Nepal is a small independent kingdom, located on the southern slopes of the Central Himalaya. Nepal has an unparalleled concentration of the world's highest mountains, including eight of the world's fourteen 8000 meter peaks. A ninth such peak, Shisha Pangma, is just over the border into Tibet. Nepal Himalaya consists of numerous subranges the most popular of them being Annapurna and Khumbu regions.
Areas are divided into following main areas, most of which are further divided into groups or ranges:
Kathmandu (1300m) is the starting point to virtually all climbing activity in Nepal. From there areas lying in Central Nepal (mainly Ganesh and Langtang) can be accessed by car in a day, usually via Chunche. Climbs in Western Nepal are usually accessed from Pohhara (accessible from Kathmandu by bus or plane). Eastern areas are most conveniently reached by taking a plane from Kathmandu to Lukla.
The weather is cool in the mountains year round, with winters being especially severe, and monsoon season creating impossible traveling conditions as the heavy rains bring torrents and mudslides. The best time for climbing or trekking in Nepal is during either the pre-monsoon (April through early June) or post-monsoon (late September through November) seasons.
Climbing in Nepal as a whole is encouraged but tightly regulated. Access is only allowed on government-approved peaks. There are different categories of peaks, the difference in the amount of bureocracy (and cost) varies dramatically between these.
The term "trekking peak" might lead you to expect that trekking is all that is needed to summit them. Big mistake, the word "trekking" does not have anything to do with technical difficulty of these mountains. While some of them are technically quite easy (such as the standard route of Mera Peak), some on the other are extremely difficult (Kusum Kanguru often regarded as the most difficult with the easiest route graded alpine D or TD). Some of the "newer" group A peaks are practically unclimbed, however there are some very difficult mountains among those, particularly Cholatse but also Pharilapcha, Kyajo Ri, Bokta and Langhisa Ri.
Group A trekking peaks:
|* Alpine grade of the normal route.|
Group B trekking peaks:
|* Alpine grade of the normal route.|
Most commonly used grading system is French adjectival system (IFAS). However, NCCS system is also sometimes used. Ice pitches are most commonly graded with steepness, however very steep routes are often graded with WI-grade or sometimes Scottish grade. Rock pithes have traditionally been graded with uiaa rock grade. However, depending on which system the first ascent party was most familiar with, yds or french rock grades may be used instead. Rock grade is accompanied with standard aid climbing grade whenever applicable.
Considering that most of the highest peaks are located in Himalaya, actual climbing guidebooks are surprisingly few. However, lots of good information is to be found in Alpine Journals and other such publications, though usually they cover just the difficult stuff. Also the information in Journals and magazines is scattered around, so some significant research is in order.
Lack of consistent peak names and altitudes can present a burden when trying to gather the information though.
Here Western Nepal covers all the western areas until Kali Gandaki river valley between Dhaulagiri Himal in the west and Annapurna Himal in the east. Western groups are remotest and least part of Nepalese Himalaya. Dhaulagiri being the only 8000m peak in the area and there are not many trekking peaks. Access is most commonly via Nepalgunj, from where further connection flight is needed to get to the starting points such as Jumla or Simikot. Easternmost areas could also be accessed from Pokhara.
Main convenient center is Simikot which is most commonly gained by flight from Nepalgunj. However, the words convenient and center as well as expression "most commonly" don't readily apply to this part of Nepal.
West of the Seti chain with Api West - Api - Nampa - Nampa South - Bobaye - Jethi Bahurani - Rokapi rise in a horseshoe around Chamila Khola in the south.
Kanjiroba Himal is located in western Nepal along the Tibetan border, in the region known as Dolpo. The area lies NW from Dhaulagiri Himal, in Shey Phoksundo National Park and about 180km NW of Pokhara. Jumla is the most convenient starting point. The highest peak of the range is Kanjiroba at 6883m.
Dhaulagiri Himal extends 120km from Bheri (west) to Kaligandaki River (east). This massif is enclosed on the north and southwest by tributaries of the Bheri and on the southeast by Myagdi Khola. It consists of two massifs: Western group and Eastern group. The two are separated by Myagdi Khola and Hidden valleys which are connected by French pass (5360m).
