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From 18 till 27 April 2010

1. Intro and preparation :

It’s 8 years after my last trek, in the valley of Khumbu, that we prepare this new one, in Langtang, third journey in Nepal, but the first one for Sylvie. With those of the Annapurna and Khumbu, objects of the first two treks, it is the most considered by Nepal, and thus one of the most run. The risks are big to be disappointed. Especially as mountains are not very high surroundings, with Langtang Lirung peaking at 7246m.The eruption of Eyjafjöll will begin to block the international flights the day of our arrival to Kathmandu, on April 15th. We thus had the double luck not to be stuck in France and to avoid the traffic jams of walkers on the main path. Nevertheless, Air India will reserve us a surprise: our bags stayed in Delhi and will arrive the next day to KTM. The phenomenon was frequent in 2010. It is to bet that with the new airport, these small inconveniences are now avoided. The experience will be made in March, 2013 … (made also in November, 2014, seems OK nowIt is our first experience of an autonomous ballad in mountain, with tent and food for some meals, and partly off the beaten track.Autonomous because we hope to get off the beaten track to go at the end of the valley and also to try the ascent of Yala Peak (5500m) requiring a base camp isolated between Kianjin gompa and the summit.The preparation is made with Google Earth. It will be difficult to detect the precise position of Yala Peak and impossible to find sure information for its access before being on site.Weight of bags 13 and 14.8kg with two days of autonomy.

2. Localisation

The valley of Langtang is situated at about fifty kilometers as a crow flies in the North of Kathmandu. From Siabrubesi, in a vegetation of tropical type at 1450m, it ends near the border with the Tibet in a glacier at approximately 4500m (place called Sarwa Kharka) after a progress of about fifty kilometers.

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3. Access

Because of its closeness of Kathmandu, the route can be made easily by foot via Laurebina ( Gosain Kund) or, a little less easily by Sandgrouse most easterly. We chose to reach it by the bus until Syabrubesi to win a little of this time which is always sorely lacking.

So cruel is the route by bus from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi. Departure at 6:30 am. 11 hours to travel for 110 small km.

Attention: the bus doesn’t leave from the station (in 2010 in any case) but  from a very confidential location a few hundred meters away from there (the best solution is to ask at the station)

 

18-avr

Lama

2500

19-avr

Langtang

3450

20-avr

Kianjin gompa

3870

21-avr

Kianjin gompa Kimshung glacier  28°14’9.30″N  85°34’47.50″E

4518

22-avr

Langshisha kharka

4100

23-avr

Kianjin gompa

24-avr

Kianjin gompa Tsergo ri  28°12’46.39″N  85°36’2.38″E

4960

25-avr

Kianjin gompa Langshisha kharka  28°12’44.86″N  85°40’7.20″E

4100

26-avr

Lama

27-avr

Syabrubesi

1450

4. Timetable & stages

The statements of the GPS were lost (first awkward use!). It remains that the use of a GPS is totally unnecessary as long as we stay on the main path and to Langshisha kharka. A comfortable base camp will be situated in Kianjin gompa from which will be made three explorations in the day (Kimshung glacier, Tsergo ri, Langshisha kharka)


5. Map of the main route

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6. Logbook

April, 18th :

After a good night in the Tibet Guest House in the main street of Siabrubesi, rustic and nice, we leave for a big day of walking with a 1000m ascent. The very dense forest protects us from a strong sun. We are sometimes accompanied by very turbulent monkeys. It seems that these scamps are a little drugged at this time of year with the herbs they select. After Bamboo, the weather covers and we take our first rainy drops 1 km before Lama.

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In Lama, we settle down in the first lodge. About ten walkers already arrived. The place is not lacking.

April 19th:

We go on the ascent with the always noisy torrent nearby. The forest clears up little by little and we realize that we cannot reach Kianjin gompa as expected. We cross then pastures on which the Tibetan families live. The headache settles down with the altitude. A stormy rain begins to fall long before the night. The lodge is spartan and the welcome always so nice. The prices rise with the altitude.

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April 20th:

The sky is blue in the early hours and we are surrounded by the first snowy massifs. We start a little later that usually at 8:10am and we are disappointed to see the horizon blocked by clouds, to the East. But the sky gets free on the road and the severe beauty of the mineral world in which we enter amazes us. Kianjin gompa is nested at the foot of the Lirung’s glacier. Our overnight stop is also our base camp to visit the region. The numerous lodges give us a very wide choice. The prices of rooms and meals are fixed by a common rule.

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The cheese diary, installed in the village will provide us in invaluable local « Comté ».

