Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rhenjo La Crossing | Everest Trek


The Rhenjo Pass as seen from the third lake of Gokyo

The trail to the top of Rhenjo La

Rhenjo La  - The crossing of the pass from Gokyo to Thami

The Rhenjo La is one of the three high passes on the Everest trek the other two being Kongma La and the most popular one is the Cho La.  The Rhenjo La can be crossed from the Gokyo side as well as from the Thami - Lungden side. However it is advisable to cross the pass from the Gokyo side as the climb from the Lungden side is extremely long and tiring.

Gokyo 4750 metres  to Rhenjo La 5357 metres 
We left Gokyo at around 6 15 am and headed out towards the pass on a trail that skirted the third lake and climbed gently for an hour. The trail then began to climb steeply following a series of switchbacks for another 45 minutes to one hour until it reached a flattish plateau from where there was an excellent view of Everest and the other peaks including Makalu which started peeping over a rock face.  This plateau can get snowed under and there are cairns to show the way. From the plateau the trail swung to the right and began climbing again through rocks and moraine. The pass can be seen from here with a row of prayer flags strung across the rocks. The climb from the meadow to the top of the pass would be another hour.
Gokyo to the top of the pass 3 to 4 hours




View from just below the pass looking down on the plateau

Looking towards the Lungden side of the pass - the trail below can be seen 
Rhenjo La 5357 metres  to Lungden 4400 metres
The pass has an excellent view both to the north and to the south. From the pass a very steep stone staircase leads down to an emerald lake which can be seen from the top. Pass the lake and the trail swings left following the natural contour of the valley. In about an hour or so there is a large lake on the left side - the trail passes this lake and climbs gently until it reaches some yak herders settlements made of stone. This part of the walk can be extremely cold and windy especially if it is foggy and cloudy. From here the path heads downwards and the lodges of Lungden can be seen in the valley below around 30 to 45 minutes away. Lungden has four or five lodges now so accommodation is not usually a problem.
Rhenjo La to Lungden 2 to 3 hours 


Looking back at the pass from about 20 minutes below on the trail to Lungden
The trail down past the first  lake to Lungden - the second lake below on the left





The last portion of the trail down to Lungden

Lungden 4400 metres  to Thami 3800 metres
It is now a pleasant stroll down the valley following the Bhote Kosi river. In around 40 minutes you reach the village of Maralung which has a couple of lodges. The trail continues to lose altitude and reaches the village of Taranga in another half hour. From here it is about  60 to 90 minutes pleasant walking to the lodges of Thami.
Lungden. To Thami  2.5 hours to 3 hours


The village of Thami
Thami  3800 metres to Namche 3450 metres  3 hours to 3.5 hours

For more information on South Col's treks do visit www.southcol.com 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nepal Himalaya | A Journey Through Time | Book Launch New Delhi


Nepal Himalaya - A Journey Through Time will be launched in New Delhi on Sunday December 4th 2016 at the India Habitat Centre, Gulmohar Hall at 7 pm. On that occasion, a presentation through photographs titled The Lure of Everest will be made. All are welcome. The details are below:





Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pangboche to Gokyo | Everest Trek


Thamserku from the high route between upper Pangboche and Phortse

The High Route from Pangboche to Gokyo

The route between the Gokyo valley and the Khumbu valley is normally done through the high Cho La pass which connects Dzongla in the Khumbu to Thangnak in the Gokyo valley. However for those who do not want to cross this high pass there is a another alternative - using the high route from upper Pangboche to Gokyo. In October 2016 a South Col Expeditions team walked this route on our return from Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp.

Upper Pangboche 3950m to Phortse 3880m
On returning from Kala Pattar/ EBC before Pangboche village there is a trail with a sign which leads up to Upper Pangboche. This is a beautiful village with a few lodges surrounding a monastery. After a cup of tea at one of the lodges near the monastery follow the trail to Phortse. The trail follows the side of the hill and climbs up and down often making steep ascents and descents on stone staircases some of which are quite steep. As you skirt the hill you can see below the lodges of Devoche which you would have passed on the way up to the EBC. Further south the monastery of Tengboche stands on top of a hill below the high route. This trail has brilliant views of Ama Dablam, Melangphulang, Kangtega, and Thamserku and to the north Everest and  Lhotse as well.
The trail finally climbs to a small chorten from where the village of Phortse lies below.
Upper Pangboche to Phortse 2 hrs 30 minutes to 3 hours

