Showing posts with label adventurous Trekking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adventurous Trekking. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2013

Challenging your limits, the Tilicho Trekking….

Challenging your limits, the Tilicho Trail is one of the most popular trekking routes in the world. Most of
the tourists who come to Nepal go through this trekking route as it gives an overwhelming experience
of both adrenalin as well as natural beauty. It gives you the opportunities to trek within the Himalayan
range, along trails that takes one as high as 5,416m at the Thorang-La pass and at a height of 4,919
meters. Another attraction of this trekking route is the mysterious Tilicho Lake that holds the reputation
of being located at an elevation of being the highest lake. Its reputation precedes by its image of crystal
clear and emerald green water that sits quietly below Tilicho Peak, which towers above at 7,132 meters.
The unique geographical location of the Lake, situated in within the Annapurna Range, gives it the
adventurous essence. With a three days trek, the Tilicho trail starts from Manang, and should only be
undertaken by well-equipped and experienced guides. The route is highly challenging and demands a
high alert safety.

However, another most important fact is that one has to remain at high altitudes for considerable
period of time so altitude sickness is yet another obstacle. With this trekking one needs to have
excellent camping gear, food, and clothing for high altitudes on this trail as a large section of the trail is
at high altitudes and it is necessary to camp high one has to be properly acclimatized, or allow time for
it. The descending trail out of Manang follows the wooden bridge spanning the Marsyandi River, climbs
to a long flat ridge leading into a beautiful pine forest, and finally descends to another wooden bridge
across the Kangsar Khola - before climbing up to Kangsar (3,700m) where there are two small lodges.
From Kangsar, there are three trails to Tilicho Base Camp, taking 4-6 hours, depending on the trail.

The shortest and usually least dangerous path descends from Kangsar to the river, crosses a metal
suspension bridge, and follows the riverbank through wooded areas. It is best to ask the locals in
Kangsar about trail conditions. About 3 hours walking up-river, you cross a primitive bridge, ascend
steeply, and follow the ridge along a path to Tilicho Base Camp. The second path from Kangsar arrives
after about two hours at Gompa, which is an interesting place to visit.

The third trail rises steeply and circuitously, and takes about two hours longer. It descends rapidly
down a switchback landslide into Tilicho Base Camp, at about 4,300m. From Tilicho Base Camp the path
continues up along moraine ridges and grassy slopes to some large switchbacks carved out on the slope
till you reach a watershed. On the other side is Tilicho Lake. It is not possible to go around the edges of
the lake, so it is best to ascend to a ridge at 5,000m, overlooking Tilicho Lake. Campsites are also found
on its north eastern shore.

Altitude sickness like shortness of breath, exhaustion, headache, etc is the often felt symptoms so
travelers and trekkers have to be smart. Staying at the lake for more than an hour is not a comfortable
experience so it is best to descend quickly to the base camp. One can also descend to the base camp at
Manang on the lower path, which is another four hours plus. Another option is to make the trip from
Base Camp to Tilicho Lake and return to Manang in one long, rather tiring day. From Kangsar at Manang,
you can also go straight to Thorung Phedi (4,420m) and cross Thorung La (5,416m) and descend either
to Muktinath (eight hours) or walk another hour to Jharkot. It is only another three hours to Jomsom
from there.

There are two possible passes from Tilicho Lake to Jomsom, the first one is the Meso Kanto La (pass),
which unfortunately leads to a restricted military training area. An alternative option is to cross Meso
Kanto La from the north and find the traverse to Thini. Going that way will bypass the restricted area

and solve this problem. The crux is that the west slope of Meso Kanto La is very steep. When it is
snow covered, it may at best be an excruciating snow trudge but it can also be avalanche prone or not
negotiable at all without crampons, ice axe and ropes. Snow and ice can be expected there from early
September to May. The second trail is famous among tourists and is known as the Tourist La ( pass). As
the name suggests, this is much easier to negotiate and from the pass trekkers have a view far into Tibet
and Mustang.

