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Nepal in August...

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Nepal in August...

Postby JB99 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:52 pm

I'm curious if anyone has been to Nepal in August, or around then? It's during the monsoon season, it looks like the Annapurna region might be dry enough to trek in still... but I'd like to know if anyone has first-hand experience.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby Kevo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:21 am

Highly doubtful it would be any less wet than the Khumbu or anywhere else in Nepal. As far as big mountains in the Himalaya in relation to where the moisture is coming from, the Annapurna Himalaya and the Khumbu (Everest Region) are both right in the front lines of where the storms will hit. Think of the monsoon as an up slope storm. Pretty much everything in Nepal with the exception of Mustang is on that front range of what gets a ton of moisture.

FWIW, I'd think Mustang would be the driest part of Nepal at that time of year- it is about 20-60 miles NW of the Annapurna range. To get there you'd have to somehow get up some serious valleys that will likely be washed out.

Also FWIW- some people trek at that time of year, but it can be extremely difficult because of huge landslides, washed out roads and a ton of rain/snow. You also won't likely see many of the big mountains as they'll be in the clouds most of the time.

Ladakh in Northern India is hundreds of miles north from what you can think of as the front range of the Himalayas. It doesn't get the monsoon since it is far enough north. You can reasonably expect it to be dry in August, along with the Karakorum. If you have time off in August and want to see big mountains in the Himalayas, go to Ladakh or go even further north into Pakistan and check out the Karakorum.

Check out my photos from Ladakh here- https://plus.google.com/photos/114725692559763161384/albums?banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1#photos/114725692559763161384/albums/5639818017602085777

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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby Scott P » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:35 pm

It's during the monsoon season, it looks like the Annapurna region might be dry enough to trek in still... but I'd like to know if anyone has first-hand experience.



The south side of the Annapurna massif (i.e. Poon Hill and Annapurna Sanctuary) is one of the wettest places in the Nepal Himalaya. For comparison, on average August gets more twice as much rain there in that one month as an entire year has in Seattle. The chances of even getting a glimps of the mountains there in August are slim.

Because of the rain shadow of the Dualagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu massifs, the northern regions (i.e around Jomsom, Mustang and Manang) are much drier and it was considered to be a pretty good place to go in the Monsoon. Unless you enjoy trekking next to a road though, there isn't much trekking there anymore. The roads to Jomsom and through Mustang and to Muknath has already been completed. The road to Manag will be complete soon.

You would have better luck going to the Khumbu. Tibet would also be reasonable. Far west Nepal might be OK.

The Karakorum and northern India Himalaya would be prime then.

FWIW, I'd think Mustang would be the driest part of Nepal at that time of year- it is about 20-60 miles NW of the Annapurna range. To get there you'd have to somehow get up some serious valleys that will likely be washed out.


To get to the Mustang, you can fly right to Jomsom which avoids the wet areas. As mentioned though, the Mustang now has a road through it. Maybe the side valleys might be interesting, but the main trek is gone.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby JB99 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:01 pm

Thanks Kevo and Scott. Sounds like Nepal might be out this summer. Kevo, could you tell me more about your trip through Lakakh? How long you were there, general costs ($-$$ per day/week etc.) and difficulty of logistics etc.? Any links that you found particularly helpful in your planning would be awesome too. Looks pretty amazing from your pictures. Thanks either way though, I'm going to look more into Ladakh and the Karakoram as possibilities. Might revert back to our original plan for the summer and "just" go to Bolivia...
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby Kevo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:03 pm

Was there for about 3 weeks or so in late April/May 2009. Had been in Nepal for two months leading up to that. Ladakh is amazing. It is where they filmed snow leopards in the "Planet Earth" documentary and is one of the last strongholds of Tibetan Buddhism.

Logistically, it is fairly easy to get around and get to. You'd fly to Delhi, and then connect on a 2 hour flight to Leh. RT Delhi-Leh is about $200 and you'll be on a jet aircraft- either 737 (Air India, Jet) or A320 (Kingfisher). It is totally not worth it to try to go overland by way of Srinagar or Manali- the roads are awful, they wash out, there are landslides, buses, jeeps, trucks constantly breaking down, etc. What should take 3 days might take you 8.

