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Ski Touring Solang Valley (Himachal) – 2016

Beas Kund was one of my options for ski touring last year but I opted to go to Ladakh instead. This year, since the ski trip in Kashmir was pretty much ruined by poor snow, I decided to change venue and and go to Himachal. I always thought that the glaciers in Himachal Pradesh are much lower compared to other glaciers in the rest of the Himalayas and the snow, ample. So ski touring in March seemed like a recipe for some great skiing. Boy was I wrong. I don’t know what it is – this just hasnt been my year so far as far as skiing is concerned. Anyways my plan was to hike to Beas Kund and then skin up or climb up to some of the many slopes/shoulders surrounding the lake which would afford me some interesting skiing. I also intended to do some side excursions to Patalsu and Gulaba, time permitting.

I planned to arrive at Manali on the 23rd of March (had to entertain a couple of friends who were visiting Kerala/Chennai for most of March). I had a flight out of Chennai on 22nd and arrived at Delhi that afternoon. I had to pick some Butane canisters, which was another bloody treasure hunt cause apparently all the dealers were out of stock. Fortunately an acquaintance had a couple of canisters to spare and he politely ripped me off by selling the canisters for twice the price. I took the Volvo to Manali that evening. The Volvo bus stand in Delhi is called – get this – Majnu Ka Tila. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at that name. (Majnu is sort of an Indian Romeo and Tila is a little Hillock. So Majnu Ka Tila literally means Majnus little Hill). The 15 hour drive was pretty uneventful apart from the fact that I would wake up every time the bus made a stop to get down and check on my equipment. It was pretty nippy as we gained altitude during the journey but I wasn’t too concerned about the cold, cause with a couple of days of acclimatisation I usually get used to the cold.

I reached Manali by 8 in the AM on 23rd. Took a Rickshaw to Solang which is quite close to the trail. I chose to stay at one of the more remote, quieter hotels for a couple of days before hitting the trail. The downside to staying in Solang is that everything that needs to be procured for the trip is available in Manali which is 13 km away, but that isn’t a major concern. That evening I strolled around the old Solang village and also walked someway along the road to Dhundhi which is enroute Beas Kund.

The following day I took the bus to Manali to pick rations for the trip. I picked cheese, chocolates, fried snacks, instant soup, noodles and Anchovies (I couldn’t find canned meat) among other things. I didn’t go overboard because I was planning to break the trip into smaller excursions so I thought I could pick the ration for the next excursion when it was due. I missed the 2 o clock bus to Solang, so I walked from Manali to Solang. It was a long long walk. I covered the thirteen km distance in about 2.5 hours. By the time I reached the hotel, I was exhausted. I had already packed for the trip the night before so I was covered on that front. After dinner I slept quite early that night so I could start the trek towards Beas Kund by 8 or there abouts the following day. I slept well that night. 

Woke up around 7 and was ready to hop onto the trail by 8. I left my ski bag and some other stuff with Khem, who runs the Hotel. While I was strapping the skis to my pack, I noticed a dog gazing at me. I strapped the pack to my back and waved at the dog and as if he has known me for years, he started to follow me. He followed me for the first half an hour after which he started walking by my side. I told him very clearly that I didn’t have much food so I wouldn’t be able to share much; he didn’t seem to have any problems with that. Since I didn’t know his name, I named him Einstein. Einstein and I took the trail beneath Solang leading upto the army fence on the north. Then we climbed to the road that leads to Dhundhi. Because the road was winding in many places, I decided to go off road and lost time. I wasted almost an hour because I was mostly fighting shrubs. After an hour we hit the road again. The distance between Solang and Dhundhi is about 7 Km and we were there by Eleven. I wore my skis to skin up the terrain between Dhundhi and Beas Kund, at least that was the plan. But just five minutes off Dhundhi, I had to take off my skis in order to cross onto the north bank. Considering how early in the season as I was going, I was appalled at how little snow cover was there on the river.