Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Is the Yeti really out there?

Last night when watching Friday Night with Jonathan Ross I was surprised when one of his guests, Sir David Attenborough, made a comment that there was "very convincing" evidence that Yetis exist. He went on to say that "I'm baffled by the Abominable Snowman - very convincing footprints have been found at 19,000ft. No-one does that for a joke. I think it's unanswered."

One of the areas where it is believed Yetis might live is in the remote and heavily forested Makalu - Barun National Park in eastern Nepal. I am visiting this region in a few weeks time while trekking into Makalu Base Camp so will keep a look out just in case!

Roland Hunter

Friday, 27 February 2009

Former Nepalese royal place reopens as a museum

The former royal place in Kathmandu, known as Narayanhiti, opened as a public museum today. Hopefully The Mountain Company will incorporate visits to the Narayanhiti as part of sightseeing tours in Kathmandu before/after our treks.

For more information please take a look at the BBC website

Roland Hunter

Thursday, 26 February 2009

UK Celebrities attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Red Nose Day 2009

Photo: Kilimanjaro

UK celebrities including Chris Moyles, Cheryl Cole, Alesha Dixon, Fearne Cotton, Gary Barlow and Ronan Keating are attempting to climb Mount Climb Kilimanjaro to raise £1 million for Red Nose Day 2009. Money raised will be used to purchase malarial nets as well as fund other good causes in Africa and UK.

They have an eight day trek to get to the summit of Kilimanjaro at 5,895m, click here to see photos of the route they plan to follow

You can follow their progress and donate to this good cause on the Red Nose website

Good luck to them all!

Roland Hunter

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Everest climbing season 2009

Everest climbing season 2009 is fast approaching with most teams planning to arrive in Kathmandu towards the end of March. If you are interested in following the events on Everest then I suggest you take a look at Alan Arnette's website.

Another good source of mountaineering news is, this website posts regular updates on all 8,000m expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram.

Roland Hunter

Friday, 20 February 2009

World record attempt for staying on the summit of Mt Everest

Photo: Everest summit

In May brothers Pemba Dorje Sherpa, Nima Gyalzen and Phurba Tenzing will attempt to break the world record for staying on top of Mount Everest. The current record is held by the late Babu Chiri Sherpa at 20 hours.

They are all very experienced Sherpas having between them made 16 Everest summits and Pemba currently holds the speed record for ascending to the summit in an amazing 8 hours and 10 minutes!

For further information take a look at the BBC news article

Tibet closed to tourists (again)

Photo: Potala Palace, Lhasa

Tibet has been closed to tourists as a result of the tensions around the 50th anniversary of Dalai Lama’s exile to India coming up on March 10th. This also applies to three surrounding provinces where ethnic Tibetans live.

For more information, take a look at the Telegraph article

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Winter Broad Peak expedition back in Base Camp after summit attempt

Since December Artur Hajzer, Don Bowie and Robert Szymczak have been on a winter expedition to Broad Peak in Pakistan. The team have just got back to Base Camp after a summit attempt where they reached Camp 3.

You can see the brutal condtitions they are experiencing on the video uploaded to Don's website and another video by Robert on HiMountain, see links below:

Don Bowie's website


Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

First winter ascent of Makalu!

Yesterday Simon Moro and Denis Urubko made the first successful winter ascent of Mt Makalu in Nepal at 8,462m. This is an amazing achievement as climbing at 8,000m in winter is incredibly difficult and of course very, very cold!

Makalu is the last 8,000m peak in Nepal to be climbed in winter, however none of the five 8,000ers in Pakistan have yet to be summitted in winter (although Simone has twice attempted Broad Peak in winter).

It is interesting how the mainstream media have missed this landmark climb in the Himalayas, probably because it is not another "first" by a tourist climber on Everest. I have copied Denis Urubko's description below of his attempt last year to climb Makalu in winter:

"In conditions like these, the route becomes a death trap. It's possible to try and reach the top over Makalu Col, but if the wind increases you won’t make it back. The wild funnel reaches up to 200 kilometers per hour making human survival impossible. The western storm will carry your frozen soul towards Lhasa; to soar over Tibet in search of the eternal beauty you couldn't find in your life.

