Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sir Edmund Hillary Centenary Celebrations 20th July 2019

On 20th July 2019, the Calcutta based NGO The Himalayan celebrated the birth centenary of Sir Edmund Hillary with a series of illustrated talks. The speakers for the centenary celebrations were Sujoy Das  and  Bhanu Banerjee.

The event was well covered in the local press and the reviews are given below.

Times of India Kolkata July 20th 2019

The Telegraph Kolkata July 21st 2019

For further information on the Hillary centenary celebrations please do visit

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Stok Kangri Climb Ladakh - closed from 2020

In the past few years the overcrowding on Stok  Kangri peak along with problems of garbage, waste disposal, water supply etc has been mounting every year. Amongst all the so called trekking peaks in Ladakh, Stok Kangri has always been the most popular and has suffered due to too many tourists.

ALTOA (All Ladakh Tour Operator's Association)  has taken a decision with the villagers of Stok  to close the climb from 2020 and give the area time to recover. This is a decision which I endorse fully and hope it will be implemented without any further bottlenecks.

The details of the press release is below:
Dear Members,

Stok Nambardar village committee comprising of Stok villagers had been raising concerns over the pollution of their drinking water source and also shortages of irrigation water owing to over tourism and global warming. Stok Kangri is a very popular trekking peak and over the last few years we have observed it falling prey to over tourism.

The committee has decided to close the Stok Kangri peak for trekking for 5 years starting 2020 onwards. However, we have called for an emergency meeting with the committee to resolve this and we will propose them to follow a calendar like it is practiced in some European peaks where the peak is open for 2 year and then it is closed for 1 year to recuperate.

However, for sure it is going to be closed for next year 2020.

An executive team headed by the President – ALTOA met with Stok members to discuss their issues and their plans for the STOK KANGRI. The village community has planned to close STOK Kangri for trekking in 2020. We have proposed them to close it for a year and then operate for 2 years. They will update us on this later.

This year they had proposed the following points that ALTOA believes in and we are always committed to the cause of protecting our environment. We urge members to cooperate with our decision and to inform their partners across the globe of the decision:

1) Security deposit Rs 5000 each Group (Refundable)
2) Environmental Fees Rs 800/ Per Pax (Domestic/ Foreigner)
3) No Fixed Camp will be allowed at the Stok Kangri trail
4) Three person will be appointed at each check points at Stok, Mankarmo and Base Camp
5) Rubbish sacks will be provided by Stok Tsogspa officials at Trek Points at market rate (However every agent must carry sacks for their garbage)
6) All Trash/ garbage must be brought back to Leh
7) Food lists must be carried by each guide
😎 ID will be mandatory for each staff. (Guide/ Helper/ Cook) from ALTOA office (2PP size & Aadhar card required)
9) Non Local Helper and Guides will have to pay Rs 500 Per Pax for the trek
10) ALTOA Authority Letter to be sent with the guide for the check points
11) Only Registered ALTOA members will be able to operate groups as we will send our updated member list to the persons at the check post.

As IMF office is not open this year, we are in talks with the IMF officials on this and we will update you on any future developments.

Deleks Namgyal
Gen Sec - ALTOA

Friday, July 12, 2019

Sir Edmund Hillary | Centenary Celebrations

2019 is the year of the birth centenary of Sir Edmund Hillary the first man to climb Mount Everest along with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa.

To celebrate the centenary a number of events have been planned throughout the world. In Kolkata on July 20th 2019, The Himalayan will present a series of illustrated talks on Sir Ed.

 Bhanu Banerjee will present an illustrated talk on his years with Sir Edmund from 1960 to 1963 in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal. This will be preceded by a presentation of historical photographs on the life and times of Sir Edmund by Sujoy Das. Piyali Basak will share her unique experiences on Manaslu (2018) and Everest (2019). All are welcome  and to attend this talk do send an email to

In Kathmandu at the historic office of the Himalayan Trust Nepal there will be a programme on July 20th 2019 from 10 am to 12 noon followed by lunch.

And a number of events have been planned in New Zealand around the same time.

The activity led by the Hillary Centenary Steering Committee begins with an event at Parliament on 23 July, hosted by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, for Hillary family members and a range of other distinguished guests including politicians, ambassadors, business leaders and members of the creative and academic communities.

At the event, New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh will perform her new poem about Sir Ed called Hillary’s Step that is featured on an installation of the same name that was unveiled at Christchurch Airport last week.

NZ Post is also issuing commemorative stamps for the centenary, available from 23 July, which feature images of Sir Ed on his various expeditions and endeavours. Sir Ed was last featured on a stamp just over a decade ago, shortly after he passed away.

