………Ain’t no valley low enough, except when it comes to Nepal, which has the highest mountain and the deepest valley in the world, and probably a whole host of other records involving height and depth. My impending trip to Nepal, however, doesn’t scale the extreme heights or depths of this mountain mecca, but plots a route along the Langtang Valley, over the Laurebina Pass and back to the outskirts of Kathmandu along a ridge, known as the Helambu trek. The trek in it’s entirety is approximately 130 km, with a cumulative ascent over that distance of around 8800 m (depending on whether we have the appetite to bag a peak on our day off in Kyanjing Gompa). We won’t be pushing a ball along with our nose, strapping a fridge to our backs or doing any extreme ironing, we’ll just be putting one foot in front of another. How unique!
I first heard of the Langtang Valley through a guy I went cycling with in Pokhara, who many years later posted a picture of himself carrying his bike up the valley. It was one of those photos that ‘hit me in the chest’ and made my jaw drop. Being a professional mountain biker, he then went on to make a video of his descent which is equally jaw-dropping (and you can see here). The area recently re-emerged into my conscious when my intrepid friend Kate said that she was organising a trek along it. I can’t remember whether she invited me or I invited myself, but anyway, I’m going. You may or may not be surprised to read that I am not taking my bike, but apart from the lack of bike, it bears all the hallmarks of a ‘less ordinary’ adventure. The valley does not attract the kind of visitor numbers of the neighbouring Everest or Annapurna regions, and because it is at a slightly lower altitude, much of it is below the tree line, or at least less bereft of vegetation than the higher treks, and for me, both things add to its attraction.
So, on the 27th March I set out for Kathmandu with my new boots, my ancient rucksack and a stash of flapjack squares and emergency tea-bags. Wish me luck!
If you’d like to read a light-hearted blog on one of our preparation weekends please click here. If it is route maps and Google Earth Phantasmograms you are looking for, please carry on scrolling!
If you would like to help us raise money for Action Tutoring please click on the link here. The target is to raise £3240 for 1 terms tutoring for 30 kids. All donations, however small gratefully received.
Here are some maps I prepared earlier.
This map details the itinerary, as well as illustrating a vertical section of the walk (along the bottom), showing the amount of ascent and descent per day. Day 1 has the largest amount of ascent, but is at a low altitude. Day 5 and day 9 have a lot of descent, kms and altitude, but nothing too scary (easy to say when I’m sitting at home with a cuppa).
This map is a zoom-in of the Langtang Valley section, highlighting the names of the mountains and location of the glaciers. The Red Bear in the corner is on the ‘would like to see list’, but we would be very lucky to actually encounter one.
This map shows the location of the Langtang Valley within Nepal, situated to the North of Kathmandu, between the Annapurna Range and Everest (apologies for the miss-spelling of Kathmandu!). It also highlights the fact that there are a gazillion more mountains in the west of the country, that are not in a National Park (possibly because they are not quite so high) that are begging for a little more exploration, even if it is just virtual …..at this stage..
A very sobering aspect of our trek will be passing over the landslides caused by the earthquakes in 2015. It’s impossible to imagine how such a small and decimated community continues to exist, but it does and we’ll be staying there for a night on Day 3.