Baruntse provides a good progression and an ideal objective for those who have previously climbed to around 6000m. Situated close to Makalu it is remote and at the centre of three glacier valleys, the Imja, the Hunku and Barun. It is objectively safe and offers a tremendously rewarding climb among the world's highest peaks. Summit day includes spectacular views of Lhotse, Everest and Makalu. The expedition will approach Baruntse via one of two options depending on the political situation and local logistics.
OPTION 1 - From the Makalu side via the Barun National Park, famous for its flora and fauna, after a spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar.
OPTION 2 - Via Lukla, the Mera La and Hinku valley as if going to Mera Peak. We would exit via the Amphu Labsa Pass past Island Peak and then down the main Everest trail.
KEY to inclusions (H-hotel, T-teahouse/lodge, C-camping, B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
Day 1-2: International flights.
Arrive Kathmandu, transfer to our hotel in the famous bustling Thamel district of Kathmandu. (H,B).
Day 3: Fly to Lukla (2800m).
A spectacular short internal flight takes us to this tiny airstrip town and the gateway to the Sherpa Kingdom. After lunch we can we set off to our first camp at Poyan (2800m). (C,B,L,D).
Day 4: Poyan to Pangkonngma (2846m).
A pleasant and easy start to the trek before we climb steeply up to a ridge overlooking the Khare Khola. About five hours in total at a leisurely pace (C,B,L,D).
Day 5: Pangkonngma to Nashing Dingma (2,600m).
We climb up through an abundance of rhododendron and bamboo to the Pangkonngma La (3173m). From here, we have fine views of Mera and the twin peaks of its impressive south face. Our route descends down to the Hinku Kola and its classic rope bridge, a wonderful scenic day. (C,B,L,D).
Day 6: Nashing Dingma to Chalem Kharka (3600m).
Today we climb over the Surke La, adding to our gradual acclimatisation. The path takes us through lush greenery to our campsite among fir trees and rhododendron just outside Chalem Kharka. (C,B,L,D).
Day 7: Chalem Kharka to Chunbu Khaka (4200m).
We continue our ascent through the rhododendron to emerge in the more open but rugged paths that now provide some excellent views towards Kangchenjunga. (C,B,L,D).
Day 8: Chunbu Khaka to Khote (Hinku valley) (4200m).
Today we traverse in to the main Hinku valley and follow the west bank of the boulder strewn river upstream to either Khote with its small village atmosphere or onwards for another hour and a half to the more remote Swra with an alpine meadow feel. Either way this is a shorter day with no overall height gain. (C,B,L,D).
Day 9: Khote or Swra to Tagnang (4320m).
It really feels like you're entering the Nepalese Himalaya on today's walk. As we gain height up the Hinku valley we leave behind the forest zone and enter an alpine zone. Wonderful herbal aromas and alpine flowers are complimented by the superb and spectacular peaks of Kusum Kanguru, Kyashar and Mera West that now surround you. This is another short day that allows us to gain height steadily. (C,B,L,D).
Day 10: Tagnang to Khare (4850m).
We cross the fields of debris created when the glacial lake above Tagnang burst its banks in 1998 releasing a huge wave of water down the Hinku valley. As we ascend a moraine ridge we get good views into the turquoise loch and across to the imposing N. Face of Mera. We continue across the grassy alps of Dig Kharka, before the final ascent zig-zagging up grassy slopes to the Mera Base Camp. Tonight you will be camping at the height of Mont Blanc! (C,B,L,D).
Day 11: Khare to Rato Odhar (5000m).
The glacier snout is reached in one and a half hours from Khare. Here we can put on crampons and climb a short 20-30 degree snow slope to gain the glacial plateau that can be traversed to the Mera La (5400m). From here a short descent gains rocky platforms and an ideal sunny spot for lunch. This is about four hours steady walking from Khare. A steady descent leads to our campsite beside the huge boulder of Rato Odhar giving us our first views of Baruntse. (C,B,L,D).
Day 12: Rato Odhar to the Start of the Five Lakes (5250m).
Today follows the twists and turns of the Hinku Valley giving ever changing views of Baruntse, Chamalang, Peak 41, Lhotse & Everest. The walking is easy but the whole area feels very remote with very little evidence of man. We camp where the paths to Base Camp and the Amphu Labsa divide (C,B,L,D).
Day 13: Start of the Five lakes to Baruntse Base Camp (5450m).
A short walk leads to the crest of the moraine and a stunning viewpoint with the imposing bulk of the south face of Baruntse towering over you and Ama Dablam to the west. A couple more hours of walking should see you dropping into the sunny and sheltered basin of our Base Camp, situated on sandy platforms by a small lake. (C,B,L,D).
Day 14 - 25: Climbing period.
Our plan would be to place two camps on the Lower Barun Glacier, below the SE Ridge at 6000m and 6300m respectively. Fixed line would be placed on the ascent to Camp 1, below the West / East Col, to safeguard our progress. To reach the summit usually takes 7-10 hours along a stunning and exposed ridge line (fixed ropes). The crux is a steep ice wall at around 7000m which may be up to Scottish grade II. Descent is by the same route and we would hope to reach at least Camp 1 or Base Camp if you're going well (C,B,L,D).
Day 26: Baruntse Base Camp to Amphu Latsa Base Camp (5650m).
Rugged walking leads across the moraine towards Ama Dablam and the Amphu Labsa pass. Our camp is directly below the steep slopes leading up to the col. (C,B,L,D).
Day 27: Amphu Latsa Base Camp to Chukung (4730m).
The majority of our support team will return to Lukla from here via the Mera La while we'll be enjoying the comforts of teahouses for the rest of the walk out. A steep climb first thing in the morning will get the heart pumping but the amazing structures and colours of the ice fall should take your mind off any discomfort. A couple of steeper sections that usually require some fixed line lead rapidly to the narrow Amphu Labsa pass. A steep descent (fixed lines) leads down to the moraine and easy walking down to the teahouses of Chukung. (T,B,L,D).
Day 28: Chukung to Pangboche (3930m).
After our time in the wild and remote Hinku Valley the teahouses and farms of the Khumba region are a pleasant change. Good paths and bridges lead down to join the main Everest Base Camp trail with amazing views of Ama Dablam (T,B,L,D)
Day 29: Pangboche to Namche Bazaar (3440m).
Today we descend back into the tree line and the smells of pine and juniper. The path climbs to the large monastery at Tengboche before a steep descent leads back to the Dubh Kosi river. The final steep climb of the trek flattens out and traverses the hill side before eventually turning the corner and dropping down into the bowl of Namche Bazaar. (T,B,L,D).
Day 30: Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2800m).
A steep descent leads to an impressive bridge high above the river. Easy walking surrounded by the carvings, flags & prayer wheels of Buddhism leads us back to the airport at Lukla. (T,B,L,D).
Day 31: Fly Lukla to Kathmandu.
Back to the comforts of our hotel and the enjoyable hustle and bustle. This is a good time to buy souvenirs and try your hand at haggling with the local shop keepers. We can dine in one of Kathmandu's finest restaurants and experience some local dancing styles! (H,B)
Day 32: Kathmandu (H,B).
This is a contingency day to allow for any unexpected delays during the trek.
Day 33-34: Return international flight.