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+977 01 4516813 / 4512647 info@crystalmountaintreks.com

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Monsoon newsletter – July, 2023

Monsoon newsletter – July, 2023

Namaste from gloomy Kathmandu! It’s been raining every day with temperatures in the 80’s F (30 C). But, the sun does pop out every day. We’re now eagerly waiting for the Autumn season for when we have several treks lined up. And we also have some exciting projects with 3 Summits for Nepal.

Building our next school:

After a two-year hiatus, 3 Summits for Nepal will be building another school. Again, in the Kanchenjunga region. After searching for school candidates for more than a year, including in other regions of Nepal, we decided the Sonem Primary School would be the best investment. There are 25 to 30 students (number varies from year to year) whose current school is a shack made with corrugated tin. We plan to replace it with a proper three-room structure.

Sonem School
Sonem Primary School
Classroom at Sonem School
Classroom at Sonem School

Sonem, a predominantly Sherpa village, can be reached after a 4-hour drive or a day’s walk from Fungling Bazaar, the capital of Taplejung. The school already has a government quota for a teacher and we hope to help set up a fund for an assistant teacher. A majority of the school building funds has been donated  by Ananth Duggarilla, a fellow UW MBA graduate, to honor his mother – Usha Shastri. And it has been graciously matched by Global Pearls. Work will begin in December and it should take around two months to complete.

We are planning a trek to the North Kanchenjunga Base Camp in January. The itinerary will be similar but shorter than our standard Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek. It will also only include trekking to the north base camp (not to the south base camp) and will NOT involve crossing the pass. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit the new building site. Do write to us if you are interested.

Monsoon havoc update:

The recent heavy rains in eastern-Nepal has caused huge damages in the region. And the hostel we built in Tembe has been affected. A chunk of earth near the hostel building has been washed away. If we don’t build a support structure it could affect the school. Work will begin at the hostel compound very soon. It will cost around US$ 5,500 for materials. And most of the labor will be provided by the village. We would have to build a wall with rebar and concrete in front of the school and then fill it up with dirt to support the hostel.

Landslide near the hostel

WHAT’s up!!! (Women’s High Altitude Training)

You may recall that we’ve been organizing a training program for aspiring female trekking guides for the past two years. The main goal of the program is to augment the skills of female guides who have acquired a trekking guide license. While the guide license is earned after undergoing a 45-day training program, we feel it is not adequate. We are happy to report that several of the graduates from our previous WHAT program’s have been actively working in the trekking industry and have been employed by various trekking companies. A few have also worked for Crystal Mountain Treks this Spring season. Here are some of their stories:

Sandhya Maharjan

Sandhya is an anomaly. Raised by a single mother and hailing from the farmer community of Kathmandu, it is very unusual for someone with her background to be involved in the trekking industry. She says, “For me Women’s High-Altitude Training has been a turning point. I actually got to learn a lot about the ethos of being a guide. Both trainers did a great job by balancing practical and theoretical knowledge. Today, I am proud and thankful that I chose this journey by  participating in this training.

Sandhya with group on the 3 passes trek
Sandhya Maharjan (third from left in grey jacket) with trekking group on the 3 passes trek

According to Sandhya: “The above picture is from Everest Three High Pass Trek in April 2023. They found me through facebook recommendation. Three of them were from Britain, one of them from Canada, one from Poland, and another India.”

Mingma Sherpa

Mingma is a Buddhist scholar who has now been actively guiding treks. She says, “At the beginning, I was quite skeptical if it would turn out to be just another regular training program. But, right from the application and selection process, it was clear that the team knew exactly what they were looking for in the trainees and what they aimed to bring out from each of them. The course syllabus was well structured and the teaching methods of the instructors kept trainees engaged throughout the training. For me, the best part of the training was the personalized and in-depth feedback from the instructors. The training has also opened me up for more work opportunities.

Mingma (left) guided a group of 5 American trekkers on the Manaslu Circuit for Crystal Mountain Treks in April.

Mingmar Dolma Sherpa

Mingmar is a strong guide hailing from Solukhumbu in the shadows of Mt. Everest. She says: “The best part of the training was that it was organized in the field and focused more on practical issues rather than just theory. This training helped me gain more skills and experience to become a qualified guide. As guides, we face lots of challenges and this training helped me build confidence in tackling issues in my adventures. The women’s high altitude guide training has helped me a lot in furthering my trekking career.

Mingmar on Anna Circuit
Mingmar with the Blackburn family on the Annapurna Circuit (in white hat)

Mingmar Dolma Sherpa guided a family of 6 trekkers including a 9-year-old for Crystal Mountain Treks in June.

Santoshi Magar

Santoshi says: “This training has given me much new experiences and confidence. I hope this training will take place in coming future too as this is really necessary for future female guides.

Santoshi (far-right) guiding a Malay couple
Santoshi (far-right) guiding a Malay couple

Sandhya, Mingma, Santoshi and Mingmar are fully booked for the Autumn season. Even Crystal Mountain Treks wasn’t able to secure their services as we were late booking them for this Autumn.

Running guides:
Anita with a trail running group
Anita (first on left) and Ashma guiding a trail running group. They will be guiding this group every year.

We will be continuing the Female Guide training program in the same format and have planned one for January 2024 where we will train another 10 prospective female guides.

To donate to the female guide training project, please click on this link.

Discounts on treks after November 10, 2023.

Crystal Mountain Treks is offering a US$ 200 per person discount on any Nepal trek if booked for November 10 onwards. It will definitely be colder than October but the trails and lodges on the popular treks such as the Annapurna Base Camp Trek or the Everest Base Camp Trek will not be as busy. On a related topic, check out our recent blog on Must you trek to Everest Base Camp? What are the other trekking options in the region.

Also, have you ever wondered which month is the best for trekking in Nepal?! Here is a list of treks in Nepal and the ideal months for trekking in these areas. However, because of climate change, it is very difficult to guarantee good weather. Historical patterns may not always hold.

Trekking to Makalu Base Camp

Read Jwalant’s blog – a short account of his recent trek to Makalu Base Camp. Almost three decades ago, he had helped his father organize a Makalu Base Camp Trek for Tom and Peggy. Since then, it has always been his dream to trek there. In the blog, he outlines the reasons why this beautiful and still relatively wild trek has not become as popular as it should.

All 3 Summits for Nepal programs are possible because of donations. Please do donate to our school and guide training projects by clicking on this link. All our donations are handled by Global Pearls in the USA and are tax deductible in the USA.

Questions?

Email: Jwalant Gurung

Whatsapp: +977 98510 31831

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