Langtang & Gosikunda Trek

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Nepal  , Himalayan Region,
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

During the night there was the worst thunder and lightning storm I’ve ever heard, the walls were shaking, and it didn’t let up the whole night, I’m not looking forward to the 8hr bus journey to Shyabrubesi.  I was picked up in a taxi and taken up to the bus park for the 7am bus and met my guide Lakba there.    

The weather is really wild; the roads are like rivers with debris everywhere and the bus is bouncing about the road… it’s really quite scary!  It had to ‘squeeze’ past a few trucks on the cliff edge before we were stopped dead in our tracks by a huge landslide.  Massive boulders landed on the road in front of us, closing it completely, and the fog is now so dense you can hardly your hand in front of you.  We all sit on the bus for 3 hours before being told that the cutting machine we were expecting isn’t able to make it up, so at 5pm we get out and start walking.  A couple of hours later, we manage to get a lift on a flat bed pick-up towards the next town.  Only now, I’m stuck on this pick-up and a storm is closing in, it’s maybe not the best place to be.  The sky is illuminated by the lightning and I count to 5 before the thunder crashes, thankfully the pick-up stops and were out before the storm hits us!

Next thing I know were put back on another bus, but this has trouble starting, we sit for 30 mins waiting on others arriving before we head off – the bus chugs along all start n stops then ‘bang’ it stops dead, a crack of lightning fills the sky and before I can count to 1 the whole floor is shaking violently with the thunder and we’re in complete darkness.  The road ahead is awash with debris and after several more stops to clear boulders and rocks on the road, we arrive at Shyabrubesi.  I’ve never been so relieved!  Hopefully the storm will let up to allow us to start trekking in the morning.

We start from Syabrubesi (1410m) out of the town and head to follow the river, almost straight away my guide stops to chat leaving me having to wait as I don’t know how to get onto the path – didn’t bode well for our trip.  Once we were on our way he stopped another 3 times at different ‘family’s’ houses that day – the last one I almost pulled him out of.  Anyway the scenery is stunning as I walk along the green glacier river, through woodlands and forest with some mountain views.  I pass several little villages along the way and stop for veg momos for lunch sitting out by the river.  I finish my day at Lama Hotel (2420m), a blessing from the woman at the guest house with some sort of drink (in a cap lid) and praying to the Dalai Lama.   There’s some sort of ‘lama’ ritual going on tonight with traditional drums playing (mandal), and singing etc. I’m sitting with all the locals as there are no other tourists here, it’s great!

Started off today walking through woodland with huge redwood trees, the path is very gentle to begin with before getting steeper.  It’s not long before  I get my first views of Langtang II (6581m) and Langtang I (7246m) and it’s fantastic being back in the mountains – I’m now 3000m up and craning my neck to view the peaks and the snow is just starting. We stop briefly at Ghora Tabela for ‘chai’ and I get some great photos of 2 of the local women.  One of the young kids was running around asking for ‘photo, photo – chocolate, chocolate’ but I have nothing on me.  On leaving my guide is very very slow, when I ask what’s up says he’s walked off his breakfast, honestly it’s only early!    

Stopped at Thangshyap (3200m) for lunch and once again as no other tourists I sat in the kitchen and ate with the family watching how today’s dhal bhat was made and trying my first Yak butter tea offered in a small bowl.  It has a strangely salty greasy texture and although the first taste was rough I did manage a refill when offered. For lunch the tea house owner washes and chops cabbage, spring onion, carrot, garlic which are thrown into oil, meanwhile the pressure cooker is on with the rice, turmeric, salt, mono sodium glutamate and some sort of paste is thrown in but the dhal is already made and she just adds to it.  I get some great photos in the kitchen and enjoy my lunch out in the winter's sun.  

Unfortunately when we leave my ‘guide’ is slower than ever (literally taking baby steps) and I end up having words with him again at Langtang (3430m) which makes for a bad atmosphere.  I decide I have to call Shiva in the morning to try and resolve it, as talking to him isn’t working.  I agree to stick with it a couple of days as it would take time to get someone up to meet me but he just gets worse – shouting, aggressive wee man…  grr…  Anyway I do my own thing and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the mountains, have a good wander round the village, eat dinner with the hotel owners and chill out.

Today’s walk is only 3hrs apparently but it’s not stopped snowing and it's getting fairly deep (around 2ft).  I enjoy the stunning views on the way to Kyanjin Gompa today despite my guide being obnoxious – I just try to ignore him.  I walk through tiny villages with their animals and straw bales and weaving and farming – I love all the yaks and buffalo in particular which are massive big beasts.  When I arrive in Kyanjin Gompa (3860m) I find a guest house and get checked in, I have decided to head up to Kyanjin Ri tomorrow morning as there are others doing it, despite the weather.  


There's a group of around 20 South Korean kids with their guides staying here, and I spend the afternoon just chatting to them, they're lovely and enjoy practicing their English, I on the other hand again feel completely inadequate at not being able to speak any other languages.  In the evening I end up sitting round the fire having warmed yak's cheese with a french mother and daughter who are good company but it's another early night.  

