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Monday, 6 November 2017

Trip report for Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek led by Ade Summers and Gopal Tamang in October 2017

Photo: Naar village
In October, we organised our second Naar to Upper Mustang trek along The Great Himalaya Trail (“GHT”) in Nepal. This trek was led by Ade Summers and Gopal Tamang with assistant guides Khumbu and Nima. Ade led this trek six years ago successfully crossing the Teri La and Gopal had also crossed Teri La on a recce trek for us in Summer 2015. Gopal was also the Sirdar of our November 2015 Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek led with Tom Lawson.

In November 2015 our Naar to Upper Mustang GHT group were unable to cross Teri La as a result of too much snow on the rocky slabs on approach to the pass. Instead they diverted over Kang La to Manang followed by Tilicho La over to Jomsom -----> you can read our Trip Report. Therefore when we decided to organise this trek again we changed the dates to start in first week of October to allow for optimal conditions on crossing the pass. The drawback of starting at this time of year is the heat & humidity for first few days however as one starts approach to Naar village the temperature starts to cool off making for more pleasant walking conditions.

Our October 2017 group had fine weather with clear and sunny conditions, for some days there was afternoon cloud however there was no significant precipitation. We will keep the same dates for future treks as this is the optimal time of year to cross Teri La.  Ade describes the weather and conditions as follows:  “Perfect weather could not have been better. No snow on the pass or anywhere really. Great conditions.”
Photo: approach to Teri La
Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and we send these onto Ade by text to the satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

This year for our Naar to Mustang GHT there were six trekkers in the group coming from USA, UK and Canada. The group arrived in Kathmandu on October 5th and next day Ade gave his trek briefing to the group on the lovely roof top at Hotel Tibet and I also attended. With this itinerary we have the second day of the trip in Kathmandu for briefings and kit checks, we also use this time to obtain all of the trekking permits required for the trek.

On October 7th the group drove to Ngadi to start the trek and this took 10 hours from Kathmandu. From this village it takes three days to walk to Koto where this trail diverts off the more popular Annapurna Circuit trek. Feedback received from this group (and Annapurna Circuit too) was that they did not enjoy walking on the section of road to Jagat  as there are fewer options available to walk on New Annapurna Trails (NATs) away from the road.

As a result we have updated this itinerary for future groups, we will change vehicles at Ngadi from our bus to local jeeps then continue the drive to Srichaur. From Srichaur the walk takes about one hour to the village of Jagat where we stay the first night of the trek. Therefore by using a combination of bus, jeep and walking it should be possible to arrive to Dharapani two days after leaving Kathmandu.

Also at the end of the trek on the way out from Lo Manthang we walk the first day to Ghemi and second day to Samar as these days are well worth walking through the spectacular Upper Mustang landscape with visits to interesting monasteries. The next day we take a jeep from Samar to Jomsom (changing vehicle in Chusang). With more roads encroaching in Nepal Himalaya it now makes sense to use jeeps to drive further into and out of the mountains to maximise the time spent up high in the beautiful and remote areas.

On October 11th the fourth day of the trek this itinerary heads north up the deep gorge of the Naar Phu Khola (river). After one night at Meta camp in the pine and bamboo forests at an altitude of 3,250m they walked up to Naar village at 4,100m where they spent two nights for acclimatisation. On October 13th the group left Naar village to start the approach to Teri La pass by following the Lapse Khola (river) valley, staying the first night at a Yak Kharka camp at an altitude of 4,400m. This section of the trail is narrow and steep but everyone made good progress to camp.

On October 14th they continued to a higher camp in the Lapse Khola valley at an altitude of 4,600m, then the next day to walked up to High Camp below the Teri La pass at an altitude of 5,200m. Their day for crossing the pass was fine weather with excellent views and luckily the forecasted high winds did not happen. The conditions on the pass were dry with no snow and they followed the long trail down to their camp at Pasphu Khola camp (4,750m). 

The group commented there were several exposed sections on the descent from Teri La pass so it is necessary for anyone joining this trek to have accurate foot placement while walking and confidence in walking on rocky terrain without a defined trail. There was also a fresh landslide area with larger rocks and boulders to cross and it is likely this may have been caused by the 2015 earthquake.

The feedback received from the leaders and the group was that the days approaching the pass were too long and our altitude of High Camp was lower than the actual height (the correct altitude is 5,200m). Therefore for future Naar to Upper Mustang GHT treks we have added one more camp before the pass at Teri La Base Camp at 4,900m to help with acclimatisation to high altitude and to shorten the days. This is a beautiful valley and having more time in afternoon around camp to explore would be a good option before crossing the pass over to Upper Mustang.

As the crew and group were tired after several long days before and after Teri La pass, Ade decided to have two shorter days walking to Lo Manthang. As the group requested to have two nights in this village to explore north on the way back to Jomsom people took a jeep along the road for some sections.

We used SPOT gps tracker for this group, for each night on trek Ade checked in sending a gps signal to us so we could track this group's progress ----> click here to see the GPS map for Naar to Mustang GHT

As planned the group flew back from Jomsom to Pokhara to Kathmandu on October 27th. I met them on their arrival to Hotel Tibet and we had a very useful debrief meeting, I appreciate the feedback received and we will incorporate this into the planning and organisation for future treks. As mentioned in this Trip Report we have already made changes to Naar to Upper Mustang GHT itinerary for 2018 ----> take a look at TMC website. The trip length is 25 days from Kathmandu. As we take jeeps further up the road on way in and on way out to Jomsom this maximises the time spent up high in the beautiful & remote areas as well as shortening the long days before Teri La to enhance acclimatisation too.

Overall the opinion from Ade and the group was the trail on Naar to Upper Mustang GHT was a beautiful trek passing through a remote area of Nepal and with very few other trekkers around, they saw only one small group of two people after Naar village until arriving to Lo Manthang. It is refreshing to hear that there are still trails in Nepal during the peak month of October that are not too busy with other trekkers like the more popular Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal.

Thanks very much to Ade and Gopal for their hard work in leading this trek and to the assistant guides, Khumbu and Nima and the cook, Suk Bahadur Rai. The group have all given positive feedback on the food so well done to Suk and his team!

The Mountain Company plans to organise our next Naar to Upper Mustang GHT trek in October 2018, please get in touch soon if you like to join this trek.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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