Great Himalaya Traverse

S2-KBC to Thudam (Kanchenjunga – Makalu)

Note: Be sure to read the ‘Overview and GPS notes‘ page first – it also includes a link to our repository of GPS files. It is also worthwhile to look at our datasheet/itinerary.

4/19: We went from Lhonak back down to Ghunsa in one long day.

4/20: We spent the day resting and organizing gear. This was our second, and last, full day of rest on the trail (?)

4/21: After leaving Ghunsa, we didn’t travel far south before finding the junction and finally heading west. The trail was hard to follow at times but not impossible and we eventually made it up and over the pass. Try to hit the pass early so you don’t end up post holing.

There were many nice camping spots in the valley on the other side along the Thasa Khola drainage.

4/21 It was a long day to Olungchun Khola from there with some steep sections and a landslide just before the village. John recorded 9 hours but I think it was 10. We stayed in the house that was most south east. They had a room that we could all crash in and cooked up a nice meal. They’ve done this before and will probably be watching for you. They sold some simple things (?), did not see any other shop in town. Hopefully you got everything in Ghunsa.

4/22: When we left the next morning we hit a check point out of town and momentarily lost the trail and foundered along the banks of the river. (The trail is higher). There was a big junction where we went west, we met a fellow walking north into Tibet. The trail got interesting with some parts on top of the river – carefully stepping along stones as we worked our way up. Our camping location before attempting Lumba Samba was at the base of a gully on some dry land. The waypoint is ‘SE-Camp-SW’

4/23: Seth is not convinced we took the ‘correct’ approach to Lumba Samba 5159m, our first ‘real’ pass which is considered difficult to navigate having three small passes. Our maps disagreed and were around 150,000 scale and Seth didn’t realize the GPS orientation was flipped until later. We went up the second gully northwest (the first deemed too steep) as it seemed to match the description in the book (really your imagination can match anything). On later analysis, our route was more north of Doc’s and south of a lot of way points provided by Robin Boustead (these were not loaded while we were on trail). We sought ridges and slowly worked our way west traversing past three semi-frozen alpine tarns.Once you get on to the upper slopes you will be fine if you stick to a westerly heading and don’t lose to much altitude.  Look for the prayer flags on the second pass.

We post holed quite a bit. We phoned Julie on the sat phone who studied our location via transponder and advised us to continue west. We also loaded Doc’s track correctly by then (we had no named waypoints with us) and intersected it. At about the same time, we saw tracks on the far ridge and concluded it was the pass. Ascending that and descending the other side into the drainage involved a lot of post holing but no serious exposure to falls or avalanches. We did not use crampons or rope. We ended the day camping on the only semi-dry spot we could find (waypoint = ‘S2-CampKharka-SW’), a high kharka. We had a very long, cold, wet experience…much like Doc. McKerr has described. Be prepared to be at high altitude and in the snow for a long day.  If the clouds roll in and you can not see this would be a tough area to route find in. In the image below the yellow track is ours, black is Doc McKerr’s. And there are some waypoints further north provided by Robin Boustead. This makes sense since near the pass we saw tracks leading in from the north east a bit.

4/24: Getting down into the valley floor the next day found us sliding down some really steep, sketchy rock. Be careful. We may have been better off backtracking a little and taking a more stable way down. Follow the valley all the way to Thudam. There was a nice spot to rest next to the river in Thudam. We didn’t see any services there at all – it is a very poor village. We continued through the Lizzy Hawker enchanted forest, a bit of strange trail along the river with one landslide crossing before stopping at an abandoned wood cutters camp. This will be described in the next section and is notably as a place of navigation difficulty for both Lizzy and Doc.

Below are way points and Delorme tracks from this segment.

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