Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Trip report for Lunana Snowman in Bhutan led by Jo Clark and Tsering Dorje in September/ October 2019

Photo: Snowman '19 celebrating on last pass Credit: Jo Clark
This is the eleventh time The Mountain Company has organised the Complete Lunana Snowman trek in Bhutan. Our Snowman 2019 group successfully made the full traverse from Paro through Lunana out to Bumthang. The Mountain Company has 100% track record of organising this challenging 28 day trek through the remote Bhutanese Himalaya.

This year we had fourteen trekkers signed up for Lunana Snowman and like in previous years this group was an international mix with people coming from UK, Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong. For 2019 Snowman our international leader, Jo Clark, worked with our regular Bhutanese guide for Lunana Snowman, Tsering Dorje, and the assistant guides were Tsering Tashi and Pema Wangchuk.

Photo: On the way to Woche Credit: Jo Clark

Photo: Autumn colours in display through the clouds Credit: Jo Clark
The cook, Tandim Sonam, and his kitchen helpers as usual did a superb job and we have received positive feedback from the group on the quality of food. As discussed in previous Trip Reports for Lunana Snowman we imported a vegetable dehydrator machine from USA into Bhutan a few years ago to ensure supply of vegetables throughout the trip. For each Snowman trek we also bring over from UK freezed dried meat (both chicken and minced beef) with each tin catering for 24 people, this ensures a supply of protein throughout that is required for most people on a long trek like Lunana Snowman.
Photo: breakfast at Tshorim Lake Credit: Jo Clark
Jo summarises how Snowman 2019 went from her perspective as the leader of the group:

"We started our Snowman hike with the end of the monsoon season. The clouds swirled around us offering up occasional brief glimpses of the impressive mountains hiding behind them. We were lucky for most days the rain held off until we reached camp and we were able to shelter in the tents.

As we left Laya behind, the monsoon also disappeared but before we were able to benefit from the clear skies and magnificent views, a low pressure system came in bringing low mists, snow flurries and some exciting navigation towards high camp. Finally as we reached the most spectacular part of the trek around Tshorim Lake, the clouds cleared and we had magnificent views and perfect weather for a week."


As Jo comments above the weather was unstable this Autumn for Lunana Snowman with cloudy conditions for large sections of trek. In fact this weather impacted the entire Himalayan region including Nepal as the monsoon was late in withdrawing from the Himalayas then a low pressure system came in bringing further cloud and rain. Some years on our Lunana Snowman the weather is clear from the start however other years it might be cloudy & rainy up to Chomolhari BC however once the post monsoon high pressure comes in then it usually stays sunny for the rest of the trip.

As discussed in previous Trip Reports for Lunana Snowman we start this trek quite early in the Autumn season and several weeks before our treks in Nepal. This timing has been carefully thought out and tested over the years in order to put the team in a good position to cross the exit passes of Lunana before the winter snows block the way. These days it seems like the weather is less predictable in the Himalaya (and probably everywhere) however we are certain these are the optimal dates based on eleven successful Snowman treks.

Please take a look at our video of Lunana Snowman October 2019 hosted on The Mountain Company’s channel on YouTube, below:


Throughout our Lunana Snowman trek we receive bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at everestweather.com. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.


We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Lunana Snowman 2019.

Photo: navigating through the mist and clouds Credit: Jo Clark
Photo: Narwang on Karchung La Credit: Jo Clark
I have copied AITO Traveller Review from one of Snowman 2019 trekkers below:

"Having trekked many times with other companies in the Himalayan Mountains, THE MOUNTAIN COMPANY has surprised and delighted me with its degree of excellence in all areas. To start with there was the thorough and professional planning of the trip details, including enough rest and contingency days to suit the remote conditions. It was clear early on that this was a company that understood remote mountains. Then there was the seamless execution of a very challenging trek. 

