The Trek from Makalu Base Camp via Sherpani Col to the Solo Khumbu region “One of the Best Challenging Treks that Nepal has to Offer” – Armandus Dirks
Explore Himalaya organized a trek to Makalu Base camp for Eveline Wessels, Armand Dirks and Frank Van Hulst, from the Netherlands. They did not follow our usual itinerary of 23 days but had an extended one of 26 days and they took a different route. After reaching the Makalu Base Camp, instead of making their descent, they climbed further up to the Upper & Lower Barun glacier till they reached Baruntse BC (6140m), the highest point on the trek. They made their way via the Sherpani Col (6135m) crossing the West Col & Amphu Labtsa pass to the Chukung valley. Eveline and Armand dropped in at our office on the morning of 20th November to share their experience. Both of them have visited Nepal before and this was their first trek to Makalu/Barun region.
The trek started on the 24th of November 2007 with a flight to Tumlingtar from Kathmandu. The group started their trek the same day they reached Tumlingtar. According to Armand this trek offers a very diverse experience, both culturally and naturally. He says, “It starts from a very low elevation of 460m and goes up to a height of about 6140m. On the way we met different groups of people: Rai, Tamang & Sherpa. The terrain also changed as we climbed higher, varying from rice terraces, jungle and wide rivers, to huge moraines, glaciers and impressive 7000 and 8000m peaks. One should be physically fit in order to do this trek, as one has to climb up above 6000m, traversing some difficult passes and steep ridges. The passes in this trek involve some basic, but technical climbing. So I would only advice the traverse from Makalu BC to the Khumbu to keen and experienced trekkers who like a challenge. Some basic mountaineering experience is preferred.”
Eveline added, “There were green forests and meadows in the lower regions but as soon as we crossed the 5000m mark the landscape changed completely. By the time we left the Makalu BC, we encountered a very desolate landscape of rocks, snow and ice. As we began the trek it was very warm and humid, above BC the temperatures dropped to -10C to -25C during several nights. Apart from a little drizzle at the beginning of the trek, the weather was stable with clear skies in the mornings”.
Describing the trail Armand said, “The first few days of the trek involved easy walking with some longer and steep descents and ascents. The walking hours varied from 5 to 7 hours a day, but as we got higher, there where some shorter and much longer days. After reaching the 4000m mark, we walked for just 3 or 4 hours a day. One porter got AMS before the Sherpani Col and was sent down with another porter. A second porter got sick just behind the West Col. He had severe cold stress with back ache and stomach cramps and could not carry on, so we had to help him get down again. I think the porter was not properly dressed for the cold at this altitude, and he had some problems acclimatizing properly. Clients and crew should be physically fit and should have proper equipment to climb to these heights (above 6000m).”
According to Armand there are some steep rock faces at the Sherpani Col, West Col & Amphu Labtsa which involves some technical climbing. So he says, “This trek cannot be classified as pure trekking: walking on paths and trails. Some rock and snow climbing is involved as well. At all high passes we had to fix ropes to get every body up or down. This trek is difficult because of the high passes and the cold in the higher regions, but its one of the best treks in Nepal”.
Talking about their climbing guide, both of them said, “We were lucky to have an experienced guide, Namgyal Sherpa. He was strong, able and came well equipped with down suit, climbing gear and sufficient rope. There was a difficult section after crossing Sherpani Col, where a porter unfortunately dropped the jerry can with kerosene. All kerosene was lost. Our supply was not enough as we needed kerosene not only to heat food but to melt ice for water as well. The only option to get kerosene was in Chukung, beyond the Amphu Labtsa pass, a long distance away. Namgyal and Nima offered to go across the Amphu Labsta to Chukung to get kerosene. It took them about 30 hours, very exhausting for them, but they succeeded.”
Armand and Eveline advice to the other trekkers wishing to do this trek is, “Come well equipped with suitable down clothes as the temperature drops well below freezing point at the higher altitudes. Some basic climbing equipment is necessary. A satellite phone is a must for emergencies. Some camps are situated in the middle of nowhere and it might take days to get help. Having a satellite phone will surely get help faster”.
