Nepal 2016 – Ngozumpa Glacier, Gokyo Valley

May 20 – June 12, 2016

Have you ever wanted to travel to the Himalaya? Truly immerse yourself in the wilds of the mountains? Experience trekking in the thin air, while helping a science project along the way? If so, join us for an unforgettable experience at over 15,000 ft. (4500+ m) on the Ngozumpa glacier in Nepal, site of our inaugural citizen-scientist expedition for Science in the Wild!

Includes: hotels in Kathmandu at start and end of trip; round-trip Lukla mountain flights; 3 meals/day, tea and lodging on trail; porter (to carry your bag) while on trail; park entrance and trekking permits/fees; Sherpa-Scientist trainee sponsorship

Excludes: international airfare, excess baggage fees, visa, rescue insurance, helicopter, alcoholic beverages, tips

The Ngozumpa, at 18 kilometers, is one of Nepal’s largest and longest glaciers. It is growing a large terminal lake called Spillway, which may someday pose a flooding hazard to the Sherpa villages down-valley. We have been studying this glacier since 2011, along the way training locals on research and field protocols through a Sherpa-Scientist Initiative. Now is your chance to join as a citizen-scientist and help us in continuing this important work. Come find out how we do science in the wild – from the data collection to the analysis and interpretation of our field investigations. Collecting the data is just half the battle!

During this expedition, you’ll have the chance to explore the culture of Kathmandu, immerse yourself in history as you travel in the footsteps of Everest explorers and climbers, and then go off the beaten path over 15,000 ft., in pursuit of scientific knowledge. Join us in a GPS hunt for retrieving underwater buoys, which have been collecting data on water temperatures and lake depth changes since summer 2014. Help rebuild a high-altitude weather station damaged in the 2015 earthquakes. Learn to pilot a robot to collect valuable imagery and data on glacial lakes. Go kayaking at 15,000 ft. on newly formed glacial lakes. Help train our local Sherpa-Scientist participants.

Take part in our ‘wild’ option, which includes the scientific project work while making use of basic teahouses on-route. Or, opt for a longer ‘wilder’ version, which includes a few extra days on more challenging terrain and a camping option near the border with Tibet.


Trip Itinerary

May 20 - Travel day
This will be a travel day from your home country to Kathmandu, Nepal.

May 21 - Kathmandu
Today you will arrive to Kathmandu in the evening! We will pick you up from the airport and you will stay overnight in a hotel in the Thamel district.

May 22 - Kathmandu cultural tour
Today, we will go on a Kathmandu cultural tour, including the Monkey Temple and Durbar Square. We will have a welcome dinner for the team and will overnight in a hotel in Thamel.

May 23 - Fly to Lukla
Today we will take a beautiful 45-minute mountain flight to Lukla (9,383 ft./2,860 m) from Kathmandu, and (weather/time-permitting) trek down to the village of Phakding (8,563 ft./2,610 m).

May 24 - Namche Bazaar
Today we will make the long uphill trek to Namche Bazaar (11,286 ft./3,440 m), the main trading center and hub in the Khumbu Valley. There will be plenty of opportunity to stop, take photos, and enjoy the scenery. You will be able to catch your first views of Everest!

May 25 - Namche Bazaar Acclimatization
Today will be a high-altitude acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar, with options to visit the Sherpa museum and glacier photo exhibit. You will be able to explore the many small shops, coffee places, and internet cafes up here.

May 26 - Dole
Today we will trek further uphill, to the village of Dole (13,248 ft./4,038 m). This is probably my favorite stretch of trail, given the beautiful river down below and plenty of shade and cover from the forest along the way.

May 27 - Macchermo
Today, it is onwards into the thin air at the village of Macchermo (14,665 ft./4,470 m). You will catch your first glimpse of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak in the world and the source of the Ngozumpa glacier.

May 28 - Tangnak
Today we will trek to Tangnak village (15,419 ft./4700 m), where we will spend the next few days. We will have an interactive ‘show-and-tell’ with the robotics, meet the Sherpa-Scientist participants, and walk out to the lateral moraine of Ngozumpa, to get your first glimpse of the Spillway Lake!

May 29 - 30 - Lake sonar
On these days, we will survey the northern and southern parts of Spillway Lake on Ngozumpa glacier, making new underwater maps and testing out new robotics.

May 31 - Weather station repair
After our survey work, we will track down instruments still in the water, downloading their data and resetting them for the upcoming monsoon season, as well as repair the weather station damaged in the 2015 earthquakes. We will have the chance to do a fun and informative glacial lake tour via inflatable raft!

June 1 - Onwards to Gokyo
Today we will trek across the glacier to Gokyo village (15,715 ft./4790 m), taking part in a new photographic survey of the lakes and making a GPS-track of the terrain on-route. For those left with energy, we will do a sunset hike up Gokyo Ri (5357 m/17,575 ft.), to catch views of Mt. Everest in the fading light.

June 2 - Sonar surveys
For those with the energy or who didn’t do the sunset hike, there will be an option to climb Gokyo Ri at sunrise. Later in the day, we will make our way down to the glacier surface and redo some sonar surveys of lakes nearby the village. We will recover instrumentation and you will learn how to download the data and post-process it, right in the field with us!

June 3 - Ice cave
This day is the descent for the ‘short and wild’ option, back to Namche Bazaar, then Lukla and onwards to Kathmandu. If you choose this option, our science tech and/or Sherpa guide will trek down with you. For those who chose the ‘longer and wilder’ option, take part in lake sonar survey work further up-glacier on one of the fastest growing glacial lakes. If conditions permit, we will explore an ice cave.

June 4 - 6th lake excursion
Today we will trek to the 6th holy lake at 16,263 ft./4957 m, walking along the lateral moraine of the Ngozumpa glacier, taking new measurements and photos. We will camp out at the historical Cho Oyu base camp.

June 5 - Lake robotics
Today we will explore around our base camp at 6th lake, using our robotics. Today is a day to really enjoy the scenery. Blue lakes, soaring peaks surrounding us, and Cho Oyu in all its majesty! We will hike to some overlook points, energy-permitting.

June 6 - Glacier climbing
Today we will climb onto a nearby small glacier and collect snow samples, to look for black carbon, dust, and other contaminants originating from Kathmandu and India. Samples were first collected from this region in October 2014, during the post-monsoon season.


June 7 - Back to Gokyo
On this day, we will trek back down to Gokyo and pack for our descent. Energy-permitting, we will trek down to Macchermo (14,665 ft./4,470 m) in the late afternoon.


June 8 - Down to Namche
Today we will trek back down to Namche Bazaar (11,286 ft./3,440 m).

June 9 - Down to Lukla
Today we will have a long day of trekking back down to Lukla village.

June 10 - Kathmandu
We will fly back to Kathmandu from Lukla and spend the rest of the day recovering in the city. Overnight in a hotel in Thamel. However, there is the possibility of a weather delay, given the monsoon.

June 11 - Weather day/Kathmandu
In case of delays in Lukla, this is built in as a ‘weather day’ at Lukla. Otherwise, there is the option of touring more of Kathmandu and/or shopping in the Thamel district. We will have a group good-bye dinner and overnight in a hotel in Thamel.

June 12 - Departure*
Today you will fly back home from Kathmandu.  *Given this is the start of the monsoon, it is good to budget a few extra days in Kathmandu, in case of extended delays at Lukla. These extra days will be your own expense.

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