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"The Allure of the Langtang Valley "

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Langtang, Gosaikund & Helambu - A Trekker's GuideTrekking in the Langtang & Helambu Region Nepal Mountaineering Guide Trekking in the Everest RegionEverest: A Trekkers Guide Trekking in the Everest RegionTrekking in the Annapurna RegionTrekking in the Annapurna RegionKangchenjunga Trekkers Guide

The shortest and simplest route to the Langtang Valley to the North of Kathmandu requires a mere three days to reach the gompa ( Buddhist monastery ) at Kyanjin cradled amongst huge boulders at the foot of the great glacier tumbling from the mighty snow-pyramid of the majestic, 7000 metre Langtang Lirung - the reigning peak of this himalayan hillwalking and mountaineering paradise.

Mt. Langtang Lirung from above Kyanjin in the Langtang Valley

Langtang Lirung




A 12-hour uphill crawl in a dilapidated, over-crowded, over-loaded local bus from Kathmandu through the market town of Trisuli Bazaar to the roadhead at Syabru Besi is followed by two days hard walking through the deep, dark gorge of the Langtang Khola, lined with ancient, moss-and-lichen-covered forests, before one emerges onto the open moorland of the broad, U-shaped valley flanked by an imposing avenue of high, snow-capped peaks.

The more usual route takes only an extra day starting from the previous roadhead at Dhunche and climbing through forests of chir pine to the Tamang village of Syabru, perched high on the crest of a ridge. On approaching Syabru superb views unfold across the Trisuli River Valley and barren, rugged foothills to the jagged white teeth of the Ganesh Himal ranged along the northern frontier with Tibet. A steep descent from Syabru through terraced hillsides and across rough landslips joins the path from Syabru Besi in the depths of the gorge. A tragic accident occured on this stretch when a Dutch trekker lost her footing and fell to her death.

For those unacclimatized to high altitudes a rest day in Langtang village may be necessary before proceeding to the cluster of lodges surrounding the gompa at Kyanjin. Easily accessible hilltops above provide fine views of the spectacular, himalayan valley.

Mt. Ganshempo from Kyanjin in the Langtang Valley

Mt. Ganshempo



On the second of my three visits to the valley I was in the company of two Nima Sherpas:- Nima Lakpa Sherpa, my cook, veteran of five previous treks with me, and Nima Gyaltzen Sherpa, an agricultural graduate but working as a trekking sirdar. However as Sherpas, and Sherpanis, are by custom named after the day on which they are born it is not surprising to have several Sherpas in a trekking group with the same name. ( Nima - Sun, Sunday )

From Kyanjin it is a long but pleasant half-day in magnificent, mountain scenery to the stone-built shelters at the yak pastures of Yala high on the northern valley-side.

Mt. Ganchempo on ascent to Yala

Mt. Ganchempo

on ascent to


Above Yala wind-swept tundra and a broken rock-face leads to a short ice-wall below the summit snowfield of Yala Peak. A final knife-edged arete, requiring strong nerves and steady feet, gains the rocky top ( c5500 metres ) of this permit-free, alpine-standard peak for a superb 360 degree panorama.

On summit arete of Yala Peak in the Langtang Valley

Summit arete


Yala Peak

From the tremendous white pyramid of the Langtang Lirung a great barrier sweeps round the northern horizon encompassing the rocky spire of Kimshung and the huge cliffs of Shalbachum. Close nearby are the summits of Langshisa Ri and the beautiful, ice-fluted Ganshempo. Beyond stretch the serried summits of the Jugal Himal with the prominent twin-tops of Dorje Lakpa.

Mt. Shalbachum

Mt. Shalbachum

Starting at the yak pastures of Langshisa Kharka at the head of the Langtang Valley a remote and hazardous route crosses the glaciated Tilman's Pass beneath Ganshempo into the Jugal Himal. With Nima Lakpa as guide I had a perilous crossing of this route when we were lucky to escape with our lives.

To the South, across the valley, a high, snow-covered plateau stretching between Pangen Dopku and Naya Kanga ( one of the so-called "trekking peaks" requiring a $200 climbing permit ) is breached by the Ganja La - a possible exit route from the Langtang Valley into the Helambu district.

Ganja La and Mt. Naya Kanga on return from Yala in the Langtang Valley

Ganja La


Mt. Naya Kanga

on return



From Kyanjin the route crosses the sparkling waters of the Langtang Khola and climbs through mixed pine and rhododendron forests to a campsite on a small terrace high on the southern flank with a splendid outlook into the glaciated upper Langtang Valley with its imposing peaks of Langshisa Ri and Dome Blanc.

Our attempt at crossing the Ganja La was thwarted by a snow-covered boulder field. Although we could see the prayer flags fluttering on the col only a few hundred metres ahead it was not possible to make further progress. Every step was a lottery - an insecure foothold on an ice-glazed boulder or an abrupt, potentially leg-breaking, plunge into a void between boulders.

Mt. Langtang Lirung and Kimshung on ascent to Ganja La from the Langtang Valley

Langtang Lirung



on ascent


Ganja La

Disappointment at having to retrace our steps was tempered by the tremendous vista across the Langtang Valley of the huge glaciers and giant scree fans sweeping down from the great peaks of the Langtang Lirung and Shalbachum. ( A second subsequent attempt had also to be abandoned after losing our cooking stoves on our descent from Tilman's Pass. )

The normal return route from the Langtang Valley to Kathmandu is from Syabru via the sacred lakes at Gosaikund and across the Laurebina Pass. It was on this route that an Australian backpacker lost his way, easily done with the multiplicity of paths that criss-cross the forested Nepalese hillsides, and, incredibly, survived for 40 days in uninhabited wilderness before being found by the final helicopter sweep-search of the area.


Detailed information ( Map, Itinerary, Route Description ) and a full set of photographs are available on CD Rom




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History of Mountain ClimbingEverest: The West Ridge Return to Everest - DVD Return to Everest - Video Lost on Everest - Video Conquest of Everest Everest: A Trekkers Guide The Climb - Anatoli Boukreev The Naked Mountain - Reinhold Messner

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Tilman: The 7 Mountain Travel BooksMountaineering: Freedom of the Hills Rope Techniques: The complete guideHistory of Mountain ClimbingBelow another Sky by Rick RidgewayFacing Up; A journey to the summit of Everest Everest: To the Top Coronation Everest

Epic Stories of Survival on the World's Highest Peaks The Snow Leopard Himalayan Quest - the 8000m Giants Trekking in the Indian Himalaya Trekking and Climbing in the Indian Himalaya Nepal Trail Map - Nelles

World Mountaineering Climbing the World's 14 Highest Mountains Climb: Stories of Survival Sherpas & Himalayan Mountaineering K2 Cho Oyu

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