Bandarpoonch is an exquisite peak in the Western Himalayas of North India. It stands at the western edge of the High Himalayan Range where it turns northwest at an altitude of 20,720’ (6316 m.) and is easily accessible with a scenic three-day hike.
The Southwest ridge offers a route of moderate difficulty with little technical climbing. There is of course significant exposure. It has been attempted twice from the southwest. (The view in the signature photo)
The expedition can be successfully concluded in 18 days in good conditions with a strong team from the staging and acclimatization area. The most common route is from the northeast and is easily climbed in good weather and snow conditions. It is usually climbed several times a year from the north.
The best staging and acclimatization area is the hill village of Agora (7,200'). From Delhi it is an overnight train ride to Haridwar and then about a 7 hour taxi ride the trailhead at Sangam Chatti (4500') and finally a 2 hour walk. It takes you through the town of Uttarkashi (3800') 15 km from there , the last "civilization", where you can cash foreign exchange, buy fruits and vegetables and find clean sheets.
The trail begins after crossing a wide footbridge and climbs to the village of Agora 2 hours away where furnished rooms with attached baths are available, and Bevara (7500') almost an hour further away where in addition to bare rooms good campsites are available. The next day is a 6-7 hour hike to Dodital Lake (10,000) where good campsites and a few rooms in a forest rest house are available with prior arrangements. Well acclimatized groups may move over the 13,000' Darwa Pass the next day (though the beauty of the spot recomends a break) and camp in the Hanuman Ganga River valley at 11,500'. Firewood is available at this stage and can still be used at current rates of traffic, but should be used frugally. The next day will put climbers near the base of the mountain and base camp.
A trail fee of about $1.00 is to be paid at Dodital to the chowkidar (care taker) for upkeep of the trail and the state park. Camping fees are about 3 dollars per night in the park and should be paid to the caretaker at Dodital. For summit and permit fees consult the Indian Mountaineering Foundation website and that of the Uttarkhand government which also levies fees and deposits.
This area is a state park and no hunting or harvesting of plants is permitted though the indigenous population has free access to use what they need. In July and August some poaching of medicinal plants takes place.
When To Climb
The mountain is usually climbed in May or June when most of the snow storms have passed. However April has the advantage of snow covering approach difficulties, and fewer crowds at Dodital Lake which has become popular of late. Spring flowers are also blooming in abundance and animals are more visible. The plains of India are also less hot.
There is a risk of a spring snowstorm in April when a foot is not unusual. The post monsoon season in Sept., Oct. has the least snow but early season storms are a danger in late Oct.. A winter climb should only be attempted with snowshoes and extreme caution of avalanche.
The southwest route that I have taken is up the left bank of the Hanuman Ganga River Valley through the bugyal (alpine meadow) to the head of the valley called Beaan. Climb the hills at the head of the valley through a gully to the right at the end of the bugyal and climb to a plateau known as Deodamni. Next descend one of the less steep gullies which meets the fork in the Hanuman Ganga and follow the main channel ( to the right ) which leads to the source of the Hanuman Ganga at the bottom of the face. This is filled with large boulders. Progress is aided by snowcover (like in mid April).
As you approach the face you will see a prominent gully in the massif flanked on the left by a large buttress. Follow the gully and gain the top of the butress to the left where a good campsite is available. Beware this gully is an avalanche chute!
Follow the ridgeline to near the base of the ridge glacier and traverse left. Gain the ridge between the glacier and a spur on your left. Good campsites are available on top of the ridge.
Follow the ridge NW towards the summit. A few snow and rock steps can be expected. Camp as high as possible and convenient. Head to the summit snowfield's east side and traverse to the west to avoid a glacier on the southwest exposure of the massive. From there you may gain the summit snowfield staying towards the northside to avoid the large glacier spilling down toward the South. The last obstacle is the summit icecap which has a steeper pitch on the eastern side.
There are some websites for weather information https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Bandarpunch or https://weather.com/weather/today/l/31.00,78.46?temp=f&par=google.
In Mussoorie (7,000), one staging and acclimatization area, being a resort, there is the widest variety of accomodation available. It ranges from $15 a night for a clean simple bed and breakfast to $75 or more for a luxury suite.
Uttarkashi, some 20 km from the trailhead, also has a plethora of hotels though the luxury accomodation is not as readily available. Moderate or inexpensive hotels predominate. Ashrams and dharamshalas (pilgrim retreats) are common and are even cheaper though you are more restricted by rules. Prices range from $10 per night for basics, to $30 for luxury.
Beyond this in Agora village Bharat Lodge sets the standard with rooms with attached bath for about $6, breakfast for $2 and dinner for $3 . In Bevara settlement, as mentioned in the section on getting there, you will find only 'trekking lodges' which are bare rooms or campgrounds.
At Dodital lake there is a forest rest house where 2 large rooms with 4 beds each are available for about $25 for foreigners and $12 for nationals. This has indoor 'plumbing'! The Dhaba (travelers diner) does also offer comfortable beds for $3.
Sometimes you may get invited to homes which is a real treat. The hospitality of the mountain people is wonderful.