Local Climbers Open a New Route on Nepal’s Ganchempo

It is a new idea, and at the same time, perfectly logical: Nepali guides have begun to open local climbing routes and find new trails through mountain passes. It’s not just for fun, but to drum up novel destinations for tourists.

Undulating snow slopes and a climber gaining a plateau on a fixed rope.

The Ganchempo route follows easy, safe slopes on glacial terrain. Photo: Garima Voyage


Twice in the last year, for example, Nepali teams tried unsuccessfully to establish a commercial route on the South Face of Cho Oyu, spurred by the unavailability of the Chinese side of the mountain. Now 2x14x8,000m summiter Sanu Sherpa and partner Lal Bahadur Waiba have opened a line on Ganchempo, the closest 6,000m peak to Kathmandu.

They spearheaded a local team organized by Garima Voyage and which included owner Rabindra Aryal, as well as Ram Kaji-Prayas and Ashok Sharma Battha.

Camp 1 on Ganchempo.

Camp 1 on Ganchempo. Photo: Garima Voyage


Two sped ahead

After trekking from the Panch Pokhari Lakes, Sanu Sherpa and Lal Badahur Waiba sped ahead of the rest. Garima Voyage had eyed a potential route during an exploratory trip last year. But Sanu and Badahur chose a second line instead, up the SSE side of the mountain, also known as the Sindupalchowk side (after the closest village).

Fixing ropes on some sections, they climbed fast and topped out on November 7 in 12 hours from a high camp at 4,700m. Summiting at 4 pm, they went down and rejoined the rest of the team, in order to climb the peak again together.

Ganchempo from Google Earth, with the proposed route on the right in red and several options to reach the summit. The pass to Langtang and an alternative line lie to the left.


No difficulties

Climbing at a normal pace, the team pitched Camp 1 at 5,400m on November 10. After some rest, they set off at 1 am toward the 6,378m summit, which they reached at 11 am.

“We did not find particular difficulties in the climb,” they reported.

After returning to Camp 1, they traversed through the 5,300m Lyangsing Pass toward the Langtang Valley. No one had ever used that pass before, they said.

Four team member on the summit, mountains behind, in a sunny day.

Left to right, Bahadur Waiba and Sanu Sherpa with other team members on the summit of Ganchempo. Photo: Garima Voyage



The purpose of the climb was not clear at first, since social media posts suggested that Sanu Sherpa was also guiding an Italian expedition. Rabindra Aryal of Garima Voyage clarified the matter for ExplorersWeb.

Fixed ropes on the pass to Langtang.

Fixed ropes on the pass to Langtang. Photo: Garima Voyage


The goal was to develop tourism in the Panch Pokhari, Melamchi, and Langtang regions, a project Aryal had worked on since 2017. This year, the expedition secured funds from the NGO New Vision Nepal, as well as local sponsors and authorities. All were interested in developing a climbing option and a new trek nearby.

“Sanu Sherpa and Lal Bahadur Waiba joined us,” Aryal said.

He also noted that the Italian team fell in with the Nepali group to make it safer for visually impaired climber Simone Salvagnin. Accompanied by two Italian guides, Salvagnin trekked to BC and then returned from there before the climb took place.

Advanced Base Camp. Photo: Garima Voyage

“Being so close to Kathmandu, Ganchempo has a huge potential both for the domestic market as well as for those guides who want more experience,” Aryal said.
The peak also stands along the Great Himalayan Trail.
the village of Langtang

Langtang. Photo: Garima Voyage

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.