In 1924, Alexandra David-Neel, the Paris-born, Buddhist scholar, travel writer, relentless explorer, and former opera singer, crossed the Himalaya in winter to reach the sacred city Lhasa. She became the first European woman to do so.
On the border of Tibet, at 4,000m, the two lived in a cave between 1914-1917. They braved freezing temperatures and scrounged for food. They spent most of their time meditating. Twice, they attempted to infiltrate the forbidden city of Lhasa in disguise.
Tibet was a common beacon for foreigners. But the country was strictly closed. David-Neel and Aphur entered illegally and were swiftly expelled.
With World War I at Europe’s doorstep, the pair set off in the opposite direction, first to Japan, then onward to Korea and China. For two years, they translated Tibetan books, living as monks in China’s Kumbum Monastery.
But again, David-Neel was restless. She struggled to stay in one place for long, and Tibet beckoned. She and Aphur set off again to attempt to enter Lhasa. This time, they succeeded.
It is a road of mountain passes and India’s access to the roof of the world – the Himalayas. This 475-kilometre long route at the northernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent connects the cities of Manali and Leh at the heart of the Ladakh region.
The term “highway” applies quite literally, since the route traverses five of the highest drivable mountain passes in the world – among these the Lohtang La at 3,978 metres above sea level, the Lachulung La at 5,059 metres and the Tanglang La at 5,325 metres.
Crossing these passes is a challenge for both vehicle and man. The mountain peaks, still snow-capped even in the depths of summer, wide variety of vegetation and the fantastic and craggy landscape turn any journey into a captivating adventure.
Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha’s teachings. The first identifies the presence of suffering. This is evident in this film as we witness Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens head up the Tibetan Plateau in pursuit of skiing adventure.
Elisabeth Revol, a French climber stranded on top of one of Pakistan’s most deadly Himalayan mountains, nicknamed Killer Mountain, is safe after a dramatic rescue operation. The search for her Polish climbing partner, Tomasz Mackiewicz, has been called off.
An elite Polish climbing team, attempting the first winter ascent of nearby K2 came to the rescue, scaling Nanga Parbat overnight to rescue Ms Revol.
Ms. Revol was airlifted to a hospital in Islamabad. It has been reported that she has severe frostbite on her hands and feet.
… an expedition team of three women climbers – led by Lakpa Yangjee Sherpa, along with Yangdi Sherpa and Pashang Lhamu Sherpa – is climbing the highest summit with the slogan of ‘Mountaineering for Women’s Self-reliance’.
For a few years, Anna had heard stories of a magical region in India with dozens of unclimbed mountains. In November 2016, Anna approached me and Lindsay about joining her on an expedition, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to see this region for ourselves. Anna has traveled to India multiple times and was in the Zanskar range last time she was in India and had heard about the Raru Valley. After doing some research she decided it would be a really cool valley to explore. Anna was the team leader on this expedition, so we followed her gut instinct.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing women during my career, and have been lucky to go on a few other all-female trips. I’m sure part of that is the nature of the times–more and more women are in the sport and so naturally we gravitate towards each other. There are also women’s climbing festivals and events popping up all over and that’s a great networking opportunity and place to find rad female partners. But I also consciously look for female partners because, let’s face it, they look better on camera…
The big surprise for me, though, was that among this group of hardened walkers and climbers, I was the baby. The oldest member was 75, the second 74 and the average age 65. Today trekking is no longer the domain of the student backpacker; the so-called “grey pound” is as visible in the Himalayas as it is in the Lamborghini showroom.
The trek we were in the midst of was a 30-day marathon, whose goal was to make a circuit of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-tallest mountain, taking in both the north and south base camps. Unlike well-known treks to Everest and Annapurna, Kanchenjunga has not been ravaged by mass tourism and remains enticingly remote.
It has always played a secondary role to Everest, even though Kanchenjunga is only 262 metres lower, and arguably a greater challenge. First climbed in 1955 by a British team, it’s highly regarded among mountaineers but less well known to the wider public.
The government has revised the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation under the Tourism Act barring people with complete blindness and double amputation, as well as those proven medically unfit for climbing, from attempting to scale mountains.
The Council of Ministers which passed the revised regulation yesterday also stated that Sirdars, mountain guides and high-altitude workers, who accompany expeditions to the top of the climbing peaks, including Mt Everest, shall get summit certificates.
Nepal has amended its mountaineering regulations, prohibiting foreign individual climbers from scaling all mountains in the country without an escort.
Double amputee and blind climbers are also banned (with the exception of those who obtain medical certificates) as part of the new guidelines, which were implemented in a bid to reduce accidents and climbing-related deaths.
Your Mileage May Vary
It’s a one way ticket.
Take the long way.
Take care of one another.
Enjoy the ride!
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.
Please tread lightly, pack out your trash, and treat every person and location with respect.
Please do not bury waste or wipes – even those that are biodegradable. Always pack out bags, sanitary wipes, and feminine hygiene products to minimize impact on the environment and the spread of disease.
If you find any errors, have any tips, or see anything that might need improving, please let me know.