Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Everest and the Khumbu Region | Updates October - November 2023

Everest, the Lhotse wall and Ama Dablam from the high route between Phortse and Pangboche 

I was in the Khumbu for around three weeks in October – November 2023. Here are some updates which would be useful for trekkers in the coming year.

Trek Card

There is a trek card now which is issued at Lukla. You can apply online for the trek card uploading your passport soft copy and your photo at  When you reach Lukla you can get the trek card by paying Rs 2000 at the Lukla checkpost.  The Sagarmatha Park fees continue to be paid at the Monjo checkpost. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Lukla to Tumlingtar Trek | October - November 2023


The mighty Arun river at Karticke Ghat from the bridge - Tumlingtar is one hour from here by jeep

 "For dreadfulness naught can excel

The prospect of Bung from Gudel;

And words die away on the tongue

When we look back at Gudel from Bung."

H W Tilman - Nepal Himalaya 1950

After completion of our Ama Dablam Base Camp trek with our South Col Expeditions group I decided with one of my guides to head down to Tumlingtar from Lukla to assess the trek route as well as the new roads which had come in from different directions. I wanted to establish whether this route still remained a viable trekking entry or exit to the Solukhumbu region. The detailed day wise itinerary of my trek is given below.

October  30 2023

 After seeing my group off on the Lukla to Kathmandu flight, we left Lukla 8 45 am  following the trail next to the airport and headed down to Surkhe. In about thirty minutes we reached  a bridge over a khola (river). The trail then remained flattish for 15 min passing some village houses and then there was a steep downhill section on steps to reach the  junction for Chaurikharkha. Soon after we stopped at a sunny lodge for tea  around 2300 m and before us we could see the long climb to Paiyan. We reached Surkhe about 10-15 am (1 hr 30 min walk from Lukla). On the way we passed signs advertising jeeps to Phaplu and Salleri and onwards to Kathmandu.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ladakh | Phyang to Hunder Trek across the Lasermo La by Ashesh Ambasta

2 Sept 2023: Atop Lasermo La. Left to right -- Prasad, Ashesh, and Kunsal, and Stanzin (kneeling) posing for the regulation photo, clicked by Glory! 

 Ashesh Ambasta is a experienced trekker who has been with South Col Expeditions on numerous treks including many in Ladakh. In this guest post he recounts his experiences on the recently concluded Phyang to Hunder trek across the 5440 m high Lasermo La - from the Indus to the Nubra valley.

I am sure that trails in Ladakh never fail to amaze and delight trekkers. For starters, it is possible to experience what can truly be called wilderness treks barely a few hours from Leh. How cool is that? Then, there are the breathtaking vistas. Scarps with steep acclivities rise to dizzying heights on either side of the trails, which usually follow water courses resulting in narrow – and the only – bands of vegetation for miles on end, combined with multi-hued slope surfaces, all conspiring to produce enchanted, fairy-tale panoramas.  Not surprisingly, even though the Phyang to Hundar trek was my fifth in Ladakh with South Col  Expeditions, the anticipation gripped me well before I took off from Delhi.

30th August to 1st September, 2023

A fitting start to the trek was a visit to the sixteenth century Phyang monastery. It falls on the way to Murubok, where the road ends and the trail begins. The gompa itself is inspiring and we were fortunate to arrive at a time when the resident monks were in prayer in the main hall.  The sonorous chanting lulled us into a meditative and peaceful repose, an appropriate mood for the trek. 

30 Aug 2023: A propitious start to the Phyang-to-Hunder trek is a visit to the 16th century Phyang monastery.  This gompa is on the way to Murubok, where the road ends and the walking trail begins.

Friday, October 6, 2023

The Best Himalayan Blogs from Feedspot


Feedspot recently published a list of the best Himalayan blogs and the link is available at

The list covers 35 blogs and websites from the thousands of blogs on the web ... many of them also run tours and treks in the Himalaya.

This blog is no 24 on the list. 

