The Wild West: A Glimpse of Western Nepal
Nepal is known for being unrivaled when it comes to big mountain mountaineering and climbing. No other country can match the sheer amount of snow-capped peaks above 7,000 meters available for climbing.
Most of Nepal’s mountain tourism is focused on the northeast territory of Nepal. Places such as Everest, Annapurna, and Langtang regions are the most popular among foreign trekkers, and for good reason, as these places have long been known for stunning high altitude peaks and breathtaking vistas.
Although the Great Himalayan Trail high route starts in the far western Humla region of Nepal, most people seldom visit that far west.
Western Nepal isn’t known for being easy. Characterized by steep uphills, even steeper downhills, and limited resources, trekking here isn’t a simple task. All of the available helicopters are reserved primarily for clients trekking in the east and spend most of their time flying in the Annapurna and Everest regions. This means that a medical evacuation in Western Nepal could be extremely difficult.
I recently wanted to experience the raw qualities of untouched Nepal, a nation reminiscent of kings and queens and the dawn of mountaineering and exploration, so I took a trip out west.
I trekked through Gamghadi, from Mugu to Simikot, and through Humla, making my way across almost 100 miles of pure western isolation. We stayed in small tea houses and shepherds shacks, eating only “dhal bhat”, the local staple of lentils and rice. The Nepali people treated us like family and welcomed us into their homes as honored guests. I began to feel the magnitude of how important it is to protect these few wild places in Nepal. Upon my return to Kathmandu, I understood to a greater measure what the more popular regions like Everest must have looked like 30 years ago. And while Western Nepal’s economy would likely benefit from an influx of tourism, would it be worth the loss of this beautifully raw, unfiltered mountain district
in the heart of the Himalayas?
I discovered that the things that make Western Nepal dangerous and unpredictable may just be the thing that makes it stand out. Nowhere else in the world are there such wild places that are still untouched by western civilization, and that may be exactly what some pioneering mountaineers are searching for.
Written by: Benjamin Loecken