Come join us for an exploratory fast pack following a route that few (any?) have ever done. We will start from Kathmandu on foot and return on foot travelling through Shiva Puri National Park, Helambu, Laurebina Pass (4,610m/15,124ft), Gosaikund Sacred Lakes, Langtang Valley,  Kanja Pass, and finally returning on the Helambu trail to Kathmandu.  Read the trip report for our 2017 event and check out the photos!

 

Details for 2018

  • Dates: May 26th – June 9th. 14 days including arrival and departure. See itinerary below.
  • Participation is limited to 7 members plus Seth and Sudeep
  • Cost: $2,150 all inclusive except beer, candy, snacks etc. You are required to have emergency evacuation insurance (we can advise). We offer a 5% discount for members with advanced first aid training, medical professionals, anyone fundraising for Nepal, and people who have participated in prior events arranged by us, Trail Running Nepal, and Rainshadow Running. Just ask us.

 

The numbers

Distance: 186k/115mi, Total Ascent: 14,198m/46,581ft, Maximum Elevation: 5,130m/16,830 feet* on Kanja Pass. GPS Files can be found here.

 

fullcourse-langtang
Profile of entire course

 

The original plan - a lollipop course. Maybe next time!

 

*all measures approximate

Gear

Because this trek traverses some very remote valleys and a semi-technical pass, members will be expected to carry/share a shelter system as well as carry a sleeping system. Helmets for the crossing of the pass are highly encouraged. Please see the gear list for more information.

Participants 2017

Route Description

We will leave via the front door of our hotel and head north out of the city and immediately start heading up through Shiva Puri National Park. From there it is a lot of up and down (mostly up) on the Helambu trail to the start of our loop. Once we hit the loop, we will stop near Ghopte village and take an acclimatization. We will then cross Laurebina Pass (4,610m/15,124ft) and rest near the the sacred lakes of Gosaikund before connecting with Langtang Valley. We will go up (east) the valley and take another acclimatization day near the far end before we cross  the rarely visited Kanja Pass (5,130m. 16,830ft) . From there we travel south through a rarely visited high altitude landscape – we will likely only see seasonal yak herders. We will likely need to camp out for one night here before we reconnect with the Helambu trail, and finish our loop, at Therapati. From there it is straight south in one long shot to Kathmandu. GPS Files can be found here.

 

 

The route – a lollipop course

 

Cautions

Trekking in Nepal is not without risk. These are the Himalayas after all. We want you to be know that this fast pack carries a higher level of risk than your typical trek in Nepal. It is not for everyone. In addition to the normal risks most treks include such as altitude sickness, narrow trails with exposure, and the occasional landslide crossing (including rockfall risk), our risks will be higher due to crossing of Kanja Pass which is remote, high, and semi-technical.

The pass in Google Earth
The pass in Google Earth, satellite imagery likely taken in the middle of winter.

A) Remote

There will likely be no other people at, or near, the pass as it is rarely visited and not crossed by locals. Statistics are very hard to come by and there is only one trip report on the web, written by our friend Michael Collins of Australia. It will be a tough climb out of the Langtang Valley to Kanja Pass and only the south side of the pass there are no lodges or settlements.  This means we need to be self-sufficient for at least one night.

Looking back as we started the climb in earnest up to the pass. This river valley would have been great to camp in.
Valley on the south side of Kanja La, this area is very remote and has no settlements. It is really the earliest place we would camp after the pass but is still quite high at ~4,200 meters.

 

B) High

We have never had a serious case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) on our trips but there is always a first time and our rate of ascent, rest days, and sleeping elevations may at times exceed some published guidelines. Our highest elevation at 5,130 meters is something to be taken seriously. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be fatal. To mitigate these risks all members are strongly encouraged to meet with their physician, explain the itinerary, discuss AMS, and have a complete check-up. We encourage a discussion about taking Diamox (acetazolamide) as a prophylactic as well as carrying other AMS medications like Nifedipine and Dexamethasone. We will review the signs and symptoms of AMS and use a buddy system to monitor each other. We will carry satellite communication devices and have a remote doctor on a retainer in case we need help. As with all of our trips in Nepal, all members are required to have helicopter evacuation insurance (we can refer you to a good company, expect to pay $75-$125 USD for this coverage depending on whether medical is also included).

C) Semi-technical

 

After some steep non-technical climbing we will have at least 2 hours of boulder fields and glacial moraine to cross. The greatest risk here is a wrecked ankle or knee as many of the boulders are unsettled, but with care and a little luck we should not have a problem.

We spent at least two hours walking carefully and boulder hopping
At least two hours walking carefully and boulder hopping will be required after the pass before we start descending in earnest on easier trails. Only the first part of this, near the pass, should have snow but you never know! This photo is near the pass and we will travel in the opposite direction of this photo.

 

 

Immediately below the pass is a small 5 meter climb on 4th class rock, this can be done without much fuss holding on to chains or with your hands.  There is also an option to ascend on 4 ladders that are lashed together, but we prefer the climb.

Looking on the north side of the pass – we will do an easy climb (or use the ladder) and then traverse a narrow ledge to the pass (travelling in opposite direction of photo)

 

At the top there is a narrow ledge which is about 1 meter wide and 5 meters long. Chains were installed in early 2016 and will hopefully still be in place. Holding on to these should add comfort to those who are exposure avoidant. A fall here would be straight down about 10-15 meters onto jumbled rock and possible fatal so is best avoided!