For more information on my treks and photo workshops do visit

For photographs on the Himalaya do visit

Best wishes to all for the upcoming festive season and enjoy the holidays!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Mulde View Point, Dobato and Poon Hill Route and Timings March 2023


Mulde View Point and Poon Hill Trek Route and Timings

With a view to extend the Poon Hill trek by a few days we decided to go a recce of a new route to Dobato and Muldai View Point – the Muldai route can be extended to Khopra Ridge as well.

February 28th 2023 - Flight Kathmandu to Pokhara drive to Ghandrung 

Our Buddha Air flight to Pokhara was at 7.55 am but when we reached the airport we were told that there are not enough passengers for two flights so they sent us on the earlier flight at 7 30 pm. The flight was uneventful with views of Langtang, Ganesh Himal and then Himalchuli and the Manaslu group. Finally just before Pokhara the Annapurnas and Macchapuchare came into view through the early morning fog. We landed at the new Pokhara airport which is big and very swanky with all the modern amenities and facilities. Our jeep ride to Kimche below Ghandrung took around 1 hr 45 min and we then started the walk to Ghandrung. Kimche is around 1700 metres and in an hour we reached Ghandrung which is 1980 metres. I was quite shocked to see the rapid urbanization of this beautiful village. Gone are the slate roofed houses and lodges - ugly new brick and concrete constructions are mushrooming all over the village some three storeys high- there is construction materials piled up everywhere destroying the old charm and beauty of this once upon a time Himalayan village. We walked up past our earlier lodges Milan and Gurung Cottage both which seemed to be quite congested and surrounded by new buildings in a state of semi construction and decided to stay at the Ghandrung Eco Lodge which thankfully had a better view and an open aspect - tomorrow we walk to Tadapani.

Pokhara to Kimche by jeep 1 hour 45 min to 2 hours; Kimche to Ghandrung trek 1 hour ; Ghandrung 2032m 28 22 34N 83 48 26 E

Ncell and NTC both working at Ghandrung 4G reception; Dal Bhat Rs 500 Black Tea Rs 80

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Kashmir Tarsar Marsar Trek - Route and Timings August 2022


Kashmir Tarsar Marsar Trek August 16 to 20th 2022

A detailed day wise route desctiption and timings of the popular Tarsar Marsar trek by South Col Expeditions in August 2022 - due to bad weather and lack of days we could not cross over the Sonomas pass to Sumbal but returned to Lidderwat/Aru the same way.

August 16th 2022 Pahalgam to Aru to Lidderwat 

We drove from Pahalgam to Aru 2440 metres in about 30 minutes and started out from Aru around 8 am. It had rained for 14 hours nonstop the previous day but the weather had cleared up and the sun was out with blue skies. The first part of the trail from Aru to the Agricultural station was extremely muddy and slippery thanks to all the pony traffic as well as the incessant rains. This portion of the trail took us around one hour which should have normally taken 30 minutes. We reached the first meadow around 9 am and after a short break plunged into the forest - this part was also quite muddy and it was heavy going - finally after around 2 hours from Aru we emerged into the meadows for a brief while and the trail had dried out somewhat due to the morning sun. The river Lidder thundered through the gorge below while thick pine forests surrounded the adjacent hills. We met few tourists and some locals making their way down from Lidderwat to Pahalgam and some shepherds as well. Finally around 11.30 am at around 2670 metres we reached a small tea shop - further up on the ridge was another tea shop serving tea and Maggi noodles. The distance was around 7 km from Aru.  After a quick break we carried on the trails through the meadows soon descended to the Lidder river.  This idyllic section of the walk followed the Lidder river and was incredibly beautiful with the river flowing adjacent to the trail. We soon came to another tea shop - the third one on the trail from here the path climbed up to another small meadow before again plunging down a steep path to the river. You finally cross a bridge across the Lidder and climb up to the meadows of Lidderwat.  As we reached Lidderwat and stopped for lunch the rain came down once again and carried on till around 5 pm in the evening after which the weather did clear up and we saw some blue skies in the clouds - hope for tomorrow. 
Aru to first meadow 1 hr - should be 30 minutes in dry weather; First meadow to first tea shop 2 hrs to 2 hrs 15 min; First tea shop to second tea shop 30 min; Second tea shop to third tea shop 45 min Third tea shop to Lidderwat 45 min to 1 hr 
Aru to Lidderwat 4.5 to 5 hours depending on trail conditions - 10.7 km 18695 steps
Aru 2430 m 34 5 31 N 75 15 57E Lidderwat 2775m 34 9 35 N 75 14 31 E 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Gokyo Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek via Phortse October 2021 -Route and Timings


