Posted on Leave a comment

Climbing Routes on the Annapurna Massif

CLIMBING ROUTES ON THE ANNAPURNA MASSIF

Annapurna Mountain Range from Poon Hill
Daulagiri, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Gangapurna Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre

Seated in the heart of beautiful Nepal, is the Annapurna Massif. This massive “massif” is found in the Himalayas of north-central Nepal. It has the world’s tenth highest peak and almost thirty other climbable peaks. It is one of the most visited peak-climbing destinations in the world; However it is as deadly as it is beautiful. Here are a few few climbing peaks and climbing routes.

The Annapurna Massif has about 29 peaks, with 13 peak heights being greater than 7,000 meters above sea level and 16 peaks being over 6,000 meters high. So far, peak-climbers have been able to achieve the most summits on about six peaks, making them the most desirable and climbable peaks in the area.

Peak Climbing the Most Prominent Peaks on the Annapurna Massif

Climbing Routes

  1. Annapurna I
  2. Annapurna II
  3. Annapurna III
  4. Annapurna IV
  5. Gangapurna
  6. Annapurna South

Annapurna I

annapurna 1
Annapurna 1

With a height of about 8,091 meters above sea level, Annapurna I is the highest peak on the massif. In addition, it is the world’s tenth highest mountain. In 1950, the first summit on this mountain, considered as a milestone in eight-thousander peak-climbing, was achieved. This was the first of its kind and was carried out by a French expedition led by Maurice Herzog.

Annapurna I has killed the more mountaineers than any other peak on the Annapurna massif. Annapurna deaths are the result of the high difficulty associated with this peak. It has the highest fatality to summit ratio of about 32%, with about 61 fatalities to 191 summits as of March 2012.

Why is Annapurna so deadly?

Annapurna 1 is the deadliest mountain on the massif because it is a technical climb. Mountaineers have to battle the altitude, cliffs, crumbly/ slippery surfaces, the environment, equipment failure, operator errors, and possess the technical knowledge to climb on ice, and snow. This is a climb that must be thoroughly planned out first with knowledgeable and experienced guides.

However, despite the number of Annapurna deaths, a lot of successes have been noted on this peak proving it climbable.

Annapurna I climbing route

Of the twelve possible climbing routes, the easiest route to summit Annapurna I is the Northwest Face. The hardest path, however, is ascent via the South Face. Annapurna I’s base camp is called the Annapurna Sanctuary at an elevation of 4,130 meters.

You can get to base camp following the Annapurna Base Camp trek or ABC trek.

Annapurna II

Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal
Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal from the north

Annapurna II was first climbed via the West Ridge by a British, Indian, and Nepalese team led by J. O. M Robert on May 17, 1960. The summit of Annapurna II is at 7,937-meters high. It is the part of the Annapurna Massif referred to as the “Eastern Mountain Anchor,” and is the 16th highest peak in the world.

Annapurna II climbing route

The quickest way to Annapurna II’s summit is through a shortcut via the North Face. It is between Annapurna IV and V and then continuing along the West Ridge. This route was first used in 1973 by Katsuyuki Kondo, a Japanese expeditioner.

Annapurna III

Annapurna 3
Annapurna 3 above Milerepa Cave

This is the 42nd highest point in the world with an elevation of about 7,555 meters above sea level. Annapurna III was first summited on May 6, 1961 by an Indian expedition led by Captain Mohan Singh Kohli via the Northeast Face.

Annapurna III climbing route

Captain Mohan Singh and his crew set up base camp I (15,400 ft) across from Braga Village. From here they climbed up the east ice fall and set up base camp 2 at 17,400 ft. This gave them access to the east col and a suitable site for their advanced base camp 18,800 ft (base camp 3). They then climbed up the North shelf and set up their 4th camp at 20,800 ft. Camp 5 was set up next, to allow passage through the east saddle then to the summit.

Hire local guides and porters

During their assent, local villagers would loot their camps because the expedition did not hire anyone from the village or pay “the fee.” Government officials sent military aid to keep the villagers from looting the base camps.

Annapurna IV

Found near Annapurna II, this 7,525-meter high peak was first climbed by a Heinz Steinmetz-led German expedition via the North Face and Northwest Ridge in 1955.

Annapurna IV climbing route

The climbing route to Annapurna IV’s peak takes about 21 days and starts in Yak Kharka on the eastern side of the massif.

There are 3 base camps on the way to the summit of Annapurna IV. From Yak Kharka it requires climbing on a fixed rope to reach base camp 1 and 2 at elevations of 4,800 and 5,500 meters respectively. The third base camp, 6,600 meters, is reached by an easy climb with switch backs, and a more difficult climb with a fixed rope. From camp 3 to the summit it is a relatively easy assent and only requires the main rope.

Gangapurna

Gangapurna
East side of Gangapurna and annapurna II in the background

Gangapurna stands about 7,455 meters above sea level and was first climbed by a Gunther Hauser-led German expedition via the East Ridge.

Gangapurna climbing route

Though challenging, the East Ridge remains the most elegant and most obvious climbing route to summit. This route offers fantastic views of the Annapurna Massif. The climb begins with the crossing of the Gangapurna Glacier and climbing 1,100 m on the northern edge of the face then ascending another 400 m on the eastern face. Base camp is made at the foot of the north shoulder of Gangapurna. From here the trail leads to advanced base camp on the snowfield shelf at about 5,300 m. After acclimating, you climb to camp 1 at 5,600 m on the east ridge. Camp 2 (6,300 m) is located on the north face of the east ridge. You must climb on a snow field to get there. You then climb to camp 3 at 6,900 m. Finally the summit is attainable at 555 m above base camp 3.

Annapurna South/ Annapurna Dakshin

Annapurna South is the 101st highest mountain in the world at a height of about 7,219 meters above sea level. A team from the Kyoto University alpine club was the first to summit the peak in 1964. They had originally wanted to climb Dhaulagiri IV, but the permit was unavailable. There are many climbing routes to the Annapurna South peak; However the route starting at the ABC is easiest.  The Annapurna South Peak climb begins where most people end their trek, at Annapurna Base Camp/ Annapurna Sanctuary.

Annapurna South climbing route

From Annapurna Base Camp the route to the summit takes climbers to advanced base camp on the west bank of the south face glacier. Climbing up the glacier to camp 1 is the next ascent. Then camp 2 at 5,970 m. Camp 3 is the last camp. It is at 6,400m. The summit is about 800 meters higher.

Though peak climbing on the Annapurna Massif can be extremely dangerous, it is rewarding. The mountain views are unparalleled in landscape beauty.

Posted on Leave a comment

Four Day Trek to Poon Hill

4 day trek to poon hill

FOUR DAY TREK TO POON HILL AND BACK

4 day trek to poon hill
Annapurna Massif along the Poon Hill Trek

 

If you are someone who loves to explore nature and is seeking a place where you can witness beautiful mountains, and natural habitats, we can suggest one such place in Nepal and that is Poon Hill. In addition, our Four day Poon Hill Trek is perfect for people who are new to trekking, want an easy trek, or want a family friendly trek.

Why Poon Hill for Trekking?

the Poon Hill trek is a short and easy trek. One of its major benefits is that it is easy to enjoy the mountains without having to face the difficulties of the snow and high elevations.

The primary starting point of the Poon Hill trek is from Nayapul, which is a one and a half hour drive from Pokhara. However, there is a different path, which is less traveled. While trekking, you can witness the beautiful villages of Ulleri, Ghorepani, and Ghandruk. The hospitality of these villagers is acknowledged by the people who have previously come to visit Poon Hill. You can enjoy this serene landscapes with dense forests that are full of exotic birds and flowers.

The viewpoint on Poon Hill is at an elevation of 10,470 ft and offers the best view of the mountains and sunrise.

The Ghorepani Poon Hill 4 day trek is an excellent tour package to see the sunrise over the Annapurna Massif. At dawn the Himalayan giants, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and others slowly begin to appear like a whale breaching the oceans surface. Then in a moment of disbelief, the mountains are the only thing you can see. You don’t want to miss this once in a lifetime experience.

4 day trek to poon hill
Annapurna 1 from Poon Hill

 

What is the best time to visit the Poon Hill trek?

The best time to visit Poon Hill trek is from September to November and March to May.

Starting point?

It’s your choice; There are many starting locations. Most people take a bus or taxi from Pokhara and start the trek in Nayapul. You can also start the trek in Tato Pani, which I prefer because it is a less traveled road. The Poon Hill trek can take you three, four, or five days to explore. Here are the details of 4 day Poon Hill trek.

What to expect on a 4-day Poon Hill trek?

In the 4 day Poon Hill trek, you can start it from Nayapul, hike up to Ulleri, Ghorepani, and Poon Hill and then take the alternate route back to Nayapul via Tadapani and Ghandruk village.

Its extremely easy, but be aware of all the stairs and dust if you start on the Nayapul side.

On my way down from Poon Hill, I saw a troop of 25-30 boy scouts coming up. They looked like they ranged in age from 8 to 16. This trek is definitely family friendly.

Annapurna Mountain Range from Poon Hill
Daulagiri, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Gangapurna Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre

Short Itinerary

Day 01: Pokhara – Nayapul – Ulleri, which is at 6,430 ft and takes 6-7 hours. Nights are spent in local lodges.

Day 02: Ulleri-Ghorepani, which is at 9,429 ft and takes 5-6 hours. Nights are spent in local lodges.

Day 03: Ghorepani-Poon Hill-Tadapani-Ghandruk, which is at 6,361 ft and takes 7-8 hours. Nights are spent in local lodges.

Day 04: Ghandruk-Kimche-Nayapul-Pokhara and 4-5 hours. Nights are spent in local lodges.

Do you need to hire a Poon Hill trek guide?

We do recommend hiring a guide to accompany you on your journey. Our guides are polite, friendly, and professional. They have first aid training and can identify the early warning signs of common trekking setbacks.

Our Poon Hill guides also know where to find the best vantage points of the mountains, and the best lodges to stay at. They are sure to make your experience safe, fun, and memorable.  We hope this Poon Hill trekking guide was helpful to you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Different Kinds of Textiles in Nepal

DIFFERENT KINDS OF TEXTILES IN NEPAL

Dhaka scrunchie
Dhaka scrunchie

Nepal is the 93rd largest country on the map according to the land size and home of the highest peak in the world. But its specialties do not end here; Nepal is a land with stunning and breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, kind and hospitable people, world class trekking trails and not to forget, a vibrant textile industry.

Textile Industry in Nepal;

The textile industry of Nepal encompasses the country’s colonial arts and crafts, culture, and creativity of its workers and residents. Nepals textile industry is influenced by over 125 ethnic groups that live in the country. They bring together their culture, skills, and creativity.

Textiles crafted in Nepal:

All across the country, from China to India, the textile industry of Nepal creates designs and patterns that are widely loved and acknowledged by the textile industry and connoisseurs. The textiles in Nepal are made from both animal and plant fibers. Here are some of the primary textiles you may see in Nepal.

Palpali Dakka Cloth:

Dhaka Topi
Dhaka Topi folded in half

Hand-woven textiles are made by the skillful crafts-women of the country who create beautiful designs and are loved by the people from different parts of the globe. Palpali Dakka cloth is the most acknowledged hand-woven textile, and it is made in factories in Tansen, a city of Nepal. Limbu people of eastern Nepal are also known for their distinctive patterns and Dhaka productions.

Dhaka is a cotton fabric that is woven on wood and bamboo handlooms. This cloth comes in various geometric patterns with Red and Orange colors.

Pashmina Shawls:

Pashmina is a very fine type of cashmere wool. Items made with Pashmina, like Pashmina shawls, are highly valued. The Pashmina shawls in Nepal are pure and are made in the homes of local weavers.

You can find Pshmina products throughout Nepal. Most of it is woven in the Kathmandu Valley, where it is exported in small quantities.

Jute Handbags:

Jute is a long strong fiber often used for industrial purposes. Because of its coarseness and strength, it is used to make sacks and is referred to as burlap. India, China, and Pakastan are the world leaders in jute production.

In Nepal, jute handbags are woven into fashionable and practical accessories. Jute is also used to make rugs in Nepal.

Tibetan Rugs:

tibetan rug making
Tibetan women weaving a throw in Nepal

Tibetan rugs are hand-made using fibers from jute, yak, or goat. Tibetan yak and goat rugs are some of the softest natural rugs one can find. These rugs are produced by Tibetan refugees who have settled in Nepal

The communities of Tibetan tribes living in Nepal make beautiful true Tibetan rugs that are exported worldwide. Kathmandu and other areas of Nepal like Jawalakhel, Himalayan regions, and Jomsom village are home to Tibetan weavers who create incredible Tibetan rugs in Nepal.

Chikankari:

Chikankari is an artfully done hand or machine embroidered piece of cloth. It can be done on a variety of textile fabrics such as silk, muslin, organza, chiffon, net, and others. In Nepal, beautiful Chikankari cloth is made by hand. The Nepalese learned the art of Chikankari from the neighboring country, India.

India and Nepal have a long history of trading textile goods dating back to the silk road. Chikankari embroidery can be found in Jawalakhel and Kathmandu.

