Gillian Holdsworth’s Trans-Nepal Trek Diary
Part Five: 25th September- 2nd October
Tuesday, 25th September
Left Faal on the two-day walk to Charka Bhot along the Panjyan river valley. It is a very bleak landscape here – massive hills of slate-grey shale. It rained/sleeted all afternoon with an icy wind. We are beginninjg to think that the weather is not funny! – it is not supposed to rain in Dolpo!
Wednesday, 26th September
Crossed the Mola pass (5027 metres) – we seem to have acquired a flock of 350 sheep which a boy is taking down to Pokhara to sell for the Desai holiday.
It is hard work herding sheep like this single handed so our porters gave assistance.
We finally arrived in Charkabhot around dusk, to be greeted by a group of Japanese alpine club climbers who had successfully sumitted Kantega Himal (6060 metres). They were waiting for a helicopter to take them out.
Our porters got drunk in the village tonight, and there was a fight between the Jumlis and the Humlis. We were not sure what the Japanese made of us – camping on their helipad, fighting porters and 350 sheep!
Thursday, 27th September
We left Charkabhot – passing the Dotak hotel -which advertised everything for the ‘complete Dolpo’ adventure including clothes, pots “horse in hire” and “campaign” (we assumed they meant camping!
We headed up a long stony river valley – it was unrelenting, hard, with no compensatory views. At the top we were hit by an icy wind which was headed into for two hours before it turned into a blizzard at 4900 metres – where we camped.
Everyone was cold and miserable, but probably not as cold as the two lamas from Charkabot who were sleeping on a rocky ledge before trying to cross the pass the next day.
Weather, hopefully, will get better as these kinds of conditions at this altitude are not fun!
Friday, 28th September
Woke up to snow! One of the porters had split the soles of his shoes on the rocky paths yesterday and we had to sort out foot attire before departure. He ended up with Siobhan’s trainers and a pair of my socks – nothing spare left, so hope all the other shoes hold out!
We had a real struggle up the Koko La (5455 metres) in snow lying on wet unstable scree in blizzard conditions. What a miserable climb! At the top we were faced with 1200 metre drop, initially in thigh deep snow.
The Humlis tobaggon down on sheets of polythene, making the best of a difficult situation. We arrived wet and muddy in a wet camp at 6.30 p.m. – just as the light was going. A horrible day – praying for dry weather.
Saturday, 29th September
Supposed to be walking to Jomson today – but it is pouring with rain. The porters are all suffering with sore eyes – not sure if it is snow blind, wood smoke, or a viral conjunctivitis.
It was not really sunny enough for them to become snow blind. We gave them all Brufen and hoped it was not a viral conjuncitivitis.
Hurried down a treacherous path towards the river and bridge – only to find the path taken out by a landslide.
After cutting down to the river – which was impossible to cross – we finally found a local bridge downstream. The day continued in pouring rain, crossing furious rivers – climbing over landslides, dreadful conditions.
We finally called it a day at the village of Sandak at 1.30 p.m. Things must get better!
Sunday, 30th September
Hallelujah!!! It has stopped raining and we can see blue sky and stunning snow covered mountains.
We headed up over the pass (4400 metres) lower than most of our campsites for the past week, heading for Jomsom.
We negotiated a deal for horse hire – to take Kathy, Bharat and myself up to Lo Manthang – this trip is my birthday treat for myself!
After lunch on the pass we said farewell to Olli, Siobhan and the porters as we headed across the Khali Ganokiki river to the village of Kagbeni and the Asian hotel and a hot shower!
Monday, 1st October
Happy birthday! Thank you for all the text messages! Spent a relaxing day in Kagbeni. Kagbeni is the border between Lower and Upper Mustang and lies on the banks of the Khali Gandaki river. Mustang is famous for its apples. They make apple brandy, a great apple crumble and apple pie here. There are many small hotels with en-suite facilities and hot/cold running water. There is a Sakya monastery which was built inm 1429 with a number of rare statues and artefacts. There are 40 monks, most of whom aare studying in Katmandu or India. Gamba finally arrived from Jomsom. Siobhan and Olli got their flight but we were unable to get our permits for Lomantang. Sonam and I will head up to Fedi tomorrow before crossing Thorong La (5416 metres) between Mustang and Manang. All of the tourists we met in Kadbeni have come over this pass and have also experienced a week of rain and snow.
Tuesday, 2nd October
Left Khadbeni for Jharkot, Muktinath and Fedi. Jharket is a small village which has a monastery and a ruined fort.
We passed through the apple orchards up to Muktinath which has an extensive temple complex – for both Buddhists and Hindus – with a very secret Hindu temple to Vishnu witjh 108 sources of holy water.
Indians charter helicopters to come up here for ritual purification – a fast track to Heaven! It has fantastic views of Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Nilgiri and Tilicho peaks. We could also see the Koko La on the south side of the valley – still snow-covered but in sunshine.
As we headed up to Fedi for the night we met many tourists coming over the Thorong La. In the last month we had only met three groups – the Annapurna circuit is a bit like a trekkers’ M25!