About Me

I am an explorer at heart and travelling is my passion. Love to travel to remote places and discover the beauty in people and places. Particularly in love with the Himalaya...

Sunday 19 October 2014

Trek to Kanamo Peak

 The trek to Kanamo Peak is quite an uncommon one and not many trekking groups offer it. The only trek I had heard about to an altitude of 6000 mt. without a technical climb was Stok Kangri. So I was delighted when I stumbled upon this one on GIO’s website. Although it is a 7 day itinerary , this is essentially a 3 day trek – trek to base camp, summit and return from base camp to Kibber. However to make it a well rounded itinerary, Chandratal has been added, which is a bonus. We did this trek from Batal – Kunzum la – Chandratal – Kibber – Kanamo base camp – Kanamo peak summit – Kanamo base camp - Kibber – Kaza. But it can also be done from Kaza – Kibber – Kanamo base camp – Summit – base camp – Kibber – Kaza, wherein one can drive all the way upto Kibber. And the driving time from Manali is almost similar to Batal or Kaza – about 8 hours.

Day 1: Manali (2035 metres) to Batal (3907 metres) – temp. about 180 – 200 and 50 at night

This day is crucial from the point of view of mountain sickness, as the ascent is quite steep. We drove out of Manali, and towards Batal via Rohtang pass on the Manali Leh Highway. The road is not too good and bumpy all through but our drive deftly navigated it. We passed by villages like Gramphu, Pagmo on the way to Batal. From Gramphu we took a diversion towards the Gramphu- Batal-Kaza road. We stopped briefly at Grampho and then at Pagmo for lunch. We reached the campsite at Batal at about 5 pm since we were held up for about 3 hours near Pagmo where another vehicle got stuck. The campsite is just behind the mountains – quite unnoticeable as we approach from the road. We immediately went on a short acclimatization hike, which was fun. The GIO team consisted of three persons – Rajan- the trek guide, Mukesh aka Mukibhai – the provisions man and Surendra – the cook from Osla (who was incidentally also a trained mountaineer from NIMS, Uttar Kashi). All three had been working for GIO for almost 10 years. We were impressed with the arrangements and were pampered with delicious food cooked by Surendra day after day during the trek. 
On our first night of camping we had the company of countless sheep and the shepherds. As the weather gets cold in Spiti valley, shepherds move to lower villages along with their sheep and cattle. At night we were treated to the symphony of neighing of horses and the barking of dogs. As I walked out of the tent at night I found myself staring into countless stars – white, green and yellow. I could not believe my eyes at first but then realized that the glistening eyes of the migrating sheep had merged with the stars above. And to trump it all, as I flashed my torch to find the way to toilet tent, the ferocious dogs barked at me!! It was suspicious of me trying to hurt its ward – the sheep!

Day 2: Batal (3907 metres) to Chandrataal (4300 metres) – back to Batal: – temp. about 160 – 180 and 40 at night
We camped at Batal for two nights since the trek from Chandrataal to Kibber is too long. The first trekking day – we trekked to Chandrataal at an altitude of 4300 mts. We left the camp in our SUV and crossed the Chandra river and ascended for about an hour to reach Kunzum la– the pass to enter Spiti valley from Lahaul region at an altitude of 4600 mt. It started snowing heavily at the pass and continued to hail throughout the trek. From Kunzum la, we trekked to Chandrataal – a distance of about 9 km comprising of gradual descent followed by ascents and then some straight walking. We had our packed lunch in a shelter of stones created by the shepherds to shield them from bad weather. You also need to carry water as it is only available closer to Chandrataal.
Seeing the heavenly lake was a long cherished dream come true. Chandrataal is a wet land sanctuary due to its rich flora and fauna. We saw birds and flowers of multiple hues and colours around Chandrataal. And we were fortunate to have a slightly clear weather for about an hour when we could click the blue waters of the lake!
Kunzum la - the temple at the pass

Paper bells at Kunzum la - the Bara Sigri glacier is seen behind

The magical Chandrataal

Chandrataal through the colourful prayer flags

Chandra taal with colourful mountains

We then trekked back to Kunzum la from where the car would drive us back to the camp. The return trek was a bit tough as it was all uphill. This night we slept peacefully as the sheep had left for their destination and we did not have their safeguarding dogs barking all night!
Day 3: Batal (3907 metres) to Kibber (4300 metres) – temp. about 180 – 200 and 30 at night

