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Rathong Glacier Trek

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One of the most beautiful states of India is undoubtedly the state of Sikkim. With Teesta welcoming you in the lower altitudes, there are more stunning lakes waiting to wow you as you reach higher altitudes. But what remains hidden from the usual tourist trails are peaks and glaciers at even further heightened altitudes. These have to be earned through treks. One such trek is that of Rathong Glacier. It is a popular pick for Basic Mountaineering Courses (BMC) in the area, so, shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be ventured out for only with experience. And if you make it through the approximate stretch of 88kms to be covered, you are going to awestruck.

How to reach: The trek mostly starts from Yuksom, so, you can either take a train till New Jalpaiguri Railway Station or if you wish to opt for a flight you can fly down to Bagdogra. Thereafter, from both options you will have to travel by road to reach Ruksom.

Best time to trek/visit: October to May

Duration: 10 days

Difficulty: Difficult

Altitude: 15,225 ft.

Trek route: The route will of course depend on what you decide with your local trekking guide, but possible options include:

Yuksom – Sachen – Tsokha – Dzongri – Bikhbari – Chaurikhang – Rathong Glacier – Bikhbari – Tshoka – Yuksom

Read about the Milam Glacier Trek here!

Day 1: Arrive at Yuksom

Altitude – 1,780 metres

Approximate Distance – From Bagdogra 152.8kms drive, from NJP railway station 147kms drive

Today, marks the beginning of your arrival in the mountains for 10 days of adventures to come ahead. Your drive will take a couple of hours which you can enjoy by gazing outside the window to be greeted by the first line of trees decorating the green mountain peaks. Incidentally, you are headed to Yuksom which was the first ever capital of Sikkim back in 1642 AD

Day 2: Yuksom – Sachen

Altitude – 2,175 metres

Approximate Distance – 9kms

Today your trek officially begins! So, put on your reliable shoes, throw your rucksack on your back and start digging deep, both on the trail and within! The path for reaching Sachen will have you meandering through thick forests. As you pass dense forests with trees looming over you, cropping out from just about anywhere and also playing peekaboo, you know it’s a start to a whole week ahead with nature.

Day 3: Sachen – Tsokha

Altitude – 2,960 metres

Approximate Distance – 9kms

Sikkim has a great influence from the Tibetan population that moved here. Day 3 of your trek allows you to witness that for yourself. This is because Tshoka is a Tibetan settlement.  You will have to make some steep ascents in order to reach here. The land is wild with vegetation. At times, Himalayan birds can be spotted from this campsite. As you camp out, your tents open up to raw untouched views of nature in this part of the Kanchenjunga National Park.

Rathong Glacier

Day 4: Tsokha – Dzongri

Altitude – 3,970 metres

Approximate Distance – 11kms

The climb up to Dzongri gets significantly steeper, so, get prepared for a day of grinding! But along for the ride are a robust range of rhododendrons as well. You make your way through backwoods in order to reach your destination. But on your way, there is Deorali for you to stop over, look at the peaks opening up to you and just take in the view. Its going to be a treacherous climb so make sure to rest adequately after arriving at Dzongri.

Day 5: Dzongri

After your hard work from the previous day in order to reach Dzongri, this day comes as a halt or a break. The key reason behind this is the fact that you have made a considerable jump in the altitude in the past few days, thereby requiring your body to get a fair amount of time to acclimatize. But don’t worry because the alpine meadows of Dzongri offer views of peaks such as Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Koktang, Narsing, Kabru and more! So, this day is just for you to leisurely enjoy the vistas, sip a cup of chai and have that much needed mountain time.

Day 6: Dzongri – Bikhbari

Altitude – 4,030 metres

Approximate Distance – 9kms

The trek on this day will be a more demanding leg in comparison to the others. But thankfully, you have the previous day’s rest to leave you charged up to take this day head on! With careful and steady movement make your way to reach Bikhbari. Along the route you will be blessed with sights of snow-capped peaks standing tall, building up the anticipation about where you’re headed.

Rathong Glacier Sikkim
Source: https://alchetron.com/Rathong-Glacier

Day 7: Bikhbari – Chaurikhang & Rathong Glacier – Bikhbari

Altitude – 4,650 metres

Approximate Distance – 16kms

This is undoubtedly the most exciting day of the trek. You are headed to Kanchenjunga Base Camp! Kanchenjunga is none other than the third highest mountain in the world! And today you will have some incredible sighting of it. You will be treated to a view of formidable peaks such as Frey’s peak, Koktang and Kabur which stand laden with snow on their tops and a thick mist of clouds rising from them. Then your eyes will reap the reward they have so longed for, the Rathong Glacier in its frozen or semi-frozen glory, a marvel of what lays hidden somewhere in the hills. Scream, giggle, jump, sit down and just stare, make the moment be all that you wanted from it.

Day 8: Bikhbari – Tshoka

Altitude – 2,950 metres

Approximate Distance – 18kms

This day’s climb is the longest one so far and requires one to be careful as the descend can put a strain on one’s feet. Now the group and your fellow trekkers, you all move together as a team, filling the bitingly cold air with your laughter and your conversations every now and then. On this night, why not huddle up together outside of your tents and do some stargazing if the luck permits? Or just make more memories with the people you met?

Source: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Rathong_Glacier

Day 9: Tshoka – Yuksom

Altitude – 1,780 metres

Approximate Distance – 16kms

This day marks the end of your trek. So, let your head be filled with memories of Rathong Glacier, of the peaks, the forests/ Let yourself remain lost in thought as your mind and heart try to memorize all that they witnessed in the last week or so. By evening reach Yuksom and walk around the small town to get more of that Sikkimese air.

Day 10: Yuksom to either NJP Railway Station or Bagdogra Airport

Approximate Distance – To Bagdogra 152.8kms drive, to NJP railway station 147kms drive

Head back to either the station or the airport to return home. In case you have more time, you can head off to explore more parts of Sikkim because the state has a lot more to offer! Or else, bid farewell till the next time.

Rathong Glacier Trek
Source: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Rathong_Glacier

Read about the Pindari Glacier Trek here!

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