Conquering Kanjerawa

Kanjerawa is locally known as Gangchhenralwa Himal. Gangchhen means a big mountain, while Ralwa means horse’s mane in local dialect. The mountain resembles a horse’s neck with mane. The mountain, which sits on the right side of the Phoksundo Lake, is the second tallest peak in Dolpa. Though many attempts have been made to climb the mountain, there is no evidence of any climber making it to the top.

Text & Pictures by Sanjib Gurung

Name: Kanjerawa 6612m
Location: Dolpa District, mid western Region Nepal/inside Phoksundo National Park, Near Shey Phoksundo which is Nepal’s deepest Lake.
Trip Duration: 18 nights/19 days
Climbing Duration: 7 Days
Logistic: Camping/Basic guest house

Kanjerawa Himal (6612 meters), which lies in Dolpa district inside the Shey Phoksundo National Park, is one of the most beautiful mountains in western Nepal. The mountain is locally known as Gangchhenralwa Himal. Gangchhen means a big mountain, while Ralwa means horse’s mane in local dialect. The mountain resembles a horse’s neck with mane. The mountain, which sits on the right side of the Phoksundo Lake, is the second tallest peak in Dolpa. Though many attempts have been made to climb the mountain, there is no evidence of any climber making it to the top.

The first ascent team of Mt. Kanjerawa.
The first ascent team of Mt. Kanjerawa.

Kanjerawa Himal Explore and Study Expedition 2016 recently explored climbing routes in this beautiful mountain with the support of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and Dolpa District Development Committee, among others. After a month of complex study, we succeeded in discovering the base camp (4,506 meters) and safe climbing route. The expedition also came to a conclusion that this mountain could be climbed safely and easily from the south ridge as compared to other sections. Despite bad weather, we successfully climbed the second summit of Kanjerawa (6,426 meters). We also concluded that it is not difficult to get to the main summit (6612 meters) from the second summit.

Given below is the brief itinerary of Kanjerawa Expedition:

Day 1: Kathmandu-Nepalgunj

We took a flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu Airport which takes around an hour. Nepalgunj is the hub to fly to the western and mid western Nepal. Many airlines like Buddha Air, Yeti Air and Nepal Airlines operate scheduled flights to Nepalgunj.  There are good hotels, malls and shopping centers at Nepalgunj which is situated at an altitude of 170 meters above sea level.

Day 2: Nepalgunj-Juphal-Dunai

A short flight from Nepalgunj took us to Juphal airstrip. Juphal is a delightful place, offering a pleasant view of Mt Kagmara along with beautiful surroundings. Our trek started from Juphal itself.  One can also opt for a jeep ride which takes around an hour. A walk of around four hours took us to Dunai – the district headquarters of Dolpa. The trail then goes to down south east to Rupagaad, which is close to Thulo Bheri. From Rupagaad, the trail continued via Suligad following Thulo Bheri Valley until we reached Dunai. Dunai has facilities like hotel, hospital, and Internet, among others and it was our final destination of the days’ trek.

Locals riding donkey, a means of transportation for goods and locals.

Day 3: Rest day

On the third day we took the day off and we arranged for donkeys, kitchen staff, climbing gears and did some last minute shopping.

Day 4: Dunai-Shyanta (2585 meters)

We started the trek by crossing the Thulo Bheri River and following the north bank of Bheri River till Suligad. After Suligad, we then continued our trek along the north bank of Suligad River until reaching the check post of Shey Phoksundo National Park. From here, the trail ascended gradually till Kageni which is a small village with tea houses and some homestays. After having lunch at Kageni, we again crossed Suligad River and walked till Shyanta. There is a small tea house and a camping place close to the river and it was our rest stop for the day.

Downstreaming Suligad River.

Day 5: Shyanta-Rechi (3009 meters)

On the fifth day, the trail took us along the Suligad River. After a hike of around 45 minutes, we reached Chhekpa village where we could find some tea houses and camping places. From there, a walk of another three hours took us to Phaparbari. There were some tented tea shops at Phaparbari. We took lunch there and after some rest, we continued our hike along the newly opened short trekking trail before crossing the Suligad River to reach Rechi village.