There are no NMA group A or B trekking peaks in Dhaulagiri Himal, so the number of climbers is very low. Trek from Muni through Myagdi Khola, French Pass and Dhampuss Pass to Marpha in Kali Dandaki valley is the most important trekking route of Dhaulagiri Himal. It also provides access to Italian base Camp (Dhaulagiri West side) and Dhaulagiri BC (north and west sides) as well as several lower peaks.
Annapurna region is the most popular trekking and climbing area in Nepal, even more popular than Khumbu region. The area has two very popular treks: Annapurna Sanctuary trek and Annapurna Circuit, both of which are also important means of access to climbs both within Annapurna Sanctuary and on nearby Damodor Himal. Annapurna I is very famous, but doesn't see hordes of climbers due to technical difficulties as well and significant objective hazards. Macchapucchare is probably the second most famous of the group. It is a sacred mountain and is not open for climbers. Those aside, several trekking peaks are accessible from Annapurna Sanctuary as well as from the neighboring valley to the east. Particularly Tharpu Chuli (Tent Peak) is popular. Additionally, Chulu Peaks and Pisang peak located on Damodor Himal are generally approached from Annapurna Circuit.
Because of huge number of trekkers, there are several lodges and tea houses. Especially Annapurna Sanctuary with stupendous South Face of Annapurna and piqturesque Macchapucchare and Annapurna circuit treks are very popular. Also peaks located in nearby Ganesh (Damador Himal) can conveniently be combined with very popular Annapurna circuit trek.
Classic expedition peaks of the area are Annapurna and Macchapucchare. Sanctuary is reached from Pokhara in 5 days trek (35km) following more or less Medi Khola river and valley leads to Annapurna Sanctuary. Main peaks forming the horseshoe are Annapurna South (7219m), Annapurna I (8091m), Annapurna III and Macchapucchare (6993m). Most climbs start either from Macchapucchare base camp (3720m, 4 days from Pokhara) or Annapurna Base camp (4095m, 5 days from Pokhara).
Area also has several trekking peaks. Tharpu Chuli (Tent Peak, 5663m), Singu Chuli (Fluted Peak, 6501m) and Hiunchuli (6441m) are located in Annapurna Sanctuary. Mardi Himal (5587m) is located to the south of Macchapucchare (not climbed from Annapurna Sanctuary). Other popular peaks are located in Damador Himal along Annapurna circuit trek, to the north of Annapurna Himal and Marsyandi river. Here lie trekking peaks Chulu West, Centreal, East and Far East and Pisang Peak.
Most common access to the area is from Kathmandu via Pokhara (827m), located about 200km west of Kathmandu. Pokhara can be reached from Kathmandu either by plane or by bus (1 day).
April-May is the best timeframe for pre-monsoon climbing season. Post monsoon season running from October to November is considered to be better though.
Phu Khola is large valley system running north from Koto in Manyangdi Khola. There are several side valleys, particularly towards west. Most important of these are:
SE-NW direction between Annapurna Himal in the south and Chulu group (Damodor Himal) in the north. Thorong La at the head of the valley. Barrabes 26, 7 days from Besi Sabu. Koto - Tchame - Pisang - Hangde - Braga ... Thorong La
Kali Gandaki river valley runs in north south direction between Dhaulagiri in the west and Annapurna area in the east. Lete - Tukuche - Marpha - Jomosom
From Pokhara along Modi Khola. 5 days to Annapurna South base camp at 4100m. Macchapucchare base camp at 4115m, 1h less. Hinku Cave at 3000m, ~one day less than to Annapurna BC.
Macchapucchare South ridge is divided in two at Mardi Himal. between the branches lies Mardi Khola. Approach to Mardi Himal base camp follows the ridge forming the eastern bank of Mardi Khola to camp site at 4100m south of the peak. Barrabes 25, 5 days from Pokhara.
Most climbing in Annapurna Himal takes place inside the sanctuary. It is a base for attempts on gigantic south face of Annapurna I as well as for routes on trekking peaks Hiunchuli, Singu Chuli and Tharpu Chuli. Of the trekking peaks Tharpu Chuli (Tent Peak, 5663m) is the easiest (PD, 50 along the NW Ridge, AD along SE Ridge, both 2 days from base camp at 4200m). Singu Chuli (Fluted Peak, 6501m) and Hiunchuli (6441m) rank among the most difficult trekking peaks. Mardi Himal (5587m) is located to the south of Macchapucchare (not climbed from Annapurna Sanctuary). As the sanctuary offers stunning view it is also very popular among the trekkers. Therefore both the approach trek as well as base camp sites within the sanctuary have number of tea houses and lodges for accommodation. Approach from Pokhara takes about 5 days. Striking Machhapuchhare would be obvious target for climbers, but it is off limits as it is sacred to locals and has never been climbed.
