If there was ever an official list put together of passes notorious for being the most challenging and toughest; one candidate for that list will always be Sach Pass. Whether or not it will be on top of that list is disputable but it will definitely be on it. Travel across this 4,420 feet high monster and you will know the definition of the phrase “heart jumped to mouth”. Your trip here will test you, challenge you, mock you, test you but in the end will leave you with ever lasting memories and tall tales of adventurous fun. When is the best time to visit Sach Pass or which month you should plan your trip in is what I will provide details on in this article.
Also read: How to plan your trip to Sach Pass
For a brief introduction; Sach Pass is a high altitude pass in Himachal Pradesh. It is also sometimes referred to as Saach Pass and at an elevation of 4,420 meters; and it connects the valley of Chamba with Pangi Valley. It is shortest but the toughest route between these two valleys. There are three roads that lead to the top of Sach Pass. One from Dalhousie/Chamba via Tissa, Bairagarh, Kalaban and Satrundi. Second route is from Manali via Tandi, Udaipur and Killar. The third route is from Jammu Srinagar highway; connecting to Sach Pass either via Patnitop, Doda, Kishtwar or via Anantnag and Chingam. Of the three routes, the ones from Dalhousie and Manali are the most traveled upon; often done in form of a circuit.
The road across Sach is worked and maintaned by Himachal PWD so one thing you can be sure of is that it will be bad. The road will start to deteriorate a little after Tissa; will completely turn into a dirt trail as you start getting close to Bairagarh and then will turn in to your worst nightmare around Satrundi; and will continue to remain so until Udaipur.
A trip to Sach Pass would mean that you will be driving on a narrow badly broken dirt road, with a steep ascent, through numerous water streams; some of which so deep that you might as well just swim across. Add to it the fact that there are several waterfalls on the way; falling right on the road. Landslides and slush is way too common a thing. Lose rocks are spread all across the way. If you are traveling early in the season, then 20 to 30 ft of snow walls will be on both sides of the road. Yes, this is Sach Pass. A dream journey for anyone who has interest in either adventure or off-roading.
Sach Pass usually opens towards the end of June and closes in the first week of October. Even when it is open, there is always a high chance that it may close anytime due to rain and landslides. This pass is the first to receive snow each year, sometime towards September end or October beginning. It is also the last one to open; by June mid or end; way after all other passes and roads in Himalayas have been declared open. The time that it remains open thus is probably the shortest; barely three and a half or four months at top; and even this short time is full of uncertainty. Below is a monthly breakdown of when you can plan your trip, what can you expect in which month and which one of these is the best time to visit Sach Pass.
Sach Pass in June:
For the first half of June; before 15th, Sach Pass remains closed as snow clearing operation continues. It gets declared open sometime around 15th but the road conditions at this time are worst ever. If you want to see snow, you have a chance of finding it in plenty in June. There will be tall snow walls on both sides of the road however this melting snow also creates a lot of slush and water streams on an already terrible road.
Apart from snow; another good side of visiting in June is that you would have lesser chance of encountering heavy rain since monsoon usually starts in this region by July. If traveling in first half of the June, you can take your vehicle as far as Satrundi, leave it there and take a stroll towards Sach top as far as you can go. If traveling in second half of the June, be prepared for driving on probably the worst patch of the road you have ever seen. Hotels in towns on both sides of the pass will be operational but there will be no dhaba once you leave Bairagarh until Killar.
Sach Pass in July:
During this month, snow continues to melt and the road remains extremely bad. There will be several furious and large nallahs en route; some of which will be a monster to cross like Bagotu Nallah. Monsoon will arrive in later part of July and will make things even worse. Nallahs will become furious and chances of landslides too will increase. There will be several waterfalls on the way some of which will be falling right on the middle of the road. Hotels and Dhabas en route however would be all set up by now which they wouldn’t be in June. A good time to visit would be in early July before the monsoon hits.
Sach Pass in August:
This probably is the worst month to go to Sach Pass in my opinion unless you don’t mind riding with water pouring down heavily on your helmet. Snow will be completely gone and rain will be totally on; sometimes even for hours at stretch. August means that you will be driving through slush for most part of the road. Water crossings would have multiplied 10 times including the possibility of a landslide. If that happens, then you may get stuck on the road for hours. If situation worsens, you will have to turn around and go back to the last village / town on the way.
Sach Pass in September:
This by far is the best time to visit Sach Pass. Monsoon would be gone and weather would have turned pleasant. There will be greenery all around and roads would be stable. If however you are visiting in late September, you may find that it already started to snow here. At this time, even in case of a breakdown, your chances of getting stranded are at minimum because a lot of people would be traveling this way.
Sach Pass in October:
Only do it in October if you want to be in “daredevil” mode for once in your life. After August, this is the second worst time to visit Sach Pass. In October, Pass remains open only for few days in early part and can close down at anytime. All the Dhaba-walas would already be gone by now so a high chance of getting stranded if your vehicle breaks down. Temperature would already have dropped to freezing cold. If you must however travel to Sach Pass in October, then do it in the first week itself, no later than that.
Now these were the months when the pass is open but surprisingly, I get asked by people about Sach Pass throughout the year. So here is a general information for rest of the months and what will happen if you planned a trip around this time.
Sach pass in January:
Closed. You will probably not even get to Bairagarh at this time. Rohtang is closed so from Manali side as well there is no way you can reach Sach.
Sach Pass in February: Same as January
Sach Pass in March: If you plan a trip towards Sach Pass in March, you may actually be able to reach Bairagarh. Do it only if you have a lot of snow on your mind. You can leave your vehicle at Bairagarh and walk as far as you can towards Sach. The check post at Satrundi moves to Bairagarh in Winter so you will not be able to drive any further than this.
Sach Pass in April: Pretty much the same deal as March. The only difference is that you will definitely reach Bairagarh.
Sach Pass in May: Same as April
Sach Pass in November: The Satrundi check post would have again moved down to Bairagarh. You will definitely be able to drive until Bairagarh but not beyond the check post. Days at this time will be pleasant but night will be extremely cold. So cold that without a pair of gloves, you won’t even be able to operate a camera.
Sach Pass in December: Closed. If traveling early, you may reach Bairagarh but not after it starts to snow all across the region.
Best time to visit Sach Pass
September will be the best month to plan a trip to Sach Pass. If this doesn’t suit you, then plan for it in June or early July but definitely avoid second half of July and August.
I hope this information on best time to visit Sach Pass was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.