Next morning we drove to Kibber. This route was through the real Spiti valley – quaint little villages, tucked away in the mountains. We stopped at Losar after Kunzum la, which is kind of a check post. We even bough the prayer flags from here to tie at the Kanamo peak. The entire route from here is as if straight from a picture postcard. Tiny villages with mud houses and roofs covered with grass, windows in red and blue colour. Arid mountains dotted with green and yellow patches that are fields of green peas and barley. Kibber is supposed to be the highest inhabited village in the world, at an altitude of 4300 mt., but as we hiked above Kibber later in the day, we saw a village called Chicham which looked much higher, but well, the records said it differently. We were treated to delicious green peas as we hiked in the evening on reaching Kibber. We camped on an open ground next to a school in Kibber, surrounded by houses on all sides, and of course, the mountains! Kibber is one of the large villages in Spiti valley with about 80 houses. All the houses in Spiti valley follow the same design and a set of colours. It all looked picture postcard like, and at night the bulbs in the houses competed with the stars above.
Kibber - the highest inhabited village in the world

A Spiti village with barley fields and green peas

Day 4: Kibber (4300 metres) to Kanamo Base camp (4800 metres) – temp. about 150 – 180 and 30 at night
Next morning we started the trek to Kanamo base camp with limited provisions loaded on 3 donkeys. Our troop also increased in number due to the donkey owners joining us.Trek from Kibber to Kanamo base camp is a continuous ascent for about 6 – 7 hours. We go upto 4800 metres  from 4300 metres. The trek starts with a steep ascent for the first 3 – 4 hours, which eases out later. There is some level walk and then gradual ascent. Initially, soon after leaving the village, one crosses numerous fields growing green peas. Since this was the harvest season, we were offered delicious green peas by the locals. On the way we came across two lakes, one of which supplies water to Kaza town. The last 2 hours of the trek was particularly picturesque with smaller varieties of Brahma Kamal and multiple types of flowers strewn all across. Look out for interesting stones in this stretch as many of them are likely to be plant or animal fossils. The trek guides know to identify these, if you have not seen one earlier. The region in a radius of about 1 km from the Kanamo base camp is a repository of fossils of all types.
The view of Kanamo peak while trekking to Kanamo base camp

Brahma Kamal variety seen near Kanamo base camp

Fossils stones

We even collected some!! We reached the base camp late in the afternoon and set up tents. After an early dinner we retired in our tents for the well deserved rest before the all important day of summit.

Day 5: Kanamo base camp (4800 metres) to Kanamo peak (5960 metres) – back to base camp

Next morning or rather midnight (3 am), we started our trek to the summit after a cup of hot tea. We started trekking in the light of torchlights and the moon above. By the time we crossed the first shoulder in the mountain, it was dawn. The far off mountain ranges looked divine as the sky changed colours. It was quite cold and I was feeling cold inspite of the hiking! Two of our friends returned back to the camp from here as they started experiencing some difficulty in breathing. After a 5 – 10 minute rest, I and my friend started hiking up again towards the second shoulder in the mountain. It was getting increasingly cold and the chilled wind was biting. I had not brought bacalava , which is a must at this altitude, since early morning breeze or rather wind is ice cold. I started shivering with cold and desperately sought a sunny patch to warm myself. I had to sit in the sun for at least 10 minutes before my teeth stopped rattling and I could walk again. We had been already walking for 4 hours by now. Now was the last leg of the climb – a steep ascent of about 800on the scree slopes. It didn’t look as tough as it turned out to be. The entire ascent was on scree from here and the feet never got terra ferma to support. We slipped down each time we took a step up. It was difficult to maintain small steps - so crucial at this altitude. We had to take large strides to navigate the scree.

Each one of us was accompanied by a guide during the last leg of the hike, to avoid a fall. I was famished by now, and had not carried much to eat due to the strenuous climb. Since the weather usually changes around 10 – 11 am in the mountains, we had no option but to reach the summit and then come down and think of eating!! Well, so the only energy I had with me was of the mind! After 3 and a half hours of arduous climbing I finally reached the summit. The view from the top is breathtaking. An astounding 3600 view of the greater Himalayas is all you can ask for as a reward for the torturous climb. One can see the Parang La pass leading to Ladakh, Pin Parvati pass leading to Kullu valley, ranges of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti from the summit.The back side of the peak was a huge glacier. Kanamo is actually a twin peak with its sister peak Shila next  to it. Surprisingly Shila was covered with snow, whereas there was only a small patch of snow on the Kanamo summit.
A birds eye view of the Greater Himalayas from the Kanamo peak
The front view from the Kanamo peak towards the base camp
View towards the right of Kanamo peak
Kanamo peak seen while returning back
The glacier at the back of the Kanamo peak
The Shila peak is seen here - which is the twin sister of Mt. Kanamo

