Cragging in the Kathmandu Valley
When one thinks of Nepal, visions of glaciated peaks, alpine quests and elusive yetis often come to mind. Clipping bolts in Kathmandu typically does not. But if the sport climbing bug rears its ugly head on your trekking vacation, there is a beautiful, limestone crag boasting twenty-two very well bolted routes just five kilometers from downtown in the Nagarjun Forest Preserve.
I’m not really sure if it was because we hadn’t had a chance to sport climb in six months, were so relieved to get out of Thamel’s smoggy, tout ridden honk-fest, or if the routes were really that amazing – but every route we climbed was an absolute beauty! Most of the wall is riddled with perfect finger pockets, intermittent liebacks and some oh-so pinchable tufa. There’s even the occasional fossilized coral head to stem out to – just to remind you that this great limestone wall was once a place fish called home. A 60-meter will get you to the top of these mostly moderate routes (ranging from 5.7-5.11), and you won’t need any more than twelve quickdraws for the highest of them.
To get there, hop on any mini bus heading to Nagarjun and pay your 250 NRPS (about four U.S. dollars) at the park entrance. Note: The Lonely Planet states that it is only ten NRPS to get in, so be sure to bring enough cash with you! Also, bring a copy of your passport, although the park officer will often accept (i.e. hold hostage) your driver’s license as valid I.D. From the park gate, walk approximately one half kilometer south until the road forks. Follow the road left for about one and a half kilometers and look right. If you’re there during peak season, you will undoubtedly be greeted by a swarm of guided Nepali and Indian tourists – all hooting, hollering and in a photo snapping frenzy. If it gets to be too much of a circus on the main wall, there are several other routes to work on just around the corner.
So, I do apologize to everyone for the lack of photos in this post. My camera kit was involved in a little accident involving a crazed Indian bus driver trying to break the sound barrier on a road which was under construction en route to Rishikesh. We only had Lisa’s little point and shoot for the duration of our stay in Nepal. I promise to make up for it in my next posting!