The Langtang Valley is located only 19 miles north of Kathmandu, close to the border of Tibet, below the main crest of the Himalaya. The valley is dominated by Langtang Lirung (7246m), the highest peak in the area. This trek with its optional climbs of Yala Peak and Naya Kanga offers a wonderful introduction to mountaineering in the Himalaya, among some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of Nepal.
Our trek begins with a 6 hour drive to Dhunche. Initially we trek through sub-tropical jungle, then dense forest of oak, birch and pine before the valley opens out into alpine meadows and yak pastures. In the spring these high meadows are carpeted with a rich variety of alpine flowers – gentians, violets, edelweiss and primulas to name just a few – and the forests are also in full bloom with rare tree orchids and the colourful rhododendron. The Langtang forests are also known for their wildlife, including red pandas, Himalayan black bear, wild boar and langur monkeys.
We trek up the valley to Kyangjin where we camp in a superb setting, dominated by the fluted north west face of Kangchenpo, whilst Kyangjin Ri provides a splendid viewpoint. From Kyangjin we move further up the valley to Yala, a small yersa (summer hamlet). Basing ourselves here allows time to walk to the top of Tsergo Ri (5066m), the highest point on a broad flat plateau. The views from here are as spectacular as anywhere in the Himalaya, a 360 degree panorama of snow capped mountains including Langtang Lirung, Pemthang Ri, Langshisha Ri, Dorje Lakpa, and Kangchenpo.
Our base at Yala also provides us with the opportunity to climb Yala Peak (5500m). This is not technically difficult and provides good acclimatisation and training for our climb of Naya Kanga (5844m). The climb is straightforward being little more than a walk up steep snow slopes of around 30 degrees. The view from the summit is breathtaking – magnificent snow capped peaks all around and views across to the mountains of Tibet, including Shishapangma.
Fit and acclimatised we move from Yala to our base for Naya Kanga, a camp on moraines below the Kangja La. From here there are good views of the north east ridge of Naya Kanga, the route we will be climbing. The climb is fairly straightforward, though the final snow crest is quite narrow, great fun for those with a head for heights. Once again the views from the summit are spectacular, a fitting climax to a magnificent climb.
For anyone not wishing to climb Yala Peak and Naya Kanga, there is every opportunity to explore the spectacular upper Langtang valley. Our camps are in superb locations, the trekking is not difficult and there are many good options for day walks from our base camps. The trek to and from the Upper Langtang valley is a ‘classic’ in its own right.
We descend from the upper Langtang Valley as far as Syabru before following a different trail, past Sing Gompa, to the sacred lakes of Gosainkund. We cross the Laurebina La (4610m) and return to Kathmandu through the lovely villages of the Helambu region.
Today is a full day's drive to Dhunche from where we will begin our trek. .
From Dhunche the trail turns east down the village's main street, using one or two short cuts to avoid the longer dirt road loops, crosses the Trishuli Khola and follows the contouring road to the village of Bharkhu. Climbing steeply from Bharkhu the trail reaches a ridge where we enter the Langtang valley. From here there are views north to the snow peaks in Tibet and, to the east, the top of Langtang Lirung can be seen. Descending, we come to the village of Syabru strung out along a ridge. .
The main trail to Langtang descends along the ridge, through the village, then continues the descent to the Langtang Khola. We follow the river, climbing though uninhabited forest of oak and rhododendron alive with birds. Passing the single dwelling of Chongong we climb along a steep trail to our camp in the forest. .
As we continue climbing there are occasional glimpses of Langtang Lirung between the trees. At Ghora Tabela [3000m], the trail emerges into open ground. There was once a Tibetan resettlement project here, but now it is a Nepalese army post though it has no permanent inhabitants. The trail continues to climb gently and the valley widens, passing a few temporary settlements used by herders who bring their livestock up to graze in the high pastures during the summer months. There is a monastery which we can visit shortly before arriving at the village of Langtang, the headquarters of the Langtang National Park. The houses of Langtang and neighboring villages are of Tibetan style, surrounded by stone walls enclosing fields of buckwheat, potatoes, wheat, turnips and barley..
The trail climbs gradually through small villages and yak pastures as the valley opens out further and the views become more extensive. After crossing several small streams and moraines, the trail reaches the settlement at Kyangjin. Here there is a small monastery and a government-operated cheese factory. We should arrive at Kyangjin by lunch time allowing time to acclimatise and explore the area. .