Next time you are in Nepal, please ask us about our textile tour of Nepal. You will get to experience Nepali culture, arts, crafts, and textiles in one amazing tour.

Posted on Leave a comment

Trekking and Climbing On the Annapurna Massif

Chulu west, Chulu East, Pisang Peak, Kangaru Himal, Runam

TREKKING AND CLIMBING ON THE ANNAPURNA MASSIF

annapurna 2, pisang peak, manaslu
Annapurna 2, Pisang Peak, and Manaslu from Upper Khangsar

Most people are familiar with the great Mount Everest located in the Himalayas, but what many do not know is that this mighty mountain range is housed by a landlocked country in South Asia called Nepal. Nepal is home to a rich heritage and culture, as well as eight out of the ten tallest peaks in the world, including the Annapurna Massif in the north-central region.

The Annapurna Massif (or Annapurna Mountain) derives its name, “Annapurna,” from the words anna (meaning “food”) and purna (meaning “filled”) in the Sanskrit language. In other words, Annapurna can be translated directly to mean “filled with food” or “everlasting food.” Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, and it is believed that she resides within the mountain range.

The Annapurna Mountain also has the reputation of being one of the world’s deadliest to those who try to summit it. Because of its 32% fatality rate since 1990, few people attempt to summit. The Annapurna death rate is one of the highest of the eight-thousanders, with only Mount Kangchenjunga having a higher fatality rate.

That notwithstanding, the Annapurna Massif is still one of the favorite climbing and trekking destinations in the whole world, and thousands of people show up every year to climb the peaks and undertake the Annapurna Massif trek through different trekking routes, and it’s always an unforgettable experience. As a matter of fact, the first set of people to climb the Annapurna Massif in an expedition in 1950, led by Maurice Herzog, succeeded the very first time they tried!

This said, before you take that leap of faith and come over to the wonderful, fast-developing nation of Nepal to enjoy the rich culture and, of course, to trek and climb the Annapurna Massif, it’s important that you learn a little about the climbable peaks and trekking routes.

 

ANNAPURNA MASSIF CLIMBABLE PEAKS

Annapurnan 3
Annapurna 3

Aside Annapurna I (the main eight-thousander Annapurna Mountain peak), there are other climbable peaks where the “Annapurna death rate” is much lower. In total, the Annapurna Massif has 13 peaks over 7000 meters high and 16 peaks over 6000 meters. But the most prominent climbable peaks are:

  • Annapurna I (Main) – 8,091m (26,545ft), first summited by Maurice Herzog, Louis Lachenal, Lionel Terray, Gaston Rebuffat, Marcel, Ichac, Jean Couzy, Marcel, Shatz, Jacques Oudot and Francis de Noyelle (1950)
  • Annapurna II – 7,937m (26,040ft), first summited by J. O. M. Roberts, Richard Grant, Chris Bonington and Sherpa Ang Nyima (1960)
  • Annapurna III – 7,555m (24,787ft), first summited by Mohan Singh Kohli, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Girmi (1961)
  • Annapurna IV – 7,525m (24,688ft), first summited by Heinz Steinmetz, Herald Biller, Jurgen Wellenkamp (1955)
  • Gangapurna – 7,455m (24,457ft), first summited by Gunther Hauser and 10 others (1964)
  • Annapurna South – 7,219m (23,684ft), first summited by a 6-person team from Kyoto University Alpine Club (1964)

 

ANNAPURNA MASSIF TREKKING ROUTES

Here are some of the most popular Annapurna Massif trekking routes, so that you can set your mind at ease and prepare yourself for the Annapurna Massif trek and other exciting adventures that await you on this journey. Are you ready?

  1. Annapurna Base Camp Trek

The route taken during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most common treks in the Annapurna region. It is also called the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and it combines a lot of great Himalayan views, as well as a vista of Nepalese culture as you traverse the highs and lows of various well-known peaks and mountains on the Himalayas.

When you undertake the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, you go through the rhododendron forests, and pass by terraced farms in the middle hills. This way, you get to experience the beautiful scenery of the local villages and get a sneak-peek of their lifestyle.

The Annapurna Base Camp itself is a high glacial basin lying at 40 km north of Pokhara (a metropolitan city in Nepal and the capital of the Gandaki Pradesh province) is located at an elevation of 4,130 meters (or 13,550 feet).

Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll come across on your journey to the Annapurna Base Camp include: Dhaulagiri, Himchuli, Machhapuchhre, and of course, the Annapurna Mountain itself.

The Annapurna Base Camp Trek takes a period of approximately 14 days to complete.

  1. Annapurna Circuit Trek
Thorang La Pass
Thorang La Pass sign

The Annapurna Circuit Trek distance varies depending on the route you take and whether or not you choose to entertain yourself with side treks, but on average, it is about 170 km to 230 km. This trip could take between 16 to 20 days to complete, depending on your speed.

Taking this trip means you must go through Thorong La Pass, which is the highest point of the trek and one of the most amazing sights you could ever see.

When planning to undertake the Annapurna Circuit Trek, bear in mind that the best times of the year to go about this expedition are October to early December, or late February to April. Attempting this trek outside this period would mean risking getting snowed in – or worse.

Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll encounter as you traverse the Annapurna circuit include: the Gangapurna, Pisang Peak, Paungda Danda, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Tilicho Peak, Manaslu and the Annapurna Massif (Annapurna I – IV).

  1. Khopra Ridge Trek

The Khopra Ridge Trek is one of the easiest treks to undergo if you’re a beginner. The average time taken to complete this trek is 6 to 9 days, and the highest elevation is the sacred Khayar Barahi Lake (4500 meters or 14,760 feet). The beautiful landscape will keep you awestruck throughout your journey, as you experience the lifestyle of the ethnic villages and the wildlife of the region.

The trek is made more picture perfect during the spring, when the light of the sun appears to beautify the mountains. Some of the peaks you’ll come across on this journey include: the Annapurna, Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri.

  1. Annapurna Panorama Trek/ Poon Hill Trek
Annapurna Mountain Range from Poon Hill
Daulagiri, Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Gangapurna Annapurna III, Machhapuchhre

The Annapurna Panorama Trek, just like the Khopra Ridge Trek, is also easy to complete for beginners. It takes a short 6 days to go through the entire process, but they are guaranteed to be the best 6 days you’ll ever have. October is the best time to go to view the mountains, but April is the best time to go to see the Rhododendron flowers.

You can enjoy the warmth from both the sun and kind villagers while you take your time to complete this trek.

  1. Mardi Himal Trek

The Mardi Himal Trek takes about 11 days to complete, making it a moderate level trek. Undertaking this trek, you’ll see sights like the Annapurna peaks, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre and Manaslu.

The Mardi Himal Trek is also best undertaken during the spring, so that you can get the best of the spring’s sun and warmth on the mountain ranges in addition to the Rhododendron blooms.

Panchase HIll Trek
Th Annapurna Massif from Panchase Hill

Every mountain range in Nepal and the Himalayas was divinely designed for you to visit, climb, trek and experience. Sitting in your couch year in, year out, is tantamount to wasting all these beauties the universe has provided us with, especially when you have that burning desire to experience the wonders of the world. Getting up and out of your comfort zone and making the move to the Annapurna Massif so that you can experience these gifts should be among your major plans.

Posted on Leave a comment

Himalayan Hospitality And 10 Reasons To Visit Nepal

Shikhara style temple in Patan Durbar Square

Himalayan Hospitality And 10 Reasons To Explore Nepal

Boudhanath Stupa Nepal
Boudhanath Stupa Nepal

Why should Nepal be in the travelers’ bucket list? Nepal is a God gifted beautiful region with a distinct culture, historical art, natural assets, and lots of trekking places. Here are 10 reasons to explore Nepal like never before:

UNESCO Heritage Sites

Nyatapola Temple in Taumadhi Square
Nyatapola Temple in Taumadhi Square

Nepal has incredible architecture and owns seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most of which are in the Kathmandu region. Sacred temples, pagodas, monasteries, medieval complexes, palaces, mosques… and the list goes on.

Spectacular Hikes and Treks

a rarely visited but extreamly beautiful area on the Langtang trek
Langtang mountains, trekkers and guides

Nepal is a Himalayan country.  It is blessed with the world’s highest and finest hiking treks and trails. Trekkers and mountaineers have plenty of options including Poon Hill, Langtang, Annapurna, and Mount Everest. Tourists can encounter beautiful flora and fauna landscapes.

One of the best experience’s mountaineers can have is hiking in Nepal. The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most popular among hikers. Watching the sunrise over Annapurna Base Camp can be the most stunning views ever seen.

Meet the Friendliest Host

Himalayan Hospitality
Host family poses for picture while doing chores

The Nepali people are exceedingly welcoming and warm. They make sure that their guests feel at home. They never say no to guests when they need help. People never forget the Himalayan hospitality that they received during their visit to Nepal.

Nepali Delicacies

Nepal is rich in cuisines due to cultural diversity. Their food is greatly influenced by the neighboring countries China and India, but still, Nepali food has its uniqueness. Their most famous delicacies include Dal Bhat which is Nepal’s national dish. Dal Bhat contains lentils with curried vegetables and rice and is available at almost every restaurant in Nepal.

Momo (Nepalese dumplings) is also a popular snack and can be bought from any corner of town. It is filled with meat and/or vegetables and is served with a tomato-based sauce. Other famous foods include aloo Tama, dheedo, and chatamari.

Wildlife Experience

rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park
rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park

For the wildlife lovers, visit Chitwan national park which comes in on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in Nepal. There you can spot one-horned rhinos, up to 544 bird species, sloth bears, monkeys, deer, majestic Royal Bengal tigers, wild elephants, leopards, crocodile, and many more.

Affordable Trip

Nepal is best for touring on a budget. With a low budget, you can have a great experience. Without emptying your bank account, you can explore the mountains, visit Chitwan National park, or see the world heritage sites. The trip budget also depends on the hotel and transport chosen. However, an average of $27 is needed per day to travel hike.

Safe Destination

Nepal is a safe country to travel to. Of course, a person may encounter a bad situation while in Nepal, but for the most part Nepal is safe for travelers. It is improbable that visitors will have any issue.

Buddha’s Birth Place

Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha, and you can trace the emergence of Buddhism. The shrine is dome-shaped and is the holiest temple and highly sacred for Tibetans. Stages of enlightenment paths are shown in each part of the temple.

Stunning Lakes

Nepal has about 200 glacier fed lakes that are a splendid blue color. Gokyo Lakes in Nepal is the highest freshwater lake in the Khumbu region of Nepal, However Tilicho Lake is the highest freshwater lake system in the world.

Volunteering Opportunity

Two Peace Corps Volunteers in a women’s group.

 

Nepal is a developing country full of smiling people. Though it is officially illegal for tourists to volunteer in Nepal, it is not enforced. You can find many volunteering opportunities to help and get involved. I did and its made all the difference in the world. If you are interested, you can find more information at https://www.peacecorps.gov/

So, when are you visiting Nepal?

Posted on Leave a comment

Nepalese Tradition in Textile

Nepali tradition in textile

Nepalese Tradition in Textile

 

Tucked between India and Tibet is a nation of rich history and cultural heritage. Nepal is perhaps best known for its ancient temples and world heritage sites, and for co-hosting the world’s highest peak, the Everest, as well as other great mountains in the Himalayan Range. This said, it’s easy to tell that the nation receives several visitors every year, but beyond its topography and famous sites, Nepalese tradition holds far more for those who care to explore.

Dhaka Fabric

Dhaka hats

Textiles have been a major element of Nepalese tradition for millennia. Dhaka fabric is a hand-woven cotton textile that is native to the Limbu people of eastern Nepal. The intricate patterns and carefully chosen colors of the fabric are well celebrated and are now becoming even more popular all over the world. The art of dhaka fabric weaving has been passed down for generations and the fabric represents the traditional dressing of the Limbu people. Men wear a dhaka topi (hat made of dhaka fabric) along with a scarf, while women wear a dhaka mekhli (dress made of dhaka fabric), adorned with a shawl and a scarf. Dhaka fabric is now majorly produced by weavers in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, and in the districts of Palpa and Tehrathum.

Here is a 1 minute 19 second YouTube video of Dhaka in Palpa

Kalamkari Printing

Kalamkari printing, which dates back to medieval times, originating from the Middle East, has over the centuries been beautifully adopted and perfected by Nepali craftsmen. It’s really astonishing to grasp that such elaborate patterns and designs as those of kalamkari printing are made by hand – freehand or using a wooden block motif. Traditionally, the fabric to be printed upon is soaked with cow dung for a couple of days to bleach it. It is then thoroughly washed in flowing water and sun-dried. Afterwards, the colors are printed one at a time, and the fabric is rinsed after each print. Every color used for kalamkari printing is naturally sourced from plants and earth, and rid of the toxic chemicals that most synthetic dyes contain. After the printing is done, the fabric is boiled in a huge pot so that it shrinks and becomes color-run-proof.

