Thursday, December 21, 2017

Everest Base Camp Trek | The Best Season ?

I am often asked which is the best time to trek in the Everest region? Is it April and October? Interestingly things have changed a lot including the weather so this post covers the seasons and the pros and cons of trekking in the Everest region.

This is peak winter -  temperatures at Gorak Shep (5150 metres) would be around -20C at night - water would be frozen but in all likelihood the weather would be clear but snow is on the cards. You need good warm down  jackets and a -20C sleeping bag to be comfortable. There will be few trekkers so you would have the lodges to yourself.

From mid February the weather would begins to warm up marginally but it can be uncertain - rain and hail lower down and snow above 4000 metres. Some days can also be sunny and exceptionally clear with low humidity. Few trekkers again so the lodges would be free. Not a bad time to go if you want to avoid the crowds and don't mind the occasional snow storm!

The trekking numbers would increase by early March. Warmer weather would see possibility of occasional rain and snow. By end March the trekking season would have picked up and flights would start to become busy. If you want to go in spring then mid to end March is a good start.

This is considered to be the second best season after October. It is spring and the rhododendrons and other flowers are in bloom creating a spectacular display of colour. The mornings are generally clear with clouds rushing in by noon and rain and snow possible in the afternoons. The weather is of course much warmer than February- March. This month sees the maximum number of trekkers after October.
The numbers of trekkers start going down as the monsoon approaches. There can be regular pre-monsoon showers in May and mountains can be cloudy and foggy especially in late May. Flights to and from Kathmandu to Lukla also can be cancelled due to weather conditions. However, the floral spectacle especially above Namche is spectacular so if you want to see flowers this is the time to go!

June to September
These are the monsoon months. Flights to Lukla will often be delayed or cancelled due to rains and fog. Mountain views are few as the clouds dominate the valleys and peaks. On some days if you are lucky the sun will break through and you can see a peak floating through the clouds. There will be hardly any trekkers so no crowds. It's very green in the Khumbu at this time and flowers in the high meadows.

This is the peak season for the Everest trek. Flights are packed and so are the lodges. However for the last few years, it has been raining until mid October due to the delayed monsoon and the first two weeks have seen bad weather and many cancellations of the Lukla flight. I would avoid October if you can both for the weather issues and the crowds. Once the monsoon retreats you can be assured of clear skies and sunny warm days.

November in fact is the new October with clear days low humidity few clouds and mountain views every day - this  is the typical post monsoon weather which remains until mid December. It would be the first choice for Everest trekkers - the stability in the weather ensures that the Lukla flight can fly until 11 am on most days. Night temperatures at Gorak Shep would be between -10C and -12C,

It would be colder than November but until mid December the clear weather would continue. Crowds would be thinning as most people would be returning - flights would also not be so busy and tickets easy to get. Temperatures in Gorak Shep would be -15C at night. Recommended with a good down jacket and a four season sleeping bag!

The statistics at the entry point Jorsale for 2017 and part of 2018 is below:

For our fixed 2018 departure for the Everest trek in November 2018  do visit

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yeti | The Myth is dismissed

Edmund Hillary, one of the first two people to scale Mount Everest, and Khunjo Chumbi, a Nepali village elder, hold what was then thought to be the scalp of yeti, in Calcutta, India, on December 9, 1960. AP Photo

Study dismisses myth of the yeti with bear facts

Purported samples from wild man of the Himalayas are found to be from local bear population

Nearly every time Sujoy Das leads a trekking group in the Himalayas, he gets the question, asked half in jest, half in hope. Has he ever spotted signs of the yeti?

Mr Das guides treks on some of the mightiest Himalayan peaks — Everest, Annapurna, Gangapurna — and through the Nepali valleys that lie in between. This is the terrain where the myth of the yeti — or the Abominable Snowman — first arose, and where it still persists. A hirsute, apelike creature, taller than most human beings, the yeti and its legend grew out of old local tales about wild men living in the mountains.

European explorers seized upon the mystery and expanded it, reporting glimpses of the creature or finding outsize footprints in the snow. Every Everest expedition seemed to keep half an eye cocked for the yeti or its tracks; one British mountaineer took photos of footprints twice the size of the average adult human's foot.

