KANGA AND LANGTANG HIMAL
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– EAST FACE AND NORTH RIDGE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.