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Our 2008 treks and expeditions
Here is a list of treks and expeditions we have previously advertised.
See Our treks for current treks.
* means these wonderful people have trekked multiple times with us.
Christmas in the Himalaya!
A New Year adventure along the beautiful trails of the land of the Sherpa's, climbing the high viewpoints of the Everest region and visiting the power places of Buddhism along the way; the rightly famous Tengboche, but also the smaller Gomi La and Lauda Gompas in their tranquil hilltop eyries.
24 Dec-12 Jan, 20 days -- teahouse trekking -- Joel Schone -- US$2250
L-R: Lhakpa, Kim, Scott and Christine
Lead by Duncan Chessell, DCXP Mountain Journeys, Jamie is assistant guide on this cool (in more ways than one) expedition. Unclimbed peaks and Vinson (Antarctica's highest) - need we say more?
5 Dec-4 Jan?, 31 days -- Antarctic expedition style -- Duncan Chessell and Jamie McGuinness -- US$40,000
There are a couple less unclimbed peaks in Antarctica!
See the DCXP dispatches! Note that DCXP has changed their name to a softer "Chessell Adventures".
A rustic Arun-Tumlingtar start for this eastern middle hills village trek to the Solu-Khumbu. Optionally, join us in Lukla for the Christmas & New Year trek to Gokyo, a feast of mountains, turquoise lakes, glacial valleys and Sherpa villages.
Arun Valley & Gokyo Lakes: 7 Dec-2 Jan, 27 days -- teahouse trekking --
Kim Bannister -- US$2680 -- filling
Our great team of trekkers & staff on the (very) hilly Arun route.
The Gokyo section of the Arun Valley & Gokyo trek. Pictured: Kim, Peter (minus a few kgs), Kim H, Jeff, Karen, Lindsay & Steve.
There were more (and bigger, steeper) hills than anyone bargained for, but after we had made it all the way to Gokyo, minor aches and pains were forgotten and only the splendors of the trek remembered. Well ... but it WAS a wonderful trek, no other trekkers in sight besides 3 single people one day! I loved it so much I'm planning it again for 2009, with more days in the lush Arun Valley where bananas and tangerines are a dime a dozen. Thanks for sharing this special trek with us, all, and for sharing a snowy Christmas in Gokyo with us, sipping rum punch and mulled wine ...
2008 Nepal Autumn
Kanchenjunga Adventure - Nepal
From the middle hills to delightful Olangchung Gola then over the scenic Nango La to the highs of Kanchenjunga base camp; a switch from Sikkim to Nepal.
15 Nov-12 Dec, 28 days -- expedition style --
Joel Schone -- US$3600
A welcome return for Sunil from Mumbai and Bob from the USA on this classic late autumn trek which saw probably the best weather I have seen in the region - we arrived in Olangchung Gola 150 years to the day after the famous botanist, Joseph Hooker; he was entertained by 'Lama dances' at the yearly festival - and amazingly...so were we! The festival was a stunning celebration, with visitors from Tibet and the Ghunsa valley. We went on to cross the Nango La in superb conditions, and on to Pangpema to the best views. Sadly, our flight out was cancelled due to bad weather, so we had an epic journey to get home - but we did it all in total calm - thanks to you both!
The best - virtually all - of the Everest region; we cross the Cho La and the Renjo La, explore the spectacular Gokyo lakes region, climb Gokyo Ri and Kala Pattar, visit Everest Base Camp, Chukhung, and more, relaxing in cozy Sherpa lodges en route.
8 Nov-3 Dec, 26 days -- teahouse trekking --
Kim Bannister -- US$2480 -- full
An all-star group for a fantastic November High Passes trek!
We couldn't have asked for better weather as is apparent from the photo; a few days of skies peppered by dramatic clouds made for some great photos to diversify the many days of clear, blue skies, peaks soaring magnificently above. A few minor (not that it seemed that at the time!) medical issues kept some of the group on different schedules at various times during the course of the trek, but with our adaptable staff, we all managed to get up a few peaks and over a few passes and met either at Gokyo or Namche! Thanks everyone, come back!
Saipal Summit for Health *exploratory with Nepal Trust
We research the northern aspects of Saipal for Nepal Trust's 2010 "Summit for Health", an expedition to Saipal, the iconic peak of the region, to raise awareness and money for their programs out there.
7-16 Nov, 10 days -- expedition style -- Rinchen Lama
We explored! Rinchen put together a team far bigger and stronger than I originally envisaged but was the better for it. Sitar, the Yhulwang (Yulbang) Nepal Trust health post worker, had climbed on Saipal 12 years ago, and another porter was from the nearest village, and had trekked with an expedition to base camp previously too.