There was the meticulous care for the health and safety of all the trekkers AND the local support crew. There was the exceptional quality and volume of great food provided to sustain our energy levels over an extended period of time in very remote parts of Bhutan. Also, THE MOUNTAIN COMPANY provided an experienced western leader which added massive value being the bridge between the trekkers and the local company with whom they have been working for many years. THE MOUNTAIN COMPANY sits above all the other companies in my experience. Well done!!"

You can read all of our AITO reviews received over the years for Lunana Snowman

Many thanks to Jo, Tsering Dorje, Tsering Tashi, Pema Wangchuk, Tandim Sonam and rest of the crew for all of their hard work organising and leading another successful Snowman trek.

In 2020, we are organising two Lunana Snowman treks both in April/ May and in September/ October. Our trek in April/ May 2020 is now guaranteed to run with availability and our September/ October trek is nearly guaranteed to run.

Please get in touch with us soon if you like to join any of our Snowman 2020 groups.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

Monday, 28 October 2019

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Natalie Wilson and Chandra Rai in October 2019

Photo: Dhaulagiri Base Camp (4,700m)
In October 2019 we organised our 16th trek around Dhaulagiri Circuit in Nepal and our leaders for this group were Natalie, known as Nat, Wilson (UK) and Chandra Rai (Nepal) and the assistant guides supporting the group were Pasang, Vivek and Jon Lama. The cook was Sangram who has worked for us for many years and always produces excellent food for our groups.

The group arrived in Kathmandu on October 6th and in the afternoon Nat gave her group briefing on the rooftop terrace at Hotel Tibet. On the next day 7th they flew to Pokhara where they spent one night. On morning of 8th they drove by bus to the road head at Darbang and they walked to Dharapani for their first night’s camp.

Nat sums her experience leading this group as follows:

“This was a really successful trip. The group got on really well together and quickly became a solid, supportive and high-spirited team. We were blessed with good weather, stunning views, saw very few other people, ate well and had wonderful support from our crew. Although we didn’t summit Dhampus Peak due to snow and low cloud, we crossed the French Pass and Dhampus Pass, enjoying spectacular high mountain scenery and some of the group reached a high point of 5500 metres.

Excellent food and hygiene standards. No gastro issues at all. Food plentiful, varied and very tasty, always loads of veg too. Sangram very accommodating with treat meals when requested - egg and chips being a particular favourite, chicken curry and fried chicken.”


On October 19th, Nat and Pasang walked up to base of the ridge leading to Dhampus Peak for a recce later in the afternoon after crossing French Pass. They scoped out the route on Dhampus Peak and reported back to the group on the conditions, these were not ideal with unconsolidated loose snow on top of scree plus the weather forecast was cloudy and light snow for 20th. Nat was happy to attempt Dhampus Peak however the other option discussed with the group was to walk up the ridge to viewpoint on west side of Hidden Valley.

This is a great walk as one can get pretty high by following this non technical route to get a view back to Mt Dhaulagiri and over Hidden Valley to the Annapurna range to the East. After a group discussion, it was unanimously decided that the objective for the next day would be to walk up this ridge and I agree this was a good call.

When I met the group on return to Kathmandu for a debrief, they told me how much they enjoyed walking up the ridge to the viewpoint overlooking Hidden Valley and were pleased with this decision. I gather they reach an altitude of 5,550m and I think this is the highest point that any of our groups have reached. You can read more about this walk and see photos on our blog --> Photos of day walk in Hidden Valley on Dhaulagiri Circuit trek

And Nat goes onto explain about the weather and conditions experienced as follows:

“Weather was overall excellent. We had a little rain early on, very cold and windy afternoon over French Pass and just one very cloudy, cold day up high which impacted Dhampus Peak.”

Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at everestweather.com and we sent these onto Nat by text to her satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.


