Saturday, September 22, 2018

Everest 2018 | Photographs

The autumn treks in the Everest region will soon be underway and October and November 2018 promises to be a very busy season. The lure of Everest is difficult to resist and here are some photographs of the mountain from different locations over the years:

Moorise near Kala Pattar

Everest and the Lhotse - Nuptse wall from Thyanboche

Above the fifth lake of Gokyo

Approaching Kala Pattar

Sunset view Gokyo Ri 
For our treks in Nepal do visit

Friday, September 14, 2018

Banff Mountain Book Festival Longlist 2018

Selection of book finalists
Photo Courtesy : Banff Mountain Book Festival

The Banff Mountain Book Festival Long list 2018 has been announced. As usual there is an outstanding collection of books which will make it very difficult for the jury to select the winners. The list of books in the long list is below:

Adventure Travel
$2000 - Sponsored by Fjällräven

Atlas of a Lost World
Craig Childs, Pantheon Books (USA, 2018)

Lands of Lost Borders
Kate Harris, Penguin Random House Canada (Canada, 2018)

The Last Wild Men of Borneo
Carl Hoffman, HarperCollins (USA, 2018)

Mountain Fiction & Poetry

As Above, So Below
Chris Kalman, Mascot Books (USA, 2018)

Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades
Paul Willis, Stephen F. Austin State University Press (USA, 2018)

The Eight Mountains
Paolo Cognetti, Penguin Random House - Vintage (UK, 2018)

Susan Froderberg, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (USA, 2018)

Mountain Literature – Non-Fiction
$2000 - Sponsored by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

A Mountaineer's Life
Allen Steck, Patagonia Books (USA, 2017)

Edmund Hillary: A Biography
Michael Gill, Potton and Burton (NZ, 2017)

End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage and Motherhood
Jan Redford, Penguin Random House Canada (Canada, 2018)

Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei
Junko Tabei and Helen Rolfe, Rocky Mountain Books (Canada, 2017)

Tides: a climber's voyage
Nick Bullock, Vertebrate Publishing (UK, 2018)

Mountain Environment and Natural History
$2000 – Sponsored by Town of Banff

Bert Riggall's Greater Waterton: A Conservation Legacy
Beth Russell-Towe, Fifth House Publishers (Canada, 2018)

Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada's Last Great Trees
Harley Rustad, House of Anansi Press (Canada, 2018)

The Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
Nate Blakeslee, Penguin Random House Canada (Canada, 2017)

Mountain Image
$2000 – Sponsored by Lake O'Hara Lodge

Claes Grundsten, Bokförlaget Max Ström (Sweden, 2017)

The Canadian Rockies: Rediscovered
Paul Zizka, Rocky Mountain Books (Canada, 2017)

Searching for Tao Canyon
Pat Morrow, Jeremy Schmidt and Art Twomey, Rocky Mountain Books (Canada, 2018)

$2000 – Sponsored by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides

Higher Education
Andy Kirkpatrick (Ireland, 2018)

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Northern California
Philip Kramer, Mountaineers Books (USA, 2018)

The Index Town Walls: A Guide to Washington's Finest Crag
Chris Kalman and Matthew Van Biene, Sharp End Publishing (USA, 2017)

Scotland's Winter Mountains with one axe
Garry Smith, Northern Edge Books (UK, 2018)

Squamish Rockclimbs
Kevin McLane and Andrew Boyd, High Col Press (Canada, 2018)

Mountaineering Article
$2000 – Sponsored by the University of Alberta and the Alpine Club of Canada

Alison Criscitiello, Alpinist Magazine (USA, August 2017)

The Force of the Soul
James Edward Mills, Alpinist Magazine (USA, November 2017)

Suicides and Pirates
Andrew Allport, The Climbing Zine (USA, March 2018)

The Other Annapurna
Ed Douglas, Rock and Ice Magazine (USA, July 2018)

Mountaineering History

All titles that are shortlisted in the categories above that have a theme of mountaineering history are eligible for this award.

Grand Prize – The Phyllis and Don Munday Award
$4000 – Sponsored by the Alpine Club of Canada

The shortlist of category award winners eligible for the Grand Prize will be announced in mid-October.
The Grand Prize will be announced Thursday, November 1, 2018 at Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival and category awards will be presented to winning authors.