From Yhulwang (Yulbang) we dropped to the Karnali, then climbed out of the other side to the pass over to Chala, a village spectacularly set on a steep hillside. It was a tough day to Saipal base camp (better split in two for normal treks and expeditions) but the next day we accomplished the "work" there, climbing up to view as much of the route as possible. Jamie (alone) decided to take the tough route out and crossed a snowy pass for the "Nepali" route back to Simikot.
Jamie sleeping out at Saipal Base Camp - photo by Jamie
The Nepal Trust "Summit for Health" exploratory team, excluding kitchen staff (the summit of Saipal
is not visible).
L-R: Jeroen, (?),Sitar (Nepal Trust Yhulwang (Yulbang) health worker), Rinchen Lama (Nepal Trust) and myself - photo by Jamie
Limi *GHT with Nepal Trust
The GHT - Great Himalaya Trail - concept is back! Jamie trekked with staff from SNV and Nepal Trust (both INGO's, ie aid organizations) who were assisting James Vlahos, who is writing about the GHT.
23 Oct-6 Nov, 15 days -- expedition style -- Rinchen Lama
See TheGreatHimalayaTrail.org site.
The Great Himalaya Trail is featured in the November 2009 issue of National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Their writer, James Vlahos, visited Humla, Lower Mustang and the Solo Khumbu regions.
http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/2009/11/nepal-himalayan-trail-text (and search for the "Great Himalaya Trail" if the text doesn't show)
So the trek from my eyes:
When the going gets tough, the soft take a helicopter out... but first the trek!
I was excited to be going to Limi as friends had raved about it, and indeed our Limi and Kailash Magic was planned (see a few trips below) but with Kailash closed, we traversed Upper Dolpo instead. Amazingly, Limi came up again and yours truly was offered a place without official role, but the idea was I would help pull everything together. Once everyone was on the same page, Rinchen managed the trek superbly, although I never felt like the "spare dick at a wedding", as we discussed aid and the GHT from different angles. Essentially to trekkers, the simple concept of linking the trails from one end of the Himalaya to the other should instinctively appeal and SNV want to assist with showing the locals in the particularly remote areas how to use tourism to their advantage, but more than that they realize that aid without considering the commercial companies who will eventually sell treks, is narrow, and so they are also supporting advertizing the concept in ways that nobody else will easily or immediately fund - hence assisting the writer-photographer James Vlahos to visit Nepal.
We trekked, not just talked too, and conditions were almost perfect, if dry and dusty. The first section of the trail is the standard pilgrims, trekkers and traders route from Simikot to Hilsa. We started with a two-days-in-one Simikot to Kermi, then Yhulwang (Yulbang), Tumkot, Yari and over the first pass to Hilsa, the border.
To me the trek from Hilsa and through the Limi Valley was the highlight, the villages of Til, Halji and Jang are very special. Medieval but tidy and with proudly independent people (not looking for handouts). Til has an amazing backdrop and an old gompa, Halji's gompa is perhaps the oldest in Nepal and is unique, then from Jang and above is plenty of exploration potential.
At Halji it was decision time as there was still troublesome snow on the coming Nyalu La, as confirmed by the Nepal Trust engineer who was repairing the Halji micro-hydro. There had been a big dump of snow at the end of September, which had visibly damaged most trees in the region. The heavy, wet snow has broken branches of most trees (millions, literally), except pines and firs, although it had uprooted smaller ones of these. In other words it was surprisingly destructive. With a month of fine weather, we guessed the snow has cleared from sunny slopes and hoped that it would not interfere with crossing the two passes on the circuit. The first, the Nara La, was a little icy in parts but no problem. It sounded like the Nyalu La was uncrossable by horses though, still. This meant either we trekked light without the horse, much harder said than done though, especially as all except myself and Monica didn't have big backpacks, or turned back and retraced our steps. That did not a appeal, and Monica suffered "hillitis", the inability to return over the same hill pass, even though the coming pass was higher, and negotiated with SNV about taking a chopper out so that her and Sam could get back to work on the projects sooner.
In fact after our first rest day, in Halji, Sam's foot issues looked bad. Her small blisters (perhaps as a result of softening of the skin in an early morning session Kermi hot pools, then trekking all day?) had caused complications, the latest of which was swelling of the Achilles tendon sheath, a small injury, but more serious than it looks as it doesn't go away easily (see Kanchen Gola Wild, and Dallas suffered this and resulted in my only helicopter evac to date). Her choice was a horse and a slow trip out, which was fine with her (she is not one to complain) or a heli evac - oh, which was already in the air!
