Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Himalayas: Weather

If you read any guide book on the Himalaya or on trekking in the Himalayan region, you will invariably be told that the post-monsoon season is the best time to trek in the mountains. Clear blue skies, superb mountain views, mild sunny days and crisp cold nights are all forecast for the trekker.

 You will also be told that the pre monsoon season i.e. March to May is the second best time to be in the mountains with mild showers in the evening but clear morning and the weather getting warmer as you approach the monsoon. Further, according to the guide books, trekking in the monsoon is strictly a “no no” and if the heavy rains and landslides don’t make your trek a nightmare, the leeches will! And of course the winter is so cold that no sane individual would venture into the high altitude at that time!

So what is the real story on Himalayan weather with the impact of global warming and climate change?

I have trekked in the Himalayas in all seasons, including the winter (Everest 2003-04), the monsoon (Sikkim 2000) and numerous autumn and spring treks.

One October I remember visiting Kathmandu airport every morning for the flight to Lukla and returning to our hotel at lunchtime. It rained for three days incessantly and the Lukla flight could not take off. Finally on the fourth day it did take off  and made a hair raising landing at Lukla narrowly missing the hill in front of the airstrip. Surprisingly the very next day the weather cleared and we did not get any rain for the next two weeks during our trek. In the October season in the Khumbu there are now more than 14,000 trekkers in one month!

Again, walking the Annapurna circuit in October I remember repeated day after day of afternoon rain up the Marsyandi valley. One downpour near the village of Chame was so heavy that we sheltered in a bamboo hut and managed to stay dry until the rain stopped.

In December 2009 I trekked with a South Col group to Poon Hill in the Annapurna region and surprisingly other than the morning at Ghorepani, the rest of the days had cold, cloudy weather very unusual for December.

The rain shadow regions of the Himalaya like Ladakh, Zanskar, Lahoul and Spiti possibly get the best weather in the monsoon season July to September.

So in my opinion, good weather is a gamble. What with global warming, rapid deforestation and urbanization, the weather is no longer predictable. Every season has something special to offer so select your season and hope for some great views and weather!

South Col Expeditions www.southcol.com treks in the Himalayas throughout the year. Do visit our web site for our treks both fixed departure and customised group offerings.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Everest | Helicopter Charter Flights

When helicopters started flying in Nepal, they were used mostly for search and rescue operations. However, in the last decade, the number of helicopter companies have increased and it is not unusual while trekking in the Everest region to find helicopters flying up and down between Gorak Shep to Pheriche/ Namche/Lukla/Kathmandu ferrying passengers on a charter flight.

Though many purists including myself  will balk at the idea of using a helicopter at the end of the Everest trek, this has become quite a common occurrence of late. The  main advantages for the trekkers are:

An Everest Base Camp trek can become 9-10 days Kathmandu to Kathmandu instead of the usual 14 days as the return journey  from Gorak Shep is significantly reduced by using the helicopter.

The long descent from 5150 metres at Gorak Shep to Lukla 2800 metres is avoided and saves your knees!


Though the cost of chartering a helicopter is not fixed and there is considerable leeway for bargaining and getting a good price, the average costs for a charter is given below. Sometimes prices can be below this as well depending if the helicopter has come up to drop passengers and is going back empty.

Gorak Shep to Lukla  - $1500  (3 persons)
Pheriche to Lukla - $1300 ( 4 persons)
Namche to Lukla  $600 (3 persons)
Namche to Kathmandu $3200 (5 persons)
Lukla to Kathmandu  $2800 ( 5 Persons)


Fishtail Air www.fishtailair.com
Summit Air (Helicopters Division) www.summitair,com.np
Simrik Air (Helicopters Division) wwwsimrikair.com
Air Dynasty www.airdynastyheli.com
Mountain Heli www.mountainhelicharter.com
Altitude Air www.altitudeairnepal.com
Shree Air www.shreeairlines.com
Kailsh Heli www.kailashheli.com
Manang Air www.manangair.com.np

Easy Flight Travel headed by Raju Pulami and based in Namche also provides helicopter services at reasonable rates. Do contact  https://www.easyflightnepal.com

South Col Expeditions treks in the Everest region every year. For more information on our treks do visit www.southcol.com

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Kangtega and Thamserku | The Lesser Peaks of the Everest region

Thamserku from Namche Bazar at dsuk
The Everest region has a galaxy of star studded so called "lesser peaks" in the range of 6000-7000 metres. Most of these are extremely beautiful and in most cases over shadow Everest itself. Other than Ama Dablam which is really the "jewel in the crown", Kangtega and Thamserku are visible along both the Everest Base Camp and Gokyo trails.

"Kangtega, known also as The Snow Saddle, is a major mountain peak of the Himalayas in Nepal. Its summit rises 6,782 metres (22,251 ft). It was first ascended in 1963 1963 David Dornan, Tom Frost, Michael Gill, Jim Wilson  in an expedition led by Edmund Hillary.
Thamserku is a mountain in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal. The mountain is connected by a ridge leading eastward to Kangtega. Thamserku is a prominent mountain to the east of Namche Bazaar and lies just north of Kusum Kangguru.
The first ascent was made in 1964 from the south by members of Edmund Hillary's Schoolhouse Expedition: Lynn Crawford, Pete Farrell, John McKinnon, Richard Stewart and Phu Dorje Sherpa. Below the basin on the southwest face, they reached the south ridge after climbing a difficult couloir. The team described the climb as difficult and the route has not been repeated in its entirety by anyone else." From Wikipedia

Some photographs of these two magnificent peaks are below

Reflections in the first lake of Gokyo

Walking from Lobuche towards Dzongla on the Cho La route

On the trail near Dole, Gokyo trek

Early morning view from Luza, Gokyo trek

Evening at Kyanjuma

From the pass above Dingboche on the trail to Dugla
South Col Expeditions treks in the Everest region every year.  For details of our 2019 treks do visit www.southcol.com and for photographs from the Himalaya do visit www.sujoydas.com

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mustang | Flowers and Plants in the Trans Himalaya

The rain shadow area of Mustang close to the Tibetan border is similar to the rest of the Trans-Himalaya and close to Tibet in topography and features.

One would expect that this desert like terrain where the winds howls up the Kali Gandaki river valley every day would not be conducive for plant life.

A South Col team trekked Mustang  to Mustang twice in 2015 and again in 2016. We were very surprised to find so  many flowers and plants in bloom.

Here are some photographs of the plants and flowers we saw:

For more information and photographs on Mustang do visit


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...