The weather gods had been kind to us and it was sunny even at 10:30 am. The first thing I did was take pictures of the stunning panorama around me, lest the weather turn bad. Then I fell on my knees, thanked God and prayed. After about half an hour, my friend also reached the top and together we tied the prayer flag to mark our victory. We spent 15- 20 more minutes reveling in the majesty of nature and then started our journey back as we were really famished. It took about an hour to descend down the scree after which we stopped to have the packed lunch and a 15 minute power nap at an altitude of 19000 ft. with the sun above us and greater Himalayas all around us!
Feeling happier and stronger after the summit and food, but exhausted, we slowly made our way back to the base camp in about 2 hours. I had a bad cold – nose and eyes all red and had caught fever. So I slept in the tent after some jubilation and a hot cup of tea with some French fries (yes, we had French fries at an altitude of 16800 ft. – all thanks to GIO team)

Day 6: Kanamo base camp (4800 metres) to Kaza (3600 metres) via Kibber (4300 metres)

Next day we trekked back to Kibber, where the vehicles were waiting for us. The trek was really picturesque as the Spiti valley invited us as we looked ahead and the majestic mountains beckoned when we looked back. We had lunch in a local restaurant at Kibber and drove to Kaza. Soon after leaving Kibber we headed towards Key monastery – one of the large monasteries in this region. On the way we saw many lovely villages of Spiti valley – Chicham which is connected to the road by a pulley operated trolley 

The trolley connecting Chicham village

and Hikkim which has the world’s highest post office. We took a slight detour and specially drove upto Hikkim and posted letters to self and our near and dear ones from the world’s highest post office. The post office was nothing but a small box with stamps and files in a mud house – the house of the post master of the village. 

World's highest post office at Hikkim

Post office in a box
After visiting Hikkim the drive to Kaza was one of the most beautiful drives with deep gorge and the silver coloured Spiti river on one side and sharp, rugged mountains on the other. Across the Spiti river we could see cute villages like Rangrik – with a huge Buddha statue atop a mountain, Pagmo etc. The roads were quite narrow but the local drivers and buses deftly navigated these. We reached Kaza at about 6 pm and landed in a comfortable guest house next to a beautiful monastery. After a much required hot water shower, we had a grand dinner feasting on local Spitian dishes specially cooked for us.

Day 7: Kaza (3600 metres) to Manali (2035 metres)

And the next morning we started our journey back to Manali at 4 am since we wanted to reach in time to catch our bus to Delhi. The return journey was quite nostalgic as we drove through familiar terrain, said our silent goodbyes to the roads, rivers and mountains of Spiti. It started raining as we neared Manali. The Solan valley before Manali looked lovely dressed up in bright green and grey mist due to the rain. I have never found Manali so beautiful in my earlier trips. And finally it is end of the trip. We hop on to our bus for Delhi after feasting on an early dinner cooked by Tapan Kumar - the caretaker at the guest house and celebrating with some wine at the Johnson’s cafĂ©.


  1. Hi Vishi, thats a great post, thank you for the post. We are planning Kanamo Peak this year,Our itinerary is like:
    *Day 1: Manali to Batal (drive)
    *Day 2: Batal to Chandratal (Trek)
    *Day 3: Chandratal to Kunzum La (trek) and then Kunzum La to Kibber (drive)****Vehicles are available at Kunzum La for Kibber or not??
    *Day 4: Kibber to Kanamo Base camp (Trek)
    *Day 5: Kanamo base camp to kanamo peak back to Kanamo base camp
    *Day 6: Kanamo to Kibber (Trek) then Kibber to Kaza (Drive) (vehicles are available or not??)
    *Day 7: Kaza to Manali (Drive) ((Vechicles are available or not)
    Few more questions:
    1. Do we need to get some kind of permission for this trek?
    2. Guides are available from Manali or Batal? where will we get guide for the trek?
    3. Vehicles are available for Day3 and Day 6 or not??

  2. Hey Vishi, Lovely blog, after reading it, it felt like I just did the trek myself. The description of the landscape, mountain, villages makes it feel like its out of a fairy tale. The only thing missing is the description of the villagers/people(local folks).