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The mother of all treks and climate change

world Updated: Dec 22, 2011 01:37 IST
Utpal Parashar

Nepal is known for its beautiful and challenging treks like the one to the Everest Base Camp and attracts thousands of adventure seekers from across the globe every year. But a new one hopes to test both skill and endurance limits of even the most diehard trekkers.

On January 15, two of Nepal’s prominent mountaineers will embark on a 1,700 km trail lasting 120 days with the aim of bringing tourists and investment to less visited and underdeveloped parts of the country as well as highlight effects of climate change.

To do this, Apa Sherpa, who holds the world record of summiting Mount Everest 21 times and Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has reached the peak twice, will take part in the marathon walkathon starting in Ghunsa in easterner Nepal and ending in Darchula in the far west.

The Great Himalaya Trail endorsed by Nepal government and aided by foreign agencies will pass through 20 districts where trekkers will encounter one of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes on earth overlooked by eight of the world’s tallest peaks in the Himalayas.

Touted as the world’s highest long distance walking trail, Nepal’s latest tourism product hopes to establish GHT as a model of sustainable tourism with its pro-poor and ‘climate smart’ approach. The areas covered by the trail are vulnerable to climate change impacts and organizers of the expedition say that GHT will be a climate friendly and zero carbon emission activity which will spread awareness about the impacts of global warming.

Although GHT is yet to be formally launched, the concept of enabling travelers witness first-hand how unsustainable development has affected one of the most beautiful and ecologically sensitive areas is already being termed a ‘game changer’ by travel magazines worldwide.

But all this is neither easy nor cheap. During the trail which combines 10 prominent trekking routes in Nepal, trekkers will pass through a maximum height of 5755 m above sea level and have to shell out as much as 114,000 Pound Sterling for the entire duration.

There is also the option of experiencing part of the trail at a fraction of the cost. Organizers are in touch with global sports personalities and Hollywood and Bollywood stars to join some such portion of the trail and give the much needed publicity to the effort.