Namche to Gokyo to Phortse to Pangboche to Namche October 2021

Route details and timings for this route is below
October 21 Namche to Dole 

We left Namche on a sunny clear morning after the rain with all the peaks  visible - the broad trail mostly level with a few ups and downs was a lovely walk with all the peaks from Taboche to Thamserku visible including Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. We reached the beautiful Ama Dablam Lodge at Kyanjuma in about less than two hours with many photography stops on the way. After a tea break at the lodge we started out for Mong la. Within five minutes there was a sign posted trail junction - the upper trail went to Gokyo and the lower trail to Everest Base Camp. A new trail had been constructed in the initial part of the climb with proper hand railings and steps - this steep climb took about half an hour with mesmerizing mountain views all around. On reaching the top there was a small resting spot from where Mongla could be seen as well as the trail leading upwards. We followed the trail climbing uphill contouring the hillside and had great mountain views all the way. We stopped for lunch at the Hilltop lodge in Mongla. After lunch we started out on the rapid descent to Phortse Tenga. The trail dropped fairly sharply for the first 20 minutes before easing out into a gentler descent - in about an hour from Mongla we came to the two lodges of Phortse Tenga and the trail diversion which was marked - the upper trail led to Dole and the lower trail led to Phortse. The Dole trail initially climbed very gently and in about 20 minutes reached the Dole National Park check post where the permits are checked. Soon after the trail crosses a waterfall and then begins to climb steeply fir about 30 minutes before the trail levels off and reaches a resting spot with a stone bench which provides a welcome break. After this the climb continues through the rhododendron forest. Across the valley the village of Phortse is your constant companion in about an hour another waterfall is reached and ahead you can see the trail contouring up the hillside. Finally the trail skirts the hillside takes a turn and the lodges of Dole come suddenly into view. 
Namche 3450m to Kyanjuma 3615m 27 49 22N 86 43 52E 1 hr 45 min to 2 hrs Kyanjuma to Mongla 3980m 27 50 22N 86 44 12E 2 hrs Mongla to Phortse Tenga 1 hour to 1 hour 15 min Phortse Tenga 3650m to Dole 4110m 27 52 4N 86 43 50 E 
2 hrs to 2 hrs 15 min

Monday, May 29, 2023

Everest Seventy Years After the First Ascent May 29th 1953

A condensed version of this article appears in The Hindu May 28th 2023

On 28th May 1953, two men started out from the South Col of Everest at around 26,000 feet to set up Camp Nine at 27,900 feet. Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa had attempted Everest six times and failed. Edmund Hillary, a bee keeper from New Zealand, was on the mountain for the second time, having accompanied Eric Shipton on the Everest Reconnaissance in 1951. The British had made eight attempts on Everest since 1921 and this could well be their last chance.  In the year of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, it was imperative that they succeed. Camp IX at 27,900 feet would be the highest that men had ever slept.  The next morning dawned clear and still as Tenzing pointed out the tiny dot of Tengboche monastery, 16,000 feet below, where the Rimpoche had prayed for the safe return of the team. “God of my father and mother be good to me today” prayed Tenzing. Hillary’s boots were frozen and he had a tough job trying to unfreeze them for the climb. The duo started out at 6.30 am and at 11.30 am on 29th May 1953 history was made as the two men stood on the summit of Everest.


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