Sharing perspectives on Sunderdhunga Trek. Maikatoli B.C and Baluni Top, two of the most alluring higher camping sites are only visible when you trek to reach them from Kathaliya campsite.
Trekkers sometime fail to notice how uniquely these two campsites are located to each other. The trek to Maiktoli Base Camp gives an outstanding view of Maiktoli Peak, bathed in a golden hue of early morning sun stands on the left. The trail takes you down to river first, crossing it over a huge boulder acting as a natural bridge. The terrain is lush green, making it a natural choice for shepherds. Baluni top is clearly visible from the river rising almost vertically from the valley.
The best place to view beautiful Maiktoli peak is Baluni Top and not Maiktoli Basecamp. The peak, washed in early morning sun rays shows more of it with each step and reveals its characteristic slopes near the top. Apart from Maiktoli, Baluni Top also affords views of some other peaks, Tent peak being most prominent and easily recognizable.
The following two shots will make it easier to visualize both settings and how they are placed.
Looking back down towards Kathaliya campsite below as one proceeds to Maikatoli base camp. Towards the left is the route from where one enters this valley passing Ghost village of Jatoli. The green patch you see in front above in middle is the famous Baluni Top which is trekked from Kathaliya separately. Devikund is just beyond the first major ice patch towards the right – in the wedge where the shadow of the cloud is. Towards the right, you see the famous Tent peak and Sukhram peak.
Now let’s change the orientation to the opposite field. In here you are at Baluni Top meadow and facing in front is Maikatoli base camp valley. Panwali Dwar peak can be seen in the middle above. Below that is the base camp of Maikatoli. Towards it right connecting mountain ridge is the famous Shipton Col. which Shipton and Tilman used to exit Nanda Devi Inner sanctuary back in 1930’s, first men to enter and exit the elusive sanctum. The Shipton Col. is considered to be a dangerous traverse, especially the descent is considered highly technical and scary.
Picture Credit (2nd & 3rd pics): Somak Gupta.
2 thoughts on “The two crown jewels of Sunderdhunga Trek”
I haven’t heard about both these names before. Do you have an additional resource to share?
You can ask me anything specific you looking for. You camp at Kathaliya which is a 2 days trek from Kharkiya which is the last road head. Kathaliya is at the base of the Sunderdhunga Valley. Towards your left is a steep ascent for the first 2 km followed by a gradual ascent of 1 km to Baluni Top. You can visit Baluni top and return back to Kathaliya in 5 to 6 hours total. There is scarcity of water at Baluni top so if camping, carry enough water for the night. Maikatoli BC is towards the right side of Kathaliya. It is a 4 km (one way) constantly ascending trail to Maiktoli Basecamp. You will find a running stream along the trail for the first hour until you reach the glacier zone. It is a narrow funnel valley which will open up once you reach the B.C. The Maikatoli B.C is a large expanse of glacial ground. Pretty unique. You can return back to Kathaliya making it an 8 km round trek. You also have an added choice of exploring 2 high altitude lakes ahead of Baluni Top, Nag Kund ( 4464m ), Devi Kund ( 3650m ). This will require a day or two extra to cover.
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