Sunday, June 29, 2014

Treks with South Col Expeditions - December 2014

South Col Expeditions ( will be running two treks in Nepal this December! There are limited seats so all those who are interested should sign up soon! The details of the treks are below:

 The Langtang Valley Trek  Nov 30th to Dec 8th 2014 Kathmandu to Kathmandu
A very beautiful though undertrekked region the Langtang has a lot of offer - forests, bird life, swift rivers and of course high mountains. Join South Col on this trek and climb a peak at the end Tsergo Ri! Here are some photos from past treks

The Annapurna Foothills Trek December 21st to 28th 2014 Kathmandu to Kathmandu
A six day ramble  in the Annapurna foothills is an ideal first trek and suitable for families and children. Enjoy awesome views from Austrian Camp and Poon Hill. I call this the best bang for the buck trek - great mountains with minimum effort and lower altitudes. Here are some photos from past treks 

For testimonials from other south col trekkers please do visit

South Col is a member of  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tenzing Norgay: Centenary Presentation on 27th June 2014

Tenzing Norgay was born in Tibet in 1914. To commemorate his birth centenary, I am presenting a slide show on the life of this great mountaineer on June 27th 2014 at 6.30 pm in Kolkata. All mountain lovers are welcome!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Annapurna Sanctuary: An Essay in Black and White

South Col Expeditions trekked to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) in April 2014. Despite being spring, the weather was more like winter and it snowed every evening above 3500 metres. This is a black and white essay of the region between Deorali and Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

Icicles and Macchapuchare

Macchapuchare, the lodges of ABC and the Anatoli Boukreev memorial

Gandharva Chuli on the eastern rim of the Sanctuary

On the trail between Deorali and Machapuchare Base Camp

Trekkers descending from ABC

Annapurna I south face at dawn
For more images from the ABC trek please do visit

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mallory of Everest

Last photo of Mallory & Irvine by Odell

Exactly ninety years ago on this day George Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanished into the mists of Everest and were never seen again. Noel Odell, a climber from the expedition had the last sighting of the duo which is described below: 

“The entire summit ridge and final peak of Everest were unveiled,” Odell wrote to the Times a week after Mallory and Irvine had disappeared. “My eyes became fixed on one tiny black spot silhouetted on a small snow-crest beneath a rock-step in the ridge; the black dot moved. Another black dot became apparent and moved up the snow to join the other on the crest. The firs then approached the great rock-step and shortly emerged at the top; the second did likewise. Then the whole fascinating vision vanished, enveloped in cloud once more.”

 Mallory was a prolific writer and his letters from Everest to his wife Ruth make very interesting reading. In this post today I recall some of his best known quotes:

Ruth & George Mallory
What is the use of climbing Everest?
"It is of no use.'There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” 


“How to get the best of it all? One must conquer, achieve, get to the top; one must know the end to be convinced that one can win the end - to know there's no dream that mustn't be dared. . . Is this the summit, crowning the day? How cool and quiet! We're not exultant; but delighted, joyful; soberly astonished...Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No..and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction. . . fulfilled a destiny. . . To struggle and to understand - never this last without the other; such is the law. . .” 

Mallory & the sherpas  1922
“I suppose we go to Mount Everest, granted the opportunity, because—in a word—we can’t help it. Or, to state the matter rather differently, because we are mountaineers…. To refuse the adventure is to run the risk of drying up like a pea in its shell.”

Irvine & Mallory
  “For the stone from the top for geologists, the knowledge of the limits of endurance for the doctors, but above all for the spirit of adventure to keep alive the soul of man.” 

Mallory & his daughter Claire

 Why climb Everest?  “Because it's there.” 

"We will stomp to the top with the wind in our teeth"

"I look back on tremendous efforts & exhaustion & dismal looking out of a tent door on to a dismal world of snow and vanishing hopes."

"The highest of the world's mountains, it seems, has to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be the lord of all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Approach to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek

With the construction of roads in the Annapurna foothills, there are now a number of alternative approaches to the ABC Trek. All these options can also be used as exit points as well. 

Phedi is a 40 minute drive from Pokhara along the Beni-Baglung road. This was the preferred approach to the ABC trek but there is a 550 metre ascent from Phedi to Dhampus on the very first day itself which is hard going! Many trekkers now take the alternatives routes given below, but this option may be a good one on the descent. (Phedi to Dhampus 3 hrs)

View from Dhampus above Phedi

Around thirty minutes further up from Phedi on the same road lies Kande. This approach is now gaining in popularity as  there is only a 200 metre climb to the ridge at Austrian Camp (wrongly marked as Australian Camp!) and then a half hour down to Pothana. The Austrian Camp is well worth a night stop and there are spectacular views from here. (Kande to Austrian Camp 1 hr 30 min)

Birethanti- Kimche
Beyond Kande, the road reaches Nayapul and then Birethanti. This used to be the approach for trekkers wanting to reach Ghandrung on the first day. But now it is possible to drive beyond Birethanti to Kimche and then walk for an hour and a half uphill to  Ghandrung -  both buses and jeeps ply on this road from Pokhara. It is possible to get a bus to Pokhara while descending from Ghandung from Kimche though the road is not very good.

The road near Birethanti
There is now a road upto Landrung and there is a jeep service (shared) from Pokhara to Landrung every morning. The jeep takes around 3 hours. The road is not good. I did not use the jeep service but found  jeeps at the Landrung jeep stand! This can shorten the ABC trek  by a day and a half!

The jeep stand at Landrung
Good luck for your trek! For more information on the full route please do visit and for photos please visit


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