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GHT (Kanchen Gola) Wild Exploratory

Tumlingtar - Milke Danda - Topke Gola - Thudam - Lumbasamba - Olangchung Gola - Tumlingtar

The golden age of exploration dead? Never! This is a exploratory trek that would warm Tilman's heart. There is nobody else on the planet who organizes adventures quite like this. A positive, can-do attitude and smile required.

This is our seventh 42 day special - I'm already salivating. The previous treks have been just the best, adventurous and real exploration. However one wild trail rebuffed us twice, each time later in the season so this time we will start with it.

Outline Itinerary

The first half of the trek to Olangchung Gola is on trails that few foreigners have ever used. The second half might be an exploration to a 6000m pass into Sikkim (not Tibet), the Jongsang La or Jhingsang La, and we have an additional chance to scramble to 6000m without climbing gear near Pangpema. I am considering other plans too.

As always on these 42 day specials we remain somewhat flexible, not adverse to changing the itinerary as conditions demand. Our plan is to both start and finish at Tumlingtar, rather than the more usual Suketar, as Suketar flights are now unreliable and the bus journey dangerous for the crew. It is a tough last few days over the ridge to Tumlingtar and if for any reason we end up flying from Suketar on a scheduled flight there will be an extra $200 charge.

I hope you appreciate the trek price is definitely good value, and we have pared things down (lots of dal bhaat!) but will provide a great experience.

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1350m

2 - Kathmandu

Note that today is a public holiday, the end of Tihar, the festival of light. If we can arrange trekking permits today (unlikely) then we will fly to Tumlingtar today and start a day early.

3 - fly Tumlingtar 285m, stay Khandbari

We fly to Tumlingtar then take the rough bus to Khandbari, the district headquarters, where we meet the crew who have had a grueling overland trip to here.

4-5-6 - middle hills trekking

At the first camp we hope for an Everest and Makalu sunrise, the next camp or two are likely to be in villages as we climb out of the Arun River valley.

7-8-9 - Milke Danda

Soon we reach the 4000m crest of the Milke Danda, a remote, high ridge dotted with lakes and with awesome views of Everest, Makalu and other huge mountains. It is a also a biologically diverse area and while parts of it are sometimes used for grazing, it is isolated.

10 - trek Topke Gola 3760m

We reach this very remote village today (or perhaps a day later)?

11 - rest Topke Gola 3760m

A well deserved day for cleaning and eating while the crew restock.

12-13 - trek Lasa or near

We head over to near that ultra-remote village, Thudam, but will probably take the high trail that avoids the village.

14-15-16 - trek Olangchung Gola 3200m

Crossing the Lumbasamba 5155m, we reach the wonderful village of Olangchung Gola.

17 - rest Olangchung Gola 3200m

18 - Kharka ~3800m

We trek up to a kharka, perhaps with yaks.

19 - Nango La high camp ~4700m

It will be a tougher day as we climb over the 4820m pass. We camp just over the other side, so spectacularly high.

20 - trek Ghunsa 3420m

This is the main village of the region and the usual stopping point for trekking groups but instead we will have a rest day at Khambachen, a day further up, which gets more sunshine.

21 - trek Khambachen 4100m

22 - rest Khambachen 4100m

We can explore towards striking Jannu.

23 - trek Lhonak 4760m

24 - trek Pangpema ~5150m

25-26-27-28 - Jongsang La exploration
The pass is listed as 6164m on one map, lets see if that is true!

29 - trek Pangpema/Lhonak

If we trek futher down Pangpema today then we give ourselves a little extra time later.

30 - trek Lhonak 4760m

31 - trek Khambachen 4100m

We can trek from Lhonak to Ghunsa in one tough day, so we can save a day if not too tired.

32 - trek Ghunsa 3420m

33 - trek Yangswa (Gyabla/Kyapra) 2800m

34 - Amjilosa 2400m

35 - Sekathum 1660m

36 - Sinwa

37 - Doban or beyond

38 - up to Nesum or Gupha Pokhari (~3000m)

39 - trek/drive Basantpur then drive Tumlingtar

We can also go via Chainpur but the above route may be quicker.

40 - Tumlingtar, fly Kathmandu

Beautiful middle hills, hot too, even in winter but the lodges have fridges for cold beer! We might fly today but it is also possible on day 41; flights from Tumlingtar are almost never cancelled.

41 - Kathmandu

Day 42 - depart


true exploration!

Kanchenjunga north base camp

stunning views of Jannu

remote, virtually untrekked route


no departure, 42 days



Jamie McGuinness

Mobile: (+977) 98021 49789

on trek satellite SMS: +88216 21273393

Arrival hotel

Hotel Shakti, Thamel

tel: 441 0121, 442 9508

Local office contact

Expedition Himalaya

Tel: +9771 400 1066

Nabin Trital: +977 98510 04278

Pasang Nuru: +977 98130 91051

Our service includes

airport transfers

2 star hotel in Kathmandu, single with breakfast

domestic flights as needed, local departure tax

group transportation by private vehicle

entrance fees and permits as needed

expedition-style trek:

all meals and hot drinks on trek

roomy single tent on trek

Our service excludes

insurance, Nepal visa, meals in Kathmandu

international flights, equipment rental, alcohol, bottled water and soft drinks, laundry, tipping and other items of a personal nature

Real exploration

2011 update: on our 9 previous 42 day exploratory trips we have many firsts or major achievements that we haven't previously publicized. Previously we thoroughly explored the Kanchenjunga-Olangchung Gola region, currently we are helping map the Great Himalaya Trail - the GHT.

2012 GHT - very first trekkers ever cross between Darchula and Simikot, staying completely in Nepal...

2011 GHT - first commercial trek team across the Lakyap/Kekyap passes (thanks, Paulo Grobel). We rerouted the GHT near Bhijer, saving a 5368m pass crossing. Crossed the high route between Dolpo and Mugu without incident (it is a TOUGH route!).

2010 GHT - climbed Saribung, 6328m, with 100% team success (on our Upper Mustang, Nar-Phu and around Manaslu trek)

2009 GHT - first commercial trek team to trek Chyangtang to Makalu Base Camp the direct way (Robin Boustead was the first)

2008 Jamie discovered the crucial pass near Saipal for the 2012 trek after guiding James Vlahos writing for Nat Geo; thanks Nepal Trust

(2007 Manaslu Wild 35 days - explored Tsum to the Tibet border)

2006 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers ever to the top the Umbak La to Tibet

2005 Kanchen Gola Wild - first commercial trek to cross Lumbasamba, Kanchenjunga to the Makalu region, crucial for the GHT

2003 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to the top of Tipta La (after Joseph Hooker in 1848)

2002 Kanchen Gola Wild - first trekkers to the Ghari La

2001 Kanchenjunga Wild - first trekkers to the Chabuk La, first peak ascent, saw snow leopard

(2000 Manaslu High 32 days - trekked the Tsum valley prior to it being opened)

1999 Kanchenjunga-Makalu 42/75 day trek (!)

(1998 - Wild Kanchenjunga 38 days - the trek that started the Kanch series; we didn't meet another trekking group)


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