Our spring 2021 Nepal expedition is to trek the length of the Langtang Valley and climb the beautiful Yala Peak (5732 metres). This stunning combination includes a trek through the valley many suggest to be the most beautiful in Nepal topped off with an ascent of this spectacular non-technical peak. The combination offers a great introduction to Himalayan mountaineering with the added benefit that it can be fitted into a 15 day itinerary.
The Langtang Valley is easily accessible by vehicle from Kathmandu and offers a truly varied and rich trekking experience. The landscape continually changes and over several relaxed trekking days we pass through tranquil villages, wander through lush bamboo forest, traverse under sheer rock walls, look to the giant peaks that flank the upper valley and travel alongside roaring rivers. Eventually we arrive at the peaceful mountain settlement of Kyangjin which provides our jumping off point for Yala Peak.
The Yala Peak ascent involves walking up to a high camp at 4600 metres and from there we make an early start to attempt the summit. To make our ascent we cross broad slopes before arriving at the spectacular final ridge which leads to the small and shapely summit. From the top of Yala Peak there are stunning panoramic view of mountains including Langtang Lirung and Shishapangma and across many mountains in Tibet. The whole experience is a classic mountaineering adventure in one of the quieter parts of the Himalayas. Once back at Kyangjin we’ll retrace our steps down the valley and onward to Kathmandu. Then, all that’s left is some relaxation time in the big city before the journey home. We are so excited to be able to offer this very special itinerary and really hope to share it with you.
Here are a list of questions clients frequently ask about our Nepal expeditions. We hope you’ll find the info you need but, if there’s something you want to know that we haven’t covered, please call or email us and we’ll be more than happy to help. In fact, if you’ve thought of it then the chances are other people have too – so we’ll add it to the list!
What is Nepal like?
Wow! What can we say? Nepal is a magical country that should be on every adventurers must do list. What makes it so special?
Location – Nepal, or more fully the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country nestled in the Himalayas and flanked on 3 sides by China, India and Bhutan. The countries population is about 27 million and, after many years of rule by monarchy, it is now governed as a federal multiparty representative democratic republic.
Geography – For a country of its size Nepal has significant geographic diversity. The mountainous north is home to 8 of the world’s highest mountains (including Everest) and the country contains around 70 peaks over 7000 metres and more than 240 peaks over 6,096 metres.
Nepal’s latitude is actually about the same as Florida, but with elevations ranging massively from under 100 metres to over 8,000 metres and precipitation ranging from 160 millimetres to over 5000, the country actually has eight climate zones ranging from tropical to perpetual snow.
The year is divided into a wet season from June to September and a dry season from October to June and the main trekking and mountaineering seasons sit in the pre or post monsoon season.
People – Nepal is actually a very diverse country with over 100 ethnic groups and more than 90 languages. Over 80% of the population is Hindu while the rest of the population are a variety of other religions including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs along with some indigenous ethnic religions.
Many people live in the main cities, but the country also has a substantial amount of farming land and, of course, the mountainous terrain you’ll be more familiar with. The beauty of a trip is in the contrasts – from the vibrancy of Kathmandu to the tranquility of the mountain villages. But, wherever you go the constant will be the warmth and friendliness of the people – calm, peace loving and yet full of fun. They will undoubtedly make your trip.
On our trips you will also spend time with some of the Sherpa community. They are the main ethnic group living in the eastern Himalayas region of Nepal and number around 160,000. The Sherpa people are widely known as exceptionally strong mountaineers and they are an integral part of any of our technical mountaineering expeditions.
What is the currency of Nepal and how much money will I need?
The currency is Nepalese Rupees and these can only be obtained in Nepal. We will send advice on how much to bring for each itinerary with your Joining Instructions but generally about £300 should be plenty for most trips – this will cover a few meals, drinks tips for local staff and other minor expenses such as laundry and toiletries. Of course, if you want to buy a number of souvenirs you may need more. We suggest bringing this as US dollars or a mixture of dollars and pounds sterling.
What equipment is provided and do I have to pay to use it?
