Manaslu & Tsum: Update

Val was back in the UK as usual over Christmas and the New Year, which provided a perfect opportunity to flesh out some of the detail of this year’s big trek.

The main development is that we’re going to spend a week in the Tsum Valley before backtracking a little to rejoin the Manaslu Circuit at Gampul.  I’ve changed my working pattern this year, so I can squeeze in a four week trip, and the other people Val’s been talking to about coming on the trek are keen to combine the two.

I loved the Tsum Valley Trek that Hazel and I did with Anthony, Val, Chhiring and crew, just a few weeks before the devastating April 2015 earthquake. I don’t doubt that at times it will feel uncomfortable being back there.

From Chhiring’s updates, the road may now reach as far as Laububensi / Lapubesi (लापुबेसी), so hopefully there will be a fewer days of hot slog up the Buri Gandaki Khola (aka Budhi Gandaki Khola) at the start. There’s also flexibility to allow for high side trips and LED solar light distribution, and no doubt some medical assistance from Steffi.

Here’s the rest of the outline itinerary we’ve had from Val, plus approximate altitudes from the Himalayan Map House Ruby Valley / Ganesh Himal Map, Wikipedia and Manaslu Circuit Trek:

Day 01: Arrive KTM
Day 02: Kathmandu (काठमाडौं) (1400 m) to Sotikhola (सोती खोला) (597 m) or Laupubensi / Lapubesi (लापुबेसी) (880 m)
Day 03: Trek Dobhan (दोभान) (1050 m)
Day 04: Trek Lokpa / Lhokpa (लोक्पा) (2240 m)/(1905 m) or might stay in Philim (1570 m) or Chisapani (1620 m)
Day 05: Trek to Chumling (चुम्लिंग) (2385 m)
Day 06: Trek above the valley Chumchet area (चुमचेत) (3200 m)
Day 07: Trek to Gumba Lungdung / Gompa Lungdang (3200 m)
Day 08: Trek to Chule (छुले) (3350 m)
Day 09: Trek to Mu Gompa (3700 m)
Day 10: Descend to Chule (छुले) (3350 m)
Day 11: Trek to Chumling (चुम्लिंग) (2385 m) or Chekampar / Chhekampar / Chhaikampar (छैकम्पार) / Chhokang Paro (3030 m), if possible via Ripchet (2470 m)
Day 12: Trek via Deng (2600 m)
Day 13: Trek to Prok (प्रोक) (2397 m)
Day 14: Trek to Lhi and deliver solar lights for Chak and extra replacements for Tsak
Day 15: Trek to Hinang
Day 16: Above Hinang
Day 17: Trek to Sama Gaon / Samagaun (सामागाउँ) (3500 m) via Lho (ल्हो) (3180 m)
Day 18: Above Sama Gaon / Samagaun (सामागाउँ) (3500 m) to visit the Phuyang / Pung Gyen Gompa (3870 m) below Ngadi Chuli (Peak 29) (7871 m), Himalchuli (7893 m) and Manaslu ( मनास्लु) (8163 m)
Day 19: Trek to Samdo and visit school (3860 m)
Day 20: Trek to Yak Kharka above Samdo
Day 21: Day trip above the Kharka
Day 21: Trek to Dharmasala (Larkya Phedi) (4460 m)
Day 22: Cross Larkya La pass (5135 m), descend to Bhimtang / Bimthang (3720 m)
Day 23: Trek to Tilje / Tiliche (2300 m)
Day 24: Trek to Chamje / Chyamche (1430 m)
Day 25: Drive to Pokhara (पोखरा) (830 m)
Day 26: Pokhara spare day
Day 27: Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 28: Depart KTM

A flurry of flight booking excitement after Val confirmed dates; Steffi and I now have tickets on Air India via Delhi. Charles is going to DIY.

Roll on November!

Where Next: Manaslu Circuit, Nepal (2nd attempt!)

We’ve pencilled in the dates and destination for my third trek planned for 2018. I think I can just about eke out my LW vacation days to cover it… Details  of the other two trips will materialise once they firm up.

Destination: Manaslu & Tsum, Nepal.

When: November 2018.

What: The Manaslu Circuit with Val, Steffi and Charles. Our 2nd attempt. With a week in and around the Tsum Valley en route.

How: With Val Pitkethly and Sirdar Chhiring, who else?!

We’re allowing three and a half four weeks to complete the Manaslu Circuit (excellent map) anticlockwise around the mighty Manaslu (मनास्लु) – the eighth highest mountain in the world (8163 m / 26781 ft) – and including a rest day in KTM at the start to get through the jetlag and to allow for more thoughtful repacking than we’ve managed previously! Once we’re in the we’re in the Manaslu Conservation Area we are going to spend a week in the Tsum Valley before backtracking a little to rejoin the Manaslu Circuit at Gampul.

Why: Same reasons as last time – primarily more high altitude trekking in the Himalaya, plus some “Val specials” in an area where Light Education Development (LED) funds have provided school and medical supplies for many years – plus it means I’ll cover one more one more section of the GHT….

Itinerary: Who knows – it’s Val!  January Update: Val was back in the UK as usual over Christmas and the New Year, which provided a perfect opportunity to flesh out some of the detail of this year’s big trek. Read Manaslu & Tsum: Update for details.

