Great Himalayan Trail Traverse High Route

Great Himalayan Trail Traverse High Route 1

We are planning of attempting great Himalayan trail either on 2017 or 2018. Tentatively, hundred and fifty days is planned for entire trip. We also prefer upper route rather than GHT lower route. Season will completely change within five months. Starting point will be Kanchenjunga ending on Far West of Humla. As a part of plan we had researched a little about the trail. See general anatomy of GHT Upper Route Nepal.

One Trail to Rule Them All | The Great Himalayan Trail

As the name indicates Great Himalayan Trail – GHT Trek passes through the shadows of eight different eight thousanders, starting from Kanchenjunga in the East and Dhaulagiri in the Middle West before traversing towards The Upper Dolpo. There are different sections on GHT Trekking Route and both seem to comprise of lower and upper trail. Many sections on GHT belongs to the famous trekking destination of Nepal on individual aspects. So we can simply describe GHT as the combination of several mountain sections of Nepal in one single trip that might last up to five months.

What is Great Himalayan Trail?

The Great Himalayan Trail is a combination of different spectacular section of mountain ranges of Nepal starting with Kanchenjunga on east and Hilsa on Far West Section of Nepal. It is possible to trek towards Karakoram Range in Pakistan passing via Indian Himalayan Range of Ladakh. In this article we will simply discuss about Great Himalayan Trail – Upper Route within the territory of Nepal.

Section of GHT – Upper Route

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The trek is feasible to start either from west of Nepal or east of Nepal, since what everyone is doing now is starting from Kanchenjunga in the eastern border of Nepal. So we will be mostly expecting everyone doing the same, especially for Upper Route mainly because it will be easier to traverse most of the pass starting from eastern face. Let’s break down entire route into a few small segments.

1. Kanchenjunga Section of GHT

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Kanchenjunga Central Massif

Starting section of GHT – Kanchenjunga is home of world’s third highest mountain, i.e. Mount Kanchenjunga. The region itself is one of the rising adventure trekking destination and belongs to off the beat trail. Talking more about Kanchenjunga, there are two different base camps popularly known as north and south base camps. On local language North Base Camp is known as Pangpema and South is known as Yalung Base Camp. In order to approach Makalu one needs to start from South Base Camp traverse Sele Le Pass, then explore Kanchenjunga North Base Camp from where it is needed to retrace back following northern route and divert towards Olangchungola for Lumba Sumba Pass. Proper camping gears and crew are needed to traverse towards a wild section of Makalu.

2. Makalu Section of GHT

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Wide Face of Mount Makalu

Closest neighbor of Kanchenjunga, Makalu is trapped in between Everest Region and Kanchenjunga Region. As per named, highlight of Makalu Section is the existence of Mount Makalu which is fifth highest mountain in the world. Similar to close east neighbor trail is off the beat in nature with presence of few teahouses, which are best named seasonal stone huts. We enter on a region of Makalu right after traversing Lumba Sumba Pass merging Thudam on Makalu Barun National Park. The area is rich in terms of flora and fauna whereas from Tashigaon toward Makalu Base Camp, terrain is technical and challenging. Sinelapche Pass is named after the first foreigner who had first explored the Makalu Base Camp on history. Often known as Shersong area offers the widest face of mountain in the world, as this face of Makalu seen from its base camp is considered as the widest face of the mountain. Makalu to Everest Traverse via Sherpani Col is the most challenging phases of GHT as it encounters with highest elevation and wild section of the Hinku Basin before traversing to Island Peak Base Camp near by Chukung via Ama Lapcha Pass.

3. Everest Section of GHT

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Summit of Mighty Everest in Winter

Crowded area with a large flow of tourist, Everest Section of GHT is home for three eight thousanders i.e. Mount Lhotse, Mount Everest and Mount Choyou. Everest, Lhotse and Choyou are the first, fourth and the sixth highest mountains in the world respectively. Out of Everest’s three pass trek we will traverse two passes on Everest Region encompassing Everest Base Camp. Right after following Sherpani Col, one needs to traverse Ama Lapcha Pass to descend on Khumbu Valley. The trail will first explore Everest Base Camp followed by Chola Pass that leads to the beautiful Gokyo Valley with high alpine series of Gokyo Lake. Right after Gokyo Renjo Pass stands, high above before descending to final settlement of the Everest Section on the west side, Thame. Thame is home for the climber with number of Everest Summiteers. It is again the end of a busy section of GHT, as Tashi Lapcha Pass next to Thame will act as a bridge in between Everest and Rolwaling Valley.

