Up the Barbung Khola and over the Mu La (26/10 - 30/10)

I got down to Kakkot about an hour after dark. To my surprise, the Tamangs were sleeping already. They had planned to make an excursion the next day up the slopes behind Kakkot but, instead, we walked up the Barbung Khola to the next village, Tareng. As we went up the valley, we entered a rain shadow behind the Putha Hiunchuli-Dhualagiri II wall to the south of us, and the ground became very barren.

Gunjaman crossing a bridge over the Barbung Khola

It was a long day to Tareng, and we met only one other traveller.

At the house we stayed in at Tareng there was another traveller, an elderly woman who was the area's money-lender. She was travelling around collecting interest.

At Tareng, the Barbung Khola turns north, but instead of following it we headed southeast up a tributary to the village of Mukut (c4000m, 13000ft), where we spent the night.

The entrance to the village of Mukut.

The family (except for the mother) in whose house we stayed at Mukut. The son (at right) served as a guide and porter for us to the next village.

One of the daughters standing by the main door to the house.

We had hired a porter in Tareng, and we hired another at Mukut, so that from now on the porters were carrying only light loads.

From Mukut, we climbed to a camp site at about 4900m (16000 ft), and early on the following day we set off for the Mu La (c. 5800m, 19000 ft).

On the climb to the Mu La, with Tarjan leading the way. The peak behind is Dhaulagiri II.

A rest stop on the way to the Mu La. The Tareng porter is at left, Thulo is third from the left, and the Mukut porter at right.

Everyone moved surprisingly quickly considering the altitude. On the last 200m (vertical) to the pass, a very steep switch back, something of a (slow motion) race developed to the top (won by the Mukut porter and Tarjan). For the Tamangs, this was the highest they had been, and everyone was very happy that we had overcome the main obstacle to completing the circuit. The views of Dhaulagiri II and elsewhere were very impressive.

Gunjaman and Thulo arriving on the Mu La

From the Mu La, we descended on frozen snow, which required some step-cutting, and then down a long valley to a campsite at about 5000m (16,500ft). It had been a very long day. During the night, one Tamang porter suffered from mild altitude sickness. He seemed O.K. in the morning, but his load was shared among the other porters. The next day we crossed two more passes, the higher of which was only a little lower than the Mu La, and then had a long descent to the village of Sangda (4100m, 13448ft).

View east from the last high pass. The saddle in the distance is the Thorong La (5400m). The distant valley running north-south in front of the Thorong La is the Kali Gandaki, our goal.