Peaks in Damodor Himal are usually climbed from very popular Annapurna Circuit trek. Trekking route goes through Thorong la and continues towards SE with Damodor peaks in the north and Annapurna Himal in the south.
The area also has few trekking peaks: Chulu Central (6558m, group A), Chulu West (6419m), Chulu East (6200m, group B), Chulu Far East (6060m, group B), Pisang Peak (6091m) and Larkya Peak (6010m, group A). Chulus and Pisang peak are located in Manang Himal that is part of the larger Damodor Himal.
Group of peaks located on Tibetan border and approached from Phu Khola.
Located to the east of Annapurna. The giant of the area is Manaslu (8163m). Technically easy Himlung Himal is another famous peak in the area.
Located between Gurkha Himal in the West and Langtang in the east, separated from the latter by Trisuli river. Trisuli river valley is used to access eastern reaches of Ganesh. While Ganesh (7406m), Ganesh V (6950m), Pabil (7101m) and Lapsang Karbo (7150m) are far higher, probably the most popular climbing destination of the area is trekking peak Paldor (5928m, group B), located in SE end of Ganesh.
Eastern reaches of Ganesh are most readily accessed same way as nearby Langtang valley, by taking a car via Dhunche to Syabru village (2200m, ~8h from Kathmandu, 6h hike from Dhunche). From there Paldor BC can be reached in 2-3 days trek up Chillame Khola, then crossing a pass to Mailung Khola to Sondoro and BC by Lai Mine at 4700m.
Pre-monsoon climbing season March-May and post-monsoon climbing season October-November.
Langtang valley is located to the east of Ganesh and to the west of Rolwaling and Khumbu, directly to the north (30km) of Kathmandu. On the north side of Langtang valley rises Langtang Himal with Langtang II (6571m), Langtang Lirung (7205m, the highest peak accessible directly from Langtang valley), Yubra Himal (6035m) Tsanbu Ri (6760m), Yensa Tenji (6543m), Tsergo (5732m) and Tsergo Ri (4984m). In the west, at the end of Langtang valley, and on the southern side on valley rises Jugal Himal with Morimoto Peak (6750m), Bhemlang Karpu (5691m), Langshisa Ri (6151m), Gangchampo (Gang Chennpo, 6387m) and Naya Kanga (Gang-La Chuli, 5846m).
Jugal Himal also has plenty of high peaks that are not directly accessible from Langtang valley. They include Phola Gangchen (7661m), Porang Ri (7284m), Pungpa Ri (7443m), Dorhje Lakhpa (6966m) and Shisma Pangma (8048m). Jugal Himas reaches to the Tibetan side where it is called Baiku Himalaya, also Shishma Pangma is located in Tibet.
There are few alternative means to access Langtang valley from Kathmandu. Most convenient access is to take a car from Kathmandu via Trisuli river valley to Dhunche and further to Syabru village (2200m, ~8h from Kathmandu, 6h hike from Dhunche). From there 2 days trek along Langtang valley via Lama Hotel (2480m, 7h) to Langtang village (3480m, 6h) and further to Gyangjin Gompa with famous cheese factory and monastery (3870m, half a day from Langtang village). Another option is to trek through Helambu, then cross Ganja La Pass (5200m) close to Naya Kanga to access Langtang valley. There are several optional routes from Kathmandu through Helambu to Ganja La, usually taking between 5 and 7 days.
Most climbs are accessed from Kyangjin Gompa (~3870m). Upper reaches of of Langtang valley and Jugal Himal is accessed from Langhisa Kharka (4164m, half a day from Gyangjin Gompa) further up in the valley. From there access to climbs on Gangchempo and Langshisa Ri is provided b Tilman's Pass (5320m), located to the south of Langtang glacier between Gangchempo and Urkgyebnmang.