Kachchi Embroidery

Embroidery pattern

Another noteworthy Nepalese traditional textile technique is kachchi embroidery. With its vibrant colors and rich designs, kachchi embroidery is an art form normally practiced by women on cotton, silk and satin fabrics. Small colorful mirrors known as “abhla” are often sewn over the geometric patterns of the finely threaded kachchi embroidery to produce a spectacular shimmering effect.

Tibetan Rugs

tibetan rug making
Tibetan women weaving a throw in Nepal

Introduced by merchants on the silk road from Tibet, Tibetan rugs have become a huge source of income for the nation of Nepal. These rugs were important and practical pieces in palaces, monasteries and houses, owing to their magnificent designs and the warmth they provide in the harsh Himalayan climate. Tibetan rugs were originally made from the wool of Tibetan mountain sheep and used to adorn floors, walls and horse saddles. The knotting method used in making Tibetan rugs is unique. However, the fascinating patterns and natural dyes really make Tibetan rugs stand out.

All Nepalese traditional textiles employ profound patience and extreme care to produce the extraordinary outcomes that are renowned around the world. The finished works are breathtaking, but what’s even more magical is to watch the persevering local artisans at work, and perhaps to take home some fabric whose production you witnessed. This will be sure to constantly remind you that anything is achievable if we are resolute. It’s truly the experience of a lifetime.

Posted on Leave a comment

Trekking in Nepal with Kids

Trekking in Nepal with kids/ Best hikes in Nepal for kids

trekking in Nepal with kids
This is my friend Ellie at a home stay in Nepal.

Trekking in Nepal with kids may seem as overwhelming as the Himalayas are tall. Let me be the first to say, “It is not.” In fact, it might be one of the easiest trips for you and your kids. Some of the best hiking trails in Nepal are perfect for kids. The Poon Hill trek is one example and is my top pick for family hikes. There are many facilities and services available along the trails, which make trekking in Nepal with Kids easy.

Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure will provide all the services and facilities to make your hiking trip with your family safe, fun, and exciting. We have skilled porters and expert guides to make your trip easy. Our guides are trained to identify altitude sickness and how to prevent it. We also have health and medical staff on hand if an accident happens. Our tours for families with kids are arranged so that there are frequent locations to access food, water, bathrooms, and comfortable lodges and tea houses. These hikes were also chosen because of their relative ease of completion, short time to completion, and access to roads or airports.  In this blog post I present some challenges to trekking in Nepal with kids, the best hikes in Nepal for kids, the best times to travel to Nepal, and what to pack. I hope you enjoy it.

Trekking in Nepal with kids
A kid doing somersaults in the straw in a village

little challenges

  • Altitude sickness is probably the largest challenge for everybody ascending above 12,000 ft, but it can also affect people as low as 8,000 ft above sea level. Children are more prone to be affected by altitude sickness and the symptoms are more difficult to recognize. The best solution is to stay below 12,000 ft and acclimate slowly.
  • Exhaustion from hiking long distances is another issue you might encounter. Thankfully it is easily avoidable. There are plenty of rest locations along the trail and rooms for rent in tea houses. If your little one can’t walk far it is entirely possible to have a porter carry your child. Horseback rides are also available in most locations.
  • Feeding your little one can seem like murder at times. I know because I have a few picky eaters in my family, and I am one of them. If your family has any dietary restrictions, you can tell your tour provider and they will make all the necessary arrangements for you. We can even provide you with a kitchen, if you prefer.
  • Illnesses are scary, especially if you are in a foreign place. Fortunately, there are doctors and pharmacies available at specific locations along most trails. A helicopter can evacuate an ill or injured family member within minutes of being called.
  • There are plenty of electrical outlets at the tea houses to charge devices for entertainment while not trekking. And yes, there is cell phone service on most trails.

Best Hikes in Nepal for Kids

  1. Poon Hill trek

Gurja Himal, Dhaulagiri 6, Jirbang, Dhaulagiri 4, 5, 3, 2, 1, and Tukuche Peak
Dhaulagiri mountain range over Poon Hill

The Poon Hill trek made the top of the list because it can be hiked in 4 to 6 days. The max elevation you will reach on the trek is 10,531 ft. The highest overnight elevation is 9,429ft in Ghorepani. In addition, you can take a car up or down most of the way if you want to shorten your hiking more. One of the things I love most about this trek is the Rhododendron forest you hike through to the top of Ghoripani. The trees enter full bloom in late March and early April. And if that wasn’t enough to make the number 1 spot, you can see 2 of the world’s 10 tallest mountains form Poon Hill. The trail has an abundance of stairs and a lot of resting places. It is an easy to mildly difficult hike for an adult.

  1. Lower Dolpa

Lower Dolpa is one perfect for families with children. This trekking route is not as popular as the Annapurna or Everest trails, which makes it perfect for people who don’t want to contend with others. Lower Dolpa features wide open, and charming views of the mountains from an elevation of 8,120 ft. Lower Dolpa has an airport in Juphal, which I recommend utilizing then doing day hikes around Juphal. The entire trip can be completed in 3 days.

 

  1. Chitwan National Park

rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park
Rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park

If your family prefers jungles with beautiful vegetation and equally amazing wildlife, then the jungle safari hike in Chitwan National Park is perfect for you. The hike is extremely easy, flat, and short. You can see endangered animals like the one horned rhinoceros, and the Gharial Crocodile. The adventure starts with an elephant ride through the forest and leads into a canoe trip along the Rapti river. After the canoe trip the hike begins, which lasts for about 40 minutes. At the end of the hike you can explore the elephant sanctuary. Rhinoceroses, tigers, and sloth bears, oh my!

  1. Australian Camp

The Australian Camp hike is very similar to the Poon Hill hike. You will have many of the same views but with fewer people and at a lower elevation. The maximum altitude you will come to is 6,200 ft. The people are also friendlier or at least more appreciative of the visit. The destination is drivable for the most part and only requires a little bit of hiking to get to the look out point. The whole trip can be completed in 3 days.

 

  1. Langtang

Kanjin Gompa and Langtang mountains
Kyanjin Gompa and Langtang mountains

I fell in love with the Langtang hike when I did it in 2016. It is a mildly strenuous hike, which follows the Langtang River through a canyon and a deciduous forest. Langtang is at an elevation of 11,154 ft and it is a complete joy to hike to. This hike is a perfect blend of the Namche Baazar and Poon Hill hikes because of its incredible scenery and beautiful rhododendron blooms in April.  The complete hike can be done in 7 days, but if you want truly breathtaking views take another 2 days and hike up to Kyanjin Gompa at an elevation 12,696 ft. I would reserve the hike to Kyanjin Gompa for pre-teens and older due to elevation concerns.

  1. Namche Bazaar trek

https://mynepaltrek.com/product/everest-base-camp-trek/
Everest, Lhotse, and Amadablam from above Namche Baazar

The Namche Bazaar trek offers world class views of the 1st and 4th tallest mountains in the world. From the top Namche you can see Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, and Amadablam! In my opinion the view of Amadablam alone is worth the trek, but these 4 mountains together make the view world class.  Namche is at an elevation of 11,286 ft, which makes it a little challenging for the little ones. This trek should probably be reserved for the pre-teens. You should be fine as long as you remember to go slowly. A round trip trek can be done in 5 days

Best time to travel to Nepal

The best time to travel to Nepal with kids is in the Spring March and April. These months have the warmest weather without being too hot or too cold. In April the Rhododendron trees bloom to which is an added benefit to hiking in the spring.  This is also the second most popular time to travel to Nepal. The first is in the fall, which has arguably better views and is a little cooler. The winter season is the third best time hike or the first if you like cold weather and the occasional snowstorm.

If you can avoid it, please do not plan your trip in the summer! It is hot, humid, and the monsoon rains make travel dangerous. There are occasional mud slides and road outages, which makes roads a little dangerous and keeping an itinerary a little more difficult.

Gear for trekking in Nepal with kids

I recommend bringing one item of each except for socks and underwear. For these items I recommend bringing 1 pair for each day you will be hiking. There is laundry service available along most of the hikes, but often they might not have a drying service. Hiking in wet and soggy cloths is not fun.

  • Hiking pants
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Underwear bottoms and tops, if you ware bras
  • Socks (preferably merino wool)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking shoes (breathable)
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries (toothbrush toothpaste)
  • Water bottle

If you have a porter you might want to consider bringing some extra gear to be more comfortable. My suggestions include:

  • Jacket/ sweatshirt
  • Beanie
  • Flip-flops
  • Pajamas
  • Gloves
  • Rain jacket
  • Electronic equipment (phone, game boy)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Medications
  • Water purifier

Cell phones

Chances are your mobile provider does not cover Nepal. You will have to buy a cellphone. Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventures provides its clients with free phones, but if you are going to attempt it without service you should know what kind of phone and service plan to get. There are two cell phone services providers in Nepal, Nepal Telecom and NCell. I prefer NCell for general use. Both companies will have mixed service coverage in the mountains, which is why I recommend a dual SIM phone. It is a little more expensive, but you will almost always be able to make a phone call with it in any of the 6 destinations mentioned earlier. A cell phone will cost anywhere between $20 to $60. You can buy minutes in the form of a phone card from almost every shop keeper on the trek or you can buy them directly form the cell phone service provider.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Have a safe, fun, and exciting time in Nepal

Craig

Posted on Leave a comment

Nepal’s Trekking Fees Increase

Trekking and Visa fees increased for Nepal (August 2019)

Visitors copy
Visitors Copy

Visitors to Nepal must now pay $30 for a 15-day multiple entry visa. This is a $5 increase from the previous $25 fee. The 30-day multiple-entry visa’s price increased from $40 to $50.  The 90-day multiple-entry visa is now $125. It was $100.

Visa and Trekking Fees
Visa and Trekking Fees

The permit fees for Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa are now $500 for the first 10 days and $50 for each subsequent day.
Travelers from the Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Sir Lanka, and Pakistan can enter Nepal free for the first 30-days and $3 per day after that.
However, travelers from SAARC countries, except India and Afghanistan, enjoy free multiple-entry tourist visa for 30 days, and $3 per day thereafter. Indian and Afghanistan citizens are exempt from paying the visa fee.

Safe travels and have fun,
Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure

Posted on Leave a comment

Casinos in Nepal

Casinos in Nepal

Casino in Nepal
Casino roulette table

Nepal is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It is also home to 20 casinos. These casinos are primarily in 5 star hotels such as Hotel Annapurna, Soltee Hotel, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu Hotel, and Malla Hotel. I have never been in any of these hotels or casinos because my security advisor advised me not to go into them. From what I understand though, they are not always on the up and up. This is all second hand knowledge. I can only error on the side of caution as any traveler should do.

If you find yourself in any of the casinos in Nepal you would do well to not gamble.

Safe travels,

Posted on Leave a comment

Saune Sankranti

Saune Sankranti

Pashupatinath
Shiva temple Pashupatinath in Kathmandu

Saune Sankranti is a celebration dedicated to cleaning. It takes place on the first day of  Shrawan, which was July 17th on the Roman calendar.  On Saune Sankranti participants clean their houses, yards, bodies, and visit a temple dedicated to Shiva, like Pashupatinath temple. On every Monday of Saune, people also go to the Bolbam fair, which is a gathering of people wearing yellow and eating yellow foods. They wear yeallow cloths and eat yellow foods because yellow is Shiva’s favorite color. During this Saune Sankranti participants welcome the Capricorn sign and sing to Shiva.

Saune Sankranti Activities

Pandra Shivalaya
Pandra Shivalaya in Pashupatinath

The primary activity of Saune Sankranti is cleaning because it is believed to push out illness and welcome in good health and long life. Worshiping Shiva during this time is believed to enhance the benefits of cleaning. While people are worshiping Shiva they hit a woven bamboo plate because it is believed to help remove diseases. When this is accompanied by chanting the mantra “Om Na-Mah Shi-Va Om” it is believed to solidify the success of the effort. People also wear Rudraksh beads as a necklace or bracelet, and fast; However eating yellow foods is acceptable.

Posted on 4 Comments

Shamans of the Himalayas Packing List and Answers to Common Concerns.

Shamans of the Himalayas Packing List and Answers to Common Concerns.

Shamanism in Nepal

This post contains affiliate links to products on Amazon. Some of these same products are available in Nepal at lower prices. However, I cannot guarantee the quality of the products or that they are available to purchase in Nepal. You are encouraged to research which products are right for you before you make any purchases. For more information about Shamanism please visit the Institute of Shamanism and Curanderismo.

Let’s get started on your Shamans of the Himalayas packing list and answers to common concerns.

Electronics

Let me first say that the electrical system in Nepal is not stable. In many areas of the country the power is shut off for “load setting.”

Officially load setting is the result of a lack of infrastructure and not being able to meet the electrical needs of the country’s population. However, load setting may also be due to political corruption and the distribution of power to India at a “good” rate. In any case you may experience black outs, which may interfere with your electronic equipment.

But don’t worry, there is plenty of time when the power is on to charge all electronics.

Electrical grid

Nepal runs on 230 volts. I should say that the electrical outlets provide 230 volts. This is different and in excess to the 120 volts of the American standard. Fortunately, most of our standard electronics can convert the power to the required 120 volts.

