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Backpacker Magazine – January 2013

The Path to Shangri-La: Eastern Tibet's Unclimbed Peaks

Climb hiker-friendly 16,000-foot summits--and maybe nab a first ascent--on a shoestring budget, plus get an unchaperoned glimpse of Tibetan culture.

by: Mark Jenkins

Nyambo Konka'a south ridge (Photo by Mark Jenkins)
Photo by JAN13TIBET_Jenkins_135_445X260
Nyambo Konka'a south ridge (Photo by Mark Jenkins)
Unnamed Peaks south of Minya Konka (Photo by Mark Jenkins)
Photo by JAN13TIBET_Jenkins_500_445x260
Unnamed Peaks south of Minya Konka (Photo by Mark Jenkins)

On the first day’s journey toward the monastery, we walked on a horse trail and spent the night in a three-story home. We’d been invited in by a husband and wife whose children were going to boarding school down valley. We offered a few dollars and in exchange they gave us a big dinner, warm lodging beside a wood stove on wool rugs, and a huge breakfast, plus directions to the monastery—all part of the luck and allure of unscripted travel. The next morning we ascended through elbowy rhododendron trees draped with moss. At a clearing bathed in sunshine, multi-colored prayer flags swayed in the wind. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, every time a flag flaps, it sends out a prayer. Joel solemnly tied on his bright Green Bay Packers neckerchief. “Can’t hurt, right?” he grinned.

Walking past mani walls made of stone slabs etched with Buddhist scriptures, and around small, whitewashed stupas with the images of Buddhist saints behind green glass, we reached the brightly painted monastery. Founded in 1285, it has drawn a steady stream of devout pilgrims ever since. On our visit, we met a group of elderly female travelers who had walked 100 miles with purses and packs to reach the gompa. The square temple is perched at 13,563 feet on a steep, wooded slope in the middle of the Daxue Shan, below the imposing west face of Minya Konka—Gongga Shan to the Chinese—first climbed by four Americans in 1932. Under a fluttering rainbow of flags, we silently navigated a perimeter pathway lined with red prayer wheels. Inside the temple, 20-foot high, gilded statues of Buddha and local saints crowded the cavernous room.

After an hour in the monastery, a monk directed us to wooden bunks in a stone building where we crashed out in our sleeping bags. In the evening, music coming from across the muddy courtyard awakened us. It wasn’t traditional Tibetan chanting or drumming. Investigating, we discovered two monks in a small, windowless room singing in falsetto to a Chinese pop song squeaking from a cell phone. They were holding the flashing phone above their shaved heads, laughing and dancing like teenage girls. Both were dressed in the de rigueur dingy, huge-sleeved maroon robes, but underneath the younger monk sported a fluorescent green soccer jersey emblazoned with “Brazil.” The other monk was performing a few practiced hip-hop moves, singing at the top of his lungs. Upon seeing us, he pulled us into his whirling orbit. “Good thing I brought my dancing shoes,” yelled Joel, bouncing up and down in his massive, worn-down, mud-brown mountain boots.

After another three songs, the phone died and the four of us huddled close to the wood stove. The monks passed us steaming bowls of yak butter tea. “I don’t know why people don’t like this stuff,” exclaimed Joel, licking his lips. “I love it.” Many Westerners can’t get used to the saltiness of butter tea, but not Joel. Skinny as a rail, he also loves the fat on meat more than the meat and the gristle more than the fat. But there was no meat in this spiritual outpost. Instead, the monks brought us packages of spicy Chinese ramen noodles and filled our titanium cups with stove-boiled creek water.

Through sign language and symbols, we learned that the younger monk was 17 and studying to be a lama, the older monk 28 and caretaker of the monastery. It was once common in Tibet for one child per family to join a monastery, but because of smaller families under Chinese rule, this tradition has all but disappeared. Late that night, I stepped outside to pee. There wasn’t a breath of wind. The air felt like chilled, autumn-scented liquid. Moonlight illuminated the ice-coated flanks of Minya Konka with such brilliance that the mountain appeared to be a massive blue gemstone looming over the tiny, gold-roofed temple. I was enveloped, for a moment, by something indefinably sublime.




