My Solo Trek to Tsho Rolpa (4580m) (May 16th-21st 2017)

Tsho Rolpa lake with Pachermo Himal(6273m) in the background

I studied about Tsho Rolpa glacial lake when I was in Grade III. Since then, I was always fascinated by it. As three or four smaller glacial lakes near Tsho Rolpa already broke out but since they were small, no human being was harmed. Tsho Rolpa is different. It is so big that if it breaks out, it will kill a lot of people as it will sweep away the villages along with it. It was, is and will always be a threat to the local people there. Also, since I was already in love with Dolakha after I went to Kalinchowk about three years earlier, I decided to go for it and what better way than doing it solo. I planned my trek for March but due to heavy snowfall and snow storm in the area, the plan was cancelled and instead I went to Kyanjin Ri(4779m). It became a wonderful solo trek as well. Now, it was time to implement my plan to reach the lake. So, I bought a ticket to Chet Chet from old buspark in Kathmandu. My plan was to reach Chet Chet and hike two hours to get to Simigaon the same day.

Day I (Kathmandu-Chet Chet-Simigaon) (9:30 hrs bus ride and 1:50 hrs trek)

On Tuesday, I woke up early as the bus was to leave the buspark at around 5:40 AM. I had packed my bag the previous day, so I just took a shower, put some clothes on, and left my room. When I got to buspark, the bus was already there but waiting for passengers since it was early in the morning. The bus left at 5:50 from there. It took around 9:30 hrs to reach Chet Chet and it was about to rain. I quickly started trekking after crossing the big suspension bridge at Chet Chet over the beautiful Upper Tamakoshi river.

Suspension bridge over Upper Tamakoshi river at Chet Chet
Upper Tamakoshi Khola

After about an hour of hiking, I rested at a stone when I met a guy who was dressed like a monk. I quickly introduced myself to him and he did to me as well. I found out that he worked as a cook at the Beding Monastery School in Beding. He said he was going there from Simigaon the next day. When we reached Simigaon, it was raining slightly and I saw a lot of people gathered at the first house. I quickly came to know that there had been an incident there. A guy died of heart-attack and he was to be cremated the next morning. The son of that house offered me a cup of hot coffee. After enjoying the coffee and knowing the details about the death, I said good bye to them and quickly started walking again since it was already getting dark and I had to walk about 20 mins to get to the lodge. I got there soon enough. Simigaon is at about 2200m altitude and is so beautiful with green farm terraces.

Simigaon(2200m)

As I was tired from the bus ride, I took a nap for about 30 mins in my room and got to the fireside later. There were two foreign girls there. Firstly, I introduced myself and talked to them in English and the reply from them was in Nepali. I was shocked that they spoke our language so well. They told me that they were from Washington, DC and were in Nepal since the 2015 earthquake. They lived mostly in the Gorkha district and came to Dolakha to visit Tsho Rolpa which they did two days earlier. I also met a guy there who was going inside the jungle at higher altitude to collect Yarsagumba the next day. He asked me to join as well. Since I didn’t have a lot of time and return Kathmandu soon, I couldn’t join him. I also came to know the story behind the naming of Simigaon. It was very wonderful talking to the people at Simigaon.

Day II (Simigaon-Surmuche-Kyalche-Dongang) (4:30 hrs)

I woke up at about 8 in the morning. I quickly had my tea and breakfast. Then, I started walking as I was warned that the trail from Simigaon to Kyalche was steep and through a big jungle.

Better run through the jungle :)
Trail

As suggested, the jungle was so thick. There was a small hotel just after 15 mins and afterwards I couldn’t find a single soul until I reached Surmuche(2470m). After about an hour walk from Simigaon, I found a big footprint and I was scared as I didn’t bring any defensive weapon with me.

Animal footprint(scared the hell outta me)

I was walking near to the trees planning that I would climb it if a wild animal comes by. Then, I would poke it not letting it to climb the tree. I knew the plan was silly but still gave me a lot of confidence. I was scared no more after 30 mins. The forest was so enjoyable. The birds were singing. Rolwaling River was flowing with so wonderful sound. It felt so amazing.