Climbing in Langtang area requires no special permits, but several park fees are required in addition to the peak fees. Most climbing takes place on trekking peaks of the area, especially Naya Kanga (5846m, group B) and Yala Peak (5732m, group A, formerly regularly climbed without permit). Two new group A trekking peaks Langshisa Ri (6427m, difficult involving steep ice (60)) and Yubra Himal (6035m) are found in the area. Tsergo Ri (5033m) is popular acclimatization climb reached from Kyangjin Gompa (3900m, monastery, popular among the trekkers).
Langtang Lirung, the highest peak of the area, is expedition peak and very difficult at that. The other expedition peaks to see some climbing activity is picruresque Gangchempo, that has beautiful ice face, somewhat reminiscent of Andean flutes, hence the peak is also known as "Fluted Peak".
Most convenient access to Langtang valley, as well as eastern Ganesh Himal (e.g. Paldor) is through Trisula valley. First by car from Kathmandu via Trisuli river valley to Dhunche and further to Syabru village (2200m, ~8h from Kathmandu, 6h hike from Dhunche).
From there 2 days trek along Langtang valley via Lama Hotel (2480m, 7h) to Langtang village (3480m, 6h) and further to Gyangjin Gompa with famous cheese factory and monastery (3870m, half a day from Langtang village).
NE end of Langtang valley consist of western Jugal Himal. Essentially it is formed by ridge running generally towards south from Porong Ri, just to the west of Shisha Pangma. The ridge contains several high peaks including: Godum (6447m) - Pethang Karpo - Gurkapo Ri - Leonpo Gang. The ridge runs further SE, but direct access from Langtang valley is cut by major side side ridge SW from Leonpo Gang to Dorje Lakhpa. Which is where Langtang Himal souther chain connects to Jugal group. Another, relatively short ridge thrusts into Langtang valley from Gurkapo Ri and contains trekking peak Lansgshisa Ri. This Jugal ridge is continuously high with no easy pass to the eastern side, although Hagen's col between Porong Ri and Godum (6447m) has been crossed.
From Kyangjin Gompa to Naya Kanga basecamp 1 day or half a day depending on whether the camp is places just below Ganja la or further down.
Another option is to trek through Helambu, then cross Ganja La Pass (5200m) close to Naya Kanga to access Langtang valley. There are several optional routes from Kathmandu through Helambu to Ganja La, usually taking between 5 and 7 days.
Located SW of Khumbu region, to the north of Rolwaling valley. Highest peak of the group are Melungtse (7181m) and Gauri Sankar (7145m). Rolwaling also has trekking peaks, Kwangde, Parchamo, Chekigo and Ramdung.
Challenging Kwangde (6187m, group B) is located close to Nache Bazaar. Its north face (Hungo face) is very difficult though. Lumding valley in the easternmost part of Rolwaling is accessible from Dud Kosh valley (Lukla, 2800m) via Moro La (alternatively from Ringmo via Traksindu La). It is seldom visited by trekkers and provides access to Katy Olng (6511m), Khatang (6782m), Numbur (6957m) and south side of Kwangde (6011m, group B).
Parchamo (6187m, group A, NW Ridge PD+) is located further to the west. Chekigo (6257, group A) is located still further to the west in Gaurisankar range, close to Chinese border. It's NW face is reasonably difficult ice/snow climb at at III D (200m of 45-55). Ramdung locates somewhat south of Chekigo is easier (NE Face PD, 2 high camps).
Khumbu is a very popular area in the eastern Nepal. It is located to the northeast of Rolwaling, separated from it by Dudh Kosi valley. Beside 8000-meter giants (Everest, Lhotse) and picturesque Ama Dablam.
Mahalangur consists of several groups:
The area has several trekking peaks:
The areas are also popular among the trekkers so there are several lodges and tea houses.
Khumbu is most commonly accessed from Kathmandu via Lukla (2800m, plane or bus from Kathmandu). From there hike to Namche Bazar (3440m, 9h).
Gokyo valley runs in NW direction of Tengboche, towards Cho Ouy. Main village of the valley if Gokyo (4550). At the end of the valley lies Ngozumpa glacier that gives access to southern slopes of Cho Oyou. Probably the most climbed peaks in the valley are Gokyo Ri (5438m) above third Gokyo lake and Nameless Towers between 4th and 5th Gokyo lakes. Highest Tower (5800m) is technically challenging mixed climb (TD) while the lowest (5500m) is easy (F, 5-6h).
