/ Unguided in the Himalayas
Me and my climbing partner have started planning an exped to the Himilayas for next Summer. We both have experience of altitude above 6500m but have never been to the Himalayas. We are looking for something around the height of 6500 meters (maybe a bit higher) but would like something a little bit off the beaten track. We would preferably be looking to do it unguided and generally as independant as possible.
If its possible would anybody be able to give us a little bit of advice. We have done quite a bit of reading up on it but other input is always welcome.
So is there any advice regarding red tape, choosing an area, getting hold of maps for the area, choosing an area and most importantly for us bweing allowed to not use a guide.
We did Tent Peak in the Annapurna sanctuary a few years back. The "Trekking Peaks of Nepal" book has good info and this was a nice way to combine a good trek with some pretty straightforward climbing. We hired 3 porters in Kathmandu and set them on ahead. You'll need to be competent with glacier work and snow/ice to maybe 70 degrees plus working across a very loose moraine. It's not much climbed, though you may see crowds at the Annapurna base camp as soon as you get across the lower moraine you'll be on your own.
An alternate is the traverse fo Island Peak, which is great, but best down if you have 2 teams that can go in opposite directions and each strip the others' camp. However, it gets quite crowded.
You'll still need a permit (in Kathmandu) but you don't have to take a guide. Be careful though, the "trekking" peaks include some pretty challenging mountineering.
Maps were generally poor, although there is a good 1:25,000 of the everest area. May have improved now.
Thanks for that. We're both competent with long routes at D when in the Alps.
Do you pick the permit up in Kathmandu then? And after that are you free to climb what you want so long as it is in the area you have paid for?
Remember to consider the monsoon season.
I was thinking May, am I right in saying the Monsoon starts at the beginning of June?
New rules have come into force in the last couple of weeks (or months) meaning you can no longer trek in Nepal without a guide - I'm not sure if this also applies to climbing groups.
Worth checking with someone like BMC?
So are some of these "trekking peaks" more of a climb/involve steep sections that would require pitches? as this is what we were hoping for.
I have no route suggestions, but maybe if you want to off the beaten track why not try India instead of Nepal. Or if you are not completely set on the Himalayas then check out the Karakorum range in Pakistan.
> Thanks for that. We're both competent with long routes at D when in the Alps.
> Do you pick the permit up in Kathmandu then? And after that are you free to climb what you want so long as it is in the area you have paid for?
No, the permit is just for the peak, and really just for a particular route, though nowadays usually you can vary that a bit.
The incoming law regarding trekking without a guide has been stopped, so it's business as usual.
For Nepal the official 'Trekking Peaks' (most of which involve real climbing, not walking) require a fee of either $300 or $500 depending on which of two categories they are in - A or B. You also need to take a Sirdar as a guide, though in practice he won't go above BC, may not even go past the last village, and in some cases may not leave KTM.
If you go for an 'Expedition Peak' you need the permit plus a Liason Officer if the peak is over 6500m. The LO is costly, and can be a pain in the ass, though often they too don't go past the last village. If it is an expedition peak under 6500m you don't need an LO, which is a good situation. Depending on the season (either April-May or Oct-Nov) the fee for expedition peaks up to 6500m is a few hundred dollars. There are still a few unclimbed peaks that lie in this category.
If you go to a popular Trekking Peak like Mera, Island, Lobuche, Cholatse etc any agent can organise it for you. If you do actually go for something more remote or less known then some agents won't have a clue what to do, so find a good one.
India might also be good, slightly different seasons/timing. Agents can organise the regular stuff for you very easily but getting something unclimbed or less known can be a hassle, but still doable.
Climbing around 6500m in the Himalaya is generally harder than climbing in the Andes etc. Technical grades from the Alps become irrelevant. Half the challenge is just getting to the bottom of the route, let alone summiting. Pick something well below your max technical level, and concentrate on looking after yourself and arriving at the bergschrund in the best state you can, with plenty of time to fail and try again.
The fee structure I'm referring to can be seen at: http://www.nepalmountaineering.org/enewsletter/08May/Revised%20peak%20permit.pdf
You need to realise that a lot of agents you contact won't be familiar with this, as the bulk of Nepal trips are to the few well-known peaks, sold in packages, and govt rules take a while to filter through. You'll find lots of out-of-date lists and regulations on the net, and misleading advice from agents. It's crazy - but good crazy - that it's currently easier/cheaper to do a climbing expedition to an unclimbed peak in the partially-restricted Mustang area than it is to just go trekking there.
The trekking regulations are not really relevant to expeditions, as you'll need to at least hire porters, and realistically some kind of Sirdar, trekking guide or head porter, if not an LO. The TAAN has been pushing for greater regulation for years, ostensibly in the name of safety, but really (mostly) in the name of making more money - it seesaws back and forth. There are safety issues though, there always have been, just not widely reported, particularly for women trekking alone, unfortunately. As the full link above eventually shows, initially the regs were proposed for Langtang, then TAAN tried to have them put in place across all areas, which was rejected, but now the govt is proposing to still implement them for Langtang only. Any or all of this could change next week, and probably will. Unless you'r dead set on trekking completely alone in these areas, it's not an issue. Hiring porter(s) makes big treks more enjoyable, usually safer, and your small payments make a big difference to a local.
We would definitely be hiring porters, I'm keen to give something back to the locals rather than the govermnet taking all the money.
The agent may ask you for a relatively small deposit and to bring the rest in USD cash in person. This might sound unusual / dodgy but is usually OK. It avoids messy bank transfers and credit card charges etc.
Just be careful between the airport and the agent! ;-)
> The fee structure I'm referring to can be seen at: http://www.nepalmountaineering.org/enewsletter/08May/Revised%20peak%20permit.pdf
It should also be noted that this structure makes it cheaper to climb in winter and 'summer'. Winter can be fine. Summer? Not so much. IT's the monsoon, obviously, but rumours abound of certain areas in the 'rainshadow'. I tried it a few years ago and it was not good. India is a better bet for June-Sept.
A further bit of welcome silliness in that structure is that it has been based on Everest, in terms of season. For lower peaks it will usually be better to climb in October, which is *cheaper* than May. This is because it's more popular / better to climb Everest in May than October. They're dudding themselves out of money by doing this, but who are we to stop them! You can see that they've partially recognised this discrepancy by charging differently for Ama Dablam alone, because it's so much more popular in Oct-Nov than in April-May.
Anyway, with a handful of euros and a credit card he was lifted.
Something to watch out for in Kathmandu with the local companies.
I can give you a lot of info on Pakistan (Baltistan) if you're interested?
But please, no blah about "is it safe?" and all that bollo. Safe as anywhere.
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