Mountaineering activities including climbing expeditions and trekking in Himachal would be possible for a limited time period as a thick blanket of snow on the peaks which is taking too much time to melt has shrunk the season.
The winter season this year experienced several spells of heavy snowfall. Fresh snowfall is still continuing on high hills of Himachal.
Not just tourists would be able to visit Rohtang pass in May end or early June, the trekking and climbing expeditions would start only after June.
The Pir Panjal, Dhauladhar and other major mountain ranges above 10,000ft are still covered with a thick blanket of snow. All the major trekking routes in the state pass through Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba, Kangra or Kinnaur.
The multiple days trekking generally involves traversing the high mountain passes which are expected to be open for trekkers by mid-June. Usually, trekking starts from May.
Kaushal Bhardwaj, a mountaineering guide, said Hamta Pass, Pin Parvati pass, Kullu-Bada Bhangal, Lahaul-Zanskar, Spiti-Tso Moriri, McLeodganj-Chamba and Bhawa pass are the most sought trekking tours which are expected to open by mid or end of June.
“The passes and the routes are deep under snow. Organizing trekking tours on high altitude is very risky. Even professional mountaineers avoid going such trekking these days as it would be very difficult for rescue teams to reach them in case of emergency,” he said.
Sachin Sharma, a mountain expedition organizer, said, some people go for climbing in low altitude peaks but all prominent peaks in Himachal have altitude more than 18,000ft and expedition in this season can prove fatal.
“The main danger is avalanches and covered crevasses. The heavy snowfall had led to the early closure of the season last year and it will now delay the opening of season as well. We advise our customers not to think about any challenging expedition before July. September to November is the best time for mountain climbing expeditions in Himachal,” he added.
Heavy and unexpected snowfall in September last year had hurt trekking and climbing season last year.
Thousands of foreigners too visit the country for trekking in Himachal.
Though the good snowfall may result in a delay in opening of Rohtang for tourists, but it will ensure a prolonged summer tourist season.
Delay in opening of Manali-Leh and Manali-Spiti highways too may harm tourism. Chandertal lake of Spiti which draws thousands of tourists is also expected to open late.
As most of the trekking and climbing activities occur in Kullu district, the administration has framed strict guidelines for trekkers, climbers, and operators.
Kullu deputy commissioner Yunus said, “We advise trekkers to inform police or tourism department about their route, dates, number of persons and all required information before leaving for the expedition.
This will help us in carrying out rescue operation in case of an emergency. Most of the mishaps happen when trekkers do not hire a local registered guide.”
Trekking in Himachal attracts thousands of Indian and foreigner tourists every year. The adventure sports in Himachal have become integral part of the tourism.