A 30 Day Journey to KANCHANJUNGA Base Camp – Episode One OKTANG Base Camp

Kanchenjunga was once believed to be the highest mountain in the world before it was discovered that Everest was the highest and K2 in Pakistan was the second highest. Maybe, some may consider trek to Kanchanjunga harder than normal. More adventurous. But all the things you seek in a perfect journey, you can find it here. For a diverse, real adventure one should come here. One should visit Kanchanjunga for an authentic and local experience. Welcome everyone. To Ghumante’s most challenging, longest and thrilling journey so far. As prep for this long journey, we first visited the Newmew store to get some sunglasses. Next, we stopped by at Dashrath dai’s shop to check our camera/lens and get some additional gears. Please subscribe Ghumante. Thanks. Despite all the prep, we forgot the propane gas. Thanks so much to MB who bought it and brought it all the way to Balaju. When our night bus finally arrived at Birtamod from Kathmandu, it was already a little late. Jeep to Hapu Khola had already left at dawn. So we got on another jeep which promised us that they would catch the Hapu Khola jeep at Phidim buspark. We followed our familiar route towards Taplejung via Mechi highway. We also briefly caught up with our old friend Phungso in Phidim. Welcome to Pachthar to Ghumante team. Have an excellent trip all the way upto Base Camp. Our driver sped along the highway and finally we caught up with the Hapu Khola jeep at Tharpu. The road upto Hapu Khola was bad. We had to get out of the jeep in many places. After 27 hours of driving, we are finally at Hapu Khola. This the last point upto which we can drive. Our trekking starts from here from tomorrow. We also met Lhakpa dai here. He is going to be our guide and supporter for a month. He is going to lead us. We have now begun our trek after Hapu Khola. We wanted to reach Khebang yesterday but it was already late. We will take today slow to familiarize ourselves and adjust our loads. How’s the uphill walk guys? Oh this place has nice wind. We have almost finished a steep uphill walk from Jorpul to Aapdanda. Only a bit left. The uphill stretch is not that long but it is very hard because of the weather. It is so very hot. So, this is a new kind of challenge we’ve faced. We can walk but it is so hot. We are so sweaty. We were exhausted by hunger and thirst when we finally reached Aap Dada. It would take some time for our lunch. Our appetizer – chatpate. In Aap Dada, we dallied for almost an hour after lunch. We have been told different things about how far Khebang is. Some say it will take 2-3 hours and some say 4 hours. But we had a heavy lunch just now, and the trail is not too steep, so we will go slowly. It’s 5 in the evening. We had started out at 8.30 in the morning. We are now at Khewang. It’s such a pretty place. It’s in a gentle sloping land with beautiful rice fields. Also slowly developing. Food review? We had asked honey to go with dinner. But the curry was so delicious, we totally forgot about honey. Just go this way following the road and go uphill. It’s 7.50 and we are now headed towards Yamphudin from Khewang. The locals here say it takes them 2-4 hours so probably 6-7 hours for us. We don’t want to leave pretty Khewang just yet We are only now starting Day 2 trek. “Ashish, hadn’t you been complaining that your bag was too light? Now it’s fixed.” “I never!” “Just look at my load. It’s the heaviest.” “Ashish is now happy that he has enough load.” In Othamba, as we were having our lunch a fellow arrived carrying fresh fish. He insisted so much that we bought half his fish for dinner later. After Othamba, it is all landslide area. We can see that the locals had also dug some kind of road here. But looks like the monsoon flood swept all of it away. This area is a bit risky. From Othamba, as landslide had covered up the new trail, we took the old route. It involved steep ascent downhill for half hour. So, all the altitude we gained after Khewang is now lost. “I’m most amazed this time.” “Because with Ghumante, it’s always night when we reach anywhere.” “But this time, we are actually on time.” After we cross the river to reach Yamphudin, there’s the local ward office and a small town. But we have done a whole round of market and cannot find an open active hotel. There are shops but the people are just lounging around Some are napping, some have gone somewhere leaving the shops open. Somewhat sleep village vibes. We don’t know why it is so. There is a steep 45 min ascent now. So we want to fuel ourselves with some food. If possible, good meal otherwise tea/biscuit will