The best seasons to visit Tilicho Lake are June, July and August. Conventional wisdom has it that it is not
only stupid, but nearly suicidal, to trek during the monsoons. But, during the monsoon season, Tilicho is
at its best, when other areas are experiencing rain. Anyone venturing up in the other seasons will find
Tilicho, although stunningly beautiful, cold and inhospitable. It is freezing cold between October to May
and snow, which rarely melts, can fall any time. Furthermore, one has to cross some steep slopes that
are avalanche prone when snow covered.

King of Trekking the Great Himalaya Trail(GHT)

The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) is the longest and highest alpine walking track in the world winding
4500kms through the tallest mountain ranges and most isolated communities from Tibet to Pakistan.
The trail, which can be undertaken in one continuous trek of 156 days, will traverse the country from
east to west.

The Nepal section of the GHT offers a kaleidoscope of experiences and World Expeditions are proud to
offer ongoing commercial treks beginning in February each year. Winding beneath the world’s highest
peaks and visiting some of the most remote communities on earth, it passes through lush green valleys,
arid high plateaus and incredible landscapes. It covers 1700km of tracks, divided into 10 different
sections. The trail covers the full distance of the Himalayan Range in Nepal from the district of Taplejung
in the East to Humla and Darchula in the West and ultimately continues through Tibet, India and
Myanmar in East of Nepal and Tibet, India and Pakistan in the West. The treks can be done subsequently
or completely separate from each other. Besides, each GHT section features a number of side-treks of
varying duration and difficulty, some of which require camping equipment and others that can be done
teahouse style. With numerous trekking options and new tourism attractions, each GHT section forms a
distinct trekking and adventure destination within itself.

Trekkers can choose between two routes. Nepal’s Upper GHT is winding through high mountain ranges
on an average altitude of 3000 to 5000 metres, providing for breath-taking views on the country’s
towering peaks. Along the Lower, Cultural route, tourists will get the chance to visit small communities
and villages and learn about the culture and traditions of Nepal’s various ethnic groups.

Upper Trail: Trekking along the Upper GHT Trail makes for an unforgettable adventure and for some it
will be the trip of a lifetime. The trail stretches over a distance of about 1,700 km and passes through
spectacular, high altitude mountain landscapes, visiting some of the most remote villages on earth,
where life remains as it was centuries back. Trekking along the Upper Trail requires to cross high passes
with altitudes up to 6,200 m and the whole trek takes about 150 days on average. Proper trekking gear
and mountaineering equipment is needed and anyone attempting this trek should be physically fit and
ideally have some trekking and mountaineering experience. For safety, a local mountain guide who
knows the terrain is definitely recommended especially in high altitudes. Due to the remoteness of the
trek, camping is required for most parts of the adventure and it is necessary that you (or your porter)
carry a tent, food and cooking equipment. But what could be better than pitching your tent surrounded
by the mighty snow-capped Himalayas and sleeping under the star lit sky?
Nepal’s Upper Trail starts north of the Kanchenjunga Base Camp and ends in Hilsa at Nepal’s Tibetan
border in the Western district of Humla.

Lower Trail: Nepal’s Lower GHT – also called the cultural route – goes mostly through the country’s mid
hills with an average altitude of 2000m. However, there are still a couple of passes to cross with the
highest being the Jang La at 4519 m between Dhorpatan and Dolpa in West-Nepal.
Trekking along the Lower GHT means walking through beautiful lush forests, pastures, green rice
terraces and fertile agricultural land, providing the basis for Nepal’s rich culture and civilization. You
will come across local settlements of many different cultural groups, giving you the chance to see
what authentic Nepali village life is all about. For most parts of the trek, you’ll be able to stay in small
guesthouses or homestays, but make sure to still take your tent for some of the more remote sections
of the route. With lots of local restaurants around, you’ll find a place to eat almost everywhere and so
you don’t necessarily need to carry large amounts of food. Shorter then the Upper Trail, the Lower GHT
stretches over a distance of 1,500 km and the whole trek will roughly take around 95 days.

