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Monday, 23 May 2011

Part Two: Trip report for The Great Himalaya Trail (“GHT”) trek from Makalu to Everest completed in May 2011

Photo: rapel/ abseil down West Col (approx 250m)

Continued....after everyone had crossed Sherpani Pass we walked over West Barun glacier to the top of West Col passing the site of Baruntse Advanced Base Camp. This camp could be used if group was too slow in crossing both passes in one day however at over 6,000m it is too high and no doubt people would suffer from altitude sickness. It is much better to get over West Col and descend to Upper Baruntse Base Camp at 5,700m.

The rapel down West Col is about 250m long and follows a steep line on ice and through some rocks (see photo above). The issue is the time taken for porters to lower their loads down to the base of West Col, this is a slow process especially as there is risk of rock fall for the crew helping at the bottom of the pass. Unfortunately during the lowering one of our loads broken open and six tents fell into a crevasse at the bottom of the pass however that night we had enough shelter with most of the group sharing their tents with three people rather than the more spacious two per tent!

After the long day crossing the passes we decided to have a rest day at Upper Baruntse Base Camp while our climbing Sherpas went up to help bring down the last loads from top of West Col (non essential items like extra food etc) and also to look in the crevasse for our tents. In the end they were successful in recovering two tents however four of my Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1s were lost (these were new tents costing a total of US$3,000, ouch!). Luckily our Sirdar knew a Baruntse expedition leaving Base Camp that day and they kindly lent us two more Trango 3.1s so we had enough tents for rest of the trek.

After our rest day we walked to Amphu Laptsa High Camp, the trail descends to Baruntse Lower Base Camp and then follows rocky moraine into the upper Hongu Valley past the higher of the Panch Pokhari Lakes. Shortly after arriving to camp I set off with our climbing Sherpas to take a look at the pass and fix ropes in advance of our crossing tomorrow. From camp we followed a rocky trail to the glacier where there was an ice step of 10m to access the glacier then an easy trail to the top of the pass. The view from Amphu Laptsa is superb with Baruntse and Chamlang and also looking back to West Col it was possible to see the route we had followed.

This was my first time crossing the Amphu Laptsa, I had heard from others how dangerous this pass is especially for porters so I wanted to fix as much as possible for safety and security. In fact the conditions were very snowy this year so we had to fix an extra 300m of rope lower down on descent where usually one walks out on a rocky trail.

The next morning the group left camp at 4.30am with dawn appearing as we walked up the rocky trail, it was a beautiful sight to see Chamlang and Baruntse tinged with the morning glow. The group made steady progress up to the top of the pass and the started the rapels on the otherside, it was certainly a relief to get off the ropes and start on the trail down to our camp near Imja lake.

There was no doubt the next day the group was tired however there was a strong sense of accomplishment as we had successfully crossed the three passes into the Khumbu and now there was an easy trail to follow to Lukla. Most people took their time walking down to Dingboche while reflecting on the last few weeks and enjoying the mountain scenery of the upper Imja valley with views of Lhotse Shar, Island Peak, Cho Polu, Peak 38 and further down the valley Cholatse and Taboche.

Of course none of this trip would not have been possible without our amazing Nepalese crew. Many thanks to our porters from Kharikhola (and a few also from Kathmandu), our climbing sherpas Chhongba Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa and Lhakpa Sherpa, our walking sherpas Dawa Sherpa, Lhakpa Chirring Sherpa and Ang Babu Sherpa. Thanks also to our cook Gombu Sherpa and of course our Sirdar Pema Tshiri Sherpa who kept the show on the road.

I would like also to thank Robin Boustead for his help and assistance in the organisation of this trek. If you are thinking of walking a section of The Great Himalaya Trail then you must get a copy of his guidebook Nepal Trekking and The Great Himalaya Trail by Trailblazer.

You might be interested to see some of the photos of this trek please click on link below to see Part Two with photos from Sherpani Pass to Khumbu:

Part Two: photos of The Great Himalaya Trail ("GHT") from Makalu Base Camo to Everest crossing Sherpani Pass, West Col and Aphu Laptsa

If you have not already read Part One of my Trip Report I have copied the link below:

Part One: Trip report for The Great Himalaya Trail (“GHT”) trek from Makalu to Everest completed in May 2011

The Mountain Company is planning to organise our Makalu to Everest trek again in Spring 2012 so please get in touch soon if you would like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

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