2003 journey in Tibet consisted of two parts: a road trip that began in
Lhasa and ended in Kathmandu and a trek from the Everest Base Camp up
the East Rongbuk glacier to the Advanced Base Camp at 21,000 ft. The Gyamtso
La (17,120 ft.) is the highest point on the road to the Base Camp. On
the trek to the ABC the mornings were clear but clouds began to form about
noon. My photographs from the ABC were taken on Sept. 17. On Sept. 23,
1921 Mallory, Wheeler, Bullock and two Sherpas first reached the ABC after
making a wide detour to the east. They crossed the Lakpa La, then climbed
to the North Col (23,176 ft.) but were turned back by high winds. An attempt
in May of 1983 of the North-East Ridge led to the tragic death of the
outstanding climbers Pete Boardman and Joe Taskar. They were last seen
at 27,000 ft on the Pinnacles section (1/3 in from right.)
Karakorum Mountains were formed from the coast of Eurasia as the advancing
Indian plate raised the High Himalaya to the south and squeezed in-between
the Kohistan-Ladakh island-arc. The treks in both 1994 and 2001 began
from Scardu which was reached by a long drive from Islamabad by way of
the Indus valley. In 2001 we crossed the Gondogoro pass (18,320 ft) and
followed the Vigne Glacier to reach Concordia on the Baltoro Glacier.
After visiting the K2 base camp we descended the Baltoro and returned
to Scardu via Askole. In 1994 we went directly to Askole and then followed
the Biafro and Hispar Glaciers via the Snow Lake and the Hispar La (17,000
ft.) The Hispar valley led to the Hunza valley and from there returned
to Islamabad via Gilgit.
in Indian-administered Kashmir is often known as Little Tibet. The Ladakhi
language is a Tibetan dialect. There are many large fortress-like monasteries
with substantial land holdings. The Dalai Lama has a residence just outside
Leh, the regional capital. Most of the large monasteries and Leh itself
are located in the broad Indus valley. The Karakorum is to the north.
A short distance to the west the Indus cuts through the Pakistan-India
cease-fire line on its journey to the Arabian Sea. In addition to visiting
monasteries, we made a trek to the Markha valley. We ascended to a high
pasture area devoted to yaks and Pashmina goats and returned to Leh via
the 17,052 ft. Gongmaru pass.
Dolpo region of Western Nepal is remarkable for its isolation and for
the Tibetan culture that isolation has preserved. Access to the area was
closed to westerners prior to 1989. Inner Dolpo lies in the rain shadow
area to the north of the main Himalayan chain. Blades of grass are visible
only to goats and yaks; the chief crop is barley. In1993 we entered from
the south by crossing the Kang La (17,500 ft) and left towards the Kali
Gandaki Valley in the east via the Sangda La (18,100 ft). In 1989 Inner
Dolpo was still off limits, but we were able to visit such 'Tibetan" villages
as Ring-mo on Phoksumdo Lake and Tarakot. Dolpo was the location of a
recent movie, Himalaya.
Dhaulagiri Himal lies to the west of the Kali Gandaki valley. The route
to the base camp ascends a parallel valley to the deep gorge of the Chhonbardan
Glacier. Dhalagiri I (8167m, 26,795 ft) is to the south. The summit is
Ordovician limestone above even older gneiss. The route from the base
camp crosses the French Pass (5360m, 17,600ft) between Tukuche Peak and
Dhalagiri II to reach a high plateau, the Hidden Valley. From there a
second pass leads to a steep 9,000 ft descent into the Kali Gandaki valley.
Kali Gandaki River of Central Nepal is an ancient trade route between
Tibet and India. It cuts through the main Himalayan chain: Dhaulagiri
to the west, Annapurna to the east. Our trek was the popular "Annapurna
Circuit" that begins to the east. The circuit follows the Marsyandi valley
through rice fields and through the gorge between Annapurna and Manaslu
to reach a broad valley that is in a rain-shadow area to the north of
the Annapurna Himal. Manang is the principal village. Braga is the site
of an imposing 500 year old Karma-pa monastery. The trail crosses the
Thorung La (17,700 ft.) and descends to Kagbeni in the Kali Gandaki valley.
The stony flood plain becomes a narrow gorge. Ascent from the gorge through
rhododendron forests leads to the Pokara resort region.
lies in the Khumbu region of Eastern Nepal. In 1996 we entered the Khumbu
from the Rolwaling valley to the west by way of the Tessi Lapcha, a pass
at 18,900 ft. In 1999 we set out from the airstrip at Lukla, but instead
of going north to Namche Bazaar, the center of the Sherpa community, we
crossed a pass to the east and reentered the Khumbu by the difficult Amphu
Laptsa pass (18,954 ft.) The pass is to the east of Ama Dablam and south
of Everest. Both treks required climbing permits. Ramdung high camp was
reached on the first trek and Mera Peak (21,247 ft) on the second. Both
trips ended up at Lukla by way of Namche.
(8586 m, 28,160 ft.), the world's third highest mountain lies in Eastern
Nepal on the border between Nepal and the Sikkim region of India. The
trek began and ended at the Taplejung airstrip above the Tamur valley.
We approached Kangchenjunga via the Yalung glacier from the south and
then doubled back and crossed a high plateau to reach the "Tibetan" village
of Ghunsa in the Tamur valley. Ascending this valley brought us to the
Kangchenjunga glacier and the northern base camp, Pangpema. The return
was by the Tamur valley. The route encompassed tropical bamboo forest,
rhododendron forest, heaths of dwarf rhododendrons and alpine tundra -
as described by the famous botanist Joseph Hooker in 1848.