Life in BC: crazy tunes from above. Even life in BC is a mental test. Only those who have experienced it can fully understand the terrible conditions of Makalu BC in winter. Lakes are frozen over by deep frost into a surface similar to pineapple peel. The tent never stops rattling over your head. The ropes scream and the wind incessantly deposits handfuls of snow and sand inside your shelter.

fragility of life is also underlined by a furious rumble from the summit high up above. She sings mad tunes; she cries out, "poor suckers," at us for not braving her slopes. She mourns and she threats, a mute question of "when?" sounding in each high pitch."

Monday, 9 February 2009

Best of Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2009

On March 24th Porters Progress UK ("PPUK") is organising the best of the Kendal Mountain Film Festival at the Royal Geographical Society in London. I am sure this will be an interesting evening and well worth attending, I would definitely go myself although will be in Nepal by then!

For those of you not aware of this charity, PPUK does a great job in raising awareness of issues relating to the safety and welfare of porters and to support projects in the Nepal Himalaya and other mountain ranges.

If you would like further information take a look at Porters Progress UK's website, I have also copied below the email I received from Porters Progress UK about the Best Of Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2009:

Kendal Mountain Film Festival is one of the best film festivals in the world and each November showcases a breathtaking collection of the greatest adventure films from across the globe. For the third year, Porters Progress UK proudly presents the highlights of the festival at London's prestigious Royal Geographical Society.

This year films will be presented by Royal Television Society award-winner, TV producer, and eco-adventurer Andy Pag, who in 2008 drove a chocolate-powered truck from London to Timbuktu and in 2008 launched the Grease to Greece Rally where teams have to drive across Europe powered only by waste vegetable oil that they scavenge from burger bars along the way. Andy lays claim to the first carbon-negative expedition so now his reputation as a tree-hugger and petrol-head sit comfortably together.

Roland Hunter

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Leaders for Manaslu & Dhaulagiri October '09

The Mountain Company is pleased to announce our western trek leaders for Manaslu Circuit trek and Dhaulagiri Circuit treks for October 2009.

Serena Brocklebank will lead the Manaslu Circuit trek for The Mountain Company, I have copied below some information about her experience and background:

Serena has led over fifteen expeditions in India, Nepal, Andes and Pakistan. In 2006 Serena climbed to the summit of Mount Everest, inspired by her grandfather Tom Brocklebank, who made his own attempt in 1933.

Serena originally trained as a lawyer, but from an early stage decided to pursue her passion for outdoor education and development training, and spent her early career in the 1990's enjoying working for organisations such as Outward Bound and Raleigh International.

For the last 7 years she has been working as a diplomat for the UK Foreign Office on a variety of challenging postings and recently as Vice Consul at the British Embassy in Kathmandu for 3 years.

Serena has the following outdoor qualifications: Mountain Leader Summer Assessment, Winter Mountain Leader Training, Churchill Trust Research Fellow (Adventure Development Training) and Wilderness Medical Training Certificate (2008).

For more information I suggest you take a look at The Mountain Company webpage for the Manaslu Circuit and the Manaslu Circuit photo gallery. It would also be worth reading the Blog entry with Trip Report for Manaslu Circuit October '08

Gary Pfisterer will lead the Dhaulagiri Circuit trek for The Mountain Company, I have copied below some information about Gary's background and experience:

Gary is known as one of the great leaders in the mountaineering world (per He has led many expeditions, often with his late wife Ginette Harrison, including to K2, Kanchenjunga (three times!), Shishapangma, Makalu, Dhaulaghiri and Lhotse. All of these expeditions, with the exception of Everest, were achieved without the use of High Altitude Porters or supplementary oxygen.

Gary has summitted Everest, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Kilimanjaro via the Heim glacier, Mt Logan (third unsupported alpine style traverse of East Ridge) among many others. He has led treks throughout the Himalayas and Karakoram including the epic Lunana Snowman and Snowlake Biafo- Hispar traverse.

For more information I suggest you take a look at The Mountain Company webpage for the Dhaulagiri Circuit trek and the Dhaulagiri Circuit photo gallery. It would also be worth reading the Blog entry with Trip Report for Dhaulagiri Circuit May '08

If you are interested in joining one of these treks please get in touch with The Mountain Company.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company