We supply all the technical equipment you’ll need for your trip completely free of charge. This includes ice axes, crampons, helmets, harnesses, climbing hardware and ropes. Similarly, all camping equipment is provided except sleeping bags and sleeping mats.
You will need to supply suitable clothing, a rucksack, sleeping bag and sleeping mat but detailed information on exactly what you will need is available on the kit list which will be sent with your Joining Instructions.
We are always keen to minimise your expenditure wherever possible and often there are cheaper options to some of the more expensive items needed. Some items can also be hired. Please don’t let the cost of equipment be a barrier to you coming along.
Who is looking after me?
Most of our overseas trips are led by Peak Mountaineering director Paul Lewis and he will be leading our Yala Peak expedition. Paul is a holder of the Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor Award (WMCI) which is the highest mountain instructing qualification available under the UK qualifications framework. Paul also has extensive experience of guiding overseas altitude expeditions and he has visited Nepal many times. Paul will be supported on the trip by local guides and our in-country agent.
How safe are these trips?
Any trip carries risk. Add to this the additional hazards of travelling in a developing country and journeying into mountainous terrain and the risks obviously multiply. So, it would be impossible and irresponsible for us to claim that any of our expeditions can ever be completely safe. Infact, we’d argue that an element of risk is an integral part of any adventure – our job is to try and minimise and control the risk with careful planning and ongoing risk management.
Peak Mountaineering has an unblemished safety record and we make client safety our top priority. As well as using the best guides and in-country support we also run a UK based incident management system during all overseas expeditions. This means we can always seek help if needed and we also engage a third party crisis management company who can help if needed.
Our team will also carry a comprehensive medical kit and Paul is a holder of the Wilderness Medical Training Advanced Medicine Certificate. Our teams to Nepal also take a satellite phone and emergency locator beacon to ensure reliable communications in any situation. Team members are also welcome to attend one of our scheduled Outdoor First Aid courses for only 50% of the full course fee (we’ll send you the dates and further details when you book). As well as making you a qualified first aider you’ll also feel better prepared for the unexpected.
What standard of living will I experience?
Our expeditions are competitively priced but we also want you to have a good standard of living during your expedition. The mountaineering phase is fully catered, the hotels and guesthouses will be simple yet comfortable and the food will be plentiful local fare.
Having said that, this is a mountaineering expedition to a developing country so you’ll need to be willing to go without a few luxuries along the way. Do bear in mind that there are two nights spent camping and several nights in simple mountain guest houses.
Do I need insurance?
We have professional indemnity insurance but it is essential for you to purchase specialist rescue, medical and repatriation insurance and details of your insurance policy must be sent to us before departure. The following companies provide appropriate insurance:
British Mountaineering Council www.thebmc.co.uk 0870 010 4878
Snowcard Insurance Services www.snowcard.co.uk 01327 262 805
What age do you need to be?
We can only offer this trip to anyone over 18 but we don’t specify an upper age limit – anyone over 18 who can cope with both the physical aspects of the trip and the basic living conditions is welcome to join us. Please contact us to discuss if you aren’t sure.
Will you give my details to other people?All information supplied to us remains completely confidential and we will never pass it on to third parties.
How big will the group be?
We always have to work out the minimum number of people needed to make a trip viable and for this trip the minimum required is 5 people. We also cap the trip numbers at a maximum of 12 as we believe groups over this size are more difficult to manage and also lose their sense of cohesion. As a guide, we usually end up with group numbers of around 8-10 on most of our trips.
What happens if I become sick and I’m unable to continue with the trip, can’t make the summit or there is an incident requiring emergency assistance?
We try to take as many steps to keep team members healthy (such as careful preparation of food and ensuring all consumed water is purified) but unfortunately there is always the risk that you may be come unwell. Similarly, even with a good acclimatisation profile some people do struggle to adapt to the altitude. Your expedition leader will be constantly assessing the health of team members and if someone does become unwell they will discuss options with you.
Sometimes the situation can be managed and the team member is able to simply wait at a lower altitude or rest until their condition has improved sufficiently to continue. Sometimes the only option is evacuation. If a participant does have to descend or leave the group they will be accompanied by a local staff member. As this falls outside the itinerary the costs for this would need to be met by the individual.
