The shapely, rarely climbed Himlung expedition offers a perfect introduction to expedition mountaineering in Nepal. Located in the remote valley of Naar-Phu, near the border with Tibet, Himlung Himal, at the height of 7,126 m, is spectacularly surrounded by other impressive 7000m peaks such as Nemjung 7,140 m and Himjung 7,096 m and the mighty 8000m peaks of Manaslu and Annapurna. Breathtaking views of the Himalayas mountains, all the way to the Tibetan plateau, await the explorers both during the ascent and at the summit.
This technically easy and ideal entry-level seven-thousand was only opened in 1992 by the Nepalese government. A Japanese expedition successfully climbed the mountain in the same year.
The Himlung is climbed via the standard route and does not present any particular technical difficulties. It is a route that runs consistently in snow and ice over the northwest ridge. There are no rock climbing passages. However, its ascent is still a challenge, as there is a long way to go at a high altitude to reach the summit. The basic requirement is a solid physical condition, team spirit, adaptability, and perfect equipment.
The approach and return march through the remote valley of Naar and Phu are scenically unique, culturally very interesting, and a highlight of the expedition itself. The trek follows a section of the classic Annapurna circuit and then turns into the lonely and pristine Naar Phu Khola valley.
You pass remote Tibetan villages, pass countless mani walls (Buddhist prayer walls) and slowly and steadily gain altitude. With every step higher, the landscape becomes more alpine.
Yak bells, fluttering prayer flags, and the wild mountain giants put you in a fascinating mood. From the base camp at 4,920 m, you can reach the summit via three high camps (Camp I at 5450 m, camp II at 6000m, and Camp III at 6350 m) and a gorgeous alpine route, whereby exposed areas are secured with fixed ropes. The chances of success on this mountain are very high. The expedition can be accompanied by experienced tour guides and Nepalese Sherpas; elevated porters for the camps are also available. You can enjoy an outstanding 360° all-round view from the summit, an experience that will be remembered for a long time.
If you want to take all the pleasure of the rarely climbed mountain, the Spring season beginning from March to May would be the best travel time. Calm, cooling wind, long daytime hours, clear visibility with the least likelihood of snowfall will distinguish these months. The Autumn season beginning from late September to early December is an alternative for you if you don’t make it in spring. The days will begin to be shortened; cooler winds and the absence of rainfall will make your trip memorable. However, the winter season from late December to February and summer with monsoon season from June to August, though available, should be avoided. The weather in the great Himalayas is unpredictable during winters, followed by snowfall and potential risk of avalanche. The summer season is attributed to high temperatures with frequent heavy rainfall.
The standard price for the whole Himlung expedition can range between $7000 to $8000 per person, inclusive of 1 Sherpa cost, three meals during trek and camping, porter fare, and transportation. Other expenses such as your Nepal Tourist Visa fee, stay in Kathmandu, meals, personal equipment, and expenses, and personal travel and medical insurance have to be covered by yourself.
The expedition permit fee as regulated by the Nepal government in 2015 depends on your travel season. The spring tour will cost you $500 per person, and the autumn trek will cost you $250. If you opt for winter and summer trek, you have to pay only $125. Since the trek follows the classic Annapurna circuit, you have to pay an additional $30 per person as the conservation area permit fee.
The approximate tour days vary from 30- 35 days, so it’s appropriate to issue a 60 day Nepal tourist Visa upon your arrival at Tribhuvan International airport at the cost of $120.
The expedition begins after a 1-2 days stay in Kathmandu; accommodation and meals at any decent hotel and restaurant can charge you $25-$30.
The Himlung expedition is fulfilled through the normal route running consistently over the northwest ridge. It is reached through the Tibetan-influenced and very lonely Naar Phu Valley and lies nestled between the neighboring seven-thousanders Nemjung 7,140 m and Himjung 7,096 m. Due to the awe-inspiring trekking approach, you will reach the base camp well acclimatized and can fully concentrate on the ascent of the Himlung. The route doesn’t consist of any rock climbing passages and follows a traditional Annapurna circuit. After reaching base camp, you have to overcome the Pangri glacier to set foot on Camp I, which can be tricky in places.
The ascent to camp II leads through the crevasse zone and is not easy to find, depending on the conditions. A short descent and subsequent ascent, then you can reach Camp II. The steeper sections are secured with fixed ropes. Depending on the conditions, the summit can be started from here. Following the plateau, you will reach the entrance to the connecting ridge—this flank at about 35°-40° degrees that will take you to Camp III. The ascent towards the summit moves along a flank up to 40° steep, secured with fixed ropes at the exposed points. After this last hurdle, be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the 8,163 m high Manaslu, which is almost within your grasp.
The descent route follows the same as you have taken to reach the summit via Phu valley to Kathmandu.