We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and we use Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Dhaulagiri Circuit October 2019

We have received an AITO Traveller Review from one member of the group as follows:

"I trekked the Dhaulagiri circuit in a group of 7 led by Natalie Wilson. We had excellent weather, a very cohesive group and a wonderful local crew to look after us. The trek starts with almost subtropical scenery and a rarely trekked village, goes up through a dramatic rocky gorge with some very exposed sections, opens up with dramatic snow covered peak all around and then crosses into the arid Hidden Valley.

I have trekked in the Himalaya with several companies and The Mountain Company has been consistently the best. Attention to detail is outstanding. Everything works as planned. The Mountain Company employs western leaders to complement the local teams and this really does add value."

You can read all of our AITO Traveller Reviews received for our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek to find out feedback from our previous trekkers.

It would also be worth reading our Trip Reports published on our blog to find out more about our sixteen treks around Dhaulagiri Circuit.

Congratulations to the group for completing Dhaulagiri Circuit. I would like to thank Nat, Chandra, Sangram, Pasang, Vivek and Jon plus the rest of the team for their help and hard work. Good job!

The Mountain Company organises our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek twice a year in April and October. Our Dhaulagiri Circuit group in April 2020 is already guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

Friday, 20 September 2019

Trip Report for Ladakh Sky Trail GHT led by Almas Khan in August/ September 2019

Photo: group trekking in the new gorge
In August/ September 2019 we operated our sixth Ladakh Sky Trail GHT in northern India. Almas Khan is the leader and organiser for this trek and this year we had an international mix of trekkers coming from Australia and UK.

As mentioned in previous trip reports our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT is a unique itinerary designed by Almas and travels through the best of the three areas of this region: Ladakh, Zanskar and Changthang/ Rupshu. For most of Ladakh Sky Trail GHT we follow rarely trekked trails and this is only possible due to the local knowledge of Almas and our local Ladakhi guides. If you like to really get off the beaten track and explore a very remote region of the Himalaya away from other trekking groups then this would be a great trek for you to consider.

Photo: Snigge pass from Nirak
Our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT group arrived to Leh on August 13th and after three nights for acclimatisation in Leh they drove on August 16th to Lamayuru (3,500m) and August 17th they started the trek.

The trek went well and they kept on schedule following the itinerary up until Zangla on August 24th. However from here Almas had to change the itinerary as the river levels were too high in the gorge going via Zangla Sumdo - Chubchak - Tsharlow - Kumara Sumdo. A high volume of water in narrow gorges makes the conditions unsafe and also as the snow was still melting their was a strong possibility of rock fall.

Photo: Snigge pass from Nirak
The reason for higher river levels than usual is that last winter Ladakh had heavy snowfalls and an extended winter. Spring with warmer temperatures did not take place until the first week of July. As a result the snow melted late and there was a lot more water in the rivers compared to previous years. The conditions of more regularly trekked trails was very good but the less used trails like on sections of Ladakh Sky Trail GHT were not so good.

With Almas's excellent local knowledge of the trails in this region, he came up with a Plan B that followed a new gorge. I heard from the group this was a spectacular trail and passed through two beautiful villages of Nirak and Yulchung at the end of the gorge. This is the sixth time we have organised Ladakh Sky Trail GHT and first time we have been unable to follow the gorge as per our itinerary however it is good to know for future groups that there is an alternative trail through a different part of Zanskar.

Photo: Nirak village
We track this group's progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins sent to us daily and uploaded to Google Maps. You can view the Google Maps for our 2019 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT, if you are interested to compare the Plan B trail through the new gorge you can also view our Google Maps for our standard Ladakh Sky Trail GHT.

As for all or our treks in the Himalayas we received bespoke weather forecast from Michael Fagin at everestweather.com. The weather for our 2019 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT trek was fine although our previous groups had more sun, Almas sums up the weather "The weather on the trip was alright. It was cloudy at the beginning of the trip. We also got a bit of rain. It snowed on our first pass - Snigge La."

