Maybe the third time is truly the charm?

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.

 

The route was dreamed up by Himalayan Adventure Labs in 2016. It starts and ends in Kathmandu and follows the rough shape of a lollipop – reaching deep in to the Himalayas from Kathmandu and traversing the Langtang Valley as part of a loop. HAL teams have attempted the route twice  – in 2016 when monsoon rains ruined the parade and in 2017 when spring snows made the Kanja pass too dangerous.

Our goal – a Himalayan lollipop.

This year did not prove easy

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.

 

Sudeep  on the catwalk at Kanja Pass (5,130m/16,830ft)

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.

Team Kali in front of HAL’s Summer Home. From Left to Right: Sudeep Kandel (Chitwan, Nepal), Stephanie Gundel (Seattle), Juliet Yenglin (Seattle), Jason Pardue (Bangkok), Heather Kirkland-Pardue (Bangkok),  Seth Wolpin (Seattle). In the front and difficult to see: Kali (Chipling, Nepal).

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

 

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