Tag Archives: travel writing

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.

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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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Caravans of the Himalaya

Another beautiful book on my shelf is Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (Thames and Hudson, 1994) an account of their two year stay with the Dolpo-pa nomads who live in the Himalayas and on the Chang Tang plateau in Tibet. Eric Valli is well known for his book on the honey hunters of Nepal. Visit the author’s website for more fantastic photography.

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

The sky will be my roof; the earth my bed;
The grass, my soft pillow.
Like the clouds and the streams
I will traverse these immense deserts alone.
– Ekai Kawaguchi

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Karma and other villagers aim for the demon’s heart, to kill the evil spirits that are hunting Sara

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Little Karma climbs the Kabre La (17,000 ft)

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

The yaks sometimes use a trail near the lake Ringmo

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Curious villagers are sheltered from the rain while watching the caravan pass

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Tilen and his yaks en route to the land of grain

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Three generations are shown in this picture

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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.

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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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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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My latest find at a local rare bookshop

Central Asia and Tibet by Sven Hedin

Central Asia and Tibet : Towards the Holy City of Lassa / by Sven Hedin

Central Asia and Tibet : Towards the Holy City of Lassa by Sven Hedin (London : Melbourne : Hurst and Blackett ; George Robertson, 1903 2 v). My latest find at a local bookshop. Have been after this book for a while but they are well out of my price range. Got these at a fraction of the price. That’s why I love browsing through old bookshops. You never know what you’ll find.

Here are a couple of maps from the book

Map of Central Tibet

Map of Central Tibet showin Sven Hedin’s route from Leh to Pangong Tso and across Tibet till Addan Tso (Click on the map for larger version)

This one was torn out but thankfully still intact

Map of the Tarim River

Map of the Tarim River (Click on the map for a larger version)

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Protected: Climbing the mountains of fire

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Posted in Kamchatka, travel, trekking Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |