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NAYA KANGA AND LANGTANG HIMAL
(5.844M/19,180FT)

Naya Kanga is a shapely mountain rising to the west of the Ganja La (5,122m/16,800ft) which is a popular, although at times difficult, pass giving access to Helambu and the Kathmandu Valley, can be viewed from the hill above Kyangjin Gompo in the Langtang Valley. The normal route of ascent on Naya Kanga is via the North – East Ridge, as aesthetic line on snow and ice, classically alpine in character. Naya Kanga was formerly called Ganji La Chuli.

Jugal Himal is marked as those mountains south of the Langtang Khola, and the Langtang Himal as those mountains north of the river. Traditionally, Jugal Himal was understood to mean those mountains north and east of the Bhelephi Khola along the border with Tibet.

The Langtang valley lies roughly thirty kilometers Langtang & Ganesh Himal quite close to the border with Tibet. The stunning panorama looking north – east over peaks in the Jugal Himal includes Lanshia Ri(6,370m/20,899ft), Pemthang Ri (6,836m/22,428ft), and Penthang karpo Ri, or Dome Blanc (6,830m/ 22,412ft), to Shishapangma (8,046m/ 26,398ft) which is the highest peak in Chinese territory and the last of the 8,000 meters summits to be climbed.

The Langtang valley was declared a national park in 1976 and remains the second largest in Nepal, covering approximately 1,700 square kilometers (660 square miles). Within its boundaries are some 45 villages, home to a people who are thought to have come from Tibet via Kyirong and who in turn have mingled with the Tamangs of Helambu.

Whereas the major rivers of Nepal flow south from Tibet, cutting through the Himalayan chain, the Langtang khola, a major tributary of the Trisuli Ganga, flows east to west, cutting, as it were, across the grain of the country. The Trisuli, or Bhote Koshi as it becomes above Dhunche, forms an important corridor and ancient trade route through the mountains between the Ganesh and Langtang Himal, to Kyirong in Tibet.

The lower Langtang is still heavily wooded with blue pine, oak, birch and bamboo. In the springtime the hillsides are heavy with rhododendron flowers. The park is recorded home of more than 1000 plants, some 160 bird species and 30 mammals.

Above the tree line, the valley opens up beyond Gora Tabela, into a classical, glacial ‘u’ shape, bounded to the north by the impressive Langtang Himal, beyond which lies Tibet. The major peaks include Ghenge Liru (Langtang II 6571m/21,560ft), Langtang Lirung (7,425m/23,765ft), Kimshun (6,745m/22,137ft) and Shalbachum (6,918m/22,699ft). to the south, the Chimsedang Lekh forms a ridge of peaks which includes Naya Kanga and Gangchempo, Tilman’s beautiful Fluted Peak. Beyond it extends to the jugal Himal, terminating in Dorje Lakpa (6,980m/22,929ft). to the east the upper meadows of the Langtang end in a massive mountains wall, forming the frontier with Tibet. These are the peaks of Pemthang Karpo Ri, Pemthang Ri and Goldum that look so stunning from the Ganja La.
Langtang was unknown and mysterious until Bill Tilman’s made an exploration in1949. Bill Tilman and Peter Lloyd ventured up the Lantang Glacier, probing for routes into Tibet. Tilman also found a pass beyond Gangchempo leading south to the Belephi Khola through the Jugal Himal to Kathmandu.

This is a difficult and adventurous journey through country rarely visited by trekkers. I returned to Kathmandu this way after a visit to Naya Kanga in 1980. It remains one of the finest journeys I have made in Nepal. The way is difficult, even after crossing Tilman’s Pass, since several more passes have to be crossed have to be crossed high the Belephi Khola on the east flank of the Panch Pokhari Lekh. The trial meets the highway near where the Belephi joins the Sun Khosi.

Another alternative is to go out via Panch Pokhari and Helambu. This same route also provides a marvelous approach to Langtang.
Despite today’s ease of access now that the road goes up the Trisuli Valley as far as Dhunche, the valley still retains a hint of Shangri-La, possibly because of the nearness of Tibet and the untrekked wildness of Jugal.

THE CLIMBS

NORTH – EAST FACE AND NORTH RIDGE
This is the standard route of ascent and the most obvious when looking at the mountain from the Langtang Valley. It is a classic snow and ice ridge.

From Kyangjin Gompa (3,749m/12,300ft), cross the Langtang khola to Chhona and ascend the hillside through rhododendron forest towards Ganja La via Branchen Kharka (4,100m/13,451ft). this provides a good site for an alternative base camp for those that want to be higher.

For base camp continue on the trail to Ganja La and gain the upper cwn filled by a glacier beneath the North – East Face by climbing steeply up moraine. Further adequate campsites are reached within thirty minutes. Continue following the Ganji La track, leaving it to climb steeply up yet more moraine to reach the eastern end of the prominent glacier shelf beneath the North- East Face of Naya Kanga (5,100m/16,732ft). cross the glacier shelf to the foot of a shallow couloir leading to North Ridge. Climb the couloir to the notch and the base of the ridge.

The ridge, now broad, leads to a small col on the east-west summit ridge, with the summit itself 30 meters (108 feet) higher in the right.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
On the Helambu side of the Ganja La the mountain offers new routes with a variety of climbing challenges of increased difficulty and scope for new routes. A camp below the col, on the south side, provides an ideal base from which to explore the many alpine – scale peaks along the main Chimisedang Lekh in the glacier bowl west of the Ganja La and to the south of Pongen Dopku.

The pinnacled ridge rising from the Ganja La has been climbed from the south side by at least one commercial climbing group. Sir George Bishop, who was in the party, reports that it involve in attempts on the South face of Naya Kanga and have failed because of technical difficulty and available time.

The whole of the North Face to the right of the climbed ridge as you look at the mountain has immense possibilities, that would obviously be more difficult than the normal route but certainly not extreme.

RETURN TREK
The quickest return to Kathmandu is back to Syabru to pick up the main trail to Dhunche. From Dhunche it is possible to go by vehicle to Kathmandu in around six hours. Far more interesting and adventurous for those that have the time is a trek out from Langtang over Yilman’s Pass through Jugal Himal and the Belephi Khola or over Ganja La and out through Helambu. Either will take around one week, after heavy snowfall both of these routes can be very difficult; for several days you will be in remote country and it is essential that all of your porters are well equipped and self – sufficient.


GANJA LA AND HELAMBU
From the high camp on Naya Kanga follow the trail towards the Ganja La, traversing steeply from right to left to the cairned summit of the Dukpu Danda. There is a cave for porters and the first water and wood is at 4,510 meters (14,800 feet).

KELDRONG KHARKA TO THE KHARKA BEFORE DUKPU
This is a good day’s hike with little water until the last kharka before Dukpu (4,023m/13,200ft). The Kharka can be recognized as being in a narrow cwm- facing east of course, from which bearings are 104 degrees to Chaduk Bir and 111 degrees to Numbur, with a big boulder just below the trail and a very smoke – blackened ‘rock shelter’ on its north flank. There is a steep to a little col just before it, a steep descent into the cwm and a steep ascent to another little col immediately after. Water is five minutes down into the cwm. This is a reasonable site, with wood, water and good views. It is about six hours’ walking from Keldrong.


KHARKA BEFORE DUPKU TO TARKEGHYANG
From Kharka it is another twenty minutes to Dupku at 3,993 meters (13,100 feet). A final col is crossed, marked with chortens (4,054m/13,300ft), which is reached after nearly two hours, and then the long descent starts into Helambu. One hour from the final col (3,627m/11,900ft) there is a small clearing on the narrow ridge crest after a long diagonal descent on the western side of the ridge, passing wooden water –troughs on the way. There is water here and an excellent camp site, discovered by John Cleare and Ian Howell in 1976. The small spring is 100 yards beyond the camp on the eastern flank of the ridge.


TARKEGHYANG TO GUATHUM
The first leg of this part of the trek is downhill into the valley of the Melamchi Khola through heavily cultivated hillsides. A new wire – and – rope bridge has been built to replace the old chain bridge where the trail crosses from the east to the west bank of the Melamchi, about an hour north of Talamarang. Continue on the main trail through cultivated country to Gyathum or thereabouts. In all it takes about eight hours from Tarkeghyang.

GYATHUM TO PATI BHANJYANG
The trail ahead is a well- used trade route. Travel through the village of Talamarang and up the river valley to the west and ascend through pretty country to the very scruffy village of Pati Bhanjyang; you are now back on the route already described. Follow that route back to Sundarijal and so back to the capital.

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