There are some electrical devices that will not convert power to 120 volts.  Toasters, blenders, hairdryers, and flat irons are the few that I am aware of.

If you plan on bringing any items that will not handle 230 volts, please get this ($36.99) voltage converter or a product similar.

For more information you can visit https://whatplug.info/from/usa/to/nepal.

A shamans alter in Kathmandu
A shamans alter in Kathmandu

Outlet adapter

In addition to the power being a different voltage the outlet shape is different. The Nepali outlet will not accept American plugs. American plugs are classified as type A or B.  Plug types for Nepal are C, D, and M. They look like this:

plug type c
Standard plug for outlets in Nepal

Follow this link for an affordable ($8.49) outlet adapter. You can find a similar product like this in Nepal for about $2.5. The most common outlet adapter in Nepal is a power bar, which I prefer.

Toilets and toilet paper

The areas visited on the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour have western style amenities. You will be greeted with all the comforts of the United States including a “normally” furnished bathroom and toilet paper.

In some areas outside popular destinations, you can encounter squat toilets water buckets. The water bucket is used to “wash up” and to rinse off.

If you encounter a squat toilet the standard practice is to use your left hand to “wash up” while your right hand pours the water over your butt.

Eating

In a lot of aspects Nepal has become “modern.” In popular travel destinations in Nepal, food is served with silverware. You may eat with your hand but make sure you use your right hand to put food in your mouth.

Using your left hand to eat may increase your chances of getting sick as well as attracting unwanted attention.

trekking food
Nepali pizza

Drinking water

Do not drink the tap water in the industrialized parts of Nepal. I know plenty of people who have spent the day hovering over a squat toilet because they drank untreated water. In rural areas the water tends to be cleaner but I still wouldn’t risk it. Bottled water is a good alternative, but it can be expensive depending on where you are at. A bottle of water will normally cost about $0.2 but I’ve been charged upwards of $5 for a bottle.

Boiling water

The most common form of water sterilization in Nepal is through boiling. Participants of the  Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will be provided countless glasses of steaming hot tea, which are safe to drink.

sterilizing tablets

The second most common form of water sterilization in Nepal is through water sterilization tablets (available here for $7.45). I do not recommend them. I think there are better options available, but it is an option.

rai shaman
Rai Shaman in Kathmandu

SteriPen

I have only used a SteriPen once. I did not get sick after I used it. Other than that, I really can’t speak for it, but a lot of close friends swear by it. SteriPens use ultraviolet light to kill any biologically active contaminants in your drinking water. Its effective without any residue or residuals.

You can find it on amazon for $68.

The only downside is that if your water source contains silt, the pen will not remove the grit from the water.

Its not common to receive water with silt in it but it can happen.

Water filter

I spent two years living in Nepal drinking boiled water and water out of Sawyer water filter. I never got sick from the water! This water filter ($40.95) removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and protozoa from the water. It is the best water filter available to travelers.

The only down side to having a water filter is that it does not kill or remove any viruses.

Cautions

As with any new or foreign area you must exercise caution when traveling in Nepal. Traffic patterns and pollution are the 2 biggest issues. Cultural integration is the third issue you should be aware of.

Upper Mustang
Nomads riding to Mustang. The traffic in Kathmandu is much worse.

Traffic

In general people drive on the opposite side of the street and sometimes the sidewalk. But to be fair, there is no real traffic pattern in Nepal. Crossing the street can be scary but if you get in a group with other people and cross when they do, you should be fine.

Just be careful and exercise caution in traffic. Fortunately the  Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will have a private car with a driver and a professional guide to help you navigate the streets of Nepal.

Side note, vehicles share the road with all sorts of adventurous animals. I’ve seen cows, monkeys, dogs and even a rhinoceros in Chitwan hog the road. This can lead to minor delays.

Pollution

The Pollution in Nepal is not as bad as in China and India, but it is close. This is mainly an annoyance rather than a caution, but due ware a dust mask and eye glasses when walking around Kathmandu. You should also wear closed toed shoes to keep your feet from getting dirty.

This dust mask prevents particles 2.5 microns and larger from entering your airway. This article identifies the particle sizes of dust and other pollutants on the streets of Nepal.

Noise

Honking is annoying. Unfortunately, it is also a second language in Nepal. If you are sensitive to offensive noises, like honking, try getting ear plugs or ear muffs.  Fortunately the Shamans of the Himalayas Tour will be out of the major traffic areas for most of the time.

Culture

If you are a foreigner, people will stare at you. Most of the attention comes out of curiosity and interest. Occasionally it can be weird, but if you pretend, you’re a movie star then it makes sense.

Public displays of affection are not generally accepted in Nepal. Places like Kathmandu and Pokhara are more culturally aware and generally don’t care. Male-male and female-female hand holding are not considered affectionate, however male female hand holding is discouraged.

Nepal is a relatively modest country. Men wear collared shirts and slacks while women wear kurta surwals. Women may ware any non-revealing cloths like Balloon pants and a comfortable loose-fitting shirt. However, in Kathmandu and Pokhara foreigners can ware casual comfort cloths without getting socially scalded.

World Peace Pagota
World Peace Pagota above Phewa Lake in Pokhara

Weather

You can expect warm sunny days through march and into April. The average daytime temperature is around 79oF and the average low is around 41oF. You will want to wear warm clothing like a sweatshirt and beanie at night.

The weather forecast for Nepal in March and April can be found here.

Tipping and money

It is not necessary to tip in Nepal. Satisfaction of a job well done is good enough for most Nepali people.

Some restaurants in Kathmandu and Pokhara will charge a 13% gratuity. Be careful of these establishments. If you are concerned about being charged for gratuity, you can ask the staff if they charge a “VAT.” If yes, you can expect a more expensive bill.

I think guides and porters should be tipped but it depends on their service.

The Shamans of the Himalayas Tour is all inclusive and you shouldn’t be out of pocket for anything except souvenirs and miscellaneous expenses.

I don’t think I could spend more than $500 on souvenirs and still have room in my suite case. If you are worried about it, you can ask your bank or credit card company to issue you a travel card for Nepal. You will be charged $2 to $5 for an international fee when you withdraw out of an atm.

Most places accept American currency, but if you want to exchange it for Nepali money, you will find the best exchange rates at a bank. The exchange rate fluctuates daily but it’s about $1 to NPR-100.

Please leave a comment if I missed anything or you would like me to cover something in more detail.

Thank you

Craig.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Lapsi Achaar

Lapsi achaar

lapsi achaar
Lapsi achaar in an unlabeled package

Lapsi achaar is one of the most delightful pickled fruits in Nepal. It is flavorful with hints of fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric. Chilly and salt are also added to balance the sweetness of the fruit. Sounds great, right! In this article I will review how lapsi achaar is made in Nepal.

Lapsi fruit

lapsi fruit for lapsi achaar
Lapsi fruit

Lapsi (Choerospondias axillaris) is a fruit tree that grows naturally in southern and south east Asia. It is especially predominant as an agricultural commodity in Nepal and less so in other Asian countries. The tree produces gulf ball sized fruit that are sweet and sour and have a texture like mango.

In the winter the fruit ripens and are harvested by communities or food processors. The lapsi fruit are eaten raw, turned into a delicious gummy candy, and pickled. The pickling process is explained below.

Lapsi achaar

lapsi achaar
Lapsi achaar in boiling mustard oil

Lapsi achaar is Nepali for lapsi pickle. The pickling process in Nepal is a little different than in the US. First all the fruits are boiled for about 15 minutes. The fruit will plump up and split, which makes it easy to peel.

The peeled fruits are added to a boiling mustard oil. If you try this at home, make sure you are outside or have excellent ventilation before boiling mustard oil because it will make you cough and tear up. Fenugreek, black cumin, fennel, and turmeric are added while the lapsi as its being stirred. Next salt and chili powder are added.

himalayan black salt
Himalayan black salt

The resulting pickle has a water activity of 0.85, and a pH of 4. These 2 quantitative measurements predict the potential for microorganisms to spoil the food. A water activity level of 0.85 and a pH of 4 are values within the industry standard for “safe to eat.”

Himalayan food tour

If you are ever in Nepal make sure you go on a food tour, which visits different ethnic communities and samples traditionally prepared food. It is a great way to tour the country and try delicious cuisine at the same time.

Posted on Leave a comment

Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay

In many respects the first official summit of Everest would not have been possible without the help of Tenzing Norgay. He  saved Edmund Hillary’s life and guided him on their assent to the top of the world. This article is about the second man to summit Mt. Everest, Tenzing Norgay.

Early life

Tenzing was born on May 29th, 1914 in Tengboche, Khumbu, which is just below Mt. Everest. However, there are alternate accounts of his origin. One such account is that he was born in Tse Chu, which is in the Kama Valley of Tibet. He identified his parents as Tibetan but said he was born in Nepal.

His parents named him Namgyal Wangdi, but on the advice of the head lama at Rongbuk Monastery, it was changed to Tenzing Norgay. His name translates as wealthy/ fortunate religious disciple. Norgay’s parents had 13 children, but most did not survive childhood. Norgay was 11th born.

He was sent to a monastery to become a monk, but decided he wanted to climb mountains. As a teenager he moved to Darjeeling, India for work as a porter because Darjeeling was the starting point for climbs at that time.

Eric Shipton, in 1935, hired Norgay as a high-altitude porter on his British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition. This was his first opportunity as a professional porter. He was then hired as a porter on 2 other British attempts to summit Everest before 1940.

In the 1940’s he was hired as a personal assistant to a Major in the Indian army. He worked and lived in Chitral, which is now part of Pakistan, but once part of India. He married and had 2 daughters in Chitral, but after his wife’s death and Pakistan’s invasion of India he left with his daughters.

Mid life

After his escape from Pakistan, he was hired by Earl Denman help him summit Everest in 1947. Their attempt at the summit was prevented by bad weather.

Edouard Dunant and Gabriel Chevalley hired Norgay in the spring and autumn of 1952. Both expeditions failed to reach the summit, but the first expedition reached 28,200 feet and opened a new climbing route. The second expedition was stopped by bad weather.

Everest summit

In 1953 John Hunt hired Norgay on his 400-man expedition to climb Mt. Everest. The expedition included 362 porters, 20 guides, and 10,000 pounds of baggage. Norgay met Edmund Hillary on this expedition.

While climbing up Everest, Hillary fell into a crevasse, but was saved when Norgay secured Hillary’s rope to an ice axe and dug it into the snow. Norgay became Hillary’s climbing partner because of his fast thinking and quick action.

Tensing and Hillary were halted on the South Col for 2 days because of bad weather. On the first sight of clear weather, they made their first attempt at the summit. Carrying 30-pound packs they maneuvered over the Hillary Step and onto the highest point on earth, 29,028 feet.

They spent 15 minutes on the summit before returning to base camp. Their decent was a little tricky due to their tracks being covered by drifting snow.

After Everest

Before they made it down the mountain, they were famous worldwide. Norgay received the George Medal from Queen Elizabeth II, while Hunt and Hillary were knighted.

Norgay became the 1st director of Field Training at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in 1954.

Tenzing negotiated and arranged for the first American tourist party to enter Bhutan in 1975.

Norgay founded Tenzing Norgay Adventures in 1978. The company is run by his son today.

Family

Tenzing Norgay married his 1st wife’s cousin after his wife’s death. They did not have any children, which was a factor in his decision to take a 3rd wife. He had 3 sons and 1 daughter with his 3rd wife.

Death

Tenzing Norgay died on May 9, 1986, from a cerebral hemerage. He was 71 years old.

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Sand in Nepal

Nepali sands

I heard a captivating story about sand on NPR. The story was told in an interview by Lulu Garcia-Narrvaro and Vince Beiser. Vince Beiser wrote a book about sand titled, The World in a Grain. This immediately caught my attention because it reminded me of the poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake. I realized how fitting the name of the book is after learning about sand. The interview inspired me to write this article about sand in Nepal.

What is sand and how big is it?

The stuff at the beach? Yes, that is one answer, but did you know there is a scientific definition for sand. Sand is identified by the Unified Soil Classification System as particles with a diameter between 0.074 and 4.75 millimeters (mm). Geologists identify sand as particles with a diameter from 0.0625 to 2 mm.

Inland continental sand is composed of silica and oxygen bonded together (SiO2). Tropical coastal sand is primarily made of calcium carbon and oxygen bonded together (CaCO3). Inland continental sand (quartz) is non-reactive to common chemicals and extremely hard, which makes it an excellent building material.

Abundance

Sand is one of the most abundant things on the planet, however only some of it is useful for manufacturing purposes. There is a limited amount of useful sand in the world and since it is the 3rd most consumed (oxygen and water are 1 and 2) natural resource, it is becoming scarce.

Uses

Sand is used in a multitude of manufactured products. A short list includes windows, computer chips, elastic, filtration, building, concrete, sanding, and insulation. In short it is the stuff our daily lives are made from.

