The Stunners of Pin Bhabha Pass Trek
Located in Himachal Pradesh, Pin Bhabha Pass connects Bhabha Valley of Kinnaur region to Pin Valley of Spiti. The Pin Bhabha Pass trek is a difficult one, where you reach the highest altitude of 16,105ft. Meant only for experienced hikers, those above 15 years of age and fully fit can try it. The last well connected station is Shimla (7,465ft.) when going and Manali (6,726ft.) on the way back. By road, it takes around 7 hours to reach Kafnu (7,874ft.), a beautiful hamlet in Kinnaur District of South Himachal. Kafnu is the trek start point.
Here are some reasons why despite the difficulty, Pin Bhabha Pass Trek keeps pulling in the trekkers:
Pin Bhabha Pass (16,100ft.): The climb is challenging and so are the moraines en route. But, the snowy stretches in the last lap and the snow peaks shouldering as you keep gaining the altitude, is a precious sight. Standing at the narrow Pass, you see contrasting landscapes on either side of it. While you get thick forests and meadows on the Kinnaur side, crossing the Pass, you land into the deserts of Spiti. So, standing on the Pass, you see the lofty carved mountains and incredible pink desert valley in front of you and turn back to see lush greenery. The setting is as dramatic as it can be.
Kinnaur’s Fertile Land: The drive from Shimla to Kafnu is green and picturesque. The route from Kafnu to Mulling through Champoria (9,491ft.) campsite is like land carpeted in green. Even the mountains are covered with grass. Different types of terrains, but all green. Forests, meadows, river delta, rivers, brooks, and log bridges complete the scenery. You will also see some terrace farms in the villages you will cross on both the sides of the Pass. Kinnaur especially is famous for its apples.
Shades of Spiti Deserts: Out of the Bhabha Valley of Kinnaur and in the Pin Valley of Spiti, you will see rare sights on earth. Black mountains, pink, white, & ochre rocks, and orange & purple hills, the nature’s palette is interestingly full with warm colors! En route to Mudh (12,283ft.), after Bara Bulder, you will see reddish soil and stones. The drive from Mudh to Manali crosses very stunning Kunzum La and Rohtang Pass.
Water Bodies: Bhabha River stays with you from Kafnu to Phutsirang, your last campsite in Kinnaur. The free flowing river beautifully cuts through the forests and between mountains. You cross rivers and streams several times through the Pin Bhabha Pass trek. Many brooks, fascinating waterfalls, lake, and even a ‘subterranean river’ when trekking on the second day from Mulling to Kara, its ceaseless awe. See the confluence of Yuchdiun River when hiking to Kara. You cross Pushtirang Nala on day-3 when trekking from Kara to Pushtirang. When descending from the Pass into Spiti, you meet a 14,189ft. long lake in that desert! Witness another confluence of 3 rivers near Bara Bulder. Despite the desert, the Pin Valley of Spiti offers you Pin River.
Bhabha Hydro Project: Built on River Bhabha, this is the first underground dam in India. You get the thrill of riding over it during the nail biting bus ride from Shimla to Kafnu. Then on your first day of trek to Mulling too you will see this scientific wonder placed beautifully at the center of the greenish-blue lake.
Campsites: Even the campsites of Pin Bhabha Pass Trek are experiential. Here is what to look forward to:
- Mulling (10,677ft.): The coniferous forests of Mulling are among the best alpine ones. Numerous huge, silver birch, pine, & oak trees, with stretch lasting for long, and scent of pine in the air, it all seems surreal. As if it was enough, the dark forests open into bright, wide, lush green grasslands of Mulling and you root here for your first night of Pin Bhabha Pass trek. Open grasslands, besides Bhabha river, with pine trees and lofty mountains across the river, it’s like a painting.
- Kara (11,653ft.): Second campsite, again meadows, but just sprawling pastures, besides a water stream. A clear lake nearby with beautiful reflection of the scenery around, accentuates the feel. From your tents, you will see beautiful tall mountains with valleys meeting. The grassy hills overshadow the campsite. You might try climbing one of these hills to see the cradle of mountains you are in.
- Phutsirang (13,500ft.): Third camping base is a river delta. Wet, sandy land with River Bhabha spreading out, letting itself loose. You fix your tents at just the edge of the river. Incredible, long clear view of scenery and the clear skies. You see Hansbeshan Peak (19,160ft.) and three stunning passes Nimish Khango (16,185ft.), Pin Bhaba Pass (or Trik La or Wang Khango) (16,105ft.), and Tari Khango (17,318ft.). Great if you spend the next day here leisurely exploring the valleys and acclimatizing all this while. So, this becomes your fourth campsite too. The next day you cross the Pin Bhabha Pass.
- Bara Bulder (12,893ft.): It is your fifth and only camp fixed in Spiti. Crossing tricky terrain of Spiti full of boulders, you reach almost barren land with slight ochre and brown grass. The bright blue sky above contrasts the dull land below. This is a sight to behold. Due to the barren land, the sound of life disappears. The raging Pin River sounds threatening. The feel is adventurous. The next day too the character of barren will continue with moraines, until Mudh.
We the 9 persons went for PIN Bhaba pass treking from 13th October 2021. But unable to cross the pass because of bad weather. Rajdeep Negi from Katagaon was the trek organiser. His arrangements were so bad that we were not getting lunch in time. Also he was not provided the staying at Kafnu in last day.