A day to rest, acclimatise and explore the area. Near the village, visits can be made to the monastery and the cheese factory. We may walk up the moraine to the north where there is a spectacular view of Langtang Lirung and its hanging glaciers, or climb Kyangjin Ri, just behind the village, for a superb all round panorama. .
From Kyangjin we continue further up the valley, climbing above the Langtang Khola and contouring around the hillside to the yersa at Yala. From our camp here there are tremendous views towards the peaks of Dorje Lakpa [7000m], Kangchenpo [6400m] and Lonpo Gang [7100m]. .
From our camp at Yala it is only a short way to the top of Tsergo Ri [5066m]. This is an 'easy' walk to the prayer flags and mani stones marking the summit, the highest point on a broad flat plateau. The views all around are spectacular, a 360 degree panorama of snow capped peaks including Langtang Lirung, Kimshun, Yanza Tsenji, Langtang Ri, Pemthang Ri, Langshisha Ri, Dorje Lakpa, Kangchenpo and Naya Kanga..
Our base at Yala provides us with the opportunity to climb Yala Peak, a glaciated peak to the north east of Yala. The climb is not difficult and provides good acclimatisation and training for our climb of Naya Kanga. The climb is straightforward being little more than a walk up steep snow slopes of around 30 degrees. Ice axe and crampons will be needed and most of the climb will involve walking roped together up the glacier. This climb is a superb introduction to mountaineering in the Himalaya with magnificent mountain scenery all around and views across to the mountains in nearby Tibet, including Shishapangma. .
We retrace our route down the valley towards Kyangjin and cross the Langtang Khola before following a trail uphill towards the Kangja La. Some steep scrambling through boulder fields eventually leads to a camp on moraines below the Kangja La. The campsite offers good views of our route up Naya Kanga, as well as views of Shishapangma. .
Two days have been allowed for the climb. One may be used as a rest day before climbing Naya Kanga. An early start will take us towards the Kangja La before following a terrace to cross the glacier and reach the foot of the north east ridge. This ridge provides a long steep snow climb with superb views down both sides. The final snow crest is quite narrow and will be great fun for those with a head for heights. The views from the summit are superb and many of Nepal's well known mountains can be identified. A long steep descent to camp will leave us tired but very satisfied with our efforts. For those not wishing to climb Yala Peak and /or Naya Kanga, our base at the head of the Langtang valley is in a superb setting, as spectacular as anywhere in the Himalaya and there is ample time to explore the upper Langtang valley with many good options for day walks from our base camps. .
From Kyangjin we retrace our route, following the Langtang Khola to Langtang village and on to Ghora Tabela. After lunch we continue the steep descent to Lama Hotel..
We continue retracing our steps to Syabru..
From Syabru it is a steep climb through forests of oak, firs and rhododendrons to gain a ridge. From here it is only a short descent to Sing Gompa. Here there is a Buddhist monastery and a small cheese factory. .
From Sing Gompa we climb a ridge to gain the main Gosainkund trail. There are good views across Langtang valley to Langtang Lirung. To the west there are dramatic views of Himalchuli, Ganesh Himal and Manaslu. Eventually the trail descends from the ridge to the first of three lakes, Saraswati Kund. The second lake in the chain is named Bhairab Kund, and the third, Gosainkund. This lake is particularly sacred and a place of pilgrimage in the summer. According to legend this lake was created by Shiva when he pierced a glacier with his trident to obtain water, quenching his thirst after taking some poison..
The trail leaves Gosainkund and climbs through rugged country, past four more small lakes to Laurebina La at 4610m. We then descend steeply to camp near Gopte. .
We continue descending along the ridge, through rhododendron and juniper forests and past herders' huts to a stream before climbing to Tharepati, a group of herders' huts at 3490m. From Tharepati the trail gradually descends through pine and rhododendron forest with good views down into the Helambu valley and across to Jugal Himal and Numbur in the Solu Khumbu..
From Mangan Kharka it is a short climb to cross a ridge before following a very easy trail, through forest with superb views across to Numbur, Jugal Himal and many other snow capped peaks. From Kutumsang we climb to a pass at 2620m., before descending to the Tamang village of Gulphu Bhanjyang. We camp beyond Gulphu Bhanjyang, on a ridge with splendid views, stretching from the Annapurnas and Manaslu in the west to Numbur in the east. .
From our camp it is an easy climb to cross a pass at 2470m before descending to Pati Bhanjyang, a large Tamang village with a few shops and a police check post. From here it is a 2 hour climb to Chisopani and our camp. .
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