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Star Star Star Star Star
Kanchenjunga Trek 2000$
Jun 16, 2014



Kanchenjunga Trek (North & South Base Camp) - 24 days
• Details
Highlights:
30 minutes flight to Biratnagar or Bhadrapur with stunning view of Himalaya ranges including Mt. Everest
Ilam Tea garden on the way drive to Taplejung
Close interaction with local people
Stunning view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the World's 3rd highest mountain
Visit of North and South base camp of Mt. Kanchenjunga
Warm hospitality of Sherpa, Rai & Limbu people
High mountain passes of Sele La & Mirgingla
Spectacular forest of rhododendron & Pine
• Kanchenjunga Trek (North & South Base Camp) - 24 days
from US$ 2820.00
Overview:
The Kanchenjunga Trek - 24 Days of pure raw adventure. this trip will, most probably, help you get rid of your demons, if any
Description:
Eastern Nepal is wonderfully known by its greater diversity on many accounts; ethnic groups such as the Rai, Limbu & Magar communities, a fertile range of flora due to the higher summer rainfall in the region, and some of the most breath-stopping mountain vistas anywhere in the Himalaya. By following the glacial torrent of the Tamur and Ghunsa Rivers to their source on the North West side of the Kanchenjunga Himal, we enter into a lesser known world where the beauty of the landscapes is downright rugged…but simply beautiful…& breathtakingly awesome.
Dwarfed by an alpine opulence in almost every direction, peaks such as Pyramid Peak, Jannu, the Twins and of course Kanchenjunga (8586m) dominate the regal skylines of this region. It is no less dramatic on our southern traverse of the mountain on the return journey by way of the Mirgin La Pass at (4500m). This is a challenging traverse through a region seldom frequented in recent years…this adds up to the uniqueness of this area…where its just ‘us & the mountains & everything else it has to offer.

This trek approaches the North Face Base Camp of the world's third highest peak, Kanchenjunga (8598m) which lies in the eastern frontier of Nepal. Mt. Kanchenjunga, one of the world's most challenging peaks to climb, geographically lies on the Nepal-Sikkim (India) border. The trek gets into gear right after arriving in Taplejung and goes through captivating green, crop growing villages and immaculate forests to the awe-inspiring North Face Base Camp at Pangpema (5065m), before crossing to Oktang – 4370m) the South Base Camp of Kanchenjunga via 3 PASSES OF SINION LA (4440m), MIRGIN LA (4480m) and SINELAPCHE BHANJYANG (4646m).

Day 01: Arrival day in Kathmandu, pickup assistance and transfer to hotel.

Day 02: Trek permit preparation and guided city tour of Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Swoyambhu & Kathmandu Durbar Square. Overnight at hotel.

Day 03: Flight Kathmandu – Bhadrapur or Biratnagar and drive to Phidim (6-7 hours drive). Overnight at hotel.

Day 04: Drive Phidim – Taplejung (1820 m)- 3-4 hours drive; trek to Mitlung (920m) for 3 hours. Overnight at local tea house.

Day 05: Trek to Chirwa (1300m)- 4-5 hours.
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 06: Trek to Sekathum (1670m) - 5 - 6 hours.
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 07: Trek to Amjilosa (2520m) - 5 - 6 hours. Overnight at local tea house.

Day 08: Trek to Gyabla (2730 m) - 5 - 6 hours.
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 09: Trek to Ghunsa (3595 m) - 4 - 5 hours.
Overnight in a guest house.

Day 10: Acclimatisation day in Ghunsa
Hike upto 4200m on the way to Dudhkunda (milky lake). 4 - 5 hours.
Overnight in a guest house.

Day 11: Trek to Kambachen (4050 m) - 5 - 6 hours
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 12: Trek to Lhonak (4780 m) - 4 - 5 hours
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 13: Day hiking to Pangpema (5065 m) to view the Mt. Kanchenjunga and return to Lhonak for overnight stay at local tea house. 5 - 6 hours.

Day 14: Trek back to Ghunsa (3595 m)
Overnight in a local guest house.

Day 15: Trek to Selele (4300 m) - 5 - 6 hours
Overnight in a basic tea house.

Day 16: Trek Sele La – Sinion La Pass (4460 m) – Mirgin La Pass (4480 m) – Sinelapcha La Pass (4646 m) – Tseram (3870 m) - 7 - 8 hours.
Overnight at local tea house.

Day 17: Day hiking to Oktang Base Camp - 5 - 6 hours.
We go for day hiking to Oktang to observe the Kanchenjunga South and return to Tseram for Overnight stay at local tea house.

Day 18: Trek to Torangden (2995m) - 3 - 4 hours
Overnight at a local tea house.

