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Independent Trekking (Peaks) in Nepal

Original Post
Harri · · Karperö · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

Hi,

does anyone have experience of independent trekking in Nepal (especially the Khumbu region)? I'm looking to go next year by myself, and would like to go to as high altitude as possible without guides, etc. As far as I can tell, the highest "legal" trekking peak to do solo is Pokalde at c. 5800m but, googling stuff online, there also seem to be a lot of people climbing the easier 6000m peaks by themselves. Anyone have any advice on how to do this without incurring the wrath of the bureaucrats, like for example paying the peak fee if it is a must but otherwise going independently? Or, ideas on how to trek above 6000m in general as I'd like to experience the altitude? Overall, the bureaucracy on the peaks seems quite daunting, and based on what I've researched, the locals might actually frown upon solo travelers in the area as their business model seems now to be based on big commercial groups (?).

Anyway, thanks a bunch if anyone has any helpful info!

Harri

Andy Eiter · · Madison, WI · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 211

I ran into someone on the Annapurna Circuit who attempted to solo either Khatung Kang or Yakawa Kang (I forget which, but both are just under 6,500m) from Thorong La Pass. He just trekked to that point in the Circuit like everyone else, and went for it. A permit to trek in the Annapurna Conservation Area is like $25.

Emile Young · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 0

Hey Harri, what's your mountaineering experience? Are you trying to attempt the peak in a day? Looks like you do a bit of alpine climbing, based on your profile.

I'm in Nepal quite a bit and connected to mountaineering guides who might be able to get you straight answers to your question -- without trying to sell you a guided climb ofc. The short answer is: legally, you need a climbing permit in addition to a trekking permit for peaks in the Khumbu region. There are a few exceptions to this, such as Pokalde as you noted. Take things on a peak-by-peak basis. Though, in general, with peaks above 6000m, you DO need a permit. Also, as of this year, Sagamartha National Park is also charging an additional fee.

When you plan your trip, keep in mind that there is construction going on at KTM airport affecting domestic flights to Lukla.

It is legal to climb a trekking peak without a guide, though in general it's not recommended unless you know you're qualified. If you don't want to be part of a big group, it is possible to just go with one guide by yourself. DM me if you want me to put you in touch with the ice/rock climbing / mountaineering community in Nepal ;)

EDIT:  (from Pasang Rinzee Sherpa, a mountain guide in Nepal)

"There's two kind of peaks permit like NMA's peak or Governmental peaks. There are some trekking peaks which you don't need permits i.e. Ramdung Peak in Rolwaling 6925m, Yala peak in Langtang Tent peak in ABC. Solo permits can be obtained for peaks under 8000m. It's very shitty actually and complicated."

Harri · · Karperö · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

Hey, thanks for the info!

Yeah, I've seen online that people do just as you say, Andy, but have also read that it can get you in legal trouble with the authorities quite easily, plus it's less stressful if you play by the rules :) If paying a peak fee is what it takes, then I'm willing to pay it but just not interested in being guided or moving in a group.

Emily, yes, I'd like to try a low 6000m peak in a day :) I do ultra running and ski mountaineering and have climbed Alps 4000ers. Also did Elbrus (5600m) on my fourth day on the mountain after arriving from sea level during the Elbrus Race week, and know from experience that I can cover c. 3000m of uphill on easy terrain to an altitude of above 5000m after some acclimatization. So, a <2000m day to just above 6000m in a day doesn't sound impossible, although of course you never know how your body reacts to altitude.

I've been trying to make sense of the trekking peak rules and was until now under the impression that you do need a guide/sirdar but looking at it again, that may be just for the non-trekking peaks.

Emile Young · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 0

So there are two organizations who regulate climbing: the government and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). It is easier to get a solo permit from NMA. For government-regulated peaks over 6500m ("expedition peaks"), you have more hoops to jump through, they often require a liaison, rescue plans, etc etc. NMA just wants you to climb. The government (Department of Tourism) wants its $$.

Here's some more info about government versus NMA peaks: https://www.markhorrell.com/blog/2015/death-of-the-nepal-trekking-peaks/

And here's some information about climbing from NMA: http://www.nepalmountaineering.org/article-climb_rules

Info about whether or not you need a guide (tldr: no you don't for what you want): thehimalayantimes.com/nepal…

Also the reason I asked about in-one-day: sometimes theft occurs quite frequently at unattended base camps, so just keep that in mind since you're flying solo :)

Harri · · Karperö · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 5

Great, thanks again for the info! So, it looks like 1) I’ll pick one trekking peak, 2) contact a Nepalese (?) trekking agency who then 3) arranges the $250 spring permit through NMA, and 4) show up (with a general Khumbu trekking permit), acclimatize and try the peak. I do research for a living but this thing still seems kinda  complex :)

J Kuginis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

I have done several peaks in Nepal- the first in a big group run by a western company. Expensive and not fun. The others I hired a local company including a guide. The guide was useful for navigating but on all technical terrain I did the leading as I wanted to but also my technical knowledge was actually better. We could then choose the more technical routes and not the walk ups. Having the guide was good as we basically simul climbed or soloed and then pitched over the serious bits. Felt a lot safer with someone who was reasonably competent. Ps be careful about fixed lines as they are not that well fixed. We came across lots of those and often they were shredded with bits just frozen into the mountain 

Emile Young · · Cambridge, MA · Joined Jan 2018 · Points: 0

Hey Harri, pm'd you some info about getting in touch with me to hook you up to guides or agencies. Again, no pressure, just helping :) This way you can put some faces to this task!

Aaron Liebling · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 865

My partner and I are planning on heading to Nepal next year (fall) to climb unguided, likely in the khumbu region. Dogs anyone have any first-hand experience with agencies they would recommend (or that we should stay away from)?

Thomas G. · · SLC, UT · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 195

Aaron - PM sent. Looking at a very similar itinerary.

alison McLennan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 5

I (female) trekked (but did not do technical climbing) by myself with no guides or partners to Gokyo-Ri and over Renjo-la pass. I had no problems with flights out of Kathmandu or anything else. All good. Not sure about actual climbing though. There is a peak up the valley from Macchermo called Kyajo Ri 6,186 meters that looks inviting. I was told people come to climb it and it looked doable from the little town. You can probably find a guide when you get there if you need one. Have fun and be safe. Remember, "slowly, slowly...." Leave your ego at home. I was told that the "fittest" people often have the most problems because they go too fast. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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