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Thread: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    Quote Originally Posted by Oli
    I would not say that any of the trail is "technical", just some of it is very steep.
    Actually I'll take that back and tell you about the sketchiest bit of trail that I've been on.

    From Tortong to Yamphudin you have to climb through forests above the Simbuwa Khola to gain the ridge at Lasiya Bhanjyang [here] . There seemed to be a couple of potential trails through the forest, the one that we took came to a fresh landslide. We could see that a very large section of the hillside had slipped down a couple of hundred meters and then dropped into the valley below. There was no sign that anyone had crossed it yet but no obvious way around. Seeing a section of forest a short way across and above us we cautiously made our way over to that. Here is a photo looking back across that section.....



    Walking through that bit of forest we soon came across some very large cracks in the ground and we came to the other side where it became apparent that we were only on an island of roots and trees precariously gripping to the slope. We had no choice but to cross and climb another very scary section of the landslide before we were able to gain the crest of the ridge and the safety of a decent trail.

    It turned out that there was another trail up through the forest that would have avoided the landslide. But it was obviously that it had happened just recently, probably whilst we were on the trail (I did hear a distant rumble one day in Ghunsa...) The family we had stayed with the night before had not mentioned it and there was no other way that my guide would have known to tend towards the left rather than right was we found our way up through the forest.

    This was definitely the dodgiest thing that I have done in all my times in Nepal. I know some people who would have been extremely distressed by the exposure. With the benefit of hindsight I think we made a slightly dubious decision to cross it rather than turn back and find a safer route, but at the time it seemed a reasonable decision.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    Hm, sounds, and looks, dodgy... But I understand well the decision making process. You think you'll be ok (just...), and commit to a course of action. Then something slightly hairier comes accross, but by that time it is quite inconveninent, enven dangerous, to turn back and find another route. So you plod along and pray for the best. Had something similar on our enforced detour last year in June after Tatopani (I think). I am sure the detour was almost as dangerous as crossing that damn lanslide that Santa would not take us accross. It was quite a large and very recent one, nothing was stable... He said he does not like carrying people accross on this back, not on that stretch... I told him he was a chicken. He did not get my sarcasm for a few seconds, and I could see in his eyes he was briefly considering carrying my 83 kg frame accross bloody landslided ravine... But regathered his usually steady convincing voice saying: No sir, no way!! We go around over that ridge", pointing up a side valley (a 90 minute detrour over a very very high ridge...). Then he started laughing and said: "Ah... you're joking sir...". But his laugh was a bit forced, and he really gave me a hammering in the chess game that evening... No more Mr.Nice Guy. I could understand him.
    Last edited by yakshaver; 7th May 2008 at 04:23 AM.
    yakshaver

  3. #13
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    Hi oli just read your description of your trek in Kanchenjunga and found it real helpful.
    I also would like to do it independantly having trekked independantly in a lot of the other popular trails.
    However I gather the services of a guide are more needy here than ABC - CIRCUIT, EBC, LANGTANG etc.I realise it's been a year since you last posted but was wondering if you are still active on this site if you could help me out with a couple of things ;
    I like the sound of the arrangement you had with the agency man in Kathmandu -the bet you had with the tent - very casual and honest. Not like an experience I had with an agent in Kat over a trip to island peak.
    Can you tell me the name of the agency you used please, and also can you tell me the total amount you paid.

    Also, in your experience, do you think it would be possible to get to taplejung, and make my own way up to Ghunsa and hire a guide and equipment here for the passes route

    Hope you are still loggin on and to hear from you soon

    Cheers

    Will
    Quote Originally Posted by Oli
    Somewhat belated I have some more rough notes relating to this trek that may be of some interest. Posted in response to interest in Kanchenjunga in this thread.....

    We flew to Suketar, then walked via Chiruwa and Ghunsa up to the north basecamp at Pangpema (Lonak was the highest overnight stop). Then back to Ghunsa and over the passes of Selele La, Mining La etc to Tseram. We didn't make it to South BaseCamp, being too underequiped and the weather looked a bit dicey. Returned via Yamphudin, back to Suketar/Taplejung, then a bus to Kathmandu.

    [Day 1 = 4thNov]
    1] Kathmandu, fly to Suketar, walk to Mitlung
    2] Mitlung to Chiruwa
    3] Chiruwa to Sekathum
    4] Sekathum to Amjilosa
    5] Amjilosa to Gyabla
    6] Gyabla to Ghunsa
    7] rest day in Ghunsa
    8] Ghunsa to Kambachen
    9] Kambachen to Lonak
    10] Lonak to Pangpema & back down to Kambachen
    11] Kambachen to Ghunsa
    12] Ghunsa to Selele La
    13] Selele La to Tseram
    14] rest day, hiked up valley to between Lapsang and Ramche
    15] Tseram to Tortong
    16] Tortong to Yamphudin
    17] Yamphudin to Phumphe
    18] Phumphe to Sinchewa(?)
    19] Sinchewa to Lali Kharka
    20] Lali Kharka to Taplejung
    21-23] Taplejung to Kathmandu by bus

    There isn't too much scope for varying the itinerary. Quite often you have to stop at those places because there is nowhere in between.
    From Sekethum to Phale (2-3 days) the valley is unbelievably steep and there are few places where you could find somewhere flat enough to pitch a tent. Coming back from Tortong to Suketar there are more villages along the trail and so more chance to vary where you spend the nights.

