Saturday, November 14, 2015

2015 Yaphu Ri Expedition

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Views of the Chamlang massif from the Khongma Danda.

We completed the Yaphu Ri expedition for 2015 early.  On the 19th of October, we flew into Tumlingtar, and swiftly trekked into base camp in 5 days, arriving on the 24th in the afternoon to 5300m and the base of Yaphu Ri. 
Unclimbed granite towers in Makalu.

Base camp puja.

Warming up with a coffee and a hot fire after retreating from base camp.
Views from camp 1 on Saldim Ri.
This was our first time in this base camp, and it is truly an extraordinary. I think it is common news now that the peak remains unclimbed, and we simply didn’t get the weather we needed. We were getting clear skies from 11 pm to 10 am each day until the 29th of October, with each day bringing in cloud cover and moderate snow fall.


The hamlet of Khongma Danda in afternoon light.


Yaphu base camp.
Looking out from camp 1.

In the cloud forests between Tashi Gaon and Khongma Danda.
We could have worked with these windows and gotten the summit, but it started to snow on the 29th, and continued until 1st of
Lots of untapped potential alpine climbing in Makalu (!).
November. We could get small hour long clearing spells and we could see that the peak wasn’t
Looking up at the Chamlang Himal from Yangle Kharka.
getting a ton of snow, but certainly
Dawa is now This tall. It's great to see the kids growing higher and higher each year.
enough to give us pause. Winds whipped during these clearing spells, and there was significant
A spectacular apple pie in base camp.
snow loading on the upper slopes of our route, and spindrift avalanche pouring down all aspects.
The cloud forests of Makalu.
            We considered the weather, and upon getting the forecast on the 1st of November, decided to call the expedition. We could have sat in base camp in the clouds for another week, but was that enjoyable?
Looking out of the tent at our route with a new snow load.
There was ice climbing and rock to climb around base camp, but it was serac ice and the rock was wet from the snow. I knew we weren’t going to get our window that we needed, and so Brian and I decided to call it and head out before the snow piled high on the passes that led us out of the region. We will be back, and of course it was a great trek in and out, and a really nice time in the wilderness. -Luke Smithwick (luke@himalaya-alpine).com

2015 Menthosa Expedition

The 2015 Menthosa expedition started out in Manali, we drove North into Lahaul, and then set our first camp in the village of Urgus, and began to acclimatize. It rained for three days straight without stopping, bringing a huge snow load onto our objective. I decided to pack up the expedition, and move the entire thing North into Ladakh and fairer weather. Over the following weeks, we successfully climbed two aesthetic 6000 meter peaks. Brief below. -Luke



Drying out camp in Urgus after the storm.
Enroute to the Changtang, we stopped briefly in Pang.

30 Sept 2015 | 4600m | Korzok Phu | 0758

The team is feeling well, and today we will walk up to high camp for 6250m Mentok Kangri 1.  Tonight, we will rise in the early morning hours, put on our double boots, and begin climbing to the summit.
There is not a single cloud in the sky,
Camp beneath the Mentoks.
and it is harvest season for the pashm goats around us.  There are about 5000 goats and sheep in this valley, with the landscape dotted with yak hair tents
Base camp in the Mentoks.
of their Changpa owners, and the smoke of dung fires keeping their families warm, and fed by a cooking fire.  The quiet is nice, and the
The 17 year experienced cook, Phuntsok Dorje, styles out a pizza on the base camp stove.
cold air brings the sound of children off in a distant meadow, playing and watching their livestock.  The moon is full, and one can see forever, to Tibet, to distant mountains to the North, and there is only time to think, and breathe, and reflect amongst the silence.  The climbing is only the icing on the cake, being here is truly  as good as it gets.

4 October 2015 | 5450m | Mentok Kangri BC | 0830

A trailside mani stone.


mentok kangri 1
Press play. Lars Andersson on the summit of Mentok 1.
We trekked to base camp several days ago, had a day of rest the following day, and climbed Mentok Kangri yesterday.  We took a steeper route this time, climbing directly up the glacier headwall to the ridgeline, then to climb to the summit ridge in three pitches.  During past ascents, we did not rope up for this section, however this time we found ice and snow where there is normally dry rock. Reaching the 6005m summit that demarcates the top of the ridgeline, we continued to the summit of Mentok Kangri 1 in blustery
Climbing up the Mentok headwall in alpine style.
conditions, reaching base camp at 2000 that night, for a 17 hour day that normally takes 8 hours (!).

