Thursday, January 30, 2014

Primulas below the Lhonak La Pass, North Sikkim

In the summer of 1987, I think it was late May, I walked with Brigadier Sidhu and Major B V Naresh of the Indian Army from Thangu in North Sikkim to the village of Muguthang in the Lhonak Valley. The route to Lhonak leads over the high Lhonak La pass which had a lot of snow even in  May. I remember reaching the top of the pass and then finding a sheer snow slope on the other side! Rather than cutting steps and walking down the snow slope, I just sat down on my bottom and slid down the slope reaching the bottom in record time!

About an hour after leaving Thangu we came to this  meadow at the bottom of the pass. . These primulas were blooming on the meadow.  Since that spring day in 1987, I have looked for these huge primulas elsewhere  in the Himalaya but am yet to find them  - they were perfection!

Looking at them, I was reminded of R.L. Holdsworth's comments in Frank Smythe's book The Valley of Flowers which I reproduce here.

" All of a sudden I realised that I was simply surrounded by primulas. At once the day seemed to brighten perceptibly. Forgotten were all pains and cold and lost porters. And what a primula it was! All over shelves and terraces it grew often with roots in running water. At the most it stood six inches high, but it's flowers were enormous in stature and ample in number.... In all my mountain wanderings I had not seen a more beautiful flower than this primula....."

My sentiments as well on seeing these primulas bloom below the pass on that misty May morning with snow threatening!
For more photographs of the Sikkim Himalaya please do visit

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek

 South Col Expeditions  is trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp this spring. This iconic trek covers the route to the south base camp of Annapurna I, the tenth highest mountain in the world. This route starts in the foothills close to Pokhara and climbs to 4030 metres and includes brilliant views of the Annapurna group, Macchapuchare, Gangapurna and many other Himalayan giants.

April 13th 2014 to April 24th 2014 Kathmandu to Kathmandu.

For details of the cost and other information please do e-mail for a trek pdf.

For photographs of the Annapurna region please do visit

For testimonials from past South Col clients please do visit


We travel the six/seven hour journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara in a micro bus with scenic views along the river valley.

The next morning we drive forty minutes to Phedi. We will start climbing to a ridge by traversing fields and forest and following a stone staircase, we reach to a small Hindu temple and then a short climb which will take us to Dhampus village. After a short break, we trek through the rhododendron forest and trails paved with stones and take a steep climb to Pothana village (2000 m). Lunch at Pothana. After lunch, the path slowly ascends until we reach Bhichowk Deorali (2149 m) from here we can see the view of Annapurna South and Hiunchuli. We then take a steep descent to Modi Khola and gently climb to a ridge and then take short descent to the village of Tolka (1810 m), our night stop. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Everest Base Camp Trek

South Col Expeditions treks to the Everest region every year. Here is a photo essay on the Everest trek:

The airport at  Lukla  2800 metres -the start of the trek
Prayer flags on the last bridge below Namche Bazar 

School children walk back from Khumjung down to Phunki Tenga every day as mist envelopes the trail

The sherpa capital - Namche Bazar

Monks at Thyanboche monastery
The trail between Dingboche and Dugla

Nuptse reflection at Lobuche

A porter carries his load upto Everest Base camp

The Scott Fischer memorial above Dugla

Pumori and the hill top of Kala Pattar

Everest from just below Kala Pattar

For more photographs from the Everest region please do visit

To join South Col on a trek in the Himalayas please do visit

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Langtang Valley Trek Photos

Amongst the three major trekking areas in Nepal, namely, Everest, Annapurna and Langtang, the Langtang valley is the most under trekked. Most of the big name peaks are in the Everest and Annapurna regions, so Langtang has always come third when selecting a trekking destination. In many ways this is real pity because Langtang offers pristine forests, rich bird life, monastic culture and above all some spectacular mountain views of the Langtang Himal topped by the shapely Langtang Lirung. Here are some photographs from the South Col Langtang Valley trek in November-December 2013:

Langtang Village and the peak of Gyan Chhenpo on the right - on the left is the peak of Tsergo Ri

Walking down from Kyanjin Ri viewpoint

Crossing a stream on the way to Langshisha Kharka beyond Kyanjin Gompa - Langtang Lirung in the background

Trail near Kyanjin Gompa

Streams and ferns in the forest near Bamboo

Timings of the trek!

For more photographs of the Langtang valley please do visit 
For an interesting account of the Langtang trek done thrirty years ago please do visit 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Five Most Popular Posts of 2013

The most popular posts on my blog  for 2013! Wish all my readers a very Happy New Year 2014 and all the very best!
    Three Passes of Everest
For the complete photo essay  please do visit For the trek click the header above

  Everest the West Ridge
On 21st May 1963 at six o’clock in the evening two climbers reached 27,205 feet (8300 metres) to set up Camp 5Won the west ridge of Everest. Tom Horbein a US anasthetologist then 32 years old and Willi Unsoeld , a mountain guide then 36 years of age were poised for the final push to the summit of Everest by a new route.
It had not been easy for these two men. The 1963 American Everest Expedition led by Norman Dyrenfurth had squarely set its sights on a first American ascent by the South Col route. On May 1st 1963, Jim Whittaker accompanied by Sherpa Nawang Gombu, Tenzing’s nephew, made the first American ascent to become the fifth and six men to stand of the summit after the British in 1953 and Swiss in 1954.... click the header to read more in the post

 Everest Sixty  Years After Part II
On June 8th 1924, around 12.50 pm, a British geologist was collecting fossils at around 26,000 feet on the north ridge of Everest. Noel Odell was climbing to Camp VI through the mist when suddenly the entire summit ridge and the final peak of Everest were unveiled.  Odell sighted two climbers on a rock step far above and as he watched their dramatic appearance, the mountain became enveloped in cloud. The climbers were Mallory and Irvine, who were never seen again and to this day there is intense speculation on whether they reached the summit... clcik the header to read more in the post

The Dzongri/ Goecha la Trek in Sikkim
“Our moon was almost full.. the nearer snows were but faint and indistinct, while between their pale shadowy masses the whole peak of Kangchenjunga was fully illuminated as by a heavenly searchlight. The rock and ice were transfigured into a silver shrine, a visionary emblem of purity and aspiration. The worship of Kangchenjunga at that moment seemed very reasonable service." Round Kangchenjunga by Douglas Freshfield 1899.  Click the header to read more in the post

The  Imja Khola Valley in Nepal 
In the shadow of the highest mountain in the world lies a land of high passes, flower drenched meadows and massive glaciers. The Imja Khola is one of the rivers that flows down from the upper reaches of the Imja glacier and joins the Dudh Kosi at Thyanboche. This essay covers the Imja valley.... Click the header to read more in the post


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