I start out early in the morning and it's a tough old day but I make it up to the top of Kyanjin Ri 4773m (15,660ft approx.) and enjoy the stunning scenery, mountains and glaciers, but it’s a cold one.  I take plenty of photos and head straight back down, I decide to stay again here tonight with a the french girls, so instead of lunch and starting down the mountain, I stay on and  firstly visit the monastery before the young guy from the guest house shows me around the village, taking me into different family kitchen’s for chai, it's a really stunning place with beautiful clear mountain views and I’m glad I decided to stay.  I sit round the fire with the French girls in the evening eating warmed yak’s cheese again and this time having some local wine.  I’m really sad to leave is beautiful place, it’s peaceful and stunning, and I could just stay here, anyway all good things and all that - I’d better get down to change guides, but the trip down proved to be a nightmare.  

Laxba ended up running off down the mountain, leaving me in the snow with no care.  I eventually met the French girls and walked down with them although we found Laxba on the way down I refused to go another step with him after Lama Hotel, and waited there for my new guide to arrive.  The owners of guest house were lovely and look after me, allowing me just to hang out with them, the man looks like Anthony Quinn but he doesn’t stop working the whole time I am there!  A big crowd of climbers stay the night and they are great fun, partying away, they were very entertaining plus I had my first Mustang Coffee (basically a local whiskey mix). While I was hanging out in the kitchen a horse came in and stole some cabbage before being chased out… it was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, a horse being naughty.  

Thankfully the next morning Laxba didn’t hang about too long before leaving and my new guide Nima arrives around 2pm and we discuss our route.  It seems like it won’t be possible to get over the Lauriebina La Pass at Gosaikunda so I may need to change plans, Nima seems a nice young guy, so fingers crossed.  The morning starts off all downhill to Bamboo, and Piero way down to the river where we have lunch, before the steep climb up to Thulo Shyabru (2260m) and I’m pretty done in by the end of the day.  I join in some ‘rakshi’ and ‘buff’ down with some of the locals before turning in, it's an interesting night!  

The ground is all covered in snow, and the day is spent just climbing up and over the mountain that we’re on, on route to Sing Gompa (3330m).  It’s a steep, slow day ‘bestari, bestari’, with beautiful scenery, as we head up through the forest with its massive pine trees, but so many of them have fallen due to the recent high winds and many are right across our path, that I have to climb and clamber over them.  

Once at the top of the mountain it’s fairly easy walk basically staying on the ridge until we go over the top to reach Sing Gompa.  The views are amazing, right down the other valley and has the most incredible sense of scale I’ve seen anywhere in the mountains. There is a big yak cheese factory here which I visit in the afternoon buying some of their produce, and share it with the lovely young couple from the guest house in the evening. As there are no other tourists around, me eating in their kitchen saves them lighting another fire and later I have dhal bhat with them before bed, I really do feel privileged being invited in with them.

Next morning is incredible, the scenery, the deep snow, it’s like a picture postcard. Again walking through a huge pine tree forest, my first stop is the village of Cholang Pati (3550m), there are 4 lodges but 2 of them have the roofs blown clean off – the place is deserted.  Way in the distance I can see our destination for today which is almost at the top of the mountain we’re on.  The snow is getting much deeper but it’s a beautifully sunny day and I’m loving the views.  After a steep, slow climb I arrive at the Lauriebina Yak’s (3920m) only open hotel, all the others have had to close because of the weather.  Even though the hotel is open they have had to clear snow out of rooms and there are no working toilets, it’s an outside job if you have to go… and it’s freezing.  There are a few others staying here tonight, all heading to Gosaikunda in the morning but looks like our chances of making it there are slim, and the Lauriebina La Pass is a definite no no.  No one has made it into Gosaikunda alone yet this year never mind over the pass, and there are no other villages opened on the other side, so whichever way, I will need to come back to Lauriebina Yak.

The night at the hotel is fun, there are a few funny guys about and it’s nice to have the company, I save my toilet excursion for just before bed with the resolve that I won’t be up during the night to head outside!  In the morning some have headed off really early, but I figured I would just get as far as possible so don’t plan on leaving until around 8am.  While I am just finishing breakfast I hear the sound of a helicopter in the valley – everyone who’s around head outside and its swirling above the hotel until it lands on a helipad just above the village.  It’s an impressive sight, red, blue and yellow against the white snow and the bright morning sunshine… wow.  I end up walking up to it with Nima and the hotel owner Tenzing Sherpa for a closer look.. 