Beautiful waterfall just after Surmuche

At Surmuche, there was just one hotel. I didn’t find anyone there and started walking again. After some time, I reached Kyalche(2760m) and there was also just one hotel there. I met a guy just after Kyalche. He was from Colorado, US and crossed the Tashi Laptcha pass solo. I talked to him about his experiences and we quickly departed since he was trying to get to Gongar Khola the same day.

Dongang

Finally, after four and a half hour trek, I got to Dongang(2800m). There are two hotels in Dongang.

Rolwaling khola at Dongang

Dongang is so amazing with beautiful Rolwaling River flowing just at its side. I entered the first hotel. There was a lady there who was waiting for her husband and son who went to Charikot to get Tetanus shot for the son the previous day. He cut his hand while cutting a tree at Beding as he was a student at Beding Monastery School.

The little guy who cut his hand

I talked to the lady. She was so funny that every word every word that came out of her mouth was funny. I also found out that the owner of the hotel at Surmuche committed suicide that day. She told me more about the lady and her two sons. Time was passing by and I was planning to reach Beding that day but the weather challenged me. There were dark clouds all over and about to rain so heavily. Also, since I knew that Dolakha is one of the districts most hit with lightening and some people die every year there because of it. I thought to myself that if I get to Beding that day and the next day, I would reach Na later in the afternoon and if I go to Tsho Rolpa that same day, I wouldn’t get to see all the mountains clearly as I could see in the morning time. Hence, I decided to stay at Dongang that day and get to Na the next day so that I would get to Tsho Rolpa in the morning dew. After some time, the lady’s husband and son came. They brought some wild mushrooms. Those mushrooms were so good. In the evening, I met a guy named “Rai Kancha” whom I met between Surmuche and Kyalche earlier. He was a porter from Solukhumbu. He said that he carries load for a living and everyday brought stuffs from Simigaon to Dongang. He was so funny as well. We had a Solukhumbu drink there called “Ghopla”. It was a drink with ghee, half cooked eggs and fresh Chhyang(typical nepali alcohol). After long hours of chitchat, I went to my bed and slept like a baby.

Day III (Dongang-Beding-Na) (6:30 hrs)

The next morning, I woke up at around 7 AM. I had my tea and breakfast and quickly went near the river again as I was closer to one of the most beautiful river there is, the Rolwaling River. I sat on a big stone at its bank enjoying the sound of the flowing river and its beauty. I just sat there for about 2 hrs and then got to my room and packed my bag. The son of the owner(who cut his hand) told me that he was going to Beding the next day and I said to him that I would visit him in his school while returning from Tsho Rolpa. I waved them goodbye and left. The jungle continued.

Waterfall just after Dongang

As I was walking, I got my first glimpse of the beautiful Gaurishankar himal(7134m). It has the second highest peak in the Rolwaling range after Melungtse(7181m).

Beautiful Gaurishankar Himal(7134m)

The view was just so lovely and mesmerizing. My water bottle broke at one time due to excitement. I got to a point where I had to cross the river by using a wooden bridge. People used that bridge after the earthquake because the previous metal bridge was destroyed by a big rock. The wooden one was scary as when I was in the middle, it started to move. I quickly crossed it and walked uphill.

The wooden bridge

The hike was getting steeper. After an hour, I found a house where no one lived but outside, I met a group of trekkers who were planning to cross Tashi Laptcha pass to Namche Bazaar. There were three Norweigian people, one guide and a porter. As I couldn’t find any natural water source, I was thirsty. They provided me the water they brought and in the meantime, I talked with the foreigners and asked them more about their country. After hearing about some beautiful places, I told them that I will surely visit Norway someday. They wished me luck and I did to them as well.

Trail with the mountains
More trail pics
Rolwaling River bank
Some more trail pics

I continued walking and after about two and half hrs I reached Beding(3693m).

Waterfall coming directly from the mountains above
Trail with waterfall in the background
Beding(3693m) with Rolwaling river
Tsho Rolpa Siren at Beding

Beding is a beautiful place with some beautiful monasteries. Rolwaling River flows just from its side. I didn’t make a stop there as there was not much time and continued walking.

