Baruntse provides a good progression and an ideal objective for those who have previously climbed to around 6000m. Situated close to Makalu it is remote and at the centre of three glacier valleys, the Imja, the Hunku and Barun. It is objectively safe and offers a tremendously rewarding climb among the world’s highest peaks. Summit day includes spectacular views of Lhotse, Everest and Makalu. The expedition will approach Baruntse via one of two options depending on the political situation and local logistics.
OPTION 1 - From the Makalu side via the Barun National Park, famous for its flora and fauna, after a spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar.
OPTION 2 - Via Lukla, the Mera La and Hinku valley as if going to Mera Peak. We would exit via the Amphu Labsa Pass past Island Peak and then down the main Everest trail.
KEY to inclusions (H-hotel, T-teahouse/lodge, C-camping, B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
Day 1-2: International flights.
Arrive Kathmandu, transfer to our hotel in the famous bustling Thamel district of Kathmandu. (H,B).
Day 3: Fly to Lukla (2800m).
A spectacular short internal flight takes us to this tiny airstrip town and the gateway to the Sherpa Kingdom. After lunch we can we set off to our first camp at Poyan (2800m). (C,B,L,D).
Day 4: Poyan to Pangkonngma (2846m).
A pleasant and easy start to the trek before we climb steeply up to a ridge overlooking the Khare Khola. About five hours in total at a leisurely pace (C,B,L,D).
Day 5: Pangkonngma to Nashing Dingma (2,600m).
We climb up through an abundance of rhododendron and bamboo to the Pangkonngma La (3173m). From here, we have fine views of Mera and the twin peaks of its impressive south face. Our route descends down to the Hinku Kola and its classic rope bridge, a wonderful scenic day. (C,B,L,D).
Day 6: Nashing Dingma to Chalem Kharka (3600m).
Today we climb over the Surke La, adding to our gradual acclimatisation. The path takes us through lush greenery to our campsite among fir trees and rhododendron just outside Chalem Kharka. (C,B,L,D).
Day 7: Chalem Kharka to Chunbu Khaka (4200m).
We continue our ascent through the rhododendron to emerge in the more open but rugged paths that now provide some excellent views towards Kangchenjunga. (C,B,L,D).
Day 8: Chunbu Khaka to Khote (Hinku valley) (4200m).
Today we traverse in to the main Hinku valley and follow the west bank of the boulder strewn river upstream to either Khote with its small village atmosphere or onwards for another hour and a half to the more remote Swra with an alpine meadow feel. Either way this is a shorter day with no overall height gain. (C,B,L,D).
Day 9: Khote or Swra to Tagnang (4320m).
It really feels like you’re entering the Nepalese Himalaya on today’s walk. As we gain height up the Hinku valley we leave behind the forest zone and enter an alpine zone. Wonderful herbal aromas and alpine flowers are complimented by the superb and spectacular peaks of Kusum Kanguru, Kyashar and Mera West that now surround you. This is another short day that allows us to gain height steadily. (C,B,L,D).
Day 10: Tagnang to Khare (4850m).
We cross the fields of debris created when the glacial lake above Tagnang burst its banks in 1998 releasing a huge wave of water down the Hinku valley. As we ascend a moraine ridge we get good views into the turquoise loch and across to the imposing N. Face of Mera. We continue across the grassy alps of Dig Kharka, before the final ascent zig-zagging up grassy slopes to the Mera Base Camp. Tonight you will be camping at the height of Mont Blanc! (C,B,L,D).
Day 11: Khare to Rato Odhar (5000m).
The glacier snout is reached in one and a half hours from Khare. Here we can put on crampons and climb a short 20-30 degree snow slope to gain the glacial plateau that can be traversed to the Mera La (5400m). From here a short descent gains rocky platforms and an ideal sunny spot for lunch. This is about four hours steady walking from Khare. A steady descent leads to our campsite beside the huge boulder of Rato Odhar giving us our first views of Baruntse. (C,B,L,D).
Day 12: Rato Odhar to the Start of the Five Lakes (5250m).