For  more information do visit:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Spiti Homestays in the Left Bank Villages

The village of Lhalung 
The village of Lhalung (3800 metres)  is now connected to the district headquarters of Spiti, Kaza, by a motorable road but is also possible to walk to Lhalung from Komic and Demul. We stayed at Khabrick Homestay in Lhalung run by Tashi Khabrik and his charming wife Dolma.  Tashi is extremely knowledgeable about the region and also works as a trekking guide in summer for treks across Parang La  to Tso Moriri and other areas in Spiti. He can be contacted at and +91 9418962704. Lhalung has a splendid monastery on top of the hill and for tourists visiting Dhangkar, a visit to Lhalung just an hours drive away is strongly recommended. Alternatively, the Spiti left bank trek starting from Lhangza passes through Komic, Demul, Lhalung and then onto Dhangkar.

Tashi , Dolma and their little girl outside their homestay
 In the village of Komic , we stayed at the Kunga Homestay at an altitude of 4500 metres. Kunga Chorden, a young lad of 23 years who runs the home stay with his wife provides very comfortable accommodation with good food. Kunga later accompanied us on our three day trek from Komic to Dhangkar. His phone nos are 01906 200050 and +91 9459981295. He can be also contacted through Mr Ramesh Lotay of Spiti Holiday  Adventures in Kaza at +91 9418439247/ +91 1906 222711. Ramesh Lotay is also on e mail 

A sunny room at Kunga Homestay, Komic

The village of Komic

For more information on Spiti and the Spiti Left Bank trek please do visit

Monday, September 3, 2018

Rumtse to Tso Moriri | Trekking in Ladakh

If you are fit, well acclimatised and have been above 5000 metres before,  I recommend this trek. The trails are relatively free of noisy tourists who prefer the great herd at Markha. Here, the rolling, billowing grasslands stretching out as far as the horizon are usually empty, giving one the sense of infinite, almost primordial space. Occasionally you will chance upon a nomad on horseback herding his great lumbering, shaggy yaks. Ranging across the western extension of the high Tibetan or Changthang plateau, the trek starts at over 4000 m at Ponganabu on the shores of Tso Kar Lake , well above that throughout, often peaking over 5000m at the passes. And though this at first may be daunting, once you have acclimatised the walk is surprisingly easy on the legs as the trails— mostly well-defined stone and gravel-free paths— meander gently through velvet-soft pastures. . This area is colder and windier than other treks in Ladakh, so ensure you have a good parka and a warm sleeping bag.

Who should join this trek?
A good choice for regular hill walkers, high level of fitness required. Prior trekking experience is advisable
1) Walking times: average 5 to 8 hours walking per day
2) Altitude: up to 5,450 metres - most of the trek stays above 4000 metres with passes above 5000 metres.
3) Terrain: for some of the time following well-travelled trails although also likely to encounter rough and rocky conditions.
4) Remoteness: the trek is in a remote mountain area and a long distance from the roadhead and the nearest cities. There is no mobile phones and wifi connectivity.

Day 1
Leh to Rumtse by road and then to Kyamar
We left Leh at 8 10 am in two vehicles - one for the trekkers  the other for the support team and equipment. The sun was coming out through the clouds and we hoped it would be a good day after the rain in the previous day.  We reached Rumtse by around 10 30 am and stopped in front of the Rumtse Tourist Centre which was closed. Our ponies were waiting for us and after loading them up we started for Kyamar at around 11 15  am. The trail immediately crosses the river on some rocks and as luck would have it I slipped and fell into the water within 15 minutes of starting our trek - wet boots, wet socks, wet trousers and a torn jacket snagged against a rock  is hardly the most auspicious way of starting a trek ! The trail continued to climb gently near the river following a well defined path. Finally after around 3 to 3.5 hours of walking you come across a couple of large mani walls on the left of the trail. This is the start of Kyamar - the camping spot is around 30 minutes walk away. We reached Kyamar by around 4 pm and no sooner had we reached it started to rain. It was a light drizzle to start with but soon intensified into a fairly heavy downpour quite uncharacteristic for Ladakh. We had a tough job putting up the tents and the sleeping bags were also damp. Finally the rain stopped around 7 pm or so but the temperature had plummeted quite a few degrees by then. We had dinner and turned it
 - it was very cold even in the sleeping bag and I slept with my thermals and down jacket and warm cap to boot !  Always optimistic we hoped for a better day tomorrow .
Rumtse to Kyamar 4 to 5 hours
Rumtse 4250 m 33 37 32 N 77 45 58 E Kyamar 4570 m 33 33 14 N 77 50 32 E

