Amazing Adventure

August 18, 2014

Vidya and the entire Himalayan Glacier team. Our sincere apologies for not writing sooner. As soon as we returned home we had to move to a new house and we had some other family issues to attend to.

Thank you thank you thank you. Kevin and I had a wonderful time. We saw so many things that we have talked with our friends about endlessly since returning. From the monasteries, to the caving, to of course Mt. Everest we were in awe in all of the itinerary items. Kathmandu was great, as well as Lhasa. So much culture, but you can defiantly see how they are adjusting to modernization like the rest of us.

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Our favorites were of course, everest, the potola palace, canyoning, and the safari. Our guides were great. Our guide in Tibet was amazing! He knew so much, and for where he lacked in English made of for it in character.

The food was great and the places we stayed were fine. Of course, we did appreciate the advance warning of the occasional cold water shower and the squat toilets. The handkerchiefs came in handy when it came to those to cover our noses!

We did think there were probably too many monasteries on the tour. Although fascinating to see them, you may want to cut a couple of them out. They can get repetitive in their overall themes and structures. However, very educational and we loved seeing the real people of Nepal and Tibet practicing Buddhism throughout.

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Going through so many pictures, we would need to write a book to even brush the surface of our experience. We can sometimes live in an American bubble, and the culture there is so rich and the people there were so friendly.

We included a few pictures just to show you we had a great time. The everest pictures we will always remember as Kevin and I got engaged at everest base camp and are getting married next year. Truly a trip of a lifetime and we will never forget Himalyayn Glacier and all the special arrangements they made to make everything possible. Even with flight delays and hiccups along the way, you all were able to help us get where we needed to be.

Thank you again for an amazing adventure!

Tom and Kevin

Mountaineers throng Everest with onset of spring summit season

April 13, 2014

Mt Everest has drawn mountaineers from at least 41 countries to her cold embrace as the year’s spring climbing season begins.
Nearly 300 mountaineers including 16-year-old Mathew Momiz and William Mithcell Burkey, 73, from the US and female climbers Deerness Joy Christine, 65, from New Zealand and Australian Azer Alyssa Nicole, 18, have headed towards the Everest region, officials at the Mountaineering Department at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation said. The department has permitted 75 expeditions including 28 for Mt Everest, generating royalty worth more than US$ 3.32 million. US$ 2.9 million is from Everest alone.

Each climber will have to bring back eight kg garbage in addition to their own from the top of the world as per a new rule introduced to keep Everest clean. Going by the number of mountaineers headed for the summit, at least 2.4 metric tonnes of garbage will be collected from Everest this season.

“There is no excuse and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, what your physical abilities or inabilities, as a climber you must submit the rubbish at the Base Camp,” Madhusudan Burlakoti, Ministry Spokesperson said.

According to DoM, five septuagenarians, 13 sexagenarians and three below 20 years will attempt the climb. Only 16 per cent of the mountaineers are female. “Teams comprising three members to 15 have been issued permit.” Among the mountaineers, 13 countries have one member each represented in their expeditions.

A contact office with 16 staffers will be opened at the base camp in the first week of May. Security personnel, ministry officials and support staff have reached the camp to facilitate climbers .

According to trekking entrepreneur Nima Nuru Sherpa, icefall doctors have already installed ropes up to Camp 2. Climbers are now acclimatising in the Khumbu region and expedition support staff are preparing the way by setting up camps, tents, food supply and other equipment. Generally, Mt Everest records its first spring summit in the second week of May and the climbing window closes roughly by the end of the first week of June.

As of 2013, there were 6,871 summits — Nepal side – 4,416; Tibet side-2,455 — by 4,042 summiteers. In 2013, 539 summits were recorded from Nepal side, while Tibet side recorded 119 summits. There were 248 casualties, including 161 of foreigners, according to Himalayan Database.