The beginnings of Cross-Himalaya trekking: Not many people have walked the length of the Himalayas
in the last few decades (and written about it). However there have been some expeditions with the goal
either of traversing Nepal or going further trying to traverse the greater Himalaya range.
In 1980, one ‘inspirational’ Mr Shirahata is mentioned in the classic book “Trekking in Nepal” by
Toru Nakano as having walked the length of the country from ‘east to west’ in Nepal but no further
references or information has been found. In 1982, Arlene Blum and travel and adventure writer Hugh
Swift became the first westerners to complete a 4,500 km great Himalayan traverse across Bhutan,
Nepal and India. Starting from the eastern border of Bhutan, Swift and Blum, climbed up and down the
Himalayan range over 6,000m passes and down to river valleys at 600m, gaining and losing an average
of 1,000m each day to reach Ladakh. This is documented in Blum’s book –“Breaking Trail”.
In 1983 two British brothers, Richard and Adrian Crane ran the Himalayas, from before Kanchenjunga
to beyond Nanga Parbat in less than 100 days. According to the Crane’s book, “Running the Himalayas”,
“…in 1980 an Indian army team set out from Arunchal Pradesh in India’s north east corner and, after
one and a half to two years of travel along a high mountain route, they finished their journey just north
of Leh in the Ladakh region of the Karakorams…. it progressed in ‘relay’ fashion and possibly no one
member stayed with the expedition for the full course”. On their way, the Crane brothers met the British
Women’s Trans-Himalaya Expedition who set off from Sikkim in January 1983 and used buses where
necessary on their journey. The Cranes themselves though were however “travelling super-light. One
rucksack, one sleeping bag, one set of clothes, one pair of shoes, and shared between us: map, diaries,
camera, penknife, water jar and two plastic teaspoons. No guides, no porters, no shelter, no food, no
water. And we would be running. Looked at logically, the idea was preposterous”.

Similarly, in 1994 the French duo of Paul-Eric Bonneau and Bruno Poirier made a crossing of the
Himalayas in Nepal in 42 days (October 21 – December 1, 1994) and called their adventure “Trans-
Nepal-Himalaya”. They travelled 2000 km (+ / -55 000 m) between Pashupatinagar (eastern border) and
Mahakali (western border) including Everest base camp.

Then nearly two decades later in 2003, Rosie Swale-Pope ran the length of Nepal, and early Great
Himalayan Trail route, with a support team, doing an estimated 1,700km in 68 days to raise money
for the charity Nepal Trust. Dr Gillian Holdsworth walked a similar route in 2007 which is documented
on the British Nepal Medical Trust website. Between 2008 and 2011 Jean-Claude Latombe walked a
winding trail across Nepal in two sections of 56 and 53 days. His website has a wonderful collage of
images of the people and landscapes he encountered.

However it was early 2009 that truly gave birth to a Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal. Robin Boustead
supported by his wife Judy Smith and friends walked the trail in stages beginning in September 2008. It
took a lot of research to identify a true high-alpine route that was feasible for trekkers. Robin said: ”if
someone gathered enough information on that area, it would be a great trek for everyone”. Robin
was that someone and he has documented his route meticulously using GPS. The route, distances,
elevations, water sources, villages and camp sites are all detailed in his Great Himalaya Trail guide book.
In 2010, another adventurer, Sean Burch completed a route across Nepal in 49 days with the help of
Nepal Trust and in 2011 Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter walked an unsupported trek of 57 days across

In 2006 the Dutch development agency SNV and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain
Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu proposed to the Government of Nepal to develop an official
Great Himalaya Trail from near Kangchenjunga in the east to Api-Saipal in the Far West of Nepal and

to harness the trail for pro-poor development in Nepal’s remote mountain regions. The route would
be based on the route identified and documented by Robin Boustead. The idea was well received by
the tourism industry and development actors alike and in 2008, the Government of Nepal with Support
SNV, created the Great Himalaya Trail Development (GHTDP), a public private initiative lead by the
Nepalese Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. With funding from the UK Department for International
Development UKAID, the Government of Nepal is working closely with the tourism industry, NGOs
and host communities to ensure that the GHT is developed into an iconic and globally significant new
tourism product for Nepal and managed in line with responsible tourism best practices, generating vital
jobs and income for local communities and contributing to the conservation of the country’s natural and
cultural heritage. Still, the Great Himalaya Trail is new and will evolve over the coming years through
the preferences and suggestions of trekkers completing the route or sections of it. This is why it is so
exciting to get on the trail now.

Source: The great Himalayan Trail