Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Mountain Company 16 point difference | Why you should choose us to organise your holiday in the Himalaya or Karakoram

Photo: The Mountain Company is an award winning operator
With so many rival trekking operators out there to choose from, it is worth highlighting the main reasons why we think you should choose us to organise your holiday in the Himalaya or Karakoram.  The Mountain Company 16 point difference is as follows:

1. The Mountain Company (TMC) is an independently owned niche operator with a strong track record and deep experience of our destinations, whilst still being small enough to offer a good old fashioned friendly and personal service. The Mountain Company is proud to be a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (“AITO”).

2. TMC is an ATOL licenced operator located in the UK. We are fully insured with combined public and product liability up to GBP5 million and hold professional indemnity insurance up to GBP1 million.

3. We provide comprehensive pre trip information to help you prepare for your holiday. This advice will come from our team who has first-hand knowledge and experience of the trip you are interested in joining.

4. We organise treks to Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal, however we also enjoy organising treks to the most remote regions of the Himalaya. Many of these, such as Upper Dolpo to JomsomMakalu to Everest over Sherpani Pass and West ColLadakh Sky Trail and Lunana Snowman, are along The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) where you are unlikely to see many other trekking groups.

5. Through our online pre-trip application, we carefully screen everyone applying to join our groups. By asking about your outdoor experience, fitness level and medical conditions we hope to ensure you have an enjoyable and successful trip suited to your ambitions and capabilities.

6. Our treks are tried and tested and since TMC was set up in 2004 our groups have had excellent success rates of completing their objectives, such as reaching Everest Base Camp or crossing high passes on the classic camping treks like Dhaulagiri Circuit and Kanchenjunga Circuit. We have 100% success rate in organising the full Lunana Snowman trek in Bhutan traversing from Paro to Bumthang.

7. Our trek itineraries are designed for gradual ascent to allow time for your body to naturally adapt to the high altitude. We never compromise on the number of days within our itineraries in order to sell more holidays!

8. Our trips are organised with a high guide to trekker ratio to allow for a range of walking speeds within a group and also, for contingency planning in case a trekker has to turn back due to sickness or other reasons. In Nepal we provide one guide for a group size of two people, two guides for a group size of three people, and three guides for a group of more than six people.

9. We send a Thuraya satellite phone on all of our treks in Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. It is critical for group safety, risk management and contingency planning in an emergency situation, to know the location of and to have reliable communications with our trekking groups in the field.

10. We monitor the weather forecasts throughout the season by getting bespoke weather forecasts from Having forecasts is important for safety before crossing a high pass or climbing to a summit such as Mera Peak or Dhampus Peak.

11. We work with some of the best mountain leaders and guides in the business, with deep knowledge and experience of the Himalaya and Karakoram. Unlike many other operators we still allocate appropriately trained international leaders for more remote and technical trips. Find out more about TMC leaders here

12. Within our detailed Trip Dossiers (downloadable from our website), we clearly define what is included in our packages so that you know exactly what to budget for. We go further to provide more within our packages. For example, our lodge based treks in Nepal include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and biscuits plus two course dinner (soup and main meal) plus up to two cups of hot drinks per meal.

13. We have invested in high quality group equipment to support our camping groups in Nepal, such as Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 tents. On our camping trips we also provide portable high altitude chambers (known as PAC bags) for the emergency treatment of high altitude illnesses.

14. Given the current uncertain economic climate, you are assured that your money paid to us for your holiday is financially secure. Our UK clients will be issued an ATOL certificate backed by the British government. Our international clients will be covered by our financial protection with Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT).

15. We love what we do and are passionate about organising trips to the Himalaya and Karakoram! We focus on a small number of countries to ensure that we are the specialists for holidays in Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Burma (Myanmar).

16. TMC head office is based in UK, however Roland, our Managing Director, spends up to five months each year based in our destination countries. During 2016, Roland was in Kathmandu, Nepal supporting our groups for two months in Spring and two months in Autumn. He then travelled around Burma for a month in November inspecting tourist destinations and hotels there. Read more about our bespoke trips to Burma here.

Lastly, do not just take our word for it but please have a look at what our clients say about us on the AITO review website. TMC won the gold award for AITO Tour Operator of the Year in 2018 and bronze award for AITO Tour Operator of the Year in 2015 based on receiving excellent customer feedback.

Please get in touch with us if you would like to find out more about The Mountain Company difference.

Roland Hunter

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Trip report for Kanchenjunga Circuit trek led by Almas Khan and Jhire Rai in November 2016

Photo: northside of Mt Kanchenjunga
In November, we organised Kanchenjunga Circuit trek in eastern Nepal and this was our second departure in 2016 -----> please click here to read our Trip Report for Kanchenjunga Circuit in April. Our November trek was led by Almas Khan and this was his third time leading this classic trek around the world’s third highest mountain. The Nepali sirdar for this group was Jhire Rai who knows Kanchenjunga region very well having completed this trek twelve times before!

Almas has had another busy year leading four treks for The Mountain Company; in April he led a group on Dhaulagiri Circuit; in August/ September he led Ladakh Sky Trail GHT; in September/ October to Bhutan for his seventh Lunana Snowman trek and then back to Nepal for Kanchenjunga Circuit. It looks like Almas will be busy again in 2017 with Rodung La with Merak & Sakten in Bhutan during April then Ladakh Sky Trail GHT; Lunana Snowman trek in September/ October and Kanchenjunga Circuit in November.

For our November 2016 Kanchenjunga Circuit group we had eight trekkers coming from Canada, Switzerland, Ireland Zealand and USA. The first day of the trip was November 1st and next morning Almas gave his trek briefing on the roof top restaurant at Hotel Tibet and I also attended. On November 3rd the group flew to Bhadrapur in east of Nepal and in afternoon drove up to Ilam for the night.

During the trek this group stuck to the scheduled itinerary walking up as planned to Pangpema at Kanchenjunga northside Base Camp on November 14th and then returned to Ghunsa on the next day. The group head up to High Camp before Mirgin La on 15th then successfully crossed over Mirgin La on 16th arriving to Tseram village in late afternoon.

The weather for this group was sunny throughout the trek and this is the normal pattern in Nepalese Himalaya where high pressure system tends to dominate after the monsoon has worked its way out. As discussed in Trip Report for our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in October the monsoon finished late this year in mid October so having our Kanchenjunga Circuit in November works well in terms of weather and conditions. This group had sensational views of the north and southside of Mount Kanchenjunga as well wonderful vistas on crossing the high pass Mirgin La.

Throughout the course of Kanchenjunga Circuit trek we received bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and this information was sent through to Almas on his satellite phone for days before approaching Kanchenjunga northside Base Camp and before crossing the Mirgin La. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

I heard reports from another group trekking Kanchenjunga Circuit in October that the trail to Ghunsa had been damaged during the monsoons with a number of new landslides however in practice by November with the dryer weather these areas were fine with no active rocks falling. Almas mentioned also that one bridge had been swept away during the monsoon however the older bridge nearby survived so the group easily crossed over.

Over the years we have modified our itinerary for Kanchenjunga Circuit based on feedback from previous groups. We have carefully designed the day by day itinerary in order to allow time for acclimatisation to the high altitude and to maximise the chances of group successfully completing the trek. Almas confirmed in his debrief that our itinerary worked well and no further changes were required. As with all of TMC western led treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek and follow their route on SPOT Adventure website

Thanks very much to Almas, Jhire, and Sangram and the rest of the team for their hard work leading and organising this trek.

The Mountain Company is promoting Kanchenjunga Circuit trek for April and November 2017. Our April departure is nearly guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company