In some cases it may not be possible for a team member to walk themselves out of the mountains and we might then need to consider helicopter evacuation. Again, the cost for this would fall to the individual and so it is essential that any insurance policy covers helicopter evacuation (please do be aware that some insurance companies do charge an excess for helicopter evacuation). Helicopter services are readily available in Nepal but their operation can be limited in some circumstances (such as poor weather and darkness) and so it may be hours or sometimes days before a helicopter rescue is possible.
Medical facilities in the mountains are very limited and so the team do carry equipment to try and help team members with medical problems or medical emergencies. These include a range of medications, a portable altitude chamber and bottled oxygen. These may all help, but we do always want to be clear again that travel in remote areas and at altitude can never be risk free.
What if I need to cancel a course booking?
If you cancel over 26 weeks in advance of a course start date we refund all the money you have paid us so far. If you cancel within 26 weeks of a course start date, you forfeit the deposit, but we refund any other money you may have paid. If you cancel within 8 weeks of the course start date you forfeit the full amount unless we are able to resell your place. Please do check our Terms and Conditions page for more detailed information. To cover this eventuality we recommend you take out an insurance policy that includes cancellation of your trip or holiday.
How do I book?
All our courses can be booked online or we are always available to deal with your booking via phone or email if preferred. If you’d like to arrange a private guided option please contact us directly and we’ll be able to help.
Can you guarantee good weather?
Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. However, we do always try to plan areas and routes that should be appropriate for the activity and offer the best conditions. As a guideline for our Nepal trips, the daytime temperatures in Kathmandu will tend to be warm with temperatures potentially rising to around 30 degrees Celsius. In the mountains daytime temperatures are often up to around 20 degrees Celsius but are likely to drop well below freezing once the sun disappears. Of course the mountains are the mountains and conditions do very year to year and so we do aim to follow our itinerary as closely as possible but reserve the right to change it for safety reasons if required.
Can you cater for specific dietary requirements?
Certainly. Please let us know beforehand and we will be able to help.
Will I have to carry a heavy rucksack?
Our Nepal expeditions are fully supported and so your main luggage will be carried by a porter. This is a great help as it means all you have to carry each day is a rucksack containing the essentials for that day of trekking. Typically this pack will need to contain similar items to those you’d take on a hill walk in the UK and you’ll be given full information on this prior to departure. Sometimes you might also be asked to carry an item on the team’s emergency equipment but this won’t be more than the size of something like a sandwich box and weighing no more than a kilo.
Is the water safe to drink?
It isn’t safe to drink untreated water anywhere in Nepal. We issue our team members with water purification solution and will teach each team member how to manage the treatment of their drinking water. This is an easy process and soon becomes a part of the everyday routine. In some places purified water is available and bottled water is also an option sometimes – we do try to discourage the overuse of bottled water wherever possible though to help minimise plastic waste.
How do you try to reduce your environmental impact?
We are passionate about protecting the natural environment. Please take the time to read our Environment Page to discover more about our ethos.
Do you need to know about medical conditions?
It is essential that you let us know about any medical condition or injury when booking and you will also be asked to complete a detailed Medical Questionaire in the lead up to the trip. The information provided will remain completely confidential but it is essential that we have a full picture of each team members health to ensure the safety of yourself and to protect other group members. Depending on the information given we may ask for additional details or may ask that you consult your doctor to get their permission to join the trip. We try to be as inclusive as possible but hope you understand why this is so important.
Below is a comprehensive kit list and we’re sure, as you read it, it will look rather daunting! But don’t worry – most of the kit you’ll need is just standard outdoor kit so you won’t have to spend loads. There are a few specialist items but some can be hired from our recommended hire service if needed. Details on this service are at the bottom of the page.
We have also included some additional information about boots at the bottom too. Having correct footwear for this trip is essential for comfort and safety and we do ask that you read that carefully. Boots are another item that can be hired if needed.
If there are items on the list that you aren’t sure about please do ask. We are always just on the end of an email or phone call if you need advice.
