Monday, August 23, 2010

Himalayas: Weather



If you read any guide book on the Himalaya or on trekking in the Himalayan region, you will invariably be told that the post-monsoon season is the best time to trek in the mountains. Clear blue skies, superb mountain views, mild sunny days and crisp cold nights are all forecast for the trekker.  You will also be told that the pre monsoon season i.e. March to May is the second best time to be in the mountains with mild showers in the evening but clear morning and the weather getting warmer as you approach the monsoon. Further, according to the guide books, trekking in the monsoon is strictly a “no no” and if the heavy rains and landslides don’t make your trek a nightmare, the leeches will! And of course the winter is so cold that no sane individual would venture into the high altitude at that time!

So what is the real story on Himalayan weather?

I have trekked in the Himalayas in all seasons, including the winter (Everest 2003-04), the monsoon (Sikkim 2000) and numerous autumn and spring treks.

One October I remember visiting Kathmandu airport every morning for the flight to Lukla and returning to our hotel at lunchtime. It rained for three days incessantly and the Lukla flight could not take off. Finally on the fourth day it did take off  and made a hair raising landing at Lukla narrowly missing the hill in front of the airstrip. Surprisingly the very next day the weather cleared and we did not get any rain for the next two weeks during our trek.

Again, walking the Annapurna circuit in October I remember repeated day after day of afternoon rain up the Marsyandi valley. One downpour near the village of Chame was so heavy that we sheltered in a bamboo hut and managed to stay dry until the rain stopped.

In December 2009 I trekked with a South Col group to Poon Hill in the Annapurna region and surprisingly other than the morning at Ghorepani, the rest of the days had cold, cloudy weather very unusual for December.

The rain shadow regions of the Himalaya like Ladakh, Zanskar, Lahoul and Spiti possibly get the best weather in the monsoon season July to September.

So in my opinion, good weather is a gamble. What with global warming, rapid deforestation and urbanization, the weather is no longer predictable. Every season has something special to offer so select your season and hope for some great views and weather!

4 comments:

  1. I did the Annapurna Circuit in April this year and it was a great experience. I was quite lucky with the weather. Hot in the lower elevations but cold up along Thorung La, light drizzle in some spots but not for very long. Made for excellent trekking and stunning views!

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  2. Hi Connie,
    That sort of weather is ideal. We are doing Everest trek next April and hopefully the weather will be perfect!

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  3. I've always wanted to follow a good blog on the Himalayas and I'm happy to have found yours. Have you been to Tibet? If so,I'd love to read about it!

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