Sir Richard Francis Burton

An interesting set of books on my shelf on the fascinating explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton was much more than an explorer though he was a linguist, ethnographer, and man of letters. Pilgrim to Mecca and Harar; discoverer of Lake Tanganyika; translator of the Arabian Nights; controversialist and iconoclast. I was introduced to Burton by my father, who is a total burton fanatic.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Of the gladest moments in human life, methinks is the departure upon a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the Slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood….afresh dawns the morn of life…
Burton’s Journal Entry (2 December 1856)

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Some books on Sir Richard Francis Burton on my shelves

I have a few books on Burton on my shelves but have not got into collecting his works as they are expensive and highly sought after; a game for people with deep pockets.

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In 2004, while living in London, accompanied by my father I paid a visit to Burton’s mausoleum at St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church in Mortlake.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Burton’s mausoleum is shaped like a bedouin tent and has a glass window in the rear where you can peer into the crypt and view the coffins of Sir and Lady Burton.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

My books on Sir Richard Francis Burton

Another shot of my modest Burton collection

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Detail on Sir Richard Francis Burton’s mausoleum

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Detail on Sir Richard Francis Burton’s mausoleum

Posted in books, travel

Mountaineering in the Himalayas – 1883

Mountaineering in the Himalayas – Views of Nanda Devi, Partly ascended by Mr Graham and other Himalayan peaks

Mountaineering in the Himalayas

The Graphic, September 22, 1883, P289 (Click on image for full size)

This is from a report from probably the first European mountaineering expedition in the Kumaon Himalayas. WW Graham along with two Swiss guides, Emil Boss and Ulrich Kauffmann, went on an expedition to the mountains of Kumaon and Sikkim. He made the ascent of several peaks including Kabur 7315m; his claims were met with much skepticism.

This page from The Graphic newspaper was published in September 22, 1883 and show views of peaks Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot and the hill towns of Almora, Raniketh and Bageshwar.

Posted in books, Himalayas, Historical photography, travel Tagged , , , , |

Protected: Upper reaches of the Sar Di valley, Arunachal Pradesh

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree at our last camp in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hope 2015 hold many exciting adventures for you.

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Autumn colours

Trekking through the untouched forest

Trekking through the untouched forests of Arunachal Pradesh

Our trek along the Sar Di River took us through dense untouched forests. We started the trek in the tangled vines of subtropical jungle at around 1200m and climbed into high altitude pine forest at an altitude of 3800m. It was November and the leaves were changing into their autumn colours. I was surprised to see huge pine trees right up to the treeline at around 4000m.

Sar Di River on a crisp autumn morning

Sar Di River on a crisp autumn morning

We were the first people to follow the river from it’s confluence with the mighty Lohit river near the village of Dong to it’s source deep in the Himalayas on the boarder with Burma. We were the first people to reach the shores of the emerald waters of Lake Sar Di.

Autumn colours in Arunachal Pradesh, India

The Sar Di has it’s source in remote high altitude glacial lakes near the Burmese boarder

There was no track along the river so we had to make our own way through the jungle. Luckily an army patrol had gone through part of the route and we were able to pick out the machette marks on trees. You had to constantly watch your step as you really didn’t want to fall and get injured in this remote location.

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The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata (Cloudcap, Seattle, WA, 1990): I have been hunting for this magnificent book for many years now. It’s available on the internet but it ranges anywhere from $300 to $150; depending on condition and edition. I managed to pick up a first edition of the book for $70 at a local bookshop down the road. It’s in flawless condition; obviously looked after by someone who really appreciated it. I am thrilled to finally be able to thumb through Shirahata’s grand photographs of these awe inspiring mountains.  I have never been to the Karakoram but dream of travelling there at some stage.

Here is a few samples of the photographs in the book:

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Trango Tower


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The mighty K2


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Fairy Meadow, Nanga Parbat

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A cave with a view

Red wine, fire and cave

Out doing caveman stuff: friends, red wine, fire and cave (Click on the image for a larger version)

I spent the last weekend sleeping out in a cave. We went out hiking and decided to go ultralight. I ditched the tent and anything else that weighed me down. I packed a 35 litre rucksack with bare essentials. I even managed to leave my camera behind! It was a mistake. I took this panorama on my phone camera. After a bit of exploring we found this lovely cave with  perfect flat sandy base and a fantastic view. It provided excellent shelter from the howling wind that blew in that evening and we had a grand view over the plains below.

I took a freeze dried meal of Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. It was a packet left over from a Himalayan expedition I did back in 2007 and had a use by date of 2009. I ate it anyway, and have survived so far. After some of the stuff I have eaten on my trips away my stomach can deal with pretty much anything.

Cave camp

We stared into the fire till late into the night

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Sar Di valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Patthar Camp, Sar Di valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Patthar Camp, Sar Di valley, Arunachal Pradesh

I took this photograph while leading a Secret Compass expedition to be the first people to trek the length of the Sar Di river in the remote Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh. It took us two days of hard slogging through dense jungle and steep mountains to get to Patthar or Rock Camp. You can see our camp on the lefthand bank; notice three figures on the river bank just below camp. The leaves were just starting to change into their autumn colours.

In the fading light I took this shot, perched on a boulder in the middle of the river. The sunset failed to provide much colour so I opted for three bracked shots and merged them to produce this high dynamic range photograph.

This is where I took this photograph.

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