Everyone crashed in their tents, and the following morning, we packed up and headed for

lower altitudes and some good rest next to Lake Tsomoriri in the shepherd camp of Peldo, where we are now.















7 October 2015 | 5456m | Changtang Peaks camp | 0735

Looking out on Lake Tsomoriri.
Yesterday, we climbed a peak we named "Changtang Kailas" for its round shape. Topping out at just over 6000 meters,
The group on the summit of Changtang Kailas.
it made for a great summit for the whole group. From the top, we had great views of high Lungser and Chamsser Kangri, along with many remote 6000m peaks along the Tibetan border.
Resting and relaxing in the dining tent.
It's windy and cold in October on the Changtang plateau, and I'm looking forward to getting to Nepal in a few days. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

2015 Nun Expedition

The team on the summit of 7153m Mount Nun.
Nun notes

22 Aug | 1659 | 4895m | Stok Kangri BC

A light snow is falling, graupel actually. We've just returned from an acclimatization round on a nearby glacier, with practice in rock to snow transitions, fixed rope travel, rappelling on a fixed rope. The glacier itself, a remnant of a former glacier, is a stationary ice body with black ice underneath a thin veneer of snow. Black ice is dense, and challenging to place ice screws in.
One team member, Peter, woke up with a headache. He stayed here in camp to rest, while we slowly ascended to the ice and our practice day. This morning over breakfast, we spotted a flock of bharal (blue sheep) grazing on an adjacent hillside. There are 5 or 6 other teams here in base camp, all with plans to climb Stok Kangri in the coming days.
Peter is feeling better now, and plans to climb Golep Kangri with us tomorrow. This being our 7th day of the trip after 3 nights of acclimatizing in Leh at 3600m, we are doing quite well to be acclimatizing and the group all feeling strong.


26 Aug 2015 | Stok Kangri BC | 4895m | 1123

The weather changed yesterday, and the skies have been clear for the past 30 hours. We made successful ascents of 5965m Golep Kangri and 6135m Stok Kangri over the past three days, with a rest day between the two. We are now resting in base camp, and will walk down to Leh early tomorrow morning. There is a mild respirtatory illness moving through the team, and I along with two others are taking an antibiotic to clear it up. Descending down to 3600m tomorrow will help.
We had an experience on Golep Kangri, with the team having a tough day on their first altitude climb of the trip, and an electrified storm cloud passing as we descended. As I set the anchor for the rappel down the steepest portion of the climb, I heard a trekking pole from another climbers pack starting to buzz, we were within the electric field. I instructed everyone to drop their metal axes and poles, and to squat low while each person rappelled the route. A nervous few moments, and the first near lightning experience I'd had in the Himalaya. I was glad the cloud passed after a few moments, but not before one lightning strike followed by thunder on an adjacent peak.
One climber mentioned he felt "recharged" after the experience, partially joking.. Not something we ever want to repeat, but certainly part of climbing in the mountains.
The team nearing the summit of 6153m Stok Kangri.


Yesterday's ascent of Stok Kangri went smoothly, without near lightning strikes or cloudy skies. We could see Nun & Kun on our descent, and the team is primed and ready for our climb higher.


6/9/2015 | Nun ABC | 4800m | 0812

We climbed to the summit of Nun via the west buttress two days ago, but not before weathering whiteout conditions on approach to camp 3, some cold toes, and nausea with some members of the group. The idea of candy coating climbing above 7000m is a farce. It is cold, hard, and tough.
We are all safely back in base camp, resting and planning to walk down to the village of Tangol, a catch a jeep to Kargil by tomorrow night. Since the last dispatch, we've walked down to Leh, spent the night there, driven to Kargil for a night, driven on to Tangol village and spent the night. The expedition supply truck went too far ahead, and we waited for them to come back in Tangol, after they'd gone on to Parkachik. An honest mistake, it gave several members time to recover from the cough they'd developed in the Stok range.
Dawn in the Stok range.

The following morning, the 30th August, we walked up to Nun advanced base camp. With 1000 kilos of expedition equipment (!). This was not an alpine style attempt on Nun.
Reaching ABC, we prepared the following day, and following the forecast for the next five days, we launched on our summit bid the next morning, the 1st of September. The ascent flowed like clockwork, climbing to camp 1, then camp 2, then camp 3, and then the summit, descending to ABC yesterday, the 5th of September.
It is worth mentioning the whiteout we endured while climbing to camp 3 from camp 2. We were truly lost, and only by luck did we find the next willow wand, and then the next, and then the next, before finally hearing the call of Gomba Sherpa in camp 3. We crawled into the tents, exhausted and five hours overdue.
Looking across the Himalayas from the flanks of Mount Nun.

