In fall of 2015 I will undertake a solo expedition crossing the entire country of Nepal through some of its most outlying regions using a high altitude network of little used paths: the Great Himalaya Trail. “Winding beneath the world’s highest peaks and visiting some of the most remote communities on earth, it passes through lush green valleys, arid high plateaus and incredible landscapes.”
I have chosen to take the High Route where possible, which stretches approximately 1200km and requires the crossing of technical mountain passes at altitudes up to 6146m. I have added the challenge of doing the expedition solo. My goal will be to complete as much of the High Route of the Great Himalaya Trail as possible self-guided and self-supported in about 100 days. Due to the remoteness of the regions, I’ll have to carry all my own supplies including camping, cooking and basic mountaineering necessities. The expedition could take up to 130 days if I get re-routed or stalled by poor weather. As a I plan the route, the red tape around permits is proving to be difficult, and I will plan to leave the High Route for some sections that require group travel and/or guides.
As far as I can tell from my research online, I will attempting to nab the title for “first solo attempt by a female” of the High Route. Others have done it with a team, or guides. But so far it would seem that if I am successful I might just be the first woman to do it solo.*
My to-do list right now is staggering! Everything from acquiring the permits and visas necessary for foot travel in Nepal, purchasing light weight gear and a personal locator beacon, getting vaccines, gathering mapping resources, learning basic Nepali language skills from a tutor and more. Additionally, since I plan to be gone for so long, I also have to concern myself with dealings at home, such as what to do with my job, house and belongings. My biggest challenge is going to be getting the necessary permits, as the High Route passes through many parks that require foreigners to travel in a group and/or with a guide.
This area of the world has always captivated me. My experiences in the Canadian Rockies have made me fall in love with mountains. So it is no surprise that the tallest mountains in the world have beckoned. Mountaineering in Nepal has been on my “hit list” for years. In addition, the culture and heritage of Nepal catches my interest. Situated between India and Tibet, Nepal’s religions, languages, cuisine and architecture are all wildly exotic to me, and I wish to learn as much as I can about Nepalese traditions.
This undertaking leaves me somewhat terrified. I have so many doubts and concerns. What if I’m not strong enough? What if I get lost? What if I get injured or sick? What if I get stuck in a blizzard or flood or avalanche? The plan is young and I’ve already met with my fair share of criticisms and uncertainty. But you know what? I’ll never find out if I never try. I want to see. I want to grow. I want to adventure. I want to become more whole as a human being. People who know me well know that I don’t set small goals. As with anything I do, I will acknowledge the dangers, risks and possibilities, but I will not let them restrict me. I am not my fear. I know things will go wrong. Part of the adventure is meeting these challenges and dealing with them as they come. I am not taking on the GHT because I think it is easy – I know I am going to suffer. I am specifically choosing it because I know it will be hard, and that makes me feel excited. I thrive off of my own trepidations; off the knowledge that this trail will be physically and mentally taxing. And maybe, if I’m lucky, by the end of it I’ll have learned something about my own humanity.
Check out some images from Robin Boustead and Sandra Butler.
Check out some more images from Doc McKerr, who was the first person to solo the GHT, back in 2013:
This trip is going to cost a pile of money and so far it looks like its all coming out of my own pocket. I am seeking corporate sponsorship to help collect the gear I need, so please let me know if you are connected to a company that might be willing to help out. I can certainly promise plenty of social media/online promotion, as well as gear reviews, tracking and trip reports. And just in case you are an individual with deep pockets, I have started up a GoFundMe campaign here.
Additionally, I am fundraising for Wide Open Vistas, which is a non-profit organization that helps improve education and health outcomes for children in Nepal. Under my campaign, funds will go toward improving the situation of female students. Even small donations help, only $10 will send a child to school for a month. In Nepal there are low enrollment rates for girls in the school system due to lack of household resources; lack of sense of importance; girls workload at home; high school fees; and lack of female teachers, role models and adequate facilities. Female education is an important pre-requisite for development. The living standard of people increases by female education as educated women are more informed about how to resolve economic and health issues, plus they learn how to support their families financially.
Thank-you to those who have already given me indispensable advice and guidance including Doc McKerr, Stuart Bilby, Lisa Lee-Johnson, Seth Wolpin, Ian Holmes and Narayan Poudel.
*If I am mistaken, please feel free to contact me about this! I would LOVE to hear about the experiences from a solo female trekker who has done the GHT (particularly the High Route)!