It did not take much time for me and my friend K Srinivasan (KS) to decide on our next trek to Nanda Devi Outer Sancatury (Dharansi Pass) in 2010. After our last year’s Darma Valley trek, we were thinking of doing a trek in Niti Valley. A chance browsing through Shobhit’s stunning pictures of the Nanda Devi Outer Sanctuaryhttp://www.netecho.com/photos/sanctuary/index.html hastened the decision to do the trek in early June 2010. KS, though, a bit apprehensive about the clear views of the peaks in pre-monsoon period, agreed with the timing as he was not sure of free slot in October which was supposed to be the best period for a clear sky.
We also considered the pros and cons of doing the trek on a conventional route, i.e., Lata-Lata Kharak-Saini Kharak-Jhandidar-Dharansi Pass –Tolma-Suraithota or vice versa and decided to do the trek on conventional route for three reasons : firstly, we would prefer steep climb to Lata Kharak than steep descend. Second, we would have opportunity to spend time in Lata summer village, which until closure of the inner sanctuary in early 80’s, was the epic centre of treks and expeditions into Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuaries. We would also have the benefit of suggestions and advice from the villagers about the finer points of the trek. Lastly, I had the fascination for the Nanda Devi temple in Lata summer village and it would be fitness of thing if we visit the temple before the start of the trek.
In the meanwhile, KS enquired as to whether we can club Kuari Pass trek with NDOS. I answered affirmatively saying that we could fit in Kuari Pass trek via Auli and get down to Tapovan for onward road head to Lata. I knew that KS was very keen to do Kuari Pass trek for the last 2-3 years but somehow this trek was eluding him. Keeping in view the fact that NDOS trek was our priority, he suggested that we could attempt Kuari Pass trek after completion of NDOS trek. Later on I saw an advantage of doing Kuari Pass trek ahead of NDOS for better acclimatisation.
The next in agenda was getting an experienced guide for the trek. My first reaction was that since there were many trekking agencies in Joshimath, we would get a good guide from one of the authorised trekking agencies. But considering the fact that we were going on a peak trekking season in around Joshimath, we decided to pre-arrange the guide. KS gave me the name of Sohan Singh Bisht (Sonu) with his mobile number which he had gathered from one of Kuari Pass threads on www.indiamike.com where his name was recommended as a guide for Kuari Pass. I talked to Sonu giving him our age profile. The first thing he asked me was about our trekking experience and it was only when he knew that we were experienced trekkers that he came to the money part of the deal. There was no need to negotiate on the money part as I found his quote of Rs.1200/- per day per head (all inclusive) was reasonable and got him fixed for our twin-treks.
And finally, we sought the suggestions and advices from our common friend Rajkumar who has been visiting Niti and Darma valley periodically. He suggested that we should have homestay experience in Lata summer village and also in Tolma. He also gave the names of his contacts in Lata summer village, one of which was Raghuveer Singh in whose house we stayed for a night. He also accompanied us in NDOS trek though as a porter but more as a mentor.
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