April 21st:

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Awaked a little late at 6:15, we discover the massifs and the glaciers under a totally pure sky. A breakfast of milk çay with Tibetan bread and omelet has to be a sufficient fuel for going to the foot of the Kimshun Glacier. The approximate route was established with the help of Google Earth and entered on the GPS. It’s our first real test as we leave beaten track!

 

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It is often necessary to interpret our way between two points and the advance becomes harder and harder in moraines and bushy shrubs. We cross the bed of a dead glacier and a small torrent. We follow finally the moraine of the Kimshun glacier which we climb by following more or less clear paths made by yaks. We disturb them while they are grazing. We arrive at 4500m on the side of the glacier towards 11:30, a little out of breath! On the crest, we take a frugal lunch of some figs and cereal. We admire the  » falls of ice « . The glacier is silent. There are not the almost continuous crackles which we heard in the Karakoram where the descents are even more lively.

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The return is more direct, most of the time in balance on rocks or through bushes before joining a real path. At our return in Kianjin towards 14 30, we take a very hot shower. The heating of the water is solar. The snow begins to fall in the middle of afternoon. We wonder if we will be able to walk tomorrow towards Langshisha kharka. The preparation of bags is nevertheless made to travel light.

April 22nd:

Sylvie wakes me while the day didn’t get up yet. She caught a food poisoning by gulping down some bad bacterium. She decides to leave in spite of her fatigue but she gives up after the breakfast. I’ll leave alone for Langshisha for 2 days.

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Outside, all is carpeted with few centimeters of snow. Departure at 7:30. Fortunately, the GPS points allow me to walk at dawn without seeing the way. I find myself on a small landing runway. There aren’t certainely often planes here! I step over rusty barbed wires. I know that the path is not far.

I exceed the point corresponding to a possible ascent towards Yala Peak. The slope seems rough but possible without an heavy backpack. The path towards Langshisha is finally found. It’s sloping very soft in the hollow of the valley. The weather is clear as usual in the morning. I lunch towards 1:30pm at the top of a pass opening on magnificent massifs eastward and the pastures of Langshisha.

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I arrive to Langshisha at 2:30. I exceed the pastures but it’s not very serious to continue when the path is not clearly defined any more. I return on Langshisha to establish the camp. The place is of a great beauty. As usual, it’s unfortunately polluted of rest that groups let for several years. Taxes paid to enter the park do not serve to organize spring-cleanings, apparently!

There is not a soul around except some yaks grazing casually. I settle down among them without attracting the slightest interest. It’s not a bad things! I do not find any spring around. It will be necessary to go to the torrent to draw the turbid water which shines with thousand glitter of mica.

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There are some ruined huts of shepherds near flags of prayers. They are a possible refuge in case of storm. One of them is covered.

I see  five horses crossing which seem abandoned. How make the owner to find them there? The place is apparently several kilometers away from the first house.

The wind blows hard from the West and it’s very difficult to start the fire. Maybe because of the altitude? Here, oxygen is 60 – 65 % of sea level.

Having more or less filtered the water of the torrent, I look for some wood to make a fire. It is not lacking. Fortunately, it does not snow this evening. When the sun sets, the temperature falls drastically.

After a meal of soup and pastas, I do not delay going to bed. The bag is not of sufficient quality for protecting me correctly from the cold. The sleep is interrupted with awakenings due to my too slow breath. I am certainly not correctly acclimatized  to the altitude nevertheless still limited.

April 23rd :

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At about 4 am, a brutal rumbling suddenly wakes me. I go out of the tent covered inside with a thick ice sheet. It is an avalanche but I do not distinguish it in the night. At about 5 am I get up to light the fire to warm up. A match is enough this time for lighting it: the wind fell. Breakfast of pastas, cappuccino and cereal bars. I do not have food supply anymore …

I begin then the ascent of the small mountain giving onto pastures. I stop at 4700m at 8:30, the deadline that I set for myself. It allows me to discover the surronding glaciers and their retreats probably due to the Global Warming. They illustrate, in life-size, the studies on the speed of the retreats I had read concerning the region of Langtang. At 9:30, I am down again.

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A yak grazes near the tent and I find that its arrogance is worth a photo. It takes very badly my intrusion in its territory and decides to charge at me without notice. It is in the viewfinder that I see it too close! I jump on the side. This reflex makes me press on the shutter button. It was a close call! A horn in the stomach in this place is equivalent to a certain death after a long agony. Retrospective shivers …

I fold the tent, dried by the sun, and take the way back at 10. On the way, I regret that Sylvie did not come because this place is magic, incomparable in all that we saw before. The place is at the same time limited, domesticated by pastures, at the same time savage by its isolation and gigantic by the closeness of peaks and glaciers who surround it.