Manaslu Circuit Trek: Prep

Now that I’ve got my photos and notes done for last year’s spring trip to Nepal, it’s time to turn my attention to this year’s Manaslu Circuit Trek.

First up: Vaccinations

Having a bit more time than in recent years, I visited the nurse at my local GP’s back in January to work out what I’ll need for Nepal and Ladakh. Given that I’d suffered a bit with altitude sickness for the first time last summer in Peru, I wanted a prescription for some Diamox (The University of Utah is currently conducting a medical study into lower doses), and my WHO International Certificates of Vaccination log book was telling me that my Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio and Typhoid vaccinations were due to run out in 2016.

The nurse looked through my log book and gave me the current thinking on fresh jabs and boosters recommended for trekking / camping in remote areas, taking into account my habit of tripping and grazing knees/palms and/or falling over when failing to cross streams, plus what might happen if I had a serious accident (needles, blood transfusions etc).

Here’s what I’ve had / am getting:

  • Hep B (Engerix B) – Accelerated vaccination schedule: 3 jabs, each one a month apart – I started in Jan and had my ‘March’ one yesterday – followed by a follow up jab 12 months later, ie March 2017. And that’ll be me vaccinated ‘for the long term’. Cost: £45
  • Rabies booster (Rabipur) – I’d had parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Rabies vaccine in June 1994 before going to Bolivia. The nurse recommended a booster (more for return visits to Peru, or other places where farm dogs are fierce. Plus, monkeys.), which required a prescription. I bought the vaccine online from ChemistDirect – very efficient. Cost: £38.20 for the Rabipur + £15 for the nurse to administer it
  • DiphtheriaTetanus-Polio (Revaxis) – I’ll be getting this redone in August, 10 years since my last shot.
  • Typhoid (Typhim Vi) – Another one pencilled in for August. These only last 3 years.
  • Altitude Sickness (Diamox Tablets 250mg) – A two week supply, at 1/2 tablet a day, with a couple spare = a prescription for 10 tablets. We’ll be acclimatising very gradually on the Manaslu trek so these are “just-in-case” and mainly so for Ladakh. Cost: £8.20 (prescription charge) TBC – it’s a private prescription.

As for:

I also got a new-look log book. Better layout, naff cover design:

Travel Vaccination Log Books, old and new
Travel Vaccination Log Books, old and new

Next: Insurance

… which means that this is good news:

… even if that sentence is a little hard to parse.

I use the Austrian Alpine Club UK for mountain rescue and medical cover, and a basic annual travel policy for everything else (travel delays, theft etc). I usually go for one of the current recommendations on MoneySavingExpert. I’ve still got my basic policy from last summer’s trip to Peru, and I’ve just renewed my membership of the AAC.

Third: Visa and Permits

30 days single entry, USD40 cash. I’m a UK passport holder, and it’s straightforward to get a visa on arrival at the airport – in fact based on the queues it looks like most people do. It looks like you need 2 passport photos too, although I’ve a recollection from last year the new “electronic system” provided that – but doesn’t do away with the need to queue to get the visa put into your passport, so it was quicker overall to have a couple of photos with you. You fill out the form in the arrivals hall (usually in the queue).

We’ll need to take 4 passport photos for trekking / park permits. I made mine using last time, and they worked fine for visa-on-arrival and permits.

And finally: Kit

No new purchases. It’ll be the usual kitlist-spreadsheet-to-start with, which I expect will translate into something like this –

Kit - Peru Cordillera Blanca trek 2014
Kit – Peru Cordillera Blanca trek 2014

– although there will be:

  • More lightweight / long-sleeved tops because as Val says, “It’s going to be stinking hot” for the first/last few days
  • Val’s PHD down jacket which she’s lending me again
  • No need for the harness and Scarpa boots
  • Val-supplied sleeping bags from KTM and I never did use H’s travel pillow…
  • Just a couple of books and the (mandatory) Scrabble
  • Different treats for Val
  • A big bag of warm / waterproof clothing to donate to our trek crew.

Where Next: Manaslu Circuit, Nepal

Destination: Nepal, on a three week Manaslu Circuit trek (excellent map) anticlockwise around the mighty Manaslu (मनास्लु) – the eighth highest mountain in the world (8163 m / 26781 ft).

Why: More high altitude trekking in the Himalaya with the excellent Val Pitkethly, crossing the Larkya La (5135 m / 16847 ft) and joining the dots between last year’s Tsum Valley trek and 2009’s Annapurna Circuit. Steffi and Charles are coming too. We’re promised some “Val specials” in terms of side treks. Plus it will be an opportunity to support the local communities at the centre of the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake, in an area where Light Education Development (LED) funds have provided school and medical supplies for many years.

When: April/May 2016

How: On a private trek with Val Pitkethly, plus, I hope, Sirdar Chhiring. Flights booked with Jet Airways this morning.

Weather forecast for Gandaki zone: Kathmandu, Barpak, Lokpa (turn right for Tsum), Sama, Manaslu Base Camp, Samdo, Larkya La, Bimthang, Dharapani (where the Annapurna Circuit connects), Chyamje, Besi Sahar.