Saturday, August 23, 2014

Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were two outstanding British mountaineers who vanished high  on the north ridge of Everest in 1982. In their memory, the Boardman Tasker Award is an annual prize for the best in mountain literature. There are 41 entries this year and choosing a winner would be a tough choice! The jury are also expected to read all the books so that is a difficult call!  For those of you who would like to start reading these books before the award is finalised, here is the list courtesy . Happy reading!

Entries for 2014

1Tears of the DawnISBN 978-0-9576817-0-5Jules LinesShelterstone
2THE K2 MAN (AND HIS MOLLUSCS)ISBN 978-1-906000-58-5Catherine MoorheadNEIL WILSON Publishing
3A Snow Goose & other utopian fictionsISBN 9781907090929Jim PerrinCinnamon Press
4THE ATHOLL EXPEDITIONISBN 978-1-78407309-1Alex RoddieSelf published, printed by Feed-a-read
5The Corbett Round, A unique continuous traverse of 219 Scottish mountainsISBN 978-0-9927716-0-7Manny GordonSelf published
8CLIMBING RAMABANG, One Irish climber's explorations in the Himlaya and his overland trip homeISBN 9781909461031Gerry GalliganVertebrate Publishing
9My Father, Frank, Unresting Spirit of EverestISBN 9781898573876Tony SmytheVertebrate Publishing
10Peak Rock, the history, the routesISBN 9781906148720Phil Kelly, Graham Hoey, Giles BarkerVertebrate Publishing
11Among Secret Beauties, A memoir of mountaineering in New Zealand and the HimalayasISBN 978-1-877578-48-9Brian WilkinsOtago University Press, NZ
12Fast and Free PETE LIVESEY, STORIES OF A ROCK CLIMBING LEGENDISBN 978-1-910077-01-6John Sheard and Mark Radtke2QT Limited Publishing
14FAR, FAR THE DISTANT PEAK, The Life of Wilfrid Noyce, Mountaineer, Scholar, PoetISBN 978-0-9574043-0-4Stewart HawkinsCurbans Books in collaboration with Amolibros
15A PASSION FOR MOUNTAINSISBN 978-0-7198-0719-0Hannah Burrows-SmithRobert Hale Ltd
16HIGHER GROUND: A mountain guide's lifeISBN 978-1-908-737-564Martin MoranSandstone Press
17IT'S A HILL, GET OVER IT, FELL RUNNING'S HISTORY AND CHARACTERSISBN 978-1-908-737-571Steve ChiltonSandstone Press
18THE SUNLIT SUMMIT, The Life of W.H.Murray ISBN 978-1-908-737-380Robin Lloyd-JonesSandstone Press
19Shackles of Convention, Women Mountaineers before 1914ISBN 978-1-85058-964-8Malcolm CraigSigma Press
20TEMPTING THE THRONE ROOM: Surviving Pakistan's Deadliest climbing Season 2013 ISBN 978-1-494-845-841John QuillenAmazon Creatspace
21NANGA PARBAT 1970,Tragedy and ControversyISBN 978-0-9563163-2-5Richard Sale and Jochen HemmlebCarreg Ltd
22Pirates of the Hourglass: Wrong No Beauty Jeffrey O-BrienJeffrey
23ADDICTED TO ADVENTURE, Between Rocks and Cold PlacesISBN 978-1-4729-0586-4Bob SheptonBloomsbury Publishing
24LURE OF THE MOUNTAINS: The Life of Bentley Beetham 1924 Everest Expedition mountaineerISBN 978-1-906148-94-2Michael D.LowesVertebrate Publishing
25The MantisISBN 978-1-906148-88-1Philip TempleVertebrate Publishing
26THE STEADY RUNNING OF THE HOURISBN 978-0-434-02233-5Justin GoWilliam Heinemann, Random House
27CHASING THE PHANTOM, In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow LeopardISBN 978-184819-172-3Eduard FischerSinging Dragon
28DICK ISCHERWOOD MOUNTAINEERISBN 978-178456-010-2Anthology Compiled by John AshburnerFast Print Publishing
29Letters from ChamonixISBN 978-0-9918076-3-5David StevensonImaginary Mountain Surveyors
30Clawing for the Stars, A Solo Climber in the Highest AndesISBN 978-1-4582-1323-5Bob VillarealAbbot Press
31LAW UNTO HIMSELFISBN 978-0-9875264-1-0Michael LawOpen Spaces Publishing
32My Father's Keep, A Journey of Forgiveness through the HimalayaISBN 978-1-49436-738-1Ed AbellSelf published
33HANGING ON A LIFE INSIDE BRITISH CLIMBING'S GOLDEN AGEISBN 9781910240007Martin BoysenVertebrate Publishing
34Doubling Back Ten Paths Trodden in MemoryISBN 978-1-908754-54-7Linda CracknellFreight Books
358000 metresISBN 978 185284 5483Alan HinkesCicerone Press
36The Cairngorms: A Secret HistoryISBN 978 1780271880Patrick BakerBirlinn Limited
37The Call of the MountainsISBN 9781 908373 70-0Max LandsbergLuath Press Ltd
38A Walk in the CloudsISBN 978 185284 726 5Kev ReynoldsCicerone Press
39The Alchemy of ActionISBN 978 0 9898551 1 2Doug RobinsonMoving Over Stone
40The Summit. How Triumph Turned to Tragedy on K2's Deadliest DaysISBN 978 1 84717 643 1Pat Falvey & Pemba Gyalje SherpaCo Published by O'Brien Press & beyond endurance publishing
41Travels in Zanskar-A Journey to a Closed KingdomISBN 978 1 908308 51 1Mark BoydenThe Liffey Press
Entries are shown in order received