Photo: Yull Chung village
We strongly believe for environmental reasons that our groups should leave no trace and carry out all of our rubbish back out to Leh for disposal. Almas explains in his words "Trek staff took good care of the rubbish and left the campsites clean. We made sure that we carried out all our non biodegradable rubbish. We carried out 15kg of our rubbish in our first section of the trek and about 5kg in the Tsomoriri section. We found that there was not a lot of other rubbish  left by other groups in the Zanskar region as we used a less traveled trail".

We have received an Excellent rated AITO review for Ladakh Sky Trail GHT from one member of this group, as follows:

"A challenging trek where we crossed four x 5,000m passes and slept out in tents one night at an altitude of over 5,200m. Our guides had extensive local knowledge of the region and took us to villages not normally visited by Western Trekkers. We visited several Buddhist Monasteries and were lucky to learn so much about the local religion and culture. The Mountain Company are small enough to provide a personal service to customers that is second to none and experienced enough provide a varied number of treks in remote places. Detailed planning and experienced leaders ensure the safety of trekkers and guides alike."

I would like to thank Almas and all of the Ladakhi team including guides, cooks, kitchen helpers and horsemen for doing a fantastic job helping to support our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT. Almas will be back in Ladakh again next summer leading our 2020 Ladakh Sky Trail and please get in touch if you are interested in joining him.

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Trip report for Snow Lake & Hispar La in Pakistan during July/ August 2019

Photo: Celebrating with the crew at Hispar La (credit: Jo Clark)
In July we organised Snow Lake & Hispar La trek in Pakistan and the leaders for this trek were Jo Clark (UK), Karim (Pakistan) and Sultan (Pakistan). Jo led our successful K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La trek last Summer and enjoyed returning this Summer to lead this more remote and less frequently trekked mountain journey through the Karakoram mountains from Baltistan to Hunza Valley.

This Summer we organised three groups in Pakistan: K2 Base Camp & Concordia, K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La and to Snow Lake & Hispar La. All of these groups started on the same dates and everyone flew from Islamabad up to Skardu together. Robert Anderson led our K2 Base Camp group to Concordia and over Gondogoro La whereas Jo led our Snow Lake group over Hispar La to Hunza. Both the K2 Base Camp and Snow Lake treks start at the village of Askole and the trail separates in the afternoon of the first day's walk. Like most of our groups this Snow Lake group was an international mix with people coming from UK, Australia, Poland and New Zealand.

Photo: Walking up the Biafo Glacier (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Walking across Snow Lake (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Just starting up Hispar La pass (credit: Jo Clark)

Photo: Camping on the Hispar La (credit: Jo Clark)
In her own words Jo Clark summarises her experience leading Snow Lake trek below:

"Leaving Askole, we said goodbye to the K2 trekking group led by Robert and headed towards the west up the Biafo Glacier. As we slowly made our way up the glacier, the terrain changed from rocky moraine to an icy trail littered with small crevasses. At the same time the weather turned and we had a few days of rain.

After a week of trekking, the clouds cleared, the sun came out and Snow Lake shone in the distance. With a few avid photographers on the trek, the clear views and majestic mountains made for some early morning sunrise photos and lots of distraction during the day.

On the day we trekked to the pass, a dawn start saw the team roped up and traversing the majestic Snow Lake with views of The Ogre and thoughts of far away expeditions. The flat open expanse of Snow Lake is difficult to imagine and the many false summits of the pass make it just a little longer and further that you think it should be. However, arriving on top of the snowy pass is well worth the effort and everyone was excited to have reached the top and camp in such an incredible location.

The five day descent towards Hispar Village is the more challenging side of the trek with glaciers to cross and steep sandy slopes to climb and descend. However the vast array of flowers, the views and perfect weather, and the yaks we met as we got lower made the harsh terrain and effort worth every step.

Having seen just one other group over the past ten day our arrival in the relative civilisation of Hipar Village was a change of pace, but the campsite was grassy and villagers friendly, providing us with a pleasant transition before the 4WD journey to Karimabad the next morning."