Sudeep goes first, fortunately chains we installed on this catwalk earlier this year.
Using chains on the catwalk – it is about 5 meters long and 1 meter wide. The drop off to the right is about 10-15 meters and can be seen in the next picture. We will travel in the opposite direction. The top of the ladder is almost directly in front of Sudeep in this picture  but is not visible

 

 

Traversing the top: Once we are on the top – we can relax, take pictures, and eat a chocolate bar. The top of the pass is about 2 meters wide and marked by prayer flags. There may be more, or less, snow on it than the picture below. Hopefully the visibility is better.

 

We made it! Kanja La 5,130m/16,830ft. Wahoo! We think we might be the first people to reach it this year from the South. Now how do you get down?
Top of the Kanja Pass, October 2016

Scrambling on the descent:  The first  150 vertical meters down from the pass (south side)  is steep and has a lot of loose rock. We will and stagger our paths, to minimize rock fall risk. A rock climbing helmet is highly encouraged.  A fall here would likely scrape and bang you up, but would be unlikely to be fatal.

Then the clouds came in during the last ~100m of ascent which was mostly scrambling on loose rock. Can you spot Sudeep?
Sudeep scrambling up the south side (we will go down this)

 

Other than the 4-6 hours described above, this trek is not inherently more risky than your typical trek in other parts of Nepal.

Note that there is some chance Kanja Pass will have too much snow on it to cross safely – if this happens we will need to backtrack down to the Langtang Valley but we will be able to either explore other valleys and return from the west end of Langtant to Kathmandu by Jeep, or return on foot. Chances are we will know this before the whole group does the tough climb up to the pass. Seth or Sudeep will probably scout it the day before to assess conditions. We will also be in close contact with a expert weather forecaster during our trip, but of course he can not see how much snow is actually on the pass and it is quite possible we will be the first visitors of the year.

We are finally got off of the rock and onto tundra. A weird weather station greats us. The Langtang River is far below and so is our first hot food in three days.
Finally off  the rock and onto tundra. A weird weather station in front. The Langtang Valley is far below as well as a warm lodge and hot food.

Tentative Itinerary

GPS Files can be found here.

 

Day 1:   Arrival (Saturday, May 26th)

We will pick you up at the airport, there is only one exit and we’ve done this a million times. Don’t worry. Look for your name with a sign on it. After transporting you to the hotel and getting you checked in and briefly oriented.

Day 2: Orientation/Briefings

We will ask to run through your gear to make sure all is squared away and  spend much of lunch  conducting a briefing. After that, we will go to Thamel to buy missing gear, change money, and have an early dinner.

Day 3: Segment 1. Kathmandu to Gul Banjang

We will walk up into Shiva Puri National Park just north of Kathmandu and continue moving north on the Helambu Trail: Distance: 29.3k, Ascent: 2,256 meters, Descent: 1,278m, Sleeping Elevation 2,398m.

 

s1-langtang

Day 4: Segment 2. Gul Banjang to Ghopte

We will meet the loop in Therapati and then start going clockwise, stopping in Ghopte or a bit beyond: Distance: 16.1k, Ascent: 1,690m, Descent: 676m, Sleeping Elevation 3,430m

s2-langtang

Day 5:   Acclimatization Day.

As we will be at 3,430 with the goal of crossing Laurebina Pass (4,610m) the next day.

Day 6: Segment 3.  Ghopte to Thulo Syrabu. (May 31st)

We may stop a little earlier so we are not in a busy village or near road. We will cross our first pass Laurebina (4,610m). Distance: 24.3k, Ascent: 1,491, Descent: 2,681m, Sleeping elevation 2,243m

s3-langtang

Day 7: Segment 4.  Thulo Syrabu to Kyangjin Gompa. (June 1st)

Distance: 32.7k, Ascent 2,936m, Descent 1,282m, sleeping elevation 3,891. Will be a tough day going up Langtang Valley. Total distance will likely be ~8k shorter as we can take a short cut and avoid Syrabu Besi.

s4-langtang

Day 8: Acclimatization Day/Explore Upper Langtang Valley.

Possibly climb Tserko Ri (4988m).

Day 9: Acclimatization Day/Explore Upper Langtang Valley.

Possibly move to high camp.

Day 10: Segment 5.  Kyangjin to Dukpu

Up and over the pass. Distance: 20.4k, Ascent 1,965m, Descent: 1,745m. Sleeping elevation: 4,150m

s5-langtang

 

Day 11: Segment 6. Dukpu to Therapati

Distance: 20.5k, Ascent: 2,230m, Descent: 2,689, Sleeping Elevation: 3,617

s6-langtang

Day 11: Segment 7. Therapati to Chisopani

Distance 25.8k, Ascent: 1098, Descent: 2,594m. Sleeping elevation: 2,150m

s7-langtang

Day 12: Segment 8.  Chisopani to Kathmandu

Distance: 16.4k, Ascent: 500m, Descent: 1262m

s8-langtang

Day 13 – Buffer Day

Will be spent on the trail if we need more time.

Day 14:  Departure Day (Saturday, June 9th)

Time to say goodbye – we will make sure you get to the airport safe and sound.

 

Interactive Map

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Pictures from Version 0. October, 2016.