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spicejet introduces Bagdogra-Kathmandu flight

On August 13th 2014, Spicejet introduced an international flight linking Bagdogra to Kathmandu. For those of you who are not familiar, Bagdogra is the airstrip in the Darjeeling foothills and serves as a major hub for Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars, Sikkim and the Bhutan foothills.

This thrice a week flight which will originate from Kolkata and fly to Kathmandu with one stop at Bagdogra will go a long way to fulfilling the needs of both tourists and local travellers in the region who earlier had to drive to Bhadrapur airport in Nepal and then fly to Kathmandu or make the long fifteen hour drive from Siliguri to Kathmandu.

This flight will operate three times a week — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “This is our first international flight from the state of West Bengal to Kathmandu. We believe this flight will not only facilitate tourism, but also be important for the growth of trade between the two neighbouring nations,” Kaneswaran Avili, chief commercial officer of SpiceJet Ltd, said.

With the introduction of this flight, SpiceJet will become first Indian airline to operate international flights between Kathmandu and Bagdogra. This new service will help the people in Kathmandu have comfortable connectivity with Bagdogra and Kolkata.

Spicejet has started with an introductory fare of Rs 99 plus taxes on the Bagdogra- Kathmandu sector.
With this connection, Kolkata also gets linked to Kathmandu  six days a week (excluding Sundays) as Air India is flying to Kathmandu from Kolkata four times as week.

One can also expect rationalisation of fares on the Kolkata-Kathmandu sector.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Nikon F2.8 Zoom Lenses

Nikon has a number of fast F2.8 zooms covering wide angle, normal and telephoto. These are the so-called "pro series" of lenses and have excellent optical and build quality though can be frightfully expensive and heavy!. These lenses can be used on DX bodies as well though I feel that other than the tele zooms, there are better DX options at a lower cost - e.g. the Nikon 12-24 f4 for the wide angle zoom and the 17-55 2.8 DX for a normal zoom. This post looks at some of these top of the line lenses:

The Wide Angle Zooms

Nikon 14-24 F2.8G New USD 1950-2100 970 grams

The 14-24 is rated as the best wide angle zoom ever made by Nikon and beats the performance of even some of Nikon's prime lenses. On the flip side it is heavy, expensive  and does not accept filters in the front of the lens. This is the lens you want to buy  if quality is paramount. For a review please do visit

Nikon 17-35 F2.8 Used USD 850-1200 745 g

This lens was the undisputed leader before the 14-24, but covers a longer range than the 14-24 on the top end! It is often used by landscape photographers and is still an extremely popular lens. Available used at half the price of  a new 14-24 it is still an excellent choice. and it is lighter.  For a review please visit

Nikon 20-35 F2.8 Used USD 400-600 640 g

This was the standard wide angle high speed zoom in the film days and it still holds its own on digital bodies. It covers four important focal lengths i.e. 20mm, 24mm, 28 mm and 35mm and with a fast 2.8 aperture can relly deliver stunning results in low light conditions. On the used market it has a very good price as well!  For a review please do visit

The Normal Zoom Lenses

Nikon 24-70F2.8G New  USD 1880-2000 900 g

The Nikon 24-70 f2.8 G is probably the gold standard for normal zoom lenses for full frame DSLRs. It is fast, sharp and effective. On the minus side the lens does not have VR, is heavy and expensive. For a review please visit

Nikon 28-70 F2.8 Used USD 800-950 935 g

This is  an almost  forgotten lens and hardly used nowadays but still very good. At around half the price of the 24-70, it is still a good choice if you can manage without 24mm! Built like a tank, it can stand a  lot of abuse in the field!  For a review please do visit

Nikon 35-70 F2.8 Used USD 250-500 665 g

This is another of Nikon's classics , way back from the film days! Smaller and lighter than the other zooms, it is capable of very good results but loses out to the 24-70  as it lacks 24mm and 28mm focal lengths! For a review of this lens please visit

The Telephoto Zooms

Nikon 70-200 F2.8G VR New 2375-2500 1460 g

This is again the gold standard in this range of tele zooms. There are two versions of this lens the new one is with VRII. With the fast aperture and VR it delivers outstanding performance again rivalling many prime lenses in the same focal length. For a review please see

Nikon 80-200 F2.8 ED AFS Used 750-1000 1450g

There are three versions of this lens and the best one is the two ring design with a tripod collar shown here. This was without doubt  the king in this focal length range  before the 70-200! The one touch versions are available for around USD 300-500 used  and are also very good value for money though I prefer the two ring version! Unlike the 70-200 it does not have VR.  For a review please visit

In another post to come soon I will review the F4 Nikon zooms so do stay  connected!

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