What’s trending

• Andy Holzer, 47, from Austria, blind by birth is in a bid to be the first blind European to summit the world’s highest peak

• Julian Mocklinghoff is filming a documentary on Holzer’s expedition titled ‘Andreas Osterreich to Everest’

• Steve Obbay, Nairobi-based entrepreneur, in bid to be the first Kenyan to summit Mt Everest

• Greg Paul, 59, from US, attempting to summit on two artificial knees

• Bill Burke, 72, from USA, climbing Everest from North Col in bid to be the oldest climber from a non-Asian country to reach the summit from both sides; he had climbed Everest from South Col in 2009

• Love birds from New Zealand Jim and Loretta got married at Everest base camp on April 8

• Google Inc shooting documentary ‘Everest Story Camp 2014’

Andrew Ivan Awes, USA, filming Khumbu region for his documentary ‘America Unearthed, Bigfoot Captured’ with approximate cost of US$ 45,000

• US$ 10 million documentary project ‘Everest Wingsuite Live’ launched by Peacock Productions, National Broadcasting Corporation, New York

• Discovery Channel is set to air first wingsuit flight off Everest by Joby Ogwyn live

• Russell Reginald Brice of New Zealand shooting documentary ‘Sherpa in the Shadow of the Mountains’ at an estimated cost of US$ 250,000

• Michael John Roberts of New Zealand, shooting a documentary called ‘Everest’

• Emma Louise Bernhard of UK, filming a documentary ‘One Planet Mountains’ in Everest region

source: Himalayan Times, 13 April 2014

More Ladders on Everest

March 18, 2014

Nepal’s tourism ministry proposed installing ladders on Everest’s Hillary Step for a second time early Monday morning. The government body already announced that additional ropes would be fixed on congested ice walls, including the Hillary Step, for the upcoming season in an effort to ease major traffic jams on the world’s tallest mountain.

The Hillary Step is a 40-foot section of rock wall that climbers have to complete before reaching the summit. It’s been a controversial bottleneck for years as both ascending and decending climbers have to pass through just before or after their summit bids. During the peak climbing months of April to June, climbers are often halted at the Hillary Step due to crowds, a dangerous and frustrating delay.

Large numbers have swarmed the mountain in recent years. In 2013, more than 650 people reached the summit and nearly 200 more tried. For the 2014 season, soldiers will be stationed at base camp, a response to the high-profile brawl at base camp last year involving Ueli Steck, which was sparked by a delay on the mountain. Also, as of April 1, climbers will be required to haul eight kilograms of trash off the mountain to fight decades of debris buildup.

Officials have not decided on a timeline for the Hillary Step ladder proposal. Transporting and installing the ladders will be a challenge.

source: Outside Magazine, 17 Mar 2014

Everest climbing season begins

March 14, 2014

A Nepalese mountaineering official says the Everest climbing season began this week with new rules that require climbers to bring down their personal garbage, and adds security at the base camp for the safety of climbers.

Tourism Ministry official Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti said individual climbers going beyond the base camp will be required to bring down at least eight kilograms of their personal garbage and hand it over to officials stationed there.

The government is also opening up a contact office tent at the base camp with officials stationed there throughout the Spring climbing season that begins in March and ends in May.

They will offer help to climbers, resolve any problems between climbers and monitor the garbage situation.

source: Independent Online, 05 Mar 2014

A bypass for Everest: Nepal seeks to lure climbers to alternative mountains

March 12, 2014

Himalayan peaks could be leased to private tourism companies in an attempt to ease increasing congestion on Mount Everest, officials in Nepal have said.

The proposal would involve hiring out some of the 326 Himalayan peaks that are currently open to climbers in the poor south Asian country, in an attempt to lure mountaineers away from Everest.

The highest mountain in the world is suffering from traffic jams and environmental degradation as hundreds of mountaineers attempt its ascent in a short window of favourable weather in late spring every year. Hundreds of other peaks, many unclimbed, receive no attention.

The move is also designed to attract more climbers to the impoverished country, which depends on the revenue from tourism.

“We have begun discussion on leasing unclimbed peaks to the private sector, to promote these mountains as new tourism products,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesman for the tourism ministry.

“We are open to both Nepalese and foreign private companies… We are confident that if the plan goes ahead, it will generate revenues for Nepal,” Sapkota told Agence France-Presse.

The proposal would need to be passed by cabinet to get the green light. If agreed, it may take several months before it is implemented.

The Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), a national body representing tourism promoters, welcomed the proposal, which it said would be “a very good step”.

“The private sectors can sell tourism products better in comparison to the government sector,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, the NMA’s president.

“Private sector professionals have good networks worldwide and can bring more climbers and tourists to Nepal,” Sherpa said.

In recent weeks, Nepal has introduced a raft of measures to boost tourism and also allay concerns of overcrowding on Mount Everest.

