Tag Archives: india

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.

 

Permit

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

 

Notes

“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.

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Map of the location

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The same Himalayan view 100 years apart

I was looking through my beautiful copy of A L Mumm’s book Five Months in the Himalaya: A Record of Mountain Travel in Garhwal and Kashmir on his 1907 expedition to climb Trishul in In the Indian Himalaya. I realised that back in 2007 I had taken a very similar photograph of Nanda Ghunti (6309 m) and Trishul (7120 m). Here they are, the same view 100 years apart.

Trishul and Nanda Ghunti

Trishul (7120 m)and Nanda Ghunti (6309 m) by A L Mumm 1907

A L Mumm, T G Longstaff and  Charles Bruce supported by three Alpine guides and a number of Gurkhas made the first ascent of Trishul in 1907. They climbed the northeast flank and reached the summit on June 12. The first ascent of Trisul (7,127 m), was the highest summit to have ever been climbed up till that point and the record stood for the next 21 years. This was the first expedition to use supplementary oxygen on a Himalayan expedition.

Trishul (7120 m)and Nanda Ghunti (6309 m)

Trishul (7120 m)and Nanda Ghunti (6309 m) by Amar Dev Singh in 2007

I took this photograph on my trek to Roop Kund and Kuari Pass during the 1500km trans Himalayan expedition. This camp was somewhere between Bedni Bugyal and the village of Kanol. I cropped my photograph to match the older version.

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

Five Months in the Himalaya by A L Mumm, 1909

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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 majestic forests of Arunachal Pradesh

The breathtaking forests of Arunachal Pradesh

The team taking a break in majestic forests of the Sar Di valley, Arunachal Pradesh (Click on the photo for a larger version)

A vertical panorama of the team taking a break in the majestic forests of the Sar Di valley in the remote eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh, India

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Lingshed Monastery, Ladakh

Lingshed Monastery

Lingshed Monastery or Kumbum, meaning ‘A Hundred Thousand Images’ was founded in the 1440s

In the winter of 2007 I did the famous Chadar trek till the village of Lingshed. We spent a ‘rest day’ in the village and climbed the nearby peaks to get spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Lingshed Village is in the Trans-Sengge-La region between Ladakh and Zanskar and has been inhabited for nearly a thousand years. Lingshed Monastery or Kumbum, meaning ‘A Hundred Thousand Images’ was founded in the 1440s by Changsems Sherabs Zangpo. Lingshed is located on the trekking route from Zanskar to Lamayuru.

I shot this on my Nikon FM, 24mm and slide film. Have a look at more photos from this trek.

 

 

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