From Olangchung Gola

Posted on 04 Apr 2019

This update will be posted belatedly because one part of our communication system has failed. Of all things, the iPad refuses to function without connecting to the internet to update its system, yet here we are in one of the remotest corners of Nepal with 28 days to go until we next have access to Wi-Fi, haha! Still, isn’t it amazing that we can (eventually) communicate these words and photos from the wilds of Nepal?

Olangchung Gola is interesting in many ways, but for us, it is most notable as the hometown of our excellent guide Tsering Lama, who today took us to visit a 500-year-old monastery just above our campsite. The village is situated at 3200 metres above sea level and we are glad to be at this relatively low elevation once again. Since we last wrote, we have made two forays into the high country.

First, departing Ghunsa, we traced northeast toward Kanchenjunga Base Camp North, the eastern terminus of the GHT in Nepal, near the border with Sikkim.

Our camps above Ghunsa were bitterly cold, with temperatures down to -9°C in the tents overnight. Though our itinerary called for camping at Kanchenjunga Base Camp, at 5143 meters, Tsering wisely chose to leave our camp at Lhonak, one day below, and day hike up to the base camp, which is a frozen, windswept rockscape at this time of year. Jasmine was especially grateful for that decision because, for the first time in her years of trekking, she had failed to acclimatize to the elevation.

Feeling as weak as a kitten, she chose not to make the hike up to base camp and didn’t even regret it; she knew she would not have been able to make it.

Dennis and Brian persisted, and after touching the eastern terminus, retraced their steps back to Lhonak. Then, the next day, March 11, we began our long, sometimes slippery and icy descent to the welcome “warmth” of Ghunsa - still quite cold at night, but with far fewer degrees of frost.

The next day, March 12, it was time to climb again, ascending toward 4776-metre Nango La. Arriving at Nango La Base Camp, we found it covered with quite a bit of snow, which made for very frigid conditions that afternoon and evening. The next day we travelled on snow continuously as we crossed Nango La, but the amazing views more than made up for the challenging conditions.

Throughout, we gained ever more respect for our entire crew, all of them carrying much heavier loads than we were, and consequently breaking through the snow all too often - difficult going at best.

After spending the night at yet another snow-covered campsite, we continued to descend steep, rocky, and sometimes snow and ice-covered trails until we finally, and gratefully, left the snow behind. At our riverside campsite, we enjoyed the relatively thick, “balmy” air, along with the antics of a troop of langur monkeys across the river from our camp.

A final short day of walking brought us here, to Olangchung Gola, where our sights are now set on our next challenge: a formidable 5159-metre Lumbha Sumbha La. It is a more difficult pass than Nango La, and also generally holds more snow.

As ever, we are looking forward to the incredible views in the high country, while also looking forward to returning to lower, warmer climes afterward. Though you will be reading this after the fact, wish us luck!

Tsering, Dennis, Brian, and Jasmine

world expeditions