Photo: Descending towards Hispar Glacier (credit: Jo Clark)
Photo: Looking back at the pass and the Ogre (credit: Jo Clark)

We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Snow Lake & Hispar La.

As you can see this group successfully made the traverse over Hispar La into Hunza Valley. I have copied below the comments from one member of this group on her AITO review:

"I trekked through the beautiful mountains and on the Biafo glacier crossing over snow lake and the Hispar la pass in Pakistan with The Mountain Company. I have trekked with them 3 times and each trek was run using a western leader. The Mountain Company always executes trips that operationally run smoothly and focus on clients safety whilst ensuring that everyone has an unforgettable travelling experience."

Jo took video during this trek, she has edited and uploaded to The Mountain Company's Channel on YouTube. As you can see the scenery is superb and by watching this video will give you a good insight and feel of what to expect on this trek.


Thanks very much to Jo, Karim and Sultan and the cook Nisar for all of their help leading and organising this trek. Well done and congratulations to the group for completing this challenging trek and making the traverse into Hunza Valley.

We plan to organise Snow Lake & Hispar La trek in July 2020, please get in contact with us if you are interested in joining this group.

Roland Hunter
www.themountaincompany.co.uk


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Trip report for K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La in July 2019 led by Robert Anderson

Photo: Robert Anderson and group at Concordia (credit: Robert Anderson)

In July we organised our 11th trek to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan and out of these departures seven groups have successfully crossed the Gondogoro La high pass over to Hushe village.

Our leaders for our July 2019 K2 Base Camp treks were Robert Anderson (USA), Raheb (Pakistan) and Hameed (Pakistan). We had five people in our K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La group and five people in our K2 Base Camp & Concordia group. Like in previous years this group was an international mix with people coming from UK, USA, Norway, Canada and Ireland.

This Summer we organised in total three trekking groups in Pakistan: first one to K2 Base Camp & Concordia, second to K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La led by Robert and third to Snow Lake & Hispar La led by Jo Clark. All of these groups started on the same date arriving in Islamabad on July 20th and then flew up to Skardu from Islamabad together on July 21st.

Photo: crossing bridge after Askole village (credit: Robert Anderson)
Photo: walking on Baltoro glacier (credit: Robert Anderson)
Photo: Mount K2 (credit: Robert Anderson)
Robert Anderson writes about his experience leading K2 Base Camp treks below:

"We reached Broad Peak base Camp by noon on August 1st, and the team paused for lunch, K2 already towering high overhead, swirling with wispy clouds.

Over the past week we had ascended the 95 km from Askole to Concordia. On the third day we dropped onto the Baltoro Glacier, trading sandy trails and bright sunshine for the rocky path leading through the crevasses, over the ice cliffs and around the azure blue lakes. The ice popped and cracked, rocks tumbled into the fissures and rivers roared over the ice and underfoot to suddenly disappear into crevasses. We passed underneath the staggering heights of Uli Biaho and the Trango towers, sunsets framing their jagged summits every evening.

At K2 Base Camp, the climbing teams had already left and we were alone with the mountain, indescribably high and rising far above us. We took pictures, yet none close to capturing the sense of immensity, the towering and complex black rock and white ice slopes that rose so far into the sky.

Back at Concordia, 5 of us headed for the heights of the Gondogoro La at 5,600 meters, stepping over Snow Leopard tracks as we started up the ropes. The night had started pre-midnight with stars, but at the pass a blizzard raged and we dived down the other side, sliding down ice covered ropes and into the sunshine of the Hushe Valley.

We met back up with our Baltoro team at Skardu, traded stories from the heights and plotted new adventures together."