Day 2
Kyamar to Mandachalan
I was up before 6 am and peering out of my tent found the morning was clear with some low clouds. It had snowed higher up and the hills around the valley had a dusting of fresh snow. It was cold - ice had frozen on the tent walls unusual for early September. We started out around 8 15 am after a good breakfast made by our Nepali cook Budhiman.  We crossed the river again on some rocks and followed a fairly wide road on the eastern edge of the valley - the road has some wide and gentle turns but don't follow that - there is a shorter narrower track which will invariably have pony hoof marks - follow that trail climbing gently for about 2.5 to 3 hours.  The last 45 minutes to the top is steep and you don't see the prayer flags of Kumur La until the very end.  From the Kumur La a 30 to 45 minute descent bring you to the camping ground of Mandachalan next to the stream. We were down by 2 pm.  Around 3 pm in the afternoon I spotted Stanzin coming down at high speed to the camp - the three girls who were with him were not there.  Stanzin mentioned that one of them was ill and I should go up - he was coming with one of our ponies to get her down. I set off immediately and within twenty minutes I found  her - she was apparently exhausted and dehydrated.  We got her down to the camp by pony and put her in a warm sleeping bag  - she complained of breathing difficulties - we decided to send her down to Rumtse immediately by pony Stanzin  and the pony man accompanied them - it had started snowing by then by they reached Rumtse by 11 pm at night and got a taxi to Leh immediately. The drop in latitude of around 1300 metres so should have helped her no end - Stanzin and the pony man walked through the night with the two ponies and reached camp at 5 am, a Herculean evacuation attempt which probably saved  her life.
Kyamar to Kumur La 3.5 to 4.5 hours
Kumur La to Mandachalan 30 min to 45 min
Kumur La  5123 m 33 31 52 N 77 53 42 E Mandqchalan Camp 4960 m 33 31 3 N 77 53 59 E

Day 3
Mandachalan to Tisaling
It had started snowing in the evening and it snowed intermittently through the night. It was also very cold and despite wearing my down jacket in the sleeping bag it was still not comfortable -  I slept on and off and around 5 am the snow stopped only to start aria around 7 am. We could not leave then so decided to wait - the Ladakh weather had become extremely unpredictable and extremely unusual for September. The weather cleared up around 10 am and the sun came out so we decided to start for Tisaling around 10 15 am. The trail crossed the stream over some rocks and began climbing steadily on a narrow path in a east south easterly direction. after around 30 minutes it started to climb steeply and reached the top of the Mandachalan la in around 90 minutes. Don't despair if you can't see the prayer flags of the pass on top - it in only visible in the last 20 metres. From the top of the Mandachalan a the trail remains fairly level until it reaches another small pass at the eastern end - from here you can look down at the meadows of Tisaling and the route the next morning to the Shibuk la which is about an hour’s climb above Tisaling. From the second smaller pass it is a steady zig Zag down for  30 minutes to the camp at Tisaling. As we reached the camp we spotted a solitary Kiang (Tibetan wild ass) across the river galloping away.
Mandachalan to the top of Mandachalan la 1 hr 30 min to 2 hours
Mandachalan la to Tisaling 30 min to 45 min.
Mandachalan La 5235m 33 30 18 N 77 54 38E Tisaling 5032 m 33 29 15 N 77 55 59 E