Officials have slashed mountaineering fees for many other peaks while requiring each climber scaling Everest to bring back 8kg (17.6 lbs) of garbage in an attempt to clean up the “roof of the world”.

Last year, officials floated the idea of installing a ladder on the famous Hillary Step, a crucial stretch of technical climbing at nearly 8,840 metres (29,000ft) on Everest, named after its first climber, Sir Edmund Hillary.

Last year, more than 500 climbers reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May, around 150 climbed the last 915 metres to the peak within hours of each other, causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to descend or ascend harder sections.

Though such innovations as the ladder and the leasing plans are anathema to many purist climbers, some sherpas welcome them.

But Tashi Tenzing, grandson of the first climber to reach the summit of Everest, Tenzing Norgay, said the proposal went “completely against the spirit of mountaineering”.

“Mountains are there to be climbed by anyone,” he said. “It won’t make any difference to the number of people who want to climb Everest.”

An accomplished guide and mountaineer, Tenzing said he welcomed any move that would bring more climbers to lesser known peaks, and thus more funds to remote communities. But, he said, it would be better to promote such mountains overseas rather than lease them.

source: The Guardian, 11 Mar 2014

Climbing Everest made cheaper, despite overcrowding

February 17, 2014

Nepal will cut climbing fees for Mount Everest to lure more mountaineers to the world’s highest peak, already overcrowded during the peak climbing season.

Hundreds of foreign climbers, each paying thousands of dollars, flock to the 8850-metre Everest summit during the main climbing season stretching from March to May.

Under existing rules, Nepal charges $US25,000 ($A27,600) per climber as a licence fee, or royalty. But a group of seven people can secure a permit for $US70,000, a practice officials say encourages climbers to form big groups.

Tourism Ministry official Tilakram Pandey said each climber will be charged $US11,000 from next year to end the practice.
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“The change in royalty rates will discourage artificially formed groups, where the leader does not even know some of the members in him own team,” Pandey said.

“It will promote responsible and serious climbers.”

He said the new rates will apply for the peak season on the Southeast Ridge, or South Col, route pioneered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

Permits for other routes and for the rest of the year, when the mountain is virtually deserted, will cost as little as $US2500 to encourage off-season climbing, officials said.

But experts said most mountaineers would still favour the spring season, because of warmer weather and more daylight, and the standard route.

Fees for hundreds of smaller peaks have also been changed.

ENTICING MORE CLIMBERS

Ang Tshering, who runs a hiking agency providing logistics to mountaineers, said incomes would not be affected as more climbers would be enticed to come despite the crowded mountain.

“Since more people will go to remotely located mountains, locals will get jobs and income,” he said.

More than 4,000 people have climbed Mount Everest since the historic 1953 ascent. Nearly 250 have died on its slopes.

Climbing historian Elizabeth Hawley said Everest was “terribly crowded” during the peak season. And allowing in those with no experience in serious climbing raised accident risks.

Sushil Ghimire, the Tourism Ministry’s most senior official, said the government was considering regulations obliging aspirants to climb lower peaks before attempting Everest.

With the rise in the number of climbers, pollution concerns have also increased.

But lower portions of Everst have undergone a clean-up as foreign and Nepali climbers have picked tonnes of discarded decades-old garbage – food cans, plastic, oxygen cylinders, torn tents, ropes and ladders, as well as human waste.

“There is still some garbage at higher altitudes and that is being collected by climbers during expeditions,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, whose expeditions have collected 15 tonnes of rubbish since 2008.

He said better management of routes – fixing separate ropes for ascents and descents, and spreading permits over time – had helped reduce crowding last year.

Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, has more than 2000 Himalayan peaks and 326 are open to foreign climbers. Mountaineering is an important component of tourism that makes up about 4 per cent of the impoverished nation’s GDP.

source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Feb 2014

Baltasar Kormakur starts shooting “Everest” in Nepalese foothills

February 14, 2014

Director Baltasar Kormakur has started shooting “Everest” in the Nepalese foothills of the world’s highest mountain for Universal Pictures, Walden Media and Cross Creek Pictures, Variety reported.

The action-adventure drama will recap the 1996 multi-expedition assault on Everest that left eight climbers dead. Jason Clarke (pictured above) is playing Rob Hall with Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer, Josh Brolin as Beck Weathers and John Hawkes as Doug Hansen.

