Trekking beside Nanda Devi: Indias Kuari Pass

Week of May 14-20, 1998
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Trekking beside Nanda Devi: India’s Kuari Pass
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Trekking beside Nanda Devi: India’s Kuari Pass
Question: I want to trek to Joshimath in India via the Kuari Pass. How many days will I need? Do you know a good local company in India that I could email or fax?

Richard Brown
Washington, D.C.

Adventure Adviser: The Kuari Pass trek, or the Curzon Trail as it is also known, is a fairly gentle (albeit long) amble in the Indian Himalayas. The hike is renowned for its stellar views, particularly those of Nanda Devi, at 25,639’ the highest peak residing in just India. But the panoramic vistas of the Rishi Ganga, Dunagiri, and the Chaukhamba massif are stunning as well.

Although you specify wanting to hike to Joshimath, and the route is certainly do-able both ways, most trekkers begin their journey in Joshimath, where there’s regular bus service to both trailheads: Auli, a small ski resort village, and nearby Tapovan. The pass is equally approachable from both heads, but Auli is rumored to have better views.

Not including extra side trips (don’t skip alotting a day for a ridge walk to take in the best views of Nanda Devi), total hiking time from Auli to Ghat is roughly 25 to 28 hours. Ascending the pass itself, which at 11,939’ feels and looks like a mere bump next to the towering neighbors, is not that tough, although the descent into Dakwani and Sutoli is a bit steep. I’d plan on spending a minimum of four nights on the route, more if you’re a slow trekker, suffering from Indian stomach, or want to take more sidetrips. Early June through October is the best time to trek, although come late summer the monsoons arrive in force.

As for local outfitters, there are numerous to choose from, trekking being the hot (and lucrative) recreation it is. You could start by calling the popular Garhwal Adventure Sport School & Mountain Service in Nandi at 011-01389-2288. If you’d rather wait until your arrival in Joshimath, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to hire a porter.

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