I was invited by Cold Feet Adventure (www.coldfeetadventure.com) to film and promote one of their glorious treks in the Langtang National Park. Yala Peak, at 5,500 metres, was an ideal objective for this trek as the time of year and timeframe we had meant any higher trekking peaks would have been unsuitable. It was a great choice!
I met my guide, Chonga, and his assistant, Pemba (who has twice summited both Lhotse and Everest), in Cold Feet’s office in Kathmandu. Trying on my ‘plastic’ boots for the summit day, and checking I had all the right kit and clothing, I knew I would be in for a treat of a trek.
Langtang National Park
A six hour jeep ride from Kathmandu to Syapru Besi (I’ve seen this spelt so many different ways, even in the town itself), and a final meal before setting out the following morning. It was a cold night and a few extra clothes were certainly needed whilst in my -20 down sleeping bag. It was late December and winter setting in so I knew there would be lovely days and some cold nights ahead.
The trek up to Yala Peak base camp took 4 days, with the first night at Lama Hotel, then on to Langtand Village, before a third trekking day took us the shorter distance to Kyanjin Gumba for lunch. It was here, at 3,830 metres, that an afternoon climb up to Kyanjin Ri (4,773 metres) and back was the order of the day for acclimatisation. The town of Kyanjin Gumba was so much bigger than Langtang, and the last point before trekker’s either began the return journey down the valley or ventured on towards less trodden paths and peaks.
The views of huge snow-capped mountains and the receding glaciers, together with the rolling afternoon cloud that creates a blanket over the lower valleys, create an environment that is rather magical. Spring time brings greenery and flowers to the area rather than the drier, dusty trek that December time can throw at you. And March and April time allows trekkers to enjoy the Rhododendrons in full bloom.
The fourth day of the trek led us on a trail that rose to 4,900 metres for a flat area for our base camp. Arriving for a spot of lunch, the tents were pitched and it wasn’t long before it was time to get some sleep. December time at nearly 5,000 metres was always going to be cold, and so no surprise when the sun cast it’s shadow on our tents by 18.00 hrs, and the wind picked up.
A 03.30 hrs rise and snack proved an icy cold start to the day, but an incredibly beautiful time to enjoy the stars and moon that lightly cast light on the surrounding mountain tops.
A testy few hours clambering over the boulder field at night brought us to the edge of the glacier, a glacier that Chongba had witness recede a long way over the past six years. Climate change gauges dotted on the glacier gave witness to the effects our industrial and modern lives were having on our environment.
The summit of Yala Peak was rather nondescript, bar a short pole in prayer flags marking the spot, but it was the adventure getting there and the views that met you that were quite spectacular.
A mid morning arrival back at basecamp, and greeted by a smiling Pemba, and then our return journey back to Syapru Besi began. We took two days to return but always advised to spend at least three on such a long journey. We had limited time available and our team was fit enough to cope with such long trekking days with back packs. The journey back reminded us so much of why we visited this beautiful valley and the people that looked after us at each stage of the trail.
We decided to stay a night at Langtang again on our return journey, and our feelings of sadness and shock did not fade when we arrived again. The landslide that decimated the village when the earthquake struck in 2015 was clear to see. The damage to the houses and effect on the people who survived is in describable. Many people lost families members and their homes that day, and many travellers, guides and porters were also unaccounted for when the terror struck.
Cold Feet Adventure
The reason I went with Cold Feet Adventure, who organise and deliver incredible adventure experiences across Nepal, and even in to Tibet, India and Bhutan, was because of what they also organise outside their adventure programmes. Cold Feet have an incredible ethos, putting a lot of their time, money and focus on their Foundation work in the villages in rural Nepal (www.coldfeetfoundation.org). Altimise are supporting ColdFeet Foundation by helping to develop their website to promote the opportunities for volunteers to support the many worthwhile projects ColdFeet organise in rural Nepal.