Small gumba at Beding
Beding and the clouds above covered the peak of Gaurishankar

The trail from Beding to Na is so beautiful with a lot of wonderful small waterfalls and not to forget, the lovely view of the mountains. I didn’t feel tired at all because of enthusiasm.

Small waterfall
Another waterfall

It was getting darker and darker because of the clouds. They were all around me and I couldn’t see anything around clearly. It didn’t rain though.

Dark clouds in the back
Clouds in my front

I walked for about 3 hrs and finally got to Na Gaon(4183m).

Na Gaon(4183m) when I reached there

The vision was not clear as clouds were surrounding the village. I went to the first house for shelter but there was an old lady there who said she couldn’t cook and directed me towards a hotel, which was only one of the two hotels open. I went to the hotel room and rested for about half an hour. Then, I went to the kitchen where there was a Spanish guy talking with an older guy about climbing mountains. The old guy was Sherpa and he said that he used to work as a porter in the expeditions when he was young and climbed mountains many time including Mount Everest, Shishapangma, Cho Oyu. The Spanish guy was keen to talk to me because there was clearly a language barrier among them. There was no one who would speak good English. The guy told me that he too crossed the Tashi Laptcha pass solo. It took him 35 days because he didn’t climb most of the days to acclimatize playing it safe. He told me that it is like a culture in his home town to climb mountains. Everyone just loved to climb. The guy told me that he had conquered some difficult peaks of the Swiss Alps and described how it was like by drawing each of them in a piece of paper. I was just so excited to hear his tales of climbing. He said he will be staying at Na Gaon the next day too. The dinner was ready after some hours of talking. After dinner, I went to my room and couldn’t sleep for about half an hour because I was feeling so overwhelmed.

Day IV (Na-Tsho Rolpa-Na-Beding-Dongang)(11:30 hrs)

On this day, I woke up early as I was planning to get to Tsho Rolpa and then to Dongang the same day. The lady at the hotel told me that the Spanish guy was waiting for me since 5 in the morning and left at around 5:45 to go for a hike up a nearer mountain. I missed him by about 30 mins and he was already gone. I missed a great hike with him as I could take a lot of tips from him during the hike. I quickly had about two cups of tea and breakfast outside the hotel enjoying the morning view of the mountains surrounding the village.

Morning at Na
Surrounded by mountains

Na is the most beautiful village in the Rolwaling valley. After breakfast, I left the hotel for the hike. The village of Na had maze like small stone walls separating the lands of people. I got lost inside at first and then jumped one of the wall and got out of it. It was kind of funny. After about 15 mins, I got to a small bridge that I had to cross.

Bridge to cross Rolwaling river

After walking about 30 mins, there was another bridge and the uphill hike started. I started walking up the trail. I saw a yak there which was staring at me. At one point, I planned to take a shortcut. I started to climb the rocks to go faster.

A yak staring at me

After climbing for an hour, I realized that my decision was bad. I lost the way and climbed the other side of hill.

Oops! wrong decision.

I quickly planned to descend to the bridge at the bottom and during that time, I came along with a herd of Yaks (around 9–10). They were blocking my way down. The old lady at Na Gaon told me once that when yaks get angry, they don’t wait. They move their tails and attack in an instant. Their horns were so sharp. As I got nearer and nearer, one of the yaks started moving its tail and that was the time when my breath just stopped. I ran after that for 10 mins straight and got as far from the yaks as possible. Then, I started walking down maintaining my confidence and got to the bridge. I decided to follow the trail after that and no more shortcuts for me.

My first glimpse of Pachermo himal
Trail got steeper and steeper.
Views were a lot refreshing though

After about 3 hrs of steep hike, finally, I reached the mesmerizing Tsho Rolpa glacial lake (4580m). The moment I saw it in real, I couldn’t control my feelings. Emotions were flowing through my body and I was having goosebumps. That was the time I realized that this trekking was one of the best decisions I made in my life.

