Wahoo! We are happy to report that ‘Team Kali’ completed the Langtang Lollipop Fastpack on June 7th in northern Kathmandu at the doorstep of the Royal Astoria Hotel. The team covered over 186k/115miles with a tremendous amount of vertical change (the cumulative gain alone was 14,198m/46,500ft) including a crossing of Larabina Pass at 4,610m/15,124ft and a sketchy crossing of the rarely visited Kanja Pass (5,130m/16,830ft) before pointing their sights on home.
We were tested by landslides, lightning storms, the thin air at high altitude, hail, snow, rain, ice, heat, humidity, leeches, exposure, rock fall and hot sun. But thanks to a strong team, an amazing dog, and some mad luck crossing the second pass – we made it back to Kathmandu in one piece.
We had a great team
Our success had a lot to do with having an exceptionally strong team on this trip with a huge amount of back country experience including long distance trail running, ultralight back-packing, emergency first aid, climbing, and guiding. Jason and Heather were returnees – having joined us on our Annapurna Fastpack last fall – bringing their enthusiasm for high altitude challenges. Stephanie Gundel, also a veteran of our Annapurna Fastpack (class of 2016), was back for her second attempt at the Langtang Lollipop – even if it was going to take some literal gymnastics to get over the second pass. Juliet gamely jumped into the adventure, sharing her experiences as a back country ranger along with her appreciation of landscapes and all things new. Sudeep and Seth were back for their third attempt on the Lollipop – trying to nail down the logistics and have a final go at the route. And Kali, the wonder dog, joined us on day two and stuck with us through the end. We didn’t feed her for the first two days and even tried scaring her away – but ultimately we gave in…she brought us a lot of joy while also keeping an eye on us on the sketchy passes and we wish her well in her new home with Jason and Heather. Woof woof.
And we finished it!
As far as we know, this is the first documented completion of this route – we would like to thank Michael Collins for sharing his trail wisdom and GPX tracks from his 2014 crossing of Kanja Pass This was invaluable in helping us get over the pass during our first attempt in 2016. Big thanks also to the great members we had in 2017 when we were unfortunately stopped by too much snow. We hope others will consider this route as we think it is a great adventure that can be had from a doorstep in Kathmandu. If you are looking for an adventure in May, 2019, please consider joining us!
Start: May 27th 7:15am
Finish: June 7th 2:58pm
Total Time: Eleven days and 7hrs 43 min
Pre-trip estimates (we will update with more accurate post-trip measurements): 186k/115mi, Total Ascent: 14,198m/46,581ft, Max Elevation: 5,130m/16,830ft Kanja Pass.
Effort recorded by Garmin InReach Sat Transponder and also by far too many watches and phones.
Our trip according to Kali
Namaste – my name is Kali and I live in a small village above Kathmandu.
I started following these people but they won’t give me any food. Today is hot!
They keep talking about a ‘Lollopop’ – I guess they started in Kathmandu and are going north to do a big circle or find a lollipop. All I know is maps taste good.
I finally broke them after eyeing this yak and they started giving me cookies!
At last, someone who knows how to play! I was getting tired of listening to Seth’s 4th grade renditions.
The people kept climbing up and up. I hope they stop!
Woof! We made it to Laurabina Pass (15,124ft). Nothing to see here! Let’s go down and eat some cookies
That’s Jason at Gosaikund Lake – he gives me cookies. Legend says the Lord Shiva made this lake, so I am staying out of it!
Stephanie, don’t jump! You have a lot of cookies in your backpack!
We are getting close to Langtang and the forests are misty
She sure is a funny size for a puppy.
I’m going to let Juliet handle this one…
Every dog likes to be serenaded
Gulp. I don’t like suspension bridges!
But it all worked out! I’ve trained the humans well – they carry me on scary bridges AND feed me cookies!
I’m staying away from that mama cat. But the tuna looks good!
I feel like they are judging me.
Now that is a horse!
Stephanie and I went for a run so we could find some cookies, but we didn’t find any. Just mountains.
This rock is so warm.
Langtang! We started climbing up the opposite side of the valley at 3am. Far too early…
Sun is finally coming up!
Could we please stop climbing?
Can you find me? I’m way out front…these people are so slow; they keep talking about cats ahead!
Ok – this is getting ridiculous. And now they are calling this a ‘catwalk’ for crying out loud.
We made it to the top of of Kanja Pass (~17,000ft) but there was a lot of snow on the other side. I am not a happy dog.
Please, can we just get out of here?
Phew – that pass was scary! Pardon me, but are those coco crunchie cookies in your hand?
We spent a cold night inside of this shelter – they call it the ‘HAL Summer Home’ Brrrr….
I like the views too
Welcome to my world
Nice rhododendrons, but even nicer people. They clearly like dogs…maybe if I play my cards right?
This guy spoke some Tamang to me and I understood it! I feel like my village is close.
We are definitely off the beaten track.
I know this guy! We are heading south again. We are close to my home village and the big city.
Oh no! The people found my owner but he chained me up to a tree in the sun with no water! I will be sorry to see the nice people and their cookies leave.
I heard them talking for a long time, finally the chain was removed and I got to leave with them! Woof!
Coming into Kathmandu was not easy. I thought it was going to be filled with cats – but so far…so good.
I have no idea why they were doing this, and they forgot to give me a lollipop
I am proud to present the first team to document a completed effort of the ‘Langtang Lollipop’ (photo by Kali, wardrobe malfunction by Sudeep)
I am so happy! I am going to the vets (what’s that?) so I can go home with Jason and Heather. New adventures await!