Category Archives: trekking

Srikanta Peaks in the Himalayas by Samuel Bourne

Samuel Bourne

Wooded Valley from Fulaldarn with the Srikanta Peaks in the Distance, 1860s. Albumen photograph. by Samuel Bourne

“What a mighty up bearing of mountains! What an endless vista go gigantic ranges and valleys, untold and unknown! Peak rose above peak, summit above summit, range above and beyond range, innumerable and boundless, until the mind refused to follow the eye in its attempt to comprehend the whole in one grand conception.” Samuel Bourne in The British Journal of Photography

Also posted in Himalayas, Historical photography, Photography, travel

Notes from my first expedition

Trekking the Milam Malari route in the Indian Himalaya back in 1990

The author trekking the Milam Malari route in the Indian Himalaya back in 1990

While clearing out my parents garage I found an envelope containing my note from my first trek that I organised back in 1990. I had chalked out a challenging route that ran 150km through the Kumaon Himalaya and over two high passes. This trek was rarely undertaken. There were far easier treks I could have chosen but I was determined to go far off the beaten track. As it turned out we couldn’t complete the trek as we didn’t have the required permits from two districts. This trek runs along the Indo-Tibetian border and leads to a number of strategic mountain passes. After a few days on the trail we were stopped at a military checkpost and ordered to turn around. I still managed to have a great time and learned a lot from the experience.

IMG_3439 web

No contours, no scale, no detail. This was the best map that we had to take on the greatest mountain range on Earth.



Our inner line permit made out by the Special Police Force to provide us with assistance



“Any worthwhile expedition can be planned on the back of an envelope.” Bill Tilman


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Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi

Two Himalayan classics on Nanda Devi: The Ascent of Nanda Devi by H W Tilman (1937) and Nanda Devi by Eric Shipton (1936)

Among the books on my shelf are two first editions of Himalayan classics on Nanda Devi (7816m), a beautiful mountain in the Kumaon Himalaya, India. I grew up in the hill town of Nainital and I could see this peak from the hill tops around town, so this mountain and these books have a special significance to me. The fist is The Ascent of Nanda Devi by H W Tilman (Macmillan, 1937) and the second is Nanda Devi by Eric Shipton (Hodder & Stoughton, 1936).

Nanda Devi

This first edition is signed by Charles Houston, the expedition leader

Bill Tilman’s The Ascent of Nanda Devi, a first edition, is signed by Charles Houston, the expedition leader. At the time Nanda Devi was the highest mountain ever climbed.

Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi (7816m), Kumaon Himalaya, India

This is the view of Nanda Devi (7816m) on the right and Trishul (7120m) on the left from Kasar Devi near the town of Almorah in Kumaon. Trishul was first climbed in 1907 by A L Mumm, T G Longstaff and was the highest peak climbed at the time. The record was broken in 1937 with Tilman’s ascent of Nanda Devi.

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Lasser Yangti valley

Camp in the upper reaches of the Lasser Yangti valley

Camp in the upper reaches of the Lasser Yangti valley

I am starting a new series of photos of spectacular campsites that I had the privilege to sleep at during my treks and expeditions. Here is the first: This was a campsite in the upper reaches of the Lasser Yangti valley in Kumaon Himalayas, India.

Map of the location

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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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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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