Beautiful Tsho Rolpa lake with Pachermo himal(6273m) in the background.
The houses at Tsho Rolpa
Selfie with Tsho Rolpa and Pachermo :)
Chobutse(6685m) as seen from Tsho Rolpa
Close-up view

The lake is surrounded by the beautiful Rolwaling himal range. The lake is so huge that it could easily swallow the villages below if it broke. To enjoy the view more, I sat on a big stone which was at the top. I was at a heavenly place. There are also two houses there that are used for hydro power project but no one lived there. I didn’t meet anyone from Na to Tsho Rolpa to Na that day as no one was visiting the lake that particular day which was the best time for me as I got to spend some good alone time with the Rolwaling himal range and Tsho Rolpa. After an hour, I visited the two houses and took photos of Tsho Rolpa from a different angle. Then, I decided to hike down as I was starting to feel hungry.

Rolwaling range himal
Some more Rolwaling range mountains
Selfie with the Rolwaling range
Clouds trying to cover the peak of a mountain
A yak with Chobutse mountain
Some more yaks resting peacefully

I reached Na Gaon in about one and half hours as I walked fast. The lady at the hotel had already prepared the meal (dal bhaat) for me. I ate about two full plates of rice that day. I was amazed at how much I could eat. After that, I waved goodbye to the people at Na and started my trek down. Suddenly, the dark clouds started to roam around. It started to rain slightly.

Beautiful wild flowers that were all over the trail

Finally, I reached Beding and was in search of a place to get some tea. Suddenly, an old man from a house called me. I decided to get my tea there thinking it was a hotel. But, it was not a hotel and just a home. I started to chat with him. He told me that he was living alone there and his two sons and one daughter were studying at Kathmandu for a quality education. He decided to stay at Beding because he loved his birthplace. He offered me tea and biscuits. After some time of chatting with him, I told him I had to go and tried to pay him for the tea and biscuits he gave me. He didn’t take any money from me as he said we are all Nepali and we are all brothers and sisters. That really touched me. I thanked him from my heart for the tea and biscuits and started hiking down. After an hour of walking, I remembered that I planned to visit the monastery there to visit the small guy from Dongang that day but it was too late. Then, I saw one mountain in particular of the Rolwaling range that I saw two days earlier for a short period of time. I was fascinated by its shape. I saw about 6–7 porters who were carrying load to Beding, so I asked them about that mountain and they told me its name but it was hard to catch. Then, one of the guys told me that the mountain was the brother of Mt.Tilicho from Manang. They were laughing by saying, “Dai chahi Manang ma bhai chahi Dolakha ma”.

Mt. Tilicho’s brother(don’t know its name)
Close-up view
Gaurishankar himal from a different angle

After an hour walk from there, the dark clouds were there again. As it might get dark soon because of the clouds, I started walking quickly.

Trail
Some more trail pics

Finally, I reached Dongang at around 7 PM. I decided to stay at the same hotel that I stayed before. The dinner was almost ready. I put my backpack at my room and came to have dinner. During the meal, I told them that I forgot to visit their son at Beding and will surely visit next time. I was so tired at that point that I quickly went to my room and in about 5 mins of getting in bed and closing my eyes, I slept.

Day V (Dongang-Kyalche-Surmuche-Simigaon) (4:30 hrs)

I slept a lot and woke up late. This was the last day of my trek. The trail was steep downhill so it wouldn’t take much time. So, I decided to stay there until I had my lunch. I sat by the river again for a long time enjoying almost almost everything about the Rolwaling river. It was just so lovely that I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

Selfie with Rolwaling River

After some time, I decided to eat my lunch and start my trek down. At that moment, the Spanish guy I met in Na Gaon got there. I forgot to ask his name again but I’m sure we will meet someday talking about our travel stories. We wished each other good luck for our future. I also said goodbye to the wonderful hotel owners whose reception had been so lovely. I started walking as I had to walk through the forest again.

Selfie with the waterfall
Earthquake affected trail
More of the affected trail
Starting point of the landslide

I met four porters who carried metals for the bridge that was to replace the wooden bridge just above Dongang. They were going down as well. They were from a village about an hour walk from Gongar Khola. I decided to walk with them. They were walking fast. At one place, they took a shortcut to get down faster. I decided to take it too. That was another bad decision that I made. They were already down and I got stuck at a huge rock where there was walking trail. I got down slowly counting on my each move. It was risky as if I fell, I would get to the bottom and there was no chance of survival. Finally, I got down and then I couldn’t find those guys anymore.

