Yala Peak

Langtang Trek and Yala Peak Summit

It was 2022 and I was celebrating a milestone birthday. I set about finding a trip that would push my boundaries. Nepal is a country on my list and one that inspired me. Heading to the greater ranges and bagging a decent-sized peak was on my bucket list. It was mid-May when I landed in the capital of Nepal Katmandu.

A vibrant city, the humidity instantly hit me. It was instantly busy with motorbikes buzzing down every treat. It look like an orderly chaos that the bikes weaved between pedestrians and other road users. Spending a few days in Kathmandu I filled up on the local delicacy of Momos and outdoor gear. Little did I know at this point that Momos would become a stable diet as we trekked along the Langtang valley.

Moving out of Kathmandu we took a long bus ride to the start of our trek in Syabrubesi. The road’s were uneven the coach bounced around, we rattled about like salt in a shaker.  There was 8 of us and some were feeling worse for wear from their adventures in Kathmandu. We travelled along the valley following the Trishuli River with beautiful all around.  As we entered the nation park our permits and bages we thoroughly checked at Dhunche, there was a real focus on drones. Drones cannot be carried into the park.

On day one we left our teahouse  and walked out of Syabrubesi along the river. We got our first taste of the famous wire bridges and many photo opportunities.

Over the next few days we were wind our way up to Kyanjin Gompa at an altitude of 3830 meters, the altitude started to become a problem for a few people in the group. I felt okay the slow trek up and acclimitations had worked well up until this point. Kyanjin Gompa became our base, we explored the hills around the town. we had good view up to larger mountains on the horizon . The fallowing day we made our first acclimation summit as we topped out on Tsergo R at just over 5000 meters, my first time above this  altitude.

Tsergo R was a tough summit perhaps too high and took its toll on me. Making our way back to the teahouse we were staying I was the last one to make it back into camp. I felt cold and exhausted after this trek. My legs on the way down felt weak and  I had slipped a few times with poor foot placements.

 

The following day my legs were feeling heavy, I hadn’t eaten much the night before my appetite was slightly subdued. It’s common as you progress higher for the altitude to impact your ability to want to eat. We walked for around 6 hours through the beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, the views were breathtaking. My imagination was sparked by the peaks all around. We saw avalanches in the distance on far-flung peaks.

Arriving in Yala basecamp we had reached an altitude of 4600 meters. We were greeted by a warm tea from the mess tent. There was a well-established basecamp set up by the support team. We had popcorn and were generally fed well. We had some to sort our tents out before we practiced some rope skills. Ascending a fixed line and descending with an abseiling device. By this point we had lost a couple of members of the team, the altitude had got to them. I was feeling under the weather, I had a fairly persistent headache. I wasn’t sure if carrying on was a good idea.

I continued to drink tea, rest and had my oxygen saturation checked, it was in the low 70s, the lowest out of everyone who was attempting Yala the following day. Retiring to the tent for the night it was cold, I slept alone in my tent. my head was pounding and I barely slept that night. We woke it was still night, we collected our food for the journey, I couldn’t find my headtorch which made the first part of the hike in the dark more of a challenge.

Getting to the top was a team effort the support from the group was important. Each step was hard as the reduced oxygen and the fatigue from the previous days were impacting me. There were a few technical sections where we had to scramble.  We crossed a few sections where there was snow. The snow was not significant although we were carrying crampons and an ice axe we didn’t need to use either.

In the last section, we used two fixed lines that our climbing sherpas set up for us. We jumared up the fixed lines. I felt exhausted at this point. My legs were heavy and stepping up was difficult. I didn’t think I would get to this point and there was a voice in my head telling me to go back down. At this point, I was only 100 meters below the summit, but I persisted knowing that reaching the summit would be a real accomplishment. The fixed lines was tort, but I wobbled around putting all my weight through the fixed line hoping it was secured well at the anchor.

The summit ridge was short and steep, I’m not sure fixed lines were required due to the difficulty alone but the altitude made it a necessity for the group. Reaching the top felt amazing. For many days it felt out of reach. The summit of 5500 meters is a trekking peak but sections were on the technical side. We stayed at the top for 15 minutes taking pictures.

Yala Peak

I felt good and hoped that each step down I would start to feel better. As we descended the snow started, i was slow descending at the back of the group, after several hours on my own with a guide and porter I walked into base camp, I had given all I had on the mountain feeling like i given everything, I sat with my head in my hand trying to summon up the energy to head back down to Kyanjin Gompa and our tea house for the night. I didn’t care how slow I was getting back the trek back was beautiful and fairly easy. I walked alone for 50 minutes the solitude gave me time to reflect on what I had achieved. It felt amazing I was tired but in some way I floated down those last few meters knowing I had achieved what I set out to do.

 

 

 

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