Taplejung to Jiri via Lumba Samba Pass, Sherpani and West Cols, and Amphu Lapsta (October-November 2012)

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The itinerary of this one-month trek (see green line in map below) is rather unusual. In some way, it is the concatenation of three distinct treks:

  A remote trek - from Taplejung to Makalu BC - across a rarely visited part of Eastern Nepal. Trails (when they exist) are often poorly maintained and occasionally difficult. The itinerary alternates between densely vegetated areas at low elevation and snow-covered terrain above 4000m. It crosses a few isolated villages, such as Olangchun Gola and Tudham. We met no other trekkers on this section, except between Taplejung and Lelek, where the trail coincides with the Kanchenjunga BC trekking trail.

  A more technical trek - from Makalu BC to Namche - across three high-altitude passes: Sherpani Col (6146m), West Col (6143m), and Amphu Lapsta (5845m). The crossing of these passes requires ropes and is of moderate technical difficulty. The Hongu basin between West Col and Amphu Lapsta is an isolated area of glaciers and moraines surrounded by high peaks and steep ridges. This section offers close views of several major peaks: Makalu, Baruntse, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, ...

  A traditional trek - from Namche to Jiri - along the old approach route followed by Everest expeditions from the 1950's through the beginning of the 70's, before the opening of the Lukla airport. The well-maintained trails run between 1500m and 3800m across many Sherpa villages. They are traveled mostly by locals and they offer a more authentic view of the Sherpa way of life than the over-trekked trails above Lukla.

 

Map (the itinerary is shown in green line in the map on the right):

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As for all my previous trips to Nepal since 2001, the logistics was arranged by Ang Karma Sherpa′s Windhorse Trekking. Matt Scott from Stanford, Kai Zinn from Caltech, and Ang Karma Sherpa himself (the first Sherpa to summit Mt. Everest from the Tibetan side, in 1985) also joined the trip. We were supported by Nyima Gyaltshen, Lhakpa, and a team of porters. Nyima Gyaltshen, who had previously been on several 8000m-peak expeditions and who had summited both Kanchenjunga and Makalu, was our lead climber. Lapka, a native of the village of Chepuwa between Hongon and the Arun river, was our trail guide between Olangchun Gola and Makalu BC. Unfortunately, both Matt (following a fall that seriously injured his left shoulder) and Kai (due to a family emergency) were forced to leave the trip unexpectedly in Yangla Kharka (below Makalu BC). Several porters returned to Kathmandu from Yangla Kharka as well. The rest of the group traveled together to Namche through the 3 Cols. I did the final stage of the trek from Namche to Jiri with Lhakpa alone. The other members of the group returned to Kathmandu, either by flying from Lukla, or after visiting their families in Solu.

 

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Ang Karma

Nyima Gyaltshen

Lhakpa

 

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Ang Karma again (Matt Scott photo)

Kai, Nyima Gyaltshen, Ang Karma, and Matt (Matt Scott photo)

 

 

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The entire group in Yangla Kharka. (Matt Scott photo)

 

Click the links below to access photos of the successive parts of the trek:

1.   Taplejung to Olangchun Gola (4 days)

2.  Olangchun Gola (1 day)

3.  Crossing Lumba Samba pass (3 days)

4.  Tudham to Hongon (3 days)

5.  Hongon to Yangla Kharka (5 days)

6.  Yangla Kharka to Sherpani Col High Camp (4 days)

7.  Crossing of Sherpani and West Cols (1 day)

8.  Hongu basin to Namche across Amphu Lapsta (3 days)

9.  Namche to Jiri (5 days)

 

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A thangka painter near the Boudhanath in Kathmandu. This job requires huge concentration. (Matt Scott photo)

 

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