Sunday, 19 December 2010
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Yesterday there was a back log of over two thousand people waiting in Lukla to fly out to
In spite of the cloudy conditions in Lukla towards the end of the trek we had good weather for the rest of the time and experienced no precipitation during eighteen days of trekking. In fact for most of the days when Lukla was cloudy we were walking high above this level with the poor visibility confined to the lower valleys. My view is that November is the best time to climb
Our summit day was November 15th, we were very lucky to have clear weather with great views from
Compared to last year the Mera glacier has clearly undergone a number of changes, firstly there are now more crevasses along the section to Mera La as well some large crevasses opening up before High Camp. However there is still an established trail on the glacier winding its way between these slots making the risk of glacial travel still quite low risk at this time of year. It will be interesting to see how the glacier changes over the next few years if these crevasses open up more then perhaps it might require ladders to cross over the snow bridges in the near future. The second change is the large amount of rock sitting on top of the ice on the entry ramp onto the glacier, there has been significant rockfall from the ridge above. The presence of these rocks on the ice makes it more challenging for climbers walking onto and off the glacier and of course especially awkward while wearing crampons.
This is the fifth year in row that I have led The Mountain Company’s
The Mountain Company is organising two expeditions to climb
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Our Dhaulagiri Circuit group arrived back to
It was interesting to see the differences in the conditions and weather between my two treks around
However this year there was a heavy monsoon that extended into October, and as a result we had several rainy afternoons and evenings while walking up Myagdi valley. In fact this valley is known as being wet as the orientation is north to south with clouds travelling up from India then collide with Dhaulagiri at the top of the valley causing high levels of precipitation. The Myagdi valley is clearly a rainy place with sub tropical forest up to Sallighari camp.
The condition of
The other main difference I noticed compared to May 2008 was the improvement in the trail, in particular the path before Boghara village has now cut into the rock whereas before there was just a fixed rope to help climb over a rock slab! Beyond this village there are several other sections of the path that have been widened making the walk easier than before. The other challenging section is the descent down the lateral moraine from Italian Camp down onto the glacier, for the first time a trail has been cut into the moraine however we still felt a rope was necessary to secure the safe passage of the group and porters. Also several of the old log bridges have been replaced with well constructed cantilever bridges, in fact it is now possible to use mules to carry loads all of the way to Italian Base Camp.
I was surprised that most other groups on the Dhaulagiri Circuit were still ascending way too fast and breaking all of the rules of acclimatisation with most other people we met complaining of headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness. Of course one has to consider the entire trekking team including the health of all of the porters and kitchen crew as they are the ones working hard at these altitudes! The main consideration on this trek is the risk of someone getting serious altitude sickness in
Our acclimatisation schedule seemed to well by spending two nights at Italian Camp (3,660m), two nights at Glacier Camp (4,200m) and two nights at Dhaulagiri Base Camp (4,700m) then we crossed
Our October 2010 group were very lucky as the weather cleared on the morning before we walked into
One of the group Piotr Zycki has also posted some excellent photos on Pbase.com
Congratulations and well done to everyone in our October group for completing this trek! My view is that in spite of the improvements in the trail and construction of new bridges Dhaulagiri Circuit is still one of the hardest treks in Nepal and careful planning and preparations are required to ensure the safety and well being of the group and trek crew.
The Mountain Company is organising two Dhaulagiri Circuit treks in 2011, one starting in late April and the second departure starting in mid October, please get in touch if you are interested in joining one of these groups.
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
A wild snow leopard cub has been caught on camera for the first time in the Bhutan Himalaya. The cub was filmed investigating a camera trap set up by BBC Natural History film crew, they believe that the cub had been left near the camera while its mother snow leopard went hunting. To view some of this video please click on link below:
The same BBC film crew also found tigers living high in the
The Mountain Company is organising the Lunana Snowman trek in
Saturday, 11 September 2010
On August 7th, I was at Islamabad airport with The Mountain Company’s K2 & Gondogoro La group waiting for our flight to Skardu. By we were informed this flight was cancelled due to bad weather in Skardu, we were of course disappointed by this delay however little did we know at the time the amount of devastation this weather had caused in the Baltistan region of Pakistan.