Group A trekking peaks Phari Lapcha, Machermo and Kyazo Ri are all located to the west of Gokyo valley. Kyajo Ri is by far the most difficult of these. It's SW face is mixed at around 70 degrees steepness.
Also Kangschung Peak (6063m) is accessible from Gokyo valley.
Khumbu valley is the northern side valley if Imja valley that begins at 4135m at the junction with Imja valley (Pherice). Northern border is Himalayan main ridge with Peak 6792, Pumori (7138m), Lingtren (6713m), Khumbutse (6639m), Lho la (5981m), Everest (8850m), South Col (7906m) and Lhotse (8516m). Western border is the ridge that runs from main ride with Chumbu (6822m), Changri (5962m), Jobo Lhapson (6423m) and Taboche (6495m). Eastern border is 22km ridge branching off at Lhotse main peak and running to the west with Nuptse (7861m). The ridge turns sharply to the south after P. 6480 and includes Oxygen Peak, Kongma Tse (5798m) and Pokalde (5778m).
Length of the valley from Pherice to the end at Western cwm below South Col is 22 km. Uppermost part of the valley is made by Khumbu glacier. On the edge of Khumbuy ice fall lies Everest base camp (5400m). The valley is very popular both among the climbers and trekkers. Obvious attraction of the valley is Mount Everest. Trek to Everest base camp is very popular. Other climbing destinations that are reached from the valley include Ama Dablam (6812m), Pokalde (5794m, group B), Kongma Tse (group A) and Oxygen Peak on the east side on valley. On the other side, on a ridge between Khumbu valley in NE and Gokyo valley in SW lie Pumori (7165m) and further south, close to Pherice lies Cholatse (6440m, group A).
Further up close to Lobuche village trekking peaks Nirekhu (6159m, group A), Lobuche East (group B) and Lobuche West (group A) are located. Also popular Kala Pattar (5554m) is located here.
Access is from Lukla (2800m) via Namche Bazar (3440m) and lower Imja valley (northeast of Namche) to Tengboche (3860m, 5,5h), Pangboche (3985m, further 3h) and further to Pherice (4240). From there higher up to Dingboche (4413, 5h from Pangboche) and to Lobuche (4880m, 6h).
Located in China, to the NW of Everest. The valley has two main branches: Rongphu Nup glacier valley in west and Ronphu Shar glacuer valley in the East. Changtse (75443m) rises between the branches. Ronphu Nup between between Khumbutse and Everest West Ridge in the south and west and north and NW ridges of Everest and Chantse in the east and north is used for the normal ascent of Everest from the north.
Kangshung valley is located in China to the East of Everest. Is is defined by the Everest North (NE) Ridge in the north and thew Himalayan Main Ridge with Lhotse and Shartse in the south. Valley is used to access stupendous Kangshung face of Everest. Access via Pethang and Ringmo villages.
Barun valley is located to the southeast of Everest, bordered in north and northeast by the Himalayan Main Ridge with Shartse, Pethangtse (6739m), Chago (6893m), Kangshungtse (7678m) and Makalu (8485m). Western border is the ridge running south from Shartse with Cho Polu (6700m), Num Ri (6635m), Baruntse (7152m), Peak 6535 and Khandro Tseheringma (6565m).
Dudh Kosh valley with Lukla 2800m) and Namche Bazar (3440m) is the main valley of Khumbu region and is used to access all other parts of Khumbu. Some climbs on Charpati Himal, lying between Dud Kosh valley in the west and Hinku valley in the east can be started directly from Dud Kosh. Main peaks of Charpati Himal are Thamserku (6623m), Kantega (6767m) and Kusum Kanguru (6367m). Kusum Kanguru is widely regarded as the most difficult of original trekking peaks.
Imja valley (aka Chukung valley) is located NE of Namche Bazar (3440m). Upper part of Imja valley is separated from Khumbu valley in the east by ridge branching off at Lhotse main peak and running to the west with Nuptse (7861m). The ridge turns sharply to the south after P. 6480 and includes Oxygen Peak, Kogma Tse (5798m) and Pokalde (5778m).
