Langtang is immediately north of Kathmandu and often a first choice for people who don’t have a lot of time to spend in Nepal. We are a little different, as we don’t travel there like most trekkers who take a long jeep ride to the west end of the valley. Instead we leave our doorstep in Kathmandu on foot and return on foot (something we think is pretty cool). It is important to note this fast pack can’t be your first rodeo. It is only for adventure thrashers with a good deal of experience in the mountains. The reason is that this is one gnarly beast. We are not sure anyone has every completed this route which involves leaving Kathmandu on foot and visiting the Langtang Valley via two high altitude passes. We have attempted this route twice and failed both times, but we think we have the logistics and timing dialed now and are recruiting a small group (max 7) of experienced adventurers to a ‘third time is a charm’ attempt.
Details for Langtang 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Day 11: Segment 6. Dukpu to Therapati
Distance: 20.5k, Ascent: 2,230m, Descent: 2,689, Sleeping Elevation: 3,617
Day 11: Segment 7. Therapati to Chisopani
Distance 25.8k, Ascent: 1098, Descent: 2,594m. Sleeping elevation: 2,150m
Day 12: Segment 8. Chisopani to Kathmandu
Distance: 16.4k, Ascent: 500m, Descent: 1262m
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.
Pictures from Version 0. October, 2016.