Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nicholas Roerich and his love affair with Kangchenjunga

Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) is best known as a painter but he was also a prolific writer. He produced five books the most famous being Altai Himalaya and Shambala.

Roerich was also predominantly a "mountain artist" and I have been quite surprised to see the number of paintings he did of Kangchejunga and the Himalayan ranges from Darjeeling and also Kalimpong. After a long expedition in Asia from 1923 to 1928, the Roerich family settled in Darjeeling and it was during this time that most of these paintings were done. Roerich later moved to Naggar near Manali in Himachal Pradesh and passed away there in 1947.

Some of his most outstanding works on Kangchenjunga are below:

Many of these works are available as prints on the internet. Do visit

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

For more details about the Green Lakes trek do visit and for photographs of the Himalaya do visit


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