The fascination has not died down. “In Nepal and in the Everest region, this question always comes up. Has anyone see a yeti?” Mr Das said, who lives in Kolkata and runs South Col Expeditions. "The local people say they have, but we don’t know if it is actually one. I always say: ‘No, I haven't seen one.’”

A new genetic study of nine purported yeti samples, however, may put the legend into deep freeze forever. The results, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggested that eight of the samples were from a different sort of shaggy, wild creature: a bear. (The one remaining sample came from an even less elusive creature: a dog.)

Charlotte Lindqvist, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of Buffalo, New York, who led the study, called it “the most rigorous analysis to date” of relics of the so-called yeti.

Ms Lindqvist first became involved in the yeti myth in 2014, when other researchers contacted her to compare the genes in two purported yeti hair samples with those in a 120,000-year-old polar bear fossil she was working on.

“But the data was very limited, and it made me suspicious about the speculation that the yeti legend represented some strange, hybrid bear roaming the Himalaya mountains,” Ms Lindqvist said. “So I agreed to follow up on this study with a more rigorous approach based on more genetic data from more purported yeti samples.”

The samples came from everywhere: hair found in Tibet in the 1930s; a fragment of leg bone, coloured a toasted brown, recovered from a mountain cave; a tooth and a lump of petrified faeces, which had been carefully stored in an Italian museum devoted to the alpinist Reinhold Messner.

Mountaineers and explorers have hunted for the definitive yeti sample throughout the 20th century. In 1961, Edmund Hillary, one of the first two men to climb Everest, led an expedition to Nepal purely in quest of the yeti.

“He went to Khumjung, a monastery above Namche Bazaar [in Nepal], where a yeti scalp was preserved by the headman of the village,” Mr Das told The National. “Hillary got the headman’s permission to take the scalp, to get it tested.”

One of the villagers accompanied Hillary on his trip. “They thought: ‘Hillary is a foreigner. He doesn’t know what this is, or what the value of it is to them,’” he said. “So they did this world tour with the scalp, meeting anthropologists and so on. The net result: the experts said it was the scalp of a Tibetan blue bear.”

Others have also advanced the theory that the various bits of the yeti — footprints, hair, bone samples — came from a species of bear. In his new book yeti: The Ecology of a Mystery, the conservationist Daniel C Taylor, who has searched for signs of the yeti ever since he was a child growing up in India, concludes that the footprints most probably belong to an Asiatic black bear.

Ms Lindqvist and her team compared their nine samples with 15 others that were known to be from local bear populations. Previous research had hinted at an unknown type of bear, but eight of the nine yeti samples proved to belong conclusively to well-known types of black and brown bears.

An inkling of this ursine identity has existed all along. In 1921, the British explorer Charles Howard-Bury, having found footprints in the snow, was told by his Sherpa guides that they belonged to the “metoh-kangmi”, a wild creature living in the snows.

Later writers misinterpreted “metoh” as “filthy” and replaced it with the more elegant “Abominable”. But a knowledge of the Tibetan language would have provided the clue, for the words “metoh kangmi” translate to “man-bear of the snows”.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mustang Nepal | The Trans Himalaya

Cultivated fields of Chuksang

Mustang (from the Tibetan möntang (Wylie: smon-thang), Nepali: मुस्तांग Mustāṃg "fertile plain"), formerly Kingdom of Lo, is a remote and isolated region of the Nepalese Himalayas. The Upper Mustang was a restricted demilitarized area until 1992 which makes it one of the most preserved regions in the world, with a majority of the population still speaking traditional Tibetic languages. Tibetan culture has been preserved by the relative isolation of the region from the outside world.

The Upper Mustang comprise the northern two-thirds of Mustang District of Dhawalagiri Zone, Nepal. The southern third of the district is called Thak and is the homeland of the Thakali, who speak the Thakali language, and whose culture combines Tibetan and Nepalese elements. Life in Mustang revolves around tourism, animal husbandry and trade.

Mustang's status as a kingdom ended in 2008 when its suzerain Kingdom of Nepal became a republic. The influence of the outside world, especially China, is growing and contributing to rapid change in the lives of Mustang's people. from Wikipedia

Some images from Mustang are below:

Monastery Tsarang

Ploughing the fields outside Drakmar village

Entrance of Drakmar

Man made plantations Gheling

Pass of Mui La 4170 m on the road to Ghar Gompa

Village of Geling

North of Lo Manthang


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