Spring Climbing And Trekking Season Begins In Nepal

The Nepal Trekking and Climbing Seasons are about to begin!The streets of Kathmandu are bustling with traffic today as the spring climbing and trekking seasons get underway in the Himalaya. Over the next few days, hundreds of mountaineers and backpackers will descend on the capital of Nepal before setting out for the country’s legendary hiking trails and unmatched alpine settings. For many, this will be a trip of a lifetime, taking them on a grand adventure into the very heart of the Himalaya. And for a select few, it is the chance to stand on top of some of the highest mountains on the planet.

For most of these visitors, the first stop on their journey is to the Thamel District of Kathmandu. This popular tourist destination is home to most of the city’s hotels and it is a great place to grab that last piece of gear you need before heading out into the mountains. Gear shops line the streets in this crowded and noisy part of town but not all of them are completely honest about the products they sell. In fact, if the deal on that North Face jacket or sleeping bag that you’ve had your eye on seems too good to be true, it’s probably because it is actually a cheap knockoff. Sure, it may survive the trip but don’t expect it to perform well or hold up over time.

After a day or two in Kathmandu, its time to head out to the Himalaya themselves. For those traveling to Everest, that mans a short flight to the mountain village of Lukla and the infamous Tenzing-Hillary Airport, named after the two men who first successfully summited the world’s tallest peak. Others will depart KTM for Pokhara, a city that grants access to the Annapurna Trekking Circuit and three of the highest mountains in the world – Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Annapurna itself.Most trekkers will spend a couple of weeks hiking through the Himalaya, spending their days on breathtakingly beautiful trails and nights in local teahouses. Those quaint inns offer comfortable accommodations, tasty food and shelter from the frequently changing weather. A trek to Everest Base Camp takes roughly 10-12 days to complete depending on the selected route and speed. The entire journey is a blend of adventure, culture and Buddhist spirituality that also just so happens to take place in one of the most spectacular settings on the planet.

For the climbers the journey is a much more difficult and demanding one. Their arrival at Base Camp is just the start of their adventure and over the following six weeks or so, they’ll spend most of their time acclimatizing to the altitude, honing their mountaineering skills and moving up and down the mountain. They’ll push themselves to the absolute physical limit, all the while keeping their eyes on the weather, just to get the chance to stand on the summit for a few brief – but glorious – minutes.

Traditionally, the climbing and trekking seasons begin as the snows of winter recede and end with the arrival of the Monsoon in early June. During those few brief months, the various teahouses and base camps will be crowded with mountaineers and adventure travelers who share the camaraderie of the trail. It is an experience unlike any other and one worth taking for those who enjoy their travels to be off the beaten path and bit more active.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

Video: Trekking The Annapurna Circuit In Nepal

Widely considered to be one of the best trekking routes in the entire world, the Annapurna Circuit wanders through the Himalaya, deftly mixing cultural experiences with breathtaking views. The trail ranges in length between 100-145 miles depending on which route a hiker takes, meandering through numerous tiny mountain villages along the way. Passing by the Annapurna Massif, the trail rises to a height of more than 17,700 feet as snow capped peaks tower overhead.

Recently, filmmaker Gerardo Sergovia sent five weeks walking the trail with a group of friends capturing more than a terabyte of video footage in the process. He has managed to distill all of that footage down to this one four and a half minute clip that does an amazing job of capturing the splendor of the Himalaya so well. If you love the mountains, you won’t want to miss this video. It may even inspire you to want to make the trek yourself.


Trek To Everest Base Camp For A Good Cause

Trek to Everest Base Camp to raise funds for charityTrekking in Nepal has long been a staple of adventure travel and one of the more popular trekking routes is the path to Everest Base Camp. Every year, thousands of hikers make the pilgrimage to the tallest mountain on the planet just to soak up the culture and landscapes of the Himalaya. It is a beautiful and challenging hike that will certainly leave a lasting impression on all who go.

This year, adventure travel company Discover Outdoors has teamed up with non-profit Kids of Kathmandu to organize a special trek to EBC that will be used as a fund raising program to help a local orphanage in Nepal. The trek, which takes place September 26 – October 13, is limited to just 12 to 15 participants. Those wishing to take part can choose to either pay $2995 of their own money or commit to raising $9000 in funds that go directly to the orphanage. Once the $9000 goal is reached, the trip is completely free for the participant.

All of the funds raised by the charity trek will go towards the installation of solar panels at an orphanage in the town of Bhaktapur. Like many places in Nepal, the village is prone to rolling blackouts and long periods without electricity. The solar panels will help alleviate this problem by providing power for the children living there. Those who elect to help raise funds for this project will also be given the opportunity to visit the orphanage and meet some of the children whose lives they are impacting.

