Saturday, July 25, 2015

Green Lakes Trek: Panorama from Rest Camp

South Col Expeditions trekked the route to the north-east base camp of Kangchenjunga in the Zemu Valley, North Sikkim. Here is a video from  our Green Lakes trek which gives a good idea of the terrain and the vews

Green Lakes is controlled by a strict permit system which some times takes months to get. However, those who are tenacious enough to follow this up usually get the permit and will be rewarded with a superb trek through pristine country.

The forests of the Zemu valley are quite amazing as are the mountains.

This was my second visit to Green Lakes after 1987 and I was saddened to see that the fair size pool of water had now dried up and become a small muddy pond.

For more information on the Green Lakes trek please visit the following links

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Mountain Range on Pluto named after Tenzing Norgay

  NASA today named a mountain range on the planet Pluto as Norgay Montes after  Tenzing Norgay, who was the first person to  reached the summit of Everest with Edmund Hillary on May 29th 1953 after seven expeditions spanning eighteen years! 

Despite repeated requests to the Indian Government to honour Tenzing with the Bharat Ratna, this has not yet happened. 

The honour bestowed on him by NASA, coming out of the blue, is more than welcome. The video below (courtesy NASA) gives a flyover of the mountains of Pluto

For more information on NASA's mapping of the planet Pluto please visit

Friday, July 17, 2015

Kangchenjunga and Makalu | Sixty Years since the First Ascent

Kangchenjunga as seen from above Green Lakes in the Zemu Valley, North Sikkim

It is sixty years since the first ascent of Kangchenjunga in 1955. Kangchenjunga was first climbed on 25 May 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition followed by Norman Hardie and Tony Streather the next day. They stopped short of the summit as per the promise given to the Chogyal that the top of the mountain would remain inviolate. But the route from the Zemu valley shown in this photograph remained unclimbed until an Indain expedition led by Col "Bull' Kumar summitted the peak from the north east spur in 1977. This was only the second ascent of the mountain. This was the same difficult route that had beaten the Germans under Paul Bauer in 1929 and 1931. But, as far as I know, the east face direct route on Kangchenjunga is still waiting  for world class alpinists. This may remain one of the last great unclimbed faces in the Himalaya!

Makalu as seen from the Rhenjo La pass above the lakes of Gokyo
It is sixty years since the first ascent of Makalu in May 1955.A spectacular mountain it is not seen very often from the Everest region. Makalu was first climbed by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy on May 15th 1955. They were part of a  French expedition led by Jean Franco. Franco, G. Magnone and Sardar Gyaltsen Norbu summitted  on May 16th 1955  followed by Bouvier, S. Coupe, Leroux and A. Vialatte on the 17th May. This was an amazing achievement at the time to have the majority of expedition members summit, especially on such a difficult peak. Prior to this time, summits were reached by 1-2 people at most with the rest of teams providing logistical support before turning around and heading home. The French team climbed Makalu by the north face and northeast ridge, via the saddle between Makalu and Kangchungtse (the Makalu-La), establishing the standard route. The trek to Makalu base camp from Tumlingtar is a route which is also not very popular in the Nepal Himalayas mainly due to the long approach to the mountain. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nikon | Three New Lenses Announced July 2015

Nikon announced the introduction of three new lenses to be available from July 2015:

AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80 2.8-4 ED VR

  The AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is constructed of 17 elements in 13 groups, and features a seven-blade diaphragm to create a circular, natural bokeh. It weighs in at 16.1 oz. / 480 grams. For fast, accurate and quiet AF performance, the 16-80mm also features Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology.  This lens will replace the ever popular 16-85 VR which was one of the much loved standard zooms for DX bodies. It will be available in July for a suggested retail price of $1,069.95 (USD).  Recommended for DX shooters looking for a light and fast  standard zoom.

AF-S Nikkor 500mm F4E ED VR

The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR super telephoto weighs 6.8 lbs./3090 grams and combines two fluorite elements and three Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements. It will also be available in mid-July for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $10,299.95 (USD). It measures 15.2 in. length (387.0 mm). The lens replaces the earlier 500 mm Nikkor. Both the 500mm and 600 mm below have a F4 aperture and VR so the decision between the two is the 100 mm extra on the 600, the weight and length of the lens and the price of the 600 vs the 500.

AF-S Nikkor 600mm F4 ED VR

 The AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR super telephoto weighs 8.3 lbs. /3810 grams and features two fluorite lens elements and four ED elements. It will be available in mid-July with a suggested retail price of $12,299.95 (USD). It measures 17 in. length (432.0 mm). This lens replaces the earlier 600 mm lens and it targeted at wild life and sports shooters.

For more information on these new lenses do visit


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