Panbari Himal Expedition & Manaslu trek

panbari expedition

The Panbari 6905 m, the topo

Himalayan expedition

The Panbari is “almost 7,000” hidden behind the turn of Manaslu and nearby Atharha Saya Khola Himal, “The mountain rivers to 1800” ,.
This name immediately evokes a distant land, a mythical Shangrila imbued with Buddhist culture and exoticism.

This is the name we gave to a virgin summit at 6767 m on the Tibetan border, between Samdo and Phu. A summit which is now officially authorized, but under the name of Phu Khang Go (ours did not suit them… Too long!).

Athahra Saya Khola, in Nepali, is also the name of the river that flows at the foot of the mountain.
Is this the old name of Upper Nubri?

The summit of Panbari.
At the border of Tibet, in the distance our mountains ...

At the border of Tibet, in La-Chen…
And for Frank, an original view of the summit (on the left) that we made together with  the surviving team of Manaslu 2015.  Chaar Bacha Himal 6621 m.

The Valley of 1800 rivers is dominated by a group of three snow-capped mountains, the Three Brothers (Tin baï in nepali) . It is these summits that we have climbed, failing the Panbari which emerges just behind.

They are not very technical mountains, nor impressive, on the other hand, they have a major topographical importance because they control the access to large glacial plateaus at the foot of the eastern slopes of Nemjung and Himlung, in the Peri massif. Himal.

Large passes also allow to imagine a sumptuous glacial crossing from Samdo to Phu .
The ascent path we took is perfectly visible going up the valley and in particular from La-Chen , the pass that leads to Ru in Tibet, the village where the inhabitants of Samdo come from.

It is a route which should become classic because the Panbari, despite the 95 m which it lacks to reach 7000 m, should satisfy mountaineers in search of new wild and virgin spaces. These are large slopes of snow without difficulty, with a small aesthetic ridge to reach the Dome of the Hindu Himal.

This route makes it possible to avoid the way of the Japanese which goes up entirely the glacier of Fukan, very cracked. This route seems infrequent to me at present because of the conditions of the glacier.

panbari expedition
Spotting with Philippe towards the Japanese camp.

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The Panbari 6905 m

The village of Samdo is the real starting point for this ascent.
There are two ways to reach this last village in the Budhi Gandaki valley.

From Arugath, by the Classic Manaslu Tour.
This trip is easy to organize with lodges everywhere and necessarily a lot of people. The route is relatively long and not very pleasant in the first part (because of the road under construction and the deep valley), but variations are possible …

From Besisahar, by the start of the Tour des Annapurna, to Dharapani.
With jeep transport to Dharapani, Tilje, Bimthang and crossing the Larkye Pass. It is also the turn of the Manaslu in reverse, It is the best option, both in terms of effort, acclimatization and duration.

By taking a little time, it is possible to build an almost ideal acclimatization, to pass the collar as calmly as possible. This pass is currently used to supply the villages of Samdo and Sana with mules, and the trail has been greatly improved on the Bimthang side.

Entrance to Bimthang.

Crossing the Larkye Pass, backwards!
This is the recommended route to reach the mountains of Samdo or Manaslu.
Here is a possible course, in Slow Expedition.

  • D 1…, Jeep for Dharapani 1822 m, trek for Tilje and Goa.
  • D 2…, Chauri Kharka 3040 m.
  • D 3…, Bimthang 3710 m ( 3h 30m walk for 730m ascent and 90m descent, altitude difference: 670m ).
  • D 4…, Bimthang, Larkye Phedi 4380 m ( 2h 45 walk for 670 m ascent, altitude difference: 670 m ). There is now a small Teashop.
  • D 5 …, And finally only the crossing of the pass 5100 m and the descent to the lodges of Darmashala 4370 m, or rather just below, ( 7 hours of walking for 790 m of ascent and 790 m of descent, difference in altitude: 0 m !) A camp at Larkya Bazar is also possible, but longer than 2 hours. There is also a lodge and large flat areas.
    A very pleasant place.
The mules on the way back.

Four criteria seem important to me:

  1. The reduction of effort above 3000 m.
  2. We could quantify it in hours, in the absence of an understandable unit of measurement.
  3. The difference in altitude between two camping pitches.
  4. A time of real rest in the afternoon, after a climb in altitude, above all to do nothing!
    Drink, eat, sleep, read, write, listen to music… Above all, do not climb on the bump opposite!
panbari expedition
The eastern part of the map (provisional…) with the route of the Panbari and the great glaciers.

Panbari. Access to the base camp.

It is reasonable to allow 1 1/2 day from Samdo. Even if the trip can be done in a long day.

Day 1:
From Samdo, go up the valley to the Larkye Pass, go down to the hydroelectric power station, cross the bridge and at Larkya Bazar, turn right into the valley of the Athahra Saya Khola and go up …
After a first ascent, until at a chorten which represents a local deity, the trail remains on a balcony, crosses an alp and descends to a bridge over the river from the Fokan glacier. A short climb then a rocky lock along the river, the valley widens and becomes flat. On the right, a bridge (2 planks) and the path which leads to Tibet and Ru via the La-Chen (“Le Grand Col”). Camp possible.
Continue up the valley, another path on the right leads to Gya La. It is possible to camp about 1/2 hour further, in a beautiful flat area.