While Sam and Monica were on a first stage fact-finding trek, in fact the whole trek was really for James, and he really wanted to keep going. So Rinchen cut the crew down and myself, Jeroen, James and Lok continued, with Ganesh and Ram Bahadur carrying rather a lot. The camps were simple, before the pass very cold, and after the pass, a bonfire of huge logs so that we were not cold (there was dead wood in abundance). It was wonderful trekking, even if the last haul up to Simikot was tough. Even if the trekking may end at a rural airport, the adventures don't always, and with no commercial flights that day, Nepal Trust managed to get James on a cargo helicopter to Surkhet, and eventually back to Kathmandu.
Around Dhaulagiri - by Explore Himalaya
A private trip for Laurie and friend, arranged by Explore Himalaya and crew chosen by Jamie.
21 Oct-8 Nov, 19 days to Marpha -- expedition style -- Pasang Gyelu
Often I (Jamie) help friends/acquaintances arrange treks, and usually these are through Explore Himalaya. There are many good trekking companies in Kathmandu (and many not so good...), and some are cheaper than Explore Himalaya (although they do try hard on price), however the difference is that I try to help arrange the staff, putting on the most appropriate people I can find. I suggested the backchair system, ie with Crazy Creek-style chairs on the ground, and so the dining tent, a 4 dome person tent was a spare tent as well,a nd the setup was warmer and lighter. I have to say that while everything went well, we weren't perfect and somehow they went trekking a day earlier than planned, but showed a gracious acceptance of this.
I was pleasantly surprised as the days were shorter and it wasn’t as hard as I’d expected (& I did carry my pack). Scenery was fantastic. We were hit by pretty horrible winds coming into Hidden Valley, and in fact one of the tent outers was destroyed in the maelstrom. The winds continued and so we agreed not to wait around to pop up Dhampus. The porters were cold – in fact Umar an older porter (though younger than me) gave up the morning we left Hidden Valley. His hands were too cold and he was genuinely frightened and sat down in the snow on the point of tears. We gave him one of those hand chemical heating packs and with lots of reassurance and persuasion from Pasang he got up and walked on.
Pasang was excellent, he was very hardworking, attentive and sensitive to both ours and his staffs needs. JangBu (spelling?) the cook delivered excellent dishes and neither of us had any stomach upsets. There were two kitchen boys/porters who again were extremely hard working: with JangBu they packed up last, headed off very quickly and had things set up for our arrival. There was one outstanding porter, I believe his name was Tenzing, on arrival at camp he would always help Pasang with putting up tents, preparing things etc..(we tipped him the same as the kitchen crew). I’d highly recommend Pasang, Jangbu the 2 kitchen boys and Tenzing we increased the tips accordingly to 5000, 4000, and 3000 for the kitchen boys + Tenzing.
Spent 5 nights at Kagbeni and went for several walks across the river into the hills behind ‘Golden Hill’. Couldn’t believe how clean Marpha and Kagbeni streets were and internet in Mustang – well I never!!
- 8000m Preparation Expedition
We head to Kang Guru, a convenient and straightforward 7000m peak to develop skills for climbing 8000m peaks and Everest.
17 Oct-15 Nov, 30 days -- all trekking and mountain services included -- Phil
Crampton(/Jamie) and Namgyal -- US$5800
When we have a trip up and people book, we run it. At first it looked as if this expedition would be small, but even in the days just before leaving, we had more last minute bookings, and ended up with a diverse team. See the dispatches page for a summary, and the dispatches.
A classic autumn trek to the base of Nanda Devi, a name of myth and magic. We visit the old trading towns of the Johar valley and trek the demanding route to Nanda Devi east base camp, a beautiful and rarely visited high mountain sanctuary.
A Divali journey up to Munsiari with firecrackers all around was followed by a flawless trek right to the base of the mountains in the 'Eastern sanctuary' blocked by snow last year - superb weather and easy company with Tenpa and Kunsang made this a lovely autumn experience.
We return to the summer abode of Shiva, Kinnaur Kailash, crossing two passes through remote valleys that have witnessed generations of explorers and pilgrims en route to Tibet, through forests redolent with autumn colors to the high places of Asia.
