Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Return to Champa Devi

Claudine's last encounter with hiking to the peak of Champa Devi was back in early February before I arrived in Kathmandu. Since my arrival, we had managed to top three of the four highest peak surrounding the city, but Champa Devi had eluded me. Visible from my apartment window, she stared at me every morning, reminding me of unfinished business. As for Claudine, she found the hike up Champa Devi challenging the first time around. With the benefit of many more peaks and two Himalayan treks under her belt, she was itching for a second go. Charged up with something to prove, we set out for the peak south of the city.

Of the four highest peaks, Champa Devi is perhaps the least convenient to reach. This is precisely why we have put it off until now. Those coming from Kathmandu will need to catch a 22 bus (heading toward Pharping) at the Old Bus Park downtown. We paid 27 NPR (about 30 cents) each for the hour-and-half bus trip there and oddly just 22 NPR for the return. The bus park is anything but calm and clean, and our arrival at the trail posed a welcome juxtaposition.

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From the trail head at the northern edge of Pharping, it is about a 30 minute walk up a relatively gentle sloping road to the Hattiban Resort. After passing the resort, the trail becomes increasingly steep and unfriendly to vehicle traffic. Try taking a motorcycle up these stairs.

The stone stairs may look intimidating from this vantage, but this last hump of trail takes only about 30 minutes. Thirty minutes on mother nature's Stairmaster may not sound like a picnic, but on clear days the views along the way are worth it.

The mountains weren't the only eye candy.

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We reached the peak a little less than two hours after embarking at the trail head. Champa Devi remained unfinished business no longer. Given the way that Claudine bounded up the stairs with no breaks, I think she was pleased with her performance on round two.

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