Collins’ Trekking Guide to the Western Himalayas is a comprehensive guide book that covers 43 trek routes. Author Depi Chaudhry says he has trekked through 70% of the routes in the book; the rest have been put together with information collated from other trekkers. Each trek featured has two maps—a topography map that highlights start and end points, names snow-capped ridges and glaciers, valleys, streams and rivers. The second map, a more detailed route map, highlights mountain ridges with names, rivers and streams with names and even locations of campsites. There is a larger foldable map of the entire Western Himalayan range.
Chaudhry mentions the number of days (excluding rest days) it will take to complete each trek, the toughness factor, the maximum elevation point, how to get to the starting point of the trek, and the equipment needed. He also describes the trek on a day-to-day basis, the likely places for teahouses, where porters may be hired—stuff that is almost impossible to find unless experienced first hand.
The structure of the book, says the author, was born out of his treks. “None of the books I referred to had detailed maps and often missed out on basic information, such as where to find a resting spot and where to stock up on rations. I found that we had to consult two or three books at a time, which was a pain. With this guide, which fits easily into a backpack, I hope that problem will be resolved.”
Chaudhry says not all the featured treks are easy because he wants more experienced trekkers to use the book too. Among his favourite treks in the Ladakh region are Darcha to Padum via Phuktal and Shingo La; and Bardhan to Udaipur via Kang La and Miyar glacier. The most popular trek featured in the book, according to him, is Stok to Hemis (Chilling) via Markha valley. “It is popular because it is close to Leh, you get plenty to eat on the way, there are many teahouses and you can even take hot water showers powered by solar energy.”
For the first-timer, Chaudhry recommends the Pabbar Valley and Netwar to Sangla (Rupin valley) treks in Himachal Pradesh, and Ramganga Valley trek in Uttarakhand.