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Bridges: Projects in Rational Tourism Development

Bridges
Projects in Rational Tourism Development

Thom Sanger at Tashi Lapsta Pass
Thom Sanger at Tashi Lapsta Pass

Tashi Lapsta (Trashi Lapsta)

The pass between Khumbu and Rolwaling

Yikes!

Tashi Lapsta is one of the most feared passes in Nepal... which is saying a lot! Unlike Lamjura Pass (between Kenji and Junbesi, on the trail from Jiri to Khumbu), the pass is not simply a long hike uphill. Jamie MacGuinness (Trekking in the Everest Region) and Bill O'Connor (The Trekking Peaks of Nepal) both describe it as suitable for alpinists, and even Sir Edmund Hillary made some chilling remarks about it. The pass is long, high, exposed to bad weather, and ... Well, this is what MacGuinness says about it:

Despite the dotted line marking the route on many trekking maps, the Tashi Labtsa (5755m/18,881 ft) is a mountaineering challenge not a teahouse trekking route. It's far more dangerous than the Kongma La, Tsho La or Annapurna's Thorong La...

It would be insane to try to cross the Tashi Laptsa by yourself. Several climbers have disappeared while alone in this area. Crevasses are a real danger and there are some areas in the icefall that may need an abseil...

Access to the pass involves passing areas of frequent rockfall so an early morning start is best. In the early morning the rocks may still be frozen in place but as the sun hits them they expand, loosen and come thundering down. On a winter's day things might be stable but on a warm October afternoon it's like Russian roulette. It's said by the Sherpas that Lama Sange Dorje crossed this pass and the name Tashi Labtsa bestows a certain protection on travellers.

The cost-benefit analysis

Tashi Lapsta is a central asset and a central liability in the history and development of Rolwaling. The difficulty of the pass is what made Rolwaling a sanctuary for refugees, and contibuted to its special status a "sacred valley." It has also been cited as a justification for the official limbo in which Rolwaling remains, neither closed nor open to tourism. It is an impediment to trade and to trekkers bound for Khumbu, and it is also a world-class adventure opportunity. It is one of the reasons for Rolwaling's relative lack of tourist facilities, since groups crossing the pass must be fully equipped with tents and camping gear and therefore do not have to rely on local hospitality at lower elevations, and also an opportunity for development that should eventually turn Beding into something of a Chamonix.

The permit situation

Only full-bore mountain expeditions and also "trekking peak" groups are -- officially -- permitted to enter Rolwaling. At one time a trekking permit was also required, as it was in Khumbu, Langtang, and Annapurna, but that requirement has been dropped. The situation now is very complicated, so we will review the facts as they stood last year, piece by piece.

the approach from High Camp on the Khumbu side

CROSSING TASHI LAPTSA

CROSSING TASHI LAPTSA

CROSSING TASHI LAPTSA

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