An ox with pretty sharp horns blocking my way

As I was walking, I reached a half-bridge. The reason I call it half is because it was so dangerous and was along the side of a huge rock. Rolwaling river was flowing way down. I started crossing it and it took me like 20 seconds to cross it as I was walking very slowly taking the support of the rock. I couldn’t understand where did I miss the trail.

Half-bridge start
Half-bridge end

As I was walking, I finally found out how I missed the trail. There were two trails, an older and a new one. The first time I took the newer route and this time, I took the older route. After walking for some time, I reached Simigaon at around 5:30 PM.

Amale party election celebration

The hotel where I stayed when I was at Simigaon earlier was in celebration mood and there were a lot of people gathered there. It was because Amale(CPN UML) party won in the election that was held days before. The hotel owners asked me to stay there and said that they will not charge me because of the happiness they were enjoying. Since I was planning to get to Kathmandu the next day, I decided not to stay there. I started walking again. As I was walking down, I saw the guy “Rai Kancha” in a house and there were two other people there. They were all having Chhyang and enjoying the moment. They offered me some too. Since the walk to Gongar Khola from there wouldn’t take much time, I decided to have it. We drank and drank and kept on talking. Finally, I had to depart and said goodbye to them and started walking again. When I got to Chet Chet, it was already dark. I walked to Gongar Khola in the dark but the water of Upper Tamakoshi was so bright it didn’t feel like it. When I got to Gongar Khola, one of the hotel was already full and in another one, there was a room that I had to share with a guy who was there for some project. At first, I bought the bus ticket to Kathmandu for the next day. Then, I quickly washed my hands and feet and sat in the dining room. All the people there were watching the TV which was updating the vote counts of the election. I decided not to talk politics with them. I silently ate my meal along with a cold refreshing beer. It was the best beer I ever had. Since it was the last night of my trek, I knew I was going to miss this trek until I get there next time. I then entered my room and slept.

Simigaon seen at far from a hilltop with prayer flags
Starting trail just after Simigaon

Day VI (Gongar Khola-Kathmandu) (10 hrs bus ride)

I woke up early as the bus would leave at 5:30 in the morning. I quickly had two cups of tea and got into the bus. It took around 10 hrs to get to Kathmandu as the road was at maintenance in many places.

A yak calf at Na Gaon

This trek has become very unforgettable with a lot of unexpected events. Doing it solo was even better. For the people who are scared of forests, this will not be a good choice for a solo trek. For me, I enjoyed the moment while I was in the middle of forest because I just love the nature. Rivers, birds and green trees are all I need. I just love being “Into the Wild”.

Some suggestions for future travelers doing this route:

  1. Trekking boots are a must as most parts of the trails are rocky.
  2. Wind-proof jacket, gloves, caps are recommended as the wind is very chilling.
  3. Altitude sickness medicines are recommended for first time high-altitude trekkers. Also, from Dongang(2800m) to Na Gaon(4183m), it will be better to take two days as the altitude climb will be a lot(1383m in a day). Some might find it tough. So, in the first day, you can get to Beding(3693m) and stay there. Then, you can reach Na Gaon the next day.
  4. Cold-creams, lip cares are needed as the skin becomes very dry.
  5. If trekking in monsoon, make sure to bring salt with you as there will a lot of leeches waiting to suck on you.
  6. Total cost for me was Rs.4500(including Rs. 640+575 bus tickets). The cost may deviate depending on which hotel you live.
  7. Don’t be scared of the nature. Nature always loves you. :)

Follow me on instagram for more pictures with the stories behind them:

https://www.instagram.com/suman_supertramp/

If you want to enjoy another solo trek blog of mine to Kyanjin Ri(4779m), here is the link:

https://medium.com/@suman.dhakal/my-solo-trip-to-kyanjin-ri-4779m-march-4th-8th-2017-c06e8de368af