Ascent of Phulchowki on 1999-10-10

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:military post
Date:Sunday, October 10, 1999
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:2781 m / 9127 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Today's outing is another one of those adventures that one never forgets .... "an Indiana Jones type adventure". This is my 33rd day of my 42 day trip to Nepal, the highlight of which was my 17day trek of the "Annapurna Circuit"'
The Hotel clerk's friend at Hotel Panda in Kathmandu, who did some local guiding, gave me the details for this climb, he even made my taxi arrangements (of course a friend of his). My Kathmandu map clearly shows the route to this summit.

Phulchowski, referred-to as "Flower Hill", is the lushest and most ecologically diverse mountain, ringing the Kathmandu Valley, carpeted in the springtime with orchids, ferns, and blossoming rhododendrons.

The taxi picked me up on time, and drove south out of Kathmandu, about 30km to the village of Godavari, at the village entrance there was a toll gate which the driver didn't want to pay .... a interesting discussion ensued, he had to pay 15 cents toll.
Godavari is reason enough to visit by itself ...... the highest rainfall in the Valley is the reason why the 24 acre Royal Botanical Gardens and the near-by sacred Hindu Spring are located here. I did not have time to visit.
He drove a short distance and dropped me off at the main gated entrance for a Marble Quarry (which is a short distance up the road), a complex with restaurant/resting-place/housing for the Quarry workers. This is the TH.

The trail is a gravel road all the way to the summit. From the gated entrance, the road starts out heading south on the right side (west) of the valley, above the river, towards the top-end of the valley it crosses to the east side, and follows an west-east ridge on switchbacks all the way to the summit, very easy to follow.

I left the TH (the unmanned gated road), without being asked any questions, under beautiful clear skies. The road is paved for the first few km, and after you pass the huge open-pit Quarry on the right, the road becomes gravel .... large gravel. I wore a pair of old camp shoes with a thin sole, it didn't take long to find out that I didn't have the proper shoes ..... after about an hour the bottom of my feet started to get sore from the stepping on the large gravel.
I crossed to the east side of the valley and followed the switchbacks up the west-east ridge to the summit, the gravel surface/my feet getting worse...... I tried walking on the side of the road, away from the gravel as much as possible.
After I crossed to the east side of the valley I came to two abandoned buildings (on the left side of the road) with stairs to the roof, the view from the roof is awesome ..... I believe I saw the Everest range. This would be my last views of the day, heavy cloud cover moved in as I climbed higher.

I summited at 11h15 hours after a 3 1/2 hour easy climb with no visibility, I was clouded-in, there is a 360 degree panorama to be had on a clear day ...... at the summit there is a small stupa and a fairly large Military Post with Communication towers, manned around-the-clock, today I counted 6 men, 2 of which were playing cards. Not much conversation. The guy at the Hotel had told me that there was a lodge/restaurant, I didn't see them.
I took a long rest/lunch break, leaving after an hour stay.

Not long after starting out for the descent, I found that it was much harder of my feet, so I decided to short-cut the switchbacks. I found a good path leading/dropping to the right (thinking others were like minded), I took it and in no time I knew that it didn't do what I thought it would do .... there was no road. I didn't feel like going back up so I continued following the path to a col. From here a path led down a small valley in the same direction as the west-east ridge that I came up on...... I knew this small valley was the right side (north) of my ridge and that it would take me down the main valley that I started on ... so I decided to follow the path.
Huge mistake ..... after a few hundred meters down the valley the path went right (north) up the ridge. I continued with my line, bushwacking my way down the steep valley , now becoming a small stream. I was completely soaked to my knees in no time, as I sloshed my way down the stream (The path of least resistance).
It was rooty/rocky/tough but not really difficult until I came to a spot where the stream dropped straight down ..... a 20-25 feet water fall, it was a ravine on all sides, no way down but to back-track.
There were trees growing up from the bottom, about 5-6 feet away from the edge of the drop, so I decided to jump-for-a-tree/hang-on/shinny-down, "Indiana Jones style" which I did safely.
After an hour there was a good bridge that crossed the stream, with a good wide trail that went left along the left side of the valley (animal tracks)...... I knew that this would take me to the west-east ridge road, I took it and in a short distance I was back on the road in the area of the abandoned buildings. My ordeal over.

I got back to the main road entrance at 15h30 hours (after leaving the summit 3h15 hours earlier), still wet, dirty and tired. I snacked while I waited for the bus back to Kathmandu.
"It was a very stupid/dangerous thing that I did, lucky I was lucky."
I got back to my hotel at 17h00 hours.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:983 m / 3225 ft
    Distance:16 km / 9.9 mi
    Route:kathmandu/godavari/marble quarry/gravel road
    Trailhead:kathmandu/godavari/marble quarry gate  1798 m / 5902 ft
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Overcast

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