More information on the trek can be found on the Discover Outdoors website including a full itinerary, tips for planning for the trek and details on fundraising efforts. Learn more by clicking here.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

Japanese Climber Rescued From Everest

Japanese climber rescuded from EverestThirty-year-old Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki had to be evacuated from Mount Everest yesterday after suffering severe frostbite to his fingers, toes and nose. He had spent the past six weeks climbing one of the most difficult routes on the mountain, but was turned back from the summit due to poor weather conditions.

Kuriki had been attempting one of the boldest climbs on Everest in recent memory, going up the seldom-visited West Ridge alone and without the use of supplemental oxygen. He launched his summit bid last Wednesday after spending several days in Camp 2, located at 6500 meters (21,300 feet), waiting for the weather to improve. At the time, forecasts had indicated that high winds would drop in velocity, allowing access to the top of the mountain for a limited time, but even though he was able to climb as high as Camp 4, at 7920 meters (26,000 feet), Kuriki was never able to go higher.

On his descent, high winds and very cold temperatures likely contributed to the Japanese climbers frostbite, which was exasperated further by his decision to not use bottled oxygen. His numerous days at altitude were also likely contributing factors as well. A rescue helicopter was able to evacuate him from the mountain, taking him directly to a hospital in Kathmandu, where the extent of his injuries is still being evaluated.

Unlike the spring climbing season, in the fall Everest is practically deserted. This year, in addition to Kuriki, there was only one other team on the mountain. The unpredictable weather in the autumn makes it much more difficult to climb as well, and while in the spring there were more than 500 successful summits, it appears there won’t be any this fall.

[Photo credit: Nobukazu Kuriki]

Fall Himalayan Climbing Season Begins

Makalu, a popular Himalayan climbing site this fall. Most mountaineers, both actual and armchair, know that for two months each spring, Everest and the other big Himalayan peaks become the epicenter of the climbing world. From April to June, hundreds of mountaineers from around the globe descend on Nepal and Tibet with the expressed goal of scaling one of the tallest mountains on the planet. As a result, Base Camps across the region can become noisy, dirty and overly crowded, which dramatically detracts from the experience, to say the least. But not everyone knows that there is a second climbing season that arrives in the fall, after the monsoon has departed for another year. The fall season is much quieter and more tranquil than the spring, affording climbers more solitude in the mountains.

The 2012 fall Himalayan climbing season officially got underway at the end of August when teams began arriving in Kathmandu. Most spent a few days in Nepal’s capital city organizing their gear and putting the final touches on their preparation before they begin the trek to their respective Base Camps throughout the Himalaya. That hike generally helps to start the acclimatization process that will prepare them for living at high altitude over the coming weeks.

Often times the fall season is used to hone technical skills in preparation for bigger challenges to come. For instance, climbers who are planning a spring ascent of Everest will often visit the Himalaya in the fall to gain valuable experience and assess their body’s ability to adapt to the thin air. For some it will give them the valuable tools they’ll need for taking on the world’s tallest mountain, while others will learn that the Big Hill is ultimately out of reach.The two mountains that will receive the most traffic this fall are Makalu and Manaslu, the fifth and eighth tallest peaks on the planet respectively. Of those, the 8481 meter (27,825 ft) Makalu is considered a more challenging climb. The lone peak, located along the border of Nepal and Tibet, features a distinct pyramid-shaped summit that provides plenty of technical challenges including a final approach that mixes both rock and ice. Manaslu, on the other hand, features a double summit, the tallest of which extends 8156 meters (26,759 ft) into the sky. While not quite as difficult as Makalu, it does indeed make an excellent testing ground for climbers looking to move on tougher peaks.

Cho Oyu, another popular destination for fall Himalayan climbers, is off limits this year due to the continued closure of the Tibetan border by the Chinese. That 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain is also a good tune-up in preparation for a spring attempt on Everest. But because of on going protests inside Tibet, no entry visas are currently being approved. That has caused several expeditions to change their plans and move their climb back into Nepal instead.

While the fall season is much less crowded in the Himalaya the weather also tends to be more unpredictable as well. At the moment it is calm and warm there, but winter tends to arrive early in that part of the world, which means climbers could easily be dealing with high winds and heavy snows before they’re through.

Most of the fall expeditions will be between a month and six weeks in length. In the early weeks the climbers will mostly be concentrating on acclimatizing to the altitude while they slowly build a series of camps that they’ll use in their final push to the summit. Once that process is complete, they’ll simply wait for the weather to be right to facilitate their summit bids. If they’re lucky they won’t have to wait long, but more often then not they can end up waiting for a number of days before conditions are right to go for the top.

And when they’re done, they’ll head home rest, recuperate and begin planning their return to the mountain in the spring.

[Photo credit: Ben Tubby via WikiMedia]