Towards the Panbari valley.
A very sacred place, the guardian deity of Samdo.
An intermediate camp to cut the climb to base camp. Behind the pass to Tibet …

Day 2:
A short climb leads to an alpine plateau with very troubled reliefs (old moraines?). Then you have to cross the front of the main glacier, “up and down” with a well-marked path in moraine terrain. A short descent leads to a small plain. Turn right to go up the valley between the mountain and the lateral moraine. The path is easier.
When the valley makes a bend to the left, turn right and find a cairn at a small pass. The New Base Camp is just behind.
There is water nearby, plenty of space, optimal sunshine and no avalanche risk in the event of heavy snowfall.

The base camp is approaching.
The new Panbari Base Camp

There is a second base camp higher up following the valley. 1/2 h to 3/4 h. Depending on the season, there is water in the valley. Otherwise, you have to cross the moraine to find it on the other side (path, 20 minutes to 1 hour!).

Both base camps are accessible with bat animals. Mules, horses or yaks.

Panbari Expedition
The approach walk is now well marked …
Panbari Expedition
The access road from the base camp.
A beautiful and big mountain.

Camp 1.

The terrain becomes more complex and less pleasant.
Join the edge of the moraine and follow it to an area of ​​large boulders, bypassing it directly in the middle (cairns). Staying on the shoulder, descend slightly to reach the base of a grassy slope. Go up to a bump and continue through the valley on the left. The path becomes more pleasant with grass and some rocks.
From a grassy croup (cairn) cross a thalweg on the right to the next ridge. Continue on the side in large boulders until you reach a pass marking the outlet of a rocky valley. Rather ascend it to the right towards the snowfields and the great slopes of the glacier.

Camp 1 is not very visible and depends on the water available. We made three different ones according to the years.
This camp is accessible by porters, without special equipment.

The last stones before reaching Crampons Point.

Camp 2, not far from the snow ridge.

Go up the first slopes to the right to cross a valley then a wide croup which leads to a flat area. Pay attention to the snow situation: the slopes crossed are topped with steeper jumps conducive to accumulations. Camp possible, used in 2017.

Continue on the side to pass under a rocky jump. Go up the following valley by its right slope to the ridge. Large more or less flat pitches. No risk of avalanche, but exposed to winds.

Panbari Expedition
The climbers walk right behind us. A possible camp location.
Panbari Expedition
The slope above Camp 2. And a characteristic ridge.

Camp 3, on the Hindu Himal Domes

Or better beyond, in the great snowy spaces under Lilia Peak.
Join the obvious snow ridge and climb it up. The slope softens before a last slightly steeper slope which leads to the plateau. Crevasses and terrain conducive to snow accumulation. At the start of the plateau, depending on the snow and wind, many locations are possible. You choose…

Panbari Expedition
A superb high mountain atmosphere

Another route is possible, easier and especially recommended on skis. This is the route we used in 2017 when the ridge was in hard snow. just before the ridge, cross to the right and slightly uphill to a large crevasse blocking the entire slope.
Cross it at best and easily climb the regular slopes that lead to the Hindu Himal.
Be careful of the presence of crevices near the snow dome.

panbari expedition
The last slopes of the Hindu Himal.
Credit Bernard Faber.
Camp 3… A snow dome… a fantastic view… Exposed to all winds! Credit Charles Dubuis
A beautiful summit …

Other peaks

Many peaks are accessible from this Hindu Himal camp.

  • Lilia Peak, 6425 m
  • The Athahra Saya Khola Himal, “the mountain of 1800 rivers”, 6767 m.
  • The Panbari, 6905 m
  • The Peri Himal
The reverse side of the Himlung with the Peri Himal. From the top of Phu Khang Go.

The crossing of the ridges to Himlung East 6932 m is a good objective in this style of realization.
The descent on Phu by the normal route of the Himlung would consist of a royal end for this crossing, obviously never attempted before …

The Panbari, 6905 m.
It is wise to make a camp 4 as close as possible to Phu Kang La 6442 m, so as not to have to cross the plateau before the ascent.
The difficulty should be at most PD in snow, with some crevasse passages to negotiate.
It is a summit which requires an expedition permit from the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism with the presence of a liaison officer.
It has only been climbed once by a Japanese team, ( see info on this page )

The Athahra Saya Khola Himal, 6767 m.
We climbed the east ridge of the mountain, after crossing Lilia Peak, it is an easy snow course, level IV / F + in Himalayan ratings .
It is also possible to cross the “mountain of 1800 rivers”: climb via the South Ridge and descent via the East Ridge.

Going down from the Mountain to 1800 rivers.

Lilia Peak, 6425 m

panbari expedition
A small summit …

We climbed Lilia Peak by the southern slope, with large snow slopes at 35 ° and descent by the West Ridge, almost horizontal to reach the pass between Lilia Peak and Atharha Saya Khola Himal, xxx
It is a level IV / PD snow race in Himalayan ratings .

The start of the plateau, much easier on skis!

The Jarkya Himal 6473 m.

… Not in the photo. It is further to the left, behind Lilia Peak.
The end of the crossing …

The crossing to the Gyala
This is what I called the “Haute Route de Samdo”, on skis or on foot. An exceptional route never carried out.

Voluptuous mountains …

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