also do. This is the old route but now there’s a new route above us. This switch was because of the landslide. How many years has it been? Long time. Almost 10-12 years. Almost there. We are almost at Chhiring dai’s. And it’s raining heavily. We started out from Khewang at 7.50. It’s almost 5 when we reached Yamphudin now. Today’s hike was very easy. This place is also called Upper Yamphudin. But it is most commonly known as Yamphudin Bhotegaun locally. Hi there, a brief break to share some good news. We had started Patreon almost 1.5 years ago. But we were not so active there. Neither had we promoted it. But, we do have a patron now. He is Anit Yadav currently residing in Dallas, Texas. Khim, will you briefly tell us what Patreon is? Patreon is a subscription based membership platform. Where content creators like us youtubers, vloggers can be supported from our fan followers, likers and audiences. When you become our patron, we can give you back something like exclusive contents, bloopers, behind the scenes, wallpapers, anything. Another perk is that you can tell us what you want to see. If you want to learn more about these and Patreon or just want to support us, and become our patron please go to patreon.com/ghumante The link will be in the description as well. Due to support from people like Anit, we get motivation to go forward. And from this, we can also give you back something for your support. “What’re you having Aashish”? “salted tea.” “So are you ready for today?” “Totally. As you can see from my dress up, ‘m fully prepared.” “I only need to wear gloves, shoes and hat now.” “Now the trail is through woods. It will be full of dew and leeches.” “The leech will attack you so take these salt to remove them.” “There’s a river too. We had built a bridge but it’s been swept away by the flood.” “The river just submerged it and damaged it.” “Why have you tied the kerchiefs that way?” “You need to wet this ball of salt and wherever leech attacks you, just swipe them away with this.” “So the leech will drop off. Otherwise, it’s not possible to simply pick the leech off by hand.” After a pleasant stay at Yamphudin Bhotegaun, we are now starting out. We are trekking for 2 days now and today is supposed to be one of the most challenging days. Because it’s through deep jungle full of leeches. But we are fully prepared for leeches. There’s extreme leech in this season so didi has prepared this weapon for us. Farewell didi and hope to see you again. Kipa didi here is so kind. If you guys come here, please ask for her and stay at hers. It’s only been a few seconds and look at the leeches. They are sucking through my trousers. “OMG there’s just too many.” We though earlier was hard but now the leech has doubled. This does not even look like a trail. The size of leeches have also doubled. Normal leeches fall off once you touch it with salt but there here we need to rub them so hard. It’s been 2 hours since we left Yamphudin. According to Lhakpa dai, we are halfway now. Leech and wild nettle gave us a lot of trouble. We took 10-15 minutes to remove all leeches from our body. There’s just so many of them. Lhakpa dai is waving his khukuri (knife). Aashish is beating the nettle with his stick. Behind Aashish is Wassna bhauju. And behind her, this Psycho is ready. Behind Psycho… Kanchan dai twisting his lens. Immediately after we cross river, there’s a confusing junction. Aashish and Wassna were ahead of us. We’re afraid they’ve taken the other way. According to Lhakpa dai, that trail also meets the main one somewhere above. We are trying to find them by screaming and calling them. I just talked to Aashish. They had taken the other way. But they returned and are now taking the right way uphill. So Kanchan dai and I walk some way and find a good resting spot. Our Lhakpa dai is also coming along. So, will wait for all of them there. Let’s wait for them for a while. We usually walk together. But those two just went in front of us. This is a thing you also must keep in mind while trekking in group. Specially in wild trails, if you separate, it will be hard. Yay, we have found a lost person. Congratulations all. We can see no smile in the face of this lost person. “What happened?” “I think their bread, curry all has vanished.” Due to landslide, we had to walk an hour extra. So, the destination for us today is only Laje Bhanjyang. The uphill ascent to Laje tham was very long and steep. We have done numerous up and downhill walks. But this is by far the hardest. It’s end was nowhere in sight however long we climbed. But leech attack had reduced drastically. Usually, for every hard ascent we think that this