Note added by Admin: In March 2018, Andrew asked for the terms "FKT" and "GHT" to be removed from postings about his trip - he is no longer claiming and FKT on the Great Himalaya Trail. However, we still consider his hike to be on a defensible "modified Cultural Trail GHT, with sections of the High Route". So, we believe there is still merit in listing it here, for completeness, acknowledging that Andrew himself does not want to claim and FKT on the GHT.
Post by Peter Bakwin on Jun 8, 2017 7:32:45 GMT -5
Thanks for the heads up. Here's what that site says:
New record for the Great Himalaya Trail. Andrew Porter from South Africa has completed the GHT in a new record time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. This beats the previous record held by Sean Burch of 49 days.
Andrew completed the GHT west to east, following a route similar to Burch. He started in Hilsa at 4 am on 26 September and finished in Pashupatinagar shortly after nightfall on 24 October 2016.
Andrew navigated by himself the whole way, and used no porters, preferring to carry the entire load himself. To keep weight down, he stayed in lodges or other local accommodation for most nights, buying food locally as he travelled.
He received assistance and useful advice during the planing stages from Robin Boustead.
He organised the trip through the Thamel based trekking company Adventure Mountain Club. He had a dedicated guide, Nawang, who assisted with resupply points along the way and with issuing permits. Andrew also received plenty of useful advise from both Nawang and the trekking company.
In total, Andrew used 5 resupply points, at Simikot, Jupal, Dharapani, Trisuli and Bahrabrise. He also did a detour, on foot both ways, from Kagbeni to Jomsom to visit an ATM.
Key Stats are as follows: Total time: 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes Distance covered: 1406 km 68440 m ascent 69943 m descent 1.8 million steps taken Weight loss of 4kg
Andrew would like to thank Robin Boustead, the Adventure Mountain Club and Nawang for their assistance.
Post by trailrunningnepal on Jan 11, 2018 17:45:08 GMT -5
JUST TO ADD a map to the discussion. The Great Himalaya Trail "high route" has tended to finish are the north basecamp of Kanchenjunga - as far to the top west corner as you can go. South basecamp would not be to dissimilar as you're staring at an 8000m peak there too i.e. the Great Himalaya Range.
There is a whole bunch of discussion too about "network of trails", "high route / lower route", "runnable" (without crampons or axe). All have valid arguments.
And thus is you are going to make a FKT attempt of the GHT (in Nepal) then the selected route should have a name and be published, just to be clear what the person is undertaking, and which specifically difficulties they decided to include and exclude from the menu of choices available, and nice if the reasons are stated too, as that is helpful for others.
If you are going to hit the highest parts of Dolpo, where you won't see any habitation for 3 to 5 days (and many villages are too poor to even raise a simple meal for you), then that is a very different undertaking (navigation, preparation, mental strength, load carried) to the (lovely) route slightly south.
Want to cross the Tashi Lapsta? Beware of rockfall, crevasses and difficult, maze-like navigation, be prepared to carry crampons, and take 24 hours to get to the next shelter. Or head south of there on the old Everest base Camp trail - longer, but populated, low altitude etc etc.
And finally, if you do a FKT, don't call it a world record. That would be silly.
Last Edit: Jan 11, 2018 17:57:12 GMT -5 by trailrunningnepal: to include an image of a map
I would like to echo what TRN said: 'And finally, if you do a FKT, don't call it a world record. That would be silly.' The GHT is not a continuous signed route, it is a concept that can include any number of routes across Nepal (or even beyond). There are huge differences in the effort that can be required depending on the route choices. These are true apple and orange comparisons. Some require high altitude technical climbing, other choices involve lots of relatively easy jeep track and not as much time over 5,000m. What Andrew and Sean did is impressive, but there are much 'harder' versions of the GHT. Even if you were to closely follow the high or low (aka 'cultural') routes as described by Robin Boustead, or the GPX tracks for someone who had enough battery power to truly record every step of their route, each party inevitably makes some detours and alterations because landslides happen, passes close, or check points force plans to change. We are talking about over 1,000 miles across the Himalayas - shit happens! When our team finished in 2014, we asked Robin Boustead if we 'had the fkt' and his response was essentially that 'everyone who does the GHT has an FKT' - and he is right. I've posted over the years on this site about setting FKTs on Annapurna, Manaslu, and the Kathmandu Valley Rim Trail and have come to realize that any significant effort in Nepal is an FKT in its own right - there is just too much variability. All that said, if someone is truly going to do an 'FKT' then, as TRN said - they need to detail their plans in advance. I would add that they should follow the prior route as close as possible (which will require GPX tracks in most cases) and provide a post-hoc comparison of the deviations between the two routes. An exemplar route would be what Lizzy Hawker completed in 2017 (see below) is quite likely the highest route one can follow without getting into technical climbing (thus a great route to try to follow).
A brief mention has been made in a few places that I have revoked my claim to an FKT on the GHT. This is a formal declaration of such, as well as the reasons behind this. I hope that future attempts at a crossing of Nepal will take some of these lessons to heart.