Please also remember that everything you take will need to be carried by a porter. So, please bring enough to be comfortable but don’t overdo it.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that it will also be possible to leave some items in the hotel in Kathmandu so it is worth bringing a spare lockable bag for this.
- 35-40 Litre rucksack – this is the rucksack you’ll use every day of our trek and for your summit attempt. If it’s comfy you’ll have a happy days walking. If not your life may be hell! Please also be aware that there will be some team safety items that we will ask each team member to carry. This is usually about a large lunchbox sized item that will weigh no more than a kilo – so please do ensure your rucksack has about 10 litres of spare space about your personal items are packed
- Walking boots – It is essential to have comfortable, supporting well fitting boots that have been ‘broken in’ thoroughly before the trip. Please do not buy them the week before – uncomfortable boots will be another item that can make your life hell. For this trip a 2 season boot is ideal
- Mountaineering boots – It can be extremely cold on Island Peak so good boot choice is essential. Double layer mountaineering boots such as the Boreal G1 Lite’s or La Sportiva G5’s make good choices. Please ask if you need more advice and also consider the hire option detailed below if you’d rather not purchase your own
- Sandals or flip flops – great for letting your feet breathe after a days trekking
- Comfortable shoes – A pair of comfortable shoes that can be worn around town or in the tea houses. Approach shoe type shoes work really well and sometimes people like to also wear these for trekking
- Waterproof jacket – a lightweight and breathable jacket. Fabrics such as Goretex or Event work well
- Waterproof trousers – again, please make sure they are lightweight and breathable and much easier if they have side zips to allow you to pull them on over trekking boots
- Duvet jacket – a expedition warmth duvet jacket is an essential safety item. You’ll also really appreciate it when you head out in the evenings to watch the stars. Down works well in the cold dry conditions but synthetic insulation will also work well. Whichever you choose, it is essential that it has a warmth rating to -15 degrees Celsius
- Fleece x 2 – midweight fleeces that can be layered together are the best option. These can be picked up very cheaply and don’t need to be a branded make
- Thermal /wicking tops x 3 – a mix of short and long sleeve
- Thermal leggings – great to wear under your mountain trousers on chilly days or as cosy pyjamas in your sleeping bag
- Trekking trousers x 2 pairs – ideal to have a thicker and a more lightweight pair. You might like to consider some of the trousers that allow you to zip the legs off to turn them into shorts
- Underwear – You may be able to wash them along the way so you don’t need too many sets. We suggest 4 or 5 will be enough
- Shorts – these should be loose fitting and not too short. Please also see the note about zip off trekking trousers above
- T-shirts – a couple of cotton T shirts for general wear.
- Good quality trekking socks x 3 pairs – you really do get what you pay for with trekking socks and they make a huge difference to your comfort. Look for models by Smartwool, Darn Tough or Bridgedale
- Liner socks x 3 pairs – these are a lightweight sock that should be worn under your trekking socks. They will help prevent rubbing and really improve your comfort. Bridgedale make great ones
- Light gloves – depends on circulation as to how thick they should be but you want these to be dextrous enough to do fine motor tasks. We favour Merino for their excellent warmth to weight
- Mountain gloves – A thicker pair for days when we go over high passes. It is essential that these are insulated and waterproof
- Summit day gloves – It is important to have an additional pair of very warm gloves that can be used on summit day. Mittens work well for this job and either synthetic or down insulation works well
- Neck warmer or buff – this probably gives better versatility as it can be used in conjunction with a beanie to give multiple options and Buff’s are also great to keep out dust or shade from the sun
- Sunhat – baseball style hats are not so good as they offer no ear protection from the sun. The best ones are the wide brimmed models you’ll see in camping shops
- 2 x 1L Water bottles – Nalgene brand are brilliant. You might also favour a hydration bladder but please bear in mind that these are prone to failure and the drink tube can freeze in freezing weather. We don’t use them on trips of this type and would prefer that you don’t either
- 4 season sleeping bag and waterproof compression storage sack – it can be very cold in the tea house bedrooms and will be exceptionally cold at Island Peak Base Camp. Down is hard to beat for performance
- Sleeping bag liner – adding a liner to your sleeping bag will keep it clean, increase the insulation slightly and, if you are too hot in your sleeping bag (unlikely but possible!), will allow you a lighter weight option