This is followed on 27 July by the world premiere of a full-length symphony composed by Gareth Farr in honour of Sir Ed, titled Roar of a Thousand Tigers, performed by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Northey at the Christchurch Town Hall’s Lilburn Auditorium. Commissioned by the Hillary Centenary Steering Committee with the support of Creative New Zealand, the title of Farr’s symphony comes from Tenzing Norgay’s evocative description of the violent winds on Mt Everest.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Ladakh | Shang to Rumbak Trek Aug 31 - Sept 7 2019

South Col Expeditions will be running a confirmed departure trek from Shang Sumdo to Rumbak in the shadow of Matho and Stok Kangri peaks. The details of the trek including the route and costs are given below. Do email for further enquiries.

If you are looking for a short trek in Ladakh and don't want the crowds of Markha then the five day route from Shang Sumdo to Rumbak  is extremely attractive. The route walks in the shadow of the Matho Kangri and Stok Kangri peaks with typical rolling grasslands, fast flowing rivers, wildlife and nomadic settlements of sheep and yak. The trek approach is close to Leh making this an ideal  one week vacation.

Who should join this trek?
A good choice for regular hill walkers, moderate level of fitness required. Prior trekking experience is advisable as it is a camping trek.
1) Walking times: average 5 to 6  hours walking per day.
2) Altitude: up to 4,940 metres at the passes and around 4200-4400 metres at the campsites.
3) Terrain: for some of the time following well-travelled trails although also likely to encounter rough and rocky conditions near the passes.
4) Remoteness: the trek is in a remote mountain area but not far from the roadheads at Shang Sumdo, Matho, Stok. There is no mobile phones and wifi connectivity on the trek.

 Day 1 Fly in from Delhi to Leh and rest for the day.

Day 2 Acclimatisation rest day - visit monasteries in and around Leh.

Day 3  Leh 3450m  to Shang Sumdo 3650m 
We drive from Leh to Shang Sumdo and reach in about 90 minutes.  We camp near the river and spend the day acclimatising in and around Shang Sumdo. This second acclimatisation day will help us in our future days.

Day 4 Shang Sumdo 3650m to Shang Phu 3950m 5  hours
We start our trek today - our ponies are waiting for us here and after breakfast  we start our first days walk. Today the trail ascend gradually through green fields of wheat and barley following the Shang river, flowing from south of Matho Kangri.The valley heads up a shepherds hut the grasslands around serve as grazing grounds fro yak, sheep and goats. We camp overnight at Shang Phu. There is no pass to cross.

Day 5 Shang Phu 4250m to  Gangpoche 4150m across Shang la 4940m 5 to 6 hours
The day begins with a long three to four hour climb to the Shang la through a zg zag trail. This area is home to snow leopards, bharal, marmots, golden eagle and a lot of other bird life and wildlife. The view from the top is impressive with the mountain wall of Matho Kangri 5900m just behind and above the pass. The path then descends gradually to the campsite  of Gangpoche.

Day 6  Gangpoche to Mancarmo via Matho La 4930 5 to 6 hours
This trail travels across the Gangpoche meadows until it reaches the base of Matho la 4350 metres. It then climbs the gentle slopes to the top of Matho La our second pass. The trail steadily ascends to a series of grassy slopes, Yak herders from the nearby villages live in stone settlement at the foot of the pass and the view from the pass is absolute amazing , the popular Stok kangri peak right behind.  From the top of Matho La is descends gradually for around 3 km to the campsite of Mankarmo 4480m.

Day 7 Mankarmo 4480m  to Rumbak 3900m  across Stok La 4900m  6 to 7 hours.
Today we  have a hard climb to the top of Stok La which has a spectacular view - this is our final pass and then we descend gradually to the the village of Rumbak.  We stop for a snack at a tea tent in Rumbak and then walk one hour down to the road head where our transport is wating  drive us back to Leh 2 hour drive.

Day 8 Fly back from Leh to your home city

The cost of the trek is Rs  55,000 /- for Indians (US $ 1100 for foreign passports ) Leh to Leh  -  some exclusions apply. 

The cost  per person for Leh to Leh (8 days ) as per the itinerary given earlier
Costs given above are at current rates of 2019 and may change without notice. Changes if any will be notified 2 months before the trek.
Costs include:
Transfer by vehicle from Leh to  Shang Sumdo  (day 3)  and pickup from below Rumbak  village (day 7)  at the end of the trek.
One day monastery visits around Leh – Shey, Thikse, Hemis etc. on day 2 in a private vehicle
Three nights  accommodation in Leh on twin sharing basis in a good standard hotel.
All accommodation in tents and meals on trek for five days  (day 3 to day 7) as per itinerary; breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cost of guides/cook/helper/ponyman and ponies as needed for the trek.

Costs not included
Flight Costs from home country to Leh and back.
All meals in Leh not covered.
Airport taxes if any.
Client travel and medical insurance of any kind. Emergency evacuation costs if needed.
Bottled drinks; boiled, filtered or bottled water; alcohol; snacks etc
Personal clothing and equipment; sleeping bag; duvet /down/ goretek jacket, medicines for personal use etc.
Tips to guides/cook/helper/ponyman at the end of trek.


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