|Himalaya & CircumTrek
|Above, the mighty Chomolungma or Mount Everest proudly displaying her summit pyramid behind the Lhotse/Nuptse wall. Below, almost all travellers to the south
eastern corner of the Himalaya arrive in Kathmandu, a sprawling town lying at an altitude of 1300m. From here trekkers and climbers then move off to mountain
ranges such as Annapurna, Manaslu and the Everest region. Any visit should allow for a couple of days to take in the atmosphere in Kathmandu and not just treat
it as a transit town. However, you should be prepared to witness extreme squalor alongside the wealthier aspects of life that tourism brings. The rules of the road
are also quite different from the western world, although it all glides along rather well considering the amazing number of vehicles that fill the roads.
|This page is dedicated to my passion for the Himalayan mountains - a true wonder of the world in my opinion. Here is just a small sample of what the immense
Himalayan chain has to offer. Also, I have plans in the pipeline for trekking around individual and groups of 8000m mountains - CircumTrek™.
The thought of circumnavigating the world has been of interest for explorers for hundreds of years and a maritime circumnavigation was completed in 1522 by
Elcano. Circumnavigating islands by various means including kayak is nowadays popular. But what is CircumTrek™? By introducing the term CircumTrek™ I
intend to run treks were the goal is to circumnavigate mountains or mountain regions and thus travelling with clients though some of the most magnificent
mountain scenery the world has to offer - while never retracing one's steps. Very popular circular routes do already exist such as The Tour of Mont Blanc (see my
TMB page). However, I plan to introduce new circular treks away from the crowds and hopefully routes that have never been completed before. An ambition is also
to trek around the worlds’ fourteen 8000m mountains - a major expedition of more than 4000 km. Please read more in my brochure and enjoy this page.
|Below, the Bodhnath Stupa is one of the holiest sites in Kathmandu and it
is one of the largest spherical Stupas in the world at 40m high. Its
construction dates to around the year 500. In the square there are many
other buildings of interest including a Tibetan monastery and a workshop
or centre of teaching of the art of hand painting a Thangka which often
takes the form or depicts a Mandala - and in mind blowing detail (right).
Other sites or areas of interest in Kathmandu are the Swayambhunath
Temple (or monkey temple) sited on a hill top overlooking the town,
Durbar Square and of course Thamel for its vast variety of shops and
restaurants including the Rum Doodle with its 40000 1/2 feet bar.
|Above, prayer wheels and left, the popular hotel for trekking companies and
westerners generally is the Hotel Shankar. The hotel is of a good standard
with pleasant gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. The district of
Thamel is also only 15 minutes walk away. The hotel has quite a history
with climbers such as Bonnington, Whillans and Dougal Haston who
stayed here in the 70's prior to some of their big Himalayan expeditions.
When it is time to move on from the bustle of Kathmandu, the journey often
heads for the domestic terminal of the international airport and a short flight
to Lukla at 2800m above sea level. This small village is located on a
hillside with a compact airfield beyond belief. The picture below shows the
standing area and 475m long tilted runway. Flights in or out only operate in
good visibility, typically early morning, when 19-seater twin-otter planes
often fly one after another in groups of four. Obviously, delays do occur so
any trip should have the flexibility to allow for an overnight delay particularly
on the way out. The effects of altitude can become apparent at Lukla.
|As an alternative to the breathtaking flight to Lukla, it is also possible to walk here from the roadhead at Jiri (1905m) a town some 190km from Kathmandu. The
trail (usually to Choplung, passing below Lukla) takes 6 to 7 days but allows good acclimatisation and gets the legs into gear before the main Khumbu trail is
reached. Below, into the middle of October, the main trails get very busy often with a continuous stream of trekkers on the paths.
|Above, the cook team head off quickly after breakfast in order to have lunch prepared for us when we catch up with them later in the day. Here leaving after a nights
camp at Toktok. Below, crossing one of several wire suspension bridges over the Dudh Kosi, here at Larja Dobhan. Many prayer flags flutter in the breeze.
|Above, yaks are used as work horses, both for trekker's gear but also for
daily chores where the carrying of heavy loads are required. Below, the
impressive amphitheatre where the town of Namche Bazaar is located.