L-R: Scarlett, Lobsang, Kit, Susan and Paul
This year we got to the base of the Charang Pass in heavy snow and tough conditions; after a very cold night Kit, Scarlett and her dad Paul decided the pass would be too tough; Lobsang did a superb job taking Susan over, while we took the low route. Reunited, we once again experienced the low but very tough Rupin Pass, gateway to the most isolated valley in the Himalaya - we met 'Chota wallah' our old friend from 2007, and enjoyed all the remoteness of another 'lost valley' with not a trekker in sight - well done Scarlett on her first trek!
Around Annapurna - by Explore Himalaya
A private trip for friends of friends, organized on a "GAP" basis, Guide, Accommodation and Porter.
Approx 5-23? Oct, 18 days -- GAP teahouse -- Pasang Gyelu
This sort of teahouse trekking is popular but the Explore Himalaya office is not so experienced in running these style of trips. Since it was Dasain, the biggest Hindu festival of the year it is often hard to find staff, for Hindus it is like asking a Christian to work over Christmas and New Year. Luckily our sherpa staff are Buddhists and are happy to work then. Along with good staff a big part of these trips is choosing the right itinerary, and with extra time Carole and Agnes were able to take the Begnas Tal start to the Annapurna Circuit, and it is definitely rather rustic for the first 3 days, their first day was rather adventurous.
... Anyway, I wanted to say that apart from the initial problems, Agnes relaxed after the first day and things went very well. Pasang is a gem of a man and although yes it would help if his English was better as there were a few times when conversations could not always progress because communication was not great but on the whole we felt in good hands always and Chirin was always pretty cheerful so it all went pretty good I thought.
The first few days in the rice fields were beautiful and we saw no other tourist, which was great. The crowds came as a bit of a shock when we reached Bahudanda!
I really had a great time and it was actually nice to not have to carry everything ourselves, especially in altitude, although that would not have been a massive drama in the end. Thank you so much for helping with it, we did have a great time and although I think Agnes had enough of the cold by the end of it she was very happy she came.
The Land Beyond: Api Saipal - West Nepal *exploratory
We trek off the map, exploring Nepal's almost forgotten far west to the base camp of Api (7132m). There may be logistical challenges and the poverty is shocking; for adventurous, Nepal-experienced trekkers only.
6 Oct-2 Nov, 24 days -- expedition-style -- Wanda Vivequin -- US$2980 -- full
Who said Americans and Canadians can't get on! We were Team Air Five and we were the only trekkers heading to the South Saipal Base Camp in Far Western Nepal this season and what an adventure we had trying to even get the to trail.
We began in Khaptad National Park and after experiencing a full on dance festival in Chainpur followed the Seti River... then the Ghat Khola and then finally found a rather dodgy bridge to cross the Omni Khola to reach Saipal Base Camp. We hacked through jungles using meat cleavers, Wanda got bitten by a dog, Chris got chased by a mad cow, we had men running through our camp with muskets chasing wild pigs and found the most spectacular hot springs. The people of Western Nepal were spectacularly welcoming and not a single child begged for a pen, rupee or sweet... in sum, what an incredible experience!
The Land Beyond: Aip Saipal team - photo by Wanda
The mystique of remote 'inner' Dolpo, where the movie "Himalaya" and "Seven Years in Tibet" was filmed. Crossing the Kangmara La, we trek to the fabled Shey Gompa, Phoksumdo Lake and Dho Tarap, where the inhabitants still trade along the old salt routes.
28 Sept-29/30 Oct, 32/33 days -- expedition-style --
-- US$4480 -- FULL
Pictured: Richard, Thinley Gyalgen (our Dolpo guide, 'chief'
Thinley's nephew), Maila (sherpa staff), Graham, Steve,
What a group of Himalayan veterans, and top-notch guides! This was my most educational trek ever, and one of the most enjoyable groups I've ever trekked with. We didn't make it over the Kagmara La from Jumla, but had many adventures on the lower route into Dolpo with our team of recalcitrant horses and sullen horsemen. Things improved considerably once at the entrance to Inner Dolpo at stunning Phoksumdo Lake where we traded our horses and mules for yaks, a good trade for sure! Our star yak drivers even carried cases of Lhasa beer for us at 150 per can (of course we didn't drink them at that altitude, just sprayed them around the dining tent for the Gods ...). And Dolpo was just spectacular, one of the best Himalayan treks ever. More coming next year!
+ Manaslu 8163m - Nepal - PH w Altitude Junkies
Let's try Manaslu! The mountain is only marginally more technical than Cho Oyu but has less reliable weather and other conditions. This is a full guide-assisted expedition with Phil Crampton as guide-manager. See Phil's dispatches (link to come).