Both of them rate the trek as one of the best. Though this trek had an extended itinerary of 26 days, Armand believes that this trek can be done in 24 days if nothing goes wrong , and provided that all the members (porters, cooks, guides and other members) are physically fit and strong enough. But as the whole team is responsible for each other, it’s better to have some extra spare days. This will give any party the possibility to deal with slower acclimatization, bad weather and other unforeseen difficulties.
Original itinerary (changed during trek)
24th Oct: Kathmandu-Tumlingtar-Khandbari By flight (460m)
25th Oct: Bhotebas (1700m)
26th Oct: Mure(1980m)
27th Oct: Seduwa (1460m)
28th Oct: Tashigaon (2200m)
29th Oct: Kauma Kharka (3470m
30th Oct: Shipton La (4250m) – Mumbuk (3570m)
31st Oct: Nehe Kharka (3670m)
1st Nov: Rest day (3670m)
2nd Nov; Merek (4340m)
3rd Nov: Makalu Base camp (4900m)
4th Nov: Rest day (4900m)
5th Nov: Rest day (4900m)
6th Nov: Sandy camp upper Barun Glacier (5250m)
7th Nov: Sherpani East Col BC (Below East Col) (5250m)
8th Nov: Rest Day (5720m)
9th Nov: Traverse East (6140m) – Baruntse BC (6140m)
10th Nov: Spare day (6140m)
11th Nov: West Col (6135m) – Panch Pokhari (5445m)
12th Nov: Spare Day (6140m)
13th Nov: Amphu Labtsa BC (5520m)
14th Nov: Amphu Labtsa (5520m) – Chukung (4730m)
15th Nov: Tengboche(3860m)
16th Nov: Namche (3600m)
17th Nov: Lukla (2970m)
18th Nov: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu (1300m)
Thousands of Himalayan peaks and as many trekking trails, Nepal is truly the biggest trekking hub in the world. Solely housing 8 out of 14 8000m+ peaks including world’s highest peak Everest, Nepal caters many world class trekking adventures to the Base Camps of these mighty Himalayan Peaks. Based on trekkers interest, the number of trekkers trekking along the particular trail and highlights of the trek, here we have 10 most popular treks in Nepal.
Round Annapurna Trek or Annapurna Circuit Trek
1. Round Annapurna Trek (RAT)
The most popular trek in Nepal, Round Annapurna Trek (RAT) is a stretch of 100+ kilometers circumnavigation around Annapurna Range. The trek that offers diverse beauty from mid-hill jungles to striking alpine landscapes, Round Annapurna Trek is also pleasures with cultural encounter at several ethnic villages nestling in the highlands. The trek also known as Annapurna Circuit Trek caters magnificent views of the Annapurna, Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Langtang Himal. Although the construction of roadways deeper into the circuit has reduced the real essence of the trek, still almost 100km of stretch of the fascinating route makes Round Annapurna Trek, Nepal’s number one trekking trail.
Everest Base Camp Trek
2.Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC)
The classic trek that brings trekkers to the proximity of world’s highest mountain, Everest- Everest Base Camp Trek is itself an achievement. Everest Base Camp, which is higher than almost every mountain in Europe, Australia, Africa and America, is the place where every mountaineer who has conquered this beautiful white Goddess began here. The trail full of amenities in scores of teahouses is interesting for two particular reasons- the thriving Sherpa culture and the alpine beauty that even open eyes in the broad daylight cannot capture wholly.
Langtang Valley Trek
3.Langtang Valley Trek
Avoiding difficulty sighting supreme beauty in diversity- Langtang Valley Trek is the best-opted trek in the category. The shortest approach from Kathmandu, Langtang Valley Trek offers 3600 view of snowcapped Himalayas dominated by Langtang Lirung. Authentic Tibetan culture in frequent Tamang villages, sacred highland monasteries like Kyangjin Gompa and sacred alpine lakes like Gosainkunda are prime highlights of Langtang Valley Trek. Langtang is so close to Tibet that from some high vantage points, the glimpses of villages in Tibet can be viewed.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
4. Annapurna Base Camp Trek
One of the most popular easy treks in Nepal is Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The trek caters the alpine experience blended with diverse terrains. From beautiful glaciers to terraced fields, from rock-strewn trails to snowy paths- the trail of ABC Trek has it all. The Gurung culture at its best traditional form and their indelible hospitality are recreating factors during Annapurna Base Camp Trek. The view of Annapurna from the Annapurna Base Camp, the widespread Himalayan view from Poonhill and the view of Mt. Fishtail from Machhapuchhre Base Camp are striking views of the trek.