Phortse village

Phortse 3880m  to Na 4400m
The trail from Phortse  climbs  steeply out of the village and  reaches a big chorten on top of a hill at an altitude of 4270 metres. The trail then descends and ascends soon after skirting the hillside and reaches a deserted village Ghengo in around 20 minutes. From here the first lodge is the Kangtega View at Thore at a height of 4390 metres. This is good tea break. If you are walking from Upper Pangboche you could make  a night stop at Thore after lunch at Phortse.
From Thore the trail drops in around 30 minutes to reach the single Tashi Friendship Lodge in Thare. From Thare,  the trail drops gently first and then does a brief climb to an old mani stone whose inscriptions have all but vanished. There is a junction here please take the trail going down into the valley - it is also marked with a white arrow and you can see the single blue roof of the lodge at Na ahead in the valley. The narrow trail now meanders through rocks, scrub, and streams climbing gently up the valley. Towards the end of the walk it climb up through rocky sections and then descends to a small bridge below the single  lodge at Na.
Phortse to Big Chorten 1 hr 30 min to 2 hrs
big Chorten to village of Ghengo 20 minutes
Ghengo Village to Thore Kangtega View Lodge 40 to 50 minutes
Thore to Thare 30 Minutes
Thare to Junction 45 minutes
Junction to Na 1 hour



View from the Big Chorten abover Phortse looking towards Na and Gokyo


Lookinng down at the lodges of Dole on the walk from Phortse to Na
Na 4400m to Gokyo 4750m
From the lodge at Na a small and rocky trail leads down to the river and crosses a bridge in around 30 minutes. Across the river higher up you can see the lodge of Pangka and the peak of Machermo. The trail from the bridge leads up to the main trail to Gokyo. Then comes a number of steep ascents following staircases clinging to the side of the hillside. A sharp bend to the left crosses a small bridge over a foaming stream and the first lake of Gokyo appears. Behind this lake is Kangtega and Thamserku reflected in the still waters.  At the head of the valley, Cho Oyu  one of the 8000 metre giants appears. The trail then climbs  gently for another 30 minutes  to the 2nd lake and ahead the steep climb to the Gokyo Ri can be seen. Passing the second lake the trail follows the hill and in around 45 minutes the 3rd lake and the lodges of Gokyo are visible.
Na to 1st lake of Gokyo 75 to 90 minutes
1st lake to 2nd lake 30 minutes
2nd lake to 3rd lake 45 minutes to 60 minutes

The sole lodge at Na

For more information on our Everest treks do visit www.southcol.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Banff Mountain Book Festival Winners 2016






Image result for ice diaries an antarctic memoir
The Phyllis and Don Munday Award - Grand Prize in the 2016 Banff Mountain Book Competition has been awarded to Ice Diaries: An Antarctica Memoir, the story of author Jean McNeil's year spent on the continent of Antarctica.

The book, from publishers ECW Press, was chosen out of 147 mountain and adventure literature submissions from authors hailing from nine countries.

Written a decade ago while McNeil was the writer-in-residence with the British Antarctica Survey, Ice Diaries is part travelogue mixed with popular science and memoir.

“This thought-provoking, timely and unusual book blends adventure travel writing and creative non-fiction in a book that's thoughtful and genuine,” stated Banff Mountain Book Competition jury member Harry Vandervlist in a press release. “It’s philosophical out of necessity, because the realities of life, death and the staggering natural world of Antarctica force you to confront big questions. Putting those thoughts into memorable prose that invites re-reading is another matter, and Jean McNeil succeeds brilliantly.”

Ice Diaries was also the winner in the competition's Adventure Travel category.

The winners in the other categories are below:

Mountain Image

Yosemite in the Fifties, Dean Fidelman, Patagonia Books

Mountain Fiction and Poetry

Martin Marten: A Novel, Brian Doyle, Thomas Dunne Vooks & St. Martin's Press

Guidebook

Searching for Superman, Jeff Long, Ascent

Mountaineering History

Rock Queen, Catherine Destivelle, Hayloft Publishing Ltd.

Special Jury Mentions

Across the Arctic Ocean: Original Photographs from the Last Great Polar Journey, Sir Wally Herbert and Huy Lewis-Jones, Thames & Hudson

The Bold and Cold: A History of 25 Classic Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, Brandon Pullan, Rocky Mountain Books Ltd.

For further information please do visit  https://www.banffcentre.ca/banff-mountain-book-competition

Friday, November 4, 2016

Helicopter Evacuation Insurance | Nepal Trekking | World Nomads


World Nomads (www.worldnomads.com) is one of the companies which provide emergency helicopter evacuation insurance in Nepal for trekkers. Our clients have used this emergency evacuation policy and it has worked every time.

We reproduce below the details from the World Nomads site below:

Travel Insurance: Trekking in Nepal and Helicopter Evacuation

We are constantly asked “if I become sick or injured while trekking in Nepal, is helicopter evacuation covered?” and "How does it all work if I need helicopter evacuation?"

Let’s say first that YES, medical evacuation from the mountains by helicopter is covered by the policy when it is medically necessary!

BUT, you will only be fully covered if you contact our Emergency Assistance Team BEFORE any helicopter evacuation can be arranged.

Why must I contact the Emergency Assistance Team first?
Because the emergency assistance team are the experts who can arrange your helicopter evacuation using a reputable helicopter company and they also guarantee the payment to this company.