1 Sept-20 Oct, 50 days -- all mountain services included -- +Phil
Crampton -- US$9950
We did well! Phil wrote expedition dispatches, and I have added some thoughts too.
Upper Dolpo Magic / Limi and Kailash Magic *friends
Thought by some to be the fabled Shangri-la, we explore the remote Limi Valley then trek around Kailash, possibly cleansing the sins of a lifetime. Kailash hasn't opened so instead we explore Upper Dolpo to Shey and Jomsom. For select previous trekkers only.
31 Aug-27 Sept, 28 days -- expedition-style --
Jamie -- US$4400
What a trek - when can we do it all again? First the region - why has it taken me almost a 100 treks to get to the most stunning area of Nepal, like Zanskar, Nimaling and Tibet all in one? It was tough, though, with around 10 passes, the highest at 5600m snow spanking us last and we camped in the dining tent at 5100m. Tough passes for tough trekkers; Pik broke her run and didn't get sick at all (nobody did) and we had mellow, fun days and evenings living trekking life at its best. The weather was kind too. And those vistas; trekking in awe, I am really looking forward to making a photo gallery.
"... but the best was Dolpo itself. I had never seen such powerful beauty before."
2008 Indian Summer
Our Zanskar and Ladakh summer treks are some of the best there are!
The tranquil beauty of the Lahauli Miyar Valley with its alpine campsites leads us to the more savage beauty of the Miyar Glacier which we follow to the magnificent snowfields and spectacular panoramas of the Kang La - from where we descend to the warmth and beauty of our favorite kingdom in the sky, Zanskar. An unforgettable and truly Himalayan passage.
A dream! All of our treks are wonderful, but to have so many good things in abundance was a dream come true! First, probably it was one of the most diverse teams I have trekked with, but mature and unselfish, supportive of each other and myself; all contributing to make it a real team. Next, of course our incredible staff and probably the best trek on the planet! From the greens of Miyar to the ice pinnacles of the Kang La; through the demanding Jumlam gorge and snowstorms in the Markha valley, we saw it all and loved it all through some truly moving and hilarious Himalayan moments! Lucy is back this May and I hope to see you all again soon!
"Thanks for a brilliant trip (not holiday!) you were great! I looked at the photos and they were amazing, they give a brilliant account of the trek and each says 1000 words that adds up to a novella! Please give my thanks again to Lobsang, Stanzin and Sonam, a brilliant team that gave us heroic confidence."
Lucy, Divide team 2008
"I want to thank you for an amazing vacation. Trekking with you was one of the best outdoors experiences ever! I really appreciated your help, expertise and can-do attitude at all times and I can truly say it was 'outrageous fun' !"
Marta, Divide team 2008
On the Kang La, L-R: Wilson, Paul, Lucy, Adam, (Lobsang front) Peter, Alan, Marta, Dave, Stanzin, John, Sonam
And in the Jumlam: Lobsang, Lucy sitting, Stanzin, John, Paul, Alan, Dave, Peter, Wilson, Marta sitting
This is a before trek photo from David Koelle: Wilson, John, Alan, Paul, Joel, David, Lucy, Marta, Adam and Peter Sih.
Ladakh, the land of high passes, cliff-side monasteries and white-washed villages is the setting for our late-summer 'harvest' trek. Heading south to Zanskar through the canyons of Bear Valley, we end the journey via a spectacular exploratory route to the 'Central Asian' Suru Valley and Tibetan Rangdum Gompa.
Pictured: Greg, Laura & Dick, Susi & Lhakpa
What a stunning trek along remote trails in Ladakh, some real exploration, and no other trekkers in sight en route to Rangdum Gompa in the Suru Valley! We found some new favorite villages such as Dibling, with campsites to die for ... We even threw in a bit of horse-back riding for good measure. Thanks to my wonderful group of trekkers for sharing this exploration with Lhakpa & I!
A Himalayan kaleidoscope - the timeless Buddhist sites of the Indus valley, then the ancient village of Alchi before a very special trek through villages rarely visited by trekkers - this trek is designed with the first timer in mind, with special attention to acclimatizing to altitude - and India!
Back row left: Susanah, Mallory, Marylene, Genevieve, Stanzin, Francesca
At times this trek seemed like an introduction to all the bugs of Asia as nearly everyone went down with a stomach bug picked up in Leh - and the shorter days of the early days were not what everyone wanted - but everyone enjoyed the days once they had settled in, and were all particularly wonderful to our staff and trainee kitchen boy, Singge - and Lobsang was still showing video clips of the Shaynam party in November!
