Fri, Feb 23|
Investigating Climate Change from the Roof of the World, a Field-Based Climate Experience in Nepal
Trek through the highlands of Helambu and the Langtang Valley to witness first hand the impacts of climate change at the earths 3rd pole.
Time & Location
Feb 23, 2024, 9:00 PM – Mar 05, 2024, 2:00 PM
Helambu, Helambu, Nepal
About the Course
The effects of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly apparent with each passing year, as floods, fires, hurricanes, and shifting weather patterns affect every country in the world. In this course we will travel to the Himalayas of Nepal to see the effects of climate change first hand as we trek through the Nepalese landscapes and immerse ourselves in the culture of the Hyolmo, Tamang, Sherpa, and Gurung communities of the Langtang Valley and highlands of Helambu. We’ll meet with local experts, and community members, and apply our new insights by devising strategies to effectively teach climate change with a global perspective.
The pre-travel portion of the course will present a variety of lab and field activities to effectively introduce climate change concepts to students and will allow participants to design lessons that fits their needs. All activities will utilize resources that are readily available and inexpensive, which we will use to quantitatively investigate disruptions to the global carbon cycle, with an emphasis on forests in Vermont and watersheds in Nepal. We will also do a field excursion in Central Vermont to discuss place-based learning concepts and share experiences of our shifting climate in the Green Mountain State. Participants will design lesson plans that will meet their instructional needs and emphasize global citizenship and community.
In Nepal, the majority of our time will be spent trekking in the mountains to the north of Kathmandu, along the border with Tibet. This region is characterized by steep and significant elevation change, and while less demanding than other popular treks in Nepal, this trek should be considered moderately challenging and only undertaken by those in good physical condition. Remaining below 14,000 feet in elevation for the duration of the trek, we truly are still in the foothills of the Himalayas, a point driven home by vistas of the 24,000 foot Langtang Lirung and dozen or more other peaks over 20,000 feet towering over the region. The weather in February is generally dry and cool, with temperatures ranging from the low 30’s to upper 70’s Fahrenheit; some snow is a possibility at the upper elevations of the trek. While we love the route shared below, the extreme topography of the region and associated variable weather patterns, both contributing factors to the extreme effect of climate change in this region, may require us to modify the route for both the safety and enjoyment of the group. Accommodations along the route are modest and we’ll stay in teahouses/guesthouses typical of the region.
This professional development course can either be taken for recertification hours or graduate credits at an additional fee. The course syllabus can be viewed here.
Course Cost: $4600 + $145/credit
AXA platinum level travel insurance
Permits and fees
Sleeping bags and equipment as needed
Licensed guide & porters as needed
Contribution to local partner Education Organization, Helambu Education Livelihood Partnership
What's Not Included:
Gratuity for guides/porters/drivers (highly encouraged)
Any other item not described above
January 20th Central VT (in person) 8:30 – 4:00
February 10th, Central VT (in person) 8:30 – 4:00
February 23: Boston to Kathmandu via Doha
Depart Boston Logan Airport at 9:00pm
February24: Air travel day
As we fly east, we jump forward in time and lose ~ 12 hours
February 25: Kathmandu to Melamchi
Arrive in Kathmandu around 9:00am local time and once clear of the airport, jump right into it, traveling by Jeep through the city of Kathmandu and north out of the valley to the town of Melamchi. We’ll eat lunch along the way, check into a guesthouse, and rest for a few hours before regrouping for a final pre-trek check-in.
February 26: Melamchi to Tharepati via Kutumsang
Day one of the trek starts from Melamchi at around 7.00 AM driving two hours to the village of Kutumsang. Here we’ll have an early lunch before leaving the jeeps and starting our trek, walking towards the village of Tharepati, perched at the top of the valley at 3500m. The trail runs directly up the mountain, occasionally crossing the monsoon beaten road and offers great views back down and across the Helambu valley. The journey will take between five and six hours.
