sky was very clear and azure. I could see Kinnaur Kailash just in-front of me and it can be recognized. It is similar to that of Kailash near Manas Sarovar. The ridge lines that divided Gangotri region and Tibet were also noticed. The valley on the Kinnaur side forms a U-shape (Horse shoe). My porter hugged me as soon as soon as we reached the top. He was very happy. he saw several parties turning back from "Bali" and "Borasu" a few days back. He performed pooja, offered prayers to the gods, cracked coconut and left a few coins below the stones. I offered my prayers as well and left some dry fruits. We sat there savoring the Himalayan views in 360 degree. I didn't take out my camera all through the climb. On the Pass I indulged in photographing all peaks and valleys in all directions.


Views towards Kinnaur:



View towards Harkidun




After spending about 45minutes on the top we searched for the route to descend. Soon we were tackling some difficult rock climbing pitches with out any aides. It was not easy. Then we encounter some steep sections of snow.. After sometime we gained comfort with such steep pitches and didn't mind glissading(sliding down on butt) over steep snow pitches.. We enjoyed the fun and didn't miss an opportunity after that. It took us about 2hrs to reach "Zupke glacier" and from there it was over the boulders at some section and as we reached ridge (heap of glacier moraine) the walk became easier. We were a bit exhausted and were eager to camp at the first sight of water. We didn't want to go through the ordeal of making water.


The route we descended:




We reached a green pasture at about 4PM; We were happy to see some green patches after so much of white country and dangerous pitches. We pitched our tent and relaxed in the tent. "Kripa" confessed that his age is not co operating and he wouldn't take up such difficult high pass ventures in future. He would want to settle for treks upto "Harki dun" in future. I wonder if he would miss if an opportunity arises in future~!


I lit the stove and made some soup for both of us. Later he took over from me to prepare food. The weather was excellent. After two cold nights, the sleep by the side of a stream and not sleeping on snow was very welcoming. I didn't know that our adventure wasn't over yet. I went to sleep smugly.


Next day we woke up leisurely made our food and started about 9AM. After 30miutes of easy walk we faced some snow fields and ridges that involved good amount of rock climbing and bouldering. It took us another 3hrs to reach the green pastures of Jairi camp site. The first flowers that I came across were "Primulas", I saw some "Caultha" variety also. The "Geranium" family were yet to bloom but were plenty. I saw lot of "fritillaria" flowers as well. Close to the green pastures of "Jairi" camp I saw the growth of "Berginia stracheyi" flowers. From here we could see large trees - "birch" in distance; That was very pleasing sight and bring to awareness of abundant oxygen and don't feel breathlessness while walking. I removed my shoes and changed to "Sandals". The birch forest and the open meadows amidst was very beautiful. I was very much tempted to camp in between such beautiful sylvan country but we planned to reach Chitkul on same day. I promised myself that I would come back to this place next time at least to camp in the woods. The area was profuse with alpine flowers. We saw a herd of sheep; there were about 500 of them. There were 4 dogs guarding them. "Kripa" was concerned that these dogs are dangerous and shouted for the owner. He came out of a cave surreptitiously wondering which soul has come from which side in this part of the year.

We exchanged our introductions after which he felt ease and offered "Hot Tea" for us. We excused ourselves saying we had to reach "Chitkul" by evening. It took another 40 minutes walk to reach the "ITBP' camp. We had some paper work verification there. There were some villagers from "Chitkul" who were involved with roads building work. They made some tea for us. It felt good to join the civilization but I think it comes with a price at this altitude and isolated place.. We crossed the bridge and started walking along the broad foot path towards Chitkul. It was very easy walk and we enjoyed it after those strenuous bouldering and snow fields. It's about 9Km from Rani Kanta to Chitkul which we covered in two hours. Chitkul has got all the amenities. The first thing I had was - Hot shower followed by a good cup of hot coffee. I relished it.


View to the east of Chitkul Village:



People were a bit perplexed to believe that some body with one porter has made it across "Borasu" and at that time of the year. I left it to "Kripa" to handle all the talking. Earlier we thought of doing the Rupin pass as well but I had another commitment on 30th. So, skipped that and took the bus route all the way from Chitkul to "Sankri" (Harki Dun entry point). It took us two days in bus. Last year Kripa had a different adventure when all the roads got swept away by the landslides.


I was happy to have undertaken another difficult "Himalayan pass crossing" - moving one step closer to my dream of crossing all Himalayan passes above 5000ms.


- Om Mani Padme Hum!

- by Malli Mastan Babu