Northern border is Himalayan Main Ridge with summits of Lhotse and Shartse (7591m). Stupendous South Face of Lhotse is one of the hardest faces in Himalayas. There are three subsidiary ridges coming down from Himalayan main ridge. Easternmost of those fall from Lhotse Shar and includes Imja Tse, the most popular trekking peak of the region. Chukung Ri is also located close to Imja Tse.
Eastern border is the long ridge running south from Shartse including Num Ri (6635m) and Baruntse (6985m).
South border is formed by Zininga (6230m), Pokhari Peak (6402m), Ombigaichen (Pumo Dablam, 6340m, group A) and Ama Dablam (6340m). South side of Ombigaichen is accessed from Namche Bazaar via Pangboche (4000m) and Ama Dablam SW ridge base camp. Base camp at 5200m. SW Ridge via Mingbo La (5815m, camp) is AD/D with 200m of 50. SW face is 800m snow/ice face (55). SE (Hunku) face is more complex with upper part ice (50).
From Namche to Tengboche (3860m, 5,5h), Pangboche (3985m, further 3h) and further to Pherice (4240). Khumbu Chukung valley lies to the east of Pherice and it provides access to north side ascents of Ama Dablam (6812m) and NW side of Baruntse. To the north of the valley the southern slopes of Khumbu Himal with Pokalde (5794m), Nuptse (7861m), Lhotse (8501m) and Island Peak (Imja Tse, 6173m).
Hinku valley is located between Charpati Himal (Thamserku, Kantega, Kusum Kanguru) in west and Mera Peak and Peak 41 in the east. The access from Dud Kosh valley is over one of the high passes (4943m or 4590m) to the south of Kusum Kanguru.
Hongku valley is located further to the east, on the eastern side of Mera Peak. It can be reached from Hinku valley via Mera la (5415m, immediately north of Mera peak. Ama Dablam (6812m, in NW) and Baruntse rise at the end of the valley.
Khumuche Himal is south-north chain located to the north of Namche Bazar between Bhote Koshi in the west and Gokyo valley in the east.
Group located between Gokyo valley in the west and Khumbu valley in the east.
Group located between Gokyo valley in the west and Khumbu valley and to the north of Taboche-Cholatse group.
Khumbu Himalayan main ridge includes Khumbutse and Lho La pass (6026m). From there rises Everest West Ridge via West Shoulder to Mount Everest Main summit (8850m). From there the ridge continues south via Everest South Summit to South col (7906m) between Everest and Lhotse and further to The Lhotse Main summit. Here the ridge turns to east and continues over Lhotse Middle and Lhotse Shar to Lhotse -Shartse Col (7577m) and further to Shartse (7591m), Shar La (6174m) and Pethangtse (6739m).
Small group located to the east of Lukla, Namche Bazar and Tengpoche. The groups consists of south-north ridge with Kusum Kanguru in the south and Kangtega in the north and east-west side branch from Kangtega towards Namche Bazar containing Thamserku. The same ridge extends also to east over Malamphuhah to Mingbo la (5845m) separating Charpati Himal from Barun Himal.
Mera Himal is north-south ridge located to the east of Charpati Himal. Highest peak of the group in Peak 41 in the northern part of the group, immediately to the south of Ombigaichan. To the south of it and separated from it by Mera la (5415m) lies Mera Peak, by far the most climbed peak in the group.
Sikkim lies sandwiched between Nepal in the west and Bhutan on the east, directly north of Bay of Bengal. It was formerly independent, but is know part of India. Mountains of Sikkim are renowned for their poor weather, frequent snowfall and general cloud cover. The considerable precipitation on these often steep sided peaks produces spectacular flutings and corniced crests much more in keeping with Peruvian mountains than those of the Himalaya. The range is dominated by massive Kangchenjunga (8586m), the easternmost 8000m peak. Little is known about the area and access is complicated. However, there are several high peaks, including several unclimbed 7000m peaks. Darjeeling, lying some 70km south of Kangchenjunga is the most conveniently located starting point for climbs in Sikkim.
The area has only one trekking peak, Bokta (6143m, group A). It has been very rarely climbed (if ever) and it is one of the most difficult trekking peaks.
Arun valley runs in N-S direction between Makalu & Kanchenjunga.
Gunva Khola valley system is the largest valley to the west of Kanchenjunga group. The valley has several side valleys in all directions. SW side of Kanchenjunga is approached from a different valley via Lapsang.