Sand in Nepal

Nepal is primarily composed of sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks. The sedimentary rocks include marl, dolomite, siltstone, shale, and limestone. These rocks are made from the same components as tropical coastal sand. The metamorphic rocks found in Nepal, schist, phyllite, and gneiss, are composed of the same elements that make inland continental sand.

Abundance of sand in Nepal

If you were to take Nepal and lay it out flat, it would be comparable to the size of the United States (3.797 million square miles). Nepal is a huge land mass, but vertically stratified, which provides it the potential to produce a lot of sand. Nepal produces hundreds of thousands of tons of sand per year.

How is sand made

Sand is naturally made by 2 types of erosion, water, and wind. It is also artificially made by people. Sand produced by wind erosion tends to be rounded and is considered a poor quality for construction.  On the other hand sand created by water erosion tends to have angular edges and is better suited for construction.

Sand mining and production in Nepal

Nepal is going through a huge industrial boom right now. You can see sand mines processing sand on the banks of nearly all major rivers in Nepal. To a lesser extent you can also see people pounding on rocks with hammers and sieving the sand produced. This sand is going into concrete for houses and buildings that were destroyed during the 2015 earth quake, and to new homes and an international airport in Pokhara.

Sand in Nepal

Sand is not something that is not naturally considered when thinking about Nepal. Most people think of Chitwan, the Annapurna mountains, or Mt. Everest. Considering the amount of rain fall (about 63 inches), and snow that lands in Nepal each year, it is easy to assume most of the sand is created by water erosion.

Sand is one of the most important solid substances in the word, in my opinion it is second to wood. Without it, we wouldn’t have modern civilization. It may also become one of Nepal’s most valued exports because sand values have quintupled in the past 30 years.

Posted on Leave a comment

Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary mountaineer

Edmund Hillary and his mountain guide Tenzing Norgay were the first people confirmed to have climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest. This action secured Hillary’s position as the most famous mountaineer to date. The fame later helped him secure philanthropic roles, and government positions in New Zealand. Edmund Hillary has a developed biography full of adventures and contains memorable quotes. This article is about Sir Edmund Hillary and his life.

Edmund Hillary height

Hillary described himself as being a small and lonely child although he grew to the height of 6 ft 5 in by the age of 16. He was more comfortable indulging in books than in the company of his peers. He was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20th, 1919. It wasn’t until 1935, 16 years later, that he became interested in mountaineering.

Edmund Hillary Biography (in brief)

By 1939 Hillary climbed to the top of Mount Olliver (6,342 ft), his first major summit. Hillary put his passion for mountaineering to the side in 1943, because of the threat of Japanese invasion of Pacific countries. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator, but in 1945, he was injured in a fire and medically discharged.

In 1948 He climbed to the summit of the south ridge of Mt. Cook.

Hillary climbed Cho Oyu in 1952.

The defining moment in Edmund Hillary’s lice came on May 29, 1953 when he climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Hillary crossed the Antarctic shelf in 1958 to reach the south pole.

In 1960, Hillary joined a big foot tracking team. His goal was to find evidence of big foot. The team explored the Himalayas for 10 months, but Hillary was only with the team for 5 months. They only found evidence that disproved big foot’s existance.

Hillary established the Himalayan Trust in 1960 after his summit of Everest. His goal was to help the Sherpa people by improving health, education, and lively hoods in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. His efforts led to the construction of schools, and hospitals and helped improve the lives of people who live among the mountains.

Hillary created the 3 poles challenge when he and Neil Armstrong flew to the North pole in 1985.

Edmund Hillary became the ambassador of Nepal and the commissioner to India and Bangladesh from 1985 to 1988.

In 1992 his image was printed on the $5 note of the New Zealand currency. This made him the only living person that wasn’t a government official to appear on a note.

Edmund Hillary death

Hillary died from heart failure on January 11, 2008, in Auckland City Hospital. His body was cremated and most of his ashes were released in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. The other portion of his ashes were taken to Nepal to be released on top of Mt. Everest.

Edmund Hillary famous quotes

  • “it is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
  • “you don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things… You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”
  • “People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”
  • Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.
Posted on Leave a comment

Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal

Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal

Its about time I did a top 10 highest mountains in Nepal article, because 8 of the worlds 10 highest mountains are in Nepal. However, most of these mountains are shared by neighboring countries like China, and India. In this article I give a brief overview of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal. I hope you enjoy it.

Everest

Everest
Mt. Everest is the darker mountain in the background

First up on the list of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal is Everest. Everest is probably the most well-known Mountain in Nepal. China also claims ownership of the northern part of Everest. In fact, the north base camp in China can be driven to in a car! It takes about 13 days to hike to Everest Base Camp, which is an amazing hike. Pro tip: on your way to EBC, hike to Kalla Patthar for the best views of the area.

Everest is known in Nepali as Sagarmatha and is in the Sagarmāthā National Park. The Sagarmatha National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. The highest mountain in Nepal rises to a staggering 29,029 feet above sea level.

You can continue reading about Everest by following this link.

Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga is claimed by Nepal and India. It is in the south eastern area of nepal and the north eastern area of India known as Sikkim. The highest point of the mountain is at an elevation of 28,169 feet above sea level. Kangchenjunga is part of the Kangchenjuga Himalayan range and is the tallest mountain in India. This mountain is called “Five Treasures of Snow”, which relates to the 5 peaks in the range.

You can continue reading about Kangchenjunga by following this link.

Lhotse

Lhotse Main
Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam

Lhotse is a beautiful mountain. It is right next to Everest in the Sagarmāthā National Park. If you hike to Everest Base camp from Lukla, you will see Lhotse before you see Everest. The highest peak on Lhotse is 27,940 feet above sea level. Nepal and China share ownership of this mountain.

Lhotse has 3 peaks above 26,000 feet. Lhotse main is the tallest, Lhotse middle 27,605 feet, and Lhotse Shar 27,503 feet above sea level.

You can continue reading about Lhotse by following this link.

Makalu

Makalu is in the Makalu Barun National Park, which is an extension of the Sagarmatha National Park. Makalu is 12 miles south east of Everest in the Mahalangur mountain range. Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu can be seen together from the gompa above Dingboche. Makalu’s tallest peak is 27,838 feet above sea level. China and Nepal share ownership of the mountain as it is on the border.

You can continue reading about Makalu by following this link.

Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu is the 5th highest mountain in Nepal, but the 6th highest mountain in the world. Its highest peak is 26,864 feet above sea level. Cho Oyu is about 12 miles west of Everest in the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur mountain range and is partly owned by China. It is one of the most prominent mountains visible while hiking to Everest Base Camp. Cho Oyu has gentle slopes and is regarded as one of the easiest mountains above 26,000 feet to climb.

You can continue reading about Cho Oyu by following this link.

Dhaulagiri I

Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill
Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri range above Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri is a delight to see after trekking the Annapurna Circuit or from the top of Poon Hill. It is the 7th tallest mountain above sea level in Nepal at 26,795 feet.  Dhaulagiri mountain range is wholly owned by Nepal and has 5 notable peaks. The mountain range extends into 5 districts along the Kali Gandaki River. Dhaulagiri I was first summited by a Swiss/ Austrian/ Nepali team on May 13, 1960.

You can continue reading about Dhaulagiri I by following this link.

Manaslu

annapurna 2, pisang peak, manaslu
Annapurna 2, Pisang Peak, and Manaslu from Upper Khangsar

Manaslu is a beautiful mountain just off the main trail of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is the 8th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. The highest elevation of Manaslu is 26,781 feet. This mountain is wholly owned by Nepal. The Nepali government has restricted access to this mountain to only group treks. Restricted area permits are required to go on the Manaslu Circuit Trek.

You can continue reading about Manaslu by following this link.

Annapurna I

top 10 mountains in nepal
Annapurna I in the center

Annapurna I barely breaks the 26,247 foot elevation. Its highest point is at 26,545 feet above sea level. It is the 8th tallest mountain in Nepal and the 10th tallest in the world. Annapurna I can be seen from the Annapurna Circuit Trek, the top of Poon Hill, and the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Attempting to summit Annapurna I is one of the most dangerous mountaineering activities in Nepal. It has a fatality to summit ratio of 32%.

You can continue reading about Annapurna I by following this link.

Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang is the 15th tallest mountain in the world, but the 9th highest in Nepal. It is in the Mahalangur Himal range in-between Everest and Cho Oyu at an elevation of 26,089 feet. It is 158 feet below the 8,000-meter range and thus far less popular or well known than any other mountain in its height class. The peak was first climbed on April 10th, 1964. The peak was summited again the day after, by 2 people who rarely receive credit. Their names are K. Machida, and K. Yasuhisa.

You can continue reading about Gyachung Kang by following this link.

Annapurna II

Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal
Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal

Last on the list of the top 10 highest mountains in Nepal is Annapurna 2. Annapurna II is one of my favorite mountains on this list. It reminds me of an old volcano due to its characteristic opening at the top of its peak. Annapurna II is 26,040 feet above sea level. You can have the best view of the mountain while hiking up to Milarepa Cave. As the name implies, Annapurna II is second to Annapurna I in terms of height.

You can continue reading about Annapurna 2 by following this link.

Conclusion

That concludes the list of the Top 10 highest mountains in Nepal. If you would like to visit any one of these amazing geological masterpieces please contact us for a personalized trip or you may secure your travel package directly from mynepaltrek.com

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Annapurna I

Annapurna I

top 10 mountains in nepal
Annapurna I in the center

This is the mountain that started it all. Annapurna I was first officially summited on June 3, 1950. Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal climbed 26,200 feet above sea level to reach the top of Annapurna I. Though higher elevations had been reached during failed attempts on Everest, this was the first successful summit of a mountain above 8,000 meters. This article contains entertaining and useful information on Annapurna I. I hope you enjoy.

Annapurna I main

Annapurna I
Annapurna Massif, Niligiri, Annapurna 1, Annapurna S, Hiun Chuli, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre at Poon Hill before sunrise

The highest peak of the Annapurna Massif is Annapurna I or Annapurna main. It is the 10th tallest mountain in the world above sea level and the 8th tallest mountain in Nepal.

The entire Annapurna Massif, including Annapurna I, is contained within a 2,946 square mile park called the Annapurna Conservation Area. This is the first conservation area created in Nepal and the largest in the country.

You can see Annapurna I main from several climbing and hiking locations within the park. Some of the most popular trails to see Annapurna I are the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Trek, and from the top of Poon Hill.

Prominent peaks

There are 5 prominent peaks (not counting Annapurna 1) within the Annapurna Massif. The following list identifies the peak and its height.

  • The 2nd highest peak in the massif is Annapurna II, 26,040 feet
  • Annapurna III is the 3rd tallest peak at 24,786 feet
  • The 4th tallest peak is Annapurna IV at 24,688 feet
  • GangaPurna is the 5th tallest peak in the range at 24,457
  • And Finally, Annapurna South at 23,684 feet is the 6th highest peak in the mountain range.

Climbing

More than 191 people have summited Annapurna Main. More than 60 attempted summits resulted in fatality. The fatality to summit ratio is around 30%. This is the highest fatality to summit ratio of all the 8,000-meter-high mountains. The South face route is the most difficult of the 12 known routes to the top.

Routes

  1. North face
  2. Dutch ridge on north face
  3. North ridge north face
  4. South face
  5. South face variation
  6. Central pillar on south face
  7. East ridge
  8. East ridge and north face
  9. Up to east peak via north ridge
  10. East ridge and north face
  11. North west face
  12. North west ridge
Posted on Leave a comment

Annapurna 2

Annapurna 2

"<yoastmark

Annapurna II is the 10th tallest mountain in Nepal. It is also the 17th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. This is my favorite mountain on the Annapurna Circuit Trek because of its prehistoric and dormant volcanic look. It reminds me of Death Mountain from the Legend of Zelda, but with out the death. This article contains informative information about Annapurna 2.

Location

"Abandoned

Annapurna 2, as the name suggests, is in the Annapurna mountain range. It is the eastern most mountain of the range and the 2nd tallest. The tallest mountain is Annapurna I. The Annapurna mountain range is about 35 miles north west of Pokhara, as a bird flies. The closest point attainable by car is about 55 miles north west of Pokhara.

How to get to Annapurna 2 to see

It takes about 12 hours to reach Chame from Pokhara by bus with a car transfer. Chame is the most common starting point of the Annapurnna circuit. If you want to start at the beginning of the circuit, you will start trekking in Besisahar, which is about 66 miles and 3 hours away from Pokhara on the Baglung PVT highway. Chame is the first village on the trek where you can see Annapurna 2.

The best place to see Annapurna II is along the secondary trail up to Milarepa’s Cave.

Routes to the summit of Annapurna 2

There are a few different routes to the summit of Annapurna II. Richard Grant, Chris Bonington and Ang Nyima were the first people to officially summit Annapurna 2. They climbed to the summit using the west ridge in 1960.

Katsuyuki Kondo solo climbed the north face then hiked the west ridge to the summit in 1973.

