What it’s like to trek in the winter season!

The experience of trekking in the Himalayas is much more difficult, thrilling and exhausting in the extreme cold of Himalayan winters. There are some regions which can be accessed in the winter months of December to February. The experience of wandering in the Himalayas in cold weather offers many challenges such as walking in deep snow, low temperature, extreme climatic conditions.

White summit-There is nothing more beautiful than finding yourself standing on top of a mountain which is surrounded by vast white valleys and ridges. The weather also stays very clear and dust free giving a great visibility on a sunny day.

Sunrise and Sunset- Sunrise and sunsets on the Himalayas are breathtakingly beautiful, complimented by the white snowy slopes. Sunsets and sunrises on winter treks are great opportunities for landscape photographers.

Challenges of a winter trek

Temperature- The primary factor that makes winter trekking a different experience is temperature. Nature’s law “With the rise in altitude the temperature drops” on top of Himalayan Winter adds up to offer a great challenge of sub Zero temperatures.

Deep snow- Walking in snow is considered to be one of the hardest walks in mountaineering literature, and it is a proven fact too that on any difficult section it is very unsafe to compensate in deep snow conditions.

However, hiking in deep snow on an easy trail is fun and laborious task. It takes a lot of effort to compensate such sections as your feet will sink into the snow and every step will take double the efforts. It is a different kind of exhilaration and challenge that turns out to be a pure joy after finishing the task.

Snowfall and whiteout- It is a climatic condition that happens when it snows on high altitude, the whole weather turns extremely foggy and white. The visibility goes down to 5-10 feet, it is very easy to take a wrong turn in such conditions, so the knowledge of trail is very important in such conditions.

Essential gears and Clothing

HEAD- Sun hat, Balaclava, warn cap are essential as walking in the snow conditions on a sunny day can be warm but the wind chill factor keeps the air cold and you need to protect your head from cold winds.

EYES- Sun or snow goggles are very important to protect your eyes from high-altitude less-diffused sun rays, also it protects you from multi-reflection of snow particles that can turn someone snow blind if exposed for too long.

MAIN SECTION-  The main section of our body requires the maximum protection, the number of layers of clothing depends on temperature, for temperatures around -10 degrees to -15 degrees centigrade normally 6 layers are good enough, with every 10 degrees rise in temperature you may reduce one layer.

The 6 layering patterns would be-Thermal layer-> Full sleeves T-shirt -> Full sleeve T-shirt (slightly thick)-> Full sleeve sweater-> Full sleeve sweater or fleece jacket -> Hollow fill jacket.

LOWER BODY-  For lower body, the most important factor is to make sure that you have enough clothing to keep you dry at all times, walking in wet snow can wet your shoes, socks and track pants.

Keeping 3 to 4 pairs of warm socks is a good choice and one pair should be used only for sleeping.

At least 2 track pants should be there along with a pair of thermal pants.

Gaiters are a mandatory gear that helps to stop snow from getting into the shoe.

The shoe should be a high ankle trekking shoe with a good sole to provide traction, in hard snow conditions microspikes are very helpful.

Also, Rain protection gear like Poncho can be very useful in snowfall conditions.

Winter treks that are well known and one shouldn’t miss are:

Kuari pass

Kedarkantha

Nag tibba

Brahmatal


Story by : Kirti Verma


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