Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Magical Khumbu

Ama Dablam

This is the first April after many years that I will not be in the Khumbu - doing a trek either to Kala Pattar or Gokyo or both! There has been a lot of writing on different blogs about the different expeditions and their entry into the Khumbu There was a long spell of bad weather and snow and this both delayed and cancelled the infamous flight to Lukla! That has now improved though it is still raining/snowing every afternoon!
Lukla airport

Many of the teams are there to trek to Everest base camp and that magical high point Kala Pattar, while the more intrepid get ready to make an attempt on Everest itself.

Namche Bazar and Kwangde

The Icefall doctors have completed their new route through the Khumbu icefall and the expeditions begin to move through Namche Bazar. After the mandatory two acclimatisation days, they head onto base camp through Tengboche, Dingboche, Lobuche and Gorak Shep.

There is a feeling of longing of wanting to be there - is that beautiful pink rhododendron just below the Sagarmatha National Park headquarters - it it in full bloom again? The trail comes up in vivid colour with those enormous peaks piercing the clouds as the trekkers climb up the famous Namche hill - a nemesis for many!

Rhododendron tree near Jorsale

So what will I be doing this spring? Heading to Mustang the fabled forbidden former kingdom of Lho tomorrow and then in May on a sixteen day circuit of Manaslu!

And the Khumbu? It will be November this year!

Kangtega and Thamserku from Luza

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Malli Mastan Babu R.I.P.

The disappearance of Indian climber Malli Mastan Babu in the Andes on March 24th 2015 provoked a lot of consternation  in the Indian climbing and trekking fraternity. Despite efforts being made to organise a helicopter  rescue for him as well as sending out search parties to find him, it was not to be.

As the newly set up facebook page "Rescue Malli Mastan Babu" commented " Mountains claimed its favourite child - RIP Malli Mastan Babu".

 In retrospect, it is interesting to look at some of the records which Babu made:

  1. He was the one of the  fastest  men to climb all the seven summits in the seven continents in 172 days, Jan 19 – July 10, 2006)!
  2. He was the only climber in the world to climb  seven summits on seven days of the week and one in each calendar month!
  3. He was also the only south Asian climber to achieve the seven summits climb!
  4. As an Indian he was the only mountaineer  to climb the seven summits and he was also the first Indian to summit Mt. Vinson Massif, the tallest peak of Antarctica and  Carstensz Pyramid, the tallest peak of Oceania.
  5. He was also the only climber from Andhra Pradesh to summit Mt. Everest!

Interesting Babu had a brilliant academic record - he was an  IIT engineer  from Kharagpur in 1998 and IIM graduate from Kolkata in 2004! But unlike his management colleagues from IIM who pursued a corporate career Babu pursued his passion with single   mindedness of purpose and utmost dedication!

R.I.P Malli Mastan Babu - a great loss for the climbing community and your country India.

Photographs courtesy the Facebook page "Rescue Malli Mastan Babu".

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Green Lakes Trek: North Sikkim, Outlook Traveller April 2015

The photo essay below was published in Outlook Traveller April 2015 issue.

For the full essay please do visit http://www.sujoydas.com/SujoyDas/The-Green-Lakes-Trek-in-the-Ze/

For more details about the Green Lakes trek do visit  www.southcol.com and for photographs of the Himalaya do visit www.sujoydas.com

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Langtang Trek: Kyanjin Ri Panorama Video

A team from South Col Expeditions trekked the amazing Langtang valley in December 2014. Some members of the team climbed from Kyanjin Gompa to the lower Kyanjin Ri viewpoint. Here is a video of the panorama from the viewpoint.

Descending from Kyanjin Ri in the late afternoon 

For some more  photographs on the Langtang valley trek please do  visit  http://www.sujoydas.com/Nepal-Himalaya/Langtang/

Friday, March 20, 2015

Poon Hill Trek: Kande- Ghandrung-Ghorepani-Birethanti

A first time South Col trekker did this beautiful five day route in the Annapurna foothills in December 2014. Kumudini  narrates her  experiences - this is an invaluable account for first time trekkers to the Himalaya!

Annapurna South and Huinchuli

My First Trekking Experience 

by Kumudini Hajra

It’s always further than it looks, it’s always taller than it looks and
it’s always harder than it looks
may well be the three cardinal rules for trekking.

Other than very few one-day trekking experiences in the monsoons on the outskirts of Mumbai, I am fairly new to trekking. I am not quite sure how I took fancy to the idea of doing a real trek, that too in the Himalayas. It was partly a desire to be in a really cold place; partly a desire to do something involving physical exercise; partly to try my hand at photography; or may be, it was just a desire to be close to nature.  So, I decided to trek in the Himalayas!

The trek was organised by South Col Expeditions, a Kolkata based company which specializes in treks and photo workshops in the Himalayas. Sujoy Das, the owner of South Col Expeditions, is the joint author and photographer of Sikkim- A Travellers Guide and author of Lonely Planet Nepal - for the Indian Traveller and has been trekking for 30 years in the Himalayan region. I chose Annapurna Foothills Trek, which follows a loop with splendid views of Annapurna and Machhapuchhre or Fish Tail mountains in Nepal. The duration of the trek was ideal as I had to be away for only eight days (Sunday to Sunday) with 6 days of trekking.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Poon Hill Sunset Panorama Video

Recently  I was at Poon Hill in December  2014 on a South Col Expeditions trek and it was a brilliant evening. So we went up for the sunset and this short video shows the awesome view!

For the names of  some of the peaks from Poon Hill see this  diagram below:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nikon D7200

Nikon has introduced a new top of the line DX body, the D7200 which follows the D7100 and D7000. As compared to the earlier D7100, the improvements can be summarised as under:

  • Upgraded image processor engine
  • Bigger buffer size
  • Increased low ISO capabilities going down to ISO 100
  • Now also with Group Area AF and Auto Area AF
  • More Picture Control options
The camera is an upgrade for the users of the D7100 and also the D7000.  

Looking at pricing the D7200 is around $ 1199 body only, a refurbished D7100 is now available for $699  whereas a  used D7000 is EX+ condition is available at www.keh.com at $ 449! The refurbished D7100 looks quite a steal!

Though the camera comes with some improved features, primarily the larger buffer size, I doubt it will be enough for those already using the D7100. However, users of the D7000 and the lesser DX Nikon bodies like the D90, D5000 series and D3000 series may well be tempted to upgrade to the D7200.

I suspect too that the initial pricing will stablise after a few months and the body should be available sub $1000 street!

Those DX users dreaming of a D400 to replace the D300/300s would possibly have to keep waiting - there does not seem any plan at Nikon's end to produce the D400 but one never knows! Nikon is full of surprises!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tenzing Norgay: Tiger of the Snows

On Sunday 15th March 2015 at 7 pm, I will be presenting a slide show on the life and times of Tenzing Norgay at India Habitat Centre, Gul Mohar Hall, New Delhi. All are welcome for this show. The invitation and other details are below.


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