    It took 40 minutes to fly from Kathmandu to Suketar, and 40 HOURS on buses to get back from Taplejung. I did have the opportunity to blag a seat on a plane back to KTM but I wanted to go back home with the lads rather than abandon them for the easy option. It is a long journey back by road - on the first day we averaged only a few miles/hour, setting off before dawn and were still north of Ilam when we were stopped by a police checkpoint at dusk. Next day we got to Birtamod and got seats on an overnight bus via Bharatpur (near Chitwan) back to Kathmandu for midday. Quite a journey!

    Regarding tents and accommodation - Normally this trek is done in a group with tents and a full crew of guides, porters and a kitchen
    etc... But as there was just me and two Nepali it was possible to find some locals to feed and shelter us. My man in Kathmandu assured me that we wouldn't need tents, I was rather skeptical about that and insisted that we should take one "just in case". We made a bet that I'd pay its cost if we didn't use it and he would waive the expense if it did prove to be necessary after all. As we went along I was pleasantly surprised to find that we really could local food and shelter just about anywhere.

    There are a couple of 'lodges', but they aren't like you'd know from the main tourist trails, there is no "menu & orderbook" system. Other times we stayed with local families, at Gyabla we stayed with the local "womens social group", at Lonak I slept in what could be described as a yak herders hut but on the night was also serving as the local pub! The one night were I actually did use the tent was at Selele La, to be honest I could have slept in a shed or lean-to shelter without lowering my comfort standards too much, but the place was a bit crowded and the tent was slightly the better option. So as it turned out I did use the tent but didn't strictly need it - I paid Soman a few more dollars for hire of the tent and my porter a few more rupees for making him carry it.

    Please note that if there are more than 2 or 3 of you in your group then there may well be some nights where it may be difficult to find a bed, and even then some nights you may be sleeping on a mat on the floor of a hut because that is all there is. If one of the locals is good enough to give you their bed then they may well be sleeping on the floor - you have to be prepared to rough it a bit, but the usual friendly welcome makes it all worthwhile.

    There are very few people in this area that speak any English - so you must rely on having a decent guide to arrange your needs along the way. Not least a bed and food for the night, but also as there are no 'teashops' along the way we quite frequently persuaded local households to share their mid-morning dhal bhat with us. I don't really know what our daily living expenses amounted to as I trusted Krishna to take care of that, certainly it was much less than teahouse trekking to Everest and I believe that the locals were generally pleased to earn some rupees.

    We ate dhal bhat every day, often twice a day. I hope you like spinach as all to often it was just saag, rice & dhal. But sometimes the cook did an amazing job of producing a great dhal bhat from almost nothing. And I ate more meat on this trek than during the month before when I was trekking in the Khumbu. One afternoon I was helping the local kids round up chickens little realising that a couple of hours later we'd be eating one of them. Kumar, our porter, often worked as an expedition cook so he would sometimes assist the didi to prepare something more familiar to my western tastes. We also ate fried egg and chapati, lots of noodle soup, delicious boiled potatoes, and in Ghunsa we managed to obtain pasta.

    For permits your will need one from the Dept of Immigration in Kathmandu, and agency or qualified guide should have the necessary contacts to obtain one of these. They are issued for a minimum of two people, but if you are on you own then a means will be found to match you up with another solo trekker or as an addendum to a larger group list - just let the Nepali sort that out for you. And you'll be expected to pay a fee for entry to the Kanchenjunga national park / conservation area (I paid at the office in Ghunsa).

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    Hi Will
    I am sure Oli will reappear on here, if not drop him a PM. I did the North and South side of Kanchenjunga in Oct/Nov 2008.There is another tread with some details I posted on return lower down in this section. You will need a registered agency to obtain your restricted area permit and this must be for minimum two names on the permit. I did not see but nor did I ask about local guides etc on route as I trekked with an agency I use from KTM. Trail wise you probably don't need a guide but this is a much more remote area with locals much less familiar with individual trekkers and less English spoken etc. Most people trek this area as part of a large camping group trek. In bad weather I would not go the high passes from one valley to another without an experienced guide.

    Happy to cover any other questions you may have.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    Hi boulia
    thanks for the reply
    could you reccomend the guide you used on your trek? what are his contact details and how much was the cost?

    cheers

    Will

  6. #16
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    Aug 2004
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    Default Re: Kanchenjunga High Passes by Oli

    In theory it is possible to do this trek solo and unsupported, but in practice it is rather beyond the means of all but the very hardiest and adventurous of trekkers. I would not recommend starting the trek without the assistance of a competent guide, not least due to the permit requirement. You might be able to hire a local at Ghunsa to help you up to Pangpema and over the passes (we did, ask at the Top of the World lodge) but you should not count on it in your plans.

    The agency that organised my trek is no longer in business, but I am still in contact with my guide and the man from the agency - either one would be able to help you do this trek, I'll send you a privmsg with their email addresses.

    This trek is rather more ambitious than teahouse trekking around Annapurna and the Khumbu, but it is a magnificent trek and well worth the effort.

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