4. Rolwaling Section of GHT

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Rolwaling Section | Gauri Shankar South and North Summits From Between Beding and Na

Largest glacial lake of Nepal is located in the upper area of Rolwaling far from the settlement area. It is under high supervision as it might break down during large volume of water flow from glacial basin. Depending on weather condition, the need of fixed rope may arise to traverse the pass. A series of eight thousanders breaks down here, as there is an absence of high Himalayas like Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Everest Section of GHT. Nowadays with easier access up to a glacial lake from hill region, many local enthusiasts make a trip towards last settlement and make a day trip to the lake area. From this there is a small break for hiker in terms of altitude, as one will descend to lower elevation dramatically before traversing Telmang Pass and enter the Langtang Region. It might be a cozy break on The Last Resort (Bungee and Canyon Swing Operator in Nepal) with some therapy of Massage and sauna to remove a certain level of tiredness and restore energy levels.

5. Langtang Section of GHT

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Langtang Lirung and Kimshung

After traversing off the beat trail of Telmang Pass, one will approach to the Kyanjing Valley of Langtang Himalayan Range. It is straight north of Kathmandu without any slight movement towards east or west. Similar to Rolwaling here is also a complete absence of eight thousand meters High Mountain though the area of Kyanjing is surrounded by lots of snow-capped mountains. Because of the close proximity from Kathmandu and lower elevation trek as well as short area is highly crowded with foreign trekkers. Chirku RI and Kyanjing RI are the famous viewpoint of this region. Apart from that there is difference in terms of local people as there is no such settlement of Sherpa People. The Lama and Tamang Ethnics of Nepal largely inhabit the area. The holy lake of Gosaikunda is in the southeast side of the valley where several trekking alternatives are available at The Land of Tamang. After exploring this we will pass through Ganesh Himal Region and merge on Manaslu Circuit Trek, another famous trekking trail.

6. Manaslu Section of GHT

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Summit of Manaslu | Mountain of Spirit

Before merging with famous Manaslu Circuit Trek, we will encounter with wild terrain of Ganesh Himal Region. During past, it used to one of the famous camping trekking destination in northeast of Kathmandu where freelance trekkers travelled rarely because the case of robbery was high in the past. Ganesh Himal Base Camp can be explored from Gumba Lundang on Tsum Valley, however itinerary will follow different trail and merge on the lower belt of Manaslu Trek from where it hike passes through the beautiful settlement of Sama Gaun and Samdo. This area is starting point of Nubri Himalayan State that extends up to Dolpo and further west. Right after Annapurna Circuit degraded by development of motor able road, Manaslu is the prime alternative of Annapurna Circuit and the area is gaining lots of popularity. Ethnicity of local tribes diverse widely, which is unmatched to Sherpa and Lama People. Locals closely resemble to Tibetan in terms of language as well as culture and so is the housing. Mount Manaslu, i.e. Eighth highest mountain in the world is the highlight of the Manaslu Section of GHT where one can easily approach base camp of Manaslu from Sama Gaun.

7. Annapurna Section of GHT

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World’s widest and highest pass of Thorong La

Further down on Bimthang after traversing Larke Pass, settlement of Dharapani will appear from where Annapurna Region begins. Once again for final time GHT section is engaged on commercialize portion of the Annapurna Circuit. Every year, hundreds of thousands of trekkers hike Annapurna Circuit. It is one of the most scenic and rapidly changing terrains as everyday housing, farming and landscape change dramatically. Annapurna I which is the tenth highest mountain on the world is a part of Annapurna Circuit although it can be best viewed from Annapurna Base Camp. World’s widest pass acts as bridge between Manang and Mustang that is named as Thorong La Pass Trek. Annapurna Section almost comes to an end at Kagbeni. Kagbeni is the gateway for The Last Forbidden Kingdom of Upper Mustang. From Kagbeni, trail passes through middle of Upper Mustang and Dhaulagiri Section and connects to Upper Dolpo via Charka Pass, where Mount Dhaulagiri is seventh highest mountain in the world.

8. Dolpo Section of GHT

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Dho Tarap | Upper Dolpo

As we leave Kagbeni and traverse some of off the beat alpine pass to connect with Dolpo, commercial section of GHT is at full stop point. Dolpo, The Land of Bon, is most rugged terrain of entire GHT section as the landscape is matched with Tibet and Ladakh Plateau. The district not only had lots of highlights with historical stories. Centuries ago, it used to be salt trade route with Tibet on the basis of which movie named Caravan was directed here on Upper Dolpo. This is the most expensive section of GHT for permit stuffs as it costs USD Five Hundred per Person for the first ten days where in case of extension on the day, USD Fifty per day per person is levied before exiting from Upper Dolpo. Settlement of Dho Tarap with its long valley as well as Shey Gompa and Crystal Mountain are major highlights of the region. Apart from these historical monuments, Phoksundo Lake is a perfect camping site with its dark blue color and settlement of Ringmo near lake.

