Tired of living a primitive life and keen to make a short cut that would save several days, the British surveyor J.B. Auden in 1939 charted a route from Gangotri to Kedarnath, crossing a pass at the head of the Rudragaira Valley and into the Bhilangana Valley. Auden, whose name the 5,400m col takes today, wrote in his 1940 report about the “laborious route along small cliffs”, the “extremely tedious trudge” over the Khatling glacier and an “icefall with a severity that cannot be indicated on a map”. The second successful crossing had to wait until 1983, partly because, as Auden described it, though locals knew about the existence of the route, no one from their generation, or even their fathers’, had ever walked it. The exalted status of the route — not many have completed it successfully — is reason enough for the committed trekker to prepare to set out. But if you need more, the landscapes, snowscapes and up-close views of the Gangotri and Jogin massifs would feature on top of a very long list.
Trekking operator: Many outfits offer this trek but I travelled with the excellent White Magic Adventure, who have a fixed departure this year (Sep 29–Oct 13).
Tariff: Rs 77,000, all-inclusive ex-Delhi
Contact: 011-41076073, whitemagicadventure.com