is the hardest one yet. This one is specially hard because in unlike other uphill trails, for this one there’s not a single stretch of gentle slope. None. We have finally finished the uphill section of Lajetham. It’s raining and all our clothes are getting soaked. We are all walking like a dead man. There are no houses or hotels in Laje Bhanjyang. We dragged our exhausted bodies somehow and set up tent in a small shed. We spent the night here as we were exhausted after the climb yesterday. Because we couldn’t reach Torangden. Usually, there are people in that next shed. But since they weren’t we just camped here. A makeshift camp. “This is a shelter house.” We also have the first sighting of mountain after 3 days of walking. But even that is already under the clouds. We will have some tea biscuits here. But we’ve decided to go only as far as Torangden today. We will rest and do a heavy trek tomorrow. We might have made it onto the next stop yesterday but as you can see the big fresh landslide behind us the trail had lengthened by about 1.5 hours. The route went across this landslide. So, now we go uphill along that way and then descend down circumventing the landslide. What a dangerous landslide. The whole hills is gone. “You can do it.” Before arriving here, while we were walking downhill there was a small river crossing. Wassna had thrown her shoes thinking she could land it across the river. But she couldn’t and it had been swept away by the river. We had given up on the shoes. But Lhakpa dai here, after having lunch, was all pumped up. He had gone off saying he would rescue the shoe. And he has indeed retrieved the sho successfully. I found it about 100 m downstream of the crossing. And so I rescued it. I was worried about how to go on. Look at my spare shoes. I was thinking now I had no other option. But my shoe has been found. Thank you dai. A welcome song for Lhakpa dai. I had promised that whoever found the shoe would be rewarded Nrs. 1000. So Lhakpa dai, your reward. We got new excitement after the shoe was found. We gave our exhausted bodies a nice rest in Torangden. Since the hotel owner was alone, we also helped him prepare the dinner. Today is Day 5 of trek. Overall Day 7. The destination for today is Tseram. It is 3-4 hour for locals. So maybe 6-7 hours, even more for us. All of us are now almost ready. Warming ourselves by the fire one last time. The day is very fine today compared to previous days. We saw blue sky in the morning. The sun is out now. As you make your way today, it’s not very uphill now. Just go slowly. It’s very gentle. There’s a brief uphill towards the end. The trail upto Tseram is very good. “Salute bro.” The trail was again damaged by landslide after Torangden. A few locals who were walking with us started repairing the trail. Today’s trail is supergood. No steep uphill. I am enjoying the walk through this rhododendron forest. The sun is out. This wood is lovely. We are seeing the first clear mountain view from here. A river is flowing down below. And the mountain gives us a glimpse above. After 3 hours of leisurely walk, we have arrived at this shed at Andafedi. This is the lunch spot for today. According to the host, Tseram is about 3.5 km from here. I’m drinking pure yak milk. Not only you, we are too. Our lunch is getting ready. Before that, we have fortified ourselves with this pure milk. We had planned to have lunch at Andafedi. And we just had the best lunch ever. And the yak butter that our sister provided us took the lunch to next level. So much thanks to Bishnu dai and bhauju. If you also come this way, Bishnu dai’s shed is here almost year round. “You’ll be here, won’t you?” “Yes I hope to have it here for many more years.” They will be here so make sure to have rice here. We also had milk, and now this goodbye tea. “What is this called?” “Suchiya (salt tea)”. This is tea with salt. My favorite. In Dolpa trek, I used to have 6-7 glasses. Ok bro, thanks so much. Thank you sister as well. Lunch was delicious. We lost our way a bit just now. The trail was a bit damaged at one place. We had to go down from there but we climbed up. And we came upon a dead end here. So, we will go back down now. And take the next trail. The trail is like this in many places here. Due to landslides, the trail has been damaged and is often confusing. Our guide dai is already way ahead of us. So, we hope this is the correct way. We were in quite a lot of dilemma as we moved forward. It was only when we spotted some prayer flags and a small temple that we breathed in relief. The way that trail had been blockaded that way was to prevent yaks from coming up here. We