Day 4
Tisaling to Ponganagu
It snowed off and on during the night but not very heavily. The morning had light clouds and we were ready to leave around 8 am. The path went across the broad meadow and crossed a small stream over rocks. It then started to climb the hill in front initially gradually and then made some steep zig zags to a meadow which is not the pass. From here a gradual climb leads to the prayer flags which is the pass and like many Ladakh passes is not visible until the last ten metres. From the top of the Shibuk la we could look right down into Tso Kar lake below as well as the peaks to the south of Tso Moriri like Mentok. The path then went down a beautiful grassy valley where we spotted two kiang prancing on the hillside above us. In about 90 minutes we reached the campsite of Shibuk which did not have much water but was beautifully located on a grassy flat. From here the trail plunged down into a rocky gorge which after an hour came to a mani stone on the right of the trail which is a good lunch spot in the sun. By now the weather had improved and the sun was out with fluffy white clouds typical of a Ladakh September. From the mani stone the trail could be clearly seen ahead in a south westerly direction leading to a small plateau. Crossing the plateau the campsite of  Ponganagu could be seen below and also the new black topped road below coming from Thukche village at the other end of Tso Kar. Our camp was near a stream near the permanent Tso Kar camps which are used in the season for tourists who can drive down from Leh for the night.
Tisaling to the top of Shibuk La 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min
Top of Shibuk la to Shibuk camp  site  90 min to 120 min
Shibuk camp site to  Mani wall lunch spot 1 hr
Mani wall to Ponganagu 1 hr 30 min
Shibuk La 5282 m 33 28 20 N 77 56 40 E Ponganabu 4570 m 33 21 38N 77 57 35E

Day 5
Ponganagu to Nuruchan
We had planned that if we made it to Nuruchan by 12 noon we would try to cross the Horlam Konga pass and reach Rajankaru  the same evening albeit late. So we left Ponganagu after breakfast at 7.30 am. The weather had cleared up there were no clouds in the sky and bright September sunshine when we started.  There is a permanent jeep track from here to Nuruchan and we had to follow the dry and dusty road which skirts the Tso Kar lake travelling in a southerly direction. We reached Riyul in about two hours and 15 minutes - there is a chorten on the road which marks the entrance of Riyul and some abandoned stone built houses which Stanzin told us we're used in winter when the nomads come down to the Tso Kar basin from the higher grazing grounds.  The road then continues all the way to  Nuruchan and  it can be a very flat and monotonous walk.  We were lucky to spot several herds of kiang - one who gave a dramatic spectacle of sprinting across the Tso Kar plains crossing the road behind us and climbing steeply to a high plateau on the opposite side well out of harm’s way.  The sun beat down on us and there was no shade to be had anywhere. It was typical Ladakh cold desert extreme climate. In around three hours we reached the campsite of Nuruchan which is beautifully situated and possibly one of the best camps of this trek. This camp is located you the side of a fast flowing stream on lush green spongy grass which is a rarity in Ladakh. Just behind my tent was the burrow of a Ladakh pika which came out inquisitively to inspect my arrival and shot back into the burrow once I tried to take a photo. Birds were plentiful and the grey wagtail, white breasted redstart and a variety of high altitude finches flashed through the camp. In the backdrop were the peaks of the Tso Moriri basin their tops crested with snow surrounded by fluffy white clouds - it was a perfect autumn afternoon .
Ponganagu to Riyul 2 hrs to 2.5 hours
Riyul to Nuruchan 2.5 hours to 3 hours
Riyul 4550m 33 17 46 N 77 58 14E Nuruchan 4690 m 33 13 49N 77 5930E

Day 6 Nuruchan to Rajankaru
We left Nuruchan around 8 30 am and had to immediately cross the stream below the camp. The water was about calf deep and the stream around 10 feet wide. After crossing the stream we climbed up to a small plateau and saw the trail to the pass meandering up the hillside. In about 50 min to 1 hrs we reached a small saddle 4825m marked by cairns and then the trail continued gently uphill to a second saddle with a lone cairn in around 25 to 35 min height 4896 metres. From the second saddle the trail climbed steadily until it reached the Horlam Kunga pass in 30 to 40 min 4950 metres.  You cannot see the pass until the very end so Trekkers should not get discouraged! From the pass in a thirty minute downhill walk you reach another stream which also needs to be crossed in calf deep waters. From the stream the path runs along the river climbing very gently and reaches the grazing settlement of Rajankaru in around 90 min to 2 hours.
Note- Rajankaru is the summer grazing settlement for the people of Sumdo village. They spend 2 to 3 months here grazing their yaks, sheep and goats on the high alpine meadows. They erect temporary tents with solar lighting and chimneys to stay warm.
Nuruchan to Horlam Kunga pass 1 hr 45 min to 2 hr 30 min; Horlam Kunga pass to Rajankaru 2 hr to 2 hr 30 min. Two stream crossings.
Horlam Kunga Pass 4950m 33 12 3 N  78 0 7 E Rajankaru 4920m 33 9 53 N 78 2 40 E