Tim Macartney-Snape mapped out and climbed the south spur of Annapura II in 1983. His team was caught in a blizzard after their summit, which delayed their decent for a week. They were thought to be dead until they were seen having drinks in Pokhara. This created a lot of media attention.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang

Gyachung Kang is the 9th highest mountain in Nepal. It is the 15th highest mountain above sea level in the world. Because its highest point reaches 26,088 feet above sea level, it is also the highest mountain in the world that is not above 26,247 feet (8,000 meters). This article focuses on the relatively unpopular but extremely interesting mountain Gyachung Kang.

Location

Gyachung Kang is located on the border of China and Nepal in the Mahalangur mountain range. The Mahalangur Himal also includes the mountains Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu. Gyachung Kang is the highest peak between Everest and Cho Oyu in the range.

Route

The summit of Gyachung Kang is normally reached via the south east ridge on the border of Nepal and China. To reach the south east ridge, you must fly into Lukla and trek to Gokyo along the Everest Base Camp trekking route. When you reach Gokyo head north to cross the Ngozumpa glacier to Gyachung Kang Base Camp.

The route is simple with minor technical skills required to reach the summit. The summit consists of twin peaks separated by a narrow saddle. The western most peak is the highest.

Summit history

Gyachung Kang was first summited by a Japaneese team of mountaineers. The team contained Y. Kato, K. Sakaizawa, and Pasang Phutar. They made the first official summit on April 10th, 1964. Since then, maybe a couple of dozen people have climbed it. It is relatively unpopular because of its height and prominence (700 meters).

People of the area

This area is a near a major trade route from Tibet to China. Because of its importance, a few ethnic groups frequent this area. They include Tibetan Sherpas, Nepali Sherpas, Tamang, and Sunwar. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Posted on Leave a comment

Manaslu Facts

Manaslu facts

Manaslu is the 8th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. Its highest point rises to 26,163 feet above sea level and overlooks the Annapurna Circuit. Because the Marsyangdi river flows between the Annapurna Massif and Manaslu, Manaslu is put into the Mansiri Himal sub range. This article contains entertaining and useful information and Manaslu facts.

Brief history

Manaslu fact 1. Manaslu was first officially summited on May 9th, 1956. Before the first successful summit, the mountain was scouted, and several unsuccessful summit attempts were made.

Mount Manaslu was first identified as a mountain of interest by H.W. Tilman in 1950 while on his way to Annapurna IV. Tillman returned to Manaslu to scout a feasible climbing route 3 months after his failed attempt on Annapurna IV

In 1952 a Japanese team of climbers attempted to climb Manaslu during the Monsoon season, but failed because the area is prone to avalanches in the summer.

A second team of Japanese climbers attempted to climb the summit of Manaslu in 1953. They reached an altitude of 25,430 feet before retreating because of the difficulty of the route. After the team descended, an avalanche destroyed the Pung-gyen Monastery and killed 18 people. The villagers of the area blamed it on the Japanese climbers.

Another group of Japanese climbers attempted the mountain but villagers in Pung-gyen did not allow them past Samagaon camp. This was because they believed the prior year’s avalanche was caused by upset gods.

As a result, a fund was set up and its proceeds were donated to help rebuild the destroyed monastery. The villagers were still unhappy and tried to stop the 1956 Japanese expedition. This team circumvented the hostile villagers and successfully summited Manaslu.

The first official summit of Manaslu was made by Toshio Imanishi and Gyaltsen Borbu on May 9th. It wasn’t until 1971 when the next team attempted to climb Manaslu, because the threat from hostile villagers.

Fatality to summit ratio

Manaslu fact 2. Manaslu has been climbed over 300 times since 1956. There have been over 65 fatalities since then. The fatality to summit ratio is about 30%.

Routes

Manaslu fact 3. There are 9 routes to reach Manaslu’s summit. Of the 9, the north east route is most often used. Because it is the most used route, there have been more deaths on this route than the others. The following is a list of routes and when they were first used for a successful summit.

  1. North east face, 1956
  2. North west face and west ridge, 1971
  3. South face, 1972
  4. North west face, 1981
  5. South ridge and south east face, 1984
  6. East ridge north east face, 1985
  7. North east face east ridge, 1986
  8. South east face south east spur, 2001
  9. North east face (center), 2006

North east face

The north east face has 1 base camp and 4 high camps before the summit. From base camp the route follows Manaslu Glacier up to camp 1. Climbing from base camp to camp 1 takes about 4 hours.

Camp 1 is the safest camp on the mountain because it is in a protected area below the north peak. Camp 1 to camp 2 is the most technical part of the climb. It takes about 6 hours to reach camp 2.

The section of the route from camp to camp 3 is steeper than the prior sections. Climbing from camp 2 to 3 takes about 3 hours.

Camp 3 is notorious for strong winds capable of ripping tent stakes out of the ground. From camp 3 to camp 4 the route winds through seracs with steep sections and through a lot of snow. Climbing to camp 4 takes about 8 hours.

Camp 4 to summit follows a moderately sloping trail before reaching a summit plateau. There are 3 summit plateaus before the actual summit. It takes about 8 hours to reach the summit and about half that time to return back to camp 4.

Manaslu fact 4

Despite the dangers associated with climbing Manaslu, it is the 5th most climbed 8,000 meter high mountain. Its popularity is a testament to its beauty.

Posted on Leave a comment

Dhaulagiri Trekking

Dhaulagiri Trekking

Gurja Himal, Dhaulagiri 6, Jirbang, Dhaulagiri 4, 5, 3, 2, 1, and Tukuche Peak
Dhaulagiri mountain range over Poon Hill

Dhaulagiri is the worlds 7th tallest mountain above sea level. It is the highest mountain wholly owned by Nepal and the 6th tallest mountain within Nepal. Its highest peak overlooks the Annapurna mountain range at 26,795 feet. You can first see Dhaulagiri from the top of Poon Hill or from over Thorung La Pass. This article contains entertaining and useful information regarding Dhaulagiri trekking.

Dhaulagiri mountain range

There are 15 prominent peaks in the Dhaulagiri mountain range. Dhaulagiri I-Dhaulagiri V are the highest. These peaks are named in order from highest to lowest. Dhaulagiri II reaches a height of 25,430 feet. Dhaulagiri III reaches a height of 25,311 feet. The 4th tallest peak in the range is Dhaulagiri IV at 25,135 feet. And finally, the lowest of the 5 is Dhaulagiri V at 24,992 feet.

Brief History

rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri
Rhododendron forest and Dhaulagiri 1

Dhaulagiri I was recognized as the world’s tallest mountain due to a survey error in 1808. It remained the world’s tallest mountain for 30 years until 1830 when Kangchenjunga was given that honor. Mount Everest claimed the position in 1858.

Dhaulagiri I was first officially summited on May 13, 1960 by a Swiss, Austrian, and Nepali team. Since then, there have been nearly 400 Dhaulagiri trekking summits. From 1954 to 2009, there have been 62 fatalities while attempting a summit. The summit to fatality rate is about 16%, however the current year to year fatality rate is much lower (less than 4%).

Dhaulagiri trekking routs

Dhaulagiri and range above Muktinath
Dhaulagiri and range above Muktinath

There are 9 Dhaulagiri trekking routes. Of these 9, The north east ridge route is the most commonly scaled.

Routes and when they were 1st used for a successful summit.

  1. North east ridge, in 1960
  2. South west in 1978
  3. South east ridge in 1978
  4. East face, north east ridge in 1980
  5. North face, northwest ridge in 1982
  6. West face, northwest ridge in 1984
  7. Southwest pillar in 1988
  8. West face in 1991
  9. North face in 1993

Best time to go

May is regarded as the best month to summit Dhaulagiri. October is the second-best time to summit the mountain. 90% of all summits occur within these two months. This is due to great weather conditions. The pictures in this article were taken in April, which hints to the weather condition.

Posted on Leave a comment

Cho Oyu Helpful Information

Cho Oyu

Cho Oyu is the 5th tallest mountain above sea level in Nepal and 6th in the world. Its highest peak towers to 26,864 feet above sea level. Cho Oyu is part of the Mahalangu Himalaya range in the western most area of the Khumbu sub-section. Everest is only 16.25 miles (peak to peak) from Cho Oyu. Cho Oyu is regarded as the easiest 8,000-meter peak to climb due to its gently rising slopes. This article is about Cho Oyu, its climbing route and indigenous people of the area.

Brief History

Cho Oyu was originally inaccurately measured to be 26,750 feet above sea level in 1802. This mismeasurement made it the 7th tallest mountain in the world, just below Daulagiri I. In 1955, Edmund Hillary approximated the height to be 26,867 feet. The mountain was re-surveyed in 1996 and found to be at a height of 26,864 feet.

Cho Oyu was first officially climbed on October 19, 1954 by Joseph Jochler and Pasang Lama. They were part of an Austrian expedition. It has since been summited over 25,000 times. This mountain was the 4th 8,000er to be climbed after Annapurna 1, Everest, and Nanga Parbat.

Cho Oyu has the lowest death to summit ratio out of all the 8,000ers (9 people per 100 safe returns). Because of Its gradual slopes and plateaus, Cho Oyu is considered a “trekking peak.” Trekking peaks are perfect for entry level mountaineers who are physically fit. They are also perfect for intermediate to experienced mountaineers.

Climbing route

The most common route to the summit of Cho Oyu is via the Nangpa La pass. This route follows the glacier along the north face of the mountain in China. From here climbers and trekkers will stop at a series of camps until the summit is reached. The summit is a flat plateau and is often misidentified as not being the summit.

Indigenous people

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Posted on Leave a comment

Makalu: History, Routes, Weather and more

Makalu

Makalu is the 5th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. Its highest point is 27,838 feet. Makalu is located 12 miles south east of Mount Everest in the Mahlangur Himalayas. It has 2 subsidiary peaks, Makalu II at 25,190 feet, and Chomo Lonzo at 25,604 feet. Makalu is a 4-sided mountain in the shape of a pyramid. This article identifies Makalu’s history, indigenous people, and other interesting facts and useful information.

History

The first recorded attempt to climb Makalu was in 1954 by an American team. However, the first recorded summit of the mountain was made on May 15, 1955 by a French team including Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy. Makalu has been summited a little over 200 times. The fatality to summit ratio is 11%.

Routes

Makalu is probably the 3rd most difficult mountain to summit, behind Annapurna I, and Kangchenjunga. The routes on the western side of the mountain are extremely steep. The easiest route to reach the summit is along the north face of the mountain and along the northeast ridge. The ridge connects Makalu II to Makalu.

The climbing route is divided into 3 sections. The first involves hiking to Base Camp on a glacier. This section has a gradual slope and is reported as being the easy part of the climb. The second part involves climbing along the ridge in exposed conditions, which is more difficult. The last part of the route is the most difficult and involves an extremely steep rocky ridge summit.

Weather

Most people choose to summit Makalu in May. May is generally regarded as the best time to summit an 8,000-meter peak in Nepal. If you are visiting and have no intention of summiting, fall and winter have great weather for views. Spring is also good, but it can get a little cloudy. Summer time is probably the worst time to visit.

People

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means golden.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area

The Makalu Barun National Park is the 8th national park in Nepal. The park is over 580 square miles and protects endemic plants and animals. The parks ecosystem ranges from tropical to alpine tundra. The National Park was established in 1992 as part of the Sagarmatha National Park.

Naturalists identified 3,128 species of flowering plants and over 500 animal species with many of them being endangered.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Lhotse Main

Lhotse

Lhotse Main
Everest, Lhotse, Amadablam

Lhotse is the 4th tallest mountain above sea level in the world. It is the 3rd tallest mountain in Nepal, just behind Everest and Kangchenjunga. Its highest peak (Lhotse Main) summits to 27,940 feet, however its lower peaks are not far behind. Lhotse Middle has a high point of 27,605 feet, and Lhotse Shar has a high point of 27,503 feet. If you are planning a trip to Lhotse, this article is for you. In this article, you will read about its history, summits, indigenous peoples, and much more.

Location

Lhotse is in the Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. It is part of the Everest Massif and connects to Everest through the South Col. The South Col is the last base camp before reaching the Summit of Everest or Lhotse. Lhotse is on the border of Nepal and China in the eastern region of Nepal.

Lhotse Main Climbing History

Everest
Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam

Lhotse’s main peak was officially first summited on May 18, 1956 by Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger. Sepp Mayerl and Rolf Walter were the first 2 people to officially summit Lhotse Shar. They did so on May 12, 1970. Lhotse Middle remained unclimbed until May 23, 2001. A Russian team including Eugeny Vinogradsky, Sergei Timofeev, Alexei Bolotov, and Petr Kuznetsov were the first people to officially climb Lhotse Middle.

Since 1956 about 373 people have summited Lhotse main. About 21 people, who have attempted Lhotse’s summit, have died. The fatality to summit ratio is about 0.06.

Climbing Route

The standard climbing route to reach the summit of Lhotse Main follows the same route as the main trail to Everest’s South Col. Climbers headed toward Everest will make a left, while climbers headed toward Lhotse will turn right.

Turning right will lead climbers to Lhotse Face. Lhotse Face is a 3,690-foot wall of ice, which is known as the Reiss couloir. This section of the trail is slanted 40 to 50 degrees with the occasional 80-degree push.

