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Saturday, 10 November 2018

Trip report for Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek led by Jo Clark and Gopal Tamang in October 2018

Photo: Approach to Teri La pass (credit: Jo Clark)
In October, we organised our third Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek in Nepal. This trek was led by Jo Clark and Gopal Tamang with assistant guides Galden Sherpa and Jon Lama. Gopal was also the Sirdar for our November 2015 and 2017 Naar to Upper Mustang GHT treks so he has now developed good knowledge of this trek. The cook was Suk Bahadur Rai known for his excellent trek food, including freshly baked pastries.

Jo filmed during the trek and has produced a video of Naar to Upper Mustang GHT on The Mountain Company's channel on YouTube. She has summarised her experience of this trek as follows:

“The weather was characterised by beautiful sunny clear mornings and windy afternoons with some cloud. Overall it was perfect to enable us to reach our objective of reaching Lo Mantang via the Teri La. As the group mentioned a number of times, it’s the trek that keeps on giving. Each time we finished one section of the trek, there was always a new surprise around the corner.

First, we were lucky enough to see a few days of the Annapurna circuit with the colour and the crowds and then we made our way towards the Naar-Phu valley which is quiet and undeveloped in comparison. Naar was a surprise and a delight as we caught the last few days of the barley splitting week where the entire village was out beating barley to separate the grain from the husk in a rhythmic fashion from before dawn until dusk.

Above Naar trail became even quieter and the deep valleys began to open up, preparing us for a perfect pass day with clear views and warm weather. And just as the group began to think they had seen everything they came for, the views changed at every turn as the breathtaking scenery of arid lands and white capped mountains changed as we walked through each valley..

Finally the descent into LoMantang was as surprising as ever with the outskirts a modern collection of tea houses and the magnificent walled city hidden over the ridge before heading back down towards Jomson and the flight to Kathmandu and home.”

Photo: Views from the Teri La (Credit: Jo Clark)

You can view Jo's video of beating barley in Naar village on The Mountain Company's channel on YouTube. Every year in the Autumn the villagers spend a few days beating the barley ready for winter in Naar village. They start before dawn when the barley is frozen as it separates more easily, and work through until dusk.

One of the trekkers in Jo's group has sent in an AITO review and I have copied below:

“This camping trek is a stunning trek through the different landscapes of Nepal. It really is a trek that keeps on giving. Many treks can lose interest after the high pass crossing however with this trek the interest stayed right until the final day walking - significant scenery and cultural changes every few days: deep river gorges, then glacial valleys, the wind eroded and arid landscapes of Mustang, then views of big mountains, and the rolling plains of the plateau.
We have travelled on a number of occasions with the Mountain Company and even as they have grown the personal level of service and the attention to detail has been maintained.”

You can read our AITO reviews for Naar to Upper Mustang GHT

During this expedition I was based in Kathmandu and one of my jobs to support our groups in the field is to check weather forecasts on a daily basis and then send through to Jo’s satellite phone to keep her updated. We also get a paid weather forecast from Michael Fagin at received for this trek on October 12th when the group was in Naar village and several days before crossing Teri La pass. Having professional weather forecasts are essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

Photo: Jo Clark on the plateau in Upper Mustang

We have made several improvements with our Naar to Upper Mustang GHT itinerary for 2019. After the pass we have added an extra day as Tangga to Yara Gaon is a long day for both group and porters so we now walk from Tangga to Dhey and then next day to Yara Gaon. Also the feedback received from the group was that they would have preferred not to have a full day in Lo Manthang as after seeing the beautiful villages of Naar, Tangga and Yara Gaon they felt that an afternoon exploring Lo Manthang was sufficient, especially now there are new concrete hotels being constructed here. The descent from Lo Manthang to Jomsom now takes two days as we walk from Lo Manthang to Ghemi on a lovely trail, and from there, on the second day, we take the jeep down to Jomsom.

Photo: Upper Mustang (Credit: Jo Clark)
We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for our October 2018 Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek

As planned the group flew back from Jomsom to Pokhara to Kathmandu on October 26th. In the evening we all went for a meal at KToo steakhouse and I enjoyed hearing all about the trek and the group’s feedback.

Thanks very much to Jo, Gopal and the rest of the team for their hard work leading this trek. The group have all given very positive feedback on the food so well done to Suk!

The Mountain Company plans to organise our next Naar to Upper Mustang GHT treks in May and October 2019, please get in touch soon if you like to join these groups.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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