Day 6: Rechi-Yak Kharka

This day also we followed the Suligad River until reaching Sunduwa. From here, we took the north-west trail along the Pugmo Khola (River). We could also see Nepal Army and national park check post at Sunduwa. From there we trekked to Pugmo village – the last village of the Expedition. This is a very nice place to stop for lunch and there is also a monastery and a guest house. After lunch, we walked along the banks of the Chugad River till Yak Kharka, the rest stop for the day.

The trail to the base camp.

Day 7: Rest and Acclimatizing Day

It is necessary for trekkers to acclimatize with the altitude before heading towards the Kanjerawa base camp, so we took the day off resting and acclimatizing.

Day 8: Yak Kharka-Kanjerawa Base Camp 4506m

After a steep climb for around three hours from Yak Kharka, we reached to a ridge through north direction. We crossed this ridge point and stared walking toward east. As we hike, we come across many rough cliffs. A hike of another one and half hours, took us to the Kanjerawa Base Camp. Throughout the hike, we were rewarded with views of magnificent mountain ranges like: Kagmara, Lhasharma and Kanjerawa including the beautiful Pungmo Valley far below. The base camp was quite spacious. It also has a natural spring for drinking water.

Kanjerawa Base Camp.

Day 9: Rest and Acclimatizing

Day 10: Camp 1 (5,322m)

There are two routes to the Camp 1. First is through the ridge which is on the left side, and the second is on the right side through a glacier. The route on the left is a bit difficult and risky due to sharp ridge with loose rocks around. It is also difficult in this place to make anchor point or running belay. The right route is also risky due to past avalanches. The Camp 1 is very big, wide and relatively safe.

Climbing up the mountain.

Day 11: Camp 2 (6,000m)

After climbing for fifteen minutes, crampon points began. From here, we continued climbing to the Kanjerawa South Ridge until we reached Camp 2.

Day 12: Summit Kanjerawa (6,612m)

Today is the summit day. After completing a vertical climb from Camp 2, we met a smooth trail until we reached the summit. The summit offered us magnificent views all around. The view of Phoksundo Lake from the summit is breathtaking. We could see Mt Dhaulagiri (8167m), Putha Himal and other peaks of Kanjerewa Range from the summit. After enjoying sometime on the summit, we returned to the base camp.

Kanjerawa and other mountain range.

Day 13-14: Extra Days

It would be wise to have some extra days in case you have to postpone the summit due to bad weather or if climbers need extra time for acclimatization. We can spend the time enjoying beautiful surroundings and capturing good pictures of the surrounding.

Day 15: Kanjerawa Base Camp–Pugmo (3,268m)

The downhill walk was a bit difficult as the trail passes through rocky cliffs. After a hike of around one and half hours till a ridge point, we walked for around two hours till Yak Kharka. A downhill walk of around one and half hours from Yak Kharka, took us to Pugmo. Pugmo is a small village inhabited by the ethnic Sherpas. Agriculture is the main occupation of this community. They mostly grow wheat, potato and buckwheat. These people follow Bon religions, which is all about worshipping nature.

On the way to Ringmo.

Day 16: Pugmo-Rigmo (3645m)

After a hike of around one and half hours, we reached Sunduwa. We walked along the Pugmo Khola. We then caught the trail toward the north east through Phoksundo Khola. The trail offers breathtaking landscapes, pleasant villages, mountain views and striking waterfalls that come through the Phoksundo River. Rigmo was the day’s destination. Rigmo is a small village which offers some of the outstanding views of the surroundings. It is similar to Pugmo village in many ways. Inhabitants of both the villages share the same culture and religion. A few kilometers away from the village lies a famous Bon monastery. Both the monastery and the village are located near the famous Phoksundo Lake.

Day 17: Rigmo-Shyanta (2585m)

We began the walk early toward the old Bon Monastery. After visiting the monastery, the walk is mostly downhill along the Phoksundo Khola to the Suligad (River) Valley. We passed though some of the traditional villages before we reach Shyanta.

The famous Shey Phoksundo Lake.

Day 18: Shyanta-Juphal

The trail is easy until reaching the Suligad River. After crossing the river, we headed westwards and continued a steep walk to reach Juphal.

Day 19: Juphal-Kathmandu

A morning flight of around 40 minutes took us to Nepalgunj. From Nepalgunj, we took another flight to Kathmandu winding up the trip and taking back some awesome

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