Trip Report
Play by the rules. Follow the laws. Getting screwed in Nepal
Friday February 23, 2018 6:36am
The title pretty much says it all. I had a permit for Mt. Pashwou in Tsum Valley from the ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu. I followed all of their ridiculous rules. I employed a licensed “guide” who was a complete joke but is required by law in certain restricted areas. I also had Ramesh with me to porter as usual. Ramesh is always awesome btw. I’m really glad he was around.

It started out ok. An 8 hour bus ride to Aaraghut. Started going south first thing next morning. The guide was a complete joke. He was supposed to carry around 10 kilos like we had agreeded on before we left Kathmandu. After spending a day on the bus he changed his mind. He made it clear he wasn’t carrying anything.

Credit: johnkelley
(The “guides” pack, Ramesh’s pack, and my pack)

Ramesh and I laughed and told him we’d pack it all. I told the so called “guide” no f*#king way when he tried to give his tiny 5kg load to Ramesh. Up the trail we went. The guide decided to run ahead to get us some rooms at this “friends” lodge. The place was nothing special. Pretty much like every other lodge/tea house in Nepal. I was shocked at the bill the next morning. Talk about paying 1st world prices for 3rd world accommodations. It was almost x4 what I’ve ever paid anywhere else.. That was the last time the “guide” decided where we stayed.

The next four days passed by quick enough. We reached the last checkpoint after 5 long days of trekking. Even though the “guide” was supposed to accompany me to base camp he decided we really didn’t need him anymore. I didn’t argue and was glad to see him leave the next morning.

Ramesh and I headed up to the village of Chhule. The locals in Chhule, in upper Tsum Valley, were not happy to see us. We were denied access to the peak. The village leader told us there was going to be a meeting that evening to decide if we could continue to base camp or not. The meeting was a f*#king joke. Ramesh and I sat there quietly while everyone else there got drunk on Roxy. After about 3 hours they decided we could not go any further. They didn’t care about my permits.

We spent the night in some guys house. He was an aggressive drunk. Eventually he blacked out. Neither of us slept that night. The next morning we walked across the bridge to the neighboring village of Nili to make some phone calls. The Ministry of Tourism passed the problem off onto the Manaslu Conservation Area Project. MCAP. Some MCAP official talked to the village leader on the phone for awhile trying to plead our case for us but the village leader’s answer was still a no. We were informed that they would “use the knife” if we went against their decision. We headed back to Kathmandu right after that.

Credit: johnkelley
(The village meeting)

All in all with permit fees, guide wages, porter wages, lodging accommodations, and bus tickets it was a waste of about $2,800 and 2 weeks of my time.

I’d recommend avoiding the entire Manaslu area and especially Tsum Valley

  Trip Report Views: 1,835
About the Author
johnkelley is a climber from Anchorage Alaska.

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Stewart Johnson

Mountain climber
lake forest
  Feb 23, 2018 - 06:45am PT
im sure they would let u climb if you coughed up 500$ more

Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 23, 2018 - 06:49am PT
Seemed pretty unlikely
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Feb 23, 2018 - 06:50am PT
Bummer, sorry you got screwed.

Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 23, 2018 - 06:56am PT
The thing that pissed me off the most is that an MCAP official in the Filim office told me, on the way back down, that Chhule was a very dangerous place. That there had been some recent problems there. Mostly people being robbed. Nepal has done a good job of keeping this quiet. They sure didn’t mention it on the way there

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Feb 23, 2018 - 08:34am PT
John what a bummer man. I love Nepal and I've been there many times and look back fondly on my time there. I can't imagine what that must of been like spending all the time and effort to get over there which is not easy in itself, let alone spend the time walking that deep in the mountains only to get turned around. Super bummed for you. Corruption, bureaucracy and idiocy like this really chaps my hide. Thanks so much for sharing. I always love hearing about your travels and your adventures. Stay strong. Stay frosty out there.


How about this, you pay me four grand and you can come out to Central ...
How about this, you pay me four grand and you can come out to Central California and I will guide you up a pretty mountain. We have better weather, don't have to eat water buffalo, and you don't have to poop in a hole in the ground while we are in town.
Credit: micronut

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Feb 23, 2018 - 08:35am PT
Guess the Tsum Valley powers-that-be didn’t get the memo about tourism being the answer.

Trad climber
  Feb 23, 2018 - 08:38am PT
I remember talking to Mica Dash (RIP) years ago about making trips like this to the region. He said that they planned on the guide not doing anything AND requiring food to be made. So, that had to hire extra porters to carry the guide's stuff and a cook to prepare meals for him. Sounded like they had learned the way you make things happen there is to really plan on greasing the skids. Success required knowing that this was just part of the expense like your gear and plane ticket.

Door Number 3
  Feb 23, 2018 - 09:49am PT
Bummer! I have been in the same position in a number of countries in Asia.

One time in Western China I saw poster on the wall of guest house promoting the local "Mountaineering Association" (the official organization the sells permits and such).

It was an image of mine that they had "stolen" from my website of a peak I had previously poached in China.