I reach Kianjin at 14. Visit of the monastery and the cheese fabric with Sylvie who was waiting patiently for me. She tells me that a French, arrived  the day before, decided to cross alone the Ganga la. I am amazed because the pass is apparently covered with snow. We’ll never know if he succeeded …

April 24st

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Today, this is Tsergo ri ! 5000m, 1200m of ascent.

This is also the first stage to estimate the possibility of going to Yala Peak (5500m) because there is not more than a large plateau to be crossed to join its base. In fact, after the frosty night in Langshisha kharka, I see the feasibility of the expedition from a different perspective. It would be necessary to sleep at  5100m, almost 1000m higher, meaning approximately with 7°c less …

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We leave towards 7:20am. I have lost the waypoints prepared with Google Earth by trying to save memory! I haven’t more than the point of the summit. We don’t find the entry of the path by going out of Kianjin. We decide to attack the ascent, going directly in the direction of the summit which we don’t see. It is a little bit precarious. The slope seems correct at the moment but we do not know which type of ground we’ll meet. We hope to find the path by gaining altitude. We’ll find it only at arrival, having crossed some passages of unstable rocky plates.

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Arrived at 12:45 after a windy lunch. It is cold top there. Clouds have already begun to accumulate on the crests.

The Yala Peak defies us. We see it now very well. Its access seems incredibly easy. The possibilities of camps are multiple on the plateau. Furthermore, when I saw on the satellite photo, numerous points of water … It will be for a next time with adapted sleeping bags!

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We find easily the way to come back on the crest of a neighbouring hill (fine red line on the 1st photo). We are afterward stunned by looking at our path of ascent ( blue line): it attacks directly the mountain. We opened a new way 😉
We have dinner in the evening with a couple of Czech volunteers  established to KTM.
Having given up the ascent of Yala peak, we decide to return to Langshisha Kharka to make me forgive for having been alone there. This time, it will be for the day.

April 25th:

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We leave at 6:30 to avoid to be short in time, because the round trip will be made on the day. We arrive at 10:45. The weather already gets covered but the panorama remains extraordinary. We feel tired of the previous excursions and of today and  exhausted, ice-cold but delighted,we return to Kianjin towards 15:30.

April 26st:

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We begin the big descent at 7:30 after warm goodbyes to our hosts. We’ll never forget the kindness of their welcome.

The Tsergo ri’s silhouette we know well now, accompanies us a big part of the morning. We eat our first Tibetan yoghurt. Extraordinary!

We stop at Lama Guest House this time, first building on arrival in the descent, a large hotel where we are the only customers; we spend the evening with the owner, very nice.

April 27th :

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We thought having made more than half the way yesterday but the descent  seems to never finish towards Syabrubesi. Left at 8:30, we give up the lunch having wait ¾h unsuccessfully. We buy our bus ticket to be sure to have 2 seats the next day. We notice that the Yeti Guest House in KTM charged us our one-way ticket the double!

An  office with a Chinese sign is settled in the main street. Big public works machines are parked. The road towards the Chinese border is being prepared.

april 28th:

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The bus takes us in 7:00 am, as expected. 10 hours of road this time to join KTM. But we shall have time to rest there!

7 Conclusion :

We didn’t make all what was planned. It has been necessary to postpone our ballad in Yala peak for example. We had the opportunity to meet inhabitants of the valley in optimal conditions. The landscapes are magnificent and have not to envy treks at higher altitudes. The fact of having managed to get off the beaten track gives us the desire to go farther towards the freedom and longer conquests by looking for the improvement of our autonomy.

 

8 Annex

Poverty of money vs poverty of time – (21/4)

We often say with compassion that the Nepalese are poor. Many western organizations are delighted to organize development projects in Nepal, as this cheese diary in Kianjin by a Swiss association. A million thanks to them for their work when these projects lead to long-lasting and independent exploitations, what is the case here.

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The Nepalese are undoubtedly poor for the greatest part and especially when they do not benefit directly from the tourism revenues, the main source of income and also a big source of pollution for the country.

But they are only poor of money and the properties that go with it.

When we watch these people living their hard lives, always smiling, always ready to give their time to welcome the foreigner, we can wonder if there are no other forms of poverty than that of money.

For example, at home, in Paris, nobody has time. People are poor of time, always running after time. Always lacking of it, we cannot appreciate the true and simple things of the life.

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