Our ascent was only possible because Gomba Sherpa, Tsewang Namgyal, Mingma Sherpa, and Thukpa Tsering Sherpa fixed ropes to the summit, and also carried the expedition tents to camp 1, camp 2, and camp 3. If anyone deserves credit for our ascent, it is solely them. This was a classic Himalayan fixed rope style mountaineering expedition, and was not alpinism in the least, but still a true mountain adventure. We held a good puja (prayer ceremony) in base camp, and I am thankful to the gods for allowing our safe ascent. I am not a religious person, but I do believe in reverence. Many of the greats have been lost due to a loss of reverence for the mountains. My seniors have taught me to always take this seriously.
The view looking east towards Zanskar.

One last note, at 6000m yesterday, as a snow squall rolled across the west ridge and we lowered our head and stumbled on downwards, a mountain weasel jumped out and ran across the ridge.
A friend of mine, Tom Choate, whom has climbed Denali every decade for the past 6, called the wolverine the true mountaineer. After hearing this, I would see their tracks in the wildest, most off-the-beaten track areas of the Alaska wild. Along the same lines, the mountain weasel is the true mountaineer of the Himalaya, with tracks in very much the same places. In places where we are barely surviving and require the best mountain equipment available, they are simply thriving.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The expedition begins - Unclimbed Saldim Ri 6343m

Hello from Kathmandu. We will be occasionally posting updates from Makalu to this blog. Stay tuned for text updates of our progress. There is a fair bit of snow forecasted for the next ten days so we will be staying active and acclimatizing while the system passes through the Makalu Himal. Attached are some images to give you an idea of where we are going and what we are doing, at least what we are planning to do. :)


Brian Beatty flies in tonight and I will meet him at the airport, we will fly into Tumlingtar in the morning and begin the hike into base camp via the Kongma Danda.


-Luke



Luke Smithwick
Himalaya Alpine Guides
e: luke@himalaya-alpine.com
p: +977-980-101-6610 (nepal)
skype: himalaya-alpine-guides
insta: @luke_smithwick
fb:facebook.com/jameslukesmithwick




   



Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 Pangong Peaks Exploratory

Trip Notes - 2015 Pangong Peaks Exploratory

5/8/2015 | 4351m | Kera Pul Sato

 Our first night in the Changtang.  We drove from Leh today, delayed by a day after a large rainstorm that washed out portions of the road over the 5300m pass that brings you to here, the western extension of the broad Tibetan plateau.  We are a group of 4. 
Our first camp in Pangong.
     This is Jerry Clayton's 4th trip with us, and he invited two friends for the trip. Our plan is simple, we have a little less than two weeks, and a short trek of about 5 days that traverses the Ladakh range. Along the way, there are numerous 5000 & 6000 meter peaks, with glaciated faces, granite ridgelines, and new routes to explore. We will make camps along the route, and then climb the peaks.
     Our team is 8 with Ram Lal (horsemen), Phuntsok (cook), Kunsang (sirdar), and Gomba (assistant climbing guide). Ten horses will be hoofing the expedition gear, and we will be carrying light packs, saving our energy for the climbing.
     Today's drive was fairly uneventful, with some detours between Karu and Choglamsar, as the main road was washed out.  Leaving the Leh-Manali highway, we drove out of Karu, but not before having to hide the Brit, Nick Godfrey, as he had mistakenly forgotten his passport in the hotel and with a police checkpost to pass, they would want to see it if he was spotted in the vehicle.  Nick did his best backpack interpretation, hiding underneath a yellow tarp and packs in the third seat of the Scorpio jeep.
     Passing through the checkpost without a hitch, we climbed toward the Chang La, our first crossing of the Ladakh range for the trip.  Descending, we made it past our last checkpost, with Nick sighing relief, and are now in our first camp next to the creek.  