Not sure where the Karma was being directed in that incident :)
Don Paul

Gym climber
Denver CO
  Feb 23, 2018 - 01:06pm PT
super bummer - try Pakistan next time

Trad climber
  Feb 23, 2018 - 01:20pm PT
I wouldn't pay $2,800 anywhere to get screwed.

Sorry to hear of your bad experience, but tfpu.
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
  Feb 23, 2018 - 03:41pm PT
Sorry to hear this John. I was looking forward to your next trip report. I know it’s lame but sometimes things happen the way they were meant to. The waste of the money is one thing, having a bad experience in Nepal sucks though, usually so much positive energy. I had it happen there one one time too and I still can’t make sense of it. Life goes on.

The Good Places
  Feb 23, 2018 - 03:47pm PT
a furtherance of the proof for bandit style. Thanks for sharing with us in the armchairs, John
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
  Feb 23, 2018 - 04:04pm PT
I agree with ya cowboy. Underground has its merits. Maybe not if the locals don’t approve though. It’s their home and the peaks are just peaks. You can always find another one.

  Feb 23, 2018 - 04:13pm PT
What a pisser. Sorry to hear the good guys came in last. TFPU.

Social climber
  Feb 23, 2018 - 04:19pm PT
hey there say, johnkelly... whewww... thanks for sharing and warning


Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 24, 2018 - 01:31am PT
Norm and Cowboy I agree underground isn’t a bad way to go but it wouldn’t work here. The locals knew we were coming thanks to cell phones. The villagers to the south called to let them know we were headed up. They were sitting on the trail a little south of the village waiting for us to arrive. We didn’t tell anyone there I was planning to climb but the size of the packs kinda gave it away. People would ask and we would tell them just trekking. They would look at the packs, laugh, and say yeah right. The village of Chhule is right at the base of the approach to base camp too. No way to avoid it really.

Maybe one day, when I decide not to return to Nepal, i’ll do a dozen or so TR’s of undocumented FA’s...

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Feb 24, 2018 - 03:10am PT
What a clusterf*#k....time to move on to the Karakoram.

Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 24, 2018 - 04:34am PT
Looks like you may be right. What’s accessible in the Karakoram from December-February? Since I live in Alaska I HAVE to work all summer....

Trad climber
Long Beach, CA
  Feb 25, 2018 - 06:11pm PT
You almost had me hooked to go there when you posted the trip costs in your other thread.

Next time, why don't you say you are one of the Whittakers and you are scouting a possible RMI trip.

Trad climber
  Feb 25, 2018 - 07:15pm PT
... underground isn’t a bad way to go but it wouldn’t work here. The locals knew we were coming thanks to cell phones.
A technological trend likely to accelerate, making the future (sadly) a hard place for bandit climbers to prosper.

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Feb 25, 2018 - 08:39pm PT
Sorry to hear this. Were the villagers waiting for you to make a monetary “offering” to climb the peak, or did it have some religious significance to them? They probably resent the powers back in Kat getting money for their mountain and they get none of it.

Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 25, 2018 - 09:27pm PT
It was because of religious reasons. We were told that around 25 years ago some non Buddhist sciencest showed up to look into building a hydro plant for the village. They hiked into the upper valley to check out the hydro potential. After the foreigners left there was an earthquake generated landslide. The village of Chhule believes it was caused because people who followed a different religion were there and it upset their god.

And the village of Chhule does get money from The Manaslu Area Conservation Project. MCAP is funded directly from tourist dollars through the Ministry of Tourism. In the photo of their meeting above you can see the money being split up among them

Jim Henson's Basement
  Feb 26, 2018 - 05:56am PT
Such a downer to hear about stuff like this. So sorry the trip got screwed. It is very frustrating when you try to do the right thing to no avail.

I guess the only thing you can really do is post on social media and try to keep others from ending up in the same situation. Time and money are obviously going to be better spent visiting regions that aren't so adverse to tourists.

Jingus Newroutaineer
  Feb 26, 2018 - 07:58am PT
Not even a courtesy reach-a-round?

May I suggest Alaska for frozen adventures? Even the Moose is courteous there. :p

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Feb 26, 2018 - 08:10am PT
Thank you for the explanation, John Kelley.

My husband is headed back there for his third trip next week. He loves the country and the people. He has only had good experiences, is always with the same guide. But he only goes for trekking, not alpinism.

Anchorage Alaska
Author's Reply  Feb 26, 2018 - 08:22am PT
King Tut - Is Alaska as good?
scotty vincik

up north, these days
  Feb 26, 2018 - 09:15am PT
That sucks, John. The Karakoram is amazing, as are the people of Pakistan. Well, most of them, there are definitely places to avoid. Hunza Valley is particularily appealing, with a lot of cool sh#t to climb. The Hushe Valley as well. It is pretty much a summer place, though. I am looking forward to flying paragliders there soon, I hope. You're becoming one of the more accomplished Himalayan climbers. Psyched for you.Sorry you got f*#ked.
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