View Full Version : The People Situation

18th December 2008, 11:46 PM
I will be spending a decent amount of time in nepal from January 09 onwards, (untill may). I plan to do a considerable amount of trekking, everest and annapurna are the big ones, but as well some smaller/ less frequented. All the information I can find on the treks though is when they will be good weather wise and if maoists are an issue.

I am not concerned with "donations" or the cold, but rather the tourist situation. I would like to do at least one of the treks feeling as If I wasn't herded along with hundreds of other "like minded" people.

So the question to all those experienced and maybe similar folks, Is when are the better times to trek, and which treks? I understand there is no avoiding other trekkers completely, but I am not a predigested "I got cash" meaning of life seeker type. maybe areas that others tend to shy away from, due to their "dangers" of maoists,weather, etc etc, or activities people on a 2 week dinge would refrain from.

I realize better trekking season comes about feb/ march? but given how long I am there, and the fact that I am giving my self no limitations on what can be done there, time is not an issue here.

Niche follow-up, is it difficult to organize a climb of a lesser peak there? meaning not a gung-ho expedition, but maybe with a group of locals or some other experienced mountaineers itching to climb something?

any feedback would be fantastic, thanks for spending the time to read this.

19th December 2008, 12:52 AM
I will give you my perspective. There are other very experienced people on this site, who I am sure will help with theirs.

Four to five months it is a long time to spend in a country, so you have plenty of time and there is no need to rush.
One aspect here... Nepal can feel very intense at times, especially if you do one trek after another, and then come back to Kathamndu (which is a pretty busy place, not conducive to relaxation...). It is important to find a few days here and there where you are off strenous trekking , and also out of the "chaos" of Kathmandu. It is not as intens as places in India, but still.

So, finding places to rest and recharge is important for such a long period. You can do it in Kathmandu, there are some nice restful, out of the bustle, hotels and resorts. Or near Kathamndu in places like Dulikhel or Nagarkot. Or better in places like Pokhara (Lakeside) or Chitwan/Bardia national parks.

Regarding trekking. I guess EBC is the more notorious trek in terms of crowds of tourists in season. Most people coming to Nepal these days want to se Everest Base Camp.
I have been to Gokyo (for example) in January 2008 and had a very good peaceful and uncrowded trek, especially once we left Namche Bazaar.
But even with EBC there is usually enough place in the mountains, it is not like people trip over each other.

I have been in the Annapurnas about 5 times in the last 6-7 years. Again I did not feel encroached by too many tourists. Even on the Annapurna Base Camp trek (Sanctuary), which is a bit of "chute" similar to the Lukla to Namche stretch, it was quite ok (been to ABC in 2000 and 2001).

And of course, as you imply, if you go to Langtang/Helambu etc, you are likely to see very few tourists.
Naar Phu (I have not done it...) sounds like a good semi-remote kind of trek, and it can be done relatively easily as it starts from the Annaopurna Circuit trek.

I don't think you will have problems with Maoists on trek. There is rumour that on occasion they may still ask for donations, but the rumours are very patchy, and so probably are the demands for donations. I was lucky enough not to have to pay, ever.

If it is your first time in Nepal, you may consider hiring (maybe for your first trek) a porter-guide. Not that you can get lost on the major treks. The trail is not difficult to follow. I personally find it useful, and do so every time, even though I know some of the treks a lot better than my suburb in Sydney.
Others prefer to trek on their own.

Organising the climb of some trekking peak should not be a problem. And it does not have to be part of some big group. You should be able to organise a small scale "expedition" in a few days, in Thamel.
If you need some recommendations, wether for climbing a trekking peak, or simply for a porter-guide, some of the people on this forum can recommend peple they have trekked with a number of times.

I am sure others will add to this information. I hope it helps.

19th December 2008, 01:11 AM
Our last two treks in Nepal have been in February/March. Everest and Mustang in 2006 and Annapurna in 2008. The trails are quiet until a couple of weeks or so before Easter or early/mid March if Easter is late. Then the tour groups arrive. In 2006 we only met 13 other trekkers in Everest region in the first 3 weeks hiking (late Jan/early Feb). But by the end of February we were starting to meet groups. We did meet the odd group in Annapurna this year but it was very quiet and we had to cope with snow/ice for 14 days. You would need to be prepared for snow, ice and the possibility of avalanches. I think things quieten down after Easter and in to May but the weather is not so good - poorer visibility, etc.,

Crossing avalanche on the way out of ABC - March 2008

Snow in ABC (over 600mm fell over 3 days) - March 2008

The maoists shouldn't be a problem. They take the money off you now at the airport through the increased visa cost. However, the maoist unions are driving up wages and that means prices going up.

19th December 2008, 07:23 AM
If there is a good bit of snow fall in those areas, EBC, Annapurna; how great are the avalanche risks? If there is a big snow in a day, should that mean its a good idea to hang out where you are for a day or so? would locals know if its safe as well?

19th December 2008, 10:54 AM
If there is a good bit of snow fall in those areas, EBC, Annapurna; how great are the avalanche risks? If there is a big snow in a day, should that mean its a good idea to hang out where you are for a day or so? would locals know if its safe as well?

Generally the path is safe even with snow. There are notable exceptions though.

ABC trek has a portion (variously described, but generally between Hinku Cave and Deorali) where there can be avalanches, sometimes lethal. This is especially the case of heavy snow falls up Hiunchuli, the mountain above the area mentioned. March seems to be the most dangerous time.

Also, corssing Thorung La (actually the descent to Muktinath) can be dangerous in snow/ice. In fact all of the high passes need to be treated with respect.

Generally talking to the lodge owners, the locals, will clarify if the path is safe, or if you need to hang around.

On ABC, for the avalanche area, a good guide sometimes will take you on the other side of the Modi Khola. Not always, it depends on the conditions.

Anyway, there's no need to cancel treks or turn back, usually. Just pay attention, talk to the locals, or have a good guide.

19th December 2008, 01:13 PM
There were several dodgy places because of snow this year. The last section before Thorong Phedi before and after crossing the river. The climb up to Thorong La was okayish and also the first part of the walk down to Muktinath. But the middle steep section was covered in drifts up to knee height and we just had to wade through it. Everyone slipped, some of us more than once. The last section is on an easy gradient and no problems.

My picture show an avalanche that had come down from Hiunchuli on to the trail just below Deurali. It would have been catastrophic for anyone on the trail. The snow had been transformed into solid balls of ice about the side of footballs. It was a big avalanche and it had flowed across the river. A trail had been made across it and marked with red flags. Ther were several much smaller avalanches further up but all except one caused us little difficulty. The odd one out caused us great difficulty because it had run through a gully that we had to cross and scoured the existing snow leaving a smooth steep ice surface that we had to cross - very difficult and dangerous.

We also had difficulty hiking from Ghorepani to Tadopani (heading for Chhomrong and ABC) Less than an inch of snow had fallen, then partly thawed,trampled and then it froze hard. The steep downhill sections were lethal and I eventually got down them by sitting on my bum and doing controlled slides. Hard vibram footwear is a big problem. It just let's go in slippery situations. We were c,arrying in-step crampons but you're always loathe to fit them for just a few yards walking.

The avalanche below Deurali crossing the river

A close-up of the avalanche - all hard ice - it's fallen around 3000 metres!