Saturday, 29 May 1982

30 years ago: 29 May 1982, Langtang Trek day 13, hut to rock


Saturday 29th May 1982:  Dongal Pati Cholang hut to overhanging rock E of Laurebina Pass (8 miles)
We were woken by a small group of Indian pilgrims at 03:45.  They quickly built a fire (putting our earlier efforts to shame), had a brew and continued on their way.  What they made of us I’ve no idea.!  We were then up at 05:00, or thereabouts, to a dull, cloudy dawn.  We breakfasted on biscuits, eggs and cheese, packed our bags and were off by 06:00, with the cloud clearing giving the prospect of a good day ahead.  The trail soon re-entered the forest which was mainly stunted rhododendrons (in bloom) and juniper and started climbing steeply up the ridge which was excellent for Golden Bush Robins.  As we climbed higher the forest thinned out considerably, with Plain-backed Mountain Thrushes breeding around the tree line.  Climbing out of the remaining stunted and scattered trees we had good views of Impeyan Pheasants and Rufous-breasted Accentors.  Leaving the trees far below the trail continued climbing the ridge, with very few birds in evidence on the barren slopes around us, but fine mountain views to the west.  After about half an hour of steady climbing we disturbed a pair of Snow Partridges on the path above us.  A very welcome new bird for me after earlier disappointments and we saw a further 3 pairs before reaching Gosinkund Lake (14,100 ft) just before 10:00.  Close to the lake 3 Red-breasted Rosefinch performed well, our target bird for the area, and with the prospect of no low cloud to hamper us we abandoned our earlier plan to spend the night in a hut at the lake and decided to press on over the Laurebina Pass.  We left the lakes at 10:00 and with most of the way under snow, knee deep in places, it took 90 minutes of hard climbing to reach the top of the pass (15,200 ft).  On the far side of the pass the snow was much reduced and the trail down the other side was more obvious.  We stopped for a well earned lunch break, but while eating biscuits and cheese the clouds started to roll in.  We continued, descending boulder strewn slopes and skirting snow fields and as the trail levelled out we stopped to watch a loose feeding flock of dazzling Grandalas.  Half an hour later the Grandalas moved off and we followed the trail down beside a fast flowing stream. We entered juniper scrub once more and the trail stopped descending but started to undulate along the high side of a valley at about 13,000 ft.  After about half an hour Nick, who was ahead at this stage, turned around to comment on us ‘being in shortwing habitat anytime now’, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a Gould’s Shortwing hoping about on a boulder 25m below us.  It took Nick and Dave a while to realise I’d got one but luckily it remained on view long enough for them to see it and me to photograph it (albeit at some distance) before moving out of view.  About half an hour later (at 16:00), and a further half a mile on, we came to a big overhanging rock with fairly flat ground underneath it, providing just about enough room for us to sleep provided it did not rain too heavily.  We left our bags there and wandered on, splitting up to explore dried up stream beds and more accessible juniper forest and bamboo clumps, while keeping an eye out for a more suitable dwelling for the night.  However, the cloud was coming in with visibility dropping to less than 10m at times and I turned back and returned to our rock soon after 17:00 soon to be joined by the others.  We celebrated Gould’s Shortwing with some biscuits and cheese and I sorted out my gear and wrote up my notes.  We crashed out under the rock about 19:00, none of us having seen anywhere better to sleep.  A brilliant day, probably the best of the trip and three new birds was my best showing for over a month.  We saw no other people at all today since the pilgrims in the night (I’d assumed they were going up but perhaps they were on their way down as there was no sign of anyone at Gosinkund).

Birds recorded:  Common Buzzard 1, *Snow Partridge 4 pairs, Common Hill Partridge h, Impeyan Pheasant 3 males and 3 females, Cuckoo h, Little Cuckoo h, Himalayan Swiftlet 20, Asiatic House Martin 2, Rosy Pipit 20, Wren 1, Rufous-breasted Accentor 15, Alpine Accentor 50, *Gould’s Shortwing 1, Golden Bush Robin 11, Blue-fronted Redstart 6, Grandala 8 males and 12 females, River Chat 6, Little Forktail 2, Blue Whistling Thrush 1, Plain-backed Mountain Thrush 7, Aberrant Bush Warbler 1, Rufous-capped Bush Warbler 4, Greenish Warbler 4, Orange-barred Leaf Warbler 3, Black-faced Laughingthrush 6, Chestnut-tailed Minla 2, Fire-tailed Myzornis 1, White-browed Fulvetta 3, Black-crested Tit 4, Fire-tailed Sunbird 12, Alpine Chough 1, Chough 1, Large-billed Crow 4, Dark-breasted Rosefinch 3, Pink-browed Rosefinch 1, White-browed Rosefinch 11, *Red-breasted Rosefinch 1 male and 2 females, White-winged Grosbeak 10.

flowers on the climb to Gosainkund provided an excuse for a brief rest

Streaked Laughingthrush, perhaps the dullest of a normally superb group of species

Fire-tailed Sunbird, show off its tail - I'm over here!

Golden Bush Robin on the climb to Gosainkund

Snow Partridge near Gosainkund

most welcome after I'd missed them on the Everest Trek and at Kyangjin

Nick, me and Dave at Gosainkund.  They waited for me this time!

Gosainkund Lake and a snowy Laurebina Pass.  The trail goes around the left hand side of the lake and starts to climb, out of picture, continuing up the ridge to the pass in the centre of the picture

looking back down on Gosainkund Lake from half way up Laurebina Pass, empty pilgrims huts to the right of the lake

A superb male Grandala, one of 8 (and 12 females) we saw coming down the snow-free side of the Laurebina Pass

Pica or Mouse Hare

the almost mythical Gould's Shortwing.  It did not disappoint even if the photo is poor


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