Day 7  Rajankaru to Gyama Barma
NOTE: It is possible to combine day 7 and 8 into one  long 8-9 hour day and thereby reduce the trek to 8 days.
From Rajankaru a narrow trail climbs away to the south east - the pass can in fact be seen from below but not the prayer flags which as usual are hidden from the climb until the last moment. When you leave in the morning you will probably have herds of sheep, goats and yaks also climbing with you up to the summer pastures. The trail climbs gently at first and reaches an altitude of 5100 metres in about an hour. It then starts to climb steeply and in about to 3 hours reaches the top of the Kyamayuri la pas 5410 metres. The pass has an extensive view and you can see the flats of Tso Kar in the distance.  From the pass follow the broad main track which runs flat at first and then down - in front of you is a broad valley ringed by snow peaks on the south. You can camp in this valley itself or walk further east cross a stream by wading through calf deep waters and camp below the climb to the Kartse La the next day.
Rajankaru to Kyamayuri la 3 hrs to 3 hrs 30 min Kyamayuri la to campsite below Kartse La 2 hrs. One stream crossing
Kyamayuri La 5410 m 33 8 12 N 78 3 45 E Gyama Barma 5150 m 33 6 13 N 78 6 26 E

Day 8 Gyama Barma to Gyama
The night was cold and windy though surprisingly everyone had a reasonable sleep.  Across our campsite we spotted again a lone kiang grazing on the slopes above our camp. We started out around 8 40 am. The path was just ahead of our campsite and starred climbing gently for the first half hour and then began to skirt the hillside - we spotted in the valley below us large herds of sheep going up to the grazing pastures. The last fifteen minutes to the top of the pass was difficult and heavy going. The pass was at 5390 metres. The trail from the top of the pass is level for a bit and then descends. In front is a big grassy valley running east to west and at the south eastern end there is a stream which has to be crossed to reach the camping grounds of Gyama. We walked down through the valley for about 30 minutes and then there was a steep descend to a stream crossing which was fortunately bridged by stones around 8 feet wide. The trail then climbed for around ten minutes and continued next to a larger stream running south west - northeast which had to be crossed by walking through ankle deep waters. The camping ground of Gyama is a large plain next to this stream and in the eastern side of the valley. It was occasionally drizzling and sunny throughout the afternoon as low clouds caused light passing showers interspersed with mild sunshine.
Gyama Barma to Kartse La 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min Kartse La to 1st stream 30 min to 40 min ; 1st Stream to Gyama campsite across 2nd stream 45 min to 1 hr. One stream crossing or two if the 1st stone bridge is broken.
Kartse La 5400 m 33 5 21 N 78 7 17 E Gyama 5166 m 33 3 45 N 78 8 38 E

Day 9  Gyama to Korzok
There was a light drizzle in the night but the morning dawned clear with light cloud. Most of the group had not slept too well due to the 5150 metres altitude - on top of this the camp at Gyama was a very windy one especially in the late afternoon to night. We had planned to get away at 7 am but finally left around 7 15 am. The trail initially for the first hour climbed steadily out of the valley following a small stream uphill for most of the way. After about two hours it enters a narrow gorge where you may need to criss cross a shallow stream a number of times. After leaving this narrow gorge the path opens up and turns left or east over a grassy knoll and you can unexpectedly see ahead the prayer flags of Yalung Nyua La. From the pass Tso Moriri can be seen - at a higher spot south of the main pass BSNL connections sometimes work. It is a long way down from the pass a drop of almost 900 metres - you can see a green patch below which is Korzok Phu.  On a clear day Mentok can be seen above Korzok Phu and just above Tso Moriri lake Chamser and Lungser Kangri are visible. The lake is seen for the first part of the descent. The trail passes Korzok Phu and then follows a stream which eventually enters the camping site of Korzok and finally the village itself.
Gyama to top of Yalung  Nyua La 3 hrs to 3 hrs 30 min; Top of Yalung Nyua La to Korzok 3 hrs to 3 hrs 30 min.
Yalung Nyua la 5440 m 33 1 1 N 78 10 43 E Korzok 4560 m 32 57 57 N 78 15 45 E

For more information on our treks do visit
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