May is early season for tourists, so it was extremely cheap. We probably spent an average of $3-10/night per person for accomodation ranging from guest houses to hotels. After Nepal, it felt very civilized- real toilets, warm water, even satellite TV in one place.

August is more the high season, so it is likely more important to book some of your accommodation in advance. I'd imagine you'd be ok to book a few nights before getting there, and then book everything else once you are there and know what you'd like to do. Certain places to visit require special permits- generally, the closer you get to Pakistan or Tibet, the more military presence there is. You'll need what are called interline permits to go to or close to disputed territory.

You can rent jeeps with drivers to get around, taken local buses (very, very cheap- $2 or 3 for an all day ride to the Nubra valley near Pakistan) or rent motorcycles. There are plenty of treks to do and peaks to climb. Stok Kangri is a popular 6,000er in the area that we were going to climb but didn't because of Avi danger. There's also a good infrastructure for adventuring- you can easily find people to drop you off for trekking, guide you for climbing, etc.

There are some oddities- they are really worried about an ongoing conflict with Pakistan and potential new aggressions (see wikipedia article about the Kargil War) and you can get thrown in jail for possessing a topo map and maybe even a GPS. They worry about spying, and you wouldn't want to openly take photos of soldiers or the military installations. There is a rather large military presence there. You'll likely get questioned in Delhi before flying to Leh. Just stick with the "I'm a tourist" story and you'll be fine.

See-

http://wikitravel.org/en/Ladakh
http://wikitravel.org/en/Leh
http://wikitravel.org/en/Nubra
http://www.summitpost.org/stok-kangri/151158
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leh
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladakh

Let me know if you need additional info. Happy to help you out. It is a great place with genuinely friendly people, a unique culture and amazing natural beauty.

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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby jrbren_vt » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:01 am

+1 on Ladakh.

I was there in 2007 where my group climbed Stok Kangri. I can't add much more to the excellent advice given above. Since I went with a guided group (KE Adventure, UK outfit) I am not as good with the details of the logistics of the trip since that was all handled for me. We were there in August. Leh is surprising easy to access from the USA east coast. Continental does direct non stop Newark to Delhi flights, from there the above described Delhi-Leh flight is in a comfortable jet, unlike Kathmandu-Lukla vomit comets. I have heard it said Ladakh is much more like old Tibet then Tibet due to the Chinese "Cultural Revolution". When we were there we were very lucky the Dalai Lama was in town and attended his speech just outside of Leh:
Image
Spend a day or two in Delhi and see the sights there too, another fascinating place. The Ghandi Cremation Memorial is a must see IMHO. I missed our Taj Majal trip as I was sick driving the porcelain bus that day. Expect food poisoning at some point during the trip, I had 2 bouts. It will feel like you are going to die, but it goes away (at least for me) in 24-48 hours and then you are as good as new.

If you have time to acclimatize Stok Kangri is as straight forward as a 6000 meter peak can get. If you don't then skip it.

I hope to go back someday and try the Tso Morari region if my life circumstances permit.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby JB99 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:06 pm

Ladakh is looking like it might be the place... jrbren, what was your climb of Stok Kangri like? Looking on Summitpost it looks like it could be done without touching snow at times, and crampons and an axe required at other times. I'm also guessing there are plenty of local guides that you could arrange a trip with once you were there?
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby kushrocks » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:24 pm

My buddy Dchild10 (Ryan) did the Annapurna circuit around the same time you are going last year with his girlfriend and had an absolute blast. His pictures were unreal to. Probably wouldn't hurt to shoot him a PM.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby Gabriel » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:09 pm

Hey Jb99,

I researched this for a trip this summer and decided on Ladakh. I'll be arriving in the town of Leh mid July and trekking, climbing for a month . The trip seems really. Reasonable and also to a culturally interesting area.