On talking to Capt Deepak, it turned out the helicopter had been chartered to drop a couple at Gosaikunda to take photographs and he is heading back for them shortly.  We were just setting out on a probable 5 hour walk just to get there, whereas the helicopter would be only 5 minutes!  No difference!  I ended up asking how much it would be to take us over, and after some communication in Nepali, Tenzing told me $100 – I pondered a few minutes and asked for both of us… $100 each.  Well that was the end of that idea.  Next thing I know Tenzing says he’s only kidding and to jump in, yeh' right I thought, but no – I looked at Nima and asked if he was up for it and he says yes – he’s  never been in a helicopter before.  So before I know it Nima gets in, then me in the middle, then Tenzing, all in the back and Captain Deepak tells us when he stops  we’ve all to get out on his side and walk in front and away as the blades would still be going, his other passengers would then get in and away.  I can’t believe my luck!  

We take off and Nima braces himself whereas I’m delighted!  We spin and head for the mountain at the opposite side of the valley, and when we go off the mountain edge we dip down… its sooo exciting.  At the other side of the valley we sweep left and head up towards Gosaikunda, all the lakes are frozen and covered in deep snow but there are clear blue skies and it’s stunning and Captain is right it only takes around 5 minutes before we’re above Gosaikunda.  Before he lands he takes us a full 360 of the area taking in the lakes below and even as far as the Lauriebina La before heading down, it’s such a thrilling adventure that I’m high as a kite when I get out with Nima and Tenzing.  Captain then picks up his guest and as we wave them off he circles us a full 3 times before heading out the valley in the direction of Kathmandu... incredible.  

It takes us 30 minutes to walk just from the helipad to the actual village of Gosaikunda as we’re the first ones to walk anywhere here, there are no paths and haven’t been for months and its tough going, so they take it in turns to make the path out.  I’m the first tourist to step foot into Gosaikunda this year, and I feel completely in awe of this place – I’ve never seen anything like it.  In some places the snow is waist deep, it’s very dangerous and icy, and exciting.  I’m just following the footsteps of Nima and Tenzing and I trust them completely, I’m taking care but it’s tough going for them making the path.  

It takes us another couple of hours to make it back to the hotel and there have been a few scary moments where the drops were very steep, but it’s been the most wonderful adventure I’ve been on, and I’m loving it.  In reality I don’t know anyone else that would have done this apart from our Eddie, if the weather wasn’t so fantastic it would have been hell on earth, but I made it down safe.  There is an amazing viewpoint on the way down and you can see even the mountains in Tibet – this is a day I will truly never forget.

After telling of our adventures back at the guest house, quite rightly everyone is a little bit jealous because we were the only ones to make it into Gosaikunda.  We grabbed some lunch then walked down to Sing Gompa with the hotel owners, they are heading further down to their village below for a family event.  I enjoy an evening at the same hotel as before, but this time there are a few tourists around who I chat to, and no-one can believe how lucky I was getting into Gosaikunda by helicopter.  Next day is once again all downhill to Dhunche I will get my bus and the scenery is stunning, I enjoy my walk and meet some tourists from the night before on route one in particular is an older man from Wales who is trekking with his son-in-law (a Nepali) – he said his daughter came out on holiday and went back with more than they bargained for!   I’m sad this is the end of another trek, I find the Himalayas a truly magical place, I could wander around here for a long, long time taking in all the different seasons, I have been blessed though with clear sunny mountain views and feel very, very lucky.  

On arrival at Dhunche I'm told there are no buses the next morning as they are celebrating their 'Losar' festival, instead of staying here we're invited to Thulo Bharku which is the village Nima and Tenzing come from.  Before I know it I'm out of the guest house we've checked into, backs repacked and I'm thrown on the back of Tenzing's bike to head to Thulo Bharku.  Other friends join us in a jeep and we all celebrate with fresh fish and local beer or wine and a sing song starts, it's a really entertaining night and I got to hang out with all the locals again.  Next day though everyone is fairly quite we just sit around and talk to whoever's passing by, they could do this all the time but for me I'm glad it's just a day.
 
I'm up early the next morning for the bus back to Kathmandu and I end up sitting on the roof with all the locals, it’s very exciting and all the looks I was getting were hilarious!  They found it funny me being up there, but on these roads it’s apparently the safest place to be, that way if there's an accident you’ve a chance of being thrown clear…  It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time with the wind in my hair, dodging tree branches and power lines, every now and then the bus boy puts us all back inside to pass some check post or other then once we’re clear its back to the roof.  It was a fantastic experience, and when I get home I meet with Declan and Aidan to tell them all about my adventures…  What an experience!
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Comments

Paul Murphy on

Just had a chance to read your blog Clare. It sounds absolutely out of this world. I will never again complain when walking a Munroe - they're foothills compared to what you've climbed. Photos are incredible. Must say, you also have a talent as a travel writer - I was hooked the minute I started reading. Can't wait to hear more. All the best and take care!

Paul

new_lands
new_lands on

Thanks very much Paul, it's great to some feedback.

I know my trekking notes won't interest everyone but I wanted to add details before they're lost, committed only to memory. All the names of places, heights etc. I would never remember otherwise. I'm trying to get my notes up to date at the minute as I got a wee laptop, so although it's taking time just now it will be worth it. It also serves as a backup in case things get stolen (which y camera did only a few days ago).

Anyway thanks again Paul, hope you continue to enjoy :)

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