Sunday, 10 January 2016

Far West Nepal - October 2015

06/10/15 - 29/10/15


A fantastic trek in the far-west of Nepal, organised and led by Jamie McGuinness of Project Himalaya.


Morning views from the Bail Dhar Danda

Summary

We trekked from Gunna (in Darchula District, near the western border of Nepal with India) to Simikot following little-used trails between the main valley systems in order to traverse around the northern side of the Saipal Himal. For myself, this trek was the first part of an extended 44-day trek from Darchula to Jumla.


Links to Photographs from this Trip


Trekking Route & Stats


Indicative Map
(click on map to see a larger version)
For a more detailed route map see the "Great Himalaya Trail" tagged route on OpenStreetMap (prepared by Jim Robinson)

Passes (along the main route)
   -  Pathar Rashi Bhanjyang (4677 m, lat. 29.79381°, long. 81.06499°)
   -  Duwal Bhanjyang (4571 m, lat. 29.76793°, long. 81.09108°)
   -  Nilkatti Khal / Pass 4950 (4950 m, lat. 29.80339°, long. 81.17329°)
   -  Chaupha Col (5170 m, lat. 30.00401°, long. 81.26154°)
   -  Zimgang La (5338 m, lat. 29.99094°, long. 81.46233°)
   -  Chhote Lek (4766 m, lat. 29.96301°, long. 81.67862°)
 

Useful Maps
   -  NP110 Far West (GHT-series) 1:150000 map from Himalayan Map House
      (2013 edition, or more recent if available)

   -  Nepalese 1:50000 topographic maps
      (various sheets from the series - available from PAHAR
)
 

A few more details ... (best read whilst viewing the photo collection on Flickr)


This trek begins at quite low altitudes (ca. 900 m) and the first few days are along pleasant and verdant valleys, with numerous villages along the route. The last villages are Ghajir and Chetti, and here the trail divides with two possible routes across the ridge into the next valley. We took the more northern route through Chetti, and across the
Pathar Rashi Bhanjyang (photo), but it would be advisable to take local advice as to which route is better at any given time. The descent from the Pather Rashi Bhanjyang begins gently but becomes increasingly steep and difficult as it nears the valley floor. The trail then continues across the Duwal Bhanjyang and across the Bail Dhar Danda into the Sug Gad valley - this section should pose no technical difficulties, although route finding might be difficult at times. 

The crossing of the Nilkatti Khal (Pass 4950, photo) is also relatively straightforward, provided there is not too much snow on the northern side. Once across this pass there are a couple of steep downhill sections, but then an easy gradual descent to the bridge across the Seti Nadi where you join the "Saipal Trail". The trail up the Seti Nadi valley is a major trail, but it is not without some difficult sections (with loose rocks) in the gorge section above Dahachaur. Higher up, the trail climbs above the Seti Nadi river, the valley becomes broader, and the views get better and better. From a camp at the "head" of the Seti Nadi valley (photo) it is possible to make a half-day trip up to the Urai La (at the border with Tibet). This camp is also the base for crossing the next pass on the trekking route. However, there is no real trail up the valley of the Satukhane Khola and over the "Chaupha Col" (the col lying SE of Chaupha Tuppa peak) and the final part of the climb up to the col is steep and loose. The crossing point is to the left of the low-point of the col (photo). The descent is easier, but it would be advisable to keep to the left of the big boulder field. There is a nice camping site at the point where the valley you are descending joins the Thado Khola valley (photo). From here it is possible to make another half-day excursion up to the Tibet border (to a pass that I refer to as the "Thado La" on photographs - photo) - this affords excellent views into Tibet and back into Nepal. 

The main route now descends down the right bank of the Thado Khola for several kilometers, before crossing the stream and ascending very steeply over a high spur (ca. 4500 m, photo) and then dropping down into the valley of the Syangban Khola. A campsite at the confluence of the Syangban Khola and Phirankoph Khola provides excellent views of Phirankoph Chuli (photo). The route from here follows the Syangban Khola for about 2 km, before striking eastwards up an (initally steep) tributary valley. This valley broadens and levels out, and then eventually at the head of the valley you can see the "Zimgang La" (photo) with a faint path leading from left-to-right up to the pass. From the pass there is a loose descent to Karang Tal (the best place to camp). A short way below Karang Tal begins a long and very steep descent to the terminus of the North Saipal Glacier (photo). The trail keeps to the left bank of the Karang Khola (sometimes well above the river, sometimes alongside the river) before climbing steeply to round a spur which provides the first view, albeit a rather distant one, of Chala village (photo). The trail descends as it approaches the village, but there is then a vicious climb back up to the village.
  
The on-going trail to Simikot branches off (down into the valley) just before Chala village. It descends steeply to cross the river (by a bridge) and the climbs just as steeply up the valley to meadows below the Chhote Lek (photo). Here, another path branches off and climbs up the righthand side of the valley to cross the Sakya Lagna pass, before continuing down into the foothills to the south. Our trail switches back northwards and climbs up to a broad pass which crosses the Chhote Lek, north of the main peaks (photo). From the pass, the main trails descends slightly before bending around to the left and then descending to the beautiful Chhoila Tal (photo). From the lake a path descends directly through the forest down to Kholsi village and the bridge across the Humla Karnali river at Dharapori.
        

Pros and Cons of this Trek


Pros:


  • Really remote - very few (if any) other trekkers
  • Friendly and welcoming local people
  • Great variety of scenery (from tropical valleys to high ridges and passes)
  • No serious river crossings

Cons:

  • Flight and long drive (> 1 day) to start of trek
  • Difficult terrain with really sketchy, steep and loose paths in places
  • No 8000 m peaks or extensive snowfields/glaciers
  • Difficult logistics (porterage, food supplies etc.)



7 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Congratulations on the successful completion of your trek. Your blog is informative. I had trekked in western nepal last year (http://sathyastravels.blogspot.in/) and plan to head back to dolpo/humla/mugu in apr/may this year. Do you have the gps track logs for the mid west and far west nepal treks in your blog. Specifically interested in the section beyond duwal bhanjyang in far west trek and section from dojam to nepka in the mid west section.

    cheers
    sathya

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just to note that I've added-in some more detail about the trekking route.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I was able to do part of this trek thanks to your gps logs and information.

      You can see the details here :-
      http://sathyastravels.blogspot.in/2017/10/far-western-nepal-api-himal-trail-to.html

      I seem to have misplaced your e-mail id.

      Nevertheless, thank you (and your friend) for the information that you shared that enabled me to do this trek alpine style.

      cheers
      sathya

      Delete
  3. Hi Roger, how difficult is it to get porters from Dharchula onwards? Anyone you can refer me to.

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our trekking crew was arranged by Expedition Himalaya (http://expeditionhimalaya.com/) and was not from this area

      Delete
  4. I love your blog so much! You always try to find the most exiting paths. Thanks for sharing them with us! When you step out to see the world – meet people, get acquainted with different cultures, taste new cuisines or simply breathe in an unfamiliar city – you learn a lot! Have you seen any of these places: http://www.agsinger.com/top-10-most-fun-travel-destinations-for-you-and-your-family/? It's my dream to visit each of those cities!

    ReplyDelete