Is a guide necessary for the Kedarkantha Trek?
The importance of hiking with a guide is known to be profound. This is because there are guides that have been on the hiking trails numerous times, that will be able to tell the hikers which areas to avoid, and which areas are ok to travel on. The guides have been on the hikes numerous times, and will be able to direct the hiking groups on their tours, and may even be able to take people out on the trails that are less traveled, as they may be too dangerous to most.
No matter your skill level, every trip comes with a certain amount of risk. A professional mountain guide is there to help mitigate those risks by utilizing techniques to minimize hazard exposure and to alert you to the proper safety protocols so you can enjoy your climb while keeping yourself out of harm’s way.
So yes, a guide is necessary for Kedarkantha Trek if you are planning to do this on your own. Kedarkantha may be an easy trek, but going unguided in the mountains is an inviting danger to yourself.
1) Trails are not mapped
The biggest problem with Himalayan trails is that they have not been mapped properly. Contour maps are not available and simple maps do not work well for mountains. Google map is completely unreliable there with a lack of connectivity as a big challenge. You might save the trail in your phone, etc. but that trail would not be accurate. Moreover, in case any trail has an obstruction due to snow, a fallen tree, or any other similar obstacle you would not know how to reroute.
2) No proper connectivity for rescue calls
The second problem is that there is no proper connectivity for rescue calls. Firstly most people in India would not know how to locate themselves (finding self-location or coordinates) but even if you rely on GPS or know the calculations of navigation, you may not have any connectivity to call for help.
3) No centralized rescue team
Lastly, there is no centralized rescue team in the Himalayan region who would rescue you in case you get lost. So, even if you get some network and know the coordinates, you would not know who to call.
Many people feel that since Kedarkantha is such a busy trail (almost 500 people are always walking on the trail), someone or the other will always be visible but trust me it takes only one incorrect left/right turn choice in the Himalayas to get lost on the trail. There are so many small trails used by local villagers, shepherds, etc. that you would not realize that this is not the correct route. By the time you realize it, it might be too late. Add to it an injury that you may attain due to a fall or something. If you believe strongly in your astrological rings, then you might feel safe lest you should be panicked in such situations.
Gradually the trails in the Himalayas are getting prepared for solo trekking but till we have proper communication systems, centralized rescue operations, and proper maps, do not think of saving INR 3000 per day (average guide fee).
While availing of the Guide, do confirm below things:-
- Basic Mountaineering Course so that he/she can rescue in case of emergency.
- Certified in First-aid training so that he/she can administer the right treatment if the need arises, like breathing problems and AMS, low BP
- Well Aware of the trail campsites, water sources, alternative routes, etc. This comes only from experience.
4) Local knowledge
A guide can help find the perfect places suited just for you to practice as well as local flora and fauna to check out (or avoid). Mountain guides will tell you all about the area’s history and will introduce you to its culture. This can be especially enriching when visiting a more off-the-beaten-path or exotic destination.