learned later. We are almost at Tseram now. Only 30 minutes left. Our guide here is practising to defeat me. Nonsense. I’m already a winner. Our teammates are behind us. We are waiting for them. We are now at a Guesthouse in Tseram. We had met the owner Dipak dai down at Torangden too. He has only just started this hotel. Today is Day 6 of our trek. We will go upto Ramjer today. We will explore the basecamp tomorrow morning. And then come back down here again. “How’s the trail of today?” “It’s pretty easy. Slight uphill at the start.” “Then it’s gentle.” “Ok then, see you again tomorrow.” “We’re off for today.” “We will arrive tomorrow evening.” “Safe travels to all of you.” The day was very clear when we started from Tseram. But all was covered up by evening time. We have now walked for over two hours from Tseram. We are now halfway already. We were at elevation of around 3800 myesterday. We are now walking at around 4200m plus right now. As we were about to reach Ramjer after our snacks break, we got a nice surprise. Lapsang Lake. The sky also opened up briefly just then. We could see the mountain in the background. Some yaks were playing in water. While a big herd was grazing at the meadow. The lake had different colors. We were ecstatic to see this marvel. We spent about 1.5 hours in the lake. The yaks would stealthily try to take our bags away in search of salt. And we would playfully shoo them off. Once we left, these mountain cows got back to playing with themselves again. In areas above 4000m, generally it snows for at least half of the year. This place is no exception. There is heavy snowing here from winter upto April/May. So, this staff here, is a marker of the trail. To ensure that people do not lose their way. We can find poles like these in most high altitude areas. Can be thought of as a landmark. So, even when the whole trail is covered by snow, these tall poles can be a guide. A sort of landmark. As we made our way from Tseram to Ramjer, we had the best view and also by far the most beautiful landscape. We are now camping at the shed of our new friends. An equally beautiful river runs right in front of it. We are hoping to capture a super gorgeous scenery tomorrow. We will also get to Oktang in about two hours. So, we will rise very early tomorrow and head to Oktang. Ramjer was very pretty in itself. As we rested, we also got to see how our friends made hard cheese. Oh so the cheese is imprinted with that cloth’s texture. We arrived at Ramjer way earlier than expected. So we have a lot of free time. We are staring out very early tomorrow. We’ve been told that there’s a glacier just behind that hill. So, we are going to explore it too. As we were returning back, we also enjoyed the view of yaks returning to their shed. “So much dew at night.” Today, finally we are going near Kanchanjunga’s South Base Camp. We are headed to Oktang Base Camp now. As we were crossing the final uphill stretch for Oktang, we came across a herd of Himalayan Blue Sheep (Naur). They dispersed hastily when they saw us. It was apparently a mother and her two babies. Once they put safe distance from us, they started grazing leisurely. One of the babies turned towards us curiously many times. We have successfully completed trip of Oktang Base Camp – the first section of our Kanchanjunga trek. Similar to our Panchpokhari trip, we found a new friend here too. We called him Kaale too as he was also black. This is our dried pork pickle that we carried from Kathmandu. “Wassna can you tell us who made this for us?” “We want to say special thanks to Elina.” “She prepared this specially for our trip.” “We are so lucky to be having this tasty dish here.” “I can’t wait anymore guys. Hurry up.” “It’s time to eat now.” Look at this fresh yogurt from Ramjer. About 1.5 days of stay at Ramjer, the first leg of our Kanchenjunga trip is over. We were not sure if we would find anybody in this place. But luckily these two brothers here have a shed. So, we got to enjoy nice food, cheese, milk and yogurt. Our stay was also very comfortable. So, thanks so much for that. Bye bye. Kaale is following us again. As we were making our way back, Kaale started following us. Kaale came all the way down to Tseram with us. “Go back home now. OK.” “Come. Good boy.” “Come Kale come.” “He’s too smart.” “Stubborn Kale.” We are almost running towards Tseram now. It’s not that far but the weather has suddenly turned nasty. We can’t see anything. There are these brutal mini droplets of water hitting us. Soaking our clothes and chilling us to the bones. So the running to take cover ASAP.

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