While most of us mere mortals started off the year setting fitness goals that we hope to achieve by at least the end of 2018, Ryan Sandes and fellow Salomon athlete, Ryno Griesel, have set themselves the goal of running, and hopefully beating, the current fastest known time (FKT) for the Holy Grail of Mountain Trails, the Great Himalaya Trail. They are aiming to tackle the more than 1400km in early March and in under 28 days – that’s essentially running an ultra-marathon every day for under 28 days, in the mountains, and at breathless altitude levels.
What makes this feat so impressive? The Great Himalaya Trail attempt is a single long distance trek from the west end of Nepal across to the East end, covering a staggering 1406km, with 68 500m of ascent and 70 000m of descent, a distance that takes a normal human roughly 5 months to walk. There are currently more people who have walked on the moon than those who have completed this entire trail!
“I am really excited, but also a bit nervous to be attempting to run the Great Himalaya Trail with Ryno in a few weeks’ time,” says Ryan. “This is going to be, by far, the greatest challenge of my life. I have never covered a distance (in one go) this far on my own two feet. There are so many unknowns we are going to have to deal with along the way, but that I guess is what intrigues me most about the challenge. This distance is so great and the mountains are so big that I have not quite gotten my head around the project yet. The plan will be to take it day by day and adjust our strategy accordingly!”
The current FKT was set by fellow South African Andrew Porter in 2016, who completed the challenge in 28days 13hrs 56min.
The Great Himalaya Trail is not a single trail but rather a combination of various trails in either the upper (GHT High Route) or middle (GHT Cultural route) districts of Nepal stretching from the west to the east (or vice versa) end of the country. Ryan and Ryno will traverse the route combining the High GHT and Cultural GHT to challenge the current recognised FKT, whilst self-navigating the best possible route to link up the 12 required check-points as set by Andrew.
“I am extremely excited and humbled by the opportunity to share the Himalayas with Ryan in such a cool adventure,” says Ryno. “Researching a project of this scale, I am nervously aware that we simply cannot prepare for everything and that we will have to rely on the foundation of our friendship built from previous “epics” to find solutions on-the-go and carry each other through! I am really looking forward to it & we will take it day by day – looking after each other!”
This challenge is a follow on project to Ryan and Ryno’s very successful 2014 Drakensberg Grand Traverse. The much larger mountains and extreme conditions in the Himalayas would be a natural progression for both of them to explore their limits. Although there will be limited points where they meet up with crew to receive permits and basic kit exchange, Ryan and Ryno will rely on local hospitality for nutrition, water and a place to sleep.
The route that Ryan and Ryno will be taking is (based on the Andrew’s current FKT) :
- Start in the village of Hilsa on the Western Nepal/ Tibetan border and cross the following points (villages and passes).
· Simikot at roughly 77km
· Gamgadhi at roughly 150km
· Jumla at roughly 193km
· Juphal (280km) or Dunai at roughly 290km
· Chharka Bhot at roughly 380km
· Kagbeni at roughly 444km
· Thorang La Pass at roughly 463km
· Larkye La Pass at roughly 561km
· Jiri at roughly 928km
· Tumlingtar at roughly 1075km
· Finishing on the Eastern Nepal/ Indian border at Pashupatinagar.
Thanks to our ability to ALWAYS be in contact, Ryan and Ryno will have live tracking throughout the traverse, and will also do regular social media updates to show how they are doing and what they are experiencing.
For more info please visit:
Facebook - @Ryan.Nicholas.Sandes
Twitter - @RyanSandes
Instagram - @RyanSandes
Facebook - @ryno.griesel.7
Twitter - @Ryno_Griesel
Instagram - @Ryno_Griesel
Picture Credit - Kelvin Trautman