Best time to summit

Lhotse
Lhotse in the middle of Everest and Amadablam

Most people summit Lhotse in May. This time allows for the best conditions including good views and warm temperatures. After May, October is the second-best time to climb Lhotse.

If you are interested in only viewing Lhotse from a distance, the best time to go is in the fall. However, I prefer the winter as there are fewer people and the views are just as good.

People in Sagarmatha National Park

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga
View of Kangchenjunga from India

Kangchenjunga is the 2nd tallest mountain in Nepal and the 3rd tallest mountain above sea level in the world. It reaches a height of 28,169 feet above sea level. It is in the far east region of Nepal and borders the Sikkim region of India. This location puts it 78 miles south east of Mt. Everest (link to blog post). In this article I review the 3rd tallest mountain in the world including its history, climbing routes, and inhabitants. I hope you enjoy it.

History

The first recorded summit of Kangchenjunga was documented on May 25th, 1955. A British team of climbers and mountaineers made it to the top, but did not summit, because they made a promise to the monarchs of Sikkim to leave the top untouched. Joe Brown and George Band left set a good example for future climber, who have followed the tradition ever since.

Up intel 1852, it was believed that Kangchenjunga was the tallest mountain in the world. As a result of the Great Tigonometrical Survey in 1849, which I’m assuming took about 3 years to record and process the data, Mt. Everest was identified to be 860 feet taller than Kangchenjunga. The survey crew wanted to be sure of their calculations and measurements, so they spent the next 4 years conducting more surveys. In 1856, their conclusion was officially announced.

Climbing routes

The main peak is the highest peak of the Kangchenjunga Himal range and is on the border of nepal and India along with the middle and south peaks. The other 2 peaks lie wholly within Nepal’s Taplejung District.

There are 4 known climbing routes to the summit of Kanchenjunga. Nepal has 3 of the routes, and India has 1. In Nepal the routes start from the southwest, and northwest. In India the route starts from the north east, however this route was closed in 2,000 by the Indian government.

Fatality summit rate

Kangchenjunga is not a popular destination for climbers. As a result, it has seen far less summit attempts than Mt. Everest. Unfortunately, it has a fatality to summit ratio of 20%, which is greatly higher than that of Everest’s (link to Everest fatality summit rate). Because of its high fatality rate, Kangchenjunga has only been summited about 246 times since 1955.

Kangchenjunga is the 2nd least summited mountain in the 8,000-meter club due to its difficulty. The only other mountain less climbed is Annapurna I.

People of the area

The two main indigenous groups that inhabit the area. They are the bhote and Limbu peoples. Both groups have their own traditions, language, and customs. The people of Darjeeling and Sikkim, which includes bhote and Limbu people revere the Kangchenjunga as sacred.

Limbu

There are about 350,000 Limbu people living in Nepal.  They live by the lunar calendar, which guides their agricultural season, and festivals. Chasok Tangnam is most celebrated festival of Limbu. The Nepali government declared Chasok Tangnam a national holiday for Limbu people, awarding them 3 days to celebrate. They have a dance called the yalang that is sometimes performed during the festival.

Posted on Leave a comment

Mount Everest

Everest

Everest
Mt. Everest is the darker mountain in the background

No other mountain in the world can claim that it has reached the popularity of Mount Everest. Everest has infiltrated its way into pop culture and into the hearts of many.  It is not just the subject of movies, documentaries, books, or songs. It is a destination for people to challenge themselves under adverse conditions. This article dives into Everest. I hope you enjoy it.

Sagarmatha

Everest
Nuptse, Everest (behind the cloud), Lhotse, Ama Dablam

Mount Everest is known in Nepali as Sagarmatha. It is the tallest mountain in the world, reaching a peak of 29,029 feet above sea level. Sagarmatha is in the Sagarmatha National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2013, 36,750 people visited Sagarmatha National Park. Of the 36,750 people, most of them visited the park in the Fall (September through November).

Popular destinations in Sagarmatha National Park

everest
Everest base camp

Most people that enter the Sagarmatha National Park are trekking to Everest Base Camp. The second most popular destination is Namche Bazaar. Another major tourist attraction is Gokyo Lakes, which is on the way to Everest Base Camp. Lukla is another popular destination.

People in Sagarmatha National Park

Sherpa, Tamang, and Sunwar are the primary ethnic groups of the Sagarmatha area. There are also other indigenous groups, which include Bhote, Jirel, and Thami. However, I do not have any information on the last three groups.

Sunwar

Sunwar people are from eastern Nepal. They primary follow animism, which is similar to shamanism. There are 52 different subgroups or clans of Sunwar people. Sunwar means gold.

Sherpa

Sherpas are one of the most famous groups of Nepal, receiving notoriety for their ability to live in high altitudes. They are hired to carry equipment for people who attempt to summit Mount Everest. The word Sherpa means Eastern People, which describes where they live and where they come from. Sherpa people speak a dialect of Tibetan. There are many sub-groups or clans of Sherpa people.

Tamang

The Tamang are an indigenous group of people in the north east area of Nepal. Their name means horse trader in Tibetan. Tamangs are divided into several subgroups or clans. They have their own language that is similar to Tibetan-Bhurmese like the group Gurung. Most Tamangs follow Buddhism.

Mount Everest mountaineering

Tenzing Norgay and Edmound Hillary are the first recorded people to summit Everest. They did so in 1953; however, they are probably not the first people to summit the mountain. I believe the first-person summit Mount Everest was a native to the area.

George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may have been the first non-native people to summit Everest in 1924. They were attempting to summit Mount Everest from the north side (They probably took a car to get to base camp (jk)). They were last seen at elevation, but inclement weather developed and prevented any future sightings. Mallory’s body was found 2,274 feet below the summit in 1999.

Every year there are around 200 to 375 permits issued by Nepal to summit Everest. Each permit costs $11,000. On average 4.3 people die trying to summit Everest for every 100 people who summit. About 16 people die every year climbing Everest.

Mountaineering equipment

  • Rope (200 feet long and 9 to 10.5mm thick)
  • Helmet
  • Harness
  • Boots
  • Crampons
  • Belay/rappel device
  • Pully
  • Carabiners (locking and non-locking)
  • Head lamp
  • Avalanche transceiver
  • Ice axe
  • Supplemental oxygen

Trash on Mount Everest

Everest
Trash on Mount Everest

Attempting to summit Mount Everest is an exhausting task. The addition of any gear can make it exponentially more difficult. That is why, many of the people who have climbed Everest did so at the mountain’s peril.

Many people will litter their used materials on the mountain. This created a degraded and aesthetically eroded environment for future climbers. Fortunately, restoration efforts are underway to clear away some of the debris. Some mountaineering companies will also remove the human waste from the mountain.

Why Everest?

Everybody has their own reason for climbing Mount Everest. Some people do it because they can, and other do it to honor the forefathers of mountaineering. I would say a lot of people do it for the prestige and honor they get from it. I known a lot of people go to Nepal looking for something. Some of them try to find it on the mountain, when its inside them the whole time.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pangong Lake China

Pangong Lake

Pangong
Yaks resting on Pangong Lake shore

Salt is known to collect on the shores of Pangong Lake, giving it the characteristic “white halo” common to salt lakes.  The lake is a beautiful deep blue and the surrounding grey and brown mountains buttress its natural beauty.  Just beyond the shores of the lake, are grassy meadows, where yak herders bring their ruminant animals (yaks) to graze.

Pangong Lake is Tibetan for “High Grassland Lake.”  It is a salt water lake in the autonomous region of Tibet and extends into the north-western region of India.  The elevation of lake Pangong is 14,270 ft.  The lake has a surface area of 233 square miles.  The source of the lake comes from both sides of the border as glacial melt, and precipitation.  I am unaware of an outlet for the lake and its depth and volume.

How to get there

There are two routs possible from Lhasa to Pangong Lake.  The longer route (1,048 mi) takes approximately 42 hours and passes Namco Lake on the 301-highway west.  The shorter route (978 mi) takes approximately 27 hours and passes Mt. Kailash, and Manasarovar Lake on the 219-highway west.  Both routes have their benefits.  If you would like to travel both routes, I recommend traveling from Lhasa on the shorter 219-highway west to Lake Pangong.  Then taking the long way back to Lhasa on the 301-highway east.

Though we do not have any featured travel packages to Pangong Lake, customized tours are available upon request.  Please contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure to customize your trip and to arrange your booking.

What to bring and where to stay

This lake is fairly cold throughout the year.  I highly recommend packing warm clothes for all seasons.  You will want to bring comfortable shoes too.  Boots are not necessary, unless you wear them to keep your feet warm.  A beanie hat is a good choice to keep your head warm.  You should also bring a water filter, UV protected sunglasses, and chap stick.  You can substitute a SteriPEN or water purification tabs for the water filter.  A sleeping bag is recommended but not needed.  Sun screen should be used to cover all exposed skin.

There are plenty of places to stay while traveling to Pangong Lake.  There are tea houses, hotels, guest lodges, and hostels available along the highways.  You are almost always likely to find somebody eager to offer their generosity, which translates into a place to stay and warm food and tea.  These resting areas offer comfortable beds and lots of blankets.

While you are traveling through Tibet, make sure you layer your cloths.  It is a little bit of work at first but once you get balance right you will be very comfortable in the weather.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has a lot of good quality equipment that is designed to be layer-able.  Because you will be staying in hotels or tea houses you will not likely need camping equipment, but if you want a new sleeping bag or additional equipment for your trip, try Eastern Mountain Sports.  They have a great selection of camping and hiking gear.

When to go

Pangong
He’s going to Pangong Lake

The best time to see the lake is in the summer (May through September).  During the summer season the grass is green, the lake is water, and temperatures are warm (highs of 60s to lows of 40s (Fahrenheit)).  You will also not likely experience much precipitation in the summer.  The average amount of rain is less than 1/2 inch per month.

The winter season is violently cold.  The temperatures plunge well below freezing into the negatives in Fahrenheit.  It gets cold enough to freeze a saline lake.  The lake completely freezes in the winter months (December through February).  If you prefer cold temperatures and frozen lakes this is probably the preferred time to go.  Below is a graph of the average monthly temperatures.

Figure 1 Average Monthly Temperatures

Expenses

The Chinese government requires all visitors entering Tibet be accompanied by a guide through a licensed guide company.  Visitors are also required to have a Tibetan Entry Permit, which is acquired and paid for by most travel companies.  In addition to the permit travelers are required to have a Chinese Visa.

A round trip on the shortest route will take about 12 days.  This depends on your driving preference.  The trip can be shortened a few days with longer driving segments.  A 12-day trip to Pangong Lake will have a total cost about $1800.  Below is an explanation of charges.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit (actual cost)
  • $200 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

There are no known religious attachments to Lake Pangong.  However, the lake has been featured in over a dozen films and music videos.  The lake is also the sight of border disputes between India and China.  Venturing too far West toward the Indian boarder may lead to complications from the Chinese military, which controls the boarder.

Posted on Leave a comment

Yamdrok Lake China

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake is another beautiful lake in Tibet.  It is delightfully located a short distance outside the peaceful towns of Gyantse and Lhasa.  It has a memorizing turquoise luster that shimmers under small crescent waves.  It is also one of the largest lakes in Tibet, with a surface area measuring 246 square miles.  The lake has an average depth of 98 feet but its maximum depth is 200 ft.

Although this lake is considered sacred, it is commercialized.  Fish are harvested from this lake and sold to restaurants and grocers in Lhasa.  There is also a Hydroelectric power station.  It was built in 1996 in the north-west section of the lake by Baidixiang city.  The power station is the largest in Tibet and provides electricity throughout the region.  There are many small inlets to the lake, each deriving from glaciers and snow melt.

How to get there

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

There are 4 tour packages, offered by Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure, that lead to Yamdrok Lake.  Each package offers varying experiences, including Everest base camp and Namtso Lake tours.  Specialized tour packages are also available upon request.  Please contact Upper Himalayan Treks and Adventure to personalize your vacation to Yamdrok Lake.

The distance from Lhasa to the center most interior of the lake is about 130 miles.  It takes about 5 hours to reach it.  If you are like me, you did the math and came up with 26 miles per hour.  I know it seems slow, but there are a lot of twists and turns in the lower stretch of the highway.  In general, you want to take the 318 out of Lhasa to the 101.  The 101 will merge onto the 305 then into the 301.  You can then take exit 122 to reach the lake.

Lhasa and Everest Base Camp Tour itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Lhasa

Day 02: Visit Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and a traditional hospital. -06 hrs, 3,650 m / 11,972 ft

Day 03: Visit Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. -06 hrs, 3,650 m / 11,972 ft

Day 04: Travel to Gyantse and visit Yamdrok Lake. -06 hrs, 3,950 m / 12,956 ft

Day 05: Travel to Shigatse. -02 hrs, 3,900 m / 12,795 ft

Day 06: Travel to Rongbuk. -09 hrs, 5,000 m / 16,400 ft

Day 07: Visit Everest Base Camp and return to Lhasa. -10 hrs, 5,200 m / 17,060 ft

Day 08: Conclude trip

What to bring and where to stay

This lake is warm for Tibetan standards.  However, you should still pack warm cloths.  You will also want some comfortable shoes.  You do not need boots for the Lhasa and Everest Base Camp Tour, because it is accessible by car.  You will still want to bring a hat, UV protected sunglasses, sleeping bag (recommended, not needed), water filter and chap stick.  You can substitute a a SteriPEN or sanitizing tablets for a water filter if you prefer.  Sun screen is also always a good item to have on hand.

