Practical guidebooks for the more adventurous traveller.
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Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail

by: Robin Boustead

UPDATES

Updated information

Thank you for the following update from Wing Commander T.Sridharan (Retd).

The information has not yet been checked by Trailblazer but it will be for the next edition.

April 2018

p14.  Update on the history of the Great Himalayan Trail.
 1) The Indian Army team lead by  then Capt Harish Kohli (now Col Kohli (retired) and settled in UK) had three more team members and one of them then Capt HS Chauhan( Now Col HS Chauhan ( retired)) is now President of Indian Mountaineering Foundation ( IMF). they did not operate in relay, but all the four members completed the 18 month (almost) traverse together.
2) Also they started the trek at Gilling in Arunachal Pradesh (not in Kanchenjunga) and completed the trek at Karakoram pass at the Indo-Chinese Border( even the Peter Hillary also completed the Trek at this place)
3) So the Indian army is the first in the world to do the entire GHT (not only the Nepal section) way back in 1980, when they traversed the entire width of Himalaya from East to West covering all of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Unfortunately Col Harish Kohli or other Members (the other two are Late Naib Subedar ND Sherpa,who climbed Kanchenjunga from Sikkim in 1977,and Hony Capt NB Gurung, who is settled in Kathmandu) did not pen their memoirs, so they had inadvertently allowed others to twist the history.

Having associated with Mountaineering since 1977 and involved with IMF since last 35 years and the present President of IMF (who was in this historical GHT in 1980) being a good friend,alongwith Mr SP Chamoli, another distinguished member of IMF fraternity, i was aware of these Traverses,when it happened in 1980/81,but in the Indian Army Trek, there is no record in the form a book, though, there may be documented records of that historic traverse.

  

 

 

Is Nepal back to normal?

 

The earthquakes in April-May 2015 not only destroyed homes in Nepal but sent shock waves around the world’s adventure tourism industry. Now, 10 months later, has returned to normal? Can you trek and travel as before?

 

First of all, the earthquake damage was not as bad as portrayed by media. Yes, some areas were hit hard, but the majority of the country was only mildly affected. In the Kathmandu Valley, the most visible area to tourists, it was often hard to find any damage. Now, it’s hard to distinguish between the normal new and rebuilding efforts of day-to-day life and those due to the earthquake.

 

Throughout the countryside everyone felt the quakes, but the extent of damage varies enormously. Here’s a short summary going east to west across the country:

 

Kanchenjunga – a small percentage of buildings affected. Any required repairs now completed. The trails have not changed any more than you would expect from minor landslides that routinely occur. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Makalu – some buildings affected (less than 10%). Any required repairs now completed. The trails have not changed any more than you would expect from minor landslides that routinely occur. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Everest – an estimated 20% of buildings affected. Some communities are in the final stages of repair and by October 2016, any required repairs will be completed. A minor route change between Phakding and Benkar due to a landslide, but all other trails are the same as before. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Rolwaling – some areas in the Rolwaling were badly affected and repair and rebuilding work is in progress. The main trail to and over the Tashi Labsta is open and in good repair.  By October 2016, the main trail should be open as before to tourism. However, the entire region will not be back to normal until next year. Please consider visiting as the locals need all the help and support they can get.

 

Langtang & Helambu – most areas were severely affected and repair and rebuilding work is in progress. The main Langtang Valley trail has been re-routed, some teahouse accommodation (notably Goretabela and Langtang Village) has been destroyed. The trail is open to trekking but some days are quite long as alternative accommodation is being built. By October 2016, the route should be open as before to tourism. Beyond the main tourism areas, it will take a long time to get the region back to normal. Please consider donating time or funds to development organisations in this area.

 

Ganesh Himal – most areas were severely affected and repair and rebuilding work is in progress. The main Ruby Valley trail has been re-built, most homestay accommodated has been destroyed, so this is a camping route for now. The trail is open to trekking but some days are quite long as alternative accommodation is being built. By October 2016, the route should be open as before to tourism. Beyond the main tourism areas, it will take a long time to get the region back to normal. Please consider donating time or funds to development organisations in this area.

 

Manaslu – some areas in the Manaslu Circuit and surrounding regions were badly affected and repair and rebuilding work is in progress. The main trail has been re-routed in the lower section between Machhakhola and Phillim. It is open, but quite hard and not the best repair. By October 2016, the main trail should be open as before to tourism. However, the entire region will not be back to normal until next year. Please consider visiting as the locals need all the help and support they can get.

 

Annapurna & Mustang – some buildings affected (less than 10%). Any required repairs now completed. The trails have not changed any more than you would expect from minor landslides that routinely occur. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Dolpo – a small percentage of buildings affected. Any required repairs now completed. The trails have not changed any more than you would expect from minor landslides that routinely occur. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Far-West – a small percentage of buildings affected. Any required repairs now completed. The trails have not changed any more than you would expect from minor landslides that routinely occur. The region is fully open as before to tourism.

 

Perhaps more importantly than earthquake damage is the continuing dispute in Nepal that has closed the border entry points with India. Supplies of fuel, food, medications and general supplies are all very low. The black market prices for fuel have increased transportation costs across the country. Until the situation is resolved, you should expect delays and increased costs for all domestic travel.

 

If you have any questions please contact me via Trailblazer.

 

Robin Boustead

Nepal Trekking and the Great Himalaya Trail