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.


Photo Of The Day: Pashmina Goats In The Himalayas

The stark realities of winter are excellently captured in this photo by Flickr user arunchs.

Taken in the Himalayas, these Pashmina Goats grazing in Changthang Plateau, Ladakh, belong to changpa people residing in the nearby village of Puga. The photo is striking when you think of all of the Pashmina scarves – which are made from this special breed of goat, which is indigenous to the high altitudes of the Himalaya – that one often comes across in Southeast Asian markets. The scarfs are colorful and lively, much the opposite of this image. A good reminder of where things come from.

Have your own captivating travel photos you want featured on Photo of the Day? Submit them to the Gadling Flickr pool, or via Instagram by tagging your photos with #gadling and mentioning @gadlingtravel.

[Photo Credit: arunchs]

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]

80-Year-Old Sets Sights On Everest Summit

80-year old climber to attempt Everest summitEighty-year-old Japanese skier and mountaineer Yuichiro Miura has announced his intentions to attempt a summit of Mt. Everest this spring, returning to a mountain that made him famous back in 1970. If successful, Miura would become the oldest person to ever climb the mountain and the first octogenarian to do so.

This won’t be Miura’s first visit to the world’s tallest mountain. He first climbed it back in 1970, stopping short of the summit because he had another goal in mind. As an accomplished high alpine skier, Miura had traveled to the Himalayan peak in an attempt to become the first person to ski down its slopes – something that had previously been unthinkable. But the Japanese man, who was 37 at the time, achieved his goal and inspired the Oscar-winning documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.”

After completing his quest to ski the Seven Summits – the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents – in 1985, Miura then chose to lead a quieter life for some time. But as he grew older, the Himalaya called to him once more and in 2003 he declared that he would return to Everest, this time to climb all the way to the summit. He was 70 years old at the time and when he was successful in his attempt, he became the oldest person to accomplish that feat. He would return five years later to scale the mountain again at the age of 75 and staying on his five-year schedule he is returning this year as well.

At the summit of the 29,029-foot mountain, the air is so thin that it’s roughly one-third of what you find at sea level. That’s enough to make climbers half Miura’s age gasp for air while their legs scream out in exhaustion. The 80-year-old says that he’ll need to regain the strength and energy of a much younger man if he hopes to be successful. He describes his quest for a third summit of the mountain as the “best anti-aging” activity that he knows.

The spring climbing season on Everest begins in early April and will run into June. We’ll know then if it is possible for a man who has passed his 80th birthday to climb such a daunting peak.

[Photo Credit: KYODO]