Baltistan has suffered from floods and landslides in the past however according to Felix Baltistan Foundation this is the first time has turned into a severe catastrophic situation. Monsoon rains do not usually affect this area in northern
The Felix Baltistan Foundation is a non govermental organisation ("NGO") set up by a group of Basque mountaineers in memory of Felix Iñurrategi who died in 2000 while climbing on Gasherbrum II. The Foundation's aim is to help villages in the Hushe valley by improving their living conditions with projects directed towards the basic aspects of life such as education, agriculture and infrastructure.
Shortly after the floods on August 7th several members of Felix Baltistan Foundation provided emergency relief to people of Talis village. They gave out hot meals to families that had been left homeless and in coordination with local authorities and the Red Cross tents were distributed to affected families.
Going forward the Foundation’s objective is to continue their support by helping the villagers face the upcoming winter. The three basic areas in which they will be working on are: food support for next six months; recovery of agricultural lands; and reconstruction of their houses to help protect people against the elements (temperatures can drop to -20 Celsius during the winter).
To find out more about the Felix Baltistan Foundation take a look at their website. Please get in contact with the Foundation if you would like to contribute to their good work in the region.
Thursday, 9 September 2010
This year Alan Ward led The Mountain Company’s expedition to Stok Kangri (6,123m) in Ladakh northern India, he was helped by our Ladakhi guide Angchok and also our Nepalese climbing guide Shera. Overall the expedition went well with two members of the group summiting and the rest successfully reaching high up on the mountain.
After flying to Leh at 3,505m the team spent three days acclimatising to this high altitude while spending time to explore Leh and the surrounding area. On their second day they visited
Our Stok Kangri itinerary starts from the
On arrival to Base Camp, Alan was informed by the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) representative that it was no longer possible to use the High Camp on the mountain. The reason given was that villagers from Stok were unhappy with the rubbish left at this camp and were worried about pollution of their water supply. While I respect their view on this matter the issue is without using High Camp makes climbing Stok Kangri far more difficult and risky in terms of lack of acclimatisation and forcing a very long summit day. Hopefully in the future a solution will be found to satisfy everyone involved, perhaps by more stringent monitoring of expeditions on the mountain?
Luckily after much discussion IMF granted our group approval to use High Camp due to the fact we had a blind climber in our group however as it turned out the pack animals were unable to proceed to the “higher” High Camp due to snow on the trail.
The team set off for the summit at , on leaving camp they headed up to the glacier which was very wet and slushy underfoot. After making progress climbing the mountain three of the group decided to turn back then two carried on with Shera to the summit. Alan thought that this year the conditions were much more challenging compared to his last visit to Stok Kangri. The view of our summiteers Ian and Paul was that Stok Kangri was more difficult than their previous trips to
Congratulations to the whole team it was a great effort given the conditions, I think everyone succeeded in making their own personal altitude records on this mountain.
The Mountain Company is organising an expedition to Stok Kangri in July 2011, please get in touch with us if you would like to join this group.
Monday, 30 August 2010
I arrived back to
The group arrived to
When the group arrived to
On arrival to Skardu we heard that bad weather from 7th caused a number of landslides in the region and near to Skardu sadly killed 45 people and in Talis village 13 people perished in further landslides, for further information please take a look at this article
The group stayed at K2 Motel in Skardu, this is located in a safe area however we could clearly see that the
The next day we left early in jeeps for the drive to Askole however shortly after Shigar village we encountered a new block on the road where overnight a mudslide had destroyed the road. Everyone in our team as well as several other trekking groups helped by collecting rocks to build the road through the mud slide area. After several hours the jeeps were able to clear the block (with some impressive driving!) and then the group crossed over the river. Further along the road there was one further landslide where we had to swap jeeps then continued our drive to Thongol where we camped for the night.