Today follows the twists and turns of the Hinku Valley giving ever changing views of Baruntse, Chamalang, Peak 41, Lhotse & Everest. The walking is easy but the whole area feels very remote with very little evidence of man. We camp where the paths to Base Camp and the Amphu Labsa divide (C,B,L,D).
Day 13: Start of the Five lakes to Baruntse Base Camp (5450m).
A short walk leads to the crest of the moraine and a stunning viewpoint with the imposing bulk of the south face of Baruntse towering over you and Ama Dablam to the west. A couple more hours of walking should see you dropping into the sunny and sheltered basin of our Base Camp, situated on sandy platforms by a small lake. (C,B,L,D).
Day 14 - 25: Climbing period.
Our plan would be to place two camps on the Lower Barun Glacier, below the SE Ridge at 6000m and 6300m respectively. Fixed line would be placed on the ascent to Camp 1, below the West / East Col, to safeguard our progress. To reach the summit usually takes 7-10 hours along a stunning and exposed ridge line (fixed ropes). The crux is a steep ice wall at around 7000m which may be up to Scottish grade II. Descent is by the same route and we would hope to reach at least Camp 1 or Base Camp if you’re going well (C,B,L,D).
Day 26: Baruntse Base Camp to Amphu Latsa Base Camp (5650m).
Rugged walking leads across the moraine towards Ama Dablam and the Amphu Labsa pass. Our camp is directly below the steep slopes leading up to the col. (C,B,L,D).
Day 27: Amphu Latsa Base Camp to Chukung (4730m).
The majority of our support team will return to Lukla from here via the Mera La while we’ll be enjoying the comforts of teahouses for the rest of the walk out. A steep climb first thing in the morning will get the heart pumping but the amazing structures and colours of the ice fall should take your mind off any discomfort. A couple of steeper sections that usually require some fixed line lead rapidly to the narrow Amphu Labsa pass. A steep descent (fixed lines) leads down to the moraine and easy walking down to the teahouses of Chukung. (T,B,L,D).
Day 28: Chukung to Pangboche (3930m).
After our time in the wild and remote Hinku Valley the teahouses and farms of the Khumba region are a pleasant change. Good paths and bridges lead down to join the main Everest Base Camp trail with amazing views of Ama Dablam (T,B,L,D)
Day 29: Pangboche to Namche Bazaar (3440m).
Today we descend back into the tree line and the smells of pine and juniper. The path climbs to the large monastery at Tengboche before a steep descent leads back to the Dubh Kosi river. The final steep climb of the trek flattens out and traverses the hill side before eventually turning the corner and dropping down into the bowl of Namche Bazaar. (T,B,L,D).
Day 30: Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2800m).
A steep descent leads to an impressive bridge high above the river. Easy walking surrounded by the carvings, flags & prayer wheels of Buddhism leads us back to the airport at Lukla. (T,B,L,D).
Day 31: Fly Lukla to Kathmandu.
Back to the comforts of our hotel and the enjoyable hustle and bustle. This is a good time to buy souvenirs and try your hand at haggling with the local shop keepers. We can dine in one of Kathmandu’s finest restaurants and experience some local dancing styles! (H,B)
Day 32: Kathmandu (H,B).
This is a contingency day to allow for any unexpected delays during the trek.
Day 33-34: Return international flight.
The technical difficulty of this climb is not high, but it is physically demanding with long days and sections with a lot of exposure. The trip is ideally suited to strong, experienced climbers who want to climb the peak in its own right, or to use the trip to gain experience for higher peaks in the future. To move efficiently and enjoyably we recommend you have experience of Alpine PD+/AD routes and /or an ability to climb Scottish grade 1/ll winter routes and previous experience of altitude of at least 4800m before.
A TYPICAL TREKKING DAY
Starts around seven am (not a problem as it’s usual to go to bed early!) with you packing your overnight gear into a kit bag before enjoying a hearty breakfast ready to leave camp whilst it’s still fairly cool. The pace on the trek will be leisurely with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, take photos, chat to the locals and keep hydrated. Lunch is usually in a fine spot by the side of the trail and, most days, you will be arriving at our overnight camp mid afternoon ready for a well earned cup of tea. This leaves an hour or so to rest or explore before a three course evening meal. It is quite remarkable what the locals can produce in these remote circumstances.
