Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Dhanyabad! Kadinche! Thank you for your hardship donations from our trek crews in Nepal and Bhutan

Photo: our Nepalese trek crew receiving donations in Kathmandu on June 2nd 2020

Photo: our Bhutanese crew receiving donations in Thimphu on June 1st 2020 

Dhanyabad! Kadinche! Thanks very much to our generous trekkers and supporters who kindly donated money to our hardship fund for our Nepalese and Bhutanese trek crews who missed our on work from cancelled Spring season due to Covid 19 pandemic.

We raised an incredible £10,886 from our clients within a 3 week period and was paid out at end of April to our offices in Kathmandu and Thimphu. This has now in turn been paid out to our guide and cooks, for those who could not visit the office in person we will make payments into their bank accounts.

As you can see from this video from some of our trek crew in Bhutan they are very grateful for these donations and I have received messages from many of our guides and cooks on Facebook and Whatsapp thanking everyone very much for their support. There is no doubt this money will help them and families survive the summer.

Thanks again! Trek later on....

Roland Hunter

Friday, 22 May 2020

The 10 best camping treks in Nepal

It is still possible to get away from the crowded trekking trails in Nepal by selecting a camping trek that travels into a remote region of the country. 

The Mountain Company has many years of experience in organising camping treks in Nepal and I have personally led many of these so have firsthand knowledge of the trails.

Camping treks are more expensive due to a larger number of trek crew such as cooks to prepare the meals and porters to carry group kit like tents. There is also a requirement for additional trekking permits such as in Restricted Areas and for mountaineering peaks. Whereas treks in the Everest and Annapurna regions will be less expensive due to the food and accommodation being provided by a teahouse lodge.

Our choice of the 10 best camping treks in Nepal are listed below.  You can click on the links through to The Mountain Company website for the photos, itinerary Google maps, YouTube videos and other practical information. 


Please get in contact with us if you are interested in joining one of these groups or would like any further information.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

Monday, 25 November 2019

Trip report for Kanchenjunga Circuit in Nepal led by Natalie Wilson (UK) and Bishwo Rai (Nepal) in late October 2019

Photo: Pangpema with view of north face of Kanchenjunga (credit Natalie Wilson)

In late October 2019, The Mountain Company (UK) organised our tenth trek around Kanchenjunga Circuit trek in eastern Nepal and our international leader was Natalie Wilson (UK) and this was her fifth time leading this classic trek around the world’s third highest mountain.

The Nepali sirdar for this group was Bishwo Rai, he also worked as sirdar for our April 2019 trek around Kanchenjunga Circuit. The assistant guides were Dorje and Jon. The cook was Sangram Lama and his team (Jaguar, Santos and Dalai) worked hard to produce tasty food to keep the group and crew going on this long trek.

Photo: the group at Oktang viewpoint of SW Face of Kanchenjunga (credit Natalie Wilson)

Natalie has summarised her experience leading this trek as follows:

“This long trek went really well. We had great weather, with only a few hours of rain throughout the whole 21 days and that was overnight once we were tucked up at camp. We were blessed with fabulous views, especially at Pang Pema, Oktang and across the three high passes. As well as the views, highlights of the trip were several close up sightings of blue sheep, many impressive birds of prey and lots of encounters with yaks. 

Travelling on foot through beautiful villages and lush plantations of black cardamom and crops of millet, rice and vegetables enabled us to see what life is like in this region for local people. Gaining height we enjoyed blue skies, sunshine and big mountain views. We saw very few other trekkers and had many camping areas and trails totally to ourselves. 

As usual we had brilliant support and service from our crew of guides, cooks and porters. The bread and cakes made by Jagat were fabulous. Lovely chicken dishes, yak burgers, lots of veggies, etc. Absolutely no gastro issues at all on this trek."

The key point from Natalie's comments above that is worth highlighting is how few other trekkers they saw along the way. These days the lodge based treks in Nepal like Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp are getting busier however as soon as one enters regions like Kanchenjunga with no lodge network then it is possible to escape the crowds. Often one sees reports in the media about the busy trails in Nepal and giving a bad reputation for trekking in Nepal however it is refreshing to know that it is certainly possible to have a quieter experience by selecting camping treks like Kanchenjunga Circuit.

Photo: view from trail to Khambachen with Mt Jannu (credit Natalie Wilson)

Have you ever wondering what a camping trek is like with us in the Himalaya or Karakoram? If you have only done a lodge based trek in Nepal such as to Everest Base Camp then I suggest you take a look at this video below that we have recently uploaded to our YouTube Channel to find out more about a life on a camping trek. If you are prepared to join a camping trek then this means you can access many more regions of Nepal and Bhutan to get away from busier lodge based treks.

Throughout the course of Kanchenjunga Circuit trek we received bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and this information was sent through to Nat on her 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.

You can read all of our AITO reviews received over the years for Kanchenjunga Circuit

Thanks very much to Natalie and Bishwo and the rest of the team for their hard work leading and organising this trek.

Our next departure for Kanchenjunga Circuit is in April 2020 and followed by late October 2020. There is currently availability if you are interested in joining one of these groups, please get in touch with us soon.

Roland Hunter

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 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

Jo has written an excellent article on our blog with the title Lunana Snowman- is it the hardest trek in the world? This is well worth reading as explains the challenges and how it compares with other treks. 

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 go trekking in Bhutan and 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 high winds 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.

Please take a look at our video of Dhaulagiri Circuit October 2019 hosted on The Mountain Company's Channel on YouTube, below:

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 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. To find our more about the challenges of this trek take a look at our Blog article How hard is Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in Nepal?

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 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

The Mountain Company