As far as clothing, you will want to layer in light to medium weight cloths.  Depending on the season you are traveling in, you may also want some water proof gear.  The area is in a rain shadow and even during the monsoon season you will not likely experience soaking rains or precipitation.  A weather chart is provided in the section below.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has a lot of good quality cloths that were designed to be layer-able and warm.

There are a lot of hotels and guest houses available to visitors in China.  They are included in most tour packages offered by travel agencies.  Unless specifically stated in the tour package you will not need camping gear.  You can however request to camp out.  This can save money and can be a rewarding experience.  If you need camping equipment you can buy it from Eastern Mountain Sports.  .

When to go

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake in the summer

I recommend visiting Yamdrok Lake in the summer months from May through September.  The summer months still receive freezing temperatures; However they are not nearly as cold as in the winter, where the daily average temperatures are freezing.  If you prefer cold temperatures, the winter may be your preferred time to visit the area.  The winter does not see any precipitation, so your chances of building snow men and making snow angles are low.

There are a few advantages of visiting in the winter.  The advantages include fewer tourists, clear skies, great views, less expensive, and faster paperwork processing.  Though these advantages are nice, I prefer green pastures, thawed lakes and warmer temperatures.  Below is a chart of the weather in the Yamdrok Lake area for 2016.

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake visitors by month

the blue line represents the average monthly high temperature in ˚F.  the lower orange line represents the average low monthly temperature ˚F.  The summer months of June July August, and September offers pleasant temperatures.

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake precipitation (inches) chart

The Average Monthly Precipitation at Yamdrok Lake graph may seem a tad extreme.  It is a little deceptive without looking at the scale on the y axis.  In my opinion 3 inches is extremely reasonable for a monsoon.

Expenses

Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake

The cost of an 8-day tour that visits Everest Base Camp, cultural heritage sites, and Yamdrok Lake will cost $2130 through Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure.  A more budget minded trip to Yamdrok lake can be arranged to include fewer days in Tibet and at a reduced cost.  The entire trip can be done in 3-days for $800.  A short 3-day visit can be just as rewarding as an 8-day trip.  There are time limitations in the 3-day visit that limits the amount of experiences that can be had.

You may be upset to find that China does not allow unsupervised visits into Tibet.  Yes, that means you must book your trip through a tour company and have a guide with you.  This also means you must have a Chinese visa as well as a Tibet entry permit.  The following is a detailed list of charges you will most likely acquire while in China.

  • $50/day guide
  • $20/day food
  • $30/day room board (some locations have tent style rooms for $5/ night)
  • $140 Chinese Visa
  • $20 Tibet Entry Permit
  • $100 transportation
  • $200 government tax

Historical significance

Lake Yamdrok has a lot of spiritual and religious significance.  I am unsure as to weather a goddess was transformed into the lake or she transformed herself into the lake. But in any case, the lake is believed to be the transformation of the goddess Dorje Geg Kyi Tso.  Maybe manifestation or embodiment might be a better word than transformation.  As such, the lake is considered sacred and is believed to contain spiritual powers.  The lake is one of the 4 most religiously significant lakes in Tibet.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo Lake

Phoksundo Lake is a freshwater lake in Nepal.  The lake is located within the Shey Phoksundo National Park in the Dolpa region.  The lake rests at an elevation of 11,849 ft above sea level.  During the last surveillance of the lake, the lake was measured to have a surface area of 1.91 sq mi and a maximum depth of 476 ft.  The lake was formed when a land slide blocked the passage of the river below it, and in the process, also creating a 548 ft water fall on the other side of the natural dam.  The lake was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands in 2007.

How to get there

The only way to get to Phoksundo Lake is on foot.  It is possible to get within a few days walk to the lake by taking 2 domestic flights.  After the flights, I do not know of any roads that lead to the lake, you must walk through Chhepka, and Chunuwar, villages to Ringmo, which is on the lake.  The whole trip can be done in about 8 days.  I am outlining the itinerary below.

Phoksundo Lake trekking itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu and fly to Nepaligunj

Day 02: Fly from Nepaligunj to Juphal (2,475 m / 8,120 ft) and trek to Chhepka (2,838 m / 9,311 ft) 7 hrs

Day 03: Trek to Chunuwar. -7 hrs, 3,130 m / 10,269 ft

Day 04: Trek to Ringmo Village. -3 hrs, 3,641 m / 11,945 ft

Day 05: Explore Phoksundo Lake

Day 06: Trek to Chhepka. – (2,838 m / 9,311 ft) 7 hrs

Day 07: Trek to Juphal. – (2,475 m / 8,120 ft) 6 hrs

Day 08: Fly to Nepalgunj and Kathmandu.

If you wish to go on this trek please contact Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure.  This trek is on our secret menu.

What to bring and where to stay

Phoksundo Lake is a remote area but has all the same facilities of the more popular treks like the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp treks.  You can expect cold temperatures from fall to spring and should pack accordingly.  The summer season brings high temperatures and a lot of rain.  If you are attempting this destination in the summer, make sure your gear is waterproof or quick dry.  For the winter season, I do not recommend packing heavy cloths, but instead lighter cloths and layer them to stay warm.

When you spend a long duration of time outside, you should protect your eyes with UV protected eye glasses.  Tinted glasses alone (not UV protected) will not help your eyes, but will increase the risk of damage to them.  You should also pack a sleeping bag, hat, sunscreen, trekking poles (if you use them), chap stick, hiking boots, and a water filter.  You can use a SteriPEN or purifying tabs if you do not like filtering your water.

Tea houses are available on this trek.  During the winter months, December through February, tea houses may be closed.  Make sure you plan your trip in advance or have your travel company make the arrangements for you.  If you do not plan to stay in a tea house, tent camping is available.  Make sure you have good gear and a guide for this.  If you think you might want to upgrade your gear, I recommend Eastern Mountain Sports for camping equipment, and Sherpa Adventure Gear for clothing.

When to go

The best time to visit Phoksundo Lake is during the spring and autumn months of May, and September, and October.  March, April, and November tend to be cold.  According to Nepal’s Tourism Board, most people visit the area in September.  In September, Nepal is coming out of its summer season and drying up from the monsoon rains.  Because of its geographic location, Dolpa experiences a slight rain shadow, which allows for some fantastic trips early in the season.  I am posting the visitor data, I graphed out, below.

phoksundo lake
Upper Dolpa visitors

The graph shows the trend in visitors to the Upper-Dolpa region in 2016.  Visitation does not pick up until the middle of the spring season.  The peak of the spring season is in May.  The traffic declines a little in the summer season but is still higher than the first two months of the spring season.  September and October are the highest trafficked months.  During November, only 17 people visited the area.  This is only 3 more people compared to April.

Expenses

If you are interested in going on a trek and visiting Phoksundo, the trek will take about 28 days and cost about $5,890.  There are shorter treks available too, that won’t cost as much.  If you are interested in only visiting the lake.  The trip will take about 8 days, depending on how long you would like to stay at the lake and cost about $1,500.  Dolpo is a restricted area, which requires a Restricted Area Permit in addition to the other permits indicated below.  I provided an itemized list below.

  • $25/day guide
  • $15/day porter
  • $30/day food
  • $30/day room board
  • $10 -$20 Trekkers Information Management System Card (group or independent)
  • $500/ 1st 10 days and $50/ day thereafter Restricted Area Permit
  • $250 transportation

For an 8-day trip to Phoksundo Lake your expected costs will be in the ball park of $1,440.  Because the area is restricted you must have a guide with you and be in a group of 2 or more.  The other cost will fluctuate depending your dietary requirements, where you stay, and how long you are in the area.  You can contact Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure to book your trip.

Historical significance

Though there are quite a few religious stupas adorning the lake’s shores.  There is also one gompa where people leave offerings.  The lake, however, has no known historical or religious significance.  Tibetan Buddhism and Bon are the prevailing religions in the area.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Rara Lake

Lake Rara

Rara Lake
Rara Lake

Rara Lake is located in the far western region, in the Mugu district of Nepal. This amazing lake is the biggest and deepest lake in Nepal.  It has a surface area of 4.2 sq mi and a maximum depth of 548 ft.  The lake’s altitude is 9,810 feet above sea level.  Due to the unique habitat this lake provides to many endemic species, it was designated an area of international importance by UNESCO’s conservation on wetlands.  Though the lake only covers 4.2 square miles, the actual protected area is 6.11 sq mi because of the extending wet lands.

Rara Lake receives water from snow melt and monsoon rains. However, in recent years, the monsoon rain volume has been less than normal.  This coupled with habitat destruction and pollution increases the vulnerability of aquatic species associated with the lake.  Some of the aquatic life also lives in the streams and rivers the lake drains into. The lake drains into the Mugu Karnali River through the Nijar River.

How to get to Rara Lake

Rara Lake does not have a direct land route leading to it.  By car or bus, it will take approximately 21 hours and 18 minutes to get there from Kathmandu.  The route follows the Prithivi Hwy until it merges with E-W Hwy/AH2.  Once on the E-W Hwy, it merges again onto the H 12 and Karnali Hwy/H 13.  This highway flows into F 154, which takes you to Briat and 10 linear miles away from Rara Lake.  From here you must walk through uncharted terrain to get to the lake.

If you are looking for more of a direct route and less of an adventure you can take a flight from Nepalgunj to Talcha Airport, which is about 14 minutes by car and 5 miles away from the lake.  Flights are conducted by Nepal Airlines and Tara Air.  Of the 2 ways to get to Rara Lake, I would choose flying.  It is about 20 hours faster and less dangerous.  Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure can charter your trip for you.  Note: airlines may not offer flights to Rara lake for days at a time.  Be careful when planning your trip, if you are going without a travel company, you could get stuck.

What to bring

Rara Lake
Rara Lake t-shirt and and vest

This is always the question I struggle with.  There are a few variables to contend with before deciding what to bring.  Some of my concerns when wrestling with this question are over-packing, and under-packing, being prepared for weather, ability to purchase gear on location, and if I really need it or if it’s a luxury.  What I normally settle on is packing layers for the season I will be in.  Sherpa Adventure Gear has great quality products with a wonderful selection for both men and women.  Their products are designed and manufactured to be layer-able.

In addition to your standard clothing, I recommend you bring sunglasses, water filter, or SteriPEN or sanitizing tablets, sunscreen, hat, and a sleeping bag.  If you need any of these items or camping and outdoor gear, try Eastern Mountain Sports.  They have great deals on a lot of necessities.  You will not need a tent to visit Rara Lake, unless you want to camp outside of a lodge.

When to go and where to stay

Rara Lake
Rara Lake, stay here!

The geographic location of the area offers opportunities for summer travel not permitted by the eastern part of Nepal.  The far west district of Nepal receives less rain during the monsoon season.  The average 10-year volume of rain from July through September is about 31 inches.  During the summer season the temperatures are also quite warm.  It is possible to explore this region without too much distress during this time.

I would still say the best times to travel to Rara Lake is during the spring and autumn months (March through May, and September November respectively).  April, May, September, and October offer ideal weather conditions, which are warm, dry and clear.  Winter conditions though clear and beautiful are quite cold.  This area does receive a lot of snow, which makes it quite picturesque in the winter.

There are 3 hotels on the lake and 1 down the street from the airport.  They all seem to offer the same service and provide the same Nepali style lodging.  Your three choices for staying on the lake are Village Heritage and Resort, Rara Hotel and Lodge, and Danphe Hotel.  Hotel Chandanath is available for people not wishing to stay on the lake.  If you wish to stay at Rara Lake Upper-Himalayan Treks and Adventure can arrange it for you.

Expenses

The most expensive item on this trip is the airplane ticket.  The rest of the costs are associated with living expenses such as food and housing.  Fortunately, you do not need any permits or licenses to visit the area.  You could probably do the whole trip with less than $300.  I am including an itemized list of expected costs below.

  • $20/day food
  • $20/day room board
  • $200 transportation

This area has yet to attract groups of foreigners like some other popular destinations in Nepal.  As a result, the prices have remained relatively low.

Historical significance

Rara Lake does not have much historical significance.  The locals around the area speak of a legend involving Lord Krishna and the lake.  As legend has it, every year the monsoon rains would cause the lake level to rise to such an extreme degree that it flooded nearby villages.  After many years of repeated flooding the villagers spent 8 months dedicating their prayers to and worshiped the god of compassion and love, Lord Krishna.  Krishna was honored by their devotion.  At the end of the 8th month Krishna shot an arrow into the south-east side of the lake forming the Nijar river and opening the lake to drain into the Mugu river.