The heart of the matter is that the GHT (at the time of my crossing at least) consisted of both a high and a low route, and in practise some ground in-between. The high route is in remote mountain areas, where you have to carry several days of supplies and camping equipment to pass through the region. There are 5 technical passes that need mountaineering equipment such as ropes to pass safely. The low route passes as a lower altitude, in theory through rice paddies and jungle, but in modern Nepal this section has become a network of dirt or tar roads.
In 2010, Sean Burch made a crossing of Nepal and claimed a World record for his attempt. I was lucky enough to see his write-up of the trip. Giving benefit of doubt in his favour, he did roughly: 280km or so for the stretch through the Manaslu and Annapurna Circuits through to Charkka Bhot and a little beyond and 160km of High Route between Gamgadhi and Hilsa. He took in a few sections of Low Route as well – 100km between Jiri and the Manaslu circuit and 150km from Juphal to Gamgadhi. So, in his estimated 1700km he did about 440km of high route and 250km of low route. The remaining ground was used up crossing space between the routes, or south of it completely (in the eastern side of Nepal)
In 2016, I made an attempt of a similar line to him. I “improved” on it by including 3 extra 5000m passes (Bagala La, Numala La and Chan La). I also included additional low route between Jiri and (a bit before) Tumlingtar. I thus did over 500km of high route and about 350km of low route, in my 1400km. It seemed fair at the time to claim a record - I not only went faster but did it in better “style” (getting in more of the actual trail), and going solo instead of expedition style with a team of porters.
I had wanted to do more high ground. In light of my inexperience of the area, the definite dangers of trying to cross glaciated terrain on the 5 technical passes, a possible danger in trying to cross flooded rivers with no bridges so soon after the monsoon, and a lack of imagination on my part whilst looking at the map, I missed out on large parts of the high route. At that time that I started out, I was not aware of anybody having completed a completely solo GHT.
While I was out there, I became aware of Lizzy Hawkers attempt. She took a much higher line to me and was also solo. I mentioned her briefly in my detailed writeup, but not in the short summary. In fairness to her, I now realise this was a mistake. I apologise as she took the better line.
[For the sake of completeness, Ryan and Ryno skipped about 40km of high route and a 4000m pass between Simikot and Gamgadhi and also took the same line as Burch through the Dolpo region. They thus did about 400km of high route in a total distance of 1500km.]
I then took a break from running, carried on with my life and largely forgot about the GHT. I knew that Ryan and Ryno wanted to attempt it and meet with each of them over a few months to discuss. I first became aware of concerns being raised about the validity of Ryan and Ryno’s claim to beat the FKT on the GHT in March 2018, once they had already started out. www.himalayanadventurelabs.com/2018/03/14/on-open-letter
The issues raised had a direct implication to my claims. I understand them fully and thus quietly withdrew my claims and started the process of ensuring that the websites proclaiming my record were reworded. I intentionally withheld a formal announcement as it would have detracted from the attempt currently underway. Now that the attempt is over, it is correct for me to set the record straight.
This is a dramatic change of heart, so let me explain what has changed in the interim.
In 2017, Lizzy Hawker returned for a second solo crossing of Nepal. She took what is likely to be the highest route thus far that excludes the technical passes. It is thus the highest route that can be done solo, and without mountaineering equipment such as ropes, harness and helmets. Thus, the highest line that can be done fast by a trail runner.
Further, also in 2017, a race was held during which 11 competitors completed the GHT taking various high lines in a 45 day stage race. They all started at Kangchenjunga base camp and included significant portions of the high route, including some of the technical passes.
It is thus very apparent that it is possible to do significantly more high ground that I did, at speed either solo or as part of a small team with minimal support.
Interestingly, in late 2017, a second edition of the GHT maps was released. A significant point to make is that the low route has now been removed from the maps. This is mostly because the low route as a concept no longer exists. The trail has been replaced by a set of roads. This is not a reason to fly halfway around the world. You go to Nepal to be in the mountains.
Now, looking at the numbers again: Only a third of my trip [500km out of 1400km] was on what is now recognised as the GHT. The numbers speak for themselves. I could not start out today, follow the same route and then claim to have completed the GHT.
I WILL THUS WITHDRAW MY CLAIM TO HAVING COMPLETED A GHT.
Now, this is not a universal belief and I understand that everybody is free to make their own choice. But, to me an FKT can only be about SOMETHING. To me, a random set of dots on a map is not a basis for an FKT. I strongly believe an FKT needs a definite line to be followed or a specific goal. So, now that I have no longer run the GHT, and have “merely” crossed Nepal, I am going to withdraw my claim to an FKT as well. After all, the real prize is the high route. And as such, Lizzy Hawker with her journey in 2017 is the true queen.
With this in mind, my adjusted claim this thus as follows: I completed a crossing of Nepal that included 7 5000m passes and parts of the high route. I spent a lot of time in the lower regions, more of which was on road than I would have liked. I had fun every day, and it shows in the photos. I have may very pleasant memories of the adventure. As such, I only gained and will lose nothing by denouncing the claim.