Manaslu Cicuit Trek
5. Manaslu Circuit Trek
Ever since in 2010 Manaslu became teahouse trek, Manaslu Circuit Trek is emerging as one of the most popular trekking trails in Nepal. Few trekkers also have acknowledged this trek as replica of Round Annapurna Trek. However, Manaslu Circuit Trek is by far untouched and raw compared to Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trail during Manaslu Circuit Trek winds through the lower slope of Mt. Manaslu (eighth highest mountain in the world) through Larkya La Pass. The views of Himalayas are excellent and the cultural experience is more authentic.
6. Upper Mustang Trek
North of Jomsom up on Kali Gandaki basin, the deserted kingdom of Mustang nestles where the Tibetan culture till date spills over. A restricted trekking region in Nepal demands heavy permit fee of US Dollars 500 for 10 days. The windswept landscapes, colorful barren hills and the caves carved in vertical cliffs are geographical delights whereas; the culture in Mustang is exclusive unique in whole Nepal. Preserved centuries world monasteries, the remains of historic palace in Lo-manthang and celebration of Tiji festival are major sights trekker to Upper Mustang crave to watch. In brief Upper Mustang is a true Tibet outside Tibet.
Gokyo- Everest Base Camp Trek
7. Gokyo, Everest Base Camp Trek
Getting to Everest Base Camp via more isolated and remote trails makes Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek intriguing trek in the Everest Region. In addition to the highlights of EBC Trek, Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek caters the beauty of five emerald lakes together with Himalayas. The trek along the challenging Cho La Pass to get into Khumbu Valley from Gokyo Valley is also the major highlight of this trek. Gokyo Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the few trekking route in Nepal, which offers remote experience, rich local culture, and the supreme beauty of Himalayas.
Upper Dolpo Trek
8. Upper Dolpo Trek
Crystal Mountain, snow leopards, sacred monasteries and the endless isolation- Upper Dolpo Trek is truly a lifetime experience. Every place trekkers reach and every people they meet leave an indelible impression. Upper Dolpo Trek is truly fascinating. The trek rewards in very early stage with the magnificence of Phoksundo Lake. Trekking further, trekkers cross three high passes, Nagdalo La (5350m), Shey La (5000m) and Jeng La (5110m) to Shey Gompa, which is a spiritual heart of Upper Dolpo. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Shey Gompa that lies dramatically at the base of Crystal Mountain each year to circumambulate the mountain in act of prayer. Upper Dolpo is a restricted area which demands 10-day permit for $500.
Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
9.Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek
The trekking to the Himalayas in the extreme east of Nepal, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is probably the most popular offbeat trekking in Nepal. Trekking along the foothills of world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga is a wonderful adventure. To experience the treks based on tented camps, Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek is suitable option. Snow Leopard can be sighted during the treks in the region. The Kanchenjunga Base Camps Trek is a long and challenging walk while visiting both the North and South base camps. The authentic culture of Rai and Limbu tribes can be well observed during the trek to this part of nation.
Makalu Base Camp Trek
10. Makalu Base Camp Trek
This is an outstanding trek in the eastern region of Nepal, which offers a combination of rich cultural heritage, unsurpassed beauty and biological diversity. The trail takes you from the steamy lowlands of Tumlingtar on the Arun River, through one of the least frequented areas of Nepal, to the base camp of Makalu [8475m]. The trail follows the beautiful Barun river valley in the Makalu Barun National Park, crossing Shipton pass at 4127 meters before arriving at Makalu Base Camp [5000m]. From here, views of the south face of Makalu, as well as Everest and Lhotse are truly regal and fantastic.