6/8/15 | Doksa camp | 4847m
A three hour walk brought us to our camp today, with a textbook 300 meter gain in altitude, the team is resting and acclimatizing.  Jerry has picked up a stomach bug somewhere along the way, and has started a course of antibiotics to remedy.  Nick went for a hike in the direction we are planning to go tomorrow, and spotted a Tibetan wild ass (Kiang).  Everyone this morning had an oxygen saturation above 90 percent as we left our camp down by the lake.  Showers came through this afternoon, but looked worse than they actually were, with only a few drops falling in camp.   Dinner is chopping and preparing in the kitchen tent next door, and the quiet continues.

8/8/15 | 5349m | Bulchen Togpo BC #1

      We've just descended from a climb of peak 6020m, with Cindy, Nick, and Jerry all making the summit. Gomba Sherpa and I were assisting.  The curse is broken. This is Jerry's fourth trip with us and we've finally made a summit with him, not without some spectacular trekking in the past 4 years.
Our base camp for peak 6020m (Nikalu).
     We were just acclimatized for the climb, and we all were certainly feeling the final meters to the summit.  Cindy had a mild headache along with Nick, but both had a good general impression, and continued to the summit.  From the summit ridge you could see the Karakoram, along with Kang Yatze to the southwest.  It was Cindy's personal altitude record, with Elbrus being the highest that she had climbed.
On the summit of Peak 6020m (Nikalu).
     Everyone is now resting in base camp, which we approached yesterday and everyone is really happy with. Glacial riverside, with nice grass and plenty of room to spread out.  It's nice to start at 5300m as opposed to 5000m. That extra 300m | 1000ft makes a big difference.
Ram Lal, the horseman, spotted Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) this morning.  He keeps an eye out as they sometimes can cause trouble with the horses.  A lone chough circled us on the summit this afternoon, and we spotted marmots here and there as we climbed and descended. 
In the distant valley adjacent, we spotted many dzos grazing on the abundant grass.  Tomorrow we'll move further up the valley, into new peaks and more climbing. 

12/8/15 | 5143m | 1541 | Yar La Chumik 

A lot to catch up on, 4 days in the making.  We've since risen up to clear skies at Bulchen Togpo camp 1, went for a reccy of the upper portion of the watershed, and then packed up camp and moved to "BC 2".  It is no new camp for the Himalaya Alpine Guides, and this year is a local "doksa" camp that was currently keeping more than 50 yaks, whom had "left their mark" amongst the grassy green islets whereupon we'd erected our tents for the night.  A short trek to get there, everyone appreciated being 300 meters lower for the night, camped at 5000 meters and breathing the extra oxygen.



