What a blast!
After hiking the Continental Divide Trail and having experimented high altitude trekking with few 6000+ summits in South America few years back, I needed a new long distance challenge. I had heard of the GHT two years before and thought since, that it could be a great project. It would be long distance and high altitude combined together and the best way to discover Nepali Himalayan Range and its diverse culture.
One of the great things about GHT is that anyone can custom it according his experience and possibilities. In my opinion there isn’t just 1 GHT, but so many routing possibilities. As a matter of fact, when doing my research to prepare the trip none of the previous GHT hikers did the exact same GHT let aside the main 2 options given as low and high route. Indeed both low and high route have potentially endless possibilities.
My solo GHT took place from mid-March to end of May, East to West, 66 days hiking, plus few days off trail in Kathmandu for permits and few days off in Pokhara from Jomsom. Total distance around 1900kms given additional options along the way and a positive denivelation of 117 000 meters.
The idea was to take the high route minus the too technical and/or too engage high pass for a solo hiker. I went for Lumbha Sumbha, and Tashi Labsta but turned back on the way up to Tashi Labsta given the conditions. I had decided to pass on West Col, Sherpani, Amphu Labsta and Tilman Pass according the info I had gathered.
I like to travel light and as independently as possible. So I carried everything for camp: light shelter, sleeping bag, stove… I decided not to take a GPS and worked my way through with the maps, the guide book and obviously the indications from the locals, which in some areas was not always easy. I must say that GPS would be necessary for specific pass off the chart or not easy to route like Tilman, especially when you end up without trail and no visual. Indeed the maps are far from being precise, scales are ranging from 100,000 to 150,000, especially when you start wandering off the main trails where even the locals won’t know much about. Plus I would recommend to double check your itinerary if you decide to go for secondary trail. Trail on the maps don’t always exist or don’t always go the way it is shown on the map. I did have multiple experiences on those matters.
GHT is going through a very wide variety of landscapes, biodiversity and culture. One evening you camp by minus 10 degree Celsius and next morning you are cruising through jungle type forest at the bottom of a hot and humid valley by 30 degree Celsius. Learning some Nepali before your trip is definitely worth it. I didn’t had time to slip that part in my preparation schedule before my departure for Nepal and regretted it many times on the trail.
Given the guide book and the map set from Robin Boustead it was pretty easy to get started on this project. I didn’t spent much time on mapping and routing, thanks to Robin. Doc McKerr blog called East to West Nepal was very helpfull as well. Especially his gear list and itinerary. Trevor Bockstahler feedback and informations from the previous year were also very valuable. On another hand finding the latest information regarding permits and mandatory guides for a solo hiker proved to be much more of a headache. With the support of Deepak and his team from “The Adventure Mountain Club”, numerous email exchanges enabled us to have most of the information confirmed before my arrival in Kathmandu. And I am glad I did arranged pretty much everything ahead as I would not have liked to deal with all that on arrival.
It was a marvelous journey through which I found what I was looking for as a personal challenge and much more. Expect to be challenged socially, it’s not just a hike in the mountains, keep in mind that even in the remotest areas, as soon as you dip down a valley you quickly end up in a village. The social dimension of such a trip is huge. Let’s not forget where we are coming from, we are tourist or travelers if you prefer coming from wealthy countries visiting one of the poorest countries in the world. Most Nepali could just not afford just the flight alone from Europe. We have a responsibility wandering around just for our own pleasure and because we can. So many times Nepali peoples reminded me that themselves in their own country could never afford such a trip…
GHT community is fast growing and expending. The same way I beneficiated from the experience of previous GHT hikers, it is my turn to provide useful information for future hikers. Hereunder the link to an article on my blog from which you will have access to my “gear list”, my “general cost and expenses document” and “my itinerary” in pdf format.
This is the only article in English, everything else is in French, but should you have any queries don’t hesitate to contact me via the blog or on firstname.lastname@example.org