Some Practical Tips for GHTers
Some Practical Tips for GHTers by Cedi and Loris
First of all, the GHT is not working out for people who just want to have a fixed route and just walk inside the footprints of others. You have every time to think about your route you have to look at the conditions and make decisions. You have to think about the consequences which are following your decisions. Be responsible for your ecological footprint on mother earth. You do not have to be a mountain guide or a hero in climbing, what is more practical is when you have a lot of outdoor field time and mental strength.
Another very, very important thing is that you never actually do the GHT solo or unsupported. Normally we got a hint from a local which was on a magical way appeared at that point which we need him to show us the way.
Avoid Expectations on the GHT
Don’t have any expectations about the people, about accommodations or your path. Take everyday as a gift and look at what happens on the day. What also is important, can you assess yourself what you are able to do? You also have to be strong enough to say no and go back but never expect that someone will bring you out of the shit. You have to be as independent as you can. And to fail is not a shame, to say ‘no’ at a point needs a big courage and strength. I think from failing you can learn the most but learn from it…
Think also about your egoism for example your target is to reach the west or east but you are also responsible for a lot of other things on the trek and just to say I went from east to west isn’t worth it when others suffer.
I think one of the big turnarounds, and when we were really in the shit, was from Hongon to Yangla Kharka. It was the first time we really have to make quick and good decisions because otherwise we end up flying out with a helicopter or something. We have to use our instincts and figure out which way should be the best even when the condition were not so nice.
Loris, Cederic and Half the GHT
Loris and I are to swiss guys who hiked half of the GHT and have stopped because of Corona. We did the five passes (Sherpani Col, West col, Amphu Labsta with Guide, and Tashi Labst and TIlmanns Pass without Guide). We do a lot of day hikes in Switzerland but the longest time we were on a trek was around 8 days in a tent on a super-easy route. We have some mountain experience but we had never done such a long trip with a tent and such a huge altitude (before the highest summit around 4200). So, I would say for such a project we are a kind of big-green-homes. We want to do the GHT as most as we can by our own and just take a guide where we have to take (mandatory restricted areas). We had a travel agent which was providing us with resupply all over the trail.
Down there we write some tips which can help you with planning and on the GHT. I am not writing about the gear that we need because everyone needs other gear but just one I want to say about gear less is more….
Here’s Some Practical Tips for the GHT That We Learnt the Hard Way
Make sure you have a travel agent which suits you. You will figure this out when you are staying in contact by mail or phone very soon. He is a keypoint of your mission; he is delivering you with new material and have contacts in the villages. Don’t expect it but he can really get you out of the shit.
Make sure you have a good way to communicate with your travel agent. Try it out in Kathmandu before you are leaving to start the trek because otherwise it is the worst that can happen.
There are some communication systems that should do the job:
- Ask in the villages for a local phone so you can make a phone call. Problem with this is normally Nepali can not write this down or able to keep in their heads so send always lists.
- Go and buy a sim card from better in the mountains Telecom if you are two people the other should take a different one called Ncell and if you are three take Smart Cell as third option. Don’t rely on the internet in the mountains.
- Garmin InReach is an option which is working with no internet and network from the floor of mother earth. It’s working by satellite system so if you are outside or in the tent you can send out messages via Mail or SMS and the receiver can write you back. But make sure that you try this out with your Guide in Kathmandu and explain to him how it works. Also you can check out the weather conditions in the mountains but also here don’t rely on them. We had pretty good information but you have every time to look at the outside what is going on. You will get a feeling about the weather soon.
Communication with your travel agent:
Most Nepalese speak Nepali-English, which is not always on the same wave like we Westerns. Best is everytime to make lists and make pictures of your gear so that you get what you really want.
Write to him so clearly that it will be impossible to bring you the wrong stuff you need!
And make your own decisions about your orders and do not expect that he knows how many gas bottles you will need.