I spent the late afternoon and evening scanning the maps and photos I had taken on our previous summit, deciding on our next objective, and hence the name of our mini expedition, the "Pangong Peaks Exploratory".  We were here to climb peaks.
Onwards. We rose to clear skies, packed up the horses, and started climbing up an alluvial fan towards the base camp for our next climb.  Peppered with glacial errratics, we weaved and switchbacked our way up the wash, noticing yak furrows here and there amongst the wildflowers and heather.  The horses catching us up, I moved on with them, instructing the group to take it slow, and slower than that while climbing to our camp at 5500m with Gomba Sherpa and a packed lunch.
Cresting the toe of the ablation valley, the peak came into view on the horizon. My immediate thoughts were, "We do not have enough time for this peak."  It was beautiful, with one of the other climbers remarking later on in the day that it would be a national park if elsewhere.  Camp set, we sat and talked about our options on the peak, with one day to work with for the climb.  I knew going into this trip that we would be hurried for the objectives I had in mind for the group.  Himalayan climbing takes time. 
For the first week, you simply are unwinding and your body adjusting its circadian rhythms to a new time zone, diet, and mountain life. For the second week, you are really beginning to acclimatize. The body begins acclimatizing in the first 72 hours you arrive to high altitude, but it takes far longer than that for you to begin to feel strong and for things to physiologically be "clicking" at altitude.  By the third week, you are in the groove and ready to climb.  If you interested in alpinism at altitude, you need at least three weeks, historical ascents can show you this, be it in the Alaska range, Himalayas, or the Arctic.
Looking out on the range.
Back to the trip, we had a 6000 meter climb under our belt, and in just 7 days from arriving to Leh.  This was impressive with it being on a remote peak with no record of its prior ascent, regardless of it being mostly a scramble.  We were now parked at 5500m on day 10 at high altitude. Our bodies had been exposed to altitude, and we had been up above 5800m (what is considered "extreme" altitude), but we were just starting to show signs of acclimatization. Each of us were still getting elevated heart rates at rest, and shortness of breath even with a slow climbing pace.
Our oxygen saturation rates still remained in the 80's at 5000+ meters. This showed that we were OK at the elevation, but a good level of acclimatization would show us all in the 90's at 5000 meters.  This was a quick trip, and indeed we were lucky to have already climbed a 6000m peak in the first weeks of the trip.  As we got the final tent set the group rolled in and the sky fell with hail, wind, and cold.
We worked to bolster all the tents with large stones anchoring the guy lines, and then jumped in to await its passing, as the pair of other squalls that came and went thus far on the trip, as afternoon convective showers. This one wasn't leaving, and a cold came with it. The weather turned as the barometer dropped, and poking our heads out intermittently we could just see the base of the glacier, with no peak in sight.  We served dinner as the showers and wind stopped, a low had settled on us, with all the peaks in sight covered in a veil of gray, even out to the Aksai Chin.
The group at a camp beneath peak 6200m.
A pizza dinner with french fries, and we headed to bed planning to wake with the sun and see what the weather held.  Occasional showers continued throughout the night, with no wind, which had me thinking the weather was sticking around, and I had no interest in getting stuck on this side of the pass with a foot or more of new snow.  When the morning came, we packed up and headed for the pass, planning to cross before any potential weather came in.  
The day remained surprisingly calm, and we made it over the pass without a drop of rain or flake of snow.  I was glad nonetheless knowing we wouldn't have to back track to our starting point and the horses and everyone safe.  It's a challenge to make weather decisions in a remote area with no access to forecasts (satellite phones being illegal in India). You have to always play the conservative safe card when the weather looks even slightly marginal. I've seen to many large storms over the past few seasons to play the cards any other way.
Crossing the Ladakh range.
We are now resting next to the Likche nala, Cindy and Gomba climbed a 5000 meter peak today, and Jerry and Nick rested and made plans for their canyoning trip in the Utah desert in September.  We will walk down the river tomorrow to the trailhead at Likche, where Tashi will meet us with the jeep.  Some of the members of the Nun expedition have already arrived to Leh, and we will be meeting on the morning of the 16th August in Leh to prepare to head into the Stok range for a climb of Stok Kangri.  -Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides (www.himalaya-alpine.com)


Friday, July 31, 2015

Time in the kingdom



Tsewang Namgyal

9 pm, an inky black sky, the distant rumble of a generator and dogs swapping barks across the neighborhood. The truck is loaded, and we’re stopped to pick up some jugs of kerosene for the final pieces of the supplies to a three week ski attempt on 7000m Kun (“queen”, in the Balti language of Purki, with Nun, the “king”, right next door).  A final cup of chai from ama-le (mother of the house), and we roll on, down the Singge Kha-Babs (“from the mouth of the lion”, translation, the Indus river).  The truck bounces and throws with its new load, about 500 kilos piled high, with food, stoves, tents, ropes, fuel, two cooks, and 2 powerful climbers, 1 Ladakhi (Namgyal) and 1 Nepali (Mingma).  Earlier today, I’d been in the main bazaar (market) of Leh, searching out a new map source, and sourcing EP gas for climbs in 2016.  I ran into Tsewang Namgyal, one of the newest Himalaya Alpine Guides. We discussed his plan to head to Zanskar, and I asked if he had room in the expedition supply truck. “Wait here, I’ll be back in ten minutes. An hour later, he turned up, “Ok Luke, we’re leaving at 9 pm tonight. I’ll pick you up.”  My reasoning for wanting to join him was for research (a “reccy” or reconnaissance) in Zanskar for climbs in the autumn of 2016.  Specifically, I wanted to have a look at the Drang Drung, Agshu (Hagshu), Kange, Haskira, and Bakartse watersheds for potential alpine climbing at the 5000-7000m elevation.  This altitude provides tremendous
Unnamed. Unclimbed.

opportunities for attempting more challenging objectives in alpine style at a manageable altitude.  I had heard stories and seen images of more technical, rocky peaks in these watersheds, and had experienced it firsthand on a climb of Z-1 to the northwest in the Nun-Kun massif last Autumn, along with numerous unnamed peaks in the mountains to the North of the valley.  Having just flown here from touristed Chamonix, I’d seen the colorful placard in the town square demarcating a climb of Hagshu last Autumn by a Slovenian team, who received the Piolet D’or for their alpine style ascent. I can’t deny it didn’t refuel my interest to return to the area.
 
