A mountain pass is a high altitude navigable route connecting two valleys. Bali pass is situated between the Har Ki Doon Valley and the Yamunotri valley. We planned to end our trek at Jan Ki Chatti around 5 km on the way down from the sacred Yamunotri temple.
We started at around 8 am from Har Ki Doon campsite after a light breakfast. The weather was not very clear. Since we had to cover a significant distance in the forest, we feared that rain could cause a messy situation in the muddy trails inside the woods. We retraced our way back for 3 km downhill. We crossed the Supin river on a wooden bridge which was newly constructed for promoting tourism in the area. In an hour after entering the jungle trail of the trek, it started raining. Wearing a plastic poncho in the jungle seemed to be a tough task as a slight prick in the bushes would damage the frail thing. I had to cover the backpack with the waterproof layer and tried covering myself partially. Luckily the rains waded off in a while.
We followed the narrow up and down trail through the forest which finally opened into a valley. After two hours we reached a flat land in the jungle with a waterfall overlooking it- The waterfall camp. As it was a thick bush with knee length scrubs, we had to cut through to make the surface flat enough for pitching a camp. The camp was right on the edge of cliff with Supin river swiftly flowing by and a broken bridge over the waterfall. We had dinner and slept early as it started raining heavily. Our tents had started leaking from various site and we had to put bottles under it to stop getting wet.
Har Ki Doon trek blog- Click here
Distance covered- Har Ki Doon- Rainbasera- Waterfall camp (8-9 km)- 6-7 hours
The next day we headed towards the Ruinsara lake. It was a short hike of 4 km. We crossed the waterfall and headed towards north where the valley gradually opened up. It was exciting to get the glimpse of snow clad mountains for the first time in the trek. We walked uphill along the trail towards the snow capped peaks. I had the first glimpse of Swargrohini III peak. After two hours we reached the Ruinsara Lake campsite amidst the open green field. It was a spectacular view on all the directions.
We decided to camp for the night and considered it as a rest day as we had trekked only for 2 hours. Late in the afternoon we climbed a nearby vintage point to get some panoramic snaps of the valley and the lake and spotted few birds and guinea pig like animals. It was good fun and acclimatization for us.
Distance covered- Waterfall camp to Ruinsara Lake- 4 km (2-3 hr with lots of breaks)
Early next morning we packed up and headed towards Odari camp for the night. The distance was not much but there was a significant gain in altitude. My altimeter had finally started working as we crossed the 4000 meter mark. We were walking along the snow capped mountains. The greenery gradually changed into a rugged rocky terrain. In 4 hours after crossing the stream, we reached the camp. Our mule would not be heading forward from Odari. As the supposed porters had not arrived, we decided to send some camping gear back with the mule and also distributed some gear amongst all of us. The night was uneventful as we lit a campfire in the cave (known as ‘Odar’ in pahari language) nearby. The wind was chilly as we settled for night.
Distance covered- Ruinsara Lake- Odari -5 km (3-4 hr with plenty breaks)
Early next day, we started for Bali pass base camp from Odari. We had to climb a series of ridges along the way. The first look of the ridge seemed daunting in itself. In the next 4 hours we crossed three steep ridges, the first of which was almost at an angle of 60-70 degrees. Glaciers covered one side of the ridge and rocky moraines covered the other. We reached a relatively flat land on the moraines at around 1.00 pm and set up camp. It started snowing while setting up the camp and temperatures dipped significantly. The scenes looked stunning with the Bali pass ridge towering in the front. It was soon covered with clouds. We had dinner at around 5 pm and shifted into our tents. As the next day would be our summit climb, everyone was super excited.
Distance covered- Odari –Bali pass base camp 3-4 km (6 hrs mostly steep ascent along the ridge line)
Next morning we geared up to cross the pass. We took the west ridge through snowy patch and moraines. The stretch was steep. In around 2 hours we reached the top of the ridge and offered incense and coconut as offering to mountain goddess and conducted a small puja on the top. While rest of the team members gathered, we headed towards the other side to search for a route downhill. The patch on the other side had broken off.
Suddenly the weather turned gloomy and there was a complete white out at 4750 meter. We found a small area near the top and waited for some time. As the weather remained gloomy even after 3 hours, we decided to camp on the top itself. We flattened a rock surface with ice axe and pitched three tents. It started snowing heavily in the afternoon. We had dinner at around 5 pm and buckled inside the top hoping that wind would not blow us off that cliff. It was nerve wrecking experience at almost 5000 meters above sea level.
Early next morning at around 6.00 am, we heard voices of people approaching us. We woke up to see that another group was on their way through the eastern ridge. They saw us and literally picked up from our camp site. In a very brief conversation we understood that we had trekked the wrong way and need to climb the cliff in front of us. They guided us through the steep snow ice section on the eastern ridge. Finally we reached another top, which they claimed (our rescuers from the other group) was the actual Bali pass. There was a steep descending trail towards Damini Valley on the other side. We were relieved and hoped to get home intact.
The long descend took us through some snow fields which gradually converged with green valleys of Upper Damini. The trail from upper to lower Damini valley was almost along a knife edge of a hill. Since we had used an extra day on the hills we had to head down to Jan Ki Chatti near Yamunotri the same day. We finally reached civilization at around 5 pm in the evening. We took a hotel and rested for the night. The epic trek had indeed taken a heavy toll on us. The following day we took a Jeep to return back to Dehradoon.
Distance covered in two days- Bali pass base camp- Bali top- Upper Damini- Lower Damini- Jan Ki Chatti (22 km)
The Ideal Route to follow:
Day 0- Reach Sankri from Dehradoon (180 km- 6 to 8 hours) (Blog link- click here)
Day 1- Sankri to Seema (14 km)- Guest house/ camp
Day 2- Seema to Har Ki Doon (15 km) Camp/ Guest house needs pre-booking (Blog link- Click here)
Day 3- Har Ki Doon- Rainbasera- Waterfall Camp (8-9 km, Camp here onwards)
Day 4- Waterfall Camp- Ruinsara Taal (2-3 km, it is basically an acclimatization day)
Day 5- Ruinsara Taal- Odari (3-4 km )
Day 6- Odari to Balipass Base camp (4-5 km very steep incline)
Day 7- Balipass base camp- Balipass top- Upper Damini (7-8 km, very steep ascent and descent)
Day 8- Upper Damini- Lower Damini- Jan Ki Chatti (14 km)
Day 9- Extra/buffer day
(You can make it a 6-7 day trek if you skip Har Ki Doon and Waterfall camp)
Comment if you need any information on the trek route, guide options or any other things