Photo: walking to Ali Camp before crossing Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)

Photo: leaving Ali Camp before crossing Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)
Photo: climbing up Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)
Photo: descending a snowy Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)

Photo: descending a snowy Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)
Well done to both groups for achieving their objectives with the Gondogoro La group successfully crossing this technical high pass 5,500m+ and for K2 Base Camp group for walking up to Gilkey memorial and to the Base Camp of the second highest mountain in the world. Both of our K2 Base Camp groups arrived safely back to Skardu on August 8th and then flew back together to Islamabad on August 9th.

Photo: relaxing in Khuspang camp after crossing Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)
Photo: Khuspang camp after crossing Gondogoro La (credit: Robert Anderson)
Jo Clark, the leader of our K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La group in 2018, made a good video of her trek and uploaded to our YouTube channel, link below:


We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and this year we have started using Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for our 2019 K2 Base Camp treks.

You can view the all of our AITO reviews for K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La and K2 Base Camp & Concordia. I have copied below an AITO review received from one member of this group below:

"I can't say enough good things about The Mountain Company. Pre-booking information was plentiful, and any questions I had were immediately addressed. The pre-departure information was extremely useful - everything from gear selection to a fitness program, assistance in arranging visas, suggested airline routings... wow. I had several back and forth interactions about what gear to take and my inquiries were always answered promptly. 

Then there was the trip. Everything on the ground went smoothly from the time I was met after picking up my bags in Islamabad until I was dropped off again on departure. Our leader, Robert, was exceptional, extremely experienced, good natured with a positive outlook that helped in the difficult days. He was keyed into the needs of the individuals in the group and made the logistics trivial for us. The local operator was of high quality and the local guides friendly, funny, helpful and accommodating to us. Any issues with porters/muleteers or logistics were unseen by us. I am an experienced traveler and have used a half dozen tour operators over the years. This trip with TMC was the best of them, and I will be booking other trips with TMC in the future."

Thanks very much to Robert, Raheb and Hameed plus the rest of the hard working team in Pakistan for their help and making it possible for our trekkers to experience this beautiful trek to K2.

The Mountain Company is promoting both our K2 Base Camp & Concordia and K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La for July 2020. We are also planning to organise Snow Lake & Hispar La again in July 2020.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions on K2 Base Camp trek and if you would like to discuss your suitability or additional training required to join this trek in the future.

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Trip report for Saribung Expedition in Nepal led by Jo Clark (UK) in April 2019

Photo: on summit of Saribung Peak (6,328m) (credit: Shyam Krishnan)
In April 2019, The Mountain Company (UK) organised our first group Saribung Expedition to cross Saribung Pass (6,042m) and climb Saribung Peak (6,328m). These objectives are located in the remote and rarely visited Damodar Himal mountain range to east of Upper Mustang in Nepal. If you are looking for a traditional, full camping expedition away from the busier regions such as Everest and Annapurna then I suggest you take a look at Saribung Expedition.

This group was led by Jo Clark (UK) and the Nepali Sirdars for this group were Arjun Tamang and Galden Sherpa. The Sherpa guides were Chongba and Bhim. The cook was Suk who has worked with us for many years and always produces high quality and tasty food for our groups. Jo and Galden had already completed a reconnaissance trek in late October 2018, you can read her Trip report for Saribung Expedition Recce

Photo: on Saribung Pass (6,042m) (credit: Shyam Krishnan)
As Saribung is a classified as an expedition peak where there is a full climbing permit required to ascend to the summit whereas to cross the pass requires only a Restricted Area Permit. The group were given the choice after booking and an extra cost was charged for those wanting to attempt the summit. In practice the summit is only two hours ascent from the pass and the route follows moderate angled snow and ice that involves glacial travel as there are some crevasses on this section of the climb.

Jo took video during this expedition, she has edited and uploaded to The Mountain Company's Channel on YouTube or click on the YouTube panel below:


You can watch a video of the summit panorama taken by one of our climbers, Shyam, and uploaded onto our YouTube channel. Wow what a view, incredible!