One of Ladakh's jewels, a shorter trek in the midst of the Himalayas, with Ladakhi villagers working in their ripening barley fields, crumbling fortresses and ancient Tibetan monasteries. To top it off, we cross a high pass to the spectacular, high Tibetan plateau, where nomads, yaks and pashmina goats camp in their yak-hair tents.
Kiran, Doug, Xavier, Kristy & Lhakpa at the top of the Zalung Karpo La, a long haul! Horses making their way up the pass behind.
The photo says it all, eh? We did some serious trekking, and enjoyed every minute of it! New music was shared in the 'Kamzang Style' dining tent, many games played, endless great discussions had, and our usual delicious food enjoyed every morning and evening. Thanks, guys, for a FANTASTIC trek!
Tibetan caravans have journeyed these routes for a millennium, crossing Himalayan passes, fording rivers, setting up camp on the high Tibetan plateau, and trading in remote Ladakhi villages. This timeless, spectacular journey through the nomadic lake regions of the southern Silk Route is deservedly a Project Himalaya classic, one of our most popular treks.
Strangely, bookings were very low so we rearranged with people to put them on other trips.
A journey through both time and space as we cross the Himalayan barrier into the remote Tibetan kingdom of Zanskar. with its beautiful villages and hilltop gompas, and then on over the rarely crossed Phirtse La - to the high pastures of Lahaul.
Hello again to old friend Corrin and 18 year old Sander from Belgium, and hello to a wonderful Zanskar circuit; not a trekker in sight as we crossed the Shingo la with Tenpa as sirdar - Lobsang was leading another trek - and Corrin entertaining the locals with his pan pipes! Evenings talking over cameras, days avoiding the brutal sun - and the usual warm welcome from Zanskar!
From the left: Prasad, Tenpa, Tsampel, Kunsang, Singge, Norbu, Sander and Corrin - Joel Schone
One of the 'Top Ten' treks in the world and a Project Himalaya classic with some exploratory twists. Join us for an exciting journey through this remote Tibetan region along ancient trade routes, through timeless villages and over high Himalayan passes.
The Group - Elly, Peter & Hes (Kim & Lhakpa taking photos)
And some of our great team: Sherap (horseman, assistant in everything, Junar (chef extraordaire), Lhakpa (assistant guide), Santos (Sherap's assistant) & Kiran somewhere under the pile (assistant guide/kitchen). Peter giving a group hug.
We had a spectacular trek along this classic route, which we peppered with plenty of 'off-the-map' routes and a bit of adventure; perfect early summer weather, (relatively) painless, beautiful pass-crossings, lots of village and gompa visits including many of Kim's old friends, great times on the trail and in the dining tent and an enthusiastic group who I know will join us soon for another trek! Hes is a photographer and Elly a writer in Amsterdam, so we hope to see an article soon. And of course Skippy was always the enthusiastic kangaroo, despite all the trials of back-pack travel (he's now a permanent member of our staff).
From the high grazing domains of the Tibetan nomads of the Changthang to t &he Lush forested Parvati valley, this trek is a stunning kaleidoscope of landscapes and peoples as we journey across both the Great Himalayan Barrier and the Pir Panjal range.
A dream trek is one that traverses all the Himalaya in one journey, from Tibetan vastness to lush forest via snowy passes and verdant alpine pasture - the dream group is one that takes in its stride India, tummy bugs, inexperience, exhaustion, freak weather, high altitude - with compassion and humor. That was our traverse trek. Air France lost Sarah's luggage which we got to her on day three of the trek, Katherine took a while to acclimatize, Kurt had stomach problems and my nephew Ben had never done anything like this in his life...Carolyn had 'issues with snow' and we were nearly flooded by torrential rain at Umlung. On our first attempt at the Parang La our horses found the snow too soft, so gear was unloaded and dragged back on tarpaulins, then at 2am we were up and away, on top as the moon set and the sun rose. Less then a week later with our faithful porter team we were atop the Pin Parvati pass with the most incredible alpine views, then down - on a fixed rope at one point - to the lush green valley, home of the Goddess Parvati who rewarded us with a beautiful array of wildflowers. There is more, and a full account follows, Alan & Alfredo are back this spring, but that meal in Manali at the end and the company of such great people are memories I will treasure forever - Thank you!
