Back in 2016, I heard about Kanamo Peak when I first visited Spiti Valley. This mountain grabbed all my attention since then. Only because of two reasons; firstly its height, a tall, gigantic top at 19,565 ft offering a spellbinding view of the entire Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, and secondly because it has been underrated and shammed against other Himalayan Peaks for not being difficult enough for its height. And the latter reason pushed me, even more, to have the first-hand experience of why they do that time and again!
So, I planned to do it at the end of July (in 3 days as suggested by tour operators and other trekkers) with a friend of mine I met through Facebook. We went well prepared with everything from a portable kitchen to tents, we had it all. As per locals, it is easier to summit Kanamo from a lesser known village with just 5 houses called Tashigang. I had visited Tashigang couple of times before but this time I was more excited, for we were supposed to conquer a mountain. But we couldn’t summit even after trying for two days because my friend got sick and leaving him there didn’t feel like the right thing. Well, nevertheless, I don’t regret coming back.
But you know how heartbreaking it is to get back without completing the goal? I couldn’t sleep for about two nights after that. It was the third night when I finally decided to redeem myself and planned to touch the Kanamo top in a day. I asked a couple of friends in Spiti to join me but none could believe that I may have enough stamina to do it in a day, and so nobody agreed. The entire August I couldn’t manage to convince anyone.
As September began, I shared my plan with a friend of mine who works at a renowned hotel in Spiti Valley, and he said yes! I was as excited as I was for the first time and to tell you, I was even more. He said he knows the entire route from Kibber, so we reached Kibber by the HRTC Bus which leaves at 5.30 PM from Kaza.
Upon reaching Kibber, I met a couple of friends, amongst all only Dorje said he will join us on this trek. I and Dinesh were supposed to start at 3 AM and Dorje was going to catch us at 5 AM as he walks really fast. As usual, we got late and left Kibber around 3.30 AM.
It was freaking cold when we started, I couldn’t feel my hands and toes even with two warm layers. We kept on walking with the full moon above us glorifying our way towards Kanamo Peak and the entire scenery. I fall short of words to tell you how beautiful it was in the moonlight, just the silhouette of mountains, blue sky, and moonshine. At 4.30 AM, Dorje came even before time because what we covered in 1 hour, he did that in just 15 mins. He was like, walk a little faster if you want to reach the top in 12 hours.
After this warning by Dorje, we kept on walking on green grass fields, crossing huge water streams, moraines, and scree, at our own speed to acclimatize our body as there was a sudden gain in the altitude. Even though we felt the signs of mild AMS as we were approaching Kanamo Base Camp (15,748 ft) – a light headache, dizziness, and breathlessness, but nothing could stop us. We kept our pace and reached Base camp at 8.30 AM, had breakfast and rested for about 10 mins. As I reached Base Camp, I felt how lucky I am to be able to witness this beauty once again, where people can’t do it even once.
The climb till the base camp is easy to moderate but after the base camp, it gets really difficult as it is continuous ascent to the peak, with the last 4-5 hours of climbing on a steep incline completely on scree.
As soon as we started climbing again with a goal to reach the summit before 2 PM, I got completely exhausted. Every step I took was killing me inside but I didn’t let it bother me. It was a fight between my heart and my mind and my heart clearly won. Because I believe, we can keep going long after we think we can’t. I followed a trick told by a very dear mountaineer, i.e, stop for 20 secs after every 20 steps and it worked like magic.
We touched Kanamo Peak at 1.20 PM, just in 10 hours! Yes, we did it. I can’t express the happiness in words. It was sheer heaven. I was completely awe-struck, I couldn’t believe my eyes at all. 360 degrees of exquisite Himalayan ranges of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti Valley. What else one needs. We stayed at the summit for an hour, though it is not suggested.
I can’t agree with any of the blogs I read before, which suggested: the views throughout the trek are boring; the view from the summit is not worth it; this peak shouldn’t be considered a peak, and some more. But let me tell you, it is nothing like that! Yes, this peak is really easy for its height (19,565ft) but only we shouldn’t disgrace anything because it didn’t meet OUR expectations.
For people who have done mountaineering courses and climbed some technical peaks, this will be like a warm-up; don’t consider if you are looking for technicality. For beginners and frequent trekkers (like me), don’t take it for granted; the height might just be the bummer because after you cross the Kanamo Basecamp, oxygen level gets drastically low and AMS can hit you anytime. About the views, I would say, If you love the Himalayas with all your heart, then you will be stunned by the vastness and madness of mighty power. I really don’t know if you’d not like the view from the Kanamo Peak, then what would you actually like.
I mean, I love each and everything across the Himalayas. I can never get bored when I am in the mountains, be it anything.
Common Itinerary that everyone should follow for a successful summit
Day 1 – Kaza (11,980 ft). Stay here for a day after your hectic journey from Manali/Shimla and to acclimatize well.
Day 2 – Kaza – Key – Kibber. Visit Key Monastery followed by Kibber. Stay at Kibber today.
Day 3 – Kibber (14,200 ft). Trek to Chicham (5kms from Kibber) to acclimatize your body. Drink enough water.
Day 4 – Kibber – Kanamo Basecamp. At 15,748 ft, you may feel uneasy but don’t get it to your head. Eat well and drink well. (In case, you have a heavy headache combined with any other problem then I would suggest you descend right away.)
Day 5 – Kibber – Kanamo Summit (19,565 ft) – Kanamo Basecamp. Start early and keep it slow. You will be breathless quite easily but don’t lose it. Rest and keep going.
Day 6 – Kanamo Basecamp – Kibber. Come back to Kibber.
Day 7 – Kibber to Manali or Kibber to Kaza to Shimla whatever suits you.
Porters, Guide and Permit
You can easily get it as soon as you reach Kibber. You don’t need to book it beforehand or through any travel operator. Guides charges from INR 1000 to INR 2500, depending on the month and season. You will be charged INR 500 for each person by Forest Conservation Authority.
Best Season to do Kanamo Peak
Late August to end September. Although it will be really cold, but it will be worth it for 360 degrees crystal clear views.
Essentials to Carry
A windproof jacket
A warm inner
A breathable layer
A trek pant
Two pairs of merino wool socks
A hiking hat
A trekking pole
A pair of woolen gloves
A warm cap
A water bottle
That’s all about my experience of Kanamo Peak. Please share your feedback in the comments section. Any other information you seek, comment or email me -firstname.lastname@example.org