Unnamed. Unclimbed.
We reached Shafat around 12 pm the following day, unloading the expedition equipment for Kun, with Namgyal and I then heading on to Padum, him to find horses to transport the equipment on the rocky glaciated terrain to Kun base camp, and I to get my first view at the section of the valley from the Pensi La to Sani.  Don’t get me wrong, this would be my 12th visit to Zanskar, but I’d always come on foot, utilizing other valleys and passes. 
Driving through Zanskar.
     We rumbled on, reaching Padum in early evening, and stopping for a smart glass of Indian Army rum to shake off the 26 hour drive. We thanked the driver and paid him, and then Namgyal set to searching for horses for his expedition, while I secured a taxi pickup for our upcoming Menthosa expedition in September, and also acquired contacts for porters for the valleys I was planning to photograph and scour on the way back up the valley.
Dorje at the wheel.
  The night came, I found a room at the always classic Ibex Hotel (scene of many a Himalaya Alpine Guides trip starts and finishes), and set in for some much welcomed rest.  Namgyal had not located the horses he was hoping, and would need to go with porters from Rangdum, much to his discontent.  A good sleep in, and I woke for a good breakfast of chapattis and omelette before we walked to the edge of town to catch a ride with locals, as all taxis by mid-morning had left for Leh, but we had no regrets in getting the extra sleep.
    After about 20 minutes, we found a lift with Dorje, a man from Absang who was headed to pick up a “kettle”, and what he actually meant I came to learn later was “cattle”.



Mail delivery. Zanskari style.
We cruised along, me shooting pictures out the window and Namgyal chatting with Dorje about the weather and everything and nothing.  Reaching his house, we hopped out and he backed the rig to the nearest pile of stones. He then said to Namgyal in a rapid tone in Ladakhi, “We’ll be here for an hour or so to get the yak, relax and drink tea.” and then the hospitality began. We stood around gazing out at the peaks and the valley around, before one of his daughters brought out a hand woven rug, and proceeded to gesture for us to sit. We sat.

Out came the first course of Khapse, fried barley bread. Next, the Yoszha, popped barley corn. Then, sweet milky black tea, Chai.  Moments later, the yak appeared, with one daughter pushing from behind, and the mother pulling from in front.  Dorje opened the tailgate, and the pushing and pulling reached its maximum effort.  With what I expected to take some time, they were done in minutes, the yak loaded, and then one more, and the tailgate was shut, both of the yaks not looking too psyched to be off of terra firma. They were headed to higher pastures, a summer “doksa”, or grazing area where the grass was tall and waiting for them.
   


We jumped back in the truck, and started rolling towards the Pensi La (“La” means pass in Tibetan dialects, while “Lha” means god), the location of the grazing area, stopping occasionally to chat with locals, deliver mail, and discuss the location of other yaks. We passed the final village before a long stretch in the valley that wasn’t inhabited, and picked up our speed.  Coming around a curve, Dorje spotted another herdsman, and stopped for another quick chat.  This one became an in depth diatribe and then word exchange before we were turned around and heading back to the village, a deal had been struck and the man with the donkeys
Unnamed. Unclimbed.
was going to get a yak.  I realized this may be my time to bow out, and we had just passed the village of Hagshu, so I told Namgyal it was time for me to go, and then politely thanked Dawa and stepped out of the truck in a swarm of uniform-clad school kids who all desperately needed a “school pen”. I informed them all, much to their chagrin, that I had no “school pens”.  They were disappointed, but were content to walk back to the village with their new giant friend. I picked up my gear, and started walking towards the village, dropping a pair of socks that brought out an uproar of laughter from the most vocal children, although politely they brought me my socks and one even asked to carry my boots. I handed him the boot, and he almost fell over, and we all started laughing.
Drang Drung.



  I grabbed the boot up and we continued our trudge to the village.   Over the next days, I had a good look round, and found the valleys of Zanskar to have a huge amount of climbing potential.  We will have an alpine style expedition to the region in October 2016, along with a fixed-rope style mountaineering ascent of
Locals in Absang.
Kun in July 2016. No matter where you are in the Himalaya, there is always a distant unknown peak or spire on the horizon, without a name or story. I find this immensely comforting, that there is simply too much to learn and know in ones lifetime in this range.  The Himalayas of today are what the
Alps were 200 years ago, an alien world.  What will you find?  -Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides (http://www.himalaya-alpine.com)