Rara Lake Trek
+ Rara Lake Trek
This trek through the remote wilderness of western Nepal offers a superb experience of nature and a visit to Rara Lake, Nepal’s Largest Lake at 3062 meters. During this easy trek, the trail passes through green countryside, which provides unusual glimpses of a culture, and scenery quite different from that found elsewhere in Nepal and which eventually culminates to the Rara Lake National Park. Alpine meadows and forests of pine, juniper and spruce surround this beautiful high altitude lake, whilst in the background trekkers can view the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The entire route is ‘off the beaten track’, which involves the crossing of Ghurchi Lagna Pass 3450m and a few ridges at around 3000 meters.
Experienced guide sirdar Bagh Bir Tamang and cook Laku Bir Rai led the group of six Danish citizens to Makalu Base Camp this spring. Makalu is the world’s fifth highest mountain. Peter, Kurt, Henry, Charlotte, Gertrud and Ingrid arrived to Nepal on October 26. The very next day the lineup flew to Tumlingtar. Their itinerary was planned to allocate enough time for the abundant acclimatization to the altitude and to take advantage of maximum time around Makalu Base Camp.
A closer view from Tashigaon.
The trail took them from the moist lowlands near Tumlingtar on the Arun River through one of the rarely visited areas of Nepal to Makalu Base Camp. The trek passes along the hugely diverse ecosystem and the culture; lower regions comprise of Rai villages and the higher with Sherpa villages. After, enjoying the rejoicing moments at culturally diversified villages like Chichi La, Tashigaon and Neh Kharka, on November 7 the team was at Makalu Base Camp.
Through Shipton La Valley.
But, before the team made to the Makalu Base Camp the team also witnesses the distant yet gorgeous Barun River Valley, Shipton La 4216m. The trail to the Makalu Base Camp provided the Danish team with extra-ordinary views of Makalu south, Everest, Lhotse, Chamlang and Kanchenjunga. The Danish trekkers took the time to visit Makalu National Park.
Camps at Neh Kharka.
The national park is the extended form of Sagarmatha National Park. Mt. Makalu, Baruntse, Chamlang and Mera are included in Makalu National Park. The Park is regarded as the last remaining of pristine forests and alpine meadows in Nepal. It is also the habitat of 315 species of butterflies, 43 species of reptiles, 16 species of amphibians, 78 species of fish, 440 species of birds and 88 species of mammals.
Everest and Makalu view.
After, spending the most wonderful 4 weeks in the rarely visited region of Nepal, the Danish team arrived back to Kathmandu on November 21.
John Paul Van Der Woerd from Amsterdam had trekked to Kanchenjunga in 2007 with us. He returned to Nepal again this year in November, to try another challenging trek to the base of the world's fifth highest mountain Mt. Makalu at 8475m. Though it was a difficult and challenging trek, John along with three other members were able to complete it. Here we have his testimonial: "The trek was beautiful but very hard. Tour guide & staff were very professional, helpful and very friendly. We had a great cook (Meg Bahadur) and kitchen team. They prepared meals which were healthy and varied a lot. Camping sites were very good and chosen carefully and camping equipments (tents etc) were excellent. The overland transfers were very good and the people were very helpful . The last four days in the Arun Valley (Balung, Phukuwa & Bamling) proved to be difficult as the trail was quite old. But after we crossed the river, we picked up a better trail and everybody was happy again!
We would like to stress that Explore Himalaya is a very professional and well equipped organization. Along the way we met two other groups who had to return before reaching Makalu, because of bad equipments (leaky tents) and badly equipped porters. With Explore Himalaya everything was excellent and because of them we were able to obtain our goal. Dhanyabaad!!” John Paul Van Der Woerd
Makalu Base Camp Trek
Dolpo requires some extra logsistics and Pemba made all necessary arrangements. We also benefited. Both treks were wonderful! from having a local guide- Baba –in Mustang- as this is more of a cultural trek-his personal knowledge was useful.