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The Annapurna Trail – Risk Assessment of Trekking Routes by Miyamoto International


On the 25th of June, an international team of experts assessed the earthquake related damage on the Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. The team, from Miyamoto International, a global engineering and project management company comprised of an engineering geologist and structural engineering experts, supported by local mountain guides and conservation officers from the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). The research was funded from SAMARTH-NMDP, a program supported by UK-AID and on behalf of the government of Nepal through the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Touted as one of the best trekking routes in the world the Annapurna Trek is best known for its Himalayan panorama, with travelers often catching glimpses of Himalayas like the Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Machhapuchhre while on this trek in north central Nepal. The Annapurna Treks are among the most popular trekking routes in Nepal with tourists from 120 countries coming to Nepal solely for this trek with the numbers reaching more than 20,000 in 2014. In light of the popularity of these two treks the team assessed damage from the recent April/May earthquakes on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek (Pothana to Annapurna Base Camp) and the Annapurna Circuit Trek (Bhulbhele to Birethanti), which included a technical inspection of the main trekking routes and local villages around the two trails.

(Source: myrepublica.com)

“…assessed around 200 kilometers of trekking routes, using a combination of helicopter flyover and trekking….”

Ghandruk Village
Ghandruk Village

The team recommended that a detailed risk assessment should be undertaken at Bagarchhap because of slope instability risks. Until such time, staying overnight at Bagarchhap presented a huge risk to villagers and tourists.

Recommendations were also made for “Landslide No stopping for 2 kms.” signage to be placed on both sides of the new regolith landslide, north of Bhratang. The team also observed cliff instability on the northern side of Kagbeni (not Annapurna trek) where hotel/s located on cliff edge, near the blue hand rails, presented high risk in its current state.

The team suggested re-routing the track between Kimrong and Chomrong/Jhinu Danda (southern part of Annapurna Sanctuary Tracks) because it is within 2m fromthe edge of a failure. Warning signage “Danger cliffs and landslide hazard” is to be placed along this track to encourage travelers to use a new, safer track instead. The older section of a trail south of Ghasa that leads to an old foot bridge was suggested to be abandoned in favour of the road further west that leads to a newer bridge because of present landslide hazards.

“…bridges along the Annapurna Region were assessed with no damage found”

The team also proposed that awarning signage be placed between Bamboo and Annapurna Base Camp. The report also urged increased communicationbetween villages regarding landslides that may block rivers. More information should be displayed in prominent locations such as ACAP check posts.

Also, ‘Rockfall Hazard Area’ or ‘Landslide Hazard Area’ signs be placed on the trail at each end of the following villages – Tatopani,Ghasa, Tukuche (Existing dropout/cliff collapse hazard particularly to the northeast), Kagbeni, Chamje, Dharapani, Bagarchhap (High debris flow hazard), Chame (slope failure and cliff collapse hazard on northern side of river), Bhratang, Bamboo (Rockfall/wedge failure hazard), Deurali and in Machhapuchhre Base Camp.

“The report assessed potential geologic hazards such as Rockfall, landslides, debris flows and other related steep terrain hazards..“

The assessment was done on the Southwest Sector – Birethanti to Tukuche, the Northwest Sector – Tukuche to Muktinath, the Southeast Sector – Bhulbhule to Chame, the Northeast Sector – Chame to Thorung Phedi, the South Central Sector – Birethanti to Bamboo and also the North Central Sector – Bamboo to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). Overall the team assessed around 200 kilometers of trekking routes, using a combination of helicopter flyover and trekking to assess post-earthquake related damage.

From Bamboo to Annapurna Base Camp
From Bamboo to Annapurna Base Camp

The Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Sanctuary trails and villages covered in this study appear largely undamaged by landslides following the April/May earthquakes in 2015. Out of 250 buildings, earthquake damage was recorded in only 6 buildings, which can be repaired easily. Only 3 percent of all buildings used as accommodations for treks were damaged. Also 30 bridges along the Annapurna Region were assessed and no damage was found.

The Annapurna region is now open for business and the findings of the report are welcome news to many travelers who have had to put their plans to visit the region on hold due to the April/May Earthquake. The hope is that with technical assessment done, travelers will soon return to this region and help rebuild the local economy.

Along with the assessment of the Annapurna Region, the Miyamoto team has also assessed the Everest Base Camp region for post-earthquake related damage. For more information on the actual report prepared by Miyamoto International, please visit the following link:

www.miyamotointernational.com

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