Impact of the 2015 Landslide

Thursday, 23 Jan, 2020

Riverside (2800m) - Langtang (3500m)

Breakfast was on the table at 8am but Georgia was the only one ready to eat as the rest of us were still getting packed and sorted for the day. Jonno had been up in the night with a runny tummy but was feeling well enough to eat breakfast.

The potato omelettes were particularly good and most substantial filled with a mix of potato and onion. We were moving by 9am. The morning was crystal clear but freezing cold in the shade. It took a long time for my hands to feel warm as my gloves had gone on ahead with the porters. The ground was icy in patches and there was a lot of snow on the ground. We had to take care not to slip. It was a gradual uphill and we continued to follow the Langtang River. We could see the Langtang Luring getting ever closer.

Eventually we emerged into sunlight and much appreciated its warmth. As we approached Ghoda Tabela we could see the ruins of lodges that had been destroyed in the landslides caused by the earthquake. Puncha told us the the landslide had happened around midday when trekkers, porters and guides had stopped for lunch, with many killed.

We stopped for morning tea in the sun and enjoyed another packet of coconut biscuits together with coffee and marsala tea. Our plunger coffee cups have proved invaluable. Jonno decided to attach his solar panel to his daypack to make the most of the sun. It was a really tranquil and the yaks grazing nearby were a lot more placid than our encounter yesterday.

We continued gradually uphill for another hour or so until we reached Thangshyap at 3200 metres where we stopped for lunch. We sat outside for a while and enjoyed a hot drink but the wind was cold, so we moved inside. The guesthouse boasted a rooftop garden which appeared to be a series of plastic covered structures. We saw them gathering vegetables for our lunch. We had a brief chat to an Irish guy travelling with his mate. There were certainly many more trekkers on this route as we barely met any on the THT. Yesterday we had chatted to a Korean woman having lunch at Riverside and she was interested to know about our cycle travels through South Korea. We had also had a brief conversation with a couple who wanted to know if we had all the antibiotics that we needed - an odd question, but maybe they were looking to sell some to fund their travels.

Jonno went on ahead after lunch with a warning from Puncha to walk slowly as we increased our altitude. Parts of the path were again icy. We had not been walking long when we heard a loud cracking sound which made us stop and look around. It was a small avalanche on the cliffs high above us and well away from the track.

We passed lots more trekkers, most carrying them own gear, only a couple with porters. There were lots of little guesthouses and some small places that looked like they just served food. There were little stalls that in peak season would sell handicrafts but they were all closed now. We spied a bakery that advertiser birthday cakes and was curious to know what they might be like, but they weren't open.

In the distance we could see Langtang, with a mobile phone tower positioned above - a promising sign for internet connectivity tonight. We passed a site where the suspension bridge had been destroyed in the earthquake and not rebuilt, requiring a slippery climb down to cross a creek though we did see some very cute and placid yaks at the other side.

Just before New Langtang we had to cross the devastating landslide that had killed so many. It was a desolate and barren place, very sobering to see the extent of the impact. All the trees on the surrounding hills had died off and there was no sign of any life.

The town of New Langtang had been rebuilt a few hundred metres further on, with lots of brightly coloured lodges. There was a stupa set in pristine snow at the edge of town and Jonno and Georgia were sheltering nearby out of the wind and waiting for us. We had to compete with donkeys along the track through town which made for slow going as you would move out of their way and then they would stop for a drink or just because they felt like it.

The Marigold guesthouse was our accommodation for the night. This time both rooms had ensuites, and ours even had a western toilet. Luxury! The single toilet at Riverside the night before had required a slippery descent through patchy ice and snow. Georgia and I opted for a bucket wash in our freezing ensuite bathrooms. The water was wonderfully hot and definitely worth the effort.

We gathered in the dining room by the fire and snacked on our stash of muesli bars and mini Snickers and Mars bars, followed by some little potatoes courtesy of Gopal. By the time it came to ordering dinner we weren't every hungry. Note to self to keep our limited supply of treats for walking.