BE AWARE!!!!
Wherever possible, contact the emergency assistance team yourself or ask a friend to do it for you. This is because we have had cases where some unscrupulous operators and guides say they’ve received our go-ahead when they haven’t so it’s best if you contact the emergency assistance team yourself.

And even more worrying, helicopter operators inflate flight hours to gain more money and guides of trekking companies gain commission payments as a result of calling for the helicopter evacuation of insured trekkers. All of this results in the insurer paying unnecessary bills, and trekkers often being taken off the mountain when they didn’t need to miss out on the rest of their trek. Who wants to go all the way to Nepal and only trek for a day or two when a little rest and recuperation was all that was needed to keep going?

So ALWAYS contact the Emergency Assistance Team if helicopter evacuation is medically necessary as this way, you are in safe hands and you’ll be covered!

What you're covered for (Standard Policy)
Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses USD $5,000,000
 Hospitalisation or treatment by a doctor or specialist 100% of expenses ­
Prescribed medicines by a doctor or specialist 100% of expenses ­
Pain relieving dental treatment $300 ­
Counselling after an assault or mugging $250 ­
Daily emergency cash allowance in hospital $2,000 ($50 per day) ­
Physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment Not included ­
Treatment by acupuncturist or osteopath Not included ­
Adventure sports and activities
Standard sports & activities ­
Study, work & volunteer
Non­ manual work only
24 hour Emergency Assistance
Emergency Medical Transport, Evacuation, Repatriation & Travel Expenses USD $500,000 
­ Medical evacuation or repatriation home Included ­
 Ambulance transport Included ­
Personal support and accompaniment $5,000 ($250/day) ­
Compassionate emergency repatriation Included ­
Accidental death ­ repatriation of remains $15,000

24 hour Emergency Assistance
Contact the Bupa Global Assistance Team from anywhere in the world (24 hrs, 7 days):
Phone Denmark: +45 70 23 24 61
(Not toll free. Call via an operator reverse charge/collect.)
Text your policy number: +45 42 41 30 00
(Text message only. No phone calls.)
Email: emergency@ihi.com
All itemised phone call/text costs are claimable.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mustang | Flowers and Plants



The rain shadow area of Mustang close to the Tibetan border is similar to the rest of the Trans-Himalaya and close to Tibet in topography and features.

One would expect that this desert like terrain where the winds howls up the Kali Gandaki river valley every day would not be conducive for plant life.

A South Col team trekked Mustang in September 2016 and we were very surprised to find many flowers and plants in bloom.

Here are some photographs of the plants and flowers we saw:









For more information and photographs on Mustang do visit



Friday, October 21, 2016

Mustang & Lo Manthang Trek | Peakfinder Screenshots


Evening Ghar Gompa
South Col Expeditions trekked to Mustang and Lo  Manthang for the second successive year. In 2015 the South Col team had just come out of the monasteries of Lo Manthang and entered a painters studio when the Nepal earthquake struck. This September 2016 there were no mishaps and the team made the trek without any problems.

These Peakfinder screen shots identify the mountains from different locations on the trek

Pokhara - from the south side of the Annapurnas

Jomsom View

Kagbeni entrance of Mustang

Yamdo La view above Shyanmochen

The view from the Choser Caves north of Lo Manthang



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Langtang Valley Trek | Lodges Reopen after the Earthquake



The Langtang trek has re- opened after the earthquake and the villagers are happy to welcome tourists once again despite the scaling down of facilities due to the devasation in April 2015. The report below gives the list of lodges which are available:

Syabrubesi
Plenty of lodges available many with wifi, hot showers, attached bathrooms.

Rimche
Both lodges in Rimche are functioning.

Lama Hotel
All the five lodges are functioning here.

Riverside and Woodlands
Both these locations after Lama Hotel had one lodge each and both the two lodges are functioning.



Ghora Tabela
This used to be a popular lunch stop - one hotel is available for lunch.

Thangsyap
Two lodges are running here  - some others are under construction

Gumba before Langtang village
Two lodges have been rebuilt here - two more are in progress.

Langtang Village
Six lodges have been completed. Another four are under progress and will be done soon.

Mundu Village
Two lodges have been rebuilt

Nepali Hard Rock Cafe after Mundu Village
The tea shop is functioning.

Kyanjin Gompa
This was least affected in the earthquake and most of the lodges there are functioning. This is now the biggest settlement in the Langtang valley.




For more links on Langtang after the earthquake please do visit

http://www.worldtravelforums.net/showthread.php/9127-NEPAL-LANGTANG-VALLEY-has-opened

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-indian-subcontinent/nepal/langtang-valley-april-2016-trekking-report-including-post-earthquake-status

Do return to the  Langtang valley once again and help to rehabilitate the villagers post earthquake.



For our past treks in the Langtang Valley do visit

http://sujoyrdas.blogspot.in/2013/03/the-langtang-valley-trek-in-nepal.html

http://sujoyrdas.blogspot.in/2014/01/langtang-valley-trek-photos.html

http://www.sujoydas.com/Nepal-Himalaya/Langtang/i-c8nSHK2

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