For example: 1 pair of shoes, Scarpa grey and blue size 43 ½ are in the North Face Duffel bag), or sleeping bag Sea to Summit AP Alpine -20C colour red in The North Face Duffel Bag. If you are not clear, it can be possible that your travel agent is going to buy a new one. And don’t be angry if something is not coming as you want it normally you will also do it without this you ordered until it is not super important. Also mark things you really, really need as really important.
Resupply (less is more) and how to communicate with Nepali people:
First of all we ordered too much stuff in every resupply point and we made the mistake that we never wrote down somewhere where we put what inside. So sometimes it was like a magic box we opened. Most important things we already had in our backpack and this what was coming was mostly too much and we directly send back this stuff if possible.
Very important to make clear at which resupply you will just get resupply and you can not send things back. And look at which points you really can send back gear. Otherwise you have a lot of shit you have to carry for nothing when you are realising “oh we can not send back gear from there”.
Make a list and picture what you put in the bags and take pictures from every single resupply. I know it sounds like a lot of work but you will not regret it because after two weeks you are completely in the Himalayan bubble and you forgot almost everything you put inside the re-supply bags. Normally you will take way too much stuff on the trail or even inside the resupplys unless you are not an expert in packing and what you really need.
Give one list also to a travel agent, if you want to change something you can tell that with a list and picture.
When you need that your travel agent need to buy for you make a list. With pieces number you need. For example, we need gas write (4 bottle 230 gram of gas red Optimus wintergas). As more clear you write as more chances you have to get the right stuff. Example if you don’t write the red one or wintergas maybe you get summer gas. And that’s really shit when you are at 5000 meters.
Look that when it’s possible to meet your guide in Kathmandu and spend as much time as you can with him in the city. You will realise if the guide fits on you or not. If you are fit people take maybe a younger one, if you are more serious take maybe one guide which is more serious, if you like to make jokes or play games look that you have a funny guide. But tell your travel agent if the guide is fitting on you. Because it makes your trip even more enjoyable if you are a good team with the guide. After your trek starts and you have a good guide look that you get him on the trek as much as you can. You will get really good friends.
Maybe they don’t know where to go or are slow. They could be at a place 10 times and even don’t know the right way (so don’t expect that they know the way). Talk with them and push them. Don’t think you will have a European mountain guide. You have to tell them every step how you want to have it.
Look over the big passes that the guides are prepared and well organised. Maybe send porters separately that you have not to wait. Worst thing in the mountains is when you have to wait by minus 15 degrees or even more and you cannot walk and do nothing. Help them if they need help but also look at your fitness.
Look also that the guides are making the job safe and check every time if they did it right. Example they rappel you down look how they fix you on the rope did they do the half-mast knot.
Get in touch with the locals as much as you can. Dance with them, try to learn Nepali and speak with them. As more you got in the local shit as more you got friends on the trek and that helps you a lot.
Always look after your stuff. Kids are super curious and sometimes they see power bars or drinks. They take it superfast. That’s not a problem but if they begin to steal other things you really can get in trouble.
Normally in the Himalayas you have a lot of opportunities to get water and it is also a lot of the time good to drink without filtering. We just ran out of water two times so we have to walk maybe 1 more hour to get water. Normally we fill up around 3 litres of water but mostly one litre is enough. Also, a good option that you are saving up gas for your cooking, take a light thermos which you can fill up in a guesthouse or even a night before you are in the tent. So, in the morning you already have hot water.
Key Nepali Phrases:
Language we used all over the trek what was most necessary for us:
|Delicious||Dereramru/ Metoe tscha|
|Thank you||Dannye bhad|
|Happy Water||Raksi (local schnaps)|
|eat food||khana khani|
|can I sleep here||rathi azha sutney etha|
|Dinner||mobi khako khana khani|
|7 o’clock||saat bhajey|
And last but not least – get in touch with Robin and get good friends he can really help you. 😉
Happy Trekking from Cedi and Lori!