Helambu warm up (part 1)

For the last weekend in September (as I said, I’m a little bit behind on posts!?), I took advantage of the UN-OCHA team’s last weekend in the district to join them on a small two day trek up into the northern settlements of the Helambu VDC (village development committee; a division of local government) in western Sindhupalchok. An excellent warm up for my upcoming Dashain trek;

#1 As ever, walking in the foothills of the Himalaya provided stunning vistas;


#2 Our walk started out passing by stunning waterfalls. It is hard to get a sense of scale from these photos but let’s go with impressively large. Well, you’ve seen the size of the mountains which still only count as hills – these are some of those hills. As I’ve said before, everything is big in Nepal – not least the rivers that these waterfalls were joining and boosting;


#3 Rivers which it took some courage at times to actually to cross;


#4 Here we crossed one tributary, note my fellow hikers in the left hand bottom corner and the size of a boulder washed down by the river on the right. This was not even the main Helambu Khola valley but merely a tributary…;

02 scale

#5 Signs of the earthquake were evident on every side. Here we traversed the base of a huge landslide which claimed several lives on the day of the earthquake. Just past the landslide we passed the work area of the Melamchi water supply project – a 27+km tunnel being drilled through the hills to take water from this river directly to supply Kathmandu. The works were hit hard by falling rocks and were still not up & running again when we went past, for understandable reasons (note at the time of writing I believe the site has reopened);

05 damage

#6 Our walking route took us along stretches of the one ‘road’ in the VDC, affectionately described to us by our local guides as the ‘Helambu highway’. This is one of the five main routes in the district, all of which were still partially closed five months later due directly to earthquake damage or the compound effects of the earthquake plus monsoon rains. I would just like to give some further indication to what is meant by ‘hard to reach’ areas in terms of the Nepal earthquake response. Amazing work was needed from everyone involved in logistics, incorporating helicopters and porters where roads were no longer an option, to get much needed relief items up to the communities who needed them. These photos show us walking along some lengths of the road, I’m assured it’s under there somewhere;

helambu highway

#7 Damaged schools. Damaged businesses. Damaged roads. Damaged homes. Damaged temples. There is certainly a lot of work still to be done;

06 damage 2

#8 But as ever, the local people were proud and warm, welcoming and incredibly hospitable despite it all. Here are examples of temporary learning and living spaces built by the communities with support from different sources enabling life and education to continue. In part 2 I’m going to talk a little more about the fabulous people we met and who invited us into their homes, temporary or not;

07 rebuild

(P.s. some photo credits here and in part 2 go to my walking buddy Chris Birzer – thanks!)



  1. Jan

    Hi Jess, just taken the time to catch up on your last 3 blogs, fascinating as always. What a pity we don’t have parallel lives where one of me could be out there too while the other was here with my family. I so admire you for the amazing work you do and your gutsy attitude to life, Stay safe and continue to enjoy and share your remarkable adventures.

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