Discover The World's Highest Virgin Peak: Bhutan

2020 Gangkhar Puensum Trek | Whistling Arrow

October 14 to 31, 2020 | USD 6980 PP


While cooped up in the eye of the Covid-19 storm, some of our most treasured expedition plans were dusted off, in preparation for that time when we would all yearn, once again, to discover truly wild places; precious, largely unexplored lands, that lay far beyond the reach of the goretex-clad crowds. Thankfully, even in an increasingly filled in map of our planet, there are still countless places of mystery, and here at Whistling Arrow, the remote, spiritually-charged 'White Peak of the Three Bodhisattvas', and it's surrounding striated valleys, have always been uniquely enchanting. Remarkably for one of the greatest explorers of his time (and last protagonists of the "Great Game'), not even the ubiquitous Colonel Bailey, (who ventured nearby in 1922, to invest the Bhutanese King with the rather grandiose title of Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire), managed to set eyes on this particular Himalayan wonderland.
And so, on this epic high-altitude adventure, (best suited to relatively experienced trekkers), we will journey up through forested-valleys, and past the ruins of age-old dzong, to emerge into the remote southern and eastern flanks of Gangkhar Puensum; the highest unclimbed peak (7541m) on earth, which straddles the remote borderlands of northern Bhutan and southern Tibet. And there, we will discover hidden mountain sanctuaries framed by towering 7000m peaks, and extraordinary ridge-lines with awe-inspiring panoramas over glaciated valleys, dotted with impossibly azure lakes. In short, if you dream of escaping into one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in Asia, then look no further than joining our small, like-minded team of intrepid trekkers.
Life is short, and hope runs eternal, so we hope you can join us on expedition in the Land Of the Thunder Dragon, when (fingers crossed) the dark clouds have finally passed.

*If you are considering booking this trip, please note that in the event that it is not able to run due to Covid-19 related factors, we will be happy to credit your booking deposit against any other future expeditions. We will also be limiting the group size for this trip to just 5 guests to help assauge any post Covid-19 related concerns, and be bringing bucketloads of hand sanitizer gel!*

 

Why Join Our Team?

Participate in an exploratory expedition to explore one of the last hidden corners of the mighty Himalayan range.
Discover the therapeutic nature of remote wilderness trekking, as we all emerge from such unprecedented times.
Forge a seldom-trekked route to unearth a spritually charged mountain sanctuary, shrouded in time-honoured mystery.
2020 Gangkar Puensum Expedition  | Whistling Arrow

Expedition Plan

This is an exploratory route through a remote region of the Himalayas that will require a considerable amount of flexibility and self-reliance from all members of the team. The following is only the outline daily plan. The average time hiking on the trail will be between 6 and 7 hours per day.
 

October 14, 2021 ­

Fly to Paro (IATA: PBH). You will be met at the airport and transferred (3 hours drive) to our lodge in the Punakha Valley. Visit the local dzong, before an introductory team dinner and drinks.­

October 15, 2021­

Drive to the beautiful district of Bumthang (via Trongsa), home to several ancient temples and dzong. Overnight in a local lodge.­

October 16, 2021­

A short drive to the trailhead to meet our expedition team­, before setting of on the trek up through a valley, scattered with old temples. Set up camp (2865m) near a small chorten.­

October 17, 2021 ­

Follow the raging river up through a densely forested (and narrowing) valley of rhododendron, pine and fir. Set up camp (3240m) by the river, surrounded by small cliffs.­ ­

October 18, 2021 ­

Trek up through the tree line, before breaking out into the junction of two open valleys.­ Head up the left-sided valley and set up camp (3710m) overlooking the confluence of two rivers.­

October 19, 2021 ­

Gradually ascend through the beautiful valley, past a number of yak herder huts (yak butter tea anyone?), before setting up camp (4200m) by the river.­

October 20, 2021 ­

Trek along the valley, with our first breathtaking views of the high mountains, before setting up our camp (4550m) for the next two nights at the base of Mt ­Melunghi Kang (6902m).

