If you are thinking of the Langtang Trek make sure that you save at least a few days for some of the great day hikes in the upper part of the valley or better yet arrange for some camping equipment and arrange an extra night beyond all the tea houses. Here is a look at four of the best options for day hikes from Kyanjin Gompa.
- Kyanjin Ri – Kyanjin Ri (4773m / 15655 ft) is situated directly northeast of Kyanjin Gompa and the trail making switchbacks up the face of the hill is clearly visible from the small village below. While it’s almost a 1000m climb to the summit of Kyanjin Ri it still has the feeling of a small hill lost in the general sea of much larger peaks. Looking up from Kyanjin Gompa its easy to mistake the prayer flags on what is a false summit of the mountain and actually only about two-thirds of the way to the top. The climb is not at all technical but it is steep and the trail is not the greatest. It will take most people 3 to 5 hours to reach the summit and return. The views from the summit are fantastic with Langtang Lirung (7227m), Yubra (6246m), Changbu (6251m), Tserko and Yalla Peak to the north and Naya Kanga (5844m) and Kangja Himal to the south. The peak also allows a good view of the Langtang Lirung Glacier and the icefall between Yubra and Changbu. While I have not climbed Tsergo Ri I suspect that Kyanjin Ri offers better views of the glacier given that it stands directly above it.
- Tsergo Ri – Tsergo Ri (4984m) sits just to the east of Kyanjin Ri and is several hundred meters higher. The route up is steep and along a roughly made trail. Most trekkers set out early in the morning to take advantage of the frozen ground and return by midday. The views from the top are similar to that of Kyanjin Ri, but one gets a better look at the route up Yalla Peak (one of the trekking peaks in the region) and at Langshisha Ri (6427 m / 21,085 ft) to the north.
- Upper Langtang Valley – Continuing up the Langtang Valley from Kyanjin Gompa is a good option if you are not thinking of setting out for one of the peaks. A good destination for day hikers is the abandoned settlement at Numthang which is about 4 hours up canyon one way. The trail is relatively good and flat for the most part. Leaving Kyanjin Gompa you will cross a broad gravel outwash plain above the main valley before reaching a series of stone cairns near the old airstrip of Markhu. The broad valley gradually turn towards the north and by the time you reach the temporary yak herder settlement at Jatang you can see all the way up the valley to the terminal moraine of the Langtang Glacier. Langshisha Ri (6427 m / 21,085 ft) an impressive peak on the east side of the valley also comes into view after Jatang. If you have the energy to continue past Numthang you can climb up the moraine to get a look at the rapidly receding Langtang Glaciers the lower stretches of which are mostly rock covered ice.
- Kangja La – Kangja La is a pass between the Kangja Himal to the east and Naya Kanga to the west on the southern side of the valley. Its typically snow covered during April and May and only crossable during the months of October and November. The pass itself takes two days to climb so it’s only suggested to ascend as far as comfortable on a day hike. A day hike up the route to the pass will give great views of the peaks to the north as well as Kyanjin Ri and Tsergo Ri. To locate the start of the trail find Chhona Lake on the southern side of the valley just to the southwest of Kyanjin Ri. It’s helpful if your guide is already familiar with this seldom used route.
Update: These pictures were taken shortly before the earthquake. The Langtang Region was one of the most damaged in all of Nepal. Having trekked in the region with my wife just days before the earthquake we were devastated as we learned about what happened. Our hearts go out to those in the region who suffered loss. I am now posting a series of posts on the region to remind people how beautiful the area remains and also because I believe in part how fast the region recovers will depend on when trekkers are willing to return. While trekking in the Everest Region is now okay (see current update) it will certainly take the Langtang Region longer to recover. We wont be running treks this current season but we are planning to start again sometime 2016 – ask us for more details on the current situation.