Carolyn says: Thank you so much for a wonderful trip! Your company is highly recommended and your team are superb! Your ability to pull it all together and remain calm and make everyone feel like they're important astounds me, but I really think overall it was the trek I am afraid that wins the prize.... you share in the prize as you put the trek together!!! I was close to the mountains, every slog was worth it, I have never seen views like it in my life (and we have trekked in a couple of places!) ...
The Traverse team on the Pin Parvati, L-R: Ben Schone, Katherine, Stanzin, Curt, Lobsang, Alan, Carolyn & Greg (in front) Alfredo and Doriana
Mustang, formerly the Kingdom of Lo, is a remote Tibetan region of medieval villages, ancient cave hermitages, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, arid, high desert, wild rock formations and soaring snow peaks. Tashi Ghale, an award-winning Manangi photographer, is joining us for the journey through this majestic Himalayan kingdom.
18 May-7 June, 21 days -- expedition-style --
Kim Bannister & Tashi Ghale -- US$3480
What a surprise this trek was; Mustang must be one of THE most spectacular regions in all of the Himalaya from the first to last day on the trail, and we had a wonderful group to share the trek with. The canyons, high plateaus and valleys were just breathtaking, and our photographer friend Tashi helped us to appreciate this very special landscape. We visited the King of Mustang in Lo, went for a horseback ride beyond Lo, visited many local houses, marvelled at the ancient gompas and cave dwellings and generally enjoyed each and every day exploring this dramatic, secluded Kingdom.
Limi Valley - Nepal
Thought by some to be the fabled Shangri-la, the Limi Valley in Nepal's far west is untamed.
13 May-4 June, 23 days -- expedition-style -- Wanda Vivequin -- US$2950 -- full
We were the first and only trekkers in Limi this spring thanks to Kailash being off limits to foreigners. What an incredible and fun group of people to share this adventure with - 11 kiwis, one Canuck and one Brit. It was the second time in these valleys for Wanda, who says the polite splashes of rain throughout the trip kept the dust down and made the Limi Valley even more spectacular than last year.
There were a few hair raising moments as our ponies had to swim through snow at the top of the Nyula (pass) but we made it through okay and the mule drivers were given a fresh sheep as a reward. The trekkers glissaded down the almost 800m snow slope on the other side of the pass. Toby captured the first half of the trip on film documenting Wanda’s project "Caps against Cataracts", so if you see caps in Limi you will know how all of this came about. Wanda will be back in 09!
See also Toby's diary of trekking back alone from Limi (planned), hilarious, and there are a few other photos.
The best news of all is that as the result of this trip we have secured $90,000 for the Citta Hospital and the fabulous work of Dr Yeshe Lama and his staff.
Group photo: Back row – Chris, Richard, Robin, Wanda, Sandy, Grant
Kanchenjunga Adventure - Nepal
From the green lush lowlands to the incredible highs of Kanchenjunga Base camp and a remote trading pass to Tibet - a custom trek with local leader a few days ahead of our full adventure trek below.
29 April - 30 May, 32 days -- expedition-style -- Pema Sherpa -- US$2700
Kanchenjunga Adventure - Nepal
From the green lush lowlands to the incredible highs of Kanchenjunga Base camp and a remote trading pass to Tibet - Joel's return to Kanchenjunga is a true celebration of mountain majesty.
3 May-3 June, 32 days -- expedition-style --
Joel Schone -- US$2950 -- full
Kanchenjunga via the remoter valleys of the region gave us everything a trekker could ask for, and enough challenges to me as a leader to last a lifetime! But thanks to Lobsang, Tenpa & Kunsang we kept a diverse team happy and well, coming together at night for some pleasant evenings; and the flowers really made up for the early monsoon rain, on what was the toughest trek of the year.
From the left: Champ behind Nina, Leigh, Loren, John, Robert, Emma, Pema, Murray, Ali, Lobsang, Corrine, Paul, Tenpa, Kunsang, Guido - Joel Schone
Guide-assisted with full support, surprising flexibility, the best weather forecasts, spare oxygen, email and plenty of other services. Above all we are dedicated to safety and success.
Old: 13 Apr-9 June, 58 days --
Jamie McGuinness -- US$25,000
We climbed Everest from the south side as the Chinese closed the north side due to the Olympic torch. See the dispatches!