February 27: Tharepati to Gosainkuda via Gopte
Day two is the most demanding of the trek and following a hearty breakfast, climb 1000m through Rhododendron forest and clouds to lunch at Gopte. Along the way, there is a good chance of meeting a yak herder and their animals on the trail. After lunch, we’ll push on to a guest house at Gosakundra lake. Total trekking time is 8-9 hours.
February 28: Gosainkunda to ThuloShyabru
Departing Gosaikunda lake, we’ll traverse around the mountain until mid-morning where we are greeted with panoramic views of the Langtang area; from the Ganesh Himal to the west and Langtangs 1&2 to the east, this is the best view on the trek so far. From here, we descend 2000m to the village of Thulo Shyabru where we connect with the main tourist route through Langtang valley. While in Thulo Shyabru, you’ll have a chance to meet with local students and teachers.
February 29: Thulo Shyabru to Lama Hotel
From Thulo Shyabru, we continue or descent through changing forest types and enter the Langtang Valley, following the river west. Keep your eyes open, this area is your best chance to see a red panda in its natural habitat. After lunch in Bamboo, we’ll ascend to our a lodge in the village of Lama Hotel at an elevation of 2400m.
March 1: Lama Hotel to Langtang
Departing Lama Hotel, we’ll continue up the river valley past numerous landslides and gradually climb 1000m to lunch at Thangshap. Here the valley opens to reveal stunning views of the regions high peaks in all directions. As we walk to the village of Langtang at 3400m, the trail is dotted with beautiful houses, terraces, stupas, and herds of yak. In Langtang, we’ll indulge in local yak cheese toasted on freshly baked bread and take in the majesty of the landscape around us.
March 2: Langtang to Shyabrubesi to Kathmandu
On our final day, we’ll depart Langtang after a late breakfast and hike a few hours to meet our jeeps at Shyabrubesi. From here, we’ll travel by 4x4 to Kathmandu, hot showers, a large meal and a soft bed.
March 3: Kathmandu
Wake up early and walk at Boudhanath before the sun comes up. Visit a Buddhist temple and meander narrow streets of incense merchants. Return to the hotel for breakfast before meeting with field experts researching climate change and working to mitigate its effects in Nepal. Finish the day at one of several UNESCO sites around Kathmandu Valley.
March 4: Kathmandu
On our final day, we’ll continue to explore the valleys rich cultural history. In Bhaktapur, we’ll eat Newari Pizza, a black lentil & egg dish unlike anything you’ve had before and in Thamel you’ll have the opportunity to peruse the maze of narrow streets lined with shops. After a final dinner to celebrate our time together in Nepal, we’ll return to the hotel and prepare for our return flight.
March 5: Kathmandu to Boston via Doha
Depart Kathmandu at 2:00am, return to Boston at 2:00 pm. As we travel west, we regain 12 hours.
About the Instructors:
Shane Heath has been teaching physical and life sciences in Vermont for 12 years, and currently teaches chemistry and wildlife ecology at Essex High School. He was selected as a National Geographic Grosvenor Fellow in 2019. Prior to teaching, he worked for years as a wildlife ecologist, conducting fieldwork with researchers in China, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. He believes in incorporating the tenets of climate sustainability, biodiversity conservation and global citizenship into his teaching. He sits on the board of directors for Go Global VT.
Luke Foley is the Climate and Engagement Manager with Friends of the Mad River, a watershed and conservation organization in the Mad River Valley. Prior to this role, Foley spent 12 years working as an Experiential Learning Coordinator and Outdoor Educator at Northfield Middle High School. Foley also has a background as a wilderness instructor, international travel guide, and program director for several schools and programs in Vermont, the western United States, and around the world. He was the 2014 Vermont Teacher of the Year and a 2017 National Park Service Climate Resiliency Fellow. Most recently, Luke received a 2019 Rowland Fellowship to pursue a project that looked to expand experiential learning opportunities in Vermont schools.