- Headtorch and spare batteries – LED models are preferred due to excellent battery life, no spare bulbs required and they are very light weight. Often the bedrooms don’t have electricity and so you will use your head torch a lot. On several days we will set off in the dark
- Small dry bags or stuff sacks – useful to help organise items in duffle bags
- Toilet paper – this won’t be provided in tea houses but can easily be sourced in Kathmandu
- Glasses – consider bringing spares as well
- Contact lenses and solutions
- Sunglasses – good quality glasses rated to at least category 3 are vital
- Sunglasses hard case
- Sun cream – Factor 50 or above. Several small tubes are better than a large one incase you lose one
- Lip salve with high SPF – lips are very prone to getting dry or cracked in the cold and dry conditions
- Toiletries – you can buy most things cheaply once in country so don’t feel you need to bring too much of each thing
- Towel – lightweight and compact pack towels are excellent
- Small personal 1st aid kit – we will have a comprehensive first aid kit but please bring along a small personal kit with plasters, blister patches (Compeed are great), paracetamol, throat lozenges (your throat can get very sore in the cold and dry conditions), re-hydration salts and some immodium
- Other personal medication – please bring plenty, and spares……and some more spares. It is also a good idea to split your medicines between your hold and hand luggage for the international and internal flights. It will be extremely difficult to replace specific medicines in country
- Ziploc bags – It is amazing how many uses you will find for these
- Travel wash – a small bottle of multipurpose travel wash will help you keep your clothes clean
- Wet wipes – for a quick clean up when you can’t get to a water source! Conditions in the tea houses are very basic and access to cleaning facilities will be very limited at times
- Earplugs – tea houses can be noisy and the walls are thin. Earplugs might become your very best friend!
- Antibacterial hand gel – essential for preventing the spread of germs. Please bring plenty
- Penknife/multitool – you’ll be amazed how many little jobs you need them for
- Watch with alarm
- Trekking Poles – this is an optional choice, but poles can be really useful
- Camera – and don’t forget spare memory cards and batteries
- Waterproof rucksack liner– or dry bags to use inside your rucksack
- Reading books, playing cards or games – you will have a lot of down time during the evenings and so please do come prepared to entertain yourselves sometimes
- Small repair kit – containing sewing kit, duct tape and Seamgrip.
- Pen – you can never have enough pens when travelling
- Kitbag for portering (90L) – the best way to get your equipment carried on the trek is to use a duffel style bag. They are simple, durable and relatively inexpensive. Please don’t bring bags with a solid structure or wheels as it is much harder for the porters to manage.
- Small padlock that fits kitbag zippers
- Solar panel or battery power bank – in some tea houses you can pay to have electronic items or power banks charged but if you have power hungry devices you can also charge things by hanging a solar panel off your rucksack as you trek
- Charging leads and adapters – remember that the plugs are different
- Feminine hygiene products – bring more than you think you might need
- Documentation and money – more information on what to take is included in our FAQ’s section
- Trail snacks – it is nice to have a selection of your favourite snacks but these are easy to source in Kathmandu
- Crampons – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Ice Axe – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Helmet – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
- Climbing harness – we can provide these for you but please do let us know in advance if you need them as we won’t have spares in-country
Hopefully many of the items on this kit list will be general use outdoor items that you already own, but we also appreciate that there are some specialist items that you are both less likely to own and that cost a lot to purchase.
In particular, this might include a suitable sleeping bag, mountaineering boots and duvet. It is essential that participants don’t take short cuts with these items as they are essential for comfort, success and safety. Fortunately, there are companies that will hire out specialist equipment at a reasonable price and our preferred provider is Outdoor Kit Hire. They have an easy to navigate website, are great at giving advice, have good quality equipment available and their prices are reasonable.
Please do consider this option if you see this trip as a one off and you are unlikely to do something similar in the future. Of course, we hope you’ll be hooked and a lifetime of high altitude adventure awaits – in which case it may be worth purchasing some or all of the specialist items.