October 21, 2021 ­

Today we will explore this spectacular mountain sanctuary, by climbing up to a panoramic ridge line with epic views of Gangkhar Puensum, and the adjacent hidden valley. Return to camp (4550m).­

October 22, 2021

Cross the river and trek up to the gateway (marked by prayer flags) of a spectacular glacial valley that leads to the base of Gangkhar Puensum.­ Set up camp (4980m) with spectacular views of the sacred peak.­

October 23, 2021 ­

An epic day for exploration with a trek up to another ridge line, with ­jaw-dropping views over ­Gangkhar Puensum, and it's extensive glacial system. Return to camp (4980m).­

October 24, 2021

This is a spare day to keep in our back pocket, which allows us plenty of flexibility (and additional acclimatization time if needed earlier) along this exploratory route. ­­

October 25, 2021

A lengthy trek back down the valley, following the river, and a trail past several more yak herders huts, before crossing a wooden bridge and setting up our next camp (3710m).­

October 26, 2021

Trek up from the campsite, through a lightly forested area of rocky crags and cliffs, before topping out with stunning views over Tibet.­ Head into the next valley and camp (4470m) by a small lake.

October 27, 2021

Today we will explore the beautiful area around and above the lake by climbing up to another ridge line with amazing views over the peaks of southern Tibet. Return to camp (4470m).­

October 28, 2021 ­

Trek gradually up to the next pass with more awe-inspiring views, before embarking on a lengthy descent down to the floor of the next deep valley. Set up camp (4090m).­

October 29, 2021 ­

Descend through rhododendron forest before following the bank of a river to arrive at a small dirt track that leads to a local village. Meet our transport, and drive back to Bumthang. Overnight in lodge.­

October 30, 2021

Drive back to Paro, to arrive at our local lodge.­ Relax in a hot stone bath, drink a few cold beers, and­ enjoy our farewell dinner together.­

October 31, 2021 ­

Drive to Paro airport, to catch our outgoing flights. Big hugs all around - and see you next time! ­

Expedition Location

Practical Information

Rest assured we will be here to advise you on all aspects of preparing for, and participating in, this trip. Here are a few obvious places to start.

 

Accomodation ­

Will be in boutique lodges and/or farmhouses in Punakha, Bumthang and Paro. On the trek itself we will obviously be camping in tents.­ ­

Altitude­

The maximum altitude en route will be approximately 5490m atop one of the spectacular ridge lines. We have included one extra day that can be used as as a spare acclimatization day as needed.­

Communication

On the trek there will be no phone coverage but we will carry a two-way satellite email and texting device for emergency communication.­

Difficulty

The trek will be challenging so everyone will need to be properly prepared both mentally and physically.­

Equipment ­

We will supply all (rigourously cleaned) camping equipment, although we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag. Please refer to our typical kit list for a guide to what else to bring.­

First Aid ­

We carry a comprehensive medical kit, including Diamox and Dexamethazone to treat any signs of altitude sickness. ­As standard we also have a group search & rescue membership with GEOS.­

Food ­

Mainly local and Western food prepared by our expedition cook. We also will include plenty of snacks, and try our best to accommodate all dietary requests.­

Flights ­

The trip begins and ends in Paro (IATA: PBH). All guests must arrive in Paro by the evening of October 14.­ Please note that we can help to book flights to/from Paro (typically via Bangkok or Delhi), but these are not included in the price.­

Insurance

All guests must have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency medical evacuation, and covers trekking up to 5500m (World Nomads is a good option). ­As standard we also have a group search & rescue membership with GEOS.­

Support ­

Your large rucksacks, or expedition duffell bags, will be transported by mules, so you will only need to carry your day pack while hiking. ­

­Temperatures

Typically will range between 5 to 20 degrees Celsius during the day but may fall to as low as minus 5 degrees at night. ­

Toilets & Washing­

On the trek itself we will be camping, so washing and toilet facilities will be wild and fairly basic­, although we will carry a toilet tent, and a small portable shower.­

Visas ­

Bhutanese visas will be required for this trip and will be arranged by Whistling Arrow. ­The cost of the visa is included in the trip.­
 
Price USD 6980 PP

All inclusive except local tips and international flights. To book we will require a 30% deposit with the balance payable 30 days before the departure date. 

Availability: 3 Places Left

The group size for this adventure will be limited to 5 relatively experienced trekkers due to the exploratory nature of this trip, and to help assauge any post Covid-19 related concerns.

Payment & Preparations

We will provide all the information you need to book and prepare for the trip including payment instructions, advice on flights, what to bring and all safety considerations.

Expeditionary Trek 2020 | Bhutan | Whistling Arrow
One of several spectacular glaciated valleys; largely unexplored, and dotted with extraordinarily turquoise-hued lakes­.

 A Final Word On This Expedition



We have learnt never to judge a book by its cover; to make assumptions about any of our clients on the basis of age, or previous outdoor experience, has always been a fools game. We know, from many years of experience, that what really counts, is a determined and flexible mental approach to any adventure, and so, as usual, this expedition is open to all-comers. Please do bear in mind though, that it will be remote, challenging, and relatively high-altitude.