The next morning we started the trek and after an hour we arrived to Askole, this is the last village on the trek until Hushe on the other side of Gondogoro La. The weather was sunny and very hot so everyone was hopeful the monsoon rains were retreating back south again. We experienced mixed cloud and sun for the next few days and in fact this made the walking very pleasant as otherwise can be very hot at this altitude.
The trek progressed as planned and after our rest day at Urdukas the weather starting to improve further and we enjoyed a memorable lunch at Goro 1 as the clouds dissipated over
After arrival to Concordia on 19th we discussed the options for the next day, five people decided to make the long walk to K2 Base Camp and Gilkey memorial while the others opted for the shorter walk to Broad Base Camp. As ever it was an emotional visit to Gilkey especially seeing the new memorial and a broken ski from Fredrik Ericsson who died earlier this summer, for further information please see his blog
On 21st the group enjoyed a rest day at Concordia and were blessed with perfect weather and incredibly views of
Shortly after Monin and I got back to Ali Camp the group arrived after their walk up from Concordia, everyone enjoyed this trek as is one of the best days with superb views back to
We decided to leave Ali Camp at in order to ensure we had enough time to cross the pass and descend the other side. It was a beautiful morning with starry skies and nearly full moon illuminating the peaks around. The group made good progress to the base of the pass and by everyone had summited Gondogoro La at 5,550m. As ever the descent is more challenging than ascent and we made steady progress however the unseasonal snow from week before started to melt releasing some rockfall, it was a good thing everyone had helmets for this descent! The recent snow made the rapel down the ropes easier than previous years however on reaching the bottom of the ropes the trail was less established than in 2008.
At The Mountain Company we believe strongly in looking after our porters, we are the only trekking company operating on the Baltoro that provides waterproof jackets and trousers plus walking shoes to our porters. We follow International Porter Protection Group five guidelines in
Our wonderful cooks and kitchen crew crossed Gondogoro La arrived to our campsite at Khuspang early and then kindly sent up a cooked lunch for us at High Camp, this food was very welcome and gave everyone renewed energy in order to carry on down to Khuspang. The next day we opted to continue our trek down to Shaisho rather than take a rest day. We heard that the bridge below Shaisho had been washed out by the recent rains and instead an enterprising ex High Altitude Porter had rigged a “jhola” or bucket bridge, after carefully inspecting the anchors and the set up we felt confident the group could cross safely and everyone in the group seemed to enjoy this experience of crossing the raging river below!
The next day we walked to Hushe village and then after handing out tips to our fantastic crew we drove to Skardu. The next morning on 26th we tried to fly to Skardu although this flight was cancelled luckily on next day we fly back to
Overall we had a great trip with perfect weather at Concordia and for crossing Gondogoro La, as ever
The Mountain Company plans to run our K2 & Gondogoro La trek again in August 2011 so please get in touch soon if you would like to join this group. We also plan to operate our Snow Lake Biafo Hispar trek in July 2011.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Monday, 21 June 2010
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Our May 2010 Dolpo recce group arrived back to Kathmandu last week after a superb trek. The
If this is one of the best treks in the
Organising the logistics for this trek are challenging, the
There is no doubt that the difficulties and challenges of trekking in
Our group saw a lot of wildlife during our trek in
In terms of time of year my view is that the best time to do this trek is during the month of May, this gives one the best chance of crossing the high passes out to Jomsom. September is probably more popular with trekking groups however often the passes are icey making travel impossible for the pack animals. This year we started the trek from Juphal on April 28th and finished in Jomsom on May 19th. We experienced dry conditions over all passes apart from a few residual winter snow patches on Kang La to Shey however our mules still managed to cross this pass with their loads.
The Mountain Company is planning on organising another Upper Dolpo to Jomsom trek in May 2011, this group will be led by Gary Pfisterer for further information please see our website please get in touch with us soon if you are interested in joining the group.