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Table of Contents "On the road to Kabul and other short stories of treks"

Treacherous trails in Rolwaling


View towards the deep valey before Simigaon, foreground female porters.

The main trail to the Rolwaling Valley on the East side close to Simigaon was destroyed by a landslide. On the West side, there was an old, alternative trail skirting high up along the narrow valley and it was  not much used. We went up some 600 m along  terraces with millet fields. High up we had a panoramic view at the main river valley but the next kilometer would be different as we entered a  deep gorge.


The trail was narrow with a steep 600 m drop and little used. In one part it consisted of a steep staircase made of rock slabs that were covered by green algae and looked suspiciously slippery. A slip would result in a sure death and we carefully went down testing every footstep.


Bare foot Tamang porter with a 35 kg load.

A few hundred meters further there was also a 50 m wide landslide and now the trail in the soft dirt was only 20 cm wide. I watched how the porters with their 30 kg loads slowly crossed the landslide, with very balanced, careful  steps. Everybody passed safely that day. The trail finally entered a dense rain forest till Simigaon. The next day we entered the Rolwaling Valley and the wide trail was mostly hidden from the steep ravine by dense bush with many bamboo trees.


I was talking to Paul and I did not pay sufficient attention to the trail. The ground was wet, muddy and slippery. I suddenly slid off the path into the jungle on the ravine side. I quickly grabbed a few branches, ensured I had a safe hold and looked down. There was a little plateau 2 m down but below that there was a steep drop of some 400 m. Migma Sherpa also grabbed my shirt so I was double safe. Tendy and Migma Sherpa quickly pulled me out and I was only a bit shaken not realizing yet what could have happened. Later on they told me that this is why a Sherpa guide always walk behind the group members and it does happen that they need to rescue tourists this way.


A few days later I met a 72 year old American men going from Na at 4000 m altitude to Yalung La base camp at 4900 m. He complained that going was much heavier than climbing Kilimanjaro he already did twice. The current plan was to cross the Trashi Labse Pass of 5700 m but was sure he would never make it as the going was very rough, worse than he ever suspected. He asked me about a helicopter lift out and responded to my estimate of the US$ 3000 cost that this was cheap to save his life.