The film will also shoot in the Italian Alps and at Cinecitta Studios in Rome and Pinewood Studios in the U.K. Universal will release “Everest” in North American theaters in 3D on Feb. 27, 2015.

Martin Henderson, Emily Watson, Michael Kelly and Thomas M. Wright also star. Producers are Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson, as well as Nicky Kentish Barnes.

Jon Krakauer’s bestseller “Into Thin Air” chronicled the commercial expeditions that were caught in a blizzard on the mountain. “Everest” had been adapted for the screen by Mark Medoff (“Children of a Lesser God”) and Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”).

Source: PanARMENIAN.Net,13 Feb 2014

Journey from the ‘roof of the world’

January 3, 2014

Restauranteur reaches new heights from humble beginnings

Legendary climber and explorer Sir Edmund Hillary was famous for the first ascent of Mt. Everest, but he was also a compassionate world citizen who left an admirable legacy of humanitarian deeds, particularly in Nepal.

Hillary and his Himalayan Trust constructed many airstrips, hospitals and schools in the Solo Khumbu (Everest) region. One such school is Shree Jana Sewa Ngi Ma Bhi Chouri Kharka, located in Gumela, Nepal.

Pemba Sherpa, owner of the Sherpa Cafe in Gunnison and Crested Butte, attended the school as a young boy. He met Hillary several times and his lasting image of the man is that he was a friendly giant — or “Bada Saab.”

Pemba sipped on a cup of chai tea at his Gunnison restaurant and reflected on his amazing journey from “the roof of the world” to the Gunnison Valley. He was born in the small Sherpa village of Ghat, along the trail to Everest Base Camp. His father, Ang Dorjee, was a farmer and yak herder and Pemba was required to perform the morning chores each day before he headed to school.

“I had to walk one-and-a-half to two hours through hilly and rocky terrain to reach the school,” he remembered.  “Sometimes I could not go back home because the creek was overflowing.”

Ang Dorjee also worked for several years as a Sherpa climbing guide to Western clients, including the legendary British climber Chris Bonington.

Pemba developed a keen interest in climbing at an early age and began his climbing apprenticeship at 15.

The Sherpas of Nepal are famous for their high altitude prowess but they traditionally were not climbers. The influx of Western trekkers and climbers to Nepal beginning in the 1960s enticed many Sherpas to seek the exponentially higher incomes provided by the climbing profession. Sherpas have became skilled climbers and are considered indispensable to Himalayan excursions.

Pemba initially learned to climb from his father and from fellow Sherpas, but his contact with Western climbers accelerated this learning curve. He began as a climbing porter but eventually ascended to the important role of sirdar, or head Sherpa. Pemba’s climbing resume includes two successful summits of Everest, as well as numerous other Himalayan expeditions.

While climbing Mt. Everest was a significant accomplishment, Pemba prefers climbing lower altitude, less risky peaks, such as his favorite, Mera Peak, at 21,247 feet. It’s the highest “trekking peak” in Nepal.

“Summitting Everest was rewarding but it was more of a job than realizing a dream,” Pemba mused. “It was important to get the clients to the summit but I did not really enjoy it.”

While not known as a technically difficult climb, Everest still presents daunting challenges, namely the Khumbu Icefall and the “yellow band.” The icefall is a shifting glacier with large chunks of ice that must be traversed several times during a typical summit bid. The goal is to get through the icefall as quickly and as safely as possible.

The yellow band is a ring of limestone at 28,000 feet that circles the mountain. While not a technical section, Pemba found it arduous.

“The snow is very slushy and it is hard to get good traction, even with crampons,” he explained. “You are also battling the altitude and the extreme cold and fatigue.”

Pemba no longer climbs 8,000-meter peaks such as Everest, but he continues to guide Western climbers and trekkers through his company, Alpine Adventure International. He specializes in treks to Everest Base Camp that include immersion in the Sherpa culture — sampling Sherpa food and dance and meeting local Sherpas.

“I want to share my Sherpa culture with my Western friends,” he said. He hopes to recruit climbers interested in attempting Mera Peak. Pemba suggests that anyone interested in joining him on a trek or climb contact him for additional details. Most days, he can be found in his Gunnison restaurant, 323 E. Tomichi Ave., which can be reached at 970.641.7480.

source: Gunnison Country Times, 02 Jan 2014