Photo: view from summit of Saribung down to Japanese Camp (credit: Shyam Krishnan)
Jo has summarised her experience leading our Saribung Expedition as follows:

"The weather during the trip was consistently clear with blue skies and some small build-up of cloud in the afternoons. When we reached Upper Mustang, the weather held out but the winds picked up as is usual in this area.

The walk into Phu is one of the most magnificent and breathtaking of the himalaya. With the rock entrance, deep gorge ascent and finally the gates of Phu it really feels like you are entering another world. Above Phu the remote beauty continues to astound as the surrounding Peaks become bigger and the views greater. A tough few days on glacial moraine are rewarded by a spectacular pass day before descending into the remote Upper Mustang with diverse sandy colours and vast landscapes."


Throughout the course of Saribung Expedition we received bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at www.everestweather.com and this information was sent through to Jo on her satellite phone for the days before crossing Saribung La and climbing Saribung Peak. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field. As it turned out the weather forecasts were accurate and the group enjoyed perfect weather conditions with blue sky and relatively low wind speeds on the pass.

Photo: view from summit of Saribung (credit: Shyam Krishnan)
We track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and we use Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Saribung Expedition in April 2019

I have copied below feedback received from two members of Saribung Expedition group now published on AITO review site:

"This was an exceptional trek up through Manang over the beautiful glacier Saribung and then through Upper Mustang to Lo Mantang before completing the trek in Jomsom. From Koto onward the trek steadily gets more and more remote with absolutely stunning mountain scenery. On route we stopped at the fascinating and ancient village of Phu before entering a period of 11 days where totally alone. The snow conditions provided a wonderful dimension leading up to the pass, down the glacier on the far side to then trek through the beautiful and arid scenery of Upper Mustang ending up in the interesting village of Lo Mantang. An outstanding expedition.

This is the seventh trek I have completed with The Mountain Company, which I think makes the point. The Mountain Company provide excellent quality treks, well managed, equiped and with highly skilled and experienced leaders and guides."



"I trekked from Jagat across Saribung La to Upper Mustang, while also ascending Saribung Peak (6,328 m). I also extended the trek to Manang on the Annapurna circuit.

The Mountain Company runs very well organized trips. This was my second trip with them and I was very pleased. Roland Hunter and the primary guide for the trip, Jo Clark were both very prompt in addressing queries and concerns before the trip. Jo and assistant guides Bhim Bahadur Sunuwar, Arjun Tamang, Chongba Sherpa and Galden Sherpa did an excellent job during the trip. Food prepared by Suk Bahadur and Gyaljin Sherpa was excellent. Porters also went above and beyond their call of duty by assisting clients on the hard days."


You can read all of our AITO reviews received on AITO website

As discussed in Trip report for Saribung Expedition Recce we have designed our itinerary for Saribung Expedition for gradual acclimatisation and this works best by approaching Saribung from Phu side rather than the more common approach from Lo Manthang side. Whereas approaching Saribung from Lo Mantang entails crossing three passes of around 5,000m early in the trek. This means ascending too high, too fast with risk of altitude sickness for both group and crew. The village of Phu  and the valley to north to Pokharang Base Camp is very beautiful and remote with very few trekkers exploring this region of the Himalayas.

Based on Jo's feedback we plan to make some changes to Saribung Expedition itinerary to make further improvements for future trips. The main changes are to have two nights at Pokharang Base Camp as this place is good for acclimatisating and there is also an interesting day walk to a nearby lake.

Also based on feedback from the group we will not visit Lo Manthang so for future groups we will take the trail from Yara village down the east bank of Kali Gandaki then drive by jeep to Jomsom. After seeing the beautiful and interesting village of Phu it seems that these days Lo Manthang is rather disappointing especially now that many of the older buildings have been destroyed and replaced by concrete structures. It sounds like after crossing Saribung pass and arriving to Yara everyone in the group was ready to get back to Kathmandu and not spend more time trekking up to Lo Manthang.

