FKT: Andrew Porter - Great Himalaya Trail (Nepal) - 2016-10-24

Gender category
Route variation
Cultural Route
Start date
Finish date
Total time
28d 13h 56m

NOTE from Admin:  In March 2018, Andrew asked for the terms "FKT" and "GHT" to be removed from postings about his trip - he is no longer claiming and FKT on the Great Himalaya Trail.  However, we still consider his hike to be on a defensible modified Cultural Trail GHT in Nepal (from Hilsa to Pashupatinagar), with sections of the High Route.  So, we believe there is still merit in listing it here, for completeness, acknowledging that Andrew himself does not want to claim and FKT on the GHT.  Below is Andrew's original posting after completion of his trek, and following that are his comments about why he has withdrawn his claim to an FKT on the GHT.

Thanks everyone for the support. Here is a brief summary of what I actually pulled off. Proper write ups and pics will come in due course.

New record for the Great Himalaya Trail.
Andrew Porter from South Africa has completed the GHT in a new record time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. This beats the previous record held by Sean Burch of 49 days.

Andrew completed the GHT west to east, following a route similar to Burch. He started in Hilsa at 4 am on 26 September and finished in Pashupatinagar shortly after nightfall on 24 October 2016.

Andrew navigated by himself the whole way, and used no porters, preferring to carry the entire load himself. To keep weight down, he stayed in lodges or other local accommodation for most nights, buying food locally as he travelled.

He received assistance and useful advice during the planing stages from Robin Boustead.

He organised the trip through the Thamel based trekking company Adventure Mountain Club. He had a dedicated guide, Nawang, who assisted with resupply points along the way and with issuing permits. Andrew also received plenty of useful advise from both Nawang and the trekking company.

In total, Andrew used 5 resupply points, at Simikot, Jupal, Dharapani, Trisuli and Bahrabrise. He also did a detour, on foot both ways, from Kagbeni to Jomsom to visit an ATM.

Key Stats are as follows:
Total time: 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes
Distance covered: 1406 km
68440 m ascent
69943 m descent
1.8 million steps taken
Weight loss of 4kg

Andrew would like to thank Robin Boustead, the Adventure Mountain Club and Nawang for their assistance.

--------- Questions regarding the claim of an FKT for the Great Himalaya Trail (Andrew Porter, 3/26/2018) ----------------------

A brief mention has been made in a few places that I have revoked my claim to an FKT on the GHT. This is a formal declaration of such, as well as the reasons behind this. I hope that future attempts at a crossing of Nepal will take some of these lessons to heart.


The heart of the matter is that the GHT (at the time of my crossing at least) consisted of both a high and a low route, and in practise some ground in-between. The high route is in remote mountain areas, where you have to carry several days of supplies and camping equipment to pass through the region. There are 5 technical passes that need mountaineering equipment such as ropes to pass safely. The low route passes as a lower altitude, in theory through rice paddies and jungle, but in modern Nepal this section has become a network of dirt or tar roads.


In 2010, Sean Burch made a crossing of Nepal and claimed a World record for his attempt. I was lucky enough to see his write-up of the trip. Giving benefit of doubt in his favour, he did roughly: 280km or so for the stretch through the Manaslu and Annapurna Circuits through to Charkka Bhot and a little beyond and 160km of High Route between Gamgadhi and Hilsa. He took in a few sections of Low Route as well – 100km between Jiri and the Manaslu circuit and 150km from Juphal to Gamgadhi. So, in his estimated 1700km he did about 440km of high route and 250km of low route. The remaining ground was used up crossing space between the routes, or south of it completely (in the eastern side of Nepal)


In 2016, I made an attempt of a similar line to him. I “improved” on it by including 3 extra 5000m passes (Bagala La, Numala La and Chan La). I also included additional low route between Jiri and (a bit before) Tumlingtar. I thus did over 500km of high route and about 350km of low route, in my 1400km. It seemed fair at the time to claim a record - I not only went faster but did it in better “style” (getting in more of the actual trail), and going solo instead of expedition style with a team of porters.


I had wanted to do more high ground.  In light of my inexperience of the area, the definite dangers of trying to cross glaciated terrain on the 5 technical passes, a possible danger in trying to cross flooded rivers with no bridges so soon after the monsoon, and a lack of imagination on my part whilst looking at the map, I missed out on large parts of the high route.  At that time that I started out, I was not aware of anybody having completed a completely solo GHT.


While I was out there, I became aware of Lizzy Hawkers attempt. She took a much higher line to me and was also solo.  I mentioned her briefly in my detailed writeup, but not in the short summary. In fairness to her, I now realise this was a mistake. I apologise as she took the better line.


[For the sake of completeness, Ryan and Ryno skipped about 40km of high route and a 4000m pass between Simikot and Gamgadhi and also took the same line as Burch through the Dolpo region. They thus did about 400km of high route in a total distance of 1500km.]


I then took a break from running, carried on with my life and largely forgot about the GHT. I knew that Ryan and Ryno wanted to attempt it and meet with each of them over a few months to discuss. I first became aware of concerns being raised about the validity of Ryan and Ryno’s claim to beat the FKT on the GHT in March 2018, once they had already started out.


The issues raised had a direct implication to my claims. I understand them fully and thus quietly withdrew my claims and started the process of ensuring that the websites proclaiming my record were reworded. I intentionally withheld a formal announcement as it would have detracted from the attempt currently underway. Now that the attempt is over, it is correct for me to set the record straight.


This is a dramatic change of heart, so let me explain what has changed in the interim.


In 2017, Lizzy Hawker returned for a second solo crossing of Nepal. She took what is likely to be the highest route thus far that excludes the technical passes. It is thus the highest route that can be done solo, and without mountaineering equipment such as ropes, harness and helmets. Thus, the highest line that can be done fast by a trail runner.


Further, also in 2017, a race was held during which 11 competitors completed the GHT taking various high lines in a 45 day stage race. They all started at Kangchenjunga base camp and included significant portions of the high route, including some of the technical passes.


It is thus very apparent that it is possible to do significantly more high ground that I did, at speed either solo or as part of a small team with minimal support.


Interestingly, in late 2017, a second edition of the GHT maps was released. A significant point to make is that the low route has now been removed from the maps. This is mostly because the low route as a concept no longer exists. The trail has been replaced by a set of roads. This is not a reason to fly halfway around the world. You go to Nepal to be in the mountains.  


Now, looking at the numbers again: Only a third of my trip [500km out of 1400km] was on what is now recognised as the GHT. The numbers speak for themselves. I could not start out today, follow the same route and then claim to have completed the GHT.




Now, this is not a universal belief and I understand that everybody is free to make their own choice. But, to me an FKT can only be about SOMETHING. To me, a random set of dots on a map is not a basis for an FKT. I strongly believe an FKT needs a definite line to be followed or a specific goal. So, now that I have no longer run the GHT, and have “merely” crossed Nepal, I am going to withdraw my claim to an FKT as well. After all, the real prize is the high route. And as such, Lizzy Hawker with her journey in 2017 is the true queen.


With this in mind, my adjusted claim this thus as follows: I completed a crossing of Nepal that included 7 5000m passes and parts of the high route. I spent a lot of time in the lower regions, more of which was on road than I would have liked. I had fun every day, and it shows in the photos. I have may very pleasant memories of the adventure. As such, I only gained and will lose nothing by denouncing the claim.


Kind regards

Andrew Porter