Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Current situation of trekking in Nepal post-earthquake and the impact on The Mountain Company’s Autumn treks

Photo: summit day on Mera Peak in Nepal
Following two earthquakes in Nepal on April 25th and May 12th we at The Mountain Company (“TMC”) have been assessing the current situation to determine the impact on our portfolio of Autumn treks.

We have been gathering information from various sources such as Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and directly from our trekking guides, NGOs/charities working on earthquake relief and lodge owners. I have also been following social media where have picked up useful information on current condition of these trekking regions through extensive contacts on Facebook. I was in Nepal throughout the Spring season and being on the ground was very useful in order to get the latest situation reports and updates.

As already published on TMC website fortunately following the earthquakes all of our groups, guides and staff are fine and accounted for. However sadly many of our guides and cooks lost their houses and we are helping to support them financially during these hard times. TMC had one group on Dhaulagiri Circuit during the earthquake and I was in daily contact with Almas Khan the leader of this group to determine the best course of action for them.

For more information on decisions we made for their safety and the group’s feedback on their experience please read Trip Report for Dhaulagiri Circuit in April 2015. TMC cancelled two treks (Upper Dolpo and Everest Base Camp) scheduled for arrival later in the Spring season as we felt there was a safety risk with further aftershocks and also felt it would be inappropriate to visit during the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.

For Autumn 2015 season TMC has decided to organise most of our treks as planned except to areas badly affected by earthquake. The good news is that the following trekking areas should be open Autumn: Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Lower and Upper Mustang, Dolpo, Humla and Jumla.

Everest region has been affected both above and below Lukla however we have been in contact with lodge owners and most lodges used for our Everest Base Camp and Luxury Everest Base Camp treks have sustained only minor damage and should be repaired by Autumn season. Unfortunately the Everest Summit Lodge at Tashinga and Rivendell at Deboche have both been badly damaged so we will use alternative lodges at these locations.

I plan to go on a recce trek to Everest region during the month of September to check and inspect the condition of all our lodges. If I conclude these lodges are not safe then instead we will organise camping treks in the Khumbu. In the villages of Khumjung, Khunde and Thame there has been a lot of damage to the buildings so in these places we will use tented accommodation with meals provided by the tea houses.

The worst affected trekking regions in Nepal are Langtang, Gorkha, Rolwaling, Ganesh Himal (Ruby Valley), Manaslu and Tsum Valley. Unfortunately it will probably be not possible to trek in these areas until 2016 when they have had time to rebuild their houses, lodges and trails.

At The Mountain Company we have always taken the safety of our groups very seriously and during the next few weeks we will update our risk assessments for all trips and review for compliance with BS8848 ----> for more information on BS8848 and risk assessments. One of the issues encountered  by other trekking groups in Nepal after natural disasters like earthquakes and cyclones (i.e Cyclones Hudhud in October 2014 and Phailin in October 2013) is lack of communications as cell phones and land lines are often disrupted.

Please note for your safety The Mountain Company:
1) Sends Thuraya satellite phones with all of our trekking groups therefore we have direct communications with our leaders in the field.
2) Receives professional bespoke weather forecasts from everestweather.com for all of our treks in Nepal ----> for more information see blog article Weather forecasts for our Himalayan treks and expeditions during 2015

Following our initial review of risk assessments for Autumn we have identified increased risk of landslides, rockfalls and more exposure from damaged trails as well as possibility of further aftershocks. However our conclusion is that these risks should have stabilised by Autumn and it is likely the locals will have repaired trails and many of the lodges by October in time for the peak season. We will monitor the situation over the summer and my recce trek into the Everest region during September will help us make more accurate risk assessments before the start of Autumn season.

Earlier in the week I wrote a detailed article on TMC blog “Current condition of temples and buildings at World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu Valley following April 2015 earthquake in Nepal”. I suggest you read this article as it explains how fortunately many of these structures at World Heritage sites have survived and in the future the destroyed temples will be rebuilt to regain their former glory.

Further good news is that the Kathmandu hotels used for TMC groups are still operational: these are Hotel Tibet, Hotel Manaslu, Hotel Ganjong and Hotel Shangri La. In Pokhara there was very little damage so all of the hotels in this city are operational too. Other places in Nepal that were unaffected by the earthquake also include Chitwan, Bardia, Lumbini, Tansen and Ilam.

The best way to help Nepal to recover from this devastating disaster is of course to come and visit on holiday later in the year. Not only will this help the economy bringing in much needed income but will also support the Nepalese people and give them a confidence boost during their post-earthquake rebuilding phase. TMC has a portfolio of treks now guaranteed to run including the following camping treks:

Dhaulagiri Circuit (Dates: October 4th to 23rd 2015)
Naar to Mustang GHT (Dates: October 30th to November 22nd 2015)
Mera Peak Expedition (Dates: October 31st to November 22nd 2015)
Kanchenjunga Circuit (Dates: November 4th to 29th 2015).

Please click here for TMC's full list list of treks guaranteed to run in 2015 and 2016

If you have already booked a trek with TMC for Autumn season then we will be in touch with you soon about the current status and any changes to the proposed itinerary. I am now back in UK so please get in contact if you need any further advice or information about trekking in Nepal.

Namaste and hopefully see you in Nepal!

Roland Hunter

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