Our team L-R: Sarki (cook, BC manager), Sonam (new kitchen crew) Dawa (sirdar), Jangbu, Pasang Gombu, Kami, Da'Ongchhu, Tawa (C2 cook), Jamie, Raphael, Nima Tenzi, Andy, Gina, Anselm, James
And on the other side of the chotar: Nawang Geden, David, Pasang Gyelu, Mindu, Tarke, Mingma Lhakpa (kitchen) and Chewang Palden, missing Namgyal
Photo by Gombu with Jamie's camera on a tripod
A spectacular trek through Tibetan regions of the Himalaya, from the steep-sided Nubri Valley and over the Larkya La in the Manaslu region to the equally stunning Manang region of the Annapurna's. Another classic Himalayan pass, the Thorung La, leads to the high desert and arid peaks of Lower Mustang, and conveniently we miss the new roads. A real Himalayan journey, and one of Kim's all-time favorites.
13 Apr-14 May, 32 days -- expedition-style and teahouse --
Kim Bannister -- US$3280
Finally, a perfect, blue-skied, snowy Larkya La crossing after several years of stormy crossings, and one year not able to cross at all. And I got to share the trek with all past clients or past client's brothers/friends (Jannie is the brother of Harry Louw, Henri their friend) and friends. Beau, Louise & Jerry are all avid Project Himalaya trekkers, Louise even pondering 'a year with PH'. We had an amazingly beautiful, interesting and inspiring trek from the Gurkha villages near the Gorkha Fort to the upper reaches of the Manaslu region and back down to the lower Annapurna region. This trek is as diverse as they come, and as much part of Tibet as Nepal in the upper Manaslu region. For me, the most awesome sections are the high Tibetan regions of Sama Gaon & Samdo with their traditional Tibetan villages and spectacular mountain views. Henri, our resident doctor, had lots of work on his hands with Kim & Lhakpa assisting throughout. Can't wait to go back next year!
We follow the old trade route to Tibet as spring arrives in the luminously beautiful Johar valley, trekking the demanding trails to the base of the sacred sister peaks of Kumaon and Garhwal, Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East.
The back up plan came into operation as we arrived to find the army had closed the Johar valley after a trekker went missing, and despite Lobsang not being able to come (new baby) and Duncan's luggage going astray, we took the stunningly beautiful middle hills route we surveyed in 2006; wonderful campsites, and incredible spring weather of heavy hail and thunder. We spent time in the Kafni valley before hitting the highs of the Pindari glacier with its rarely seen views. Duncan impressed all with his spare socks and lightweight gear, and Tenpa and Kunsang with his command of weirder Hindi (unprintable) expressions...all in all a spring delight!
" I had a fabulous time and it was a wonderful, wonderful trek, despite rain, snow, hail, burning sun, heat, cold, and the aftermath of rock falls and avalanches. Joel is a very funny and interesting guy and a real joy to trek with"
From left: Duncan, Tenpa, Corrine - Joe
An early spring trek along the beautiful trails of the land of the Sherpa's, climbing the high viewpoints of the Everest region and visiting the power places of Buddhism along the way; the rightly famous Tengboche, but also the smaller Gomi La and Lauda Gompas iny their tranquil hilltop eyries.
8-27 Mar, 20 days -- teahouse trekking --
Joel Schone -- US$1980
A great start to my trek season as Fred returned to see the Everest region before his next consular posting to Iraq. And all went very smoothly as we climbed Gokyo Ri in perfect weather, then on to Pangboche and Ama Dablam base camp. Come back soon, Fred!
"The trek exceeded my expectations. I have certainly heard and read a lot about the region but until one experiences it in person you cannot appreciate what makes it magical - the mountains, the monasteries and the incredible personal warmth and hospitality of the Sherpa people."
Trek the best of the Everest region: the Cho La and Renjo La passes, the spectacular Gokyo lakes region, Gokyo Ri, Kala Pattar and Chukhung peaks and remote Thame valley, relaxing in cozy Sherpa lodges en route. And, of course, Everest Base Camp.
8 Mar-2 Apr, 26 days -- teahouse trekking --
Kim Bannister -- US$2480
A small group (Kim & Olli!), but the trekking doesn't get much better than this in one of our favorite trekking regions in the Himalaya. Olli was the perfect client, an avid photographer and marathon-runner in Finland, and soon became a good friend. We had a chance to have an intimate look at the Sherpa culture, did lots of exploring, improvised the itinerary to our hearts' content (we crossed three 5000 meter passes) and enjoyed perfect March weather (see photo). Olli, see you again soon!
Chadar Trade Route Expedition - India
This trek has everything you could want of a winter expedition, with challenging days trekking, the beautiful gorges and monasteries of Zanskar, and time built in to ensure you get the full taste of this ancient kingdom in wintertime.
Did not run: the Chadar expedition seems to run only every second year.