Thanks very much to Jo, Arjun and Galden and the rest of the team for their hard work leading and organising this trek.

Our next departure for Saribung Expedition is in October 2019 and followed by April 2020. There is currently availability if you are interested in joining this group, please get in touch with us soon.

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

In Hillary’s Footsteps to Everest Base Camp led by Peter Hillary and Robert Anderson in April 2019

Photo: In Hillary's Footsteps team at Everest Base Camp
This unique trek to Everest Base Camp was led by Peter Hillary and Robert Anderson. Peter is a very accomplished mountaineer and is the son of the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Robert led the first ascent of a new route without oxygen on the Kangshung Face of Everest. Both Peter and Robert have summited Everest twice, walking along the same trail we will be taking.

Peter’s sons, George and Alexander Hillary, and daughter, Lily Hillary, as well as Robert’s daughter, Phoebe Anderson, joined the trek so it was a real family event. All of the Hillarys and Andersons were involved with the leadership by sharing their personal insights and history of the iconic first ascent of Mount Everest, as the group followed in Sir Edmund’s footsteps to Base Camp.

We customised our Everest Base Camp itinerary to reflect the Hillary legacy, meeting Sherpas and visiting unique places full of climbing and Nepalese history.

I have copied below a summary of how the trek went from Robert Anderson:

We were in Gorak Shep at 5,164 meters (16,942 feet) for the evening, with our grand finale, the trek to Everest Base Camp set for dawn the next day. It was snowing, blowing and a few were feeling just a bit of altitude. Two of us went out for tea and needed to battle our way back with headlamps through the blizzard, dodging snow covered Yaks and avoiding the inevitable lurking snow leopard.

At sunrise the day was clear, the wind had died, much of the snow had blown away and we rallied - with porridge and omelettes and chapatis inside us we set a brisk pace up the hill under a warming sun. We crested the glacial moraine and headed out onto the ice of Khumbu Icefall. With no less than 4 Hillary family members with us, we definitely had our choice of “In Hillary’s Footsteps” to follow. With 100% of our 18 strong team in attendance, it was a good moment to celebrate.

Base Camp was radiant and warm, we raised our ski sticks high, explored the base of the icefall and wandered back through the heart of Base Camp.

Our trek had treated us to one unique adventure after another, with plenty of good fortune along the way. From catching the last day of direct flights from Kathmandu-Lukla, to meeting up with long time friends of the Hillarys in Khumjung, to a daily inspirational quote from Sir Ed to move us forward through the days.

While our trek had followed much of the classic route, ascending the Kunde Ridge at dawn with Peter Hillary and his kids provided us a rare moment and a perfect start to a day with no other people around, in the shadow of Everest at the Hillary memorials. On the way down from EBC, we skirted Tengboche and went round the mountain on the spectacular and scenic trail to Phortse, sighting Himalayan Thar below us and Lammergeirs flying high above.

With a daily talk by Peter or ‘the kids’ we had an ongoing adventure with Hillary and Tenzings first ascent ever at the fore, from letters Ed had written home, to writings from the ‘53 team to words and photos of inspiration, to ponder on our trek to Everest Base Camp. Take a look on YouTube for Lily Hillary and Phoebe Anderson’s post dinner talk about their “Mountaineering Dads” when they took the stage in Dingboche to set the record straight.

At our final celebratory dinner in Kathmandu, many of us were plotting new challenges, and in the words of one of my favourite Hillary quotes from when Ed first stood atop Everest, ‘looking beyond’ to our own next adventure.


Photo: post trek celebration meal at Le Sherpa

I have copied below an AITO review received from one member of this group:

"Top people who know their business and know the terrain, the challenges, the many details of a long, complicated trip, and are able to adapt to the changing needs of the group and somehow manage to run a successful trip at great odds" 

Thanks very much to all of the guides and congratulations to the whole group  and I am delighted that everyone successfully walked to Everest Base Camp.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter


The Mountain Company