The Post and Pre monsoon conditions experienced from October into mid-December. April-May are usually very fair, dry and stable. Daytime temperatures are pleasantly warm in the valleys (20-30C) whilst cool to very cold (especially with wind chill) high on Baruntse. Night time temperatures are cold to very cold (possibly as low as minus 30C) and you should make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag (-30c), an expedition weight down jacket and good quality down mitts.
Food on the trek and at Base Camp is excellent and designed to stimulate your appetite despite frequent altitude induced loss of appetite. Breakfast includes porridge and cereal followed by eggs (fried, boiled poached or omelettes) and either bread or chapattis with jam, honey, peanut butter etc. Lunch starts with juice and may include chips, rice, lentils, vegetables, salad, sandwiches, beans, tinned fish and tinned meat. Dessert is usually fresh/tinned fruit and tea. The evening meal always starts with soup (often with a healthy dose of garlic to aid acclimatisation) accompanied by poppadums, popcorn or prawn crackers. The main meal varies from local style – Dal Bhat (rice and lentils with an onion and vegetable sauce), Yak stew, momos etc. to western style – yak burgers, chips, pasta, even pizza! Desserts are equally appealing and include apple pie, cake, custard etc. You will not be hungry! Once on the mountain we use dehydrated meals supplemented by chocolate, muesli bars, cheese, nuts, salami, etc
IMPORTANT – The small print
Please note, flights to and from Lukla can be delayed due to the weather. Please be patient and bring a good book to read. If the flight is delayed overnight accommodation is included on a B&B basis. In cases of longer delays, optional helicopter flights are sometimes offered at an extra cost.
MISSED INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS
We allow one extra day in the itinerary for bad weather. If you are delayed longer (unusual) we can re-book your International flight but additional costs may/will be incurred. Tickets can be changed according to availability and the class of ticket, you may need to upgrade and be flexible on your return date. All additional payment would need to paid for in Kathmandu (card payments accepted).
We employ local staff to work alongside our own group leader giving employment beyond farming. We ask that you restrict showers to those lodges that have electricity or solar power, thus reducing deforestation. Be prepared to wash using bowls of warm water or ‘wet ones’. We recommend you dispose of burnable rubbish at the lodges but take other items such as bottles and batteries back to Kathmandu. Avoid plastic bottles of water by bringing iodine tablets and a refillable bottle to drink local pumped water. Soft drinks should be purchased in glass bottles that can be recycled.
Our itineraries generally allow sufficient time for your body to acclimatise. The best way to avoid any problems is to do everything slowly, walk at a gentle steady pace and drink plenty of fluid. Our leader will give an appropriate briefing on arrival.
Just in case your main luggage goes missing en route, it is a good idea to wear your boots on the plane. Most other things can be replaced but comfortable, well worn-in boots are more difficult to replace easily.
A detailed equipment list is provided on booking. Specialist items such as sleeping bags and down jackets can be hired or purchased.
For your own comfort travel light. Normally airlines restrict baggage to 20kg and the Lukla flight 15kg, but you will be wearing boots and one set of trekking clothes. Some items can be left at the hotel for your return.
VISAS AND PERMITS
UK citizens and most EU nationals can purchase Visas on arrival. All other countries should check with their local embassy. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of the trip.
Most meals are inclusive, please see the key above. Individuals are responsible for drinks throughout and hotel meals which gives the flexibility to choose where you eat.
Nepalese Rupee. UK Sterling, Euros and US Dollars can easily be changed in Kathmandu. ATM (cash machines) are available in Kathmandu but are often out of order.
Tipping is generally expected and part of everyday life. We generally tip our own local staff as a whole. It is also usual to put approximately 1000 rupees into the pot for the Puja or mountain blessing – a very important part of Himalayan climbing.
An early morning spectacular flight over Everest.
Chitwan Wildlife Safari (plus 4 days)
You can round off your trek with a three day wildlife safari. This includes a jeep safari, jungle walk, river canoe trip and elephant ride combined with a cultural program in search of rhino and the famous Bengal tiger.