Day 19: Trek to Yamphudin (2080m) - 5 - 6 hours
Overnight at a local tea house.

Day 20: Trek to Khebang (1910m). - 4 - 5 hours.
Overnight at a local tea house.

Day 21: Trek to Khandembe (1420 m) - 5 - 6 hours



Day 22: Trek to Medibung (1510 m) - 3 hours and drive to Ilam (2150m) - 4 - 5 hours.
Overnight in a guest house.

Day 23: Drive to Bhadrapur / Biratnagar and fly to Kathmandu

Day 24: Departure. Fly back home or onward journey. ***End of Tour***
What's Included:
Airport pick up / drop off by car. Guided city tour as per above program. 3 nights accommodation with breakfast at tourist class hotel in Kathmandu. An experience Guide (trained by Ministry of tourism), 1 porter between 2 members Transfer to and from Biratnagar / Bhadrapur on jeep. Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner with tea / coffee) during the trek. Accommodation at tea houses on the trek (best available) Kanchenjunga special trek permit & Conservation permit. Domestic flights (Kathmandu / Biratnagar or Bhadrapur / Kathmandu) Satelite phone for emergency uses Government taxes and office service fee
What's Not Included:
Any meals in Kathmandu other than breakfast.
Travel insurance
International air fare to and from Nepal.
Nepal Tourist Visa fee US$ 25 or equivalent foreign currency with multiple entry for 15 days, US$ 40 or equivalent foreign currency with multiple entry for 30 days. You may easily issue the visa upon your arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport - Kathmandu.
Items of a personal nature
Any kind of alcoholic drinks, hot water, hot shower, cold drinks, laundry, phone call, internet.
Trekking Equipments (down sleeping bag and down jackets are available to hire or buy in Kathmandu, which would cost approximately US$ 1 per day per item to hire and US$ 60 to US$ 100 per item to buy).
Tips for guide, porters, driver.

http://nepalguideinfo.com/kanchanjunga-trek/
http://nepalguideinfo.com/
http://www.hikehimalayas.com
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com
Mobile+9779841613822

Star Star Star Star Star
Nepal guide info Trekking guide
Jun 16, 2014


I just wrote a recommendation about this Indeandent trekking Mr Sanjib which was the one i chose to do Everest Base Camp and Gokyo, I went to Nepal in Feb-March 2014 and I would totally recommend them. Check it out and read below what i also wrote about them. Enjoy yur time in Nepal :)

http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

I did Everest Base camp and Gokyo with the Independent trekking guide Mr. Sanjib and after such a nice trek I can only recommend the service that Sanjib and his team provided it. Experienced guide, a clear itinerary with lots of room for your own personal pace, a personalized approach: you go to him as a client and you leave as a friend. All this and more make the service of this trek, out of the rest. Prices are very good and the quality of all the services, were excellent. We got only great rooms and they always make sure, we have a nice view from our room (probably this is not always possible, but I like that Sanjib and Raj. were taking time in such a details to make his clients happy) He also advise you in all the matters of the trek and more importantly he was very clear about what you get. Many companies will promise you all kind of things even if they know is not possible (flying to Lukla for example is one of them or how many days you can reach certain altitude being safe from AMS) There’s a lot of companies in Kathmandu and I know how difficult and overwhelming the search for the right one can be, but if you’re reading this and looking for a person who can make your treks in Nepal smooth and a very enjoyable experience… go to Sanjib and he’ll handle the rest ☺ Thanks a lot Sanjib, for organizing my trek in Nepal and if I come back someday I definitely know where to go for treks!!

Star Star Star Star Star
Jason
Jan 21, 2014

Great article. What I want to know is how they found out about this area and the monastery in the first place. I would love to do more trips like this but I wouldn't know how to find such a remote area on my own. Anyone have suggestions?

Star Star Star Star Star
Trekking in Nepal
Mar 01, 2013

Acute Trek Pvt Ltd http://www.trekshimalaya.com an indoor outdoor trekking and tours operative takes you that further way to guarantee you has an unforgettable http://www.adventurestrekking.com adventure that you have been dream of. Whether you are looking for a quiet gateway, a memorable http://www.hikingsinnepal.blogspot.com outing with a family or an exciting nature adventure. We offer you with the best progressive information and itinerary leading focused and modified as per your requirements. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as conserve the surroundings for generation to come.

Star Star Star Star Star
portorro
Jan 16, 2013

Very good article! Makes one up the training and save some $$$ to get there.

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