The town, perched on the hillside at 3400m, is the centre of all activity in
the Solu Khumbu district. Here you can get hold of just about any piece of
mountaineering kit including museum worthy items. At Namche, most
people certainly feel the altitude after ascending from the valley floor to the
town, and for this reason it is well advised to make a stop here of several
days before going on. Before reaching Namche, one passes into the
Sagarmartha National Park near Jorsale. Here permits are checked or
issued at the checkpoint. The establishment of the park has meant the
protection of wildlife, stopped deforestation and littering - as trek groups
are required to collect together their litter and take it out of the park.
Left, I am quite sure this is Gentiana Pyrenaica, this specimen
photographed at 4600m above Pheriche.
|Left, our climbing Sherpas enjoying the sunshine on the north east
facing balcony of the 12-room Everest View Hotel - the highest hotel in
the world. The hotel was opened in 1973 and is located a short distance
above Namche Bazaar at 3850m. The building is well camouflaged in
the pine trees. Here one can take in the views while sipping a cup of
lemon tea on the large balcony. The summit of Mount Everest is 27km
away as the crow flies. Below, the wonderful panorama with Nuptse,
Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam towering above the wooded valley of
the Imja Drengka gorge from the trail beyond Namche Bazaar. The
settlement of Phortse can be seen on the hillside left.
|Above and left, a capable and experienced cook team are
the essence of a successful expedition.
|Above, the Chorten just beyond Namche on the main Khumbu trail with the mighty southern flank of Lhotse dominating behind - despite the large distance to it.
Below, the fluted summit of Ama Dablam, judged by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the world. One route to the 6814m summit follows the ridge in view.
|Above, the village of Dingboche lying at 4350m, with the peaks of Thamserku behind. Dingboche has a wonderful open location with views in many directions and
of an unfamiliar angle on Ama Dablam. Dingboche can be reached in 5 or 6 days from Luckla including time for acclimatisation. Below right, a local carpenter
uses traditional hand tools to prepare timber and below left, a friend training fixed rope techniques in big gloves during a rest day close to Dingboche.
|Below, the village of Pheriche seen from Dusa. Pheriche lies just over 4200m and is regarded as quite a cold and windy place, getting less sun than Dingboche.
However, there is a medical aid post here which is manned by western doctors in the main season.
|Below, our porter ladened up ready for a trek across the Khumbu glacier near Lobuche and a crossing of the Kongma La (5535m).
Below right, Himalayan Edelweiss photographed with early morning dew at over 5000m, high in the Khumbu.
|Above, a night time shot of our camp with head torch trails and thousands of stars in the night sky above Lhotse's great south face which
is hiding in the darkness only 6km distant. Below, the breathtaking view from our camp of Lhotse shortly after dawn.
|Above, the memorial to Scott Fischer who passed away on Everest in 1996 - one of many memorials situated above Duglha. Below, a view of the popular Everest
viewpoint of Kalapatthar (5545m) and the settlement of Gorak Shep. Although this is one of the remotest parts of the Khumbu, there is an internet café and phones
to the outside world. Everest base camp on the south side is only 4km further on. Pumori (7165m) is hidden in cloud behind.
|Above, having fun with the Sirdar and one of our climbing porters after having put rocks in his rucksack earlier in the day. On treks the group can build up a good
relationship with the local team, despite language barriers. Above right, Ama Dablam from Chukhung with the north ridge in profile and the sharp peak of Amphu
Gyabjen. Below, the fantastic trail above Chukhung, here with the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge and Imja Tse or Island Peak right.
|In the mountains there is always a risk of changeable weather and in the Nepal Himalaya, the risk is greater the closer you are to the monsoon season - I have
certainly experienced unexpected snowfall. Above, the lower Khumbu glacier under heavy cloud and below, waking after a reasonable covering of snow at 5500m.
|Above, enjoying incredible conditions at 5500m with the view to the dramatic 6330m twin-peaked Ambulapcha.
Below, ascending steep snow on fixed ropes with tiny figures on the glacier below. Note the evidence of recent and earlier avalanches on the left.
|Above, in Chukhung (4700m) under a cloud base you could almost touch and below, looking out over Imja Tso, the glacial lake dammed by moraines a few
kilometers beyond Chukhung. The site is monitored by remote equipment as a sudden flood would have devastating consequences for the local communities.
|Above, the incredible 3000m high south face of Lhotse as view from about 6000m - the summit in an unbelievable 2000m further up!
Below, enjoying the good trail below Chukhung with mani stones and the beautiful peak of Taweche (6501m) beyond.