Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Great Himalaya Trail

Photo: Mount Makalu seen from GHT

The latest trekking news from the Himalaya is the exciting development of The Great Himalaya Trail ("GHT"). This is a trekking route that crosses Nepal starting near Kanchenjunga in the East and continuing to Humla on the Tibetan border in the West. The future plan is to extend the route across other countries in Himalaya going from Bhutan to Pakistan!

GHT takes the highest feasible route along the spine of the Himalaya, this involves very challenging trekking as well as several mountaineering sections over technical passes (eg Sherpani Col near Makalu). Completing the Nepal section of GHT would take over 5 months of non stop trekking. As far as I am aware no-one has yet completed GHT in one push instead trekkers like Robin Bousted (author of the excellent The Great Himalaya Trail- A Pictorial Guide) have completed the route in a number of sections.

The development of GHT has been encouraged by a several NGOs operating in Nepal such as ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) and SNV (Dutch Development Organisation. They see the long term advantages of encouraging trekkers to visit regions of Nepal other than Annapurna, Everest and Langtang. By getting away from the busier trails trekkers following The Great Himalaya Trail will bring income to remote and poor communities.

For further information on GHT I suggest taking a look at these websites:

www.thegreathimalayatrail.org

www.greathimalayatrail.com

National Geographic Adventure article

You might be interested to hear that The Mountain Company has several treks that explore sections of GHT such as our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom trek in May 2010 and our Makalu BC to Everest in April 2011. We also have plans in the future to explore other areas along GHT so please get in touch if interested in joining one of our groups.

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Best of Kendal Mountain Film Festival in London on March 16th

The Best of Kendal Mountain Film Festival will be shown at Royal Geographical Society in London on March 16th, I already have my ticket so hopefully see you there! The details are as follows:

Date: Tuesday 16 March 2010
Time: 7 – 10 pm (Exhibition Road Doors and pay bar in the Map Room open at 6 pm)
Venue: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (nearest tube South Kensington)
Tickets: £10 each / telephone 020 8545 9030

Films include: First Ascent: Alone on the wall (winner The Grand Prize and Best Climbing Film), Afghanistan – A small flame of hope (winner Best Short Film), Samsara (winner Best Mountain Adventure Film) and The Asgard Project (winner The People’s Choice Award).

All proceeds from this evening go to Porters Progress UK, a charity which supports projects to improve the safety and welfare of mountain porters in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges. For further information see the website: www.portersprogress.org

Roland Hunter

Monday, 22 February 2010

A visit to the birthplace of Lord Buddha at Lumbini, Nepal

Back in December last year I enjoyed visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site at Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. At the time I did not write anything on our blog however it is worth describing to you as this is an interesting place and well worth incorporating into a tour of Nepal especially if you entering Nepal from India through Sonauli.

Photo: marker stone showing birthplace of Buddha

Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in Lumbini in 623 B.C. This holy site is surrounded by a monastic zone where commercial enterprises such as shops or restaurants are not allowed. The zone is separated into two areas, the eastern side having Theravadin monasteries and the western side with Mahayana and Vajrayana monasteries. The Mayadevi Temple at the centre is the actual birthplace of Buddha.

It is well worth wandering around the monastic zone and visiting the monasteries from various Buddhist countries and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere. Lumbini is a sacred spot and attracts many pilgrims so you will see monks and nuns as well as other devotees from all over the world.

Photo: inside Mayadevi Temple

Photo: Maya Devi temple complex

Photo: eternal flame in monastic zone


There are a number of good hotels near Lumbini, I stayed at the Buddha Maya Garden part of the Kathmandu Guest House group, I also visited Lumbini Hokke and Lumbini Garden hotels to take a look at their facilities and rooms. Please get in touch with The Mountain Company if you would like any further information.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company