9. Jumla and Mugu Section of GHT

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Heaven is Myth, Rara is Real | Rara Lake

As we move more towards the far west, the area is more typical and least explored that can easily be figured out with the condition on infrastructure and lifestyle of people. The Major highlight of the Jumla Mugu section is Rara Lake that is often known as the heaven of the far west. Depending on season, time carpet of flower can be seen on surrounding terrain of the Lake. Probably the most beautiful lake in Nepal, it is just crystal clear blue with the reflection of Api and Saipal Range on west of the lake. Gamgadhi is the headquarter of Mugu district where most of the facility is available in comparison to the other wider portion of Jumla and Mugu section. Porakhe Pass is a major obstacle during winter that completely disconnects northern village of Nepal with its major city area. Talcha Airstrip is close to Lake Section. Various approaches to Tibet can be made from west of Nepal so almost most of the part starting from Kagbeni is restricted region for trek where on need to obtain expensive special permits. This is a second last section of GHT as GHT terminates upon reaching Hilsa at Far West of Humla.

10. Humla Section of GHT

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Bargaon Village | Humla

The final section of GHT, i.e. Humla is end of a couple months long high alpine adventure on Northern Territory of Nepal. This section is quite easier in comparision to others like joining pass between Kanchenjunga and Makalu, Makalu to Everest, Everest to Rolwaling and Annapurna to Dolpo. Here is only one high pass that one need to traverse that is named Nara La Pass. Limi Valley Trek is gaining popularity among western trekkers nowadays whereas still countable people trek this region in one entire year. The terrain is somehow similar to that of the Dolpo region with rugged landscape. Although there are no motorable road that connects with Humla from Nepal’s major cities, there is a good road from Tibet Side. Even Nara La Pass is traversable via motor jeep. The region is quite famous for exploring Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake in Tibet so mostly, religious pilgrims can be seen in Humla.

How many days does it require to complete entire section of GHT – Upper Route on one single attempt?

Since it is combined of ten different sections of the high Himalayas and encounter with several high alpine passes, especially on the eastern side and mid west before traversing to Dolpo, it requires big effort and time for acclimatization. Highest Pass that one needs to traverse is Sherpani Col and West Col that ranges in between Six Thousand One Hundred to Six Thousand Two Hundred. General recommended itinerary for GHT – Upper Route is of One Hundred and Fifty Six Days. With some adjustment, it can be completed sooner as well. However the best way is to accomplish the entire trek on One Hundred and Fifty Days.

What is the most difficult part of GHT – Upper Route?

The major obstacles of GHT – Upper Route is on eastern section where one needs to face logistic challenges as well as high level of acclimatization. No doubt the toughest section is Makalu to Everest Traverse via Sherpani Col followed by Lumba Sumba Pass and Tashi Lapcha Pass. Apart from this it might be quite difficult to traverse to Dolpo from Annapurna Region where rest other passes are easily traversable in comparison to these major obstacles of GHT. Soon we will provide link for details itinerary of difficult parts of GHT.

• Makalu To Everest Traverse via Sherpani Col
• Kanchenjunga to Makalu Traverse via Lumba Sumba Pass
• Everest to Rolwaling Traverse via Tashi Lapcha Pass

Nowadays couples of groups have accomplished The Great Himalayan Traverse in order to raise funds and charity for development of remote parts of GHT like Kanchenjunga and Makalu on East and Dolpo Humla Jumla on Far West. Most probably in 2017 or 2018 our team of Magical Nepal will attempt Great Himalayan Trail Upper Route and we will be publishing images and video on travel section of our website. Stay tuned with us.

About Author

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He has trekked to almost all the trekking places in Nepal. He has been to Everest base camp more than eight times. He is the one who mostly answers your queries by giving the personal touch and experience.

(2) Comments

  1. Fran

    Have you been able to complete the route? We are thinking of doing the route and any beta would be useful!

    1. Pradeep Guragain

      Hi Fran,

      We didn’t do the whole GHT on one trip over time but we did all the sections separately. And we operate some high route trip for our clients such as Makalu to Everest via Sherpani Col (Twice), Kanchenjunga to Makalu via Lumba Sumba (Once).

      We have guides available for this entire trip and here is another post with more information on each sections and entire GHT Map of Nepal:

      To plan you trip you can contact us at [email protected]

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