Good luck,

G

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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby jrbren_vt » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:24 pm

JB99 wrote:Ladakh is looking like it might be the place... jrbren, what was your climb of Stok Kangri like? Looking on Summitpost it looks like it could be done without touching snow at times, and crampons and an axe required at other times. I'm also guessing there are plenty of local guides that you could arrange a trip with once you were there?


When I was there (August 2007) it was mostly snowless with a dry glacier. The glacier crossing was relatively benign, I did not see any gaping crevasses like Rainier, but then again it was dark on the way up & cloudy on the way down. The ridge was on & off snow, somewhat airy, call it class 3 ? More airy and scrambly then the Sawatch climbs I have done, but nothing I, as a non technical climber, felt uncomfortable on. The main challenge at that time was the altitude. However there was concern the weather could turn nasty since the last 1000' vertical feet or so were done in the clouds, spoiling summit views. But it was not cold or windy either for 20,000+ feet.
Above Kevo says when he was there it was so snowy and avalanche prone it was not even deemed safe to attempt, so being a huge peak, conditions can be wildly variably from year to year, probably even week to week. You should be prepared for glacier travel, which means all the gear that goes with it.
You can see it is totally socked in for my summit shot:
Image You'll just have take my word for it that I did not just put up a bunch of prayer flags in my back yard and take this. Note the photo in my previous post was taken 2 days later, it basically cleared on queue as we were walking off the mountain. But we did get views after dawn for say 2/3 of the climb up in the morning.
Nice view before we climbed into the clouds:
Image
We crossed the glacier shown near the bottom left to right and then up the slopes from the left.
Looking up the ridge right before we climbed into the clouds:
Image


One more note, be prepared for anything at base camp. This is a very popular mountain for Europeans and Indians. I am not sure why it is not more popular among north american climbers, probably most north americans go to Nepal to see Everest or Annapurna ? There are basically no rules at base camp, so people can and do hitch up their pack animals (donkeys, who like to talk, allot) anywhere. This means right next to your tent. And it means you basically pitch your tent on the spot with the oldest, least fresh pack animal manure. We had high camp to ourselves with our groups of about a dozen clients and half as many guides & porters. There is room for about a dozen tents from what I could see. On the walk out, we passed a group of 56 Indians heading up (they told us their numbers). Not sure how they managed at high camp.

You can most definitely hire guides and equipment in Leh. For Stok Kangri, general trekking, biking and/or rafting. A common plan (ours) is to spend 4-5 days in Leh visiting monasteries, rafting, drive up to Kardung La for fabulous Karakorum views if it is not socked in with clouds.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby JB99 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:56 pm

Thanks jrbren. What were the temps like on the climb, I notice you're wearing plastics in your pic, were they necessary?

G, if Ladakh is where we end up it will be around the same time, July 25th or so until August 16th. Maybe we could meet for a peak? We would definitely look to do Stok Kangri as it looks right up my wife's alley (that is to say relatively easy). And it suits me as well since I like to get high.

Kushrocks, I'll shoot your buddy a PM. Thanks for the tip.
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Re: Nepal in August...

Postby jrbren_vt » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:59 am

JB99 wrote:Thanks jrbren. What were the temps like on the climb, I notice you're wearing plastics in your pic, were they necessary?


Probably not. Temps on the climb were probably above 0F, not too windy, and you only had to deal with snow or glaciers on summit day when we were there.
Certainly to be safe you would want them as an option, but carrying them around for the rest of the trek would make me consider something lighter. In our case it was a large guided group with porters to carry them for us (on donkeys), plus the guide service required them anyway since they do not want to have turn anyone away if the conditions turned for the worse, as is easily imaginable on a mountain that tall. It may have been above 32F on the descent as the ground loosened up (thawed) and it was tough to not kick rocks on climbers below with the clown boots on while descending. But some years may have totally different conditions. I think you could rent them in Leh if you get there and hear they are having a cold summer & want to travel lighter. The summer we were there it was probably cloudier then normal and warm, Leh/Indus Valley was pretty hot. Markah Valley was very comfortable in mornings, bordering too hot in the